An apology? AN APOLOGY?!
An apology doesn’t even begin to atone for the slight that 9-year-old actress and Oscar-nominee Quvenzhane Wallis had to endure the night of the Academy Awards Ceremony.
But apparently Steve Hannah, the CEO of the so-called satirical publication, The Onion, thinks it does.
Here’s what happened. During the ceremony, about 10 to 15 minutes before it concluded, someone or a group of someones got what they must have thought were their clever little heads together.
It was as if, once again, someone – or a group of someones – was determined to prove that the word Twitter contains the word “twit” for a reason. Because before the Academy Awards show ended, The Onion’s unofficial laughing boy (or boys) sent the following message on the publication’s official Twitter account:
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a ****, right?”
The word I left out is so despicable that I’m not even bothering to print even one letter of it. I will say that it’s a common vulgarity that’s revolting enough when describing grown women.
And when it’s used to refer to 9-year-old girls, well, then, I’m sorry, Mr. Hannah, an apology simply will not cut it.
But apologize is what Hannah tried to do. Given the circumstances – the gratuitous and disgusting use of a vulgarity directed at a child – it couldn’t come off as anything but lame.
The tweet, according to Hannah, was “crude and offensive – not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting. No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.”
And, the better to reassure all of us, Hannah added that honchos at The Onion will now “institute new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.”
This, BAW readers, isn’t a sincere apology. It’s what I call a “butt-covering apology,” one designed not only shield a derrière, but also to insulate it as well.
Notice Hannah’s language: new Twitter procedures will be implemented to ensure that this kind of “mistake” doesn’t happen again.
But that’s the problem. What happened wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t as if the person or persons that sent the tweet meant to use a word like “runt” or “punt” and simply misspelled the word.
The word used was the word the person or persons that sent the tweet meant to be used. This was no mistake, but a deliberate attempt to belittle and degrade a 9-year-old girl.
Some have pointed out that the 9-year-old girl in question is a black girl, and have pondered if the tweet would have been sent about a white actress. And that’s a legitimate point.
I’m more concerned about how this outrage should be handled. Should Hannah and the rest of his minions at The Onion be allowed to apologize their way out of this one?
And if an apology isn’t sufficient, then what is?
The first thing that crossed my mind was caning.
Yes, you read that correctly. As in the down-home, old-fashioned Singapore caning that became famous around 20 years ago.
An American teen named Michael Fay found out, the hard way, that Singapore had a much different method from dealing with juvenile crime than America does.
Our tried but-dubiously-true way has been the wrist slap method: arrest teen, charge teen, release teen to his parents.
In Singapore it goes more like this: arrest teen, whack teen’s hiney with rattan cane and then send the miscreant home to his parents.
Americans howled that such methods were inhumane and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Singaporeans countered that their methods were effective and that, besides, they had no Eighth Amendment.
So the objections to my proposal would be that caning the culprit at The Onion who so egregiously disrespected little Quvenzhane would violate the Eighth Amendment. But I’m not talking about that person being arrested, charged and caned, which would also involve First Amendment issues.
No, I’m saying that whoever called that little girl that despicable name should step up and VOLUNTEER to be caned. And if folks at The Onion fret about who’ll administer the caning, well, I suppose I can clear my calendar for the occasion.
And if no one steps up, well, then, there’s Hannah. As CEO, he should step up and volunteer to be caned. The man claims he’s sorry for what happened.
He needs to prove to us just how sorry he is.