Case Study #1 – Example

Overview

On May 29th 2018 at 2:45am Rosanne Barr tweeted a racial slur against Valerie Jarrett. Valerie Jarrett is a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama. In the tweet, Roseanne compares Valerie to an ape and accuses her of being associated with an Islamic political group. Most of us know Roseanne Barr as an actress, comedian, writer and television producer. Over the years, we knew her to be outspoken, controversial and often times difficult to work with but her latest social media controversy was something I believe no one could have predicted, especially on the heels of her brand new TV show. Two months prior to the tweet, Rosanne had regained stardom. Her well-known TV show Roseanne had just returned in March after being off the air for over two decades. Fans were ecstatic over the reunion series and ABC was receiving high ratings as a result. Sadly, this all came tumbling down as ABC ultimately cancelled the show stating her tweet was quote, abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with their values. Roseanne initially dismissed her tweet as simply a joke but received colossal backlash from opponents who perceived her derogatory tweet for exactly what it was, racist. Below is a screen shot of her original tweet which was made in response to another tweet. The tweet she was responding to suggested Valerie Jarrett may have played a part in helping President Obama in a scheme that Donald Trump likes to call Spygate, which is essentially just a conspiracy theory!

As if the above tweet wasn’t bad enough, a few hours later, she tweeted yet again, in what appears like an effort to defend her original statement:

Twenty minutes prior to the above tweet, she tweeted a CNN reporter, stating it was all a “joke”:

Ethical Concerns

Roseanne Barr could have used Twitter as a platform to promote her new television show. She should have been tweeting messages of love to her fans, thanking them for their unwavering support. She could have even tweeted her cast and crew, acknowledging their successful reunion and journey ahead. Instead, she used this social media platform as a means to slander another human being and promote hate which is ethically absurd. She can call it poor judgement or blame it on her medication (Ambien) all she wants however a spade is a spade no matter how you position the card. Roseanne represented herself on-line as a heartless, reckless, racist human being, period, end of story. She did not THINK before she typed and published her tweet which was not at all true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind.

Analysis

Roseanne originally down played her tweet, stating it was merely a bad joke. She later went on to fault her poor choice of words on the medication she had taken earlier that night, apparently Ambien was to blame! By the time she actually made a public apology, it was far too late. By then, she had already lost the respect of her fans and colleagues. Many of her costars went on to make public remarks against her, making it known that they do not support or back her racist insults.  Roseanne’s initial apology reads as follows; “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me- my joke was in bad taste”. After her show was cancelled, she went on to make yet another apology, this one was tweeted directly to Valerie Jarett; “ I don’t know if you saw it, but I wanted 2 apologize to u 4 hurting and upsetting you with an insensitive & tasteless tweet. I am truly sorry-my whole life has been about fighting racism. I made a terrible mistake which caused hundreds of ppl 2 lose their jobs.so sorry!” After reading Roseanne’s original tweet, it’s extremely hard to believe in this apology and that her whole life has been dedicated to fighting racism! Considering the repercussions of her tweet, I really expected more from her. She doesn’t even own the fact that her words were so hateful. I also don’t like that she sort of went on and on defending her tweet prior to offering an apology. She also publicly announced that she was leaving twitter, yet she is still tweeting as of today! In my opinion, she should have also apologized directly to ABC, her fans and her co-workers as well, considering their lives were greatly impacted by her poor choice or words. Instead, her first apology was directed to Valerie and all Americans. It wasn’t until her second apology that she actually acknowledges the outcome and aftermath of her deplorable judgment.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’ve learned that what you publish on the internet is surely there to stay, forever. I’ve also learned that there are repercussions to negative actions taken on-line. Roseanne not only destroyed her own career and self-image with her tweet but she also let her fans down and put a lot of people out of work. Her supporters and costars may never forgive her for her careless actions. Despite taking the tweet down, it still exists on the internet and will be there to stay forever. This just goes to prove that what is done on-line, cannot be undone on-line. As soon as I googled Roseanne Barr, her offensive tweet came up as an image in the very first article I clicked on. Roseanne’s racist sentiment is a reminder that we as individuals need to practice on-line ethics every single day. People cannot hide behind their screens typing carelessly, leveraging this idea of free speech. Freedom of expression does not grant anyone the right to bully, harass or slander someone publicly. It does not give you the privilege to promote hate and animosity. This is a classic case of how someone’s unethical ways can backfire and ultimately sabotage their entire image. Lastly, I’d like to conclude with this quote; It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it (Benjamin Franklin). It’s so important to keep this mantra in mind when it comes to on-line morals. All it takes is one poor sentence choice to tarnish ones reputation beyond repair…

Advertisements