This is the EXACT tweet Roseanne Barr, star of the arguably hit show, Roseanne, made that caused her show to be cancelled by President of ABS Entertainment Group, Channing Dungey. Dungey also happens to be an African-American woman who became the first ever to hold such a position at ABC. In case you’re wondering, “VJ” stands for Valerie Jarrett, a government official who served as senior advisor during former President Obama’s reign. Valerie graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Psychology in 1978 and later earned her J.D. (Juris Doctor) from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.
I can’t personally say that I’m a fan of Roseanne, however I never disliked her. Until recently. After reviewing several comments regarding her show cancellation via Twitter, there were two themes that I noticed the most: Freedom of Speech and Racism. I’m not sure why individuals continue to say problematic, derogatory, and highly offensive remarks only to LITERALLY turn right back around and claim that their voice was caused by *insert excuse for being a bigot.* I would honestly have much more respect for someone, despite said negative language, if they would just own the toxic waste that comes out of their mouth.
Let us take a brief moment to really state the facts regarding freedom of speech and freedom of expression:
- Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction.
- Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
- Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.
- The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”
If you fully comprehend freedom of speech and freedom of expression than you should know exactly WHY Roseanne got cancelled. It wasn’t because she made a “joke” or “sleep tweeting” while on Ambien (Zolpidem). Roseanne made a conscious decision to negatively equate Valerie Jarrett to an animal, specifically an animal in which is constantly and notoriously weaponized against people of color, while also inciting islamophobia. I would like to believe that Roseanne is far from less than smart. Poor decisions, yes, but less than smart, no. If you TRULY believe that she said nothing wrong, I challenge you to go into your place of employment (if you happen to have one) and if you happen to have minorities there, go up to one of them and tell them that they look like exactly what Roseanne called Valerie. Be sure to say it was a joke afterwards for extra credit. Once you do so, please kindly let me know if you have your job afterwards.
As aforementioned above, we have a special duty and responsibility to recognize the impact of our words and the existence of others. No one ever said you had to like someone. However, the reasons why you may not like that person, such as their religion, sexual orientation, or race, may warrant concern and/or consequences. That still does not mean you have to go out of your way to vocalize your (negative) thoughts to someone who generally probably is not checking for you in the first place. This whole “freedom of speech” rebuttal every time someone says and/or does the most disdainful of things, if anything, would be more of hate speech.
- Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity
I’m not the type of person that prays for rainbows and lollipops. Frankly, that would be foolish in this day in age. However, I do not comprehend why it is so difficult for some individuals of the world to grasp the concept I’m certain most of those fortunate to have a mother and/or father should know:
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it all.“
I know we were all told “sticks and stones may break my bones,” however words do hurt people, particularly words that are continuously negatively associated to ones heritage, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Everyone knows there are certain things you do not say to particular people unless you are intentionally trying to offend them and/or create an altercation. If you do not know than you should be smart enough to either ask someone or ask Google. At this point ignorance is not an excuse, it’s a choice, which further reflects on said type of individuals.
If you have the inability to be genuinely nice to your fellow-man, than the LEAST you could do is keep your negativity in your own world. By “own world”, I mean when you’re at home. When you step outside of the place where you pay bills and/or own, than you no longer have the freedom to say and/or do whatever you please. There is a thing called consequences. You will learn one way or another but I would advise to go the easier route and make life a lot easier for yourself. Most people of the world do not like racist and racism. So why even position yourself in the SLIGHTEST way to be categorized as such or promoting? Again, you’re making the choice. No matter how many times people try to equate their masked intentions to mere comedy, I’ll clear it up for you:
It is NOT FUNNY to call people of color monkeys or apes or anything similar. It is not amusing to perpetuate Islam (religion) and Muslims (people who worship Islam) as a terrorist organization filled with deviants or any negative connotation. It is highly offensive and derogatory.
At the age Roseanne is, she knows better, she just decided not to do better, which is ultimately her choice. However, YOU have to live with the consequences of YOUR choices. You reap what you sow.
- Alex N Wanderland