Real Men and Holy Underwear
By CHARLES M. BLOWS
Twitter almost claims me as another casualty.
This week, it was announced I would be suspended from my role as the Jayson Blair Chair for Journalistic Integrity at the New York Times for an innocuous Twitter message I composed and released. The tweet in question was directed towards Mormon presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. In a moment of disgust, I told Mr. Romney to “Stick that in your magic underwear.”
That “magic underwear” reference was my attempt to mock Romney’s religion, nothing more and nothing less. It was a subtle and nuanced thought, reflective of my multi-hued positions on religions. For example: would I mock a Hindu? Never. A Sikh? Perish the thought. A Muslim. Of course not; I might get in trouble for that. A Jew? Only if they live in Israel. An evangelical Christian? Absolutely. A Catholic? Game on. A Mormon? With pleasure.
See how subtle and nuanced I am?
I’ve since been asked how I would mock — or not mock — some of the other human categorizations. Anyone at Fox, white people who aren’t liberals, or blacks who don’t vote Democrat? Mock. Homosexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, WNBA fans, and minorities (except Asians and white South Africans)? Don’t mock. Have I told you how subtle and nuanced I am?
My first Twitter message, tweeted during the Super Bowl, read: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about Mitt Romney’s underwear, smack the ish out of him!” Another said: “Who was that New England ‘Patriot’ called Mitt Romney who’s probably wearing hot pink holy underwear? He needs to be smacked down by Captain Insano.” Well, I am Captain Insano and I show no mercy.
Intolerant people all across American said my messages advocated “inherently stupid thoughts,” “rudeness” and “classless hypocrisy” and asked the New York Times to take action against me. Of course these people’s complaints are groundless and reflect discrimination, if not outright racism. In closed meetings, my chain of command told me they viewed my messages as “idiotic, regrettable, childish, and offensive” but ultimately decided to take no action other than to suspend me from my position as the Blair Chair, with pay, for the 24-hour period after I leave the Times (whenever that may be). That was a wise decision and all I needed to hear. Therefore, Captain Underpants, you will receive no apology from Captain Insano.
There is vigorous debate online about what I meant by the attack on Romney’s religion, about America’s reaction, and about the New York Times policy on who gets suspended or fired and for what kinds of statements.
I have signaled, via Twitter, that I don’t plan to meet with anyone nor will I discuss the matter with the exception of defending my freedom to fulfill my true potential as a leftist clown. The things I say will therefore continue to be trite, childish, vindictive, unenlightened, hypocritical, and — even at no cost to the reader — a poor entertainment value.
But I don’t want to let this incident pass without using it as a “teachable moment” for us all about the way in which we define journalism and progressive thinking. At the very least, my comments, no matter how inflammatory, will probably continue to be largely ignored. On top of that, and based on the writings of my comrades, Tom Frymom, Moronica Dowd, and especially Paul Rugrat, I fit in.
You see, I follow myself on Twitter, so I know that I like to joke and tease. I even make jokes with myself. So I can believe that, in my mind, I have thought that these magic underwear comments were just hateful jokes mocking Romney’s religion, which given my great wit, was funny. After all, I’m a funny guy.
Now out there in the real world — where mocking male and female homosexuals, women, and minorities is all too real — a similar “joke” to the one I made (actually, it would then be an insult) would hold no humor. It’s an important lesson, but one we can all learn: hypocrisy only applies to the right.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether I broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with my unconscious party guests in the 1980s – I did. But you can’t hold the whole journalistic profession responsible for the reactions of one sick individual (well, a few… actually, maybe many sick individuals). For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole democratic process? And if the whole democratic process is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our economic system in general? I put it to you, readers, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’ll sit and listen all day if you’re willing to badmouth the United States of America.
Words, even my words, have power. And power recklessly exerted from my throne at the New York Times has consequences. Yes, I’m about being politically correct, but I’m also insensitive to the plight of those being mocked, unless they are in the protected classes. Why can’t I ask the people taking the punches to also take my innocent and often very witty jokes?
Let’s show the whole of mankind that we can mock any disfavored group in any way we want, especially those who wear magic underwear.