The New York Times wants us to feel sorry for the white people who are held accountable for the dumb shit they say on the internet. Of course this article wouldn't be complete without a privileged blonde lady in tears. The Times— a safe haven to hipster parents, vapid celebrity children profiles, and a woman who loathes store-bought items at bake sales — follows up with Justine Sacco, the public relations flack who posted an ignorant, racist joke about AIDS in Africa on Twitter before she boarded an 11 hour flight to South Africa.
She explains herself.
"To me it was so insane of a comment for anyone to make," she said. "I thought there was no way that anyone could possibly think it was literal." (She would later write [the reporter] an email to elaborate on this point. "Unfortunately, I am not a character on 'South Park' or a comedian, so I had no business commenting on the epidemic in such a politically incorrect manner on a public platform," she wrote. "To put it simply, I wasn't trying to raise awareness of AIDS or piss off the world or ruin my life. Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the third world. I was making fun of that bubble.")
Anyone who has had a middle school health class damn well knows that any race can get AIDS so no one literally believed that Justine thought that. She may have been trying to poke fun at the white privilege bubble, sure I guess, but a dismissive stupid comment, that has to be fewer than 140 characters, doesn't leave any room for context or nuance. Furthermore, the internet didn't know Justine personally. Social media and Fox news comments sections are rife with racists who have no qualms making a joke like that so taking what she said at face value is the only thing left to do.
The article also follows up with Lindsay Stone who was famous for flipping off a sign at Arlington Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Alicia Ann Lynch, who dressed up for Halloween as a Boston Marathon bombing victim. The douchey tech bros who thought it was funny to joke about forking and dongles at a tech conference also made the article. All of them were eventually fired for their actions online.
Oddly enough, these three GOP staffers were completely omitted from the article, and I do not understand why. They, too, apologized, got fired, and felt internet wrath. Maybe the New York Times thinks they don't deserve the same sympathy?
The problem with becoming more and more insulated in communities where no one looks different is that there's literally no one there to say, "Hey making a penis joke in an industry that isn't known for being friendly and fair to women probably isn't a good idea." If you don't understand why saying stuff like this is wrong, even joking about it, then, yes, you deserve to get your ass handed to you Twitter style. Not only that, but similar to Justine, we don't know you or the "witty" point you're trying to make. (Even if I did know you, I'd still tell you to shut the fuck up because that shit isn't funny.)
When the online world sees bigoted, racist, misogynist, and intolerant things, we literally have no choice but to take that content at face value. I will never understand why the authors of this garbage are shocked at the backlash.
As for the techdouche with three kids and a wife who got fired over the dongle joke and cried in his car after his dismissal? Imagine feeling that way every single day after work. Imagine seeing your tormentors go unpunished as well as promoted and paid more over you for no other reason than they're the right race and have the right genitalia. Now imagine that trend in an entire industry. Is that shit funny to you now?
No, I don't feel sorry for the stupid white people who say stupid things on social media. They don't deserve death threats or pitchforks on the front lawn, but the professional consequences and emotional responses may be the only damn things that finally give these people the one thing they don't have: empathy.