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The Scoop - This column not written on Ambien

I guess the real side effect of taking Ambien is sudden termination.

Roseanne Barr discovered that this week when ABC showed a person can, in fact, go too far on social media and get fired because of a racist tweet. Roseanne is a comedian and she has a right to make jokes, but comparing a black politician to "Planet of the Apes" didn't quite have the punchline she desired.

Underlying questions swirl around this case of "The Misguided Ambien Tweeter," and I'm eager to address two of them. The first pertains to free speech and, oddly enough, my column last week about kneeling during the national anthem.

If you recall, last week I talked about my disappointment with the NFL in trying to stifle freedom of expression and make all players stand during the anthem. Standing and placing your right hand on your heart is certainly preferred behavior, but I don't think players should be punished for protesting social problems which are being ignored.

Hold that thought as we glide to Roseanne's tweet fiasco. She has the right to tweet what she wants, and far be it for me to be the Tweet Police and determine what's OK, but her message lacks anything positive or constructive.

Roseanne is not disagreeing with a person's stance. She's not commenting on a person's wrongful behavior which should be corrected. She's slamming someone for their appearance in a deliberately hurtful way.

ABC decided the consequences of this action is immediate termination, a punishment I find surprisingly harsh. But it's hard to mount any sort of workable defense for someone who goes out of their way to hurl a racial slur at a person in front of 774,000 Twitter followers.

My second question involves social media and its ever-changing role. At its inception, MySpace and Facebook were touted as a way to make long-distance connections with friends and family members. If grandma can't make that 5th birthday party because she lives out of state, post a couple pics on Facebook and grandma will feel like she was there.

Unfortunately, social media has abandoned much of its wholesome beginnings and morphed into a place where people fling insults, build conspiracy theories, and spread lies. In trying to explain her initial racist tweet, Roseanne returned to Twitter to offer this curious bit of garble.
Roseanne tweeted, "guys I did something unforgivable so do not defend me. It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting -- it was memorial day too -- i went 2 far & do not want it defended -- it was egregious Indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but...don't defend it please."

I'm not going to defend it because I don't understand this new mindset of bashing everyone on social media. In the case of Roseanne and the black politician she degraded, have they ever even met?

This new normal is disturbing. Perhaps the actions of ABC will reinforce the fact we do have free speech, but it's not without consequences.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.