The not-at-all contrite Leggero with Carson Daly. (Pic via Getty)
It's barely even January, and 2014 is already looking to be the year sensible people battle back against the Internet mob. Comedian Natasha Leggero became the latest target of The Offended after she made a joke about Pearl Harbor veterans being old.
On New Year's Eve, Leggero was a guest on NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly, and during some kind of "let's look back at the crap that happened in 2013" segment, Carson brought up a criticized tweet from the official SpaghettiOs Twitter feed about Pearl Harbor, featuring a cartoon SpaghettiO waving an American flag.
Leggero quipped, "It sucks that the only survivors of Pearl Harbor are being mocked by the only food that they can still chew." (Video below)
This resulted in the network coming "under fire" for being insensitive, at least according to this article which doesn't quote anyone but people on Twitter and Facebook. Leggero highlighted some of those sensitive Twitter users on an imgur page, sharing a sample of the tweets calling her a cunt and demanding that she be violently assaulted.
Typically in this game, the next step would be for Leggero to offer a weak apology so everyone can move on to attacking someone else. Instead, Leggero did a wonderful thing. She publicly announced that she refuses to apologize.
"Do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt?" Leggero wrote on her Tumblr. "I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O’s too much to bear?"
Not to be all "This!" But seriously. This! These controversies are so worn out, and increasingly they seem less about seeking sensitivity, and more about everyone on the Internet enjoying the bloodlust of tearing someone apart en masse (see: Justine Sacco). If we're so upset by offensive words, why don't we also go after the hundreds and thousands of Twitter users who respond by calling the offender a cunt and demanding she be raped? Why didn't the mob going after Sacco over her AIDS remark also attack all the people who publicly hoped for her to contract the virus? If we're talking about offensive, hoping for someone to catch AIDS (or to be raped, or to be murdered) over a tweet is pretty over the line in anyone's book.
Why doesn't the mob go after them? Oh right. They are the mob.
The offensive remark rarely, if ever, merits the vitriol. The apology is never anything but damage control. And the whole ordeal makes being a progressive feel downright bullyish.
Here's Leggero's full response:
Well hello America!
It’s been a busy few days but rest assured, I have received all of your messages and have been busy sifting through the different creatively misspelled death threats, rape fantasies and most of all repeated use of the the C word. In the past few days I have been called a cunt so much I felt like I was in a British pub rooting for the wrong soccer team. Click here to see some of my faves!
I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt? Let me just try instead to be honest.
I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O’s too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat.
That’s not to say I don’t think comedians are a problem in this country, they are a financial drain on the people who date them and talk far too much about themselves. I’m thrilled to see how passionate (death threats against a five foot tall woman are always the height of passion!) people are about our country and our Veterans. I am too. My own father lost his hearing in the Vietnam War so the issue is pretty close to me too. So rather than apologize, let me offer another perspective.
On the one hand you have me, making a joke about how old people can’t chew tough foods very well.
On the other hand you have Veterans who receive inadequate care upon their return from active duty, rampant sexual assault against female soldiers, staggering rates of suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse and depression among soldiers and political gridlock that prevents these problems from getting solved quickly.
Where do you think your outrage and action would be better served, calling me a cunt or doing something about the above problems?
For those of you that are currently doing both: Kudos!
To our vets: I love you. I truly hope you know that.
To Spaghetti O’s: Let’s do lunch.
To the Elderly: Chew!
To @nealrscott: It’s spelled Human Excrement not Increatment.
To those looking for an active way to address the above problems, do what I’ve decided to do instead of apologize: Make a donation to the Disabled American Veterans foundation. (link http://www.dav.org)
(by Bob Powers)