"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Roseanne Barr and the Cost of Freedom of Speech...

What was she thinking...? Or was she thinking at all?

First off, let me just go on record by establishing that this post is not intended to defend or defame Roseanne Barr.

In fact, as my long-term followers can attest, I typically don't devote this forum to political, racial or controversial issues. Simply believing that there are other topics more informative, positive and noteworthy.  But the more I heard on the news, the more I felt compelled to speak out on this trending topic because of the numerous lessons it imparts.

So, here we are.
My purpose is to increase awareness and encourage intelligent dialogue.

Let's rewind to the genesis...

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've heard that the eagerly anticipated Roseanne Reboot has been unplugged. Grounded. Cancelled abruptly due to a controversial comment she reportedly made on Twitter, concerning Obama's adviser, Valerie Jarrett.
Read more about Roseanne's fiasco.

Though humor (like art) can sometimes be subjective, I'm willing to bet that few folks found her comment or comparison of Jarrett to Planet of the Apes as particularly funny. Not to mention, this is a "sequel" we've seen played out too many times before in our nation's history.

Adding insult to injury, is the fact that I was a former fan (like many Blacks). Besides being funny, this sitcom seemed to be very inclusive in its casting and storyline.
Now, in an "instant rice minute," Roseanne Barr's poor judgment quickly tarnished the sitcom's reputation; deprived ABC's viewing audience (18.2 million), of a well-regarded, entertaining show; and has caused friends and supporters to divorce themselves from her.

One act is seemingly overshadowing her many accomplishments in the entertainment industry.

So what can we learn moving forward?  How can we find teachable moments here? (Particularly for those of us in the public's eye).

Here are my "take-aways" today...

In Roseanne's case the tab could ultimately be millions---in terms of lost endorsements, shows, etc.
The lesson? Just because you CAN say anything as an adult living in a free society, doesn't mean you should. Hello? Everything need not be verbalized or shared in a public forum. What you say at home at the dinner table is a different story.

As bloggers and writers most of us have felt the pressure to say something clever on Facebook, or to post something relevant to update our blogs. But sometimes, when you're at a lack for words, it's best to leave it that way. "Silence is golden".  Really.

Use responsibly. And with maturity.

The career you save might be your own.
In this Internet age your online image can make or break you
Mind your manners.
Don't take big stands on small issues. You are an "example" to someone.

In conclusion...

It's ironic that something that initially started out as an attempted joke by Roseanne Barr has caused such sadness, disappointment and controversy.

A timely reminder that we should choose our words like we would choose our friends.
Carefully. Wisely.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
Do you think that her punishment fit the crime?
Curious here...

Image credits: Pixabay.com


  1. Well said! I completely agree with you. So many people will
    suffer as a result. Mind your manners should be taken literally, especially in public forum. Drop by sometime.

    1. Lin,
      It's so unfortunate that the cast members will be adversely impacted too.
      I hope something positive comes from this. Time will tell.
      Thanks. I value your input here.

  2. We all should remember that actions have consequences. I say this as one who didn't watch the original show and chose not to watch the 'reboot.' It's just that I didn't think she was that funny.

    1. Celeste,

      Thanks for your candor. I appreciate the feedback.
      Take care.

  3. I have a tiny little blog, I'm on twitter and I have two facebook pages. One with friends, one with authors. There have been moments where I probably stepped on the line. Lets face it, we're all guilty of something.

    That being said, little old me does not compare to Ms. Barr. She's a national and international figure. Clearly not a smart one. ABC is no different than any other company. They had to fire her.

    In a nutshell we are grownups. Sadly social media can turn these grownups into 16 year old's. Ms. Barr is a prime example.

    Thank you for talking about this. We need to hear this.

    1. Bryan,
      You're right. Sometimes social media can bring out the negative.
      Glad to have you join the conversation today.

  4. Useful tips for writers starting to build a platform as well as those already established.
    I agree, it is always better to think before we talk.
    Our image is too valuable and can be destroyed in seconds.
    Great post, Jennifer.

    1. Hi Ingmar,
      It's a pleasure to hear from you on this.
      So glad you found the post useful.
      Thanks so much for your time and perspective.

  5. I'm beginning to think that social media brings out our true character. It's easy to hide behind the keyboard and spout off our true feelings.

    What surprises me is the reaction I see when those same people are shocked at the criticism they receive for such comments. In Barr's case it seems as though she is shocked that she her show was cancelled.

    People like her don't learn. Give her a month or two and she'll be back. We are seeing who she really is. Unfortunately there are many more like her.

    Thank you for posting this. We need to talk about this.

  6. I decided long ago what I wanted to present to the public. I have strongly held beliefs and opinions, but I decided I wanted to build up, not tear down, and I have always let that guide me -- in my online communication in particular. I think part of the problem today is, as you note, that people don't think -- but you can't wait until your fingers are hovering over keyboard to think -- you have to think as far ahead as possible. Decide what you want to present to the world -- figure out in advance what how you want to be perceived and how that could be established by what you write -- and then stick to it. One can hope that the person online is related to the individual in person -- I pursue the "build up" approach even off line. But online, too much damage can be done too fast to not have a plan in place.

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      Your words provide sage advice here.
      It's always nice to have you chime in.
      Hope all is well for you. Keep in touch.

  7. There is much to be said for thinking before we speak. This world needs more people who strive to "Mind your manners". Well said, Jen.