Ryan Lau | @agorisms
Last weekend, a bitterly polarizing event took place in Washington, DC. Present for the March for Life, a group of around 60 students from Covington High School in Kentucky was suddenly in too deep.
For over an hour, the black supremacist group Black Hebrew Israelites hurled insults at the children. Some of them were needlessly rowdy in return, but for the most part, it appears they maintained their composure well, especially considering their age. Nathan Phillips, a Native American, then came between the groups. Chanting some native hymn and beating a drum loudly, stood next to one of the students, Nick Sandmann. Over the span of about a minute of this faceoff, Sandmann’s only reaction was an awkward-looking smile.
For several days, the media railed against Sandmann and company, calling them white supremacists. Despite this, they have no affiliation with any known white supremacist groups. Some users online went so far as to affiliate the kids with Nazis.
Edited, short videos had portrayed the kids as shouting “build that wall”. But upon further examination, that and several other statements became apparently false. For example, many sources falsely reported Nathan Phillips to be a Vietnam Veteran.
Some figures in the media took time to apologize for their statements and condemnations. CNN’s Jake Tapper retweeted a Reason article that showed how the media got this one wrong.
.@reason: “Video footage strongly contradicts Native American veteran Nathan Phillips' claim that Covington Catholic High School boys harassed him. The media got this one completely wrong,” writes @robbysoave https://t.co/9Ki4iiTkQ9
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 20, 2019
The Jack Morrissey Tweet
But not everyone backed off of the situation. Jack Morrissey, the producer of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017), made a particularly awful tweet towards the children. He stated, “#MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper”. That’s right, he held nothing back, idealizing the slaughter of a bunch of children with different political views, who demonstrated in a way that most can now agree was not initiating controversy in any meaningful way.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they initiated the standoff, though. Regardless, it is not acceptable, especially as the director of a Disney kids movie, to talk about killing kids, personally or not. This really shouldn’t be a controversial thing to say in 2019. Glamorizing the murder of children is wrong.
Rightfully, this received immediate backlash. Morrissey set his tweets to private and later deleted the tweet. But it was too late, and the damage was done. Or was it?
After deleting the tweets, Morrissey admittedly issued a profound apology on Twitter. He reported to The Wire that he would “throw [his] phone into the ocean” before tweeting that again. The famed producer also indicated that the comments were supposed to be satire.
Neither of these two remarks comes close to excusing Jack Morrissey. For nearly 100 years, Disney has aimed its material at children and tried to show good messages through positive films and books. When a child thinks of a haven of entertainment, Disney may be the first thing to come to mind. Saying that it is in any way desirable or acceptable to kill a child is a Disney villain’s job. When producers steer into the realm of evil, they do not deserve a job. Someone acting an awful lot like Gaston simply should not be writing movies about the character.
Where is Disney, and for that matter, where is the rest of the media? Currently, the only media companies to have reported on this issue are a few alternative conservative outlets. Not one source of major attention has given Jack Morrissey a passing glance. Where is the outrage for this clearly morally reprehensible act?
Compare this incident to the controversy around Aziz Ansari, who took a considerable reputation hit for the crime of not sexually assaulting a woman he went on a date with. His story took the country by storm, deeply accentuating the divide that the #MeToo movement has created. Though he did and said nothing wrong, many people rushed to conclusions, condemning the hilarious actor.
Proper Action: Immediate Termination
Morrissey, on the other hand, made a terrible decision with his woodchipper tweet. I am not in any way suggesting that he would actually kill children and do believe in the sincerity of his apology. But someone who may make such a rash decision should not have a major role in making children’s movies. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be the parent of one of the Covington boys, reading that tweet. I imagine that it would fill my heart with sorrow, rage, dread, or perhaps some of each. The same must apply to many other parents, whose children idealize his films. Just be careful, kids, and don’t get caught wearing a MAGA hat; you may find yourself the subject of a bitterly vile joke from a man who deserves to be fired.
Moreover, one can compare the situation to that of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn. Last July, he was fired from his position due to a number of offensive tweets. These included extremely insensitive remarks about pedophilia and the Holocaust. Not long after they surfaced, Gunn lost his role.
In this case, Disney absolutely made the right decision. They took swift and commendable action against an employee who acted in a vile manner. Why have they not yet done the same to Jack Morrissey? For his incredibly lowly and immoral tweet, he deserves the same fate. Anyone who tweets about throwing children into a woodchipper has no place at a company predominantly focused on entertaining kids.
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