Justine Sacco: Sympathy for This Twitter Devil

Justine Sacco: Twitter Devil Deserves Some

There's no defending her outrageous tweet. But there are reasons why she could have been so blind

No one knows what IAC publicist Justine Sacco was thinking when she tweeted Friday, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” — maybe not even she herself.

And yet not only do I unexpectedly find myself feeling sorry for her, but actually identifying with her a little bit.

That said, let’s get the requisite disclaimers out of the way first. What she tweeted was offensive, in my opinion, and because of the nature of the job she occupied, she deserved to be fired by IAC, regardless of her apology.

But as vile as the sentiment she expressed was, there are some potential extenuating circumstances here that don’t excuse her behavior but might mitigate her misdeed somewhat.

Repugnant as her joke was, there is a difference between outright hate speech and even the most ill-advised attempt at humor. It is within the realm of reason that Sacco’s tweet didn’t flow directly from some deep reservoir of prejudice, like the recently displayed homophobia of “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson did.

A distinction without a difference, you might counter. But Twitter is a component of a broader culture of entertainment in this country where comedians routinely traffic in humor that plays on politically incorrect stereotypes about race, religions and other categorizations.

What Sacco said really isn’t all that different than a joke someone like Sarah Silverman tweets or utters in a stand-up routine. The context of professional comedy permits them to be that transgressive, a nuance lost on some.

You know the type; every office has at least one person who casually make the kind of cringe-inducing crack that betrays a tin ear to the subtleties of social norms. Sacco may be an idiot but she’s not evil, and given how we grant comedians the ability to cross that line, her confusion is not entirely incomprehensible.

Another type to consider: The person who feels they have license to engage in gallows humor about their own people because, well, it’s their own people. Sacco hailed from South Africa and may have forgotten that kind of crack doesn’t fly beyond closed doors.

That said, anyone who works in corporate communications and doesn’t have enough sense to steer clear of that kind of humor needs to find a new line of work.

But that’s what made this story so delicious in the first place, right? How can someone whose job is to protect the value of their employer by saying all the right things blurt out something so monumentally stupid?

It’s time to be blunt about the nature of corporate PR. While some of the smartest people I have ever worked with hail from its ranks, some bulbs burn a lot brighter than others, to put it charitably.

And believe it or not, that’s not a knock on those publicists. That broadside is directed at the companies with dysfunctional corporate cultures in which the people in these crucial posts are some combination of stenographer/cheerleader/babysitter instead of the savvy strategists required to do the job correctly. These people are treated like puppets by executives who don’t understand who they really need to hire because they narcissistically believe they can handle it all themselves.

I didn’t know Sacco well enough to know what type of publicist she was, but I do know that type exists. And we can call her a moron based on a Twitter history filled with inappropriate comments — but isn’t IAC the bigger dolt, because no one in the company flagged her previous tweets to superiors as a sign that they had a timebomb ticking in their midst? Maybe she should have never had that job in the first place.

But Sacco’s flack status almost feels besides the point in some respect. She’s just another seat at this Algonquin round table of unlimited circumference we call Twitter, where media types of all stripes engage in this nonstop game of verbal oneupmanship in an effort to make ourselves heard above the din. Flacks are no exception to this virtual cocktail party because social media is the place to influence the influencers. And instead of simply using social media to spit out press releases, they engage in our raucous conversation in an effort to charm and disarm. And part of that is cracking the kind of provocative jokes that resonate on Twitter.

However, a smart publicist knows the line between being a firecracker and a firestarter. Sacco did not.

But am I any smarter than she is? I’ll confess to several instances this past year where I tweeted comments I regretted. And yet, it’s those times when you manage to come close to crossing the line that draw attention on Twitter. I can’t shake the fear that one day I will look down and see that line far behind me given the haste and humor with which you have to conduct yourself to make your mark.

Whether it’s stress or anger or even medication, we’ve all had moments where we aren’t 100% of sound mind. And we’ve all been there at the same time as we’ve had a gadget in our pockets that allows us to essentially broadcast to the entire world a sentence or two that, if poorly chosen, can destroy our reputations in a matter of seconds.  There but for the grace of a Buzzfeed retweet go I.

At a time of year when the hamster wheel we call our careers slows a tick or two, consider that maybe we are all Justine Sacco. Or at least 140 characters away from being her at any given time.

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  1. geoff says:

    Let it go folks!!!

  2. Matt L. says:

    It’s sad that people are such idiots that they can’t tell the difference between racism and a joke, and that they’d want to ruin someone’s life over it. It’s not racist, because no one could be stupid enough to believe that white people don’t get aids. It’s not hilarious, but to take it at face-value ignores the fact it’s written completely in joke form. It’s a joke! “I’m white” is the punchline, the surprise. Here’s what she intended on a line-by-lline basis:

    Going to africa! hope I don’t get aids! — meant to read as a bad joke, the lamest offensive joke
    Just kidding! — meant to throw you. “just kidding!”, reader breathes a sigh of relief
    “I’m white.” — changes the meaning of the “JK!” from “I’m not racist” to “I’m more racist” That’s the joke! The surprise! She changes your expectation over the course of 4 sentences. It’s a joke, written in classic joke-form, for which I’m sure Sacco believed she’d be protected (like a comedian) from backlash by the oft-cited defense of “it’s a joke!” She wasn’t, because: she’s not a comedian, people love to get angry, and it became such an issue for her employer that she had to be fired.

    A joke is a word trick, it’s not some statement of what you actually believe. And by couching it *in a joke*, you can usually infer that this is NOT what Sacco believes.

    Finally, to everyone saying it’s a “bad joke,” it’s really not. It’s not a great joke or anything, but it works. Had any comedian in the world made that joke, it would have been a complete non-event. If you want to argue that her position holds her to a higher standard, fine, but understand that what you’re arguing for is that in certain jobs we cede the primacy of careful, intelligent reading—of the truth—to the whims of a stupid, capricious mob.

    Should the only people allowed to get away with telling a dark joke be comedians? Maybe, but that’s pretty lame. Sure, most would’ve had more sense as to realize the risk she was taking, but she’s still the victim here.

    • Matt L. says:

      I just want to add this, because I don’t think I made this clear:

      Going line by line, the format of the joke was: somewhat racist statement, relief, very racist punch.

      To do this, Sacco would need to know what she was saying was offensive, because that’s what the whole rhythm of the joke is predicated on. The whole joke is predicated on Sacco’s understanding of casual racism. It’s the kind of “racist” joke you make when you’re not actually racist. A real racist joke shows an obliviousness, like when Rush compares Obama to Curious George. Also, Sacco’s joke wasn’t making fun of aids, or black people, (it wasn’t carrying much of a message at all). It was a form joke that relies on subverting the reader’s expectations regarding casual racism.

      Again, the issue is that Sacco is not a comedian, so she’s harangued for making the joke. I just think it’s lame. Go do something actually productive; don’t be the humorless knight crusading for the dignity of poor Africans against (not-actually-racist) twitter jokes. What heroes.

  3. Squid Burns says:

    She is from South Africa, she knows what she said was racist. The fallout is her fault. Freedom of Speech means she cannot be arrested for what she said, but that does not guarantee she will stay employed. After all this time some people still don’t understand how public and permanent internet posts really are. She can chalk this up as a learning experience. I have no sympathy for her. She made her bed and now she has to sleep in it. People should be held accountable for their actions.

  4. RV says:

    Read her apparent other comments, …”to my jews…”, first of all, she’s jewish, not white, secondly; HIV is a major health issue among blacks in all of Africa, it’s a fact, nothing racist about it. This is political correctness gone insane.

  5. Debra says:

    How do you know her tweet didn’t come from the same “deep well of prejudice” as the Duck Dynasty guy? Duck’s quack and Sacco’s tweet both come from the “well” of white privilege. And Sacco should know that white women get AIDS,too. What a ridiculous tweet!

  6. Jcareer says:

    We are, more than ever, convinced that our personal power, ability to influence and life’s subtle lessons are to be gleaned and honed on, and from, Twitter et al. And the fact that we are concentrating on one persons concept of this egregious misconception actually accentuates what I can only describe as ignorance of true spirit. We are all guilty. If we cannot and do not examine our own internal selves every ticking second we will always be dependent on egos that will never be satiated but always looking for the next best tweet. The other irony is that she tweeted her unforgivable yet piteous error less than one month after Mandela’s death. We are sorrowfully misguided.

  7. Brian says:

    I completely disagree. I think her many offensive comments show that she is indeed a vile, privileged, racist idiot. I’m so glad she’s being forced to take full responsibility for her actions and hope she never works in that field again. I’ve known people like her. They’re all despicable human beings.

  8. Cameron says:

    For what its worth Andrew, I agree with just about everything you have said. And I while I know this isn’t going to happen anytime soon, I wish people would take a step back from their rage ask themselves why. Why are they so angry? What is it about this string of characters that has unleashed such poisonous rage in so many people? And is it really worth it?

    As insults go, I’ve seen worse. But I’ve never seen this level of backlash before.

  9. Amy says:

    When somebody reads what a comic says, they are prepared for the fact that the comic may go over the line. That’s the comic’s job – to make people uncomfortable, in some instances, or to laugh at ourselves. , Even comics get reprimanded when they go too far. Steve Martin, just recently, wrote an apology for a tweet that some of his followers found offensive and racist. This woman’s job was is in Communications/PR. She has to have some idea of what to say and what not to say. Otherwise, how can she do her job? She has to know that people have gotten into serious trouble for what they say on social media. If she didn’t, then what kind of rock was she hiding under? If you want to blame IAC for not invading her non-work life and monitoring her Twitter account, then so be it. However, she wasn’t even astute enough to make an account that’s separate from her corporate identity. So, I believe the fault is squarely upon her shoulders.

    The moral of the story is that you never know who’s watching or reading what you do and say. So, use the ’10 O’clock News Rule’: If you are saying something you would be ashamed or embarrassed to see on the nightly news, then don’t say it or do it, especially not in a public forum.

    I feel sorry for her. I really do. But, she was an executive level director of communications for an international media company who vacationed in London. She was probably let go with all the perks of being an executive. Hopefully, she’ll get another position and she’s learned from her mistakes.

  10. Moe says:

    Wow, so when a TV show like Family Guy makes a joke about it, it’s okay, we laugh cause its a joke. But when someone on the internet makes a similar joke, lets drag her through the streets and ruin her life (cause twitter is that important now). The mob mentality of people is staggeringly stupid.

  11. JT Ricroft says:

    Justine will be just fine. In a world that thrives on drama and reality TV, she will move to an even more visible role. One that she is probably more fit to hold. Maybe her own talk show, a True Life documentary, and certainly a People magazine moment where she gets to share her story again. She is human, had poor judgment (multiple times, from what I’ve read from previous tweets), and has certainly learned her lesson. I’m so glad that those who want to throw stones at her are so perfect.

  12. Marcelo says:

    Sacco is a shame to the human race

  13. Victoria says:

    To respond to your first point, no one knows what she was thinking… she said it loud and clear. It’s a disgusting thought, and then she put it in writing and sent it out into the cyber world. We reap what we sow.

  14. shaun says:

    I think
    she deserve to be sentenced to jail maybe she
    would learn that aids is not a joke.

  15.  One can’t help but wonder if the general alarm and offense of Sacco’s comments wasn’t so much what she said, that it was in poor taste was a given but perhaps what was more alarming was the cavalier way she went on to express a point of view that may in the end be harbored by many even if they dare not publicly admit to it and that too is the catch…. the head of a pr department going on to betray a kind of privileged stasis that may be tolerated by insiders on the quiet but never openly tolerated when one dares to show off how wonderfully repugnant and insensitive one can be, because they can afford to….. until that is the day they can’t. 

    Really are we surprised Justine Sacco said what she said or is she endemic of a privileged breed that harbor such points of views….???

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2013/12/was-justine-sacco-fired-unjustly/

  16. Bruce Madddox says:

    Don Rickles is an icon. If he were starting out today, though, he’d be a pariah. There is almost no room for humor if it offends someone today…and all good humor offends someone. It’s only safe to make fun of Christians…and that won’t last long.

  17. Fred says:

    First of all she said Africa…irrespective of the fact the she “hails from South Africa” this is straight up wrong to say some shit like this. Glad she got fired. Think before you tweet retard

  18. Tom says:

    Great article. Yes, what Justine said was stupid and offensive. However, all these people who want her head need to look at themselves and recall some regrettable offensive comments they have said at some point. True, you most likely weren’t a PR exec or you were smart enough to avoid twitter. Bottom line is that she is a human like the rest of us. It was a horrible, horrible joke but I agree that it wasn’t an attempt to be hateful. Did she deserve to be fired? Yes. Does she deserve to have her life ruined? No, I don’t think so. I’m sure she will be givin another chance to redeem herself in the future.

  19. occultology says:

    “Freedom of Speech” is a difficult concept to grasp. Someone please explain how it’s supposed to work in “The Land of the Free” again, because no one seems to fully understand this premise. Didn’t some people, somewhere, fight and die for this ideal once upon a time, or is our “National Anthem” really just a “Merrie Melody”?

    • Ron Geraci says:

      It can be difficult to grasp. It’s embodied in this: “Congress shall make no law…”

      Many believe, incorrectly, that freedom of speech means “I can say whatever I want, and other people simply have to tolerate me saying it, because my right to say it is protected by the government.”

      No one has to tolerate your speech, perse. The government cannot enact a law to silence you. Other people cannot use legislation to silence you, or use legislation to punish you for what you’ve said.

      There are several important exceptions to this — incitement, fighting words, obscenity, threats, false statements, etc. Many are still frequently debated.

      Nothing that’s happened to Justine Sacco would be out of line with free speech. She exercised it and her critics and employer exercised it.

      Here’s a common scenario used to explain the limits of free speech protection. Some people view it as incitement or fighting words, but it can be clearly framed to be an unpopular opinion, which is the root of many free speech debates and likely the issue at hand in Sacco’s tweet.

      A drunk man is talking to a couple in a bar. The man says to the woman, “I think you’re a very stupid person. And I think you’re ugly. We have freedom of speech in this country, and these are my personal opinions, and I’m free to state them.” The woman’s husband, a lawyer, says to the drunk man, “if the government ever tries to enact a law that would stop you from saying my wife is stupid and ugly, I’ll defend you. But right now, I’m going to beat the hell out of you for insulting my wife. If you’d like to sue me for assault, there’s a strong chance that you’ll win the case, and I will gladly suffer the penalties.”

  20. John says:

    Did Sacco use her PR connections to have this article written?

  21. Adam Falck says:

    All the criticism of her is regarding the “racism” of this comment. Its more just plain stupidity. Posting that her white privilege prevents her from contracting HIV (which she wrongly said AIDS) is either ignorant or just bad comedy…unless she has a CCR5 mutation, then I guess her tweet is a matter of fact. Sad to see companies sending people like her to “Africa” (I guess she didn’t realize it’s a huge continent not a single country) taking more than they give.

    You article demonstrates this lack of culpability for our own ignorance. Justifying it by saying we have off moments… fine. But your article is just more senseless chatter for the mix.

    • Adam Falck says:

      Edited from my previous comment:

      All the criticism of her is regarding the “racism” of this comment. It’s more just plain stupidity. Posting that her white privilege prevents her from contracting HIV (which she wrongly said AIDS) is either ignorant or just bad comedy…if she has a CCR5 mutation, then I guess her tweet is a matter of fact. Sad to see companies sending people like her to “Africa” (I guess she didn’t realize it’s a huge continent – not a single country) taking more than they give.

      Your article demonstrates this lack of culpability for our own ignorance. Justifying it (or not as you said you didn’t) by saying we have off moments… fine. But your article is just more senseless chatter for the mix.

  22. unclesamonmars says:

    These days I question if an article like this is written for “click purposes”. Ya know, people will come to the site after word gets around and it makes it appear to be legitimate traffic.If the author truly feels this way, I am concerned.This woman suffers from the worst case of “common sense isn’t very common” I’ve ever witnessed. That and SWPD; Stupid White Person Disease. She should have been sacked and I’m happy she’s gone. If she was a well known comedian, she would still be a hugely insensitive moron. In what universe is this kind of remark funny? She was not on a stage at a comedy club where there exists a certain “license”. It makes you wonder how people like this ever achieve gainful employment.

  23. Lisa says:

    Interesting that a man expressing his religious believes is vilified but a vile joke is given a pass. Just wondering a loud if Wallenstein’s sympathies are only limited to pretty blond girls. Or if her joke was about homosexuals, would he have been so forgiving?

  24. J.J. Johnson says:

    Who is more self-absorbed … Sacco … or Andrew Wallenstein ??

  25. Whitney J. says:

    Thank you to EVERYONE in this comment section who has condemned both Justine and Andrew. I’m sick of living in a world where this kind of speech is sugar-coated and never met with any real consequences. So when one offends an entire group of people (from the African continent and those of African descent), that person should understand the weight of her words. Even her apology was laced with ignorance — she says, “There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country [South Africa], that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis.” So wait — in America we don’t live with the consequences of HIV/AIDS crisis?? Check the stats with the CDC, honey. YOU don’t have to face or live with the impact of this epidemic but there are PLENTY of people right here in “America” who do. That is what the privilege bubble will do to you. And herein lies my problem –

    I’m so sick of the “accidental or ironic racist” BS that white privilege, and Andrew, says is okay.

    I’m sick of people thinking that humor excludes them from responsibility. So, would it change the hurtful sentiment if the Aryan Brotherhood added a punchline? Oh no, they’ll say, this is our attempt at humor. WELL YOU’RE THE ONNNNLY ONE LAUGHING CAUSE WHO THINKS THIS IS FUNNY BESIDES YOU?

    I’m sick of having to personally live with the stigma that comes along with said humor, so much so that interacting with people becomes a chore of explanations and corrections.

    And I’m sick of people with a platform like Andrew not using it to help make this a comfortable place for everyone, though this is admittedly not my expectation, so the bar is set pretty low. Great job, Andrew — you certainly didn’t disappoint.

    • Crystal says:

      This kind of speech can and has in Justine Sacco’s case, result in losing their job and enduring severe cyber bullying by people all over the world (I have seen people wish Aids on her) and turns them into a social pariah (I doubt she has not lost a lot of her friends). I would hardly call that not real consequences.

      Disclaimer: I’m not defending her, what she said was incredibly insensitive and vile and there’s nothing excusable about it. I’m just pointing out that she is facing real consequences and that her words are not being sugar-coated by the majority.

    • Dee says:

      Well said Whitney!!

  26. Jason Boyd says:

    Does anyone have a sense of humor anymore… Who cares, why is this news? I feel bad for all the people wasting their time writing articles about stuff like this.

  27. MIke says:

    Could not disagree more. We must all shoulder the consequences for our deeds and misdeeds. Sacco deserves all the problems she receives for her misconduct. I will never understand the urge to sugar coat bad behavior like this. Sacco screwed up and deserves all she gets. I agree about one thing… IAC did not do their homework when it hired her. They deserve consequences for that poor choice but that in no way mitigates Sacco’s misconduct.

    Mike
    Chicago

  28. Wassa says:

    The startling insensitivity of reducing people’s suffering and death to jokes is bad enough, but then to layer it with the suggestion that that same death and suffering is assignable to a particular race, which can be read as some sort of justification or diminution of the severity of the problem, is not just stupid. It’s heartless and cruel — and indicative of deeper social ills that add to the growing sense of a loss of humanity.

    Hopefully, the people who think the true risk here is employment jeopardy will take this as an opportunity to explore the true effects of this kind of hurtful attitude toward other people.

  29. gregory says:

    nobody really believes she is the devil but what she said was outrageously inappropriate and hugely distasteful. i don’t agree with your point about professional comedians being able to be that transgressive, that such a joke would not harm their image in the same way this joke has obviously destroyed justine’s. You have to think about all the AIDS victims in Africa that she must have deeply offended. I believe that the worst part about her statement, was the being white part at the end. let’s be honest here, there are a lot of people in this world who are concerned about going to africa and contracting a disease…that’s just the way things are. But to imply that she cannot get the disease due to her colour, is not only racist but utterly untrue. How could she have said something like that? Only God knows…

  30. Div Gopal says:

    I agree with your article. However, someone in her capacity should be careful to not joke around. Her job is PR. She should have known better.

  31. Charlie100000 says:

    Sympathy…..really. Wow, what is the world coming to? Ill save my sympathy for those who are suffering. What a silly article.

  32. Ron Geraci says:

    The aftermath of this tweet rode an extremely unlikely disaster cascade.

    IAC could have slowed the hate swells on Twitter and possibly prevented a catastrophic phenomenon with potentially grave human consequences. Instead they let a person twist and burn.

    The Justine Sacco Story: It Won’t Happen to You
    http://www.themintyplum.com

  33. Terence Anthony says:

    I take it back…. Inexcusable…..she ought to be dealt with…why was she going to Africa to begin with?….a front I suppose …most of these marketing types are like this

  34. TRMaz says:

    Her wounds are self-inflicted and public. Let’s save the sympathy and give that, and more, to the AIDS victims in Africa’s epidemic.

  35. ozimmI says:

    Just proves you are even more foolish then her…..she may be racist but you take the cake man

  36. Carol Ann says:

    I really enjoy that a white man wrote a defense of such a racist tweet. I wonder how often you actually see racism or encounter it in a meaningful way. Of course you can “see where she’s coming from”. I hate to break it to you buddy, but casual racism isn’t excusable just because it isn’t as flagrant as KKK racism. Being “accidentally racist” even when “coming from a good place” doesn’t change that you did/said something racist. And you know what? Saying something racist, even if it is “just a little racist” still represents the misguided ignorance of a racist. You’re right that her comment probably came from being culturally unaware; but that’s just no longer an excuse for an educated adult in the modern age. As a person of color I am so sick and tired of white people saying “oh I’m not like that I just wasn’t raised to see race” and getting away with being ignorant. You don’t have to feel sorry for this girl. All this article reveals is that you identify with her, and you’re trying to give yourself and people like her an excuse for racial microagressions. You probably can think of a time or two you or a good friend has said something similar and want to find any reason to make it so that you don’t have to recognize the racist in you or your associates. Her comment was not blind or misguided humor, and the fact that you have the unmitigated gall to write this article and post it on the interment baffles me.

  37. Jas says:

    Sorry? No that wasn’t like a joke. She’s not a comedian. It was a racial slur and although she is from South Africa she is white and purposely offended the BLACK South Africans, so her being from there is not even an excuse. You’re probably just as racist as her. Do you know what it’s like to me made fun of looked down upon for centuries cause if the color of your skin? Has anyone ever discriminated against you for being white? Don’t worry ill wait…,

  38. Spot on …..very well described truth :)

  39. Denise Beall says:

    I don’t feel bad for her and neither should you. Well….. maybe because her duck face is annoying you could feel a little sorry. Her comment is so much worse than duck dynasty dude’s. She is simultaneously insulting a racial group and a group with a terrible illness, duck dyno guy is just giving his opinion on sexuality, which he is entitled to.

  40. Daniel says:

    “What Sacco said really isn’t all that different than a joke someone like Sarah Silverman tweets or utters in a stand-up routine.” An example please.

  41. alison says:

    Despite your not so well hidden underlying desire to perhaps bed this ignorant, unconcerned, pseudo professional (strong bolds and emphasis on pseudo) who quite possibly embodies your own tastes in women both physically and mentally (meaning lacking any sense of logic or respect of social mores-regardless of any supposable white privilege), you clearly are cut from the same cloth to defend such ignorances. You are defending the “poor innocent white girl” who has been so consumed by her privilege in life that she has never been moved to even attempt to get to know the world around us outside of her own four walls. This is evident clearly from her statement. I doubt that this is a woman who has taken time to know the “minority” peers in her department, go out for drinks, dish on office crushes as she does with her “white” coworkers. Let alone in South Africa where black people live all around! Has she ever visited an HIV clinic in the city? She would be dumfounded by it’s diversity. Perhaps if she did she would know better. Perhaps if she took time to learn of others in this world, she would realize that people are very similar after you take away race and other surface labels. When a “minority” does something in this world, even the slightest little thing, they are automatically shamed for life and seen as a lost cause whose slighted behavior is to be expected. But Jenny, or Kelly, Or Ashleigh doing the same idiot things are seen as acceptable because they are just so innocent that their is no bad, mean bone in their body and they “just couldn’t have meant it that way.” An ignorant ass is an ignorant ass, no matter WHO it is. This is a woman who has a history of vomiting stupidisms at the mouth, if she were black I don’t think she would have even been working for as long with that same history. She has made multiple comments and now she is finally being done away with. Boo hoo hoo! Cry us a freakin’ river! #Whitegirlproblems…..

  42. justine suckass says:

    I was wondering when some fool(s) would come out in defense of this racist imbecile. And alas, we have just been told that she isn’t evil. We have been reminded that she too is “south African” which somehow mitigates her idiocy. Well sir, permit me to disagree. From her statement only a halfwit would infer that she was making a crude joke about any other race of people but BLACKS. She clearly stated that she was WHITE which somehow shielded her from this disease. Moreover, she didn’t narrow her target to only SOUTH AFRICA. She wrote that she was going to AFRICA. I invite you to consult your nearest map so as to satisfy yourself that AFRICA is NOT SOUTH AFRICA. How silly to even attempt to vindicate clear cut racism.

  43. HKGUy says:

    This column is a really pathetic attempt to milk some page views out of an incident that has gotten a huge amount of attention. Having been thus suckered in, I can only say that the central argument is, um, flawed.

    No office I have ever worked in, or anyone I know has ever worked in, has had an employee such as you describe, because after a few such cringe-inducing remarks, he or she is uniformly shown the door.

  44. John Miller says:

    You gotta be freaking kidding! Where does Variety get “writers” like this? This Justine Sacco is an ignorant waste of molecules and deserved to be fired from her current position and should be gone from the industry. If someone from my industry said the same as she, I would want that person gone ASAP.

  45. Yeah I said it says:

    Im sure that you would extend that same level of sympathetic understanding if she, or anyone else for that matter, were to comment that “she’s going to Africa- hope she doesn’t get skinny like a Jew in a sleep away encampment!” You sir are a schmuck…

  46. Arnie Tracey says:

    Dear Andrew, may I call you Andy? Yes? Okay then, Andy. I do not want to offend you. But mmm I think I must. You’ve insisted. Your sad mea culpa I a pre-emptive cry for help. You think you might cross the red line, hence you wish to excuse (tortuously, I must add) this South African fool. She’s a pathetic moron. And your rushing to mollify us, on her behalf, alters that not one wit. You also seem to need to be deemed a higher thinker. Well, sir, you’re certainly not that. You’re just a tone deaf fellow. You are no different from Palin, ie in her oblivious defense of the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch. Is this something you’re proud of? Don’t be. The PR woman is a racist. And an AIDS-phobe. Don’t be that, Andrew. You’re better. And neither is she Wanda Sykes, or Sarah Sulverman.

  47. BC says:

    Doesn’t anybody get their facts straight. You and every other dumb ass is saying Phil Robertson is homophobic. So what. Who cares? He quoted The Bible. He didn’t just make this up out of the blue. As for this woman she deserves everything she got for her idiotic joke.

  48. Jennifer says:

    A friend of mine died of aids. Its a deadly disease but people need to be aware of it. You can get aids in america as well as other countries. Babies can get aids too.
    White people can get aids as well as black people. Anyone can get aids from sex, hospital personel babies, by blood transfusion… Jen

  49. Ben James says:

    I have zero sympathy for this fool. Sympathy could be afforded someone who for whatever reason didn’t know any better, perhaps. A minor for example who doesn’t quite grasp how global and public their tweet could be, might be given some sympathy. ‘She didn’t realize what she was doing’ is no defense in this instance. Her crime, alongside racism, is reckless arrogance born of privilege.

  50. Not everyone is like that, some of us actually think before we write or say something in public that could be hurtful to the company we represent.

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