Social media is one of the best and worst tools available. The thing you have to remember before sending out a tweet is that once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if you delete it afterward, it only takes one person to retweet your comment for it to have the tweet available permanently and the consequences will ensue.
Such is the case for Calgary Stampeders’ Nik Lewis. Lewis has garnered media attention since he tweeted “I just bought OJ’s gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole. #MaybeALittleToFar” On Wednesday the CFL fined Lewis an undisclosed amount for violating the league’s social media policy. This I believe was an appropriate action for his foolish and insensitive tweet.
First a little background. The tweet’s reference was to the murder trial in 1995 of former NFL player O.J. Simpson who was accused for killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
In the courtroom he was asked to put on leather gloves that were discovered at the crime scene. While he was aquitted in the murder, he lost a civil court case against him for their wrongful deaths.
Lewis told CBC Calgary and other reporters, “I try to use my comedic rights and I guess I went a little too far … The people that know me, know I try to be funny all the time and don’t mean any malice, any harm to anybody.”
While it might be true that humour was intended, Lewis never should’ve tweeted that (ignoring the misspelling of the word “too” in the hashtag). For me, the issue is that some jokes aren’t funny — they’re offensive. Trying to make a joke about a trial involving a brutal murder is crossing the line.
There are people who will laugh and find it amusing. Some people will genuinely find it funny and believe all of this attention is unnecessary. But I don’t find any of it funny and I don’t care who said it or tweeted it to the public. Had it been anyone else, I would be reacting the same.
No one should say those things because the tweet suggests that he would like to imitate Simpson’s alleged murder of his ex-wife. That is something that I cannot condone and neither should anyone else.
People do not (or, rather should not) make jokes about other murders, massacres or abominations that occur in the world. If they do, they shouldn’t. The same goes for making a racist comment or a sexist comment or using hate speech. You are insulting people or the memory of people and making it OK to be that way. Well here’s news for you: It is not OK. We have better standards than that and we should all uphold them.
Of course people make mistakes; it’s in our nature. We can’t avoid them or apologize for them all and Lewis said similar statements to the press. He did, however add that, “Every day I’m going to do something to offend somebody. You can’t just go around apologizing every time. Am I sorry that you got offended? Yes.”
But mistakes like these shouldn’t happen and when they do, an apology is most required. A similar fate was bestowed upon B.C. Lions’ Khalif Mitchell who was fined by the CFL on Oct. 17 for making a racial slur on Twitter.
People need to understand that Twitter is a public tool, especially for public figures. Use it with discretion and think rationally before you tweet something you’ll regret.