50 Cent instigated a firestorm this week when he tweeted what he apparently thought was a hilarious insult about autism. It all started when one of 50 Cent's nearly 7 million Twitter followers wrote to the rapper: "Release the album or get shot again." In response, 50 Cent tweeted: "Yeah saw your picture fool you look autistic." Followed by: "I don't want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else." Actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose 13-year-old son has autism, quickly got on 50 Cent's case, writing an open letter to the hip-hop mogul on her website. "Do you even know what autism is?" she wrote. "And what exactly does 'autistic' look like?" As word spread, a slew of horrified parents tweeted photos of their autistic children, along with the hashtag #WhatAutismLooksLike, to 50 Cent. The rapper quietly deleted his offensive tweets, but with many parents threatening a boycott of his music and products, is it time for the rapper to apologize, too?
Of course he should apologize: One in 88 American kids falls on the autism spectrum, which means that millions of families across the country are facing life-changing challenges each day, says Julie Ryan Evans at The Stir. "The last thing we need is people making fun of them or spreading misinformation about them." 50 Cent's comments are "ignorant and classless," and if he "has any kind of decent bone in his body," he'll offer a full-fledged apology.
"Holly Robinson Peete rips 50 Cent for rude autism slur"
But taking time to learn about autism would be even better: 50 Cent should apologize, but even more important, he should educate himself about autism, says Miz Kp at Sailing Autistic Seas. 50 Cent isn't alone in his ignorance. In the recently released movie 21 Jump Street, Ice Cube's character used the word "autistic" as an insult, and it had audiences laughing. But "disability is not something to make fun of," and insensitive adults only encourage younger bullies.
"50 Cent: A reflection on a culture of intolerance"
Come on. He's clearly repentant: Of course, it would be nice if he explicitly apologized, says Joslyn Gray at Strollerderby. But it's commendable that he at least took down the offensive tweets. And when one woman tweeted, "This is what Autism looks like in my son Torren," 50 Cent retweeted the photo of the handsome little boy to his millions of Twitter followers. Clearly, he's open to spreading the word. And that single retweet "probably had more impact that anything else he could have done."
"50 Cent takes down offensive tweets after parents flood his Twitter feed"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Antonin Scalia was right to defend a drug dealer
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2014
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why we need a maximum wage
- Why Mindy Kaling — not Lena Dunham — is the body positive icon of the moment
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
Subscribe to the Week