Friday, March 18, 2011

This Was The Week in Words

Happy Friday everyone! Hope we make it through the weekend, what with the crazy 'Supermoon' that we're supposed to get tomorrow. Really, I think we've all had enough natural disasters for one week, but more on that in a sec.

This week in words, The Washington Post apologized and suspended its Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Sari Horwitz for plagiarizing stories from the Arizona Republic. Horwitz also issued her own apology. Sorry, lady. Deadlines are no excuse for stealing other people's words.  Meanwhile, over at The New York Times, the newspaper finally unveiled plans for its online paywall. It sounds overly-complicated, but Gawker's Hamilton Nolan sums it up nicely:
"For those of you inclined to bitch about paying to read NYT stories online: stop bitching. The fact is the paper needs the money. All papers need the money. In retrospect, it was a strategic mistake for newspapers to put their content online for free. Charging for online access is the way of the future. Get used to it. If you're going to pay to read journalism on the internet, you might as well pay for good journalism."
But the week's biggest words-related controversy came from comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who tweeted when he should have kept his quack shut. Gottfried was fired from his gig as the voice of the Aflac duck after posting a slew of really tasteless jokes on his Twitter feed about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan over the weekend. He has since apologized, and removed the jokes from his Twitter feed. But they're everywhere. Nothing really dies on the Internet. (Sari Horwitz, are you paying attention?) It turns out that Aflac insures a substantial number of properties in the disaster zone. Gottfried -- whose entire act is based on tasteless jokes, that's his thing -- was not the only one to say insensitive things (Rush Limbaugh, 50 Cent, we're looking at you), he's just the only one to have lost work over it. Honestly, I think Limbaugh's comments were far worse... because he was being completely serious. An actor who lost his gig as a Geico spokesperson after criticizing the Tea Party had an interesting take on the situation. 

The sex jokes, in particular, were baaad. But I'll I'll admit, I laughed at a couple of Gottfried's other jokes. (Personal favorite: "What do Japanese Jews like to eat? Hebrew National Tsunami.") That's a great bit of word play, and would be funny -- if hundreds of thousands of people had not just died or had their lives destroyed by an earthquake, a tsunami and now, multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns!! The torrent of news has been oh-so-heartbreakingly sad and terrifying. It would be nice to find something funny in it. Since there's not much, I'll take that silly Hebrew National Tsunami punchline. And then I'll take a cue from the Geico guy. Instead of tweeting jokes, or telling everyone how very-very-outraged I am, I'll do something more productive, like text 90999 to the American Red Cross to donate $10 to the relief effort, or make another donation to reputable agencies that are helping. Hope you will too.

Finally, tomorrow is also the Jewish celebration of Purim, which, from what I understand, is a lot like Mardi Gras, but without the beads and boobs. So enjoy life this weekend. Hug your kids (I'll be hugging mine.) Between the radiation clouds, California falling into the ocean and that crazy, crazy moon, we might not even make it to Monday.

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