Controversial CNN anchor Don Lemon has inserted himself into the nation’s already heated debate of the n-word. The conversation was sparked after the media pounced on President Barack Obama’s use of the word “n*gger” in a wide-ranging interview for Marc Maron’s podcast. Obama used the word in context and talked about how it was no longer acceptable to use the word, but there were other ways of being racist.
Monday night, Lemon tried to discuss offensive words and symbols by alternatively holding up a sign with the word “n*gger” and then the Confederate flag. Each time he asked, “Does this offend you?” According to USA Today, Lemon had previously said journalists should be able to use the n-word, if it was relevant to the story. Lemon has made several controversial statements in the past, such as asking if a missing plane was sucked into a black hole. While reporting on the Ferguson, Missouri, protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown, Lemon said he smelled marijuana coming from the crowd. Some of Lemon’s past statements, where he agreed with Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, have drawn criticism from the Black community. During a live report last week from Charleston, South Carolina, he was repeatedly interrupted by a woman who called him an Uncle Tom.
However, Lemon’s latest stunt seemed to be trying to encourage discussion about taboo topics, but it seems to have backfired. He quickly became a meme on Twitter, with people editing the sign to read, “Please Fire Me.” Twitter user Mike Sington used Photoshop to edit the sign to read, “My constant ploy for attention.”
Salon accused Lemon of exploiting the recent Charleston church shooting for ratings.
“Yes, the idea that a theoretically respected national news anchor would use the murder of nine people and the ensuing conversation about racism in America to make his own gratuitous, self-promotional meme is pretty offensive,” said Salon writer Joanna Rothkopf.
Social media has already become a battleground with people taking to platforms Twitter and Facebook to express their views about the Charleston massacre. Most of the comments have condemned the shooter, but Mabank, Texas, volunteer firefighter Kurtis Cook was terminated after he posted, “He needs to be praised for the good deed he has done,” on a Facebook page about the shooting. An hour later, he was told to report to his supervisor’s office with his belongings and was fired. In a tearful TV interview, Cook said his comments were taken out of context and he was referring to an individual who had donated a large amount of money to the victims’ families, not Dylann Roof. Cook said the misunderstanding had ended his 23-year career.
“You can’t put your opinions out there anymore because somewhere somebody’s going to take that the wrong way and then they’re going to run with it, and that’s what’s happened here,” said Cook in an interview with KTLV.
Cook has deleted his Facebook profile, so there is no way to review what he was actually referring to. He is not the only person to be fired for social media comments about the Charleston shooting. However, the other case seems to be more clear cut.
According to Addicting Info, Hyley DiBona took to Twitter to express her feelings about the shootings. She said minorities should stop complaining and leave the United States, if they weren’t happy here. After social media users complained to Regal Entertainment, DiBona’s employer, she shared another post from her supervisor where he told her, “Social media has no affiliation with our corporation.” However social media complained again to Regal Entertainment and DiBona was fired.