Will celebrities with Twitter accounts never learn? The latest to dig his huge Adidas out of his mouth is none other than rapper 50 Cent, who recently told one of his 6.8 million followers on Twitter he "dont want no special ed kids on [his] time line follow some body else." He also claimed the fan's photo made him "look autistic."
Ouch. Needless to say, the backlash was palpable, with many activists, including actress and mom Holly Robinson Peete, lashing out at the rapper's ignorant 'tude.
In an open letter on her website she posted these questions, along with 50 photos of autistic kids, including her 13-year-old son Rodney:
"Do you even know what autism is? And what exactly does “autistic” look like? Do you know how wildly prevalent autism is? 1 in 88 have it. That’s 1 in 54 boys. Families suffer a social stigma you will never know. It is a financial and emotional drain for millions... [My son] is in special ed. He loves rap music and is a HUGE fan of yours. He’s a tremendous kid. He has to deal with so much trying to fit in. This isn’t helping."
50 Cent obviously got the drift. (After all, with as many as one in 88 American kids said to be on the autism spectrum, that's a lot of fans—and bling—to lose, and with a new record freshly cut, maybe the rapper is sharper at math than he is at social etiquette.) Cue the obligatory apology: "I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize."
For some parents and fans, 'sorry' is too little too late, with many planning to boycott 50's products and music, starting with a cancelled promo event in Dublin. Yet 25-year-old My Autistic Life blogger Phil Evans was more forgiving and had the most simplistic message for the rapper: "Think before you talk." Sage advice that you would think 50 Cent would have learned after getting flak for another offensive comment about the Japan tsunami last year.
But wait a minute, aren't rappers supposed to be edgy and mildly offensive? Would you boycott a celeb's work if their private views inadvertently became public? Or should the art be kept separate from the act?