Writer of the Deleted Huffington Post Story Apologizes

Update 2: Statement from the writer of the story, Erik Nelson:

Within 10 minutes of the post, I received 2 emails from special needs families, saw that it was hurtful and I pulled the post immediately. I apologize for offending you.

Since you wanted to know what I was going for, it was that Palin said that she was leaving the governorship because of jokes. What kind of President would she make if she couldn’t handle some bad jokes? I used her words to create a farcical situation where offensive jokes were meant to be ironic. I saw immediately that it was wrong and apologized on the site.

OK, it is at this point you have to decide for yourselves if you’re satisfied.  All the guy can do is apologize, go, and sin no more.  As a working writer in the touchy field of politics, I’m sure I’ve used poor judgment in the past, and the important thing is to grow from the experience.

I shared with Erik my thoughts on his story, somewhat productively, and I urge you to do the same, productively.  I’ll make sure he reads your comments here.  Personally, I hope Erik becomes a more successful, more sensitive writer from here.  I hope the same for myself.

Update: Official statement from HuffPo after the jump, at the end of the post.

There was a story posted earlier tonight at Huffington Post regarding the resignation of Sarah Palin, an offensive attack on children and people with disabilities. As soon as I was told about it, and the urge to vomit/punch something passed, I tweeted about it, copying a HuffPo editor:(Warning: Profanity below the fold)

.@GayRainArmy What the fuck? Did an editor even look at this? http://bit.ly/3gOYmb @dceiverabout 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

The important thing to note is that the piece had obviously not been seen by any HuffPo editor, as evidenced by the lousy grammar throughout, and the 3rd grade final sentence: “Politicians don’t usually quit for so stupid of reasons.”

Also important is that, within 10 minutes of tweeting HuffPo editor Jason Linkins, the piece was pulled (although it took longer for it to completely disappear). On a holiday weekend, no less, that’s an amazing turnaround.

Now, I know a bunch of people took screenshots and published them. While I like HuffPo, I’ve got no dog in the fight to protect them. Clearly, this was the work of 1 jerk who managed to slip something through. If it makes you feel good to excoriate HuffPo for the oversight, be my guest. A fair person can see that a mistake was made, but they acted in good faith.

My main concern here was seeing that garbage removed so that it wouldn’t hurt children, people with disabilities, people who love them, and every other decent person. That has been accomplished.

What I would ask is that, if you’ve published screenshots, take them down. Nobody’s denying this happened. Save ’em in case they do. But don’t publish that trash just to get some extra hits on your blog, or to score cheap points against HuffPo or “the left.” Hell, still score the points if you must, but take the screenshots down. I have ’em on my hard drive, too.

Update: Mario Ruiz at Huffington Post emailed me the following statement:

Due to an editorial lapse, Erik Sean Nelson’s post on Sarah Palin bypassed the
normal vetting process and appeared on HuffPost — but was never featured
anywhere on the site. Even though satiric works are generally given greater
latitude, Nelson’s post falls outside of HuffPost’s editorial guidelines. As
such, if not for the error, it would not have been approved for publication, and
was removed from the site as soon as our editors became aware of it. We
sincerely regret the error and any offense it might have caused.

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9 Comments

  1. Erik Nelson can apologize all he wants. What kind of a human being can find anything funny in what he said? God forbid a child of his own, is put in his arms one day, with special needs. Big shout out to the editor who pulled the story, oh or was it the writer himself? Hmm? Someone should lose their job for not catching it in the first place. It gets the award for the most disgusting story of the year. Mr Nelson is a total ass.

  2. Erik Sean Nelson should be let go. A professional site like Huffington Post should have zero tolerance for such hatred. There’s NO excuse for the comments. The fact that Nelson claims it was a joke shows his lack of professionalism and very questionable judgement.

    Whether you agree or disagree with Palin’s politics, one can understand why she may have chosen to resign given these types of constant swipes made at the expense of her children. I can’t imagine hating another politician to the point of losing all sense of what’s wrong and right. And yes, it is hatred that fuels making fun of her children—especially at the expense of her most vulnerable, mentally disabled toddler. Just how low can people go? Some people seem to get a perverse pleasure sticking the knife deeply into Palin by attacking her children. It’s truly sickening.

  3. I am going to assume that (1) Erik Nelson is young and (2) that he wanted to be first out of the gate with something funny about Palin’s decision to resign. That said, I do see a problem with his apology. He based his humor on something that Palin did not say, something that he continues to think that she said.

    Palin did not say that she was resigning because of jokes. She said that when she asked her children what they thought about her resigning they all thought it was a good idea. She said that she thought that her children liked the idea because they were upset about jokes that had been made about Trig. That would be a completely natural response for children to have. (Note: although she said that she consulted her children, she did not say that she would not have resigned if her children had been against it.)

    Palin’s comment that the world would be better if there were more people like Trig was both the expression of a feeling that many parents of special needs children talk about, and a reference to her strong anti-abortion beliefs. (I thought that it might be a hint as to where she is going to direct her energies in the future.) Palin’s comments about Trig struck me as the most sincere and deeply felt part of her speech and therefore the least likely to form a good foundation for humorous comment.

    Erik Nelson should apply this simple test to himself. If when he is hanging out with his friends he uses the words “retard” and “gay” as insults, then he is a jerk. He should work on becoming a non-jerk and start by no longer using those words as insults.

    Erik Nelson should also learn a little more about what it is like to live with a disability. This does not mean that he has to watch weepy Lifetime movies or read soppy memoirs. There is a lot more out there than he thinks. He could watch the movie Murderball, he could read Chrisopher Reeve’s memoir, he could even start out with The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time. There is a lot of non-sentimental, non-self-pitying realistic stuff out there.

    I would also suggest that Erik spend a couple of hours seriously contemplating the scary and extremely uncomfortable truth that at any moment any one of us who is a person without any disabilities could become a person with a disability, including a mental disability. I may sound like I am preaching but I am a bit sensitive on this topic. On Christmas Day 2004 a healthy 30 year-old in-law of my sister’s became a quadriplegic as a result of a skiing accident. In August 2005 a friend of mine suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when she was hit by a truck as she was crossing the street. The person she was (her personality) no longer exists and she will require institutional care for the rest of her life. Creating humor about disabilities when you have an audience of people who are filled with all different kinds of emotional landmines (like the ones I have) is extremely difficult.

    I will admit, though, that the idea of feeding children lead paint chips at school is so patently absurd that I find it funny.

  4. Erik Nelson apologized and appears to be sincere. We should accept it,move on and put and end to special needs children jokes. Could we really blame Mr. Nelson for thinking for a moment there was nothing wrong with what he wrote when Trig Palin is constantly the brunt of a bunch of nasty jokes and photoshoppings? When did that became acceptable?

  5. Trig IS NOT the brunt of nasty jokes unless your friends and relatives are telling them around the house. She was the one who “utilized” the child for PR purposes.
    I am glad though that everyone is on board with the spay and neuter program. Thought y’all might have kicked up more of a fuss.

  6. Nobody blanched when she said “We need more Trigs”?
    This struck no one as at least a inept way of expressing herself?
    Hell, I agree with her statement but I’m kind of a loner in my ‘let’s alter the chromosome count’ position. I thought the rest of you might be more alarmed.

  7. “the urge to vomit/punch something passed…”

    Let me tell you that you haven’t lived ’til you’ve tried Tommys ‘Vomit Punch’, so put a little ‘Tommy’ in your July Fourth festivities and get some today!

  8. “She was the one who “utilized” the child for PR purposes”

    Yeah, I forgot… she was supposed to hide Trig under a rock in Alaska…


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