As the first new feature of the upcoming semester’s Vox, we’d like to turn the admonishing finger of the fourth estate towards certain Georgetown figures who have been thrust into the news for less-than-admirable reasons.
Online political gossip mag Wonkette has recently found itself in the midst of an extensive scandal after writer Jack Stuef (COL ’10) posted an anti-Sarah Palin screed focusing heavily on her disabled three-year old son, Trig. (Note: the post has since been removed and replaced by an apology notice from the editors.)
Stuef, former editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Heckler, holds the dubious distinction of having already weathered one media-related insensitivity scandal while a student.
A December 2009 issue of the Heckler lampooning The Hoya’s controversial 2009 April Fool’s Issue managed to itself draw fire because of articles perceived to be making fun of the Black Student Alliance and depicting writers from the Hoya as members of the Ku Klux Klan. The scandal prompted an open forum for critics of the articles and some extensive discussion about satire on campus.
Stuef’s Monday commentary on Wonkette included a “children’s treasury of Trig [Palin] crap” in response to the child’s third birthday. The post, which ostensibly intends to mock Palin’s use of her children as political props, features riffs on Youtube videos of the boy’s interactions with other children, and included this gem in response to a poem titled “Dreaming” written to the Down Syndrome-diagnosed child: “What’s he dreaming about? Nothing. He’s retarded.” (The Alaska Dispatch has a lengthy description of the post.)
According to Slate, the article was eventually noticed on conservative blogs before spreading via Twitter. Wednesday afternoon, Papa John’s pulled advertising from the site after the piece was brought to its attention by a Twitter user.
Stuef initially posted a notice on the post apologizing for his use of the word “retarded” before the piece was taken down entirely. Meanwhile, Wonkette‘s editor has issued what amounts to the weakest apology imaginable for the incident.
As multiple commentators have pointed out, while one can legitimately criticize or even lampoon Palin for many things, to attack a politician’s family is unfair, while mocking a person’s disabled child is beyond repugnant. Mr. Stuef, you have been a bad, bad Hoya.
However, as an excellent postscript, Mediaite notes that “a reader hilariously bought the domain name JackStuef.com, which now redirects to the National Down Syndrome Society donation page. Lemons into lemonade.”