Saying that perhaps she should have shown “better judgement”, Russian Olympian and official Irina Rodnina (@IRodnina) downplayed the response to her racist Obama tweet – a picture of the Obamas, with someone offering President Obama a banana in the foreground.
This leads to an age old question – well, a couple years old question: Is there anything dumber than Anthony Weiner tweeting a picture of his dong? Well, our vote is still on dong photos but Irina Rodnina’s racist Obama tweet is right up there.
It’s not like we’re at a loss for people doing stupid things on Twitter. Justine Sacco might have won the award for 2013, but you probably never heard of her before her stupidity went viral and she lost her job before her flight even landed in Africa. And you might not know of Irina Rodnina either, unless you’re Russian. But you’ve probably seen her recently if you’ve been watching the Olympics. She was one of the people who helped to light the Olympic torch to open the Sochi games.
Well, after posting this picture, there was an unsurprising amount of fallout from it. Now, we’re sure that she was absolutely shocked that people found this to be offensive. Clearly there hasn’t been any history of people making references to blacks as monkeys or the Obamas specifically. And certainly nobody has ever been offended by such things. (We are of course being sarcastic, which doesn’t always translate well into writing, for anyone who is just skimming here.)
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Of course we sort of wish that everyone could just admit that this was a joke, however crass and inappropriate. That being said, Rodnina’s response to the fallout has been every bit as terrible as the original post. Granted, she’s no comedian but a good comedian knows when a joke has bombed and they move on. Her response has been both baffling and yet completely predictable based upon other similar twitter and texting problems.
To begin with, Rodnina defended her joke, basically claiming free speech. (The exact quote, translated from Russian: “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech! You’re responsible for your own insecurities!”) Well, if that’s going to be your approach, expect everyone else’s free speech to come back at you with the full vitriol to which they are entitled.
But apparently everyone else using their free speech got to be too much for her as she began to backtrack from her original claim of freedom. (The idea of someone in Russia claiming free speech is another matter altogether.)
After the predictable (is it even called predictable when it’s pretty much guaranteed) fallout over her tweet and her claim of free speech, Rodnina is now claiming that her Twitter account was hacked.
Here’s the problem: her original racist tweet was back in September. Only now is she claiming that her account was hacked. Hacked twitter accounts is an old standby excuse for inappropriate messages (we’re looking at you again, Anthony Weiner!) but this takes it to a new level. What has happened in the last five months that has made her unaware that she wasn’t the one responsible for tweeting the racist Obama photo?
And why on earth was she defending the free speech of the twitter hacker?
Well, the Olympics happened. Most of us didn’t know or care who Rodnina was a week ago. Before, she was just some foreigner who sent a stupid picture. Sure, she was a former Olympian and a Russian member of parliament, but few people outside of Russia really cared about that. But the fact that she lit the Olympic torch for hundreds of millions of people to see, well that’s going to generate some attention. And it’s going to make people ask some questions.
We’ll just have to wait to see where all of this ends. There really isn’t a good way to deal with fallout from stupid Twitter posts aside from just admitting being stupid and moving on from it. But since that doesn’t seem likely at this point, perhaps she’ll next claim that Putin made her do it?
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