When Yumi Stynes made an off-colour joke about war hero Corporal Robert-Smith, no one could have predicted the spectrum of insults, abuse and threats that would ensue.
The debacle started when hosts of iThe Circle discussed a photo of the army veteran in a pool:
“He’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there,” Yumi said .
“I’m sure he’s a really good guy, nothing about poor old Ben. But that sort of bloke … and what if they’re not up to it in the sack?” Negus replied .
The public backlash was both immediate and strong, eliciting a personal apology from Yumi to Robert-Smith. The army Corporal graciously accepted the apology and said that he understood the comments weren’t intended to be malicious.
‘Brilliant,’ we all thought, ‘looks like everyone can go home now’. But, it appears that the villagers were only just beginning to light their torches.
A week later, and the outrage-train is rattling on with frightening momentum. In particular, The Circle’s Facebook page has been inundated with a mixture of racist, threatening and misogynistic comments. “Give yumi to the Taliban,” one user demands. This comment receives 6 ‘likes’.
It’s not unusual for media personalities to say something stupid and then get a public slap on the wrist. But it is unusual for them to be hung, drawn and quartered for a fleeting, off-hand quip. What makes the Yumi backlash so alarming is the super-personal nature of the comments. Yumi has been threatened, her children have been threatened and if Pedestrian had a dollar for every time someone called her a ‘bitch’, we’d all be retired.
What comes out of this shambles are two glaring questions. Firstly, why has Yumi copped the lion’s share of the scary, personal stuff while Negus has received relatively little? And secondly, if the man who was the subject of the insults can forgive and forget, why can’t we?