ABC Shouldn’t Have Fired Roseanne

Scott Kalwei
4 min readMay 30, 2018

I’ve given allot of thought to this issue because I think it’s an issue about freedom of speech, not necessarily about racism. Yes, Roseanne tweeted a very dumb racist comment. But should she be fired and have a show that I like destroyed?

First, the moral argument and then I’ll get to the business argument. From a moral perspective I think it’s abhorrent to fire and publicly shame anyone for practicing their free speech. Even if that speech is racist and dumb.

I personally love Roseanne. Listening to her talk about issues is incredibly funny to me. She’s foul mouthed and doesn’t beat around the bush. She gets straight to the point and drops the F-bomb quite allot. She’s also an incredibly free thinking individual.

This means that she’ll offend allot of people. She’s not trying to make everyone happy. She’s speaking her mind and I think that’s something that more people should do. You shouldn’t be afraid of saying something stupid.

But honestly, she did say something that was stupid and way over the line. And since she’s a public figure she probably should make a public apology. Just as if one of your friends makes a stupid comment, they should apologize to you and all their friends. But you shouldn’t hate your friend just for saying something stupid.

Then lastly, the business argument for not firing Roseanne. ABC cut Roseanne off faster than Mike Pence walks out of NFL games. Most pundits on TV are going around saying how smart of a move that was and I couldn’t disagree more.

If I worked for ABC I’d be scared to even mention anything publicly about society or politics. I’d think that as entertainment business, you’d want everyone working you to do just that. That’s what art and entertainment is! If you’re limiting that in any way you’re effectively diminishing their potential creative output.

Yes, sometimes that creative output is disgusting. Such as Roseanne’s comments. But she’s literally getting paid to say stupid political crap. That’s what her entire show is about!

So from a creative output for the organization I think this could be catastrophic. Group think is a real thing and this is the perfect way to ensure it happens. Kick everyone out that says something wrong and different.

Also, this destroys a huge amount of publicity they could have garnered. I don’t know if y’all remember how Trump got elected? He would say some racist crap, then go around telling everyone they were disgusting to even imply that he was a racist.

It worked brilliantly. It was disgusting, but very very effective. I think ABC could have done something very similar but less disgusting.

Tell Roseanne that her racist comment directly and negatively affected their corporate image. Because it did. To make up for that, she would have to go on a massive PR campaign to right the wrong.

This would show the country how we deal with these issues. People that we love and care for will say something incredibly disgusting at some point in our life. You shouldn’t push them away for it. You should let them know that they stepped over the line but you shouldn’t try to destroy their life.

I think the country could have come together and had a kumbaya moment, whereas social media has a way of tearing people apart. This would‘ve been a great narrative that would have benefitted ABC as much as the public discourse. To show the country they’re above this social media bickering that’s tearing the country apart. They’re here to act like adults.

Roseanne’s show would have gotten an insane amount of PR out of that. Every Trump supporter in the world would’ve become instant die hard fans. ABC would have been lambasted in the short term but praised in the mid term. In the long term they’d have employees that know they can express their creativity without fear of termination.

It would have been a win-win for everyone. I for one, feel terrible about what happened to Roseanne. I don’t think she’s a racist and I think she knows she screwed up. I hope we can come together as liberals and state that we’re the party of free speech. This includes speech we disagree with.

If you want to stand with the football players taking knees (which I do) to protest systemic racism, then you should stand with Roseanne. Nobody should have their livlihood attacked for their beliefs, no matter how dumb those beliefs are. Hell, my grandfather was the most racist man I’ve known. He passed away but I’ve always considered him the biggest influence in my life. I loved him despite his disgusting racism. Humans are complicated, let’s re-learn how to embrace it.

Originally published at ScottKalwei.