I want to sort through some of the confusion surrounding the whole controversy and respond to questions and comments and explain why this issue continues to bother some people. Based loosely on some of the comments received, we will do a Question and Answer format in an effort to clear up some misconceptions about Jeremy Roloff's racist and homophobic comments that landed him in the National Enquirer and now often find their way into any discussion about Jeremy.
Q: What is this all about anyway? How did this all come about?
A: Jeremy Roloff used racial and homophobic slurs on the internet social network site Myspace. Over the years people on some Little People Big World chat boards would occasionally notice Jeremy and his friends using gay slurs and mocking pictures. In Aug 2008 a website documented several of Jeremy's comments (included were Jeremy's actual screen captures), which not only contained slurs about African-Americans, Mexicans and gay people, but there were comments between Jeremy and his friends insulting his fans and talk of drinking alcohol. Basically, Jeremy and his friends chatted to each other on a venue that was not private. I think of it like a bunch of friends talking on a cell phone, but really they're on a speaker phone where everybody in the building can hear them. What you hear is going to be the person's honest thoughts and real behavior as opposed to what they say up on a stage or in front of TV cameras.
The National Enquirer ran the article - Jeremy Roloff: A Big Bigot In The Land of the Little People in their September 1st, 2008 issue.
Q: Jeremy said one bad word years and years ago when he was practically a baby, right?
A: No, that is not correct. The comments that were exposed were when Jeremy was 15 to 17. There were probably between 40 - 60 comments from Jeremy and some of his closest friends. It wasn't a one time slip up. It was clear that it was part of their normal vocabulary. Jeremy wasn't a baby. It was during this time - when Jeremy was 15 - 17 that Jeremy was grown-up enough to lecture against the use of the word "midget" because it was hurtful to his family. If Jeremy was old enough to understand that "midget" was wrong and hurtful, he was old enough to understand that the N word and "fa*g*t" was wrong.
Q: Who cares?!? All kids say the N word and F*g. Why are people picking on Jeremy James Roloff?!?
A: No, all kids don't say the N word and other slurs. But since you brought it up, all kids don't get hailed as a hero of diversity for standing up and lecturing against the use of the word "midget". All kids don't have a chapter in a book about their Big Values telling about how they don't tolerate the use of the word "midget" and claim that when he is with his friends they only have fun in ways that please God. Jeremy and the Roloffs talk the talk...these comments suggest Jeremy is not walking the walk...
Q: Well, whatever, what did Jeremy actually say. I want some examples of what he said that is so bad people keep on harping on it. Fine, he said the N word as a term of endearment, right?
A: Words like that should not be used at all. Jeremy and his friends did use the N word casually in that context several times. However, there was also a comment from Jeremy telling his friend that he asked Mike Detjen if he could take his friends snowboarding. Jeremy said told his friends that Mike said yes he would do it and Jeremy wrote "...pretty sweet just like a N word". This suggests Jeremy was using the word in the slave servant sense of the word. Mike was doing what Jeremy wanted, so he was like a "N word".
Q: So Jeremy didn't say those words to people from those groups (African-Americans, Mexicans, gays)? He said them to his friends, right? What's wrong with that?
A: Using racist and homophobic and ethnic slurs is NOT ok if he only does it around people who won't be bothered by it. I think it's worse, as it acknowledges that the language is not acceptable, yet perpetuates its use among "their kind" - people he believes won't object, which is people who aren't in the groups the language is referring to.
Q: Uhhh, so what?!? Black stand-up comics use the N word. Why can't Jeremy?
A: I abhor this logic, but I see that you're using the same logic used by a Matt Roloff's employee (paid or not, I don't know) at his official site. It makes me sick that people argue that people have a "right" to use words that are so ugly and carry such hate and hurt behind them.
However, if you're determined to used that logic, there is a video for you to watch from Little Person stand up comic - Tanya-Lee Davis. She appeared on LPBW a couple of weeks ago when Matt and Amy were in Las Vegas. You'll notice she uses the word "midget".
The Roloffs are quite clear in stating their dislike for the word "midget" and do their best to eliminate it from the vocabulary of average sized people. Their message is not "An LP comedian said it, you should say it too.' They are slurs. They are derogatory, demeaning and hurtful. Don't use them.
Q: I totally agree with Matt Roloff's representative over at Matt Roloff's official site! http://mattroloff.com/talk/showthread.php?t=2526&page=8 People are too darn sensitive these days! Let Jeremy say the N word, "beaner" and "F*gg*t. Get over it! Those words that Jeremy uses can't hurt unless people let them! It's your fault for getting upset at poor Jeremy.
A: Wow. I'll be honest with you. That irks me. It bothers me that Matt Roloff would allow that to be said on his official site by his employee. I assume the reason Matt Roloff condones that statement is because it is defending Jeremy Roloff.
People are over-sensitive towards the use of slur words? Wow. The Roloffs for years have attempted to eliminate people from using the word "midget. I think Matt Roloff's employee should be ripping into the Roloff family for being "too sensitive". Matt Roloff in this article http://ww.portlandtribune.com/features/story.php?story_id=22990 demanded an apology from a public figure using the "M word" on a TV talk show. Matt also states the M word is just like the N word.
I certainly hope Matt Roloff's employee wouldn't tell their friend Jen Montzingo that it's her problem that she's hurt and offended when someone demeans a little person by making a joke out of them and using an offensive term. It is things like this that are so disappointing. It makes people think that the Roloffs don't care about acceptance or diversity on a larger scale.
Q: Whatever! What else did Jeremy say?
A: He made a comment referencing Mexico as the place where "beaners" live. If I said Harlem is where the N words live, you would probably think I'm a racist. If I said San Fran is where the F*gs live - you would be in the right to wonder if I'm bigoted.
Q: Whatever, what's another Jeremy comment that upsets people?
Jeremy was telling a friend about a great soccer game he played. He said "Not to be a gay bragging fa*git but I'm completely raped their defense." This comment is very offensive to gay people. How can it not be? I'm left to believe that Jeremy does not have a very lofty opinion of gay people when he uses those words in that context. Jeremy and his friends also had several pictures of themselves in obvious "gay mocking" poses done as a joke to demean.
Q: Gay people and people that like gay people are over-sensitive! It's just a word!
A: Put it this way. If you told the Roloffs that your son and his friends, when they see someone doing something stupid, always say "He's being a dumb midget freak" - I don't think the Roloffs would approve. In fact, I think the Roloffs would think that you must be an ignorant person for raising your son to have that much disrespect for people of difference such as themselves.
Q: Who the heck cares if Jeremy and his friends had a comment about drinking alcohol? Lots of teens talk about stuff like that. Welcome to 2008!
A: That might be true, but it grabs people's interest because Jeremy Roloff is credited in the Roloff family book as stating he does not drink or do drugs like other teens. It goes on to state that Jeremy and his friends only have fun in ways they know please God. That's what catches people's attention when they hear about Jeremy and his friends talk about reminiscing a drunk story or having fun by clearly mocking gay people. I think a lot of the problem people have is with the image the Roloffs present on the TV show and in the media. They say the show depicts the real Roloffs. Some people love the Roloffs for the image they see. Therefore, when they hear about this stuff they're left disappointed and betrayed.
Q: What did Jeremy say about his fans?
A: Jeremy and his friends had several comments insulting his fans. Jeremy told his friend that his dad (Matt Roloff) told him he had to be nice to fans and Jeremy told the friend how he thinks fans are losers that "suck the unsuckable".
Q: I want to see the comments for myself! Where are they?
A: The site that hosted the comments is no longer in existence. It is rumored that the Roloffs were able to use their power to get the site shut down, but that is pure speculation. The original comments have since been hidden by Jeremy and his friends only after they were attracting attention from the media.
Q: Hmmmm......maybe this isn't true at all! It's all lies! What was Jeremy's response?
A: When this story first broke, Jeremy's first and only response was for him and his friends to turn their web pages private and conceal the comments.
Q: I still think it's lies! What are those screen captures people talk about? Q: They could be fake?
A: They're real. Do you honestly believe those are fake, along with the avatars of Jeremy's friends and Jeremy and his friends have not denied it? We are way past the stage of whether it is true or not. It is.
Q: Lalalalalala. I don't hear you!!! Fake! Fake! Lies! Lies! Why are you so sure it's true?
A: The National Enquirer article was released. Not only did the Roloffs not deny the article, but Matt Roloff admitted it is true.
Q: Uh-oh...he did?
A: He released this statement:
"There is currently some attention regarding a situation that our family dealt with personally in the past, regarding one of our children’s careless use of inappropriate language while communicating online. Amy and I do not support or tolerate that kind of behavior, and we have worked, and continue to work, to raise our children to have the utmost respect and sensitivity to all issues of diversity and difference. We took the matter very seriously at the time, and reprimanded appropriately. It is unfortunate to revisit this issue, and we look forward to focusing on more positive topics." Matt Roloff
Q: Ok. He apologized. Why isn't that good enough for some people?
A: Actually, Matt didn't apologize in that statement. The word "sorry" is noticeably absent. He claims it is in the past and is basically telling people to shut up about it. An apology would have been 'I would like to apologize to everybody that is hurt and disappointed by my son's offensive and hurtful words'. But I don't think Matt should have been the one apologizing. Jeremy is 18.
Q: Why aren't people accepting Matt's statement?
A: People would like to believe the best about Jeremy, but for that to happen people need to feel that he thinks he's done something wrong. People want him to take responsibility. That statement, in all honestly, makes Jeremy looks like a defenseless child. He's 18, legally a man, as Matt has recently said. Matt is still speaking for him and the topper of that statement about Jeremy taking responsibility....Jeremy's name is not even mentioned! Instead it casts suspicion on the three other Roloff kids. Everyone is going to have their own opinion of the effectiveness of Matt's statement, but one thing it is not is Jeremy taking responsibility for what he has said. His name is not even mentioned...
Q: Why are you so heartless. Why don't you forgive Jeremy and let him live his life without this hanging over his head?
A: To forgive someone, first they must ask for forgiveness. Jeremy has not apologized. There is no indication Jeremy even thinks he did anything wrong and in my opinion, there is no tangible reason to assume Jeremy has stopped using the language.
Q: Why should Jeremy apologize? He doesn't owe anybody anything!
A: He doesn't have to, but it's a character issue. That's what good and moral people do when they do something wrong. People make mistakes. Especially kids. But they need to acknowledge that they did something wrong and genuinely feel sorry about it and vow not to do it again and show that they've learned some lesson. There is no indication that Jeremy has done any of that.
Q: Matt said it was dealt with in the past. Don't you believe him?
A: I'm sorry, but I don't believe it and his statement provokes these kinds of questions: How exactly was it dealt with when its obvious that the problem was not a one time occurrence? If Matt and Amy are as pro-diversity as Matt's statement suggests, then why were Jeremy's ugly racist insults allowed to stay up on the internet long after Matt and Amy supposedly dealt with the problem?
If Matt honestly knew about it and was disgusted by the words his son was using, I can't believe that he wouldn't demand those offensive words be removed immediately. That did not happen. They were only removed after it became clear the media was aware of it.
Q: Well, Jeremy's offensive comments stopped didn't they?
A: Jeremy stopped using that venue to communicate, so yes his offensive online comments eventually stopped. The friends he made the comments with, including Jacob Mueller whom is regularly featured on the show, made similar comments to Jeremy's that were captured as recently as a couple of weeks before the Roloffs invited him on their summer vacation 2008.
Jeremy and his friends used this language and behavior for many years. Common sense tells me the only thing that has changed is that Jeremy stopped using it online. His friends still use it. He's still friends with all the same people. Most importantly, Jeremy has not apologized, admitted he was wrong and explained himself.
Q: What do people want from Jeremy now?
A: I think people, including myself, want to believe that Jeremy and the Roloff family are good people. We understand that people mess up, but when they do, people must display good morals and values and own up to those mistakes and accept responsibility. I think people want Jeremy to give them a reason to believe that he's not a racist, gay-bashing, lying hypocrite.
As it stands now, Dec 5th, 2008, Jeremy Roloff has not even said he's sorry, he was wrong or informed people that anything has changed other than that he hid the comments because he got caught.
Q. Matt Roloff said he doesn't want people focusing on it! Why are people still discussing it?
Matt Roloff can't control public opinion. This news has broke. Once it is out there, people discuss it. Everyday people are googling "Jeremy Roloff National Enquirer racist gay basher". In fact, any google search from Jeremy Roloff inevitably brings up information about this. Why is it important to people? It's a character issue.
The best analogy I've seen about it was about picturing a famous vegetarian that went on television to tell people about the evils of killing animals and eating meat. If it suddenly comes out that our television vegetarian owns a slaughterhouse and steakhouses...that kind of thing is going to stick in the minds of people every time they think of our TV vegetarian. They're going to think that person is a fraud and anything they say is suspect.
It's the same concept as Jeremy writing and talking about the hurtfulness of the word "midget", being pro-diversity, etc, and then being found to be using slurs towards many groups that aren't like him so casually and frequently.
I think people are more disappointed in the Roloffs for their response to Jeremy's article in the National Enquirer than any thing else. I believe their lack of an appropriate response confirms in a lot of people's minds their worse fears about the comments. Jeremy's silence and unwillingness to express any regret or apology almost speaks louder than the original comments he made.