"How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste"
That's the tweet celebrity and Iowa native Ashton Kutcher sent on Wednesday to his more than 8 million Twitter followers about the firing of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in response to an exploding (and truly sickening) child sex-abuse case involving one of Paterno's former assistants.
The first thing a follower of Kutcher might wonder after reading his tweet is what the hell is wrong with the actor. After all, we're talking about child sexual abuse! Yet he seemed to be focusing instead on the dismissal of a longtime football coach who, according to reports, essentially did nothing after being informed that then defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was seen molesting a 10-year-old boy in a university shower.
Predictably, Kutcher was lambasted by the Twitterverse for his painfully callous comment, with "you're an idiot" among the more printable responses.
But, it turns out, Kutcher actually was unaware of the mushrooming sex-abuse scandal at Penn State when he tweeted in response to a headline he saw on television stating simply that Paterno had been fired.
Here's how Kutcher explains it in his blog:
As a football fan and someone who had watched Joe's career move from that of legend/innovator to a head coach that fulfilled his duty in the booth, I assumed that the university had let him go due to football related issues. With that assumption (how dare I assume) I posted a tweet defending his career. I then when about my evening, had some dinner, did a little work, and about an hour later turned on ESPN where I got the full story. I quickly went back on my twitter account and found a hailstorm of responses calling me an "idiot" and several other expletives that I've become accustom to hearing for almost anything I post. I quickly retracted and deleted my previous post; however, that didn't seem enough to satisfy people’s outrage at my misinformed post. I am truly sorry. And moreover am going to take action to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
The "action" that Kutcher is taking is to turn over management of his Twitter feed to anonymous handlers:
A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted. I feel responsible to deliver informed opinions and not spread gossip or rumors through my twitter feed. While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I've come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I'm going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content. My sincere apologies to anyone who I offended. It was a mistake that will not happen again.
Of course, many of Kutcher's followers who excoriated him for the tweet are guilty of the same thing the actor is guilty of: publicly commenting about something when they don't have all the facts. It's a perpetual hazard in the modern digital age, where you can blast out your opinions -- informed or otherwise -- to the world.
Still, you can't blame offended fans for assuming Kutcher knew the whole story of the mushrooming scandal at Penn State when he hit the "Send" button on his Twitter client. It has been all over the news this week, after all.
But you also can't help but feel a little bad for Kutcher. His "Ready, fire, aim" tweet was targeted at his millions of followers, but he ended up shooting himself.