Discipline and Punish
Carmen Petaccio

All of us had seen and been appalled by Simmons's terrible, offensive tweet. And now something had to be done, because he was refusing to apologize. Simmons was unabashed. He argued that all celebrity apologies were disingenuous (we agreed) and that he'd built his personal brand on standing by tough opinions, popular or not (which was true). One of the things we loved most about Simmons was how unapologetic he could be, but this was an obvious exception. His refusal to apologize only deepened our conviction. Something had to be done.

Getting Simmons fired from the media conglomerate was easy enough. Colby, who is a social media expert, organized and disseminated the entire online petition. "Though we've enjoyed Mr. Simmons's trademark irreverence over the years," it read, "an ethical line has clearly been crossed." We would boycott the conglomerate and its subsidiaries until Simmons was terminated. We would sign the petition and email it ten times a day, every day, to each of the company's 20,000 employees. And we did. We boycotted and signed and emailed like genuine democrats.

Simmons was canned by Tuesday. But no apology followed. We waited patiently and longer than we should have for naught. Simmons remained unabashed. He didn't care who his words hurt or how. So it only seemed right to stage a march through our city's historic downtown to protest outside his mansion. Kim, who volunteers for the municipal comptroller, helped us secure the proper permits. Colby worked his magic and got everyone to learn the complex chants and coordinate signage. Even my estranged talent agent, Horatio, helped bag lunches. We really made a day of it, marching to Simmons's mansion.

No one could have predicted the protests would go on for weeks. A tent city and drum circles were never part of the plan, nor were the much-publicized events that followed. Remember, Simmons could have stopped all of this at any time, if he wanted to. He was, after all, the one who wrote and wouldn't apologize for the offensive tweet. He shouldn't have had his bodyguards set fire to our tent city, especially on the morning of Kim and Colby's wedding.

Disproportionate reactions lead to ever more disproportionate reactions, I've learned, and where we got an ox cart from, I'll never know. But suddenly Simmons was on it, in nothing but a soiled nightshirt. We pleaded with him to apologize, implored him to make right with those he had wronged. We really didn't want to burn his hands with sulfur, we really didn't, but Simmons would not capitulate. He was a man of his word, like so very few are these days. It was damn admirable. The tent city was in flames all around us. So we prepared Simmons's body to be drawn and quartered, grateful that some semblance of justice would finally be served.

Carmen Petaccio has stories in or coming from Tin House, Necessary Fiction, The Texas Observer and others.

Detail of collage on main page courtesy of Joana Coccarelli.

W i g l e a f               12-27-15                                [home]