Discipline and Punish
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
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
Detail of collage on main page courtesy
of Joana Coccarelli.
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