By: Etan Neiman  | 

There Are Disgusting Acts and Then There’s What Rosie O’Donnell Did

A question sometimes fun to ponder is what act constitutes the lowest of the low? There are all types of delightful shots one can take at answering it. Maybe it is harming a child? Perhaps ruining someone’s life? Bullying? As the late hours of Monday, November 21st spilled into early Tuesday, Rosie O’Donnell sent a tweet which may have covered all three of these possibilities. She tweeted the following to her nearly one million followers in regards to a ten-year-old boy: “Autistic? If so – what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic.” Her tweet goes on to cite a disgraceful and tasteless YouTube video as evidence that the kid in question may be autistic. The little boy O’Donnell is referring to is Barron Trump, the youngest son of President-elect Donald Trump. Let’s take a look at the three previously listed acts which may be the lowest of the low. This tweet, potentially outing Barron’s autism, could certainly harm the child and it may very well ruin his life. The good news is that I’m not quite sure this act falls under the bullying umbrella. She left the bullying for the hundreds of kids who attend elementary school with Barron.

Perhaps, I should assume Ms. O’Donnell only had the best intentions in mind. After all, a follow up tweet provides some further explanation into her purpose in potentially outing Barron’s autism. “Not my (YouTube) movie clip,” O’Donnell tweets. “Lots of us who raise autistic children notice things many would miss... some things felt familiar.” For good measure, she thoughtfully concludes her tweet with #NOshameAUTISM. Moreover, right in the description of the YouTube video O’Donnell cited for evidence is #StopTheBullying. Heartwarming. Unfortunately, O’Donnell could have included all the hashtags from #BlackLivesMatter to #EndWorldHunger to #FreePalestine and I still would be disgusted with her. As evidence that her intentions may not quite have entirely been to promote mental health awareness, it took me some thirty minutes to wade through her hundreds of tweets dedicated to attacking President-elect Trump in order to arrive at the two tweets addressing Barron. It seems a bit fishy to me that Ms. O’Donnell would take a break from her important work denigrating the President-elect to raise autism or mental health awareness. I tend to lean towards the camp which believes she was attempting to destroy Donald’s ten-year-old in her lowest attempt yet to get to her bitter nemesis. You know what they say, “If you can’t stop him from becoming President, at least destroy the life of his little kid.” Oh wait, that’s not a saying.

Let me take a very important step back at this juncture. This is not an article meant to support President-elect Trump. I’ll leave that to Sean Hannity. This article is certainly not in any way meant to suggest that there is anything at all wrong with having autism or any type of mental illness. If I felt that way, I would need to do some serious reconciling with a Commentator article I penned last spring detailing my battles with mental illnesses. Even given my openness on the topic, I speculate a younger me would have been a tad ticked off if someone made a YouTube montage of my worst moments and then threw some mental health terms around. It probably would not have helped matters if a mega-celebrity then tweeted out a link to that video. This was my story to decide to tell. I could have easily given in to the damaging and laughably untrue stigmas associated with mental illnesses and told nobody. I decided not to; that was my decision alone to make. Finally, this article is far from a declaration that Barron has or doesn’t have autism. To address some of the YouTube video’s chief claims, it is perfectly conceivable that Barron is a bit shy and doesn’t react well to cameras or extreme attention. I can comprehend how he seemed a little out of it at 3:00 in the morning after being awoken to celebrate his father’s presidential victory. With this said, maybe Barron does have autism or a different mental illness. After all, nearly 20% of Americans live with a diagnosable mental health illness. Unlike O’Donnell, however, I will leave it to the doctors to decide any possible diagnosis and Barron to decide whether to share a potential illness.


After allowing herself ten days of defending her courageous actions and reflecting on all the great work she did with these tweets and sharing the YouTube video, Ms. O’Donnell decided it was apology time. “I apologize @MELANIATRUMP - I was insensitive in my RT - i am sorry for the pain i caused - it was not my intent - i am truly sorry,” O’Donnell humbly tweeted on Thursday, December 1st. Of course, it would have been much easier for the general public to see this apology if she had not subsequently locked her twitter account to the public for nearly a week directly after issuing the apology tweet. Also apologizing was the maker of the YouTube video; however, he took the apparently unusual step of keeping his account public following the apology. His video statement reads in part, “It was incredibly irresponsible of me to diagnose Barron Trump using a selection of misleading videos. My video was originally intended as an anti-bullying video, as I myself suffer from autism and wanted to educate people. Unfortunately, I completely misdiagnosed a person and ended up making a video that was false, defamatory and malicious. I retract every single statement I made in that horrendous video, and want to sincerely apologize to the Trump family, especially to Melania and Barron Trump.” Obviously, that well-formulated, grammatically flawless, and sincere public apology cannot compare to the 26 word tweet O’Donnell fired off, where she could only be bothered to capitalize the word “I” two out of the five times she used it, before locking her account to the public.

In determining an appropriate punishment for Ms. O’Donnell, she does deserve to have all the facts considered. I will take into account how she held back for eight years of the Obama presidency and did not unleash her apparent hobby of attacking President’s kids. However, it would have been great if she could have held herself back for a little longer than two weeks into Trump’s reign as President-elect. Considering all of the facts, it would be letting her off too easy to simply call for her to be terminated from her TV show on the Showtime network. A fitting punishment would be stripping her of her endorsements and banning her from television. That way, she could see what it feels like to have someone take a shot at ruining her life.