Steve Martin Apologizes For Twitter Controversy On Blog, But is it enough?

It's always disconcerting and upsetting when your heroes say or do something that isn't quite on the up-and-up. It is apparently also disconcerting and upsetting for the heroes in question — especially when they feel they've been largely misunderstood. And so it is that Steve Martin apologized for that Twitter fiasco that got him reamed for racism in the press.

Martin's tweet has been blowing up the news in a weekend whose social media beat seems to be revolving almost exclusively around racially bent tweets. Now he's explaining himself, and though it's sure not to satisfy everybody, it's overall an explanation that will (hopefully) at least let you go to sleep tonight knowing that Steve Martin is less racist than you thought he was yesterday.

I am very upset that a tweet I sent out last week has been interpreted by some to be insulting to African Americans. By now media coverage of the unfortunate tweet has only added to this perception. To those who were offended, again, I offer a deep, sincere, and humble apology without reservation.

He also explains the terrors of being misquoted: reported on the story and changed the wording of the tweet. They wrote: “It depends if you are in an African American restaurant or an Italian restaurant.” Clearly, this misquote implies that an African American restaurant can’t spell “lasagna” on the menu. And my name was attached to the misquoted tweet. Other websites, including picked up this incorrect version and for the next four days, and more, it continued to spread and I couldn’t get out of hell.

He explains the original thinking behind the joke (he wasn't making fun of African-American restaurant's ability to spell, and his love of grammar jokes played a part), and his reaction to the reaction (emphasis ours):

I was going along fine when someone wrote, “How do you spell “lasonia?” I wrote: “It depends if you are in an African American neighborhood or an Italian restaurant.” I knew of the name Lasonia. I did not make it up, nor do I find it funny. So to me the answer was either Lasonia (with a capital), or Lasagna, depending on what you meant. That they sounded alike in this rare and particular context struck me as funny. That was the joke. When the tweet went out, I saw some negative comments and immediately deleted the tweet and apologized. I gathered the perception was that I was making fun of African American names. Later, thinking it over, I realized the tweet was irresponsible, and made a fuller apology on Twitter.

Look, it's not perfect; few apologies ever are. It's up to you whether or not you "forgive" him or what have you. But here's the thing: This is a guy who immediately realized the error of this joke and deleted it, following it up with an apology. The joke was also not what a lot of people perceived it to be, and while in a lot of ways perception can still be more important than intention, that's a little different when the person's been straight-up misquoted.

He's not a perfect dude, but he's apologized multiple times at this point and he seems pretty sincere about it; as he said in one of his tweets, "a second later I realized what an offensive thing I'd done."

He's not just ragging on the world for a perceived lack of sense of humor, which is an annoying common reaction comedians have to ill-received jokes. He's not excusing himself, just explaining. He's acknowledging the underlying issues and expressing regret into how he played into them.

Sounds like a pretty good apology to me.

You can read the full thing here.