Spike Lee’s Twitter mistake


Not the Right Thing to Do. (Mike Stobe)

One problem was that what Spike Lee thought was the home address of George Zimmerman — the man who shot teenager Trayvon Martin — actually belonged to a couple in their seventies. The bigger problem was that he tweeted what he thought was the address of George Zimmerman to his 240,000-odd followers in the first place.

The expected happened after he sent the tweet out. Menacing calls. Menacing letters. Menacing envelopes with Taste The Rainbow printed on them. (I am not making this up.)

It makes you reflect on how creepy these candy slogans can be, if said with the right inflection.

Of course it’s a problem that someone lettered “TASTE THE RAINBOW” on an envelope and frightened a retired couple.

But even the right address would have been the wrong address.

What did Lee reasonably expect? That his followers were going to send the “Zimmerman residence” indignant letters? That they might ship him Edible Arrangements with passive-aggressive but politely-worded notes?

Of course not. Instead, people responded by becoming exactly the thing they were trying to punish: vigilantes, pursuing their own sense of right and wrong without regard to law or fact. Did nobody learn anything?

 The fact that it was an elderly couple and not the intended recipient just pointed up the wrongness of this whole situation more starkly. You can't just go around tweeting the addresses of people and subjecting them to the Twitter mob’s blunt justice. There is much to be angry about in the story of Trayvon Martin. But you can’t fix a wrong with another wrong.

I’m glad Lee apologized, tweeting, “Justice in court.” That’s where it has to happen. If only that thought had come sooner.

One injustice is more than enough.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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