Renee and Scott Baio: Step Away From the Laptop

Julie Marsh

Flickr photo by daveynin
Last year I wrote about how everyone, even moms, should be on Twitter. I forgot to make an exception for impulsive celebrities who failed Freshman Composition and their foulmouthed spouses.

Scott Baio -- known to most of us forever as Chachi -- and his wife, Renee Baio, have joined the ranks of celebs and mere mortals everywhere who've forgotten to put their brains in gear before unleashing their idiocy on the Internet in 140 characters or less.

Online women's magazine Jezebel has assembled a detailed timeline of Baio's ridiculousness through the years, so there's no need for me to rehash his past social media mishaps. What's new this time is that his wife, Renee Baio, hopped on Facebook and flung childish epithets at Jezebel's staff -- including using the term "lesbian" as an insult.

When she was called out on her pejorative use of the word, she fired back that she has "lesbian friends that couldn't be nicer ... Those Jezebel lesbians are SH*TAS*SES!!!!!"

(Not just childish, but redundant too. I guess that's what people mean when they say profanity belies a limited vocabulary.)

It's the classic "some of my best friends are [fill in the blank]" self-awarded exemption from decency, and apparently some people still think it's a valid excuse for rudeness. If I were one of Renee Baio's nice lesbian friends, I'd be pretty irritated (if not outright offended) that she used my sexual orientation as an insult.

That's really the heart of the matter here. People like Renee and Scott Baio use words -- both benign descriptors (such as sexual orientation) and made-up profanity ("c*ntness" doesn't pass the Scrabble test) as weapons -- and they defend their cruelty as "freedom of speech."

We all get angry. And sure, we're free to say horrible things about people, whether they're accurate or not, but that doesn't make it okay. Neither does claiming that our words aren't hurtful simply because we count some of the group of people we've maligned among our close, personal friends.

Instead, we're sending the message to our kids, our family, our friends -- and, in the case of celebs, their fans -- that it's okay to mercilessly denigrate other people simply because you disagree with them. That name-calling and cruelty are just as prevalent in adult conversation as they are on the preschool playground.

Sorry, Chachi. Joanie may still love you, but the rest of us aren't so sure anymore.

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