Yesterday, video surfaced of still-molting emperor penguin Justin Bieber telling a joke that contained the N-word, in the worst incident of Justin Bieber being offensive on the way to creating questionable entertainment since the last Justin Bieber story. The clip—filmed for the sort-of-documentary Never Say Never—had reportedly been buried since 2011, that year of perfect equilibrium when Bieber’s mental state of being a shitty 15-year-old still matched his physical one. Though, after it was posted on The Sun, TMZ stepped up to claim it had seen, but ultimately passed on the footage four years ago, “in large part because he was 15,” and the site would not begin tracking his every self-destructive behavior until Bieber reached a more appropriate age of a few weeks later.
But now that Bieber has fully matured into an adult provocateur, we can all watch him ask a roomful of “friends” and a professional camera crew, “Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?” As it turns out, the answer is not “Because like all members of the human species, they have a rational fear of injury.” It’s something far less funny.
As they must whenever Justin Bieber is attacked by a ruthless media out to destroy him with nothing more than flimsy, undoctored video evidence, his fans quickly took to Twitter—the preferred public forum for debating whether something is or isn’t racist. And according to their findings, Bieber’s joke was decidedly not, because argumentum ad black friends.
Among Bieber’s close, personal rebuttals is his former bodyguard Kenny Hamilton, who took to Twitter to remind all that a person should be judged on his actions, not his jokes. And in Justin Bieber’s case, it’s possible he should be judged not on his actions but on his “heart,” which Hamilton says he’s known since Bieber was 12 years old and before it stopped returning his phone calls. Also stepping up for Bieber was boxer Floyd Mayweather, who assured everyone very sincerely that Bieber has “been nothing but kind to me, my daughters and sons over the years” before very sincerely adding a link to his clothing website; and Soulja Boy, who told TMZ “he doesn’t feel Bieber should be held accountable for something he said when he was 15,” particularly as each day brings something new to hold him accountable for.
Nevertheless, Bieber has once more been held accountable, and so it was that he released a statement of apology—surely penned by his own hand, in an hour of penitent reflection—that reminded us all that the video was made when he was but a child, unable to grow even the wispiest of mustaches, and that he has since become a man. A man with a deeper understanding of the power of words, the incredibly diverse world we live in, and his great responsibility to not be filmed abusing either.
As a kid, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt. I thought it was OK to repeat hurtful words and jokes but didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance. Thanks to friends and family, I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs. Now that these mistakes from the past have become public, I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I’m very sorry. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously, and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake. I was a kid then, and I am a man now who knows my responsibility to the world and to not make that mistake again. Ignorance has no place in our society, and I hope the sharing of my faults can prevent others from making the same mistake in the future. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say, but telling the truth is always what’s right. Five years ago I made a reckless and immature mistake, and I’m grateful to those close to me who helped me learn those lessons as a young man. Once again … I’m sorry.
Having thus apologized, Justin Bieber—a man now—manfully returned to being undiscriminating in his utter disregard for other people.