Should Jason Biggs lose cartoon gig over sexual assault comments?
Update 9/5: Biggs has deleted his tweets about sexually assaulting Janna Ryan and Ann Romney.
Update 9/7: Nickelodeon has released a statement on Jason Biggs. Click here to read the new developments.
Nickelodeon is being pressured to fire actor Jason Biggs after he said he wanted to sexually assault Janna Ryan, the wife of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The American Pie actor made the comments on Twitter on Wednesday, earning criticism across the political spectrum and calls that he is unfit to provide the voice of Leonardo on Nickelodeon's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.
The situation brings up questions of free speech and personal responsibility in the public limelight. While everyone seems to agree that Biggs is free to say whatever he wishes, should he be allowed to keep his job on a children's show when he makes outrageous comments? In today's internet age, should he show more discretion should young fans be enticed to view his Twitter account and see inappropriate comments?
The controversy comes on the heels of congressional candidate Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape," which were widely condemned as well.
The furor began Wednesday evening after Rep. Paul Ryan spoke at the Republican National Convention.From his Twitter account, Biggs began slamming Ryan, first making a sexual joke about him, and then tweeting that he would like to sexually assault Ryan's wife, making graphic remarks about her anatomy. Because of the very graphic nature of his tweets, we will not repeat what he said, but they are still available to read on his Twitter account.
Some parents took to Twitter to protest, saying they will not allow their children to watch the network while they employ Biggs. Phil Kerpen tweeted that he doesn't want his kids watching anything with Biggs. "(He) has no place on a children's channel. We'll stick to Sprout," he said.
Trish Williams also took issue with Biggs. "Dear @NickelodeonTV, why do you employ someone such as @JasonBiggs who spews such vulgar hate as this," she tweeted. Katie O'Malley said "Hey @NickelodeonTV @NickelodeonPR thanks so much for introducing misogynist Jason Biggs to little kids."
Jonah Goldberg of National Review tweeted "I think this Jason Biggs buffoon deserves firing far more than the Yahoo News Director guy."
It is not unusual for public figures, including actors, to have morality clauses in their contracts when employed, for just this type of situation. Whether this is the case here remains to be seen. It will also be up to Nickelodeon to decide whether appearing on a children's show, where millions of dollars in merchandising are also at stake, requires actors to adhere to a higher moral standard in public.
For his part, Jason Biggs is unapologetic and continued to rant with offensive, bigoted tweets. On Thursday, he made a sexually graphic statement about Ann Romney, retweeted his wife's sexually graphic comments about Ryan's wife, and then took a shot at people of faith: "Clint Eastwood talking to a non-responsive stool sorta sums up Christianity in a nutshell, huh Republicans?"
On Friday, he attempted to blow off the controversy surrounding him by tweeting "To everyone freaking out about my tweets: you know i put my **** in a pie, right?"
Nickelodeon has yet to respond on the matter, and has not responded to our requests for a statement. They can be contacted via Twitter or by phone at 212-258-7500 (ask for viewer services).
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog When Liberals Attack. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog,VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page.