The Tennessee-based comic convention BubbaFest faced a great deal of backlash on Friday for allegedly releasing a Facebook post celebrating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. While comments both in support and condemning this post were left by other users, comments that were not supportive of the post were reportedly deleted.
Shortly after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, BubbaFest released a clip from the Wizard of Oz featuring the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.” Many who saw the post considered it disrespectful to a woman who worked tirelessly to promote equality for women, and particularly as it was posted so soon after her passing was announced. The post has been removed, and according to BubbaFest, it was taken down by Facebook after being reported.
Two apology posts were later made, though the first read as a statement by Chris Lewis of Bubbafest in defense of the original post, admitting it was probably in bad taste, but asserting that those who were offended weren’t planning to attend the convention anyways and accused liberals of threatening the lives or wishing the death of high-ranking Republican officials. It also called out celebrity guests from overseas making hundreds of thousands of dollars without paying US taxes. That post ended up being removed as well.
The full text reads:
STATEMENT FROM CHRIS LEWIS OF BUBBA FEST
Hi kids. Well, I would have posted this myself, but I was booted out of the group. It’s been a long time coming, and your comic cons are probably all over anyway. That said, I was invited to give you all a statement. Here it is:
First, I thought the post was funny. Was it tasteless and maybe go too far? Sure. But we live in a world where people make extraordinarily harsh jokes every day.
Second, I didn’t delete the original post – Facebook did. Someone reported it and it was promptly yanked down. Had it remained, you’d have seen that many people got the joke and thought it was funny. It doesn’t matter either way.
Third, our show has an obvious Red-leaning demographic. The name of the shows [sic] is BubbaFest. It was never meant for all of you who are so triggered right now. Let’s be really honest – you were never going to go to a show called BubbaFest. And that’s OK. Again, the show was never meant for you.
Fourth, you’re being hypocrites. See below the very small sample of posts where you unhinges [sic] loons post threats every day against the President of the United States, Mitch McConnell, Tucker Carlson, and anyone else who voices opinions that don’t match yours. Even if I’m truly happy that RBG died, I never threatened to kill her or wished death on her. How many of you can say that you haven’t threatened or wish death on the President?
Fifth, be careful with your messages and posts Harassing someone and making threats to someone are criminal offenses. Slander is a serious civil offense. The Internet is not anonymous, no matter what you may think.
Sixth, I can promise you that you don’t want to keep dragging celebrities into this, the way you did John Barrowman. Many of these celebrities have been all over the US (and world) making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for decades and not paying a nickel of state sales & income taxes on those autograph & photo op sales, or a nickel of federal income taxes. It wouldn’t bother me to drop the dime on every last one of them and see the entire industry burned to the ground. So go ahead and tempt me.
Note: Celebrities who work in the USA, whether it be at a convention, studio, or live event, are required to pay US income tax on the revenue they generate working here.
The second apology was much more conciliatory in tone:
Last night I made a post that made some folks laugh, but made some other folks literally want to see me dead. I want to address this.
As you all know, we are at a turning point in our country right now. We’ve never been more divided as a people than we are right now. The violence and civil unrest, demonization of each other in both social media and the news media, and absolutist mindsets of various groups have us on the brink of a second civil war. My regret and apology stems from the fact that my post fanned those flames, even on a relatively small scale. And truthfully, it was in poor taste and un-Christian of me to intentionally troll the passing of an historic figure in our country’s history. Regardless of my or anyone else’s opinions on Justice Ginsburg’s record on the USSC, the fact remains that she served our country on its highest court for 27 years, and along the way, championed equality for women in several very significant decisions. That alone warrants extending a degree of respect to her, and to those who mourn her passing.
Whether it’s one side mocking and cheering the death of Herman Cain, or the other side making insensitive jokes about the death of Justice Ginsburg, all of the hatefulness needs to stop. There is no reason for us as a people to continue to use language that dehumanizes and/or devalues each other. There is no place in a civil society for harassment, making threats, slandering, and the rancor that these behaviors cause.
Y’all don’t support this show because you want to be “red-pilled” or to have political discussions. If you want that, you can tune in to Tucker, Sean, Don, or Rachel, all of whom are professionals at it. You come to fan events to be entertained. So in the future, we will steer clear of politics and keep our focus on providing entertainment to our thousands of fans (from 33 states and 11 countries in 2019!) – whether that turns out to be in 2021 or further down the road.
Until then, may we all follow our First Lady’s advice to “Be Best.” Have a good weekend with your families, as tomorrow is promised to none of us.
This was followed by an image showing President Abraham Lincoln and his famous quote, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Many viewers posted comments stating they were not convinced of the sincerity of the apology and believed this was to mitigate damage to the conventions public image. Many of their comments were removed from the post.
Actor and singer John Barrowman weighed in on the issue with the following tweet.
#FanFamily #confamily these posts from #bubbafest don’t offend they are just sick. #RuthBaderGinsberg believed in God, Family & America. You have just confirmed you’re bigoted and Assholes. #fanfamily Go leave them your thoughts on their Facebook page. Search Bubbafest. Jb pic.twitter.com/e8afRmDnPX
— John Barrowman MBE (@JohnBarrowman) September 19, 2020
Bubbafest was scheduled for this October, but due to COVID-19 is going to have a virtual event this year instead. Their 2019 event included celebrities such as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Sam J. Jones (“Flash Gordon”) and the New Age Outlaws, to name a few. Details on the virtual event and future events have yet to be released.