Monday, February 15, 2016

Week of February 8-14: Sharon Osbourne

 

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For a diatribe directed against Terese Giudice that included a comment about rape, Sharon Osbourne, one of the hosts of the CBS afternoon talk show The Talk is this week’s First Up Against The Wall Come The Revolution.

This one is going to take a bit of set-up before getting to why Osbourne deserves this but it is needed.

Teresa Giudice was in the news this week. For some people her name is instantly recognizable. For the rest of us, she is reality TV star, one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Giudice is married to construction builder and restaurant owner Joe Giudice. In July 2013 the Giudices were charged with with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications, and bankruptcy fraud. In March 2014 the Giudices entered into a plea agreement with the US Government that would see them pleading guilty to 41 counts of bank, mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud, which allegedly saw them net over $5 million over a 10-year period. Part of the agreement was that they would serve their sentences separately so that one parent would be with their four children. Teresa served her sentence of fifteen months first, entering Danbury Federal Corrections Institution (a minimum security prison) at the beginning of January 2015. She was released in December 2015 after 11 months and served a further six weeks of house arrest which ended February 5, 2016.

Giudice apparently used her period of house arrest to write a book about her experience in prison (I won’t mention the name for a variety of reasons which I might go into later in this post). Naturally Guidice complained about conditions in the prison as well as some of the surprises. Among the latter were “parties” that the inmates threw for special events like aninmate being released. She also discusses “spa” services which basically meant inmates doing hair and make-up for each other and giving massages. But it was her complaints about conditions in the prison, as well as the fact that she had written a book about her time there that seemed to ignite Sharon Osbourne’s ire. Among other things Giudice complained that “there was mold in the bathrooms. There was not running water constantly. The showers were freezing cold.”

Those statements got this response from Sharon Osbourne:

Does she realize how many people in this country live with mold and live with not very hot water in their homes, because you see love they pay their taxes, they don’t defraud the government. So you see this is what happens to good hard working people in this country who want to live a decent life. But for you, defrauding and somewhat of a two-bit con woman, you actually revolt me. And the thing is, it's just so stereotypical that somebody who's a two-bit celebrity goes into prison for whatever reason, comes out. They sell a story. Everybody wants to hear their story. Were you raped, love? God, I hope she wasn't. At least she would have gotten some enjoyment out of it.

Social media rapidly got involved and attacked Sharon Osbourne for the rape comment. She very quickly apologised. Sort of. But not to Teresa Giudice. In fact as Perez Hilton pointed out, “she mostly just said she didn't mean to offend any of her viewers and actually stood by her original statement regarding Teresa being raped — while forgetting her name in the process.”

We've had a lot of people that have been on our social media online saying I shouldn't made the comment about rape and the thing that in the context that it was used, really, people who know me know that I would never mean harm by saying that to people who have been in that situation. It was a throwaway remark and that's the way it should be taken. As a throwaway remark, not meant to hurt anybody. So I apologize if I have offended or hurt anybody other than that woman that we were talking about.

So here’s the thing. I certainly don’t want to defend Teresa Giudice, or promote her book, which is why one reason I’m not mentioning the name. She committed a crime, she served her time and was released for prison. And guess what; people who get released from prison tend to complain about conditions in prison. Martha Stewart wrote about her time in prison. So did Piper Kerman who’s book Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Woman’s Prison was the source material for the Netflix TV series Orange Is The New Black. (Coincidentally, Kerman who was convicted of money laundering and drug trafficking did her 13 month sentence at FCI Danbury, the same prison that Giudice was sent to.)

But apparently Sharon Osbourne doesn’t get this. She seems to think that Giudice deserved to be housed in these sorts of conditions because she’s “somewhat of a two-bit con woman.” Osbourne’s question, “Does she realize how many people in this country live with mold and live with not very hot water in their homes…” is probably unintentionally funny since I doubt that Sharon Osbourne knows the answer to that question either. The bit about Giudice being a “two-bit celebrity” is particularly ironic given that Giudice became known because of a reality series. So did Sharon Osbourne, at least to people outside of the music industry. If it wasn’t for the reality series The Osbournes, no one would pay attention to what Sharon said and she wouldn’t have the bully pulpit of a national TV talk show to say it on.

As for Teresa Giudice and her book I think the last word shouldn’t go to Sharon Osbourne but to an article at Salon.com. In it the writer Nico Lang points out “…it’s extremely alarming that women like Teresa Giudice get to profit off their kuh-ray-zee experiences, while the inmates they serve with don’t get book deals or hit television shows based off their time behind bars. A majority of these women (60 percent) will end up back in prison: Millions of ex-cons are unable to get a job because of felony convictions, while others struggle to adjust to life on the outside. For poor women of color across the country, prison isn’t a wacky anecdote. It’s an inescapable reality.”


Runners up:

Kanye West for his reference to Taylor Swift in his new song “Famous”. In it he raps “I feel like myself and Taylor might still have sex. I made that b*tch famous.”  And here I thought it was her talent that made her famous.

Port-of-Spain Trinidad Mayor Raymond Tim Kee for his reaction to the murder of a Japanese woman during Trinidad’s Carnival. Kee is reported to have said as part of a larger statement that, “The woman has the responsibility to ensure that they are not abused.” The woman, Asami Nagakiya was a frequent visitor to Trinidad and played as a member of a 120 person steel drum band that was participating in a competition during Carnival.

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