Celebrities: they’re just like us! Sometimes they pick up their dog’s fecal matter on the street, sometimes they spill an ice cream cone on themselves in public, and sometimes they cyberbully people who happen to be different from whatever “normal” is.
Fox’s Detroit affiliate reported that a local man, Jahmel Binion, was mocked by Shaquille O’Neal via an Instagram photo that said, “SMILE TODAY.” Binion, who is from Madison Heights, Mich., suffers from ectodermal dysplasia, a rare disorder, thought to be genetic, that causes abnormalities in areas such as hair, teeth, nails and sweat glands.
[UPDATE Apr. 30, 2014, 3:46 p.m.]: Shaq announced via Twitter that he apologized to Binion via a phone call. Waka Flocka Flame apologized via Twitter as well.
You can the full report here:
In the piece, Binion said:
“I was kind of hurt because I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve watched Shaq play basketball since I was (inaudible), so I was like, why are you making fun of me? He is supposed to be this role model.”
All the reported Instagram photos are now deleted, but you can see a screenshot of it here, via the Fox affiliate.
Here’s Shaq actually tweeting out the now-deleted Instagram photo.
Though the image has since been deleted, responses——both applauding and condemning the photo——are still visible on Twitter.
It’s important to note that the Instagram username on the screenshot is “THERETIREDDRONEAL” and not his current Instagram name, “SHAQ.” But Shaq actually recently changed his Instagram name, according to his Twitter account:
It's also worth noting that a new Instagram account with Shaq's old handle popped up a day or so after the change.
After Shaq’s Instagram, the Fox affiliate reports, Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke and Wacka Flocka Flame joined in on mocking Binion. Here’s a little beginners guideline as to when you shouldn’t make fun of anyone:
- The joke is a mean spirited jab mocking someone's medical condition
- The joke is unoriginal
- You are Waka Flocka Flame
The news caused some outrage on Reddit, where a link to the Fox News report was first posted to r/videos:
DeliriumWigger: Poor dude, it's good that he's got a good attitude about it. In their defense though, the selfie doesn't instantly read as "disabled," so they probably thought they were just making fun of a silly face somebody was making. Also, is "disabled" the right word to use here? It seems like he's lucid, but has ectodermal dysplasia, a skin disorder. Not really a disability.
peanutbutterdumper: I went to high school with this fellow. He was a very kind gentle person. Definitely doesn't deserve this type of treatment.
cgs626: Hug Don't Judge. Not many people would be able to turn a negative into a positive. Good on him. Hope it gains traction. Maybe someone will reach out and make a website for his movement.
tempipoo: Yea, no way it could have been a mistake. Absolutely impossible that they thought it was a guy making a funny face and didn't know the guy had a disease. It has to 100% be that Shaquille hates disabled people and wants you to know it! I have extra torches and pitchforks if anyone needs.
b33fSUPREME: Scrutiny and making fun of someone are different things. Making fun of anyone you don't know disabled or otherwise is a d****e thing to do.
I will agree that by posting pics on the internet you open yourself up to be made fun of and many people underestimate that. But Shaq being a famous celebrity sports star and grown adult should probably refrain from childish behavior. Or at the very least keep it to his personal life. I think it should be embarrassing for him and he should feel 2 inches tall.
Fusion reached out to Shaq, Trey Burke and Wacka Flocka Flame for comment and is awaiting a response.