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Tweeting About Death | Right or Wrong?

On the morning of June 20th at 2:30 a.m. Ryan Dunn’s (34) and Zachary Hartwell’s (30) lives were cut short due to an automobile accident.

Ryan Dunn is most known for his role in the MTV series Jackass along with the Jackass movies. His most memorable role was when he put a matchbox car in his rectum when he was going to the hospital for an X-ray. (I know, bizarre right?) Not something most individuals would want to be remembered for, however this was his schtick as part of the Jackass crew.

After the media announced his death, reports showed pictures of Dunn and his passenger drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette at a Philadelphia bar hours prior to his accident. It was pretty apparent to anyone looking at the photos that Mr. Dunn was under the influence.

A few hours after the information was released, many celebrities took to their Twitter accounts to express their sympathy and remorse.

Fellow Jackass co-star Johnny Knoxville tweeted, “Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn,” and Steve O. tweeted, “I don’t know what to say, except I love Ryan Dunn and I’m really going to miss him.”

To my shock Roger Ebert, the film critic tweeted, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”

Ryan Dunn was not even dead 10 hours before Mr. Ebert made this statement. I get it, the facts now tell us that Ryan Dunn had a minimum of three beers and three shots. Reports also showed he was driving at a speed of 130 mph. However, I am confused why Roger Ebert would think that he can tweet such harsh words before he even knew the facts.

The backlash was brutal. Bam Margera, Dunn’s best friend, tweeted to the movie critic to “shut his (expletive) mouth.”  A few days later, Ebert  admitted he might have been too quick to tweet. He also admitted that he had no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death.

Police have now released reports that Dunn’s blood alcohol level was .196–2 1/2 times the legal limit. So, he was indeed drunk.

Twitter is a social media tool that can get people in trouble for their words. If Ebert would have simply said “friends don’t let friends drink and drive” then this tweet might not have been such an issue.

Was Mr. Ebert wrong for his tweet, or was he just stating the obvious? Was it too “new” to tweet such harsh words, or should Ebert be allowed to speak his mind?

In my opinion Ebert was not bashing the man who passed away, but those who allowed him to drive after he was drinking. It might have been too soon and a little tacky. However, I think if anyone else would have tweeted this then it wouldn’t be a big deal. I think because he’s “Roger Ebert” it became an issue.

What are your thoughts about people tweeting about or after deaths?

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[author_info]About the Author

TV Talk Tina, real name Tina Haddad, is a wife, mother and self-professed “reality TV junkie” who loves all things entertainment. See more of her vlogs, and an occasional blog, here on Prime Parents’ Club. [/author_info][/author]


  1. Laura

    July 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Free speech is a right. Too bad it doesn’t mean common sense or decency must be practiced by those participating in social media!

  2. Jacqueline Wilson

    July 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Like it or not, we do have the right to free speech in this country…even if it is tacky and in poor taste. So, I think Roger Ebert has a right to tweet what he wants about it.

    I love social media. However, I think one of the issues is it takes some of the personal responsibilty off of being politically correct, respectful…or even just plain nice. We have all seen those people who blast their relatives, friends or co-workers on sites like Twitter or Facebook. It’s easy to post something when you don’t have to be present to deal with someone’s response or the outcome.

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