He’s written some of the best books we’ve ever read. But Stephen King, new to Twitter, has learned a lesson about writing tweets this week. The author has apologized for a tweet he sent out on Monday about the Dylan Farrow situation that kicked up quite the backlash.
Farrow wrote an open letter published by the New York Times alleging that she was sexually abused as a child by her adoptive father, Woody Allen.
On Monday, author Mary Karr posted this on Twitter: “Dylan Farrow's open letter alleging sexual assault at age 7 by Woody Allen: Right or wrong to post it?”
King responded with this tweet: “@marykarrlit Boy, I'm stumped on that one. I don't like to think it's true, and there's an element of palpable bitchery there, but...”
Karr wasn’t sure whether King was talking about her or Farrow, tweeting: “Maybe he thinks the editorial writer bitchy. Or even me.”
It didn’t really matter because the damage had been done. People who thought King was shaming Farrow slammed him all over Twitter.
He tried to handle the backlash by tweeting again: “Have no opinion on the accusations; hope they’re not true. Probably used the wrong word. Still learning my way around this thing. Mercy, please.”
But he got little mercy as the mocking hashtag #palpabledouchery took off.
Karr tried to defend her fellow author, tweeting: “Hold up yall. Stephen King is no misogynist, nor advocate of rape. We can disagree on this w/o ad hominem attacks.”
After more than a day of #palpabletwittery nastiness directed his way, King issued an apology on longer-format Facebook Tuesday night.
“Those of you who follow Twitter will know that recently I managed to put my foot in my mouth and halfway down my throat. A good many people came away from my tweet about the Woody Allen controversy with the idea that I had called Dylan Farrow or Mia Farrow (or both) a bitch. That wasn’t my intention, but the conclusion on the part of some readers is understandable. I used the wrong word to describe not Ms. Farrow — either Ms. Farrow — but a sad and painful mess. Some people seem to believe that writers never use the wrong word, but any editor can tell you that’s not true.
“Those of you who have read my work — Carrie, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, and Lisey’s Story, to name four — will know that I have plenty of respect for women, and care about the problems and life-situations they face. My single-mom mother faced plenty, believe me. And I have no sympathy whatever for those who abuse children. I wrote about such abuse — and its ultimate cost to the victim — in Gerald’s Game.
“The maximum number of letters in a Tweet is 140. I think the following would fit: I apologize for screwing up.
“Just know my heart is where it’s always been: in the right place.”