Should Not Be Overlooked

"American Idol" contestant, Caleb Johnson, made it to the top three in the competition on Thursday night. But a lot of the buzz he's created in the past week has not been directly related to his performances on the show.

The Asheville, N.C. native did an interview with AfterBuzz TV on May 2 following a wild night on the "Idol" results show. The interviewer asked Johnson how has his opinion of social media changed since joining the show. Johnson responded: "[Social media] gives access to a bunch of retards to talk to me." He was apparently addressing people who have sent him hateful comments on social media.

But he wasn't finished. Johnson went on to talk about the show's theme for the week - America's Choice where fans chose songs for the contestants to perform on the show - and had this to say: "I don't really enjoy having to see somebody telling me what song I need to sing...I don’t need 10,000 people saying, 'You should sing this, you should sing that. Listen to me!' Fortunately, guys, I’m going to listen to myself, whether you like it or not." Of all the words Johnson could have used to address his critics, he had to use "R-word?" He could have said, fools, bozos, idiots or - here's an idea - nothing at all and answer the question differently. Instead, he made the unfortunate choice to use that hateful and derogatory term and, despite issuing an apology via Facebook, it has infuriated many within his fan base and beyond. In addition to that, he arrogantly dissed the very people who are keeping him in the competition by saying he didn't need people telling him what songs to sing all the time, etc.

What has upset me the most about this was many people were actually okay with Johnson's comments. I've seen numerous people on social media - even ones who have responded to things I've said about this story - say that Johnson didn't mean anything by the comments and that the whole thing has been "overblown. "Believe it or not, the "R-Word" does offend people with cognitive impairments. I, for one, have always hated the "R-word" and have treated it as a derogatory term as I would with any other. Mark Leach, an attorney who has a daughter with Down syndrome, called Johnson's apology "mush-mouthed" as reported by the Huffington Post and had this to say: "Now imagine if Caleb had used another slur against a minority group: the "N-word," "F-g," "K*ke," "Ch*nk," "Sp*c." Imagine any of those. Would he get away with 'Sorry if it offended anybody it was the wrong choice of words'? Of course not." The "R-word" should be treated like any other derogatory term. Period.

I understand that we're all human and I'm in no position to judge. However, when you're on a giant, public platform such as "American Idol" you have got to police yourself, especially being one of the older contestants left in the competition as Johnson is. The "American Idol" champion has to have not only singing and performance abilities but the entire package including attitude, compassion, care, etc. Johnson has the talent but this interview has revealed something about him that I cannot overlook.

Watch the full interview with AfterBuzz TV above and click here for more information on the "R-Word"