Seattle musician, podcaster apologizes for ‘bean dad’ story

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle indie rocker and podcaster John Roderick has apologized for a story he told online about making his young daughter spend six hours learning how to use a can opener.

The musician, most famously of the band The Long Winters, wrote on Twitter last weekend about refusing to open the can of beans for the 9-year-old as she became hungry and frustrated to the point of tears.

Roderick faced uproar from people who described his actions as emotionally abusive. He initially defended himself, noting that six hours is a typical amount of time between meals and that his kid was fine. But as the criticism mounted under the hashtag #BeanDad, he deleted his Twitter account.

He said on his website Tuesday that was a mistake and that he should have addressed the criticism head-on. He wrote that he told the story poorly — omitting that his wife was present, that there was a lot of laughter as well as frustration, and that they had eaten a big breakfast and shared pistachios as she worked on the can.

He told it that way because that’s his sarcastic, comedic persona, and he expected people to recognize it as a “bit,” he said. His experience as a straight, middle-class, white male who has not lived in an abusive situation caused him to misjudge the effect of his words, he said.

“A lot of the language I used reminded people very viscerally of abuse they’d experienced at the hand of a parent,” Roderick wrote. “The idea that I would withhold food from her, or force her to solve a puzzle while she cried, or bind her to the task for hours without a break all were images of child abuse that affected many people very deeply. Rereading my story, I can see what I’d done.”

“I was ignorant, insensitive to the message that my ‘pedant dad’ comedic persona was indistinguishable from how abusive dads act, talk and think,” he added.

Roderick also apologized for using racist, anti-Semitic and other slurs in tweets years ago, saying he did so ironically to mock those beliefs but later realized it wasn’t his place to appropriate such terms.

“I continued to believe long past the point I should’ve known better that because I was a hipster intellectual from a diverse community it was ok for me to joke and deploy slurs in that context,” he wrote. “It was not.”

Some of Roderick’s friends and peers came to his defense, including “Jeopardy!” wiz Ken Jennings, who co-hosts the “Omnibus” podcast with Roderick and who begins temporarily hosting “Jeopardy!” next Monday.

The founder of the podcasting platform Maximum Fun HQ, which hosts Roderick’s “Friendly Fire” podcast, also defended him, but the platform subsequently suspended Roderick indefinitely without pay, The Seattle Times reported.

Another popular podcast, “My Brother, My Brother and Me,” announced it would no longer use the Long Winters’ “(It’s a) Departure” as its opening song.

Roderick said he was taking a hiatus from public life to let the lessons of the last few days sink in.

“My language wasn’t appropriate then or now and reflecting on that has been part of my continuing education as an adult who wants to be a good ally,” he said. “That education is ongoing, and this experience will have a profound effect on the way I conduct myself throughout the rest of my life.”

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