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“If a girl is drunk, is it okay to have sex with her?”
TV psychologist Dr Phil MacGraw is used to dishing out advice during his small screen appearances, but the doctor with the heavy Southern drawl should have sought some counsel of his own before this line cropped up on his Twitter feed.
Dr Phil’s followers were outraged. The ambiguity of the tweet made it seem as if the doctor was making light of a very serious subject – date rape.
“If Dr. Phil is drunk, is it okay for him to tweet?” replied one online user, while another pondered: “If a person is a mysognyist [sic], is it okay to just refer to him as 'Dr. Phil' from now on?”.
The tweet was later deleted, which seemed to further enrage the public.
“Hey, @DrPhil, if someone deletes his tweet, is it okay to post a screenshot of it?” asked one user.
“@DrPhil is a bloody coward and has since deleted the tweet,” said another.
A spokesperson for Dr Phil told The Daily Mail that the outcry was simply because of a misundertanding.
“This Tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label. It was a poll question, not a statement or a joke.
“As he has maintained over many years, Dr. Phil believes that the position of those incapacitated in any fashion; be it drugs, alcohol, age or mental illness cannot and do not have the capacity to give their consent to anything, especially sex, which could have life changing repercussions.
“This was a research post in preparation for a show, not a personal post and Dr. Phil deleted it the second he saw it. It was clearly ill-advised. We sincerely apologize that it suggested anything other than what was intended, data gathering. As you can imagine, Dr. Phil is very upset that this happened.”
However, one online commentator interviewed by The Washington Post felt that Dr Phil had missed the boat.
“Deleting a tweet is not an apology,” said Steven Petrow, who writes a digital etiquette column for Parade magazine.
“And if that's the thing you're attempting to do, you need to make an apology. That is what makes people so angry about deleted tweets. It's not atoning; it's removing.” - IOL