Bean Dad’ John Roderick apologizes for Twitter thread about daughter, racist tweets

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John Roderick, a musician, podcaster and lead singer of the band The Long Winters, who was nicknamed “Bean Dad” after a Twitter thread about his daughter struggling to use a can opener went viral, apologized Tuesday on his website.

In the thread, Roderick said he let his daughter struggle for hours to open a can of beans without helping, only offering her vague hints as she tried to teach herself how to use an opener.

After his thread went viral, Roderick initially insulted critics who suggested he was being a bad parent.

But as the scrutiny intensified and as old racist and anti-Semitic tweets resurfaced, Roderick deactivated his Twitter account. He did so “in a panic,” he wrote at the top of the apology.

“I had to reflect on what I’d done and the hurt I’d caused, and my mind was clouded by an unprecedented flow of new information,” Roderick wrote. “I want to acknowledge and make amends for the injuries I caused. I have many things to atone for. My parenting story’s insensitivity and the legacy of hurtful language in my past are both profound failures. I want to confront them directly.”

In the thread, Roderick said he suggested that his 9-year-old daughter make baked beans after she asked for lunch. When she said she didn’t know how to open the can, he implored her to figure it out herself rather than show her how to use the can opener. He called it a teachable moment.

But, to readers’ dismay, Roderick went on to describe his daughter struggling with the opener for hours, despite being cranky and hungry. In the end, after six hours, he said his daughter finally opened the can.

“Bean Dad” trended on Twitter on Sunday — a day after the thread was posted — as people criticized Roderick for letting his daughter go hungry for hours and saying that all he had taught her was that she could not go to her father for answers.

“My story about my daughter and the can of beans was poorly told. I didn’t share how much laughing we were doing, how we had a bowl of pistachios between us all day as we worked on the problem, or that we’d both had a full breakfast together a few hours before,” Roderick wrote in his apology. “Her mother was in the room with us all day and alternately laughing at us and telling us to be quiet while she worked on her laptop.”

Some likened the thread to abuse they’d experienced as children at the hands of their parents, while others still worried that Roderick could be setting his daughter up to have a difficult relationship with food.

“I was ignorant, insensitive to the message that my ‘pedant dad’ comedic persona was indistinguishable from how abusive dads act, talk and think,” he wrote. “… I reread the story and saw clearly that I’d framed it so poorly, so insensitively. Bean Dad, full of braggadocio and dickhead swagger, was hurting people. I’d conjured an abusive parent that many people recognized from real life.”

He said he wished that abusive parents didn’t exist and that no one should be raised by a person who “tortured them physically or emotionally.”

“I am deeply sorry for having precipitated more hurt in the world, for having prolonged or exacerbated it by fighting back and being flippant when confronted, and for taking my Twitter feed offline yesterday instead of facing the music,” he wrote.

“As for the many racist, anti-Semitic, hurtful and slur-filled tweets from my early days on Twitter I can say only this: all of those tweets were intended to be ironic, sarcastic,” Roderick wrote. He added that he thought being an ally to marginalized communities meant “taking the slurs of the oppressors and flipping them to mock racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry.”

Roderick wrote that he was humiliated by “my incredibly insensitive use of the language of sexual assault in casual banter. It was a lazy and damaging ideology, that 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. It was not.”

In the fallout from the thread, the podcast “My Brother, My Brother, and Me,” announced it would no longer use Roderick’s music as its theme, as it had done for nearly a decade. “Jeopardy!” star Ken Jennings, who hosts the podcast “Omnibus” with Roderick, was also pulled into the controversy when he tried to defend his co-host.

In response to a tweet asking about Roderick’s anti-Semitic comments, Jennings tweeted: “If we’re word-searching through old tweets now, it’s pretty easy to find what he actually thinks about anti-Semitism. On our show he’s always the pro-Israel one!”

Jennings also said he envied that Roderick’s “Bean Dad” would become a dictionary entry and that he would not achieve the same stature.

“If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site is so dumb,” he tweeted.

Many responded to Jennings’ tweets with disappointment, with one person calling it the “the worst response to this possible.” That response racked up nearly 5,000 likes.

On social media, the reaction to Roderick’s apology was mixed.

One person tweeted that it “gets really close to something i’d accept, but it’s like stirring oil into water. ‘i thought it was ok to pretend to be an a–hole because i never had to deal with the things i was making fun of’ isn’t really the personal growth moment he seems to think it is.”

Another tweeted: “i promised i wouldn’t tweet about bean dad anymore but ‘i thought being an ally meant using slurs but in a cool way’ is the funniest apology i’ve ever heard.”