Kelly Donohue, a 35-year-old state bank examiner from Massachusetts, fulfilled a dream to appear on the most challenging game show of them all — Jeopardy! But that dream has become a nightmare.
Donohue, a three-time winner of the competition, celebrated his third victory by showing the camera the symbol for “OK.” He put his thumb and forefinger together and raised the other three fingers in the air, indicating his three wins, he says. The mob sneered that it was a “white power” symbol.
But that wasn’t Donohue’s only transgression against political correctness that drew the rage of the mob. Giving an answer to a question, Donahue used the word “gypsy” which has now been determined to be a slur against the Romani people. The poor guy — just an average Joe with a talent for trivia — found himself a target of the internet hate mob.
In a now-deleted Facebook page, Donohue explained.
“Many of the great champions of old had a little signature hello they would do on-screen when being introduced by Johnny Gilbert,” he wrote. “I decided to count my victories. That’s a 1. That’s a 2. That’s a 3. No more. No less. There wasn’t a hidden agenda or any malice behind it. Had I managed to repeat as champion, you’d have been treated to a 4.”
A petition, signed by 450 former Jeopardy contestants condemning Donahue’s “white supremacy” and demanding the show remove the word “gypsy” from all questions and answers, was sent to Medium.
Donohue’s hand position, “whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been co-opted by white power groups, alt-right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters,” the Medium letter claims, also blasting Donohue for posting to Facebook a cover photo of Frank Sinatra making a similar hand signal. As the insane uproar raged, Donohue either deleted it or made the picture private, along with his entire page.
“Very closely resembles”? Are they kidding? The “black power” salute — fist held high in the air — “very closely resembles” the Heil! Hitler! Nazi salute, don’t you think?
Even Snopes thinks the internet outrage is ludicrous. It does not matter. The ignoramuses really gave it to Donohue — something he certainly didn’t deserve.
Finding out a contestant I liked on Jeopardy is an out and proud white nationalist is the WORST but it’s nothing compared to knowing that the episode has aired everywhere and @Jeopardy has yet to respond and apologize for the harm caused by missing a blatant hate symbol.
— Kelly Bowes (@K_bowes) April 28, 2021
It’s a three-peat for Kelly! pic.twitter.com/Es1eSpAMrG
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) April 27, 2021
This week on #Jeopardy, contestant Kelly Donahue has used the slur to describe the Roma people (which was left in unedited) that Anderson Cooper had to check him on.
Now, during the pre-show introductions, he decided to do this which is a blatant "White Power" sign. pic.twitter.com/bTgFGORgAY
— Kevin D. Grüssing (pronounced Grew-Sing) (@KevDGrussing) April 28, 2021
In the world of the unthinking mob, “intent” doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not the mob can construe anything as a threat, a slur, or any attack on their delicate sensibilities.
The group carped that Donohue, even if he didn’t mean to, had signaled a “racist dog whistle” with his hand gesture, and pointed out that previous “Jeopardy!” tapings that included such things as wagers in amounts seen as containing sexual connotations or references to devil worship or hate groups — think of 69 or 666, for example — have been edited out of the show or reshot prior to airing.
I will continue to use the “OK” hand signal because 99 percent of people I meet or know understand exactly what I mean when I use it. There’s no reason to change when only a few brainless twits believe otherwise.
Similarly, I know of no reason to stop using the term “gypsy,” although if a Roma person asks me — politely — I would gladly call him anything he wishes. Isn’t it kind of ludicrous for white people to claim they are victims of racism? That calling a Roma person a “gypsy” is the same as calling a black person the “N” word?
That people of such limited intellect and lack of judgment should have this kind of outsize influence is astonishing. But they are wittingly or unwittingly doing the bidding of people who aren’t as stupid and know exactly what they’re doing.