Conan O’Brien is a humorist, and his tweets are casual and silly. In the midst of his stream of tweets last week was a joke about a law that was recently introduced in Puerto Rico, calling for fines for the parents of obese children.
This law doesn’t have a lot of support in the legislature in Puerto Rico, but it has been widely reported, often with statements from pediatricians explaining why it might not be effective in reducing the 28% obesity rate in kids in Puerto Rico, a rate much higher than the 18% on the mainland.
Childhood obesity is an issue across the U.S. and on the island as well. The point of O’Brien’s joke seems to be that trying to reduce obesity would be unamerican. In order to fit in, he’s suggesting, Puerto Rico should be fat.
On a more serious note, the comment did show O’Brien’s awareness of the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory rather than a state. The flippant “I guess you’re not interested in statehood” demonstrated that O’Brien was unaware of the fact that Puerto Rico voted for statehood in 2012 and that the Congressional Representative of Puerto Rico recently sponsored a bill in the house calling for a yes/no vote on statehood.
Statehood supporters spoke up. Some were more courteous than others.
But many of the responses had little to do with educating Mr. O’Brien:
And then tweeters began to talk to one another:
O’Brien taped a show in Cuba, and (according to a tweet about the view from his hotel room) also visited Puerto Rico. It is apparent that the tweet was an offhand joke, and O’Brien has not responded to the comments it generated.