But that's exactly what Detroit Free Press journalist Zlati Meyer did Monday evening on Twitter, when she posted a gem of a "joke" using those who had been suffering as the punchline.
Within an hour, Meyer
had deleted the tweet and apologized - twice - for her
lack of judgment.
Facebook page was disabled.
But the barrage from the south did not subside.
As of Tuesday morning, Meyer's comment and the reaction to it had hit the Huffington Post under the headline "Zlati Meyer, Detroit Journalist, Enrages Twitter With West Virginia Incest Joke.
Other websites that report such "news" picked it up with headlines including "Detroit Free Press reporter makes incest joke in light of West Virginia chemical spill" and "Zlati Meyer of Detroit Free Press claims West Virginia should work on incest after water problems fixed."
One dumb joke, one unfortunate thought followed by not thinking before clicking, and one young journalist has had her
name dragged through the mud in the unerasable resume-killer that is a Google search.
(Stephanie Murray, assistant managing editor of the Detroit Free Press, tweeted out an apology for Meyer's "joke" late Monday night, adding the newspaper was "glad to see Zlati removed it and apologized.
The apology, much like Meyer's
, was met with resistance, as it was challenged for being "cookie-cutter.")
There was no public outrage - in fact, many of the same people who decried Meyer
praised Colbert's piece.
Colbert's status as the media darling of the Twitter generation lives on, no matter what.
Meanwhile, at the same time Colbert's piece was airing, Meyer
was learning a lesson about online accountability the hard way.
Compassionate West Virginians should show the state's best side by leaving it at that, not continuing to bully her
long after the dust has settled.