Champions Tour golfer Steve Elkington was taken to task by a Scottish newspaper after Elkington tweeted a joke about a helicopter that crashed into a pub in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday and killed eight people.
Elkington, an Australian golfer who won the 1995 PGA Championship, is now primarily known for his active and sometimes crude Twitter feed, and when news of the helicopter crash was spreading through the social-networking service, Elkington wrote, "Helicopter crashes into Scottish pub…Locals report no beer was spilled."
Later, Elkington tried to apologize for his earlier tweet — saying that he was not aware at the time how serious the crash was — but Tom English, writing in the Scotsman's Sunday edition, would have none of it:
How pathetic. A helicopter crashes into a pub on a Friday night and Elkington says he got a report that there were no injuries. Really? What kind of helicopter did Elkington think it was? One made by Corgi? What kind of pub did he think was involved? One that is utterly empty of customers and staff on a Friday evening leading up to the Christmas season? What garbage. And what kind of person would make it his first instinct to tweet a joke about such an incident?
His follow-up was almost as objectionable as his original tweet in that there was no apology, no admission that his joke was the act of an imbecile. Even yesterday morning, when even one as dim as Elk must have been aware of how serious things were in Glasgow, there was nothing from him. That is the truly extraordinary thing. This is being written on Saturday morning and as, of now, he has not tweeted his regret. Elkington has thereby cemented his place in the ranks of the social media yobs.
It was not the first time that Elkington has gotten into trouble on Twitter. While at Royal Birkdale for the Senior British Open in July, Elkington used a racist term for Pakistanis, and later apologized, saying that because he was Australian he was unaware that the term was offensive. In the Scotsman, English said that Elkington's apology then was just as inadequate as his apology for the helicopter-crash tweet.
To Elk, “being Australian” seems to be a get-out for all manner of thoughtless comment. It’s not. The Australian nation will testify that Elkington is on his own when he seeks to poke fun at a helicopter crash and then refusing to apologise when the full horror of what he mocked became obvious. Golf is governed by so many rules. Rules about anchoring putters and unplayable lies, rules about grounding your club and pace of play, rules about balls moving on greens and line of entry into hazards. What about the rules pertaining to a guy who thinks it’s funny to ridicule a disaster and not having the basic human decency to say sorry afterwards? What is the penalty for an offence like that?