A Twitter user identified only as Naomi H. may have lost a prestigious internship at NASA after she used explicit language in an exchange with a NASA engineer, Homer Hickam. The tweets have all been taken down but were reportedly captured in screenshots that you can see here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Naomi H. May Have Gotten a Little Over-Excited When She Bragged About Her New Job on Twitter
Naomi H. was pretty excited when she landed an internship with NASA. She was so excited that she may have forgotten her manners; the proud social media user rushed to Twitter where she allegedly wrote, “”Everyone shut the f— up. I got accepted for a NASA internship.”
Homer Hickam, the NASA engineer who trained the first Japanese astronauts, wrote back, “Language.”
But Naomi clearly had no idea who Hickam was, because she replied, “Suck my d*** and b***. I’m working for NASA.”
That may have cost Naomi the very internship she was so proud of. Hickam wrote back, “And I am on the National Space Council that oversees NASA.” That’s when Naomi went silent. Shortly afterwards, NASA canceled its offer to Naomi.
2. Hickam Says He Had Nothing to Do With Getting Naomi Fired
After their initial exchange, Naomi took down her offensive tweets and sent a message to Hickam, apologizing. Hickam is a Vietnam Vet and renowned former NASA engineer; the movie October Sky is based on his memoir. Many people online have wondered how Naomi could possibly not know who Hickam was. (One commenter even said that NASA should not have hired someone who didn’t know Hickam’s name.)
Hickam wrote a blog post explaining that he had nothing to do with getting Naomi fired. The blog post has since been removed, but you can read most of the original on Buzzfeed, here. Hickam says that, as a Vietnam vet, he has plenty of experience with “the f- word” and wasn’t personally offended; he says he was just trying to warn Naomi to watch her language in case someone else at NASA saw her use of the #NASA hashtag coupled with the explicit language.
Hickam added, “Later, I learned she had lost her offer for an internship with NASA. This I had nothing to do with nor could I since I do not hire and fire at the agency or have any say on employment whatsoever. As it turned out, it was due to the NASA hashtag her friends used that called the agency’s attention to it long after my comments were gone.”
3. Hickam Says He Is Doing All He Can to Find Naomi a New Job
Hickam says Naomi’s friends gave him a hard time on Twitter and unfairly accused him of getting Naomi fired. In fact, he says, he had nothing to do with that decision — and has been doing everything he can to help find her a new job. He wrote in a since-deleted blog post,
“She reached out to me with an unnecessary apology which I heartily accepted and returned with my own. After talking to her, I am certain she deserves a position in the aerospace industry and I’m doing all I can to secure her one that will be better than she lost. I have also talked to the folks that had to do with her internship and made absolutely certain that there will be no black mark on her record.”
4. People Are Saying That Naomi Was a “Furry” Because of Her Twitter Avatar
People online are calling Naomi H. a “furry” because of her twitter avatar. The account has been taken down. But in surviving screenshots, you can see that Naomi used a pink dog with long, wavy red hair as her avatar. Many have speculated that this meant she was part of the “furry” community.
Urban dictionary defines a “furry” as someone who dresses up as an animal and does sexual things.
5. It’s Not Clear What Naomi H’s Future Holds
The online debate over Naomi H continues to rage. Some Twitter users say that she was acting like a “twat” and deserved to get fired.
Others said that she was speaking privately and should not have been punished for the language she used, since she wasn’t writing on the NASA page.
Still others are spreading rumors that 4Chan was somehow involved, and that Naomi was targeted for being trans:
In the end, it’s not clear where Naomi H stands. Will NASA change their mind and give her back her internship? Will Homer Hickam come through for her and find her a job? Or will she remain unemployed in the near future?