On Monday, Twitter user @NaomiH_official tweeted that she had received an internship at NASA.
One person who replied to the tweet was Homer Hickam, an author, Vietnam veteran, and the NASA engineer who trained the first Japanese astronauts. Hickam replied “language” to Naomi’s use of the word fuck.
Naomi then replied, telling Hickam, “Suck my dick and balls I’m working at NASA.” Of course, Hickam pointed out that he works on the council that oversees NASA.
The interaction, which has now been deleted, was screenshot by others and went viral.
The screenshot made its way onto 4chan, where the user became the target of transphobic trolls.
Naomi, who has now locked her Twitter account, was criticized for not knowing who Hickam was.
And people said that her firing was an example of inappropriate behavior online.
Others defended her and criticized Hickam for his perceived behavior toward a woman, and for getting her fired.
Following the controversy, Hickam published a blog post in which he stated that he was not responsible for the intern losing her job. he has since deleted the blog.
I'm a Vietnam vet and not at all offended by the F-word. However, when I saw NASA and the word used together, it occurred to me that this young person might get in trouble if NASA saw it so I tweeted to her one word: "Language" and intended to leave it at that.
Soon, her friends took umbrage and said a lot of unkind things but long after I was gone as I immediately deleted my comments and blocked all concerned.
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.
In fact, Hickam said the woman apologized, and he approached NASA about getting her job back.
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.
Hickam declined to comment further when contacted by BuzzFeed News.
Following the blog post, many of Naomi’s supporters have tried to clarify what happened and have praised Hickam.
However, it remains unclear if Naomi has regained her internship.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to NASA for comment.
Homer Hickam’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.