Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Jimmy Kimmel and ABC execs found themselves in hot water last October over a sketch in which a 6-year-old boy suggested that the U.S. government "kill everyone in China" as a way to solve the nation's debt crisis.
"The program is totally unacceptable and it must be cut," the petition read. "A sincere apology must be issued. It is extremely distasteful and this is the same rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people. Please immediately cut the show and issue a formal apology."
The White House weighed in on the debate in its official response to the petition, citing the First Amendment.
"The Federal government cannot force ABC to remove this show," the White House said. "The First Amendment of the Constitution protects free speech, even if individuals might personally find it offensive or distasteful. It may be upsetting when people say things we might personally disagree with, but the principle of protected free speech is an important part of who we are as a nation."
The White House's response also pointed to official apologies from both Kimmel and ABC, but reiterated the importance of America's relationship with China.
"On a broader level, as the President has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China. The comments you are writing about do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States."