September 26, 2008

'Heated Online Debate' a Really Bad Excuse for Unacceptable Behaviour

The Durham NDP candidate can disagree with war resisters all he wants. That's his right. Calling them "crybabies" is just a petty and poor way of expressing that opinion. However, my real concern lies with his misogynistic and threatening remarks. I have an even greater problem with his apology - that only came after he was called out - and the excuses that are being made for those remarks.

More specifically, my problem lies with the 'heated online debate' excuse.

There is an obvious problem with using this excuse for extremely offensive and derogatory remarks. When personally involved with a heated debate people may make offensive comments because they're 'in the moment'. Your brain has failed to filter the content somewhere in the nanoseconds it takes to think it and say it.

Being 'in the moment' doesn't apply online (unless you're involved with a live chat and even then that's pushing it). For one thing it's not like you're just blurting out some random comment. You actually have to think it, process it, type it, see it, and make the effort to click on the send button. You're internal filter at some point should have kicked in and threw up red flags. To proceed indicates that you're consciously knowing what you're saying and putting out there for others to read.

My second concern with this excuse is that online debates take time.

Comments and responses in a personal debate happen within seconds and minutes. Online debates generally take time to make responses and comments. With the exception of a few, the Durham NDP candidate's comments generally came hours after the post he was responding to. His comment about making someone "squeal" and called someone a "cunt" came more than nine hours later. His threatening comment came more thirty minutes later. His "fuckwad" response came was more than five hours later.

So how do comments such as constitute a "heated online debate"? And how is this an excuse for misogynistic and threatening remarks?

This is about being accountable for your words and actions, and to the people you want to represent. You cannot use the veil of the internet to say whatever you want and pretend it doesn't matter. If you cannot say those things in person than you should not be saying them online. Putting that type of hate online is just as bad as saying it in person, if not worse. There is a greater degree of mental processing that goes into posting than just blurting something out and the words are not only available but they are visible and on record. That record is now out to the public and all credibility has been lost.

In this case, the candidate hasn't taken responsibility for his words. He only apologized after he was called out and made a (poor) attempt to delete all his offensive comments. Had he been successful at deleting all the evidence I don't doubt that he would denied making the misogynist and threatening comments. He would have never taken ownership of his words. Unfortunately for him he didn't delete them all and therefore taking responsibility in this case means admitting you're not fit for public office at this time and stepping down.


fresh said...

This is one of the most bazaar situations I can recall in politics. If this had been any other party - greens included - heads would roll. It is obvious that this candidate is unfit for office, let alone to even attempt to run for it.

Jack needs to boot this guy ASAP!

pogge said...

In case you're not aware, McKeever and the individual at whom he directed his nasty remarks have issued joint statement.

RP. said...

Dr.Dawg said...


Kyle said...

Like I said at the top of the post. Andrew can have an opinion, one way or the other, about war resisters. That's not my real issue here. My real concern is about how he addressed those that disagreed with him. Furthermore, it's that Andrew is only apologizing because he was caught.

From some of the commenters on the (now defunct) McKeever-NDP facebook group, McKeever made the attempt to delete his posts. If he hadn't missed the ones that were brought out, I'm pretty sure he would have denied everything. In my opinion McKeever had no intention to ever own up to his words. He was forced to make the apology, which means its not really an apology but more of an, "oh crap, I got caught..."

Let me be frank, I'm not addressing McKeever as a Liberal in this case. I addressed the state of the Durham NDP as a Liberal for reasons I have given prior. I'm disgusted with McKeever as a resident of Durham who could potentially be represented by someone who is willing to make such derogatory and threatening remarks. I expect more from those that want to enter public office and represent my interests. If Bryan Ransom, the Durham Liberal candidate, had made these comments you would find me addressing this issue the exact same way. We should all expect a higher standard from our representatives and those seek to represent us.

jenn said...

Kyle: I would suggest that the woman who was the subject of and subjected to Andrew's vitriol has accepted his apology and has asked for all parties to focus on the issues. I think we should all respect that.

Of course people are free not to. People are free to vote against Mr. McKeever.

I hope that we can stop talking about the candidate eruptions from all parties and move on. Focus on Harper and combatting his agenda.

Jesse Dangerously said...

Whether Krystalline forgives him or not is only an extremely minor part of the issue with McKeever's remarks - even if you leave aside that the bulk of his aggression was aimed not at her, but the other dude involved in the discussion.

How she feels is one thing, but the guy's attitude toward discourse, let alone women and war resistors, is not something that can be healed by one person's tolerance. He showed an ugly face in that so-called "exchange" (sickeningly disingenuous for him to characterize it that way - no-one else insulted or threatened anyone; he was all alone in that), and in THAT respect he is a poor representative of the party.

Voting against him means voting FOR Bev Oda or Bryan Ransom. Maybe that's fine for Liberals but it's not a viable solution for someone who actually believes (a) in the NDP or (b) that Bev Oda is a monstrous lizard-person, hell bent on ushering the nation to destruction by whatever means she can muster. Sure it's a riding that's unlikely to be pried from her vile claw any time soon, so one might feel like it'd be a waste to field a worthy candidate in that race, but for crying out loud don't we have any principles? I'd rather have no-one in that race than McKeever.

Hell if I lived there I'd vote for the Liberal candidate, and my blood is orange.

ps Kyle - great post. I found it by googling, hope you don't mind my invasion!

ch said...

I agree the joint statement is a side issue. It is puzzling, although I guess the intent is for her to show her forgiveness publicly. His words are simply hateful and disgusting and it doesn't matter who forgives him.

I just can't understand why Layton wants to dismiss such behaviour. In the past, the NDP has been good at promoting women and pointing out discrimination and misogynism elsewhere.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)