September 30, 2008

People Running for Public Office Should Think Twice Before Making Threats Online (Still Waiting on the NDP to do the Right Thing)

This morning the following article appeared on Metroland's website:

Sep 30, 2008 - 08:16 AM

AJAX -- A classroom outburst aimed at a teacher has led to criminal charges against an Ajax teen.

Other students had to be moved to another classroom when the 15-year-old girl launched into a diatribe that included abusive language and threats of physical violence, Durham police said.

Police said the incident occurred last Wednesday when a high school teacher attempted to get students in her class to quiet down and pay attention. A 15-year-old girl took exception and began swearing at the teacher, police said.

The situation escalated when the girl threatened the teacher with physical harm, police said. High school liaison officers arrested the girl and charged her with uttering threats and mischief.

The girl's identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and police withheld the name of the school.

She uttered threats, only once, and she was immediately arrested and charged. The Durham NDP candidate makes several threats to several people and he is allowed to continue running for public office. Is the difference because he did it online? Well that can be addressed as well. One only has to look to refer to a Toronto Star article written last year.

Nov 20, 2007 02:48 PM

Justin Piercy Staff Reporter

A high-school student accused of threatening fellow students and staff online has been arrested.

A witness told police that someone had posted threatening messages about Eastdale Collegiate in Oshawa on the social-networking site Facebook last Friday.

The messages included threats against staff and students and also outlined a 'hit list' of people the author would like to kill.

Investigators received calls from concerned students and parents over the weekend.

The accused was arrested at a home in northeast Oshawa on Sunday night without incident.

The teenager, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with threatening and was held for a bail hearing.

While it is admirable that Krystalline Kraus was able to accept McKeever's apology, unfortunately this issue isn't ultimately about her (or the candidate's stance on war resisters). It is about the words and actions that the candidate placed on an online, public forum. It is about his attempt to hide his words by deleting them before anyone found them. It is about how his apology only came after he was caught. And it is about how he has yet to take responsibility and be accountable. His own words and lack of accountability truly show that he isn't mature enough or responsible enough to be running for public office.

The NDP candidate for Durham's words were vulgar, derogatory and threatening in nature. His words may have been directed at several specific people, however they were placed in a public forum and therefore are offensive and derogatory in general. This also doesn't exclude the fact that there is precedent set for a person being charged for the type of things this candidate said. Precedent has also been set by federal candidates stepping down or being removed for comments that are at least on par with his comments.

This is the truly unfortunate part in regards to Layton and the NDP. At a time when the education system is making strides in its combat against bullying, even as it moves to the internet, and we are asking for civility amongst those that are supposed to be leaders within Canada, it is sad and a backward step that Layton would shrug off his own candidate's actions. In turn, this inaction shows that Layton and the NDP are at least trying to play politicswith the situation. However, by doing nothing they have indirectly sent the message that it is okay for someone who is supposed to be held to a higher civil standard and represent the values of the party and their constituents that it is okay to to threaten and bully others (as long as you apologize two months later and only after you were caught).

That isn't good enough.

If a student can be charged with uttering threats for making those comments in person or online, then at the very least a grown man who has aspirations for public office can step down and admit that at this time he isn't ready. But he hasn't done that, so at the very least he should be have been removed by the party. The NDP have shown they're not willing to do that. Then by my accounts this is a matter for which the police should maybe investigate. If the candidate isn't willing to accept responsibility or the consequences of his words and actions, then maybe he should be forced into that position.

This wasn't a smear job by the Liberals or others who have expressed their disgust here at my blog or on the Rabble message board. This has been about holding someone accountable for their derogatory and threatening statements. And that has yet to happen.


jenn said...

Yes what he said was serious and yes what Krystalline did is admirable but it is clear that this is more about politics for you than about anything else.

Today the global economy is in a meltdown. There are 5 million Canadians without a family doc. The manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec is in crisis. We have soldiers on the ground fighting a war that is likely un-winnable.

I think that Krytalline has been incredible in her generosity of spirit and her focus on these issues as opposed to the nastiness of one small person is commendable and I think it is a lead we should all follow.

I would hope you would to but I somehow doubt you will.

I think your party's war room is fixated on Harper's alleged plagiarism from 2003. This seems to be a waste of time to me. We all know that the international conservative movement was following the same script when it came to the invasion of Iraq.

So I will say a little prayer that Liberal war room and liberal activists decide to take the fight to Harper and focus on these global issues.

Kyle said...

You can believe it's about politics all you want - I figured some people would since I am very open about my support for Bryan Ransom and the Liberals. However, this McKeever issue isn't about politics for me.

My disgust for these types of attacks stem from my experiences being bullied as a child for the perception I was different. It also is based on what I've seen as a teacher. I've seen the effect such things have had on students and teachers that have had to deal with these attacks. There is no place for it in society, and especially not in politics where our representatives should be setting the example.

I am disconnected from the Liberal war room. They can do what they want with it or any topic. What I've been writing on McKeever has been of my own volition and perspective. And this is being done as a concerned resident. The only way McKeever is about politics for me is that I believe politics should be better than this.

As for taking the fight to Harper, I do that consistently in other ways and have to because I'm in Oda's riding and the Liberals here don't have the money to throw around like she does or the notoriety. So myself and others are on the street, in communities, writing to papers, preparing Bryan Ransom, etc. Going after McKeever isn't a top priority for the riding, going after Oda is.

ch said...

I find his comments disgusting and hateful. Strikes me that his victim is taking a bullet for the party and one has to empathize with her. Many women have been in the situation of being bullied by a hateful man and having to suck it up for one reason or another.

What I don't understand is why Layton wants to stand by a man who calls women c**ts and threatens them. If he had a chance of winning, obviously this would not go away. It might go away just because he won't win and everyone knows it. But, still, why does Layton want to protect this guy?

I already gave up on Layton because of his opposition to a carbon tax and his putting politics ahead of the environment, but I never had him pegged for a misogynist or someone who would choose to support a misogynist. Seems I was wrong.

If you are in the riding, perhaps you and others so inclined can write to Layton. I don't know if it will do any good, but he might as well know what this makes him look like. There is no doubt about that. I am sure even the victim taking the bullet, can't think well of Layton on this one. No one can. Let him know.

I think less of Layton on this, than McKeever, because Layton is in a position of power and authority and has the ability to send the message that he doesn't tolerate this behaviour or that he does. He obviously thinks people don't care that he does. It would be better coming from NDP voters, but if they don't care, Layton should still know that not everyone sets such low standards for public office.

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)