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First Congress, now Parliament: 12 Members of Parliament have Wikipedia pages altered from Parliament

I’ve written in the past about how members of Congress altered (or, more likely, had staff alter) their Wikipedia pages; not only does this violate Wikipedia’s policy against interested parties editing their own Wikipedia page, but it’s pretty obvious, since the Congressional I.P. address was found to have edited the pages in question.  It would now seem that the same practice has crossed the pond and arrived in British Parliament:

Expense claims and a Westminster sex scandal were deleted from MPs’ Wikipedia pages by computers inside Parliament before the election, The Telegraph has found.

Details of a police arrest, electoral fraud allegation and the use of “chauffeur-driven cars” were also been wiped by people inside the Commons.

According to the article, more than a dozen biographies were altered leading up to the election that occurred a few weeks ago.  Among the items removed or altered:

  • MP Stephen Hammond’s page was altered to remove a reference to the fact that Hammond was one of the more frequent users of government chauffeured cars.
  • MP Robert Blackman’s page was altered to remove references to an 11-year affair.
  • MP Geraint Davies’ page removed his use of taxpayer funds to make renovations to his personal home.
  • MP Craig Whittaker’s page saw the removal of his arrest for assaulting his son (a crime for which no charges were filed).
  • MP Joan Ryan had an entire section related to her expenses deleted.

There’s more, and many members also saw complimentary edits as well.

Again, all of this was found because Wikipedia tracks the I.P. address of it’s edits, and the edits noted above could be tracked back to Parliament.

This is so stupid on so many levels.  First, your Wikipedia page will not alter an election.  That makes it not worth the risk.  Second, you are violating Wikipedia policy by editing pages that relate to yourself or your employer.  Third, for crying out loud, don’t be a moron and get caught so easily: Editing a Wikipedia page when your I.P. address can be tracked is like robbing a house and leaving behind a business card!

Tweets and Consequences

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Marcel Verrando Facebook Post

Volunteer removed from governmental board after racist Facebook comment

In today’s entry, we have a volunteer who was removed from a county government board because of a racist Facebook post.

Until recently, Marcel “Butch” Verrando was a board member of the Marion County Industrial Development Authority.  That ended when Verrando took to the Marion County Political Forum Facebook page and made this exceptionally dumb Facebook post:

Marcel Verrando Facebook Post

Unsurprisingly, Marion County Commissioners were less than pleased with these comments.  Said commission chair Stan McClain, “We don’t condone it as a commission, we don’t allow our staff to talk that way, and we’re not going to have it.” And with that, Verrando was removed from the Marion County IDA.  After the meeting, McClain apologized for the comment and noted that all volunteers would be given the opportunity to attend Diversity training.

Unsurprisingly, Verrando had gotten into trouble for earlier comments, once using an online forum to attack a veteran who was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In that situation, Verrando’s comments (unsurprisingly) resulted in his resignation from the Fire Advisory Board.  So, really, this is Verrando’s second forced removal from a volunteer board after he made ridiculous comments online.

The only somewhat interesting thing with this entry is that Verrando is a volunteer – and yet, he was still held accountable for his repeated online posts and resigned/removed from office.  This just goes to show that anyone who holds any public position is held to a higher standard – even if that position is volunteer and not elected.

Deborah Drever Instagram

Canadian provincial legislature suspended from her caucus due to social media postings

Here’s one where a series of social media postings will have a highly detrimental effect on someone’s long-term political career.  What makes this one particularly interesting – and depressing – is that the postings covered here were much more than “youthful indiscretions.”

Deborah Drever, 26, had been elected to serve in the provincial government (MLA) of Alberta, Canada, as a member of the New Democratic party.  The election took place on May 5, and shortly afterwards, pictures began to surface from Drever’s social media accounts.  These included:

  • A picture of Drever, in dark glasses, beside a marijuana t-shirt.
  • Another showing a hand (not hers) flipping the bird at the Canadian flag.
  • A picture of Drever appearing to be assaulted with a bottle.

However, it was the last picture that proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back:

Deborah Drever Instagram

That photo came from Drever’s Instagram account and features leaders of the Conservative Party with hearts drawn on them and captions that make them appear to be in love.  The “Gay boyz” comment was made by Drever.

As a result of that last picture, Rachel Notley, Preimier-designate, suspended Drever from the NDP party.  She will still be a member of the MLA, but will have to sit as an independent.  In a statement, Notley said,

“I apologize to all Albertans for the homophobic statements contained in this image, which are completely contrary to the views of our party and our future government. I hope Ms. Drever will take to heart our conversation earlier this week about her responsibility to speak out clearly on issues of violence against women, and homophobia. If she does so as part of her duties to her constituents, I’ll review this matter in the coming year and consider whether she has a future in our caucus.”

In an earlier interview on the subject, Drever said, “I am very disappointed in myself that I let (people) down. I really want to prove that I can do a good job.”

This particular issue wasn’t just a matter of one mistake – there were clearly many here, and all of them showed acceleratingly bad judgement on Drever’s part.  This proves, once again, that everyone has to be very careful with what they allow themselves to get pictured with.

I’ve said previously that everyone is going to have to get more forgiving with youthful mistakes that appear on social media, and I still maintain that.  However, Drever’s “mistakes” were multiple and recent, not one-off “errors in judgement.”  There’s a difference there.

Tweets and Consequences

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P/C/PROOF/BOOK

Duggar & Huckabee

Mike Huckabee defends Josh Duggar on Facebook, and Facebook reacts…badly

Hello again!  First, I apologize for the lack of entries on Thursday and Friday.  I had a fantastic little virus but am up and running again.

Today’s entry features a resounding swing and a miss from the Facebook page of former Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.  As you are most likely aware, Josh Duggar, of the 19 Kids and Counting series, recently admitted to having molested young girls as a teenager.  The show, and Josh Duggar, have since faced incredible backlash: Duggar was forced to resign from his post at the anti-gay Family Research Council and 19 Kids and Counting has been pulled, at least temporarily, from TLC’s lineup.

The entire Duggar family was very active in conservative Republican politics: They endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Huckabee again this cycle.  So, when the story first broke, it became apparent that it would almost certainly force a comment from at least Huckabee, who is a declared Presidential candidate.  To the surprise of many, Huckabee released a statement in strong support of Duggar and his family:

And from there, things got ugly.  Check out some of the most liked responses to this thread:

Huckabee comments

Those are just a few samples of hundreds of anti-Huckeabee comments, and they go on into other threads too.  As I type this entry, Huckabee has since made eight Facebook posts, none of which have anything to do with the Duggar tragedy.  In FIVE of those cases, one of the most liked comments (and thus most visible) is someone slamming Huckabee for his statement on Josh Duggar.

To be sure, this isn’t just a Facebook/social media conversation.  However, in this case, the Facebook reaction is emblematic of the reaction from much of the real world.  From a political perspective, the former Governor is likely trying to shore up his base and maintain conservative Christian support.  However, this move likely made it much, much more difficult for him to every broaden his base of support outside of that relatively narrow range.

Tweets and Consequences

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P/BOOK/PIC

jerry hough duke

Racist online comments get Duke professor placed on leave

Online comments are almost never, ever a good thing.  One Duke University professor found that lesson out the hard way.

Jerry Hough was a Political Science professor at Duke.  In response to a New York Times editorial on racism in Baltimore, Hough wrote the following:

“I am a professor at Duke University. Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.”

Yikes.

The bizarre comments, naturally, stirred up quite a bit of outrage.  In an effort to explain his comments, Hough wrote to the Duke Chronicle:

“The context was the editorial on Baltimore which instead of calling for the resignation of the mayor as happened in Ferguson—and, in my opinion, both should have resigned—blamed everything on white racism. I thought it was an outrage when in Baltimore they were following the old game of trying to injure a rowdy prisoner without getting marks on the prisoner by throwing him around the van.”

Not helping things.

According to the Chronicle, the school’s Vice President for public affairs and government relations, Mike Schoenfeld, called the comments “noxious and offensive” and said that they “have no place in civil discourse.”

Hough is now on academic leave; however, that leave was planned before these comments were ever made.  In further comments about the online comment (try to keep the comments straight here), Hough refused to apologize, and instead doubled down in an Email to the Associated Press: “I only regret the sloppiness in saying every Asian and nearly every black,” he wrote in the email. “I absolutely do not think it racist to ask why black performance on the average is not as good as Asian on balance, when the Asians started with the prejudices against the ‘yellow races’ shown in the concentration camps for the Japanese…My purpose is to help achieve the battle of King’s battle to overcome and create a melting pot America.”  He also said that it was hard to be subtle an an online comment.

And that’s the rub.  Forget, for a second, if the comments were meant racially or not (for his part, Hough says he had no racist intent and describes himself as a disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.): Online comments have no room for context.  They have no room for intelligent debate.  And more often than not, they are filled with lunatics who have nothing better to do with their time than insult people.  They are, without a doubt, not the place for an article and mature conversation.  By and large, it’s a mistake to even try.  Regardless of how Professor Hough meant his comments, they came out terribly, and should never have been written in the first place.

Debie McLarty

Another school district member in trouble for racist social media posts

Yesterday, I wrote about a school board member who made an offensive social media post.  Today, we have a school district employee who has made a series of very offensive posts, but this does have a different twist.

The posts in question were made by Debie McLarty, the head clerk at Walter Woodward Elementary School at the Manteca United School District in California.  Among the posts:

  • President Obama, with a bullet going through his head.
  • Family pictures wearing Confederate clothing.

Ms. McLarty’s Facebook page is private, but her Pinterest page shows the type of charged content that she uploads.

There have been a series of news stories about the posts.  Naturally, community members are upset that someone who works near children would make this type of content.  “This is the most racist stuff I’ve seen in this Valley,” said one activist.

When asked to comment, Ms. McClarty replied, “No comment.  It’s my business.”

However, the school board may have other thoughts.  School Board Vice President Sam Fant said that the posts are the school board’s business, as they have social media policies in place for their employees.  The District will investigate the postings.

What makes this one a little bit more interesting is that Ms. McLarty isn’t an elected official.  She is a private citizen who works for the school district.  However, this is more proof that being a public employee, and being paid by tax dollars, does expose you to additional public liability when it comes to your social media content.  Additionally, good for the Manteca United School District for having a social media policy.  These types of policies are necessary for situations just like this: They remove ambiguity from situations like these and make sure that employers and employees know what is expected of them when it comes to social media use.

Tweets and Consequences

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ellen-champagne

Michigan School Board Member: What could be worse than a black attorney general?

Another day, another school board member making a racially offensive social media post.

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of Ellen Champagne of the Ypsilanti Community School Board.  Ms. Champagne is also an employee of the University of Michigan, so this one is sort of a double whammy.

Here’s the post:

ellen-champagne

The post was made back in March.  When confronted about it at a school board meeting, Champagne said that she never intended for the post to be made public and would have reworded it.  She also said she meant it to be anti-racist…not quite sure how that was a thing.  Champagne also declined to comment to the local paper when asked; however, to her credit, Ms. Champagne apologized for the post via Facebook:

Important to note in this apology is there is none of that “Sorry to those who I offended” nonsense.

In response to the incident, School Board President Sharon Irvine said that the entire school board will work on “cultural proficiency and board ethics,” saying, “One of the important values brought forward through the consolidation is the new district’s ongoing commitment to cultural proficiency. As an elected board, we are proud of, and unequivocally committed to, this value in our district. We take anything that questions this commitment very seriously.”

The board also passed a resolution expressing concern over the comments.

This is far from the first time that a school board member has made an exceptionally ridiculous social media post.  It’s almost as if some of these folks forget how important their leadership role is. Additionally, it’s important to note that Champagne never meant for the post to become public.  Why is that important?  Because, regardless of your privacy settings, everything that you post digitally can become public, and this goes double for elected officials.  A good rule of thumb: Never post anything to social media that you would be uncomfortable having appear on the front page of your local newspaper.