Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) gets into a Facebook fight

Hello everyone!  The flu is (mostly) vanquished and I’m back for more blogging.  And there’s an interesting one for you today that provides a great lesson in things never to do on Facebook if you are a high-ranking elected official: fight with another high-ranking elected official.

Here’s the background: In South Carolina, a two-year old child was placed back into the home of his biological mother after having originally been removed.  That child was subsequently killed and the mother’s boyfriend is awaiting trial for the murder.  As a result, the Governor’s Director of Social Services, Lillian Koller, testified about this case (and others) in front of a State Senate committee.  Many Senate Democrats have called for Koller’s resignation, but so have some Republican Senators, including Senator Katrina Shealy, who had previously been considered an ally of Haley’s.  Haley stood by Koller and rebuffed calls for her resignation.  Governor Haley then upped the ante on the issue when she made this Facebook post:

Haley Facebook Post

This was clearly a calculated move by Governor Haley to defend her Director and let the world know she was standing by her.  All well and good; if the Governor was attempting to use Facebook to make that statement, she did a fine job.  However, a commenter then made reference to Director Koller being an atheist.  Governor Haley responded to that comment with this:

Haley Koller AtheistUnsurprisingly, Senator Shealy did not take kindly to the attack, and took to her Facebook page to respond:

Senator Shealy Facebook Response

There has been no further comment on the issue from either camp since these Facebook statements.

From the Governor’s perspective, responding to comments can be good, but this provides a great example of why it is necessary to engage selectively.  A comment that went after Director Kollar for being an atheist should have been left alone and left responded to – it was clearly beneath the Governor.  She chose to engage anyway – perhaps out of loyalty to her friend.  Regardless of her motivation, her defense of Director Kollar left her open to accusations from Senator Shealy that she was falsely spreading rumors.   I think the real take away here is that some comments are not worth responding to, and if you do need to respond, do so in a manner that doesn’t invite further personal attacks.

From Senator Shealy’s perspective: she’s angry the Governor brought religion into the issue and chose to use her Facebook page to spread rumors.  Who knows which one of these two are right, but for argument’s sake, let’s pretend that Senator Shealy is right and that she never was spreading those rumors.  Why, oh why, does she then need to add that it would still concern her if Director Koller was an atheist?  She’s going back on her original point!  It’s a totally unnecessary addition and makes her look ignorant and like she has something against atheists.

What do you think?  Do you agree with my interpretation on how Governor Haley should have handled this issue?  Let me know in the comments!



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