In this time of racial tension and discord, all elected officials have an obligation to watch what they say, in order to ensure that their speech is always as measured and anti-inflammatory as possible.
This is a lesson which could have been used by the Drew Hastings, Mayor of Hillsboro, Ohio (population 6,600), who took to Facebook last week and wrote:
“When are people going to figure out that we are in a Revolution in this Country. Blacks have all but formally declared war on whites, ideological types are fighting with Planned Parenthood, there’s violence over immigration, Muslim extremism, and our own Government at war with its citizens.”
Really? Black people have “all but formally declared war on whites?” That’s what you are going with??
The post was deleted but the damage was obviously done. Hastings originally said that he started by discussed Planned Parenthood but the conversation escalated from there. Two days later, he said he regretted the post and apologized:
“I have a good relationship in this city with our black community, and I regret them feeling included in some broad, over-the-top statement I made. I apologize to them.”
Alrighty then. Well, let’s take Mayor Hastings at his word for a moment. Hastings said that the post was just an escalation of a passionate conversation about an emotional and tragic event. I think this goes to show the importance of taking a breath and slowing down before you make any social media post – particularly about issues as emotional as racism or violence. All of us can learn something from this event: Don’t let social media be the first thing you turn to when you are trying to work through your own feelings about an issue. Let it be the last one, when you have a mature, thoughtful and rational contribution to make.
Like the blog? Get the book! Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.