MTV Australia makes racist post during Golden Globes

The Golden Globes were held this past Sunday, and like most award shows, they were not without their share of controversy.  One such example, however, was thanks to the Twitter account of MTV Australia.

The set-up: Actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera were presenting an award and joking about who they were, a reference to people who confuse Latina actresses.  At the same time, they were making fun of the Golden Globes Twitter account, which confused Ferrera with actress Gina Rodriguez in a December 2015 tweet.

So, while the actresses were making Hispanic-related jokes, MTV Australia tweeted out this:

MTV Australia Tweet

Ooof.  As you would expect, the internet was less than pleased.

MTV Australia did delete the tweet, and replaced it with this:

A spokesperson also said, “MTV’s tweet was in reference to the joke made by Eva Longoria and America Ferrera at the Golden Globes. We realise it was a poor joke and have taken the post down. We apologise for causing any offence and have decided to leave the humour to Ricky Gervais.”

If you take MTV Australia’s explanation at face value, then you can at least understand how such a mistake could have happened.  That being said, someone should have thought this one through .  It’s obvious to see how the tweet could have been interpreted as racist, and any major business (or politician!) needs to be extremely careful when they tweet about issues as weighty as race and racism.

Tweets and Consequences

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Kansas State Representative shares racist meme on Facebook

Sharing offensive Facebook content is often a fast path towards instant condemnation.  That’s a lesson that Kansas State Representative John Bradford (R-Lansing) just learned the hard way.

Last week, Representative Bradford shared this picture on his Facebook page:

John Bradford Facebook Post

The picture originated from the Facebook group Conservative Country, which features a variety of conservative, anti-Democrat and anti-Obama memes.

As you can see, the meme is just horrendously racist.  Representative Bradford did remove the post, but obviously faced overwhelming criticism for making it in the first place. Said Carolyn Campbell, a member of the Kansas Board of Education, Democrat and African-American, “Representative Bradford’s actions make it very clear that we are far from reaching Dr. King’s dream of equality. I’m saddened and appalled that this is an individual who is making decisions that impact our children’s education system.”

When interviewed afterwards, Representative Bradford expressed regret for the post: “It was in bad taste and I regret it.”

Interestingly – and certainly not surprisingly – this isn’t the first time that Representative Bradford has been accused of racism.  Representative Bradford was actually one of nine Republican Representatives who filed a complaint against a Democratic Representative – Valdenia Winn – after Representative Winn accused Bradford, and others, of holding “racist, sexist, fear-mongering” attitudes based on their support of legislation which would repeal residential tuition rates, at state universities, for illegal immigrants.

Clearly, those accusations will now be seen in an entirely new light!

Tweets and Consequences

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Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, takes to Facebook to call President Obama a Muslim

Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone!  Here’s how we’ll be starting the social media day.

Bruce Hagen is the Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin (population about 27,000).  Hagen, in response to a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote the following on Facebook:

“Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”

Ahh, so we’re going with the “Obama is a Muslim” meme again, I see.  That’s lovely.

Needless to say, the city’s residents and other elected officials were not amused.  Five City Councilors called for Mayor Hagen to resign in the wake of his remarks, with Councilors calling the remarks “inappropriate.”  Mayor Hagen, for his part, refuses to resign, saying: “Am I gonna resign? Absolutely not. If the people of this community feel otherwise, they will vote me out of office.”

The standard response of Hagen’s remarks, from defenders, is probably something along the lines of “Free speech!”  They are right, of course – to a point.  The Mayor is, unquestionably, entitled to say whatever he wants (within certain broad limits) without fear of government repercussions.  But here’s the thing: Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your speech, and elected officials are, as I’ve said a thousand times, held to a higher standard for the content of their remarks.  Indeed, this was best elucidated by City Councilor Graham Garfield, who said, “”Sure he’s entitled to free speech.  But elected officials are held accountable for stupid things they do and say.”

Tweets and Consequences

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Ms. Puerto Rico stripped of title after anti-Muslim tweets

Destiny Velez was Miss Puerto Rico 2015…until a series of anti-Muslim tweets cost her the title.

Here’s what happened: As you may be aware, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted a photograph of himself, outside of the Trump Towers, with a sign that said, “We are all Muslim”:

 

This started a popular movement and hashtag…one which, of course, was not universally loved.  One such person who was not a fan was Mrs. Velez, who tweeted:

This did not go well, to put it politely.  As a result of these tweets, Velez was “indefinitely suspended” by the Miss America Organization.  Velez then issued this statement of apology:

“I apologize to the people I have offended with my words. I am first and foremost an #UpStander and as such I stand up against bullying. The last thing I wanted to do was to bully anyone. Again, I apologize to anyone who felt offended with my words.”

Velez has since deleted not only these tweets, but her entire Twitter account, as well as her accounts on Instagram and Tumblr.

Moore gave a video response to the tweets.  What a mess.

Worst Christmas Carolling Ever: Citadel students suspended for KKK costumes

The Citadel is a Military Academy in South Carolina, and one of the most prestigious and exclusive in the country.  That, of course, makes the following picture even more offensive:

Citadel Students

Those in the KKK hoods are Citadel students.  They claimed that the picture simply shows them dressed as “Ghosts of Christmas Past” and performing a skit.  And if you believe that one, I have a bridge to sell you.

In a statement published to Facebook, school President, Lt. General John Rosa, said the following:

The students have all been suspended from the school, pending a hearing.  They are not currently allowed on campus.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people joke about how lucky they were that there were no iPhones and social media when they were in  college.  Clearly, you now have a group of students who wished the same thing. At best, these students showed incredibly poor judgement; at worst, they are openly racist and have no business serving this country.  Of course, the range of possibilities here makes the above pictures even worse.  The careers of those shown – and maybe their lives – will be forever marred because of a stupid lapse in judgement.  It is unfortunate, but hopefully this will serve as a lesson to anyone in college: Don’t do stupid things like this!

Tweets and Consequences

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Alabama State Representative: Shop “American owned” only

Alan Harper is a State Representative in Alabama.  He is making the blog today because of this blatantly xenophobic Facebook post:

Alan Harper

To summarize: Representative Harper wants you to only shop at “American owned” stores to “purchase has and other items.”  Why?  Because non-American owned shops are “owned by folks that send their profits back to their homeland and then in turn use these funds against our country to create turmoil, fear and in some cases death and destruction.”

Wowzers.

As you can imagine, Representative Harper’s comments have come under attack from Democrats and the people at whom they were directed. What is more interesting is that the comments have also been denounced by the Alabama Republican Party.  In a statement, Terry Lathan, Chair of the Alabama Republican Party, called the statement divisive:

“The comments recently made by State Representative Alan Harper on his Facebook page referencing the racial profiles of American business owners are very concerning. Mr. Harper is certainly welcome to his own personal opinion on any topic, but his statements absolutely do not represent the views of the Republican Party.”

His comments in no way, shape, or form reflect the values of the national or state party. Our nation has seen too much divisiveness on racial issues which only puts a wedge between our citizens.”

As of yet, Representative Harper has not elaborated on his comments aside form an additional Facebook post:

“God bless each and everyone and God Bless America! Isn’t it funny when things are taken out of context. Please buy American every chance you get to build our local economies…where we know the revenues stay here in the good old United States of America! May God Bless!”

I’m not quite sure what “context” the Representative was referring to here…except the blatantly racist one.

Tweets and Consequences

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Ohio Mayor says blacks declared war on whites

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.

Tweets and Consequences

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