State Representative candidate withdraws from race after saying ISIS “isn’t necessarily evil”

Well…yeah, I have no idea what happened here.

As of last week, Dan Kimmel, a Democrat, was a candidate for State Representative in Minnesota.  That changed after this tweet:


I cannot, for the life of me, understand what Mr. Kimmel was going for here.  He followed it up with this tweet:


Obviously, this was way too late, and the damage was done.  The tweet came after ISIS had taken responsibility for last week’s devastating Paris terrorist attacks that killed 129 and injured hundreds more, and Mr. Kimmel’s tweet essentially implied that ISIS is just a group of misunderstood community organizers.

Probably not the message that he was going for.

Kimmel was roundly criticized for the tweet, including by Democratic leaders in Minnesota, who called for his withdrawal from the race. In a statement, the head of the Minnesota DFL (Democratic Party in Minnesota) said, “On behalf of the Minnesota DFL, I strongly condemn his comments. I ask Dan Kimmel to apologize to all the families who have been torn apart by the terrorist organization and their senseless violence.”

To his credit – and to my surprise – Kimmel responded, not only with a full-throated apology, but by withdrawing from the race.  In a statement on his campaign website, Kimmel clarified that his tweet was made in reference to comments which occurred in the Democratic Presidential debate, not the Paris terrorist attacks.  He said that his tweet was “poorly worded and did not convey my intent.”  He then added that he wanted to:

…apologize to the volunteers and contributors who have put so much time, effort and money into my campaign. … I will do everything I can to help resolve the issue: most likely the best thing for me to do is shut up. The tweet was stupid. I’m sorry.

This is actually kinda sad.  I cannot imagine that Mr. Kimmel was going out of his way to say, “Hey, ISIS isn’t so bad, they’re just misunderstood!”  That being said, it was a dumb tweet – no excuses.  To Mr. Kimmel’s credit, he recognized that the comments made him completely uneelectable as a candidate, and withdrew.  The lesson here is obvious: Be very, very careful with what you say, and how you say it!

Tweets and Consequences

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Selfie = Airstrike

Some months ago, I wrote how a tweet by an Al Queda spokesman was actually location enabled, allowing intelligence authorities to pinpoint the location of the man who sent the tweet.  That just happened again, this time with ISIS, and with even graver consequences: A U.S. Airstrike successfully destroyed the building in which the photo was taken.

U.S. Air Force General Hawk Carlisle (what a great name for a General) told reporters that a selfie, taken by a member of ISIS, had enough information on it to allow the military to pinpoint the exact location of the ISIS fighter and his unit:

“The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command…Long story short, about 22 hours later… three JDAMS take that entire building out.  Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours.”

According to CNN, a JDAM is “a kit attached to a conventional bomb that converts it into a “smart” weapon.”

ISIS is very active on social media; according to recent Congressional testimony, the group has “published approximately 1,700 pictures, videos and other publications all across social media and have gained at least 200,000 readers on Twitter.”  It also uses social media for recruitment purposes…however, clearly, sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.

This is funny, but there’s a lesson to be learned for all you non-terrorists out there: Careful with what you post!  While using social media, never put yourself in a position in which you are giving away confidential information or saying something which could come back to haunt you at a later date.

JT Smith says Republicans are worse than ISIS

Democratic Congressional candidate: Republicans worse than ISIS

J.T. Smith is the Democratic congressional candidate in Alabama’s Third District, running against Congressman Mike Rodgers.  It’s worth noting that Smith had previously stirred up controversy on Twitter by saying that Republicans wanted to repeal Obamacare because they viewed the most vulnerable in society women, children and seniors) as “prey.”

More recently, Smith sent out this unquestionably stupid tweet that on Labor Day:

JT Smith says Republicans are worse than ISIS

ISIS, or ISIL, stands for the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria.  It is a terror group, operating in the Middle East, and it likely poses a threat to the United States.  It has made recent headlines for beheading two American journalists.

At first, Smith tried to explain his actions via his Facebook page:

Let me clarify my tweet where I compared the republican party to ISIS. Twitter does not allow for context, but this does. I am not saying that the republican party is beheading people in the streets, obviously. Here in America, because we are a civilized democracy, we do not use violence against each other as a means of control. The republicans have used the economy as a means to terrorize the people of this country…

You will notice that the statement is full of explanation and completely short on apology.  So, at first, that’s the path that Smith chose to take.  To his credit, Smith did (eventually) delete the offending tweet and sent out (what appears to be) a heartfelt apology:

The entire incident was handled very poorly, until the end.  Smith never, ever should have sent such a ridiculous and patently offensive tweet, though he is not the first political figure to make overtly offensive comparisons.  Of course, the fact that Smith didn’t apologize right away made the matter even worse.

Thus, two lessons from this incident:

1) Don’t compare major political parties to terrorist groups that regularly behead Americans.  Not sure why I’d need to type that out, but there you go.

2) When you are in a hole, stop digging.  More specifically, when you make a major social media mistake, don’t explain, apologize.

Anything else to add?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Live tweeted from Syria: Amputating the hand of a thief

I use this blog as a platform to encourage elected officials and governments to use social media while warning them of its numerous dangers.  This blog, of course, is also designed to entertain: some of the stories I write about here are absolutely hilarious.  The absolute worst thing I have ever seen as a result of a social media snafu was incredible, pyrotecnic downfall of former Congressman Anthony Weiner.  Of course, Congressman Weiner, despite his fall, is alive and well.  Things are not the same in other counties.

As noted last week by the Washington Post, an extremist group in Syria recently took to Twitter to tweet about their barbaric criminal code.  The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, operating out of Maskanah, Syria, live tweeted the amputation of a man’s hand.  That man had been found guilty of theft.

The group tweeted three pictures:

  • The first showed a blindfolded man being held down, with his hand outstretched on a table.  Just to the thief’s right, a masked man holds a sword, while in the foreground, a man wearing white robes reads a statement.
  • In the second shot, the sword is about to strike the man’s hand.
  • In the third shot, the man’s hand is shown severed from the body, while the thief appears to have passed out.

The account, @reyairaq, was suspended by Twitter.

Social Media unquestionably played an extensive role in the recent “Arab Spring” revolutions that occurred in the early part of the decade – so much so that one Egyptian couple named their daughter Facebook.  This, of course, highlights the incredible power of Social Media, while the post above makes it clear that this power is a double edged sword.  ISIS, the group who apparently conducted this amputation, is so extreme that Al Qaeda disavowed them, citing their inability to end a dispute between other Al Qaeda groups.

If there is any positive from this horror, hopefully it will be an increased awareness of ISIS’ crimes against humanity and renewed calls for their elimination.