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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N.C. State Representative, via shared meme: President is “Islamic son of a b***h”

In the latest example of why you have to be very, very careful with what kind of content you share, North Carolina State Representative Michael Speciale is making national news for sharing this meme:

Michael Speciale Obama Meme

Yes, that’s right, an elected official actually shared a meme which called the President of the United States an “Islamic son of a b****h.”

Damnit.

WCNT, a North Carolina news station, tried to get a comment from Representative Special, but, “he wouldn’t make a comment about his social media post.”  So, the Representative is willing to make the incredibly offensive post, but not back it up.  Okay, that’s really super.

Hilariously enough, he is sharing news stories about the post:

So this guy is just all class.

Of course, Representative Speciale is appealing to the many Republicans who believe that President Obama is, in fact, a Muslim – a recent survey showed that 54% of Republicans believe the President is Islamic, not Christian.

Will Representative Speciale pay a political price for this?  I’m guessing not.  He won both of his elections with almost 60% of the vote, which would tell me that his district is safely Republican.  That being said, he makes all elected officials – particularly those who share his point of view – look like offensive morons.  This is one of the many reasons why so many in the public have a hard time taking elected officials seriously.  It’s a shame.

Tweets and Consequences

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.

The White House wants you to give your Mom piece of mind

In an effort to promote ObamaCare, the White House took to Twitter and showed President Obama with a picture of a sign that read, “Nobody should go broke just because they get sick!”

getcovered

This, naturally, started a meme of people photoshopping their own words into the sign.  Fair enough; President Obama and his team have expertly used the internet, and particularly memes, to push their message.  Unfortunately for the White House, things went sour when they tried to encourage people to get covered for the sake of their mothers:

piece

Opps.  Wrong piece.  They meannt peace.

Sometimes, it’s appropriate for a tweet to be deleted, provided there is an acknowledgement of “yes, we know we messed up, and that’s why we deleted the tweet.”  In the White House’s case, they left this tweet up (it’s viewable here), and I’m inclined to agree with that strategy; deleting the tweet would have made it look like they were hiding it.

This is another example of why tweets always need to be double checked – and when they come from the White House, preferably by another set of eyes.  This story earned the White House a round of bad press, including from the Huffington Post and National Review.  Naturally, it’s not the first time politicians have been nailed for not double checking things, even in the White House.  Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer once tried to tweet the word “bigger,” with horrible results:

pfeiffer

Understandable how this could be made – the “b” and “n” are next to each other on the keyboard, but WOW.  Amazing how much inadvertent offensiveness you can cram into one tweet.  Pfeiffer did apologize.

It just goes to show: double check your tweets.

The Meme President

The hearts of the country were captured this week through the adventures of the #SFBatKid.  In case you missed it: the Make-a-Wash Foundation recruited 11,000 volunteers to make Miles’ dream come true.  Miles, 5, wanted to be Batman and save the city.  He spent the day traversing San Francisco, dressed as Batman.  His adventures included saving a damsel in distress who was tied to the trolley tracks, capturing the Riddler and saving the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, who had been kidnapped.

The entire story was made for Social Media.  Over a 12 hour period, over 220,000 tweets were sent using the #SFBatKid hashtag.  Among them was a tweet from the President of the United States:

The President then cut a Vine that was released shortly after this tweet was sent:

https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/401474141569572864

This might not seem like much, but this is actually a big deal. The President’s schedule is cemented days ahead of time, and his Social Media plans likely are as well.  It takes tremendous flexibility to alter a plan, but that’s what Social Media is made for.  What impresses me more than the tweet is the Vine.  Yes, it’s only three seconds, but the President and his staff understand that you don’t need a script or world-class production values when you are cutting a three second Vine.

Obama has a history of embracing internet culture.  Previous articles have noted that he is the first Meme President.  Part of this is timing, but Obama’s success with Social Media is second to none.

So, what’s the lesson here for politicians?

  1. Be flexible with Social Media and ready to adapt to current events.  Any politician in the San Francisco area who wasn’t tweeting with #SFBatKid is a fool.
  2. Production values aren’t as important as timing and the message.  Seriously, if President Obama can do a vine with no make-up (okay, at least minimal make-up) and poor lighting, you can do it too.  Use Social Media to show your human side.
  3. Embrace popular culture.  Again, Social Media allows politicians the opportunity to better connect with their constituents then ever before – and your constituents are clearly going to be consumers of popular culture.  There is no rule that says politicians can’t do this – in fact, thanks to the Meme President and countless others, there is now an expectation that this is how politicians should behave.