Police officer suspended after giving instructions on how to best run over protestors

A police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota has been suspended for making the following insane Facebook post:

St. Paul and Minneapolis (the twin cities) have seen a sharp rise in protest activity related to the Black Lives Matter movement (in fact, I’d previously written about it, when a Minneapolis Councilwoman “outed” those who had sent her critical correspondence as a result of her attendance at a Black Lives Matter protest).  That was the impetus for Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker making the above post, which suggests that protesters be run over and then gives advise on how to best handle the aftermath of said murder attempt.

Wow.

Sgt. Rothecker was posting under a pseudonym, but the post was obviously traced back to him, and the results were predictable: The Sergeant was suspended.  In a statement, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said:

“I am outraged and disgusted by the post and have directed the SPPD to investigate. That investigation is currently underway.

“Chief Smith and I are committed to building strong, trusting relationships with the communities we serve.

“There is no room in the Saint Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public. If the allegation is true, we will take the strongest possible action allowed under law.

As always, using social media to incite violence is always an absolutely terrible thing.  I suspect that Sgt. Rothecker believed himself to be at least somewhat protected, since he was using a pseudonym.  It has been said before, and clearly, needs to be said again: There is no such thing as anonymity or privacy online.  Things you say can always be tracked back to you, and clearly, that is exactly what happened here.

Zac Efron is grateful for Instagram and Martin Luther King Day

Yes, this is a celebrity tweet, not a political one, but it’s instructive nonetheless.

Just in case you have no conception of pop culture (and I don’t blame you if you don’t!), Zac Efron is a very popular actor who is appearing in the movie Dirty Grandpa, which is coming out soon.  Related to this is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which we celebrated this past Monday.  How, on Earth, are these two related, you ask?

Yeah…he definitely confused two things that have nothing to do with each other.  Maybe he was thinking that the African-American emoji that he used in response would make things better?  Because they didn’t:

 

Of course, there was also plenty of negative news about Efron’s tweet.  To his credit, Efron deleted the tweet and apologized:

A post shared by Zac Efron (@zacefron) on

Okay, so what’s the lesson here?  Do not, ever, confuse serious and silly subjects in the same tweet. Efron somehow managed to make a very special American holiday about him, and specifically, his huge number of Instagram followers.  This, of course, is a blatant attempt to self aggrantize and use a very powerful American icon in a completely unrelated matter.  Making broad statements about diversity, inclusion and the power of Dr. King is one thing – but never, ever use sacred American holidays in an effort to promote yourself.  It’s terrible form.

Tweets and Consequences

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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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donald trump

Trump tweet implies Paris is in Germany

This is a bit of a weird one.  I say weird because I find myself in the unlikely position of interpreting a tweet sent by Donald Trump in a more positive light than others.  Yep.  That’s weird.

Anyways: Last week, in light of a series of crimes occurring in Paris, Donald Trump tweeted out the following:

 

As you can see, the tweet mentions Paris, then Germany.  A possible interpretation of this tweet is that Mr. Trump thinks that Paris IS IN Germany…which, of course, it isn’t.  And that is exactly how Trump’s opponents took the tweet:

 

The tweet also inspired a variety of news stories and briefly made #ParisIsInGermany a trending topic on Twitter.

My opinion?  This was a poorly worded tweet.  Donald Trump is many things, but I don’t think he – or anyone on his campaign – really thinks Paris is in Germany.  Germany has had a spike in violence, including as many as 80 sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, and that is likely what Mr. Trump was referring to.  However, the phrasing of the tweet – which is obviously condensed by the 140 character limitation – lent itself to the interpretation that Mr. Trump thinks Paris is in Germany.

The lesson here? Careful with how you tweet things.  Again, I don’t think the Trump campaign was saying that they think Paris is in Germany, but you always have to be careful with how you phrase your tweets.  As frequent readers of this blog know, you can do a lot of damage in 140 characters or less, and your political opponents certainly won’t give you the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t make anything easy for them.

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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IBM’s way of getting women involved in STEM HackAHairDryer

Someone at IBM has a whole lot of egg on their face.

This one is a bit older, but here goes: The technology giant came up with a great (sarcasm) campaign to get more women involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Have them hack a hair dryer!  After all, nothing works better at getting women involved in a male dominating field than by appealing to them via stereotypical female product, right?

The campaign encouraged women to hack a hair dryer in order to “blow away the misconception, dissolve the stigma, blast through the bias, and bring innovation culture into balance.”

Users on Twitter – particularly women already involved in the STEM field – did not take kindly to the marketing effort:

I think this analysis from Fortune nailed it:

…“feminizing” science and technology in order to attract female talent propagates the myth that math, science, and technology are somehow inherently “un-feminine,” directly conflicting with the good intentions of these initiatives.

To their credit, IBM ended the campaign, admitting it’s failure.  In an Emailed statement, IBM said:

“The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers. It missed the mark for some and we apologize. It is being discontinued.”

The company also sent out this tweet:

IBM tried to blow apart stereotypes in science.  Unfortunately, they did so in a manner which merely reinforced the same stereotypes they were trying to break.  Someone should have caught this.  However, credit to IBM for recognizing their failure, acknowledging it and apologizing for it.

Tweets and Consequences

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Tennessee State Representative tweets support for Bundy Militia

As you are probably aware, a group of armed ranchers has taken over a federal building in Oregon, as part of a “protest” of federal government land use and ownership policies.  The protest, of course, isn’t a protest, it’s an act of violence.  As such, the action has been condemned by even the most conservative of Presidential candidates like Ted Cruz.

However, not ever lawmaker has voiced their objections, and some have even tweeted their support.  Enter Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R):

That tweet from Representative Holt was deleted, but as you can see, some grabbed a screenshot of it.  After the tweet was deleted, Representative Holt added:

When asked for comment, Holt did say,”I do lend my moral support to the Bundy militia, or whatever they call themselves.”

So, to summarize:

  • A sworn government officer tweeted their support for an armed insurrection so extreme that even some of the most extreme Republicans running for President have disavowed it.
  • He deleted the tweet in which is expressed his support, then tweeted comments alluding to his support, then got into a flame war with others who attacked him for it.  If you’re going to do all of those things, why delete the tweets in the first place?

Tweets and Consequences

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