This article is about a London, Ontario man who posted a cruel comment on the memorial site for Amanda Todd (the 15-year-old Port Coquitlam, BC girl who committed suicide last week) and who was subsequently fired from his job after a woman from Airdrie, Alberta reported his comment to his employers. While the story shows an interesting involvement of many Canadian provinces in the story, the story itself is bothering me.
Certainly, what Jason Hutchings said on Todd’s memorial page is distasteful and cruel, and he’s a dink for posting it. The article above indicates he wanted to “stir up the pot a bit”, and I don’t understand that. Why would the pot need stirring? But Hutchings’ motivations aside, why is it now okay for people to be harassing him?
I’ll tell you : it isn’t. It isn’t okay. Hutchings has EVERY RIGHT to say whatever the hell he wants about Amanda Todd. He has every right to say whatever he wants on her memorial page, no matter how distasteful and heartless it is. He did not advocate harm against Todd’s family, although one could argue that his comments were bordering on hate speech against women. Although I think that argument is, at best, shaky.
And I understand that employers have every right to develop and to enforce social media policies and to expect their employees to represent their business in a professional and respectable manner. Employers have every right to fire you if you violate their policies.
But did Jason Hutchings deserve to lose his job? Does he deserve to now be harassed by hundreds, possibly thousands of people for the mistake of being a complete cock? I don’t think his comment was harassment. It wasn’t threatening in any way. It was just incredibly cruel. The man has some kind of moral screw loose in his head, but that doesn’t mean we get to turn around and do to him exactly what people did to Amanda Todd that, the media tells me, caused her to commit suicide.
On one hand, if Hutchings’ comments are harmful to his employer, he should be subject to punitive action by his employer. Perhaps that means being fired. I don’t know what his employer’s social media policy is. And along this vein, we must take responsibility for our own actions. I don’t know what possessed the man (see screw loose comment above) to post his employer’s name with his comment, because he is *clearly* misrepresenting them.
But on the other hand, on the really really important hand, Jason Hutchings has every right to say whatever he wants, where he wants, when he wants. That is his right as a Canadian. Sure, there will be consequences. But he has that right.
I read another article where there was a line that went something along the lines of “people shouldn’t re-victimize the family”. And that made me a little angry. First of all, it’s bad grammar, and it’s bad writing. Secondly, it’s not “re-” anything. In much the same way as there’s no such thing as “reverse racism” (racists are racists, regardless of their cultural heritage and regardless of who they hate), every instance of harassment or assault or violation of rights creates a victim. Every. Single. Instance. “Re-victimize” smacks of whitewashed language, and I don’t understand why whoever said this wouldn’t have just said “victimize again”. I also have a problem with verbing nouns, though, so the whole idea of the word ‘victimize’ makes my teeth itch.
But back to my original point. I assume the company Mr. Hutchings worked for has had a social media policy in place for at least five years. I also assume Mr. Hutchings was aware of the policy. And therefore, the company was well within their rights to fire Mr. Hutchings for violating their well-established social media policy, if his cruel comments on Amanda Todd’s memorial site were in clear violation of this policy. But if that’s not the case, if the company *doesn’t* have a social media policy, if the policy wasn’t clear, or if Mr. Hutchings’ comments were not in clear violation of the policy, I don’t think he ought to have been fired at all.
And I *certainly* don’t think the man deserves to be, if you will, “victimized” himself. In other words, while you can fight fire with fire, usually a whole bunch of people get badly burned in the end.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s horrible that a fifteen year old girl committed suicide. I think it’s horrible that her video was up for FIVE WEEKS and she still didn’t receive the emergency care she needed. I think what Hutchings (and others) have said on her memorial site is atrocious. One of the biggest downfalls of social media is how quickly it permits us all to descend to the lowest depths to which it is possible to descend. And how shocking it is that we go there. What is wrong with us?
You and I need to focus on making things *better*, not worse.