News Views: Not so funny

A lack of judgement shown by a city councillor who is being criticized for a post on Facebook with the word 'retard'

On the weekend, Pitt Meadows Coun. Gwen O’Connoll posted an image on Facebook, in which one ape asks another why he ‘unfriended’ him on the social media site.

The response includes a curse word and a slur.

That is not uncommon for a joke.

But it was not shared just among friends, or just by a comedian, but an elected official on a public forum, one with a billion monthly users.

And the mayor of Pitt Meadows, Deb Walters, commented on Facebook that the meme was “funny.”

Coun. O’Connoll doesn’t see how she offended people, although she has removed the post and offered, not an apology, but an explanation.

Mayor Walters is sorry, “if people were offended.”

‘If’ is not the issue. Nor is it those who are overly sensitive towards the use of a word, or two, or who didn’t understand the joke.

It is about a veteran politician – or two – who doesn’t understand, for one, how the privacy settings on Facebook work, or how her public profile reflects people’s confidence in her ability to make sound decisions, or that what she perceived as funny is a derogatory remark that society has being trying to eradicate from the lexicon for the past 25 years. Just last year a Maple Ridge high school conducted a campaign for that very cause.

The “R” word hurts.

One could forgive a teenager for making such a remark, for not yet understanding the scope of that type of misstep.

But even kids today understand that if they post inappropriate material on sites such as Facebook, to share with friends, their parents might see it.

O’Connoll has shown poor judgement here, and a lack of understanding of the extent her faux pas.

Trying to justify her actions shows, as does removing the post, an admission that the image and joke could be deemed offensive.

She didn’t get that, at first.

Now she’s being defensive, as is the mayor.

Would either ever utter the same word in council chambers?

Do they not understand the public nature of their elected positions?

They actually thought the meme was funny?

The lack of judgement shown by Coun. O’Connoll and Mayor Walters in this instance is surprising and disappointing. Both would benefit from sensitivity and social media training.

– The News

See the story that sparked the editorial: Pitt Meadows councillor criticized for R-word post