Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Cyber Bullies of Self-Righteous Moral Indignation

Justin Hutchings, a London retailer worker at a London, Ontario men’s wear store posted an online disparaging comment at a memorial page set up for expressing condolences for teenage suicide Amanda Todd.

According to the Toronto Star, Calgary mother Christine Claveau was so outraged at the ‘hate-filled’ comments directed at the Todd memorial webpage that she formed a cyber-posse of like-minder mothers to counter the online Todd ‘haters’. Claveau, in pursuit of ‘justice’ for dead, cyber stalked Hutchings down via his facebook profile and called his employer to vent her spleen at the alleged moral failings of Mr. Big and Tall for having such an employee with their firm.

Mr. Big and Tall fired Hutchings for allegedly violating their ‘company policy of tolerance, respect, fair and honourable treatment of all individuals, internally, with our customers and the population as a whole’. Apparently, what Hutchings does or does not do on his own dime is now in the realm of his employer’s business. Even from the Centre of the Universe, I can smell the lawsuit potential.

Anyway, Claveau, claims she never meant to get Hutchings fired, although this does rather seem remarkably short-sighted on her part and it makes me wonder what exactly did Claveau realistically assume would be the best case scenario for Hutchings given her actions? -- Hutchings’ would be given a ‘time-out’ in the store’s quiet corner for inappropriate behavior of retail clerks?

Claveau was a relative stranger to Hutchings at the time of her actions. She has no way to know anything about him or even his past personal situation. For all Claveau knows, Hutchings could have been raised in a family where his sister, brother, best friend, and/or parent committed suicide. He could have been left not only holding but having had to clean up the emotional baggage suicides leave behind. I have seen first-hand the wreckage suicides cause in the lives of those they leave behind - and it far, far from pretty. All Claveau can claim to know for sure, regarding Hutchings, is that she does not like his opinion, and is offended by his expressing his opinion in a forum she feels is inappropriate to express said opinion in.

I am not excusing Hutchings actions, and at the end of the day, Hutchings could just well be your garden-variety obnoxious twit…but even a twit has the right to an opinion, the right to express an opinion, and the right to make a living unmolested and hunted down by the self-appointed ranks of morally indignant cyber bullies.

And if I were Claveau, I would be fervently hoping Hutchings finds a compatible job relatively quickly, and failing that, I would hope my spouse and children are very understanding; when the process server comes to call.

1 comment:

  1. The internet, unfortunately, is still very much a wild west of social unknowns. "Free speech" is used as a shield to allow for hate to flow, to circumvent decency of one human being to another, but the term is misleading.

    Free speech only means that you have the right to speak. And you do. However, it does not, and should not leave you free from consequence. Far too many people believe that they can simply say something online and not think it through, first. (It's telling that so many individuals are so quick to comment that they'll ignore even basic spelling errors in a mad rush to make their snap-judgement known.)

    Personally, I don't have a particular opinion on this case, but I can completely understand where Claveau was coming from. We have this belief that our personal lives and our professional lives are separate, but they're really not.

    When you enter into a contract with a company to represent them, you take an obligation to do so, no matter if you simply believe that the job is "beneath you." As such, if you no longer are meeting your end of that contract, even if it's in your personal life, I don't see why that employer shouldn't have the right to show you the door.

    This is not a case of discrimination (as far as we can tell), but of an individual not taking the time to think through his comments, and then receiving a rather harsh reminder that perhaps he should have.

    The anonymity of the web is slowly disintegrating, and it's a fact that we're going to have to deal with.

    Before you act, listen. Before you react, think.