Thursday, 14 May 2015

Abuse of Power All Round

Up-front, a few things that should not have to be said, but given the nature of this discussion, here they are.

First, I will not establish my feminist or anti-VAW cred.

Second, I have nothing but disgust for the moronic, hateful, and well past its best-by date "prank" of yahoos' yelling FHRITP during telly reporters' live shots.

It is clearly symptomatic of the institutionalized and tacitly sanctioned sexual harassment and violence by the patriarchy that I've lived with for longer than the main actors here have been alive.

Third, endless props to CITY-TV reporter Shauna Hunt, who called out the morons in the recent event.

It's what happened afterwards that prompts this blogpost. I'm uncomfortable with several aspects of subsequent events.

Our pal Catelli_NQU tackles the issue of mob justice as currently manifested in social media. He lists several people who have been fired as a result of mass braying for blood. Some perhaps justly, some perhaps not, but…

This is the problem with mob justice. There are no rules or controls that can be relied on to apply an equal sense of justice. There are no appeals, no impartial trials, no weighing of the facts or the reliance on precedence. When it comes to our civil and criminal courts, we emphasise due process. For good reason. It is due process that mob justice lacks; and it is a problem and a threat.
Then he touches on my immediate reaction -- the role of the employer.

It is true that speech is not consequence free, but that does not mean all consequences are appropriate. When seeking justice, society must temper vengeance with reform. But the mob has downloaded that responsibility to those that employ us. Not the most trustworthy allies. If a company is threatened, they will act to protect their brand.

Hydro One, a huge public corporation with past and ongoing controversies and current privatization debate, identified and fired one of the morons in its employ.

The moron in question was not wearing any recognizable Hydro One gear. His very image did not "threaten" Hydro One. Hydro One was proactive in this case.

Lard knows our corporate overlords attempt to police enough of its employees' behaviour during work hours and is increasing its control on employees' off-work time -- for example, sacking a woman who deleted an app that allowed her bosses to track her 24 hours a day.

Now we have an example of an employer firing someone for idiotic behaviour totally unrelated to his employment.

Instant labour lawyers on social media insisted that the company was entirely within its rights.

I raised the spectre of employers in the US being given the right to police workers' (mainly women, natch) reproductive rights as another example of ridiculous overreach.

"Bullshit strawman! Totally inapt comparison!" they screeched at me.

Well, no. What the Hydro One moron and his buddies did was disgusting, offensive, and indefensible, sure. But to some (nutbar) employers, a woman having an abortion is equally disgusting, offensive, and indefensible and -- QED -- a justifiable fireable offence.

I find it frankly frightening that one's employer can unilaterally decide what's morally offensive in one's off-work behaviour and life.

Then there was the undisguised glee when it was revealed that the Hydro One moron was very well paid -- in fact, a member of the Sunshine List (earners of over $100K in public money).

That glee was simply revolting. The moron could just as well have been a minimum-wage earning fast-food worker. But that wouldn't have provided such guilt-free vengeance, would it?

Not only was the moron a fat-cat public employee, the instant labour lawyers pointed out, he was a union member. More guilt-free vengence. If it turns out -- as it well might -- that Hydro One's actions were disproportionate and abusive of the moron's rights, well, he's got a union to defend him.

Again I say: Hello? how about an un-unionized wage slave?

And, if the moron and/or his union takes Hydro One to court and wins a settlement, guess who pays? Yep. Us.

I'll leave it to others better versed in labour relations to suggest more appropriate disciplinary actions than outright firing.

In sum, I found the whole affair -- start to not-yet finish -- disgusting and horrifying.

There was abuse of power all round. From the morons' male entitlement and privilege, to the social media mob's naming, shaming, and subsequent crowing, to Hydro One's quick and easy PR win, the whole thing screamed BULLYING.

In my view, besides Shauna Hunt, the only player who behaved sensibly was Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Their swift action might be the most fitting, as well. In addition to promising better security for reporters at its venues, it banned the morons from their Boys' Nights Out.

The men also face a one year-ban from all games of the soccer club and other teams owned by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which include the NHL Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors.

Someone on Twitter mused that this would be an interesting case for a follow-up "Where Are They Now?" piece in a year or so.

I hope someone takes that on. I'd wager that everybody still looks bad.

ADDED: Trapped in a Whirlpool weighs in on Due Process.

ADDED LATER: Willy Loman.

ADDED MAY 15/15: Two by Sooey that need to be read: here and here.


WILLY said...

Agree 100% with you Fern.

deBeauxOs said...

Excellent blogpost, covers all the essential points.

Justice, fairly deployed is all feminists have ever demanded for ourselves and humanity.

So repulsed by two-faced hypocritical bullies braying for vigilante justice and smugly approving authoritarian knee-jerk vengeance to rationalize their own violent impulses.

Scotian said...

Thank you fern hill for this post, because I watched all this with equal horror and concern regarding the way this was handled. I like you and so many have nothing but contempt for the man with the loud mouth and the attitude, but on what grounds does his employer have for firing him? When I saw that happen I was trying to understand how that worked, and the dangers such precedent sets for other morality firings, including as you so rightly point out as we have seen in the US, women's reproductive rights issues.

Part of what makes the rule of law such an important concept is that it removes emotion from the action, and instead have a cold formal and understandable standard which all must equally follow or suffer the consequences of. Mob "justice", even when it is right in terms of who gets punished in my view is never real justice because it fails that important point.

As usual fern hill I find you write well on an issue of seriousness and import, and I thank you yet again for it.

fern hill said...

Thanks, Willy, dBO, and Scotian. This post is getting lots of views, not many comments.

When jackasses like Ezra Levant are defending the morons, it intimidates regular people from voicing concerns.

Herd mentality. So sad.

Gristle McThornbody said...

Although I understand completely the point you are making in this post, I do need to ask what you consider a fair alternative. Are women (and gays and minorities of all flavors) supposed to just ignore blatant abuses and demoralizing verbal attacks?

As for the firing of the moron, it could also be compared to a company finding out one of their employees tortures small animals for fun in their spare time.There's a certain mindset and mentality that other people really shouldn't have to be subjected to. He's not exactly the type of employee I'd want to work closely with, or one I would trust to represent my company in a beneficial way.

The Hydro One employee performed his act in a public place, in front of cameras. That, in itself, proves how truly stupid the guy must be. And it also left the company with little to no wiggle room to defend keeping him on if he had any amount of interaction with women as part of his job.

fern hill said...

As I said, I'm no expert in labour law or workplace discipline, but I'm sure there are options Hydro One could have used to sanction the moron. Suspension for some period of time long enough to hurt? Mandatory sensitivity training?

I and others would also like to know if this particular moron had had complaints filed against him at work by women or other sensible people and what was done about that.

I have no doubt that co-workers were well aware of his sexist views.

I don't think we'll be told that. Just more blah-blah about "zero-tolerance."

No. People should not have to put up with crap like this. There should be effective policies and procedures in all workplaces to deal with it.

Dawn said...

Have you read this. I am not excusing any of this disgusting behaviour, but it does show the consequences of mob justice.

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