Expletive-filled Twitter rant unbecoming of public figure
New Democrat Pat Martin became a trending topic on Twitter after his political adversaries called his expletive-filled rant into question. In response to the Conservative government limiting debate on the budget, Martin called the decision “a fucking disgrace” and said “fuck you” to one of his followers who called him a “foul mouth socialist.”
While it is refreshing that a member of parliament has offered such candor about their positions, this type of conduct is unbecoming of a public figure and Martin should refrain from using such language in his tweets, especially while in the House of Commons. While the first tweet is more excusable than the one directed at a voter, it was inappropriate of Martin to portray his frustration in such a way.
Calls for Martin to apologize, however, are misguided for several reasons. First, any apology he issued would be empty and insincere. Martin clearly has strong feelings of animosity toward the Harper government and he shouldn’t apologize for holding such beliefs.
Second, Martin does have a point about the conduct of the Harper government and, at the very least, he incited a conversation about the validity of the Conservatives’ decision to limit debate. Martin is correct in questioning whether this type of limitation is becoming of a proclaimed democracy. Furthermore, his passion in addressing this issue — while exerted in an over-the-top fashion — is commendable.
Twitter and, by extension, social media in general is a tremendous platform for politicians to connect with their constituents and provide a real-time account of the processes of government. By no means should MPs limit their use of social media or shy away from it in the wake of Martin’s misstep.
Yet, all MPs should take a lesson from this and realize that social media is no different than standing up to give a speech in the House of Commons. It will be scrutinized and debated in the same way. Being an accessible government official is of paramount importance and MPs must never lose sight of that, but they must also keep their comments respectful.
They are, after all, the representatives of our country. They should act like it.
—The Cord Editorial Board