Letter to the Editor: Dosman must face consequences

I’ve been reading all sorts of people’s posts [in regards to Sandor Dosman’s contract termination with the GSA] and the common theme I’m seeing is everyone saying: “how sensitive is this generation is blah blah blah.”

In my opinion, if you think about it realistically, slavery is not really something to joke about publicly. I say publicly because, of course, not everyone thinks alike and it is very unfair to get upset at that. I understand that you cannot control how someone else might feel. However, in the grand scheme of things, just because a person can take “a joke” better than others, does not mean everyone else is “soft” or “sensitive.” In this case, your sense of humour is more passive than others. To me, it is the root of the problem that is still at large: racism and people actually believing what they do/say/think isn’t as bad as people think and that those who respond are just being “soft”

For those who say: “Sandor Dosman wasn’t intending to be malicious, okay?” I don’t care how you spin it but I have one question for Mr. Dosman: how old are you? You should know better, you can’t be that ignorant and I would hope that you are aware of what is going on in the world right now. You obviously know that you work on a university campus, that is home to many different races, people from many different walks of life and many different people coming from many different experiences.

If you have a problem with [Dosman] losing his job because you fail to see what he did was wrong, you are part of the problem, plain and simple.

Truthfully, if you cannot come to realize that in an establishment like this, there is no wiggle room for, “Oh, sorry I didn’t know,” or “Oh, sorry I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Come on man, you need to be a professional. You cannot make grey area/borderline funny or borderline offensive jokes like that publicly and expect anything less than termination. That is a sick joke and the uproar behind it is insane.

To the students outraged about the loss of employment by this situation, I ask, “Are you kidding me?”

I’m sorry this is so long but I’ve got to make my point loud and clear — especially as a former Laurier student-athlete. This slavery joke is beyond black and white because slavery was something that a lot of different cultures and races have dealt with, whether it was here in the Western world, or overseas in other countries.

I refuse to sit here and make comparisons by saying, “Oh, that’s like making a joke about [blank] and saying what? Its just a joke.” But, you can fill in that “blank” with anything that has happened in history. You can say to yourself that it is not funny and understand that as unfortunate as it is, he lost his job and he should have known better instead of getting upset that people are offended. Who are you to get upset about that?

For the individuals who feel that this decision was unfair, you are part of the percentage of people that can “take a joke,” whether is is offensive or not and keep it moving. Just know that the world does not revolve around such kind of people. We have to be able to co-exist with one another. Just because you feel a certain way about a topic like slavery, do not expect others to as well.

When very sound, disciplinary action is taken, an apology and saying there was no malicious intent does not mean you are entitled to being reinstated. You have to face the consequences.

I can recall a couple of situations happening at Laurier while I was a student there, of things occurring related to race. One in particular being a picture of Trayvon Martin titled “lost dog” or something disgusting like that. This was “just a joke” to someone, but does it make it right for that person to share that sort of joke with everyone?

I’m glad Laurier did something about Dosman’s ad, because if nothing was done about it, there is a percentage of “ignorant” people that would continue to believe that an apology will get you out of offending someone. In the real world, if you say the wrong things to the wrong people there are consequences, and you’ve got to be ready to face them.

Maybe I was raised differently and understand the world differently but hey, who am I really to tell you guys how to react? Logic tells me if you say something borderline, be ready for the other side of that border to do/say something about it. If you can’t respect the people around you, learn how to. The world is a much better place that way, my friends.

Ese Mrabure-Ajufo
Laurier alumn, class of 2015
Laurier men’s football team 2011-2014

17 Comments

  1. Ese.. I read your comment. Its articulate etc but as an employer out in the real world for me it doesn’t hold water.

    The ad was humor.. You see it all the time in the real world. if the students or the GSU can’t understand that then they don’t have a hope of survival. The real world has issues. It has stress. Once upon a time I listened to a senior executive at a charity complain some staff where stressed as they had to work past 5. I was stunned. In the real world you have a Friday afternoon meeting at 3 and are expected to have an answer Monday at the update meeting for 9:30. You don’t then there are others who will take that job. To me if a supplier came forward with the GSU attitude I would listen, say thank you and change suppliers in a second. I don’t need that kind of maintenance.

    That’s reality and that’s what it takes to attain and keep a job. I read the ad in its entirety and I actually thought it was funny. He identified it as satire. I personally believe the GSU should be replaced. If this was a real company then the board of the company and the CEO would have been fired and replaced for mishandling the situation.. In a rose tinted student world the perception is different. I graduated many years ago and see multiple PhDs looking for jobs. Based on what I have seen there is a basic lesson that hasn’t been taught.. Its tolerance. Tolerance to humor

    and it wasn’t just about slavery. It was about hair buns and not killing patrons with food. Guys with hair buns aren’t up in arms?

  2. Anthony Zambito says:

    When I say a word that my mother doesn’t like, she tells me to be quiet. She doesn’t kick me out of the house.

  3. What is wrong with the word slave?
    It’s a perfectly fine word whose roots may surprise you.

  4. Anthony Zambito says:

    When I say a word that my mother doesn’t like, she tells me to be quiet. She doesn’t kick me out of the house.

  5. Anthony Zambito says:

    3rd comment’s the charm!

  6. David, perhaps you did not read the article clearly, but Ese clearly states that if you claim that this is just humour, then you are part of the problem. Your practices as an employer foster the idea that inappropriate jokes are okay in the workplace. You claim that the real world has issues, and yes, you’re quite right, but what you fail to see is that this is one of the many issues with the world. The normalization of racial insensitivities is a huge problem, which prevents an innumerable amount of people from being taken seriously and getting good jobs. It is language like Sandor’s which makes people feel unsafe in the workplace, since there already is an existing power dynamic between the boss and worker, This issue is even further complicated when it is, in fact, a person from a culture that has experienced slavery. The power dynamic between the two is complicated even further since this language implies an even further divide in the power dynamic through the use of harmful language.

    Anthony, you may use words that your mother doesn’t like, but those words are (hopefully) not as complicated as a word or phrase that minimizes the struggles of marginalized groups. Dropping an F-bomb is much more simply than using racially charged words. If the GSA was to simply silence Dosman, as you suggest they do, since your mother only tells you to be quiet, that sets a precedent as it being okay to use that language since there will be no REAL punishments. Ese puts it very eloquently themself. They state that “there is a percentage of “ignorant” people that would continue to believe that an apology will get you out of offending someone”.

    I just don’t get why people are so up in arms about not being an asshole. Sandor was on a university campus. He was aware of this. He should not have said what he said if he wished to remain professional. The actions of the GSU are completely proportional to his act.

  7. Confining slavery to exclusively a racist topic is ignorant about the history that it has on its own. Slavery as a concept has existed for thousands of years both in tandem with and without racism- it’s also been based on class, age, religion, and a host of other things.

  8. Confining slavery to exclusively a racist topic is ignorant about the history that it has on its own. Slavery as a concept has existed for thousands of years both in tandem with and without racism- it’s also been based on class, age, religion, and a host of other things.

  9. Personally I did not find the job ad to be offensive at all. In its written context it had no intent to be malicious or insulting to any race or culture.

    At the same time I won’t argue that others may have a different viewpoint or opinion.

    What is totally out of any rational context is the “consequence” as you phrased it Ese. Having his contract revoked over this is pure lunacy and heavy-handed.

    If the board has more examples of transgressions or poor performance on part of the contractor, then fine. They could have simply terminate the contract at the end of term. They went way overboard in how they approached it.

  10. ” You should know better, you can’t be that ignorant and I would hope that you are aware of what is going on in the world right now ”

    Apparently you’re the ignorant one here. You’re offended by this man’s joke while in the middle east people have actual slaves.

    “Are you kidding me?”

    The memes write themselves.

    What a joke. Who reads this garbage and actually agrees with it? Like, besides sheltered young-20-somethings who haven’t experienced the real world?

  11. Ashley Meredith says:

    My ancestors were slaves on sugar plantations in Trinidad. I do not find the job ad even remotely offensive. I, like anyone with a modicum of intelligence, am able to distinguish between a joke about something and a statement supporting something. The fact that he immediately refuted the slavery aspect with a correction in parentheses was a further indication that it was a joke, perhaps to help those less attuned to humour.

    But for the sake of argument let us assume, Ese, that you find this ad offensive. What I find more disturbing is the vindictiveness and disproportionality of the punishment. Ese imagine if you unwittingly uttered something that someone else found offensive whilst you were playing football, and this was picked up on a mic. Would you losing your career, facing possible bankruptcy and homelessness be “sound disciplinary action” for saying something “borderline”? This is exactly how East Germany operated under the Stazi.

    Ultimately, this kind of action helps to create a circular firing squad amongst “progressives”, with the resulting distraction and backlash allowing real bigots to waltz into power while we sit in our comfort zone, gazing at our navels.

  12. Ese,

    You’ve missed the point and continued to drive down the road and into the ditch. Offense is taken, not given. When you ask the blatantly sarcastic question of “How old are you?”, shall I take offense at that question and project my own feelings into your words and accuse you of being ageist? Shall I accuse you of making fun of Dosman’s intelligence level?

    Here’s where it gets good: In your opinion piece, you state, “who am I really to tell you guys how to react?”. I take extreme offense at the misgendering you’ve just done. Calling everyone “guys” is tantamount to abusive language. How dare you misgender me! I guess you must now forfeit your job as punishment.

    So Ese, in your opinion, when is it ever OK to joke about anything then? At some point in human history, someone somewhere has been harmed by just about anything you can think of. My grandparents house was obliterated by the Germans in the 2nd World War, and they were forced to flee their homes to find shelter in a foreign land. I suppose, based on this fact, I should take offense every time a German (or anyone for that matter) makes a 2nd World War joke. Where is my compensation?

    What is clear is that you’ve committed as grave of a linguistic “sin” in your article by misgendering people as Dosman did by JOKING about hiring a slave.

  13. @Jimmy Rustle

    Nice handle — I won’t rustle your jimmies with this response. But you discredited your entire bloviating response by saying, “..sets a precedent as it being okay to use that language since there will be no REAL punishments”. Are you seriously suggesting that there should be punishments on the scale of losing one’s ability to earn an income solely based on one innocuous word that the easy-to-offend will undoubtedly take offense at? We’re not talking about a racist rant or sexist commentary here are we Jimmy… No seriously Jimmy, we’re not at that level are we…..

    If this is the utopian world you wish to live in where one’s ability for freedom of expression is squashed by a single anonymous tweeter feeling offended, then I wish you all the luck in your future. You are creating a rod for your own back and will inevitably feel its brunt at some point. Enjoy the sanitized world where we must never cause offense as you will inevitably do so yourself — and where hopefully you will never feel the proverbial rod against your own back for how painful unemployment is for uttering the “wrong word”.

  14. This is extremely well said Ese, and I agree full-heartedly. To those of you saying “my grandparents were slaves and I’m not offended” or “I’m in this business, so you wouldn’t understand that this is a joke”, can you not see that you are exactly what he means as part of the problem? Of course you wouldn’t be offended, you weren’t the slave, you didn’t have those experiences. But I’m sure if you asked someone who was, they would very much take offence. If you’re still ignorant to what is happening here, what if it said “I’m looking for someone who’s pretending they’re special (gay, trans, etc.), would you take offence then? I’m a hetero white female and I would take offence to that. I’m offended by the current ad because it shows a lack of understanding. Sure slavery has a history that doesn’t include negative points but the issue is that it was turned into something terrible and it ruined so many lives. It has caused racism to still exist and the act of slavery still affects people in our society. Please open your eyes and understand that this is not about being overly sensitive, it is about understanding the consequences of a situation and knowing that it is inappropriate to joke about it as if it were your own experience.

  15. Ese

    Clearly you are a racist. Mr. Dosman’s ad had nothing to do with race or even slavery for that matter. It was strictly about applicants being required to do what they are told and he doesn’t have a job now because of that. You are a black CFL star spreading hate and I am deeply offended. There is no place for this kind of thing in Canada. Perhaps the CFL should fire you for encouraging racism.

  16. So if my roommate said, “I’m going to murder you if you don’t turn down that radio,” does Ese Mrabure-Ajufo believe that my roommate should be sent to prison?

    Ese Mrabure-Ajufo’s attitude toward freedom of expression is making me feel unsafe. Perhaps Ese Mrabure-Ajufo should be excluded from North America to make me feel safe.

  17. It is Ese’s opinion, yet Ese insists Ese is correct snd everyone just follow Ese.

    Plus the age comment by Ese was offensive.

    Ese claims they were in sports at Laurier. I’d like to know what Ese did when comments were made in the locker room.

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