The Internet (still) makes politics hilarious

Hilarious in the sense that it is always fun to watch people you dislike self-immolate, that is. This is perhaps an old point to make, but politicians keep finding new and exciting ways to make spectacular blunders online. Take the case of 38-year-old Audra Shay, Vice-Chairman of the Young Republicans and leading contender for the Chairmanship election this weekend. On Saturday, she initiated a discussion on her Facebook page about medicare. And, given the American conservative movement's tendency to suddenly and inexplicably get off-topic, this comment appeared by a degenerate named Eric Pike:

“Obama Bin Lauden [sic]  is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.”

That's a pretty glaring racial slur. And for a party that is often of the wrong side of history where racial equality is concerned (Abraham Lincoln notwithstanding), you'd think Shay's response would be immediate condemnation.

Instead, she wrote this:

“You tell em Eric! lol.”

But it doesn't end there. In the ensuing digital dust-up, Shay de-friended two commenters who challenged Pike's comment and Shay's tepid response. But somehow, she allowed Pike to keep on posting which lead to this:

“I agree with dale… this is still America… freedom of speech and thought is still allowed… for now any ways… and the last time i checked I was a good ole southern boy… and if yur ass is black don’t let the sun set on it in a southern town…”

She then tried to delete the whole page. Except the obligatory screen grabs had been posted across the interwebs, and the damage had been done. It will be interesting to see how this affects her chances in the Young Republican Chairman elections.

This story is instructive. It shows how politicians - people who allegedly live in the public eye - still somehow don't "get" how social media changes the political communications game. Racism is moral and political poison. If someone expresses a racist opinion on a social forum, you need to immediately moderate and rebuke. Everything you say and do on a forum will be monitored. And you will be held responsible for what is said, especially if you are seen to tacitly agree with a thoroughly reprehensible comment. There is no such thing as a "safe forum" or "exclusive meeting of like minds" on the net.

Rules for politics 2.0, kiddies:

  1. Your Facebook page is not private, no matter what your settings are. If somebody wants your profile, they will get it.
  2. The Internet does not forget. Delete all you like. Copies have been made, and are being posted everywhere.
  3. When you fraternize with bigots online, their foul stench will get all over you.

As for Eric Pike, we can only hope his brain collapses under the weight of his own ignorance, or that the rock he crawled out from under, angered at the damage to its reputation, decides to take him out.