Friday, November 18, 2011

Tweeting Asterisks

It's long been obvious that we hold our members of parliament to a higher standard than our regular chums, especially in the House of Commons. It is with this higher standard in mind that we approach the situation of MP Pat Martin, whose name is so close to Paul Martin's that every time I read this story I get a little thrill that Paul has beefed up.

The event in question, of course, is the use of profanity in a tweet issued while Mr. Martin (the Pat one, not the Paul one) was sitting in his place in the HoC. He was frustrated with the budget proceedings and so tweeted that; "This is a f--king disgrace ... closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot sh--." in another tweet he invoked the phrase "god damn". When he was called out for his foul mouth on twitter, he replied "F--- you." which has earned him some Internet cred, but not so much admiration from the populous.

The detail that I feel makes a difference that is often glossed over in the press is that the tweeter who 'called him out' did so by saying he expected a foul-mouthed socialist to capitalize the word 'budget' but not the word 'god'. It may not make a difference to some people, but to myself, the fact that he was being criticized for not being religious does make a difference. The main criticism was not about his language, but about his lack of respect for another tweeter's God.

As for the debate about his language, it seems ridiculous to claim he should not be allowed to write profanity on twitter while in the House. Either he can write profanity on twitter or he can not. The tweet is not magically going to change because his physical location is one place or another.

Personally, I don't care what kind of language politicians use, just so long as their message is not obscured. In this case he was simply expressing distaste with the budget proceedings, and that came through even more effectively because we all gasped and thought, "Bad words!" But let us not obscure our message. He did not cuss out a citizen who was criticizing his language or politics, but one who was commenting on his religion.

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