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A $100,000 joke or why it doesn’t pay to be misogynistic jerk

Some Toronto soccer fans decided to have some fun at the expense of a female television reporter. To be a little clearer, some Toronto soccer fans decided to sexually harass a female reporter. To be completely clear, some guys who were at a Toronto FC match are complete assholes.

The reporter, Shauna Hunt, wasn’t about to just take the abuse. She confronted the harassers:

Growing visibly frustrated, Hunt eventually confronted some of the men after they shouted at her.

“Can I ask why you would want to say something like that?” she asked one.

“I feel like it’s quite substantial,” he said.

She asked another man how his mother would feel if she knew he spoke like that, to which the man responded, “Oh, my mom would die laughing, eventually.”

The men were yelling FHRITP, a sadly common invective regularly hurled at female reporters because too many neanderthals in our meme-ified society think it’s just so damned funny (and no, I’m not going to explain what it means, though I imagine you can guess what the F stands for).

It is, as anyone not poisoned by internet chauvinism can see, not funny. It’s not merely a joke, as so many argue. It is not a compliment. If you want to really parse this incivility, then the only conclusion is it’s a rape threat, leveled however ironically. The men who harassed Hunt–and the men who supported the harassment–have been duly shamed both on social media and in traditional media.

One guy even lost his $100K job:

“Regarding the incident at the Toronto FC game between a (CityNews) reporter and fans, Hydro One is taking steps to terminate the employee involved for violating our Code of Conduct,” said Daffyd Roderick, director, corporate affairs for Hydro One.

“Respect for all people is engrained in the Code of Conduct and in our Core Values and we are committed to a work environment where discrimination or harassment of any type is met with zero tolerance.”

Roderick identified the employee as Shawn Simoes, an assistant network management engineer who made $106,510.50 a year.

Simoes, the employee being fired by Hydro One, did not shout the previously mentioned phrase, but did speak to Hunt on camera after the incident occured. “It is f—ing hilarious,” he told the reporter.

Part of me thinks it’s fucking hilarious that he lost his job.

But I’m also concerned about this punishment. Simoes isn’t an executive for Hydro One (the provincial electricity concern). He isn’t a spokesperson or a PR flak. He isn’t the face of Hydro One. Nor is he an HR rep. He’s not the person that other employees have to feel comfortable approaching with issues of workplace harassment. There is no tie between his comments and his job duties.

To back up a bit, Ontario is not an “at will” jurisdiction. (I used to work in HR, and I had never even heard the term until reading about labour issues here at The League.) If you are going to terminate* an employee, you have to do it for cause, or you have pay severance. According to the Employment Standards Act, that’s a certain number of weeks pay for every year of service, but according to case law, it can mean years of pay as severance. Firing someone just for the hell of it can be quite expensive.

Hydro One, however, claims to have cause. They argue that Simoes violated their Code of Conduct. No doubt, this sort of thing would be inappropriate in the workplace, but it is not clear that the Code of Conduct applies to after-hours activities.

And it’s not clear that it should apply to after-hours activities. Sure, these men-children seem like pretty wretched people, and there’s no real reason to cry for them, but the question becomes, how much control over your private life does your employer exert.

(“Private” is kind of a funny term here, considering he was on television, but you get what I’m saying.)

For what sorts of personal activities should employees be fired? Sexually harassing a television reporter–or defending the sexual harassment–is a pretty wretched thing to do. What if he just yelled obscenities? What if he wrote a blog post defending the harassment? (Or wrote a blog post wondering whether the offender should have been fired?) What if he was just some angry MRA-type who shared such a blog post or the offending video?

Interestingly, I hadn’t even seen anyone identify him or link him with his employer until Hydro One outed him. This wasn’t a case of social media putting the screws to the employer and the employer reacting; this was the employer just deciding to fire a jerk.

What if this wasn’t even about sexual harassment, misogyny or the ways so many men make some women live under ever-constant rape threats? What if it was some other, more benign, political heresy? Some people won’t be friends with conservatives, should they be able to fire them, too? If a boss is a member of the NRA, does she get to fire those who support gun control?

FHRITP is a step far beyond most any other social or political faux pas, so I’m not asking anyone to haul out the pitchforks and head on over to Hydro One to demand Simoes be re-hired. But there is a reason why freedom of expression must be applied broadly. You may understand where it is appropriate to draw the line, but that does not mean the person in a position of power will. And eventually, you may be the one punished for what you say.

Interestingly, these buffoons may have also broken the law. The Kingston Police quickly jumped on the issue, tweeting out that the actions violated the criminal code.

Naturally, this brings up more concerns regarding freedom of expression, but at least this would adjudicated in the criminal justice system, offering offenders a chance at defending themselves before being punished.

But maybe this is just the new reality. Maybe justice is moving from the courts to your office. Maybe this is just society creating a more dynamic, representative form of justice. Norms and customs have often been used to ferret out undesirable behaviour. This can be more effective and more fair than a blind lady with scales or an old man in a funny wig.

And in the end, a deviant received his comeuppance. The process may not have been perfect, and the implications should cause some concern, but if this helps to shut down FHRITP, there’ll be some good to come out of it.

Post Script

If you really think FHRITP has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault, this happened.

*”Terminate” is different than “lay off”. You can lay someone off if there isn’t sufficient work for them to do, but then you have to re-hire (or offer to re-hire) them once business picks up. In reality, this doesn’t happen. Companies don’t always rebound, and those laid off tend to get other jobs before the company might think of bringing them back.

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197 thoughts on “A $100,000 joke or why it doesn’t pay to be misogynistic jerk

  1. So is it okay to threaten to murder someone? To beat them up?

    I don’t see much daylight between that and threatening to rape them.

    And FHRITP is a threat to rape, even if some neanderthal thinks it’s a compliment. We don’t say Kurds are being honored because members of ISIS want to murder them. We don’t say residents of Baltimore or Ferguson are honored because the system extorts money from them through policing. Yet women are expected to feel honored because men want to fuck them and have no compulsion about broadcasting that publicly, despite lack of consent from the women.

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    • And FHRITP is a threat to rape, even if some neanderthal thinks it’s a compliment.

      I don’t buy this. No, it’s not a compliment. Yes, it’s sexual harassment. It is not, however, a rape threat. There is some space between these categories.

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      • This and not everything is taken to the If someone says, “I’ll kill you if you tell my mom about this,” 99% of the time it’s not a death threat.

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      • And what, exactly, is that space filled with?

        How do you measure when it crosses the line from mere harassment to actual threat?

        Most importantly, flip it around. If instead, it was “His face looks completely punchable,” is that a threat or merely harassment? What about, “His pocket looks pickable?”

        It is a rape threat, because it’s devoid of her consent; in the very same way that those photographs of Jennifer Lawrence lacked her consent.

        Perhaps the lack of understanding that speaking about women sexually, without their consent, underpins rape culture would go far to minimizing rape culture.

        #FHRITP is exactly what SJW’s mean when we describe rape culture; and a man’s freedom of expression has no more weight or worth than a woman’s freedom from assault.

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        • Most importantly, flip it around. If instead, it was “His face looks completely punchable,” is that a threat or merely harassment? What about, “His pocket looks pickable?”

          Whether something is harassment or a threat or crosses the line into an actual assault is not a question that can be answered in the abstract. It depends on the context, which is why we have a criminal justice system that strives to make decisions based on the particular set of facts in any case.

          #FHRITP is exactly what SJW’s mean when we describe rape culture; and a man’s freedom of expression has no more weight or worth than a woman’s freedom from assault.

          I get that and that’s why those terms don’t mean very much. They are slogans, very good at whipping up support among those who already agree with you, but not particularly convincing to those who don’t.

          If you want to re-define rape to mean every manner of sexual abuse and assault, you are more than free to do so, but I’m free to call BS on it.

          The alternative is that we use words to mean what they actually mean and agree to condemn instances of harassment without having to call them rape.

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          • First, I didn’t call it ‘rape,’ I called it a threat to rape; and you said it wasn’t a threat.

            So just to be clear, “FHRITP” = fuck her right in the pussy. That’s a threat.

            Second, I totally agree with not conflating rape with harassment; but I do not think you can look at the culture that creates so much rape and not view it as a series of cultural norms that begins with objectifying women a sex toys for bros instead of people with their own agency. Sexual harassment is not rape, but of those who think it’s okay to sexually harass, some subset will take it that step further to assault (groping, forced hugs and kisses, etc.,) and some additional subset will go further to raping.

            And on this spectrum of sexually harassing behaviors, the woman is left trying to figure out the threat level in each incident. This is a very large part of why cat calling is so offensive. Sure, he might just like your booty. But you never know how far he’ll push that; he’s got the gall to publicly speak of you sexually, so where are his limits?

            Seriously important here not just to view this from the standards of boys will be boys and it’s a lot of fun to show off and hoot about one’s good-fuck standards with the guys. That’s been the norm for so long that we take it for granted as if there’s nothing wrong with it. But the other view here is that girls will be preyed upon, they’ll be assaulted, they’ll be raped, and they’re constantly having to make these threat assessments as they go through their lives every day. That standard, that view, is no less important; no less worthy of understanding.

            So no. Defending the boys for being boys doesn’t cut it. It is part and parcel of what we mean when we describe rape culture. I know you don’t condone rape or harassment. But just like institutional racism may not be overt, it still leads to things like mass incarceration, sexually objectifying woman fosters rape culture, harassment, and assault.

            Saying you’ll “FHRIP” is a direct threat of rape. That’s what those words mean. Fuck. Pussy. Even if the asshat really means that he admires her, he would like to get her consent, that’s not what he said. He created a situation where she has to access the threat level, and has to adjust her behavior in response to that perceived threat, and may suffer violence and harassment if she makes the wrong choice.

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            • This is a sidebar, and those guys shouldn’t have been yelling that (and their numerical superiority, as well as the AFAIK unprompted nature of it makes it worse), but at what point does including the word “f*ck” in an uttered imprecation without including a parenthetical “with consent, of course”, constitute a “threat to rape”?

              F*ck you?
              F*ck RIGHT off?
              Why don’t you take a flying f*ck at a rolling doughnut?
              F*ck you, and the horse you rode in on?

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              • — This is linguistics 101. Those different uses of “fuck” mean different things, and the different meanings entail different responses.

                “Fuck you” means something rather different from “fuck you in the pussy.”

                You get that, right?

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                • I dunno if it does, exactly. What about “F*ck you in the ear”? To me, including a specific orifice doesn’t automatically transform the utterance into a true threat.

                  I mean, there’s no doubt that they are trying to make it more offensive (that’s in part because “f*ck you” is so commonplace as to barely raise an eyebrow anymore), but just because they were trying to make it more transgressive by adding physiological specificity or more vulgarity, doesn’t mean they were actually threatening.

                  Whether I say “I’m gonna kill the guy who keeps stealing my mailbox”; or get more specific like “I’m gonna f*cking eviscerate him and pull his intestines out through his anus”; in the absence of any other factors, both are pretty well-understood to be just hyperbole, not realistic threats.

                  Like I said, they shouldn’t have been doing it and I have no problem with the guy losing his job over it – if firing him’s against the law, then the law is wrong. An employer shouldn’t be forced to keep employing a patent jackass.

                  I’m just curious as to where the line to “threat” is when using one of the most common English imprecations.

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                  • How often, might I ask, have you been literally f*cked in the ear? How many people — male or female — have wanted to literally f*ck your ear? How many people do you know that have experienced ear-f*cking?

                    Now, how many heterosexual males have wanted to or literally f*cked a woman there? How many women have experienced that?

                    There’s a difference between “I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon” and “I’ll use this gun I have right here at my hip and SHOOT YOU”, if for some reason you’re hung up on f*ck.

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                    • morat20I’ll use this gun I have right here at my hip

                      The problem with this analogy, of course, is that all people with penises ALWAYS have their “gun” right at their “hip”. So no, I’m not hung up on just the word “f*ck*.

                      I mean, look, “F*ck you” is, on some level, a “rape threat” – it has a verb and an object, and consent is most definitely not implied. But under most circumstances, we don’t consider it a threat.

                      If I say it to a man and add “right in the ass”, that STILL doesn’t necessarily make it a threat, even though men’s asses regularly get literally f*cked, both with and without consent.

                      I’m more sympathetic to the idea that the men’s numerical superiority starts to push things in a “threat” direction, but even then I’m wondering what additional factors we need to look at – the fact that it was apparently unprompted helps (by which I mean, if that TV reporter did something really crappy, and THEN aggravated onlookers started yelling “Hey, f*ck you” – whether they added “RITP” or not – I’d see that situation more or less as a pretty common expression of disapproval, if still vulgar and undesirable on multiple levels; but probably not a “threat”).

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                      • To echo zic: It’s the use of the word “pussy” here. You can see how that modifies “f*ck” massively, right?

                        How the word “pussy” changes the meaning in ways that “high horse you road in on”, “your ear”, and “you” in general don’t?

                        I have to admit, being a man — it’s really nice that we can debate this objectively and quibble over words. We’re not ever going to face a big crowd of men literally chanting about how they want to stick their dick in us. We’re not likely to get fondled in an elevator, we’re not the usual target of roofies….

                        To quote Loiue CK: “The courage it takes for a woman to say yes [to a date with a man] is beyond anything I can imagine. A woman saying yes to a date with a man is literally insane, and ill-advised. How do women still go out with guys, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat! To women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them! If you’re a guy, imagine you could only date a half-bear-half-lion. ‘Oh, I hope this one’s nice! I hope he doesn’t do what he’s going to do.’”

                        Most eye-opening conversation I’ve ever been involved in was, almost entirely, me listening to two women discuss men and the mental activities that go along with just hanging out with them, and then onto what dating them was like. Half-bear half-lion seems apt. There’s a constant worry you’re going to get eaten.

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                        • It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia had a blasted good running rape joke
                          (it was about boats, and getting women to go on boats, to get them to assent to sex — without actually forcing them).

                          Yeah, a lot of guys do pull shit like that, which is well within “The Rules” and still completely despicable.

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                        • So if they’d used a gender-neutral “ass” instead of “pussy”, that’d be OK?

                          I don’t see the difference.

                          That rape is a terrible, dominating/demeaning thing that commonly happens, is the underpinning of us ever saying “f*ck you” at all. The specific orifice seems irrelevant (and it is, to the crime).

                          If we accept saying “f*ck you”, then I don’t see why adding some physiological feature that the imprecation’s recipient possesses automatically moves that imprecation into “threat” territory. Not sans other contextual factors anyway.

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                        • The poker group that used to always get together had a phrase that got used to express disapproval. (Cleaned up for just in case): “Eff him. Eff him right in the arsche.”

                          This didn’t quite have the cadence we were looking for so, one day, when someone added the adjective “goat” and said “Eff him right in the goat arsche”, it stuck and entered the regular rotation.

                          Use it for individuals: “Eff Tom Brady. Eff him right in the goat arsche.” Use it for groups: “Eff the French. Eff them right in the goat arsche.” Use it for organizations. “Eff Chrysler. Eff Chrysler right in the goat arsche.” If you’re feeling frisky, add an Eastern European accent.

                          We’d sometimes even use it on each other when something like a Full House beat a Flush.

                          Around the poker table, it wasn’t a rape threat.

                          Of course, neither were these phrases used in mixed company… but it was in that particular context that I first read the FHRITP chant.

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                      • Fuck has myriad meanings. “I’m going to fuck you up!” does not mean I am going to have sex with you in a way that defies gravity. It is pretty synonymous with, “I’m going to mess you up!” which has nothing to do with tidiness or defying gravity.

                        “I’m going to fuck you!” Well, now we’re probably talking about sex.

                        “Fuck you!” Pretty sure we’re not talking about sex.

                        “Fuck her!” Maybe sex but probably not.

                        “Fuck her right in the pussy!” It is hard to think that is about something other than sex.

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                        • The thing that’s missing in this conversation is some context of the FHRITP meme. It’s not something that people yell to or about the news reporter. In fact, you can find videos of people saying it with male reporters.

                          The point is to say something crude on live TV. Yes, there is something wrong with believing that you have the right to impose on people with expressions of unwanted sexuality and it is worth criticizing on that front, but there is a bit of critical drift going on here. Not everything is rape.

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                          • The thing that’s missing in this conversation is some context of the FHRITP meme. It’s not something that people yell to or about the news reporter. In fact, you can find videos of people saying it with male reporters.

                            Men feminizing other men is an ancient way to insult, demean, and suggest general all-around weakness. You pussy. You through like a girl. You act like a girl. Momma’s boy. and on and on and on.

                            Shouting FHRITP at male reporters is done because it feminizes and so shows how weak and impotent those male reporters are; it diminishes them by comparing them to women.

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                            • Shouting FHRITP at male reporters is done because it feminizes and so shows how weak and impotent those male reporters are; it diminishes them by comparing them to women.

                              This is the perfect example of what I mean about ideas that make sense within a closed ecosystem, but do not comport very well to objective reality.

                              As discusses below, people who yell FHRITP are not yelling it at the reporter, they are yelling it at the camera. It’s a juvenile stunt to sneak something prurient onto a live news broadcast and try to take the piss out of something that the person perpetrating the stunt sees as unnecessarily stuffy and full of crap.

                              If you want to claim that yelling that around a female reporter who is just trying to do her job rises to the level of sexual harassment, then I will likely agree with you. Your analysis in this instance, however, is just wrong. This is not about taking the reporter down; it’s about trying to take the newscast itself down.

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                            • Wait! You guys think this becomes okay if they also shout it at men? Cuz, you know, it’s not okay to sexually harass men either.

                              In any case, the statement includes female pronouns and female-typical anatomy. I think you’ll have a hard time selling this as non-sexist, especially when shouted in the face of a woman, even if these stupid bros are also terrible to men.

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                              • – I’m not sure this is even sexual harassment at all, now that I’ve read the Know Your Meme entry.

                                Again, here it is, for anyone else who was as clueless as I was, to think that the “her” and the “pussy” in this statement or the OP had anything at all to do with that reporter, or in fact any real person, at all.

                                http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/fuck-her-right-in-the-pussy-fhritp

                                It COULD be sexual harassment, if this stupid juvenile prank is something that is targeted primarily at either female or male TV reporters; but I suspect (and others have stated) that this is an equal-opportunity “TV News” stupid prank.

                                It’s videobombing, or the equivalent of internet graffiti tagging. It’s drawing a penis in a history book and sticking it back on the library shelf.

                                Which is not to say it’s therefore OK – hassling anybody, for no reason other than your own lulz, while they are trying to do their job, is still generally a jerk move.

                                It’s just plain old “harassing”.

                                I’m going to date myself a bit, and compare this meme to the first stupid internet meme I ever became aware of. This would have been toward the tail-end of the ’90’s, 1997 or so.

                                http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/ate-my-balls

                                Long story short, some doofus made a juvenile image/captioned cartoon, about Mr. T.

                                And his supposed love of eating balls.

                                Yes, it made no real sense; and yet, its very nonsensicality made people laugh, and so it caught on like wildfire – and soon site after site and page after page had all sorts of real and imaginary people getting made into images and comic strips that revolved around their supposed adventures.

                                Eating balls.

                                (My personal favorite, was “He-Man Ate My Balls”. Alas, lost to the mists of time and defunct AOL pages).

                                Anyway, I can imagine these same sorts of yahoos popping up in the background of TV news shots, yelling “Mr. T ate my balls!”

                                But it wouldn’t really be a sexual issue, even if the reporter happened to be a man with balls. And it wouldn’t really be a racial issue, even if the reporter was black, like Mr. T. Not unless the victims were chosen for those reasons.

                                It’d just be some stupid yahoos yelling something nonsensical and vulgar, to be stupid and get attention.

                                Note: even though I am coming to believe this whole thing is more or less a big ol’ nothingburger as far as some larger cultural meaning, I am STILL OK with the dude losing his job over it. Stupid drunken juvenile prank or no, the guy endorsed yelling obscenities on TV, and when questioned by a reporter on camera about it, chose to double down and use further profanity. Drawing attention to yourself and by extension your employer via a stupid vulgar prank and recorded/broadcast obscenities, is still something they rightly want no part of.

                                If I got drunk and went to the local Catholic Church and threw open their doors during Mass and yelled “F*ck the Virgin Mary” at the top of my lungs because I thought for some demented reason that would be funny, I’d be a real jackass.

                                And if it made the news or my employer got wind of it, I’d probably get rightly canned.

                                But it wouldn’t be some threat to Catholics or women, or indicative of some cultural disease, or worth hours of hand-wringing introspection over how we as a society could have allowed this to happen.

                                It’d just be some jackass being a jackass.

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                                • this is really stretching things, imo.

                                  That the juvenile joke even works is because the punch line is sex with women. If there weren’t some legit reasons to be concerned with seeing women as pussies for fucking instead of as people, and if there weren’t some legit concerns about people who threaten women with rape as a way to dominate and control, the joke wouldn’t be hilarious; even to cretins who deserve to lose their jobs.

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                                  • It’s not even a joke, exactly. There IS no punchline. It’s closer to Andre the Giant Has A Posse. It’s simply dadaist signal disruption. They could have been yelling lines from Borat instead.

                                    There was never, IMO, at any stage of the game, a real threat, to anyone, from this. This was a hoax, that mutated into a meme. Sucks for TV reporters, but sometimes the Internet helps make stupid stuff happen.

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                                    • They could, , be keening at the top of their lungs to achieve the effect you describe. Instead, they amplify their disruption by committing a specifically sexual form of transgression. They are demonstratively violating sexual mores whose major purposes include maintenance of respect for women. To accept your partial defense of the men (all men, no?), you would have to believe they seized upon a foul remark reducing woman to sex object at random, from some list of potential “Dadaist” disruptions. In addition, the act of shouting someone down, not necessarily a woman but always an in this sense “feminized” or “emasculated” other, is a classically masculine dominance tactic. Dadaist disruption may not itself be completely neutral in this respect, regardless of what the Dadaist disruptor happens to imagine what he or she is doing: If you at some point of abstraction take the act as defying a patriarchal moral regime, it still at that same or the next higher level of abstraction remains a meeting of force with (locally) superior force: Again, an aggressive, archetypically masculine tactic.

                                      In short, they’re being misogynistic jerks (and don’t really qualify for your defense).

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                                      • Eh, I said they were jerks, for disrupting anyone’s work. This reporter happened to be female, but had she been male they probably would have pulled the same stunt (in the linked report, when questioned by the reporter if they were planning to yell the meme, the first guy answers, “Not you, but yes” – which I take to mean he is explicitly saying it’s not about the reporter, it’s about yelling something obscene on TV. It’s about imitating a prank they saw, right down to the exact language used in the original hoax.

                                        It’s like people who, upon seeing a Hollywood actor waliking down the street, compulsively yell lines from that actor’s best-known roles. DeNiro probably gets “You talkin’ to ME?” yelled at him weekly.

                                        Go back to the Ate My Balls example. It’s also transgressive, implying either cannibalism, or sexual activity. But I see no racial or sexual animus in it. Mr. T just happened to be there. Some stupid and vulgar stuff just catches on. Watch the original hoax viral videos that inspired these goobers – they appear to be of two different men inserting completely random and inappropriate vulgarity into a TV news segment, and people reacting in an appropriately stunned and appalled manner.

                                        These fools wanted to make the hoax, real. They wanted to be Borat (who has said similarly offensive things to people he interviews).

                                        They failed, badly, but not everyone is Sascha Baron-Cohen.

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                                        • Are there examples of this with male reporters? Asking seriously. I have only seen it with female ones, but I haven’t been paying that much attention, so I could have missed them.

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                                          • Today is the first I have EVER heard of this nonsense, so I really don’t know. I take the linked article to say that.

                                            The televised incident between CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt and fans at Sunday’s Toronto FC game featured several bystanders mimicking a viral trend seen across North America, in which on-air reporters are harassed with the phrase, “F— her right in the p—-.”

                                            It just says “on-air reporters”, not “on-air female reporters”. I also thought both and said the phenomenon wasn’t limited to women, but maybe I misunderstood them.

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                                          • – so apparently because I watched the original YT hoax videos on Know Yr Meme, YouTube recommended to me the following compilation (thanks a lot, YouTube), which seems to indicate my understanding was correct, and this nonsense is equal-opportunity idiocy (By which I mean, both males and females are yelling this, and both male and female reporters are getting the treatment).

                                            NSFW, obvs:

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                                    • — You can’t be serious.

                                      [cw: extremely crass, sexist langauge, most decent people will offended by the content of this post]

                                      Okay, imagine your child comes home from school crying, cuz some teenage bullies were following her around and shouting stuff like “hey your cunt smells.”

                                      And so you confront the school and the other parents and they explain it is a “dada-esque” prank, and that it is totally an accident that the words sound degrading to your child and that it is absurd to believe that “cunt” should refer to her vagina or that “smells” should have any reference to her dignity. Not at all. Don’t be silly.

                                      It’s dada, just totally random. Plus they also said it to some boys.

                                      And of course you believe this. It sounds totally plausible that the bullies chose words like “cunt” for no reason at all, and could have easily followed your child and said, “Snowshoe badger gum.”

                                      It’s just like bad luck that they ended up saying something like that. Could have been anything.

                                      The next week they switch to “You’re a dead bitch and I’m gonna rape you.”

                                      I mean, seems statistically improbable, but you totally can’t be sure!

                                      Maybe we should blame the universe. After all, it all can be found in the digits of pi.

                                      #####

                                      Your argument is bad and you should feel bad.

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                                      • – please go read the Know Your Meme entry, and the linked article in the OP again. In my understanding, this stupid meme is getting yelled out whenever people see a TV news camera.

                                        Is it vulgar? Yes. Is it obscene? Yes. Is it completely stupid? Yes. Is it language I would want people yelling around my daughter? Hell to the no.

                                        But I still don’t think they were targeting it at her. She just happened to be the reporter there with a camera crew – and it was the camera they were after.

                                        So, in short, yes, I am serious.

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                                    • There was never, IMO, at any stage of the game, a real threat, to anyone, from this.

                                      Having had such threats used on me a few times, this simply isn’t true. But what is true is that people who make these kinds of threats also say they didn’t mean to actually harm. don’t be that guy,

                                      I get that they thought it was harmless because they didn’t really intend to rape; that they thought it was okay in a howard-stern disgusting sort of way. But just because they thought it was harmless does not prove it was harmless.

                                      I think you’re really misguided here; and I think some of that stems from this kneejerk fear that someone says it’s wrong, so there’s gotta be a law and free speech without the consequences of free speech. It might really help if you took this out of the realm of you, as a guy, and considered it from the perspective of the women in your life who

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                                      • – I’ve said, repeatedly, that it was wrong. It’s just not the specific kind of wrong that you want it to fit into, IMO. It was rude, and boorish, and jerky, and uncouth, etc. ETA: It may even be sexist, misogynist drivel, though even here I start to wobble, since I remain unconvinced that the inclusion of certain words implies rape, ESPECIALLY now that I know that the phrase is taken word for word from some stupid hoax/meme, and I do not believe the language was directed at this reporter specifically (though they shouldn’t have hassled her, or ANYBODY, at their job just for stupid lulz, as that’s a jerk move).

                                        But it wasn’t a threat of rape (though it’s still drivel).

                                        I can live with being That Guy in this case.

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                        • Kazzy: “Fuck her right in the pussy!” It is hard to think that is about something other than sex.

                          Ugh, my comment got eaten. Basically, my take is that “f*ck you* is so common in discourse as to have lost its transgressiveness, so the “RITP” is an attempt to reclaim that transgressiveness by upping the vulgarity and making it more specific.

                          But just bringing the subtext of “f*ck you” up to the level of “text” doesn’t automatically transform it into a threat. It simply makes the underpinning of a phrase that we all say to each other all the time obvious by explicitly restating it.

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              • Glyph,
                In a comedian’s rant? probably never.
                When a damn gang starts yelling it at bystanders? Probably nearly always.
                (well, at least it’s presumably a threat to violence, if not always rape).

                Yes, these things are freaking contextual.

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                • Of course it’s sexual harassment – these jerks are basically saying “This is a professional woman doing her job but as far as we’re concerned she’s nothing but a c**t and we can say that out loud on camera because everyone agrees with us.” That the reporter took it so well is due to the fact that she’s tough and she gets this quite a few times a day. Perhaps if she’d collapsed sobbing on the pavement more people might agree.

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              • I dunno where you’d draw the line, however in THIS case I’m thinking it’s clearly on the more rape-y side. Most people do not, in fact, have sex with horses. Or having flying sex with donuts.

                The target of the “where to f*ck” bit is very on-point. That is indeed where most heterosexual sex occurs, and where most women (gay, straight or other) have sex.

                It’s not exactly unclear or metaphorical here.

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              • Can’t speak for anyone else here, but for me the problem wasn’t the word fuck and it’s various meanings; it was pussy as a passive object for the verb fuck.

                Otherwise, I really don’t give a fuck about the word fuck.

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            • So just to be clear, “FHRITP” = fuck her right in the pussy. That’s a threat.

              No, it’s not. It’s a phrase, six words strung together. Whether or not it is a threat is entirely dependent on the context. If it’s used in a threatening context, then it’s a threat. If it’s used to troll a news report, then it’s not a threat.

              So no. Defending the boys for being boys doesn’t cut it. It is part and parcel of what we mean when we describe rape culture. I know you don’t condone rape or harassment. But just like institutional racism may not be overt, it still leads to things like mass incarceration, sexually objectifying woman fosters rape culture, harassment, and assault.

              All the rest is great, but it doesn’t speak to anything that I’ve actually said. I never said anything about defending boys being boys. In fact, I think that this reporter did the absolute right thing in confronting these men.

              Also, you are making a claim about causality, which I don’t think stands up to any real scrutiny. Rapists don’t rape, because they are “bros,” whatever that means. Rapists rape, because they are criminals. You can try to contextualize whole categories of male behavior as a precursor to rape, but it’s a specious claim.

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              • You’re confusing rape with the social norms that obscure rape behavior.

                Culture and social norms actually matter here, and the only way to pretend they don’t is to pretend that the male norm is the norm.

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                • The problem here is that we simply have different notions about the whole idea of rape culture. I find a lot of these conceptions to be completely locked into a closed ecosystem, where you either buy the whole thing or you don’t.

                  That’s a problem, because it means that you have to fully convert people to your way of thinking or label them enemies and act accordingly.

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                  • And by “closed ecosystem” you mean “the minds of women” and by “convert people to your way of thinking” you mean “convert men”.

                    I’m a guy, and that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. That, you know, the problem lies with the men — who keep doing the bulk of the raping, and excusing the raping, and generally enjoying their role of not having to worry while having fun — and that, of course, means that the women — who get to have all the ‘being raped’ and ‘harassed on street corners’ and ‘fondled and sexually assaulted’ have to convince the men it’s a real problem.

                    Strangely, this is very hard to do!

                    After all, I’ve never raped anyone. Never slipped someone a roofie, never gotten a girl drunk to get a yes, never fondled a woman against her will or intentionally invaded her space. (I’m 6 foot tall, so it’s entirely possible I’ve been intimidating without realizing it, or invaded personal space without noticing. I don’t HAVE to be sensitive to that. I’m male and big. It wasn’t until my 30s that I realized my experiences were not universal).

                    So why should I change anything? What did I do wrong?

                    Well, as I said — about ten years ago, I realized what I did wrong was stay silent when I should have spoken up. Was willfully blind to situations that were obvious to anyone, male or female, paying attention. That I directly contributed to the problem by pretending there wasn’t one.

                    After all, I wasn’t a victim or a potential one. It wasn’t my problem, right?

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                    • That’s great if that’s the conclusion to which you have come. I’ve come to a different conclusion. And that is that I reject the wholly idea of collective responsibility, because it has no moral weight and no real claims of efficacy.

                      If you want to give me reasons why I am wrong about that, I am happy to consider those reasons. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit that I’m wrong. But so far, all I’m seeing are attempts to shame me into the appropriate world view.

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                      • Shame you? Good lord no. Collectively responsibility? Good lord no.

                        Get you to realize that your viewpoint isn’t the only one? That, for instance, the female viewpoint might be markedly different and maybe you should think about that at times? Good lord yes.

                        But I’ve found that that’s a hard row to hoe, so to speak.

                        Guy I know, pretty liberal, considers himself sensitive and thoughtful. Gets absolutely FURIOUS when it’s obvious women are uncomfortable around him at times. Why? He’s 6’3″ and about 250, mostly muscle. Shaven head, goatee.

                        He gets so mad, so personally insulted, when a random woman does something like cross the street or walk faster to stay away from him. After all, he’s a big softie, totally harmless, why won’t they see that.

                        He feels profiled, insulted, offended, and most of all angry that women feel threatened by him.

                        He’s never going to actually accept that strange women aren’t exactly wrong to view him that way. He won’t even admit it’s a legitimate point of view, that they might have reason to.

                        He’s an extreme example, but that mono-gendered view, the firm belief that your view — as a man — is somehow the whole picture — is the problem.

                        We’ve built a culture and a society on the male view, the male thought process, and male power. And when women complain, we dismiss them because they don’t conform to the male view.

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                        • You are assuming that because I disagree with a particular point of view that I have not ever considered it. That assumption is faulty.

                          And you’re trying to sell this point of view as being the female point of view when, in fact, it’s an explicitly progressive feminist point of view. There are lots of women who don’t share this view and lots of men who do.

                          It’s like arguing that if you don’t believe in an expansive welfare state, you must not care about poor people.

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                          • t’s an explicitly progressive feminist point of view

                            I think there some many thousands of years of viewing women as men’s property, and men having the responsibility to protect those women from this type of behavior to consider.

                            The difference between a progressive feminist pov and the patriarch pov is who’s got agency, the woman’s protector or the woman herself; the notion that she has sexual honor and that sexually assaulting her (even verbally) is immoral is pretty ancient.

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                          • It’s expressly feminist to claim women have a different point of view? I suppose so. Crazy thought.

                            So what’s the non-feminist view of a crowd of men chanting “F*ck her in the pussy?”. What’s the non-feminist gal to think?

                            Looking forward to hearing you explain it! Since it’s a non-feminist view, it should be the same as a man’s, right?

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                            • I’ve been staking out my position from the beginning, which is that you can be critical of individual instances of sexual harassment without buying into the closed system of rape culture and supposed collective responsibility.

                              You’re moving the chains way too quickly for me to keep up.

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                        • Hell, by your description, I’D be a bit nervous walking by him. Women are stereotyping him, just like every single other person does every single other person they run into in the street, especially women. At least the ones who have any sense.

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                          • Yeah, that’s the thing. He was okay if men avoided him. But women? That was an insult. One he took personally.

                            Yeah, the guy is ridiculously intimidating in person.

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                              • He wants to be not stereotyped. I have absolutely to date refrained from saying “Good thing you’re white. It’d be a lot worse!”.

                                I mean, I get the complaint, right? Nobody wants to be looked at like a danger. It’s got to wear on you. But I can see HER side of it pretty darn easily. It’s not like it’s some case where if you haven’t walked a mile or two in a woman’s shoes, it’s unlikely you’d get the subtext.

                                Speaking of: You know what really opened my eyes to this sort of thing? Finding out a friend of mine in college was in an lengthy abusive relationship, stalked and threatened for years after that, and still carries the scars to this day. And it wasn’t even that — I’ve lost count of the women I know that have, at the very least, gotten stalked or threatened. It was the fact that we were friends WHILE it was happening. I knew her. I knew the guy. And I never saw a dang thing.

                                Looking back, 10 years later (I knew her in college) I could see all sorts of signs. I was friends with this guy, you know? The crap he did — stuff I’ve had verified independently — I’d have vouched for this guy.

                                And it makes me wonder — what else didn’t I see? What am I not seeing now?

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                                • You bring up an interesting point. Allow me to take that on a tangent.

                                  I’m single. I’m curious about human behavior and the stupid things we do. I’ve met a lot of single women and often times I have (jokingly) invited them to come to my house before meeting them in public first. You’d be amazed at the number who have agreed. Frankly I was stunned. I had one, who when I mentioned that I wasn’t available that day, because I had to clean the house, and do other work, OFFERED TO COME OVER AND HELP ME CLEAN.

                                  I mean WTF! These are 35+ year old women.

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                    • And that is that I reject the wholly idea of collective responsibility, because it has no moral weight and no real claims of efficacy.

                      You may have moral clarity on this,

                      But a lot of people do not have moral clarity on this. A lot of women get raped. It is collective responsibility. If rape was rare, if sexual assault was rare, maybe this wouldn’t be the case. But I do not know a single woman alive who hasn’t been, in some way, sexually harassed and objectified. Not one. Every single one has had some inappropriate remark, an grope, or much, much worse.

                      Saying it’s her responsibility to prevent that is not an answer. Saying it’s not a problem is unacceptable to the women who have to deal with this shit just trying to walk down the street, care for their families, or do their job. If you had to deal with the constant threat of being attacked or mugged, every day you go out in public, you would think it a very big deal, I think. A problem that might require collective responsibility to minimize so that you had some basic expectation of safety.

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                      • Saying it’s her responsibility to prevent that is not an answer. Saying it’s not a problem is unacceptable to the women who have to deal with this shit just trying to walk down the street, care for their families, or do their job.

                        I’ve said neither of those things.

                        Like I said above, there is a lot of space between the two positions that you are staking out.

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                        • And I asked you to fill in that space.

                          I’m still waiting for something beyond, “not collective responsibility” and “not threatening.”

                          Because it is threatening. And it is collectively perpetrated by one gender on the other, for the most part.

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                          • ” And it is collectively perpetrated by one gender on the other, for the most part.” Actually, no. Men, by far, do the most raping, but women are not the sex that receives most of it. Male on male is.

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                        • I know you didn’t say those things. But if it’s not men’s collective responsibility to restrain themselves from sexually harassing and assaulting, who’s responsibility is it?

                          The individual? And how many individuals does it take in a given population to go from individual to collective? Give me a percentage.

                          In a recent survey of men in Asia, a full 1/3 admitted to committing rape. Is 1/3 enough of a threshold to go from individual to collective issue?

                          I suspect we’re butting against a very feminist perspective of collective problem solving vs. masculine perspective of individuality. As women share more in all aspects of culture, that difference will probably discomfort; it is a shifting social norm, I think. But women learn that they survive best in supportive social groups, and isolation is detrimental. They need support when they’re giving birth, a village to raise their children in, and they tend to deal with individual issues through collective negotiation.

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                          • But if it’s not men’s black people’s collective responsibility to restrain themselves from sexually harassing and assaulting committing violent crimes, who’s responsibility is it?

                            Do you see the fallacy, now that I’ve reapplied your logic to the issue of the high rates of violent crime committed by black people, or more specifically, black men?

                            The individual? And how many individuals does it take in a given population to go from individual to collective? Give me a percentage.

                            Never, at any percentage. Why should any man who does not rape share any collective responsibility for the actions of those who do? Why do I have some responsibility in this area that you don’t? Because I’m the same sex as the modal rapist?

                            It would be racist—actually racist, in the literal sense of a blanket attribution of a particular quality to all members of a race—to say that black people who do not commit crimes nevertheless bear some special collective responsibility on account of being members of the same race as the modal murderer. And it’s sexist to do the same with men and rape. I mean, it would be if sexism weren’t something that men do to women.

                            But I do not know a single woman alive who hasn’t been, in some way, sexually harassed and objectified. Not one. Every single one has had some inappropriate remark, an grope, or much, much worse.

                            Do men not get this, too? I certainly have, on several occasions. Mostly by gay men, but occasionally by women as well.

                            He feels profiled, insulted, offended, and most of all angry that women feel threatened by him.

                            You might try the same exercise, because I frequently see this exact same thing being cited as evidence of white racism.

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                            • I’ve noticed the same contradictions at work. In fact, when I read claims about toxic masculinity rape culture, they are pretty closely aligned in form with the sort of claims about black crime and the culture of poverty that I see from certain segments of the right.

                              Neither side is likely to cop to these contradictions, though.

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                            • Brandon Berg:
                              But I do not know a single woman alive who hasn’t been, in some way, sexually harassed and objectified. Not one. Every single one has had some inappropriate remark, an grope, or much, much worse.

                              Do men not get this, too? I certainly have, on several occasions. Mostly by gay men, but occasionally by women as well.

                              They were four teenage girls, out on the front lawn of a house I was walking by. I still have no idea how they thought I was going to react. Speeding up seemed like the best option.

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                            • This is somewhat nonsensical, since I don’t think most black men are responsible for their lack of economic opportunity; but I do think they’re responsible for the violence they commit.

                              Try bankers or oil men and rent seeking instead.

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                  • I think that your frame of reference lacks female perspective. The FP image is a tweet, “it’s a compliment.”

                    That’s total rape culture — value woman for their fuck quotient. That’s their primary value.

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                    • Yes, the ‘it’s a compliment’ one is pretty classy. It ALSO gives lie to the ‘it wasn’t a rape threat’.

                      “F*ck you and the horse you road in on” is not a compliment. Most variations of the phrase ‘F*ck X” are not compliments, but insults. The only one that could be considered a compliment? “I’d like to f*ck you”.

                      So saying this was a compliment is an admission it was meant literally — let me shove my dick in, lady. Don’t you feel complimented that I think you’re worthy of getting my dick?

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                      • Yes, the ‘it’s a compliment’ one is pretty classy. It ALSO gives lie to the ‘it wasn’t a rape threat’.

                        Here is the other possibility: it is neither a compliment nor a rape threat.

                        Is that a good enough example of staking out the space between the two extremes?

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                        • Obviously, the truth must be in the middle. A method that has never failed in all of history.

                          Changing tack — could you see perceiving it as a rape threat? Or is it automatically just crazy for a woman, faced with a crowd of men chanting “F*ck you right in the pussy” to feel threatened?

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                          • I will repeat what I said in the second comment that I made on this thread:

                            Whether something is harassment or a threat or crosses the line into an actual assault is not a question that can be answered in the abstract. It depends on the context…

                            I’ve got a question as well: do you think that this woman was actually threatened, as in fear for her safety threatened? Or do you think that she was tired of having random people interrupting her work by yelling inappropriately sexual and disrespectful things?

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                  • What she’s saying is that it’s not Bros Bein’ Bros, but that if there weren’t cameras rolling and a crowd of people standing around those men would have raped the reporter.

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                    • Actually, no, I doubt they would have raped the reporter. The threat was sufficient. Shouting down a woman was sufficient. The power, to be blunt, was sufficient.

                      Because, you know, it was ‘hilarious’. They took control, shouted her down, and shook her. The sheer hilarity, right?

                      Talking about rape culture — it’s not solely the rape. It’s the power, the potential. The people tweeting or emailing rape threats to whatever female de jure popped up on the radar of the internet’s cesspool?

                      I’d be shocked if even 1% of those who sent a serious threat would even consider doing the deed. But then, their purpose wasn’t to rape her. Their purpose was to make her afraid and conform to their will. To punish her for whatever she did by terrifying her.

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              • j r: I never said anything about defending boys being boys. In fact, I think that this reporter did the absolute right thing in confronting these men.

                If it’s not clear, I’m not defending these guys either, and the reporter absolutely did the right thing in confronting them. Whether they were actually threatening her or not, (I suspect not) what they were doing was rude and sexist and childish and demeaning, and possibly even frightening. There appears to be no excuse for what they were doing.

                I just don’t think we have to say it was a “threat”, for all that to still be true.

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                  • I really don’t know. That’s why I am asking. Personally, I’d like for everyone to stop being so rude to one another as a matter of daily discourse. Then it might be easier to tell when someone is seriously over the line.

                    But wish in one hand, spit in the other…

                    This is yet another tangent for which I apologize; but periodically discussions here center on one or another internet cesspool full of all kinds of vile talk – racial, sexual, violence, whatever.

                    And one thing I remember, growing up with kids who were skaters and into punk rock, is that there is a period in young men’s lives (I suspect for young women too, though I wasn’t always privy to the convos) in which there is a constant game of one-upsmanship to say the absolute worst thing you can think of.

                    Oh, the awful things we were all supposedly going to do to one anothers’ mothers – you have NO idea.

                    But here’s the thing – 99.9% of all that shock talk, was just that – talk. A game, to amuse ourselves, with no meaning other than to top the last guy in inventive filth. “Your Momma”, to the nth obscene degree. “The Aristocrats!”

                    I’m not much of a sports guy as you know, but I can’t help but think that in the largely-male clubhouses of sports fandom, some of that tradition persists. Especially when alcohol is involved.

                    And it may persist in certain /chans, particularly if their participants are in the right age range.

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          • It’s probably not an explicit rape threat, but in context it is pretty darn close, certainly past the level of the normal low-grade sexual harassment that women endure. It openly wears its aggression and hostility and disrespect. As a woman I find the comment quite “rapey.”

            But yeah, it’s not explicit. If that’s the hill you want to fight on, well, I see you standing with the other terrible men on the “not technically rape” hill. We see through you.

            Anyway, it is this: sexualizing people is invasive, and in ways that many other things are not invasive. This has everything to do with the psycho-social nature of sexuality. It’s just a heavier thing.

            In any event, I cannot control your private thoughts. If you sexualize me in your thoughts, well, I’m not necessarily okay with that, although I cannot control you. Your thoughts are you own.

            As are mine. I find men who sexualize me that way pretty fucking creepy a lot of the time.

            Which, whatever.

            And yes, I think we can kinda sense that men do this, just as they can kinda sense that I find them creepy. Human communication can be very subtle.

            But here we have men who openly and aggressively sexualize a woman, and are completely unashamed and unapologetic. And yes, they managed to keep it within the “not explicitly rape” territory, but so what?

            I doubt most rape threats are actually statements of intent, although sometimes they are. But that is not the point. More often they serve to degrade, to control, to dominate. They communicate power and contempt.

            Which is precisely what these men were doing, and which is why people are seeing this as basically a rape threat.

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            • But yeah, it’s not explicit. If that’s the hill you want to fight on, well, I see you standing with the other terrible men on the “not technically rape” hill. We see through you.

              You can’t see through me, cause you can’t even see me. You have this habit of taking comments that people make and backwards rationalizing all sorts of things about that person. You are well within your prerogative to do that, but that’s just not the way the world works.

              Lots of people say the right things publicly and turn out to be world class shitbags in real life. And lots of people hold opinions that you may find offensive, but live lives that are nothing but respectful of women.

              This isn’t about what team you’re on, at least it isn’t for me.

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              • I find it frustrating when your self-declared respect for women doesn’t extend to listening with respect – not just respect for process such that you don’t shout or interrupt, but respect for superior insight – when every woman on this thread says that that was a rape threat.

                Our willingness to listen with humility is part of, not separate from, the lives we live, and the respect we pay.

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                • Sorry , but that sort of shaming tactic only works on people who buy into this frame in the first place.

                  If you have an actual point to make, though, I am all ears.

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                  • Let me reframe then – why do you think every woman on this thread thinks that was a rape threat, while everyone who thinks it wasn’t is a man? Yes, it could be coincidence, small N, non-random sample, yadda yadda. Do you really want to defend that that’s the case?

                    I propose a different hypothesis. Women have the experience of being the target of sexual harassment and threat. Men may or may not have the experience of being the harassers / threateners, but very few have the experience of targets, and if they do it’s been on a much more occasional basis. And, here’s the thing: there may have been situations in which I did not have the experience of being a threatener, but a woman felt a threat from something I said. So, did a threat occur? I say, yes, it did.

                    If I say to a log of firewood I’m splitting that I will behead it, there is no threat. If one of those Markov chain bafflegab generators spammers use to try to slip past antispam filters randomly emails someone “I know where you live and I will behead you,” and it’s for whatever reason not obvious to them that this was random text generated to get a sales pitch for fake oxycontin to their mailbox, a threat occurred.

                    Authorial intent, huh! what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

                    It doesn’t matter what a particular jerk meant when they said FHRITP, if the target of the statement felt threatened, a threat took place. Maybe there are circumstances where a reasonable person who gave a moment’s thought to something could still think what they say isn’t going to produce a perception of threat, but it still does. This was not one of those situations – any thinking person would realize the woman was likely to feel threatened, even if they didn’t intend a threat. So it was not only a threat, but a culpable threat.

                    Back to my “shaming tactic” then – when you say you lead a life that is nothing but respectful of women, are you really living that when you pooh-pooh the only two women to express an opinion, who are like 99.9% likely to know more of rape threats than you are?

                    Also, just made roughly the same point way better than I did.

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                    • dragonfrog: I did not have the experience of being a threatener, but a woman felt a threat from something I said. So, did a threat occur? I say, yes, it did.

                      dragonfrog: It doesn’t matter what a particular jerk meant when they said FHRITP, if the target of the statement felt threatened, a threat took place.

                      I assume you also accept every cop at his word when he says that he “felt threatened” by a suspect, which is why he used deadly force? Big Zimmerman supporter, I imagine?

                      Believing someone or something is a threat, does not automatically make that person or thing a threat. We normally judge whether something is a threat based on a risk matrix of things – intent (or, negligence); relative capabilities; opportunity; likelihood; historical precedent; etc.

                      The simple fact that you arrive at one calculus and another person at another, tells us nothing about which of you is correct.

                      We get better when we talk of “reasonable person” standards, but AFAICT (and and et al) and are all reasonable people.

                      I’m inclined to give somewhat more weight to the women’s threat assessments due to their lived experiences, but I also have serious doubts about the true danger of a US TV reporter, with crew in tow, being seriously threatened with rape outside a popular sporting event whilst on camera.

                      That fact alone makes me think, “yeah, probably not a ‘threat’ then. Just extremely sexist, rude, boorish assholishness.”

                      ETA: Sorry, Canadian TV reporter, not US. Sure, we all know Canada is a frozen lawless hellscape, but I still don’t think it’s gone full Thunderdome yet. ;-)

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                    • For the record, I don’t think it was a rape threat, at least not exactly. In fact, even if they had explicitly referenced rape, for example, if they had said, “I’m gonna rape your ass you fucking dead bitch,” even then I would not assume it reflected a genuine intent to rape, insofar as it was in public.

                      This was something else, which is really close to a rape threat — again inasmuch as the function of language is seldom the literal meaning of the words —

                      — which is something everyone deliberately misunderstands when they try to debate this shit, as if anyone sits down and reads Quine’s Word and Object before they decide to harass someone.

                      Seriously!

                      This was the same as an explicit rape threat, cuz in this context the purpose of this kind of speech is to frighten and degrade women. It is not a statement of a true intent to rape.

                      Everyone kind of knows that when a movie gangster says to a shopkeeper, “Hey, how much does that window cost?” or “It would be a shame if this place burned down,” that these are threats.

                      On the other hand, we also kinda know how intimidation works. A person can issue kinda-bogus but uncertain threats, even if they don’t mean to carry them out, even if that’s maybe a bit obvious —

                      — but how does she know? And there is still the visceral effect of large, aggressive men making sexually crass statements. They know they can get away with it cuz they know that this makes women afraid and degraded and that’s the fucking point!

                      Bullies can bully without throwing a punch. It’s just the knowledge that they could throw a punch, and they won’t, but they could, and don’t ever forget it you little punk!

                      That communicates something bigger than the punch. It’s the power over life and death.

                      So I hope you can see how debating whether this was technically a really-for-real rape threat is a complete distraction.

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                      • I think I’m exactly with you there, – I don’t believe the reporter actually feared she was going to suffer rape from those particular men, especially not at the present time and place – given that she went and challenged them on their statements, especially.

                        But the point of the comment (in social function even if not in the intent of the commenter) was to convey threat. And she got that perfectly well, which is what makes it a threat.

                        Not an expression of an immediate intent to commit rape against the specific victim, but a reminder to the victim to continue living in fear of rape – exactly as you say, “and don’t you ever forget it you little punk!”

                        (Edit – and – I obviously didn’t express myself very well if you think my line of reasoning would work as a Zimmerman / police murder apologia)

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                        • Dragonfrog,

                          As I said upthreat, the point of most rape threats isn’t to inform the woman that they’re going to be raped. It’s to make the woman afraid. To convey power. To say “I COULD do this and you couldn’t stop me”.

                          Often it’s used to force compliance or to punish transgressions. “You said/did/are something I disapprove of, so I shall threaten you until you recant or until you have suffered for your sins!”.

                          Rape having that extra element of sexual power and humiliation that tends to trump death threats. There’s a reason male celebrities don’t get a lot of rape threats. It’s not going to create an instinctive fear like it would with a woman.

                          Because every woman I’ve ever known — ever — has known exactly how vulnerable she is on that front.

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  2. “But maybe this is just the new reality. Maybe justice is moving from the courts to your office. Maybe this is just society creating a more dynamic, representative form of justice. ”

    I hope not. Last thing we need is a bunch of SJW “winning” this way. And it’s not “justice”. It’s a public hit campaign. First they’ll come for tools like this, and sooner or later it’ll be folks who don’t think like they do. You really want that?

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      • I am a social justice warrior.

        Particularly when it comes to creeps who think that women are there for their pleasure, and not really people. Creeps like that can suffer blueballs from here to eternity as far as I’m concerned.

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      • Yeah, that’s pretty much my reaction. It’s gone into the file along with ‘feminazi’ and ‘dirty hippy’ as ‘Oh god, here we go again’ buzzword.

        I’ve found there’s a whole raft of things that are almost invariably true whenever someone trots out the ole’ “SJW’ attack and they’re all signifiers of someone who probably shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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        • Well I am (generally) Libertarian and few take me seriously on this site because of that, so I really shouldn’t expect anything different should I?

          But allow me to elaborate. SJW was used to identify folks, like that “dongle” woman. Names escape me atm, who ended up getting a guy fired. It’s the attitude that actually confronting someone and calling them on the BS is not as preferable to going to social media and working it up into a frenzy for REVENGE to a slight. Do we really want “justice” to be, essentially, salem witch hunts? Cause if they do become that, it wont’ stop until everyone’s been hung.

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  3. Naturally, this brings up more concerns regarding freedom of expression, but at least this would adjudicated in the criminal justice system, offering offenders a chance at defending themselves before being punished.

    And since $100k a year frat bros can afford good lawyers, and black teenagers shouting ‘eff the police’ at a demonstration cannot, nothing at all could go wrong with the police becoming the language police.

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  4. Simoes isn’t an executive for Hydro One (the provincial electricity concern). He isn’t a spokesperson or a PR flak. He isn’t the face of Hydro One. Nor is he an HR rep. He’s not the person that other employees have to feel comfortable approaching with issues of workplace harassment. There is no tie between his comments and his job duties.

    The “For cause” deal doesn’t apply here; but I am not an exec or PR/HR person, and if I got my gob on the news being a complete drunken dumbass, my employer can and would fire me (Simoe wasn’t just endorsing harassers of women, he managed to do it while dropping an f-bomb. To a TV reporter. Holding a microphone. With camera rolling.)

    Forget “for cause” for a minute – do you think that it should theoretically be OK for the company to say, “we don’t want to employ such a dumbass” (or, more likely, “we don’t need this PR headache associated with us”)?

    If so, your discomfort may not be with the firing itself – it may really be with the “for cause” laws. Which as a libertarianish guy wouldn’t be surprising.

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    • It might say “Code of Conduct” but the reason is “You were a total flaming idiot and a**hole on camera, and continuing to employ you makes US look like idiots and a**hole”.

      Causing bad press for the company has always been a firing offense. A private facebook page is one thing, but doing it to a freakin’ reporter with cameras rolling? That was a dumb move in the 60s.

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    • Having never worked in anything but “at will” jurisdictions, I’m having some friction with the trepidation about firing the guy. All sorts of not-at-work conduct has the potential to bleed over into interfering with the job. This isn’t even a close call in my book.

      No woman who works for that employer ought to feel comfortable around this guy until and unless he makes a pretty dramatic show of reforming himself. Can’t have that.

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      • It’s really optimistic to think that someone can be a jerk outside the office but would never dare cause any issues while at the workplace.

        If something were to happen later between this person and a female coworker, could the company reasonably claim they had no way of guessing that his behavior was an issue? I think the obvious answer is “no”. He removed any plausible deniability from them.

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        • — I don’t know. The thing is, one of my coworkers is a semi-notorious, “neoreactionary-adjacent blogger” who openly thinks slavery was natural and good. So should she be fired?

          Well, she has not been, and I basically agree. Her views are hella toxic, but they are views she is free to discuss. These are her politics, however loathsome they are.

          Plus, with her you know what you are going to get. You don’t have to follow her Twitter account. You don’t have to read the email threads she starts. The point is, I’ve never seen her bully anyone.

          Which all seems rather different from direct fact-to-face bullying, the sort of person who thinks they are free to behave however they want without consequence, even if that behavior is directly and manifestly abusive. That’s different, and indeed I think a company is within its rights to notice and act.

          There is an obvious grey area between speech and abuse, between discourse and bullying, but this guy was unambiguously over that line. Sooner or later there will be a more ambiguous case, and then we can argue about that.

          For example, I think the “donglegate” guy should not have been fired. ViolentAcrz, on the other hand — fuck yeah. End that fucker.

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          • On the other other hand, from Jonathan’s description this guy seems to have been part of a group who was harassing the reporter. I don’t know how many people were in the group, and it obviously doesn’t make it OK, but I imagine it is easier to be one of several guys yelling something vulgar than to be one guy yelling something vulgar.

            Regarding your coworker, I don’t know. I think a good bit has to deal with whether the company can reasonably expect for someone in the future to look back and say “you should have known and done something about it”. I probably wouldn’t want a pro-slavery blogger in charge of the migrant labor for my farm, but there are plenty of other situations where those kinds of views aren’t likely to cause a problem.

            But in the acronym-guy’s case, he’s almost certainly expected to work with women in a variety of situations. It’s very foreseeable that his views could cause a problem. It sucks for him if he never would have caused an issue, but I would still understand the decision to terminate.

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  5. While we are probably well on the road to “I didn’t want *THAT* to happen!” being said by a lot of people, we’re still comfortably in “LOL JERKFACE!” territory.

    But what this also does is provide useful counterexamples for the inevitable “you’re only jumping on this person because they are a member of a minority who gets crapped on all the time!”

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  6. I don’t know what the law says.

    I wouldn’t want to work with that guy, and have no doubt if one of my coworkers did this, it would be all over the Intertoobz fast — ’specially considering where I work — and yeah, then I’d have to see his smug little face all over, knowing what he thinks of women. Should I be comfortable with him on my team?

    blah!

    So people who want go go meta with this — well, you can. I cannot stop you. I can then go *more meta*, and we can keep spiraling up in metaspace. But whatever. There is the object level, the thing itself, terrible sexist men who believe they are untouchable. It’s nice to see them taking a fall now and again.

    And this is rather different from the gay person who gets fired, exactly as much as there is nothing wrong with being gay and there is much wrong with being a sexist piece of shit. People want to abstract that out of the problem, but as a woman and a queer that is the entire problem itself. Bigots, jerks, and jackasses abound.

    My employer is trying very hard to create a diverse environment, and the fact is it is very hard. Which is to say, we are very progressive, more than most companies, and also very good at creating positive social environments, one of the best. However, even we have problems. Even we lose female engineers at an alarming pace, where sexism and related issues are among the chief complaints. (Sexism probably is the chief compliant, insofar as it is across the industry. However, I don’t know my employer’s internal numbers on this.)

    So in fact we’re fighting terrible cultural inertia, and thus guys like the guy in the video are perhaps best let go. I mean, how good of a network do0d was he really? Did he think he was irreplaceable cuz he could install routers (or whatever an assistant network management engineer does)?

    The company should totally hire a woman for that job.

    If they can find one who is qualified. And if she’ll take the job. And if she doesn’t find the culture completely toxic to women. Lotsa ifs.

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  7. I think everyone here is getting into weeds that need not be gotten into.

    First off, it doesn’t matter whether or not Toronto is an at will employer. A Code of Conduct policy is more than a PR instrument. When a company employs one, everyone working for that organization signs a contract agreeing to be terminated if the company determines that they have violated said policy. (It may be an inclusive document that agrees to an entire EE Handbook, or specific to the COC.) COC’s always extend out past the workplace barriers; it doesn’t really matter that you were caught doing something on your own time.

    Secondly, this isn’t a case of an employee doing something in their own home. It’s a case of someone volunteering to go on television and promote sexual harassment. At whatever point HYDRO became aware of the infraction, their action was pretty well determined. Indeed, if they have terminated or disciplined others for violating the COC, letting this guys slide would have opened them up to no small number of potential lawsuits.

    Thirdly, if it is determined that the employee committed sexily harassment — and he certainly did, according to any definition I am aware of — the company had a responsibility to address it, whether or not he did it on company time. And since he did it on television, there wasn’t really much need for an investigation. If HYDRO has a zero tolerance policy with SH — and at that size they very likely do — then again, the employees fate was pretty much sealed the moment someone at the company became aware of it.

    Finally, conversations about justice and police are largely beside the point. HYDRO was not acting as a SJW, and the police were not looking to HYDRO to dispense punishment. This was nothing more than a corporation protecting their public reputation — something they have both the right and responsibility to do for their stockholders and employees alike. All the talk beyond that is us bringing our pet issues into the mix.

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    • Hey, the weeds is where I live!

      Tod Kelly: the employee committed sexily harassment — and he certainly did, according to any definition I am aware of

      I’m slightly unsure on this point; after all, Simoe supposedly didn’t use the phrase; he simply volunteered that he thought the phrase or situation “f*cking hilarious”.

      He’s a tool, no doubt, and by a man’s friends shall he be judged, but I’m not sure if he personally committed “sexily harassment” (I read that typo in Zapp Brannigan’s voice). He more just approved of it. Stupidly. On camera. Using profanity.

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      • It may be a little unclear from the post, but, if you click through and watch the discussion, Simoes went on for quite a bit: He didn’t just offer his opinion briefly and impulsively (“It’s fucking hilarious”), but is the one who discussed how his mother would react, and appears to be quite knowledgeable about the history of FHRITP.

        In other words, he appoints himself as a public spokesperson (possibly a spokesdrunk) on behalf of FHRITP in general. He is now in a good position to run for President of FHRITP International. If he’s right about how hilarious it is – if there are enough people who agree with him about it or close enough – a new career awaits him.

        FHRITP is obviously not initially intended as a “threat” to the individual reporter – though that is not to say it doesn’t become one. I think it is meant to be an attack on the media or media hypocrisy or the pretensions of people who think they’re better than anyone else – a la Howard Stern/Stuttering John. (Asking Gennifer Flowers whether Bill Clinton wore a condom has something of the same character – it’s crude and degrading, but, aside from the fact that it wasn’t drunkenly yelled at her, may have been excused in part because GF was taken to be in the act of degrading herself.) Simoes thinks it’s “fucking hilarious,” because Simoes thinks we’re all creeps just like he is. but at least he and the FHRITP crew are “honest” about it.

        I’ve never been fan of such satire – of a supposedly phony and hypocritical sexual propriety – and I am not defending it, but, as strange as it may seem to others, its practitioners believe they are doing something noble. They badly underestimate the difficulty of achieving and maintaining nobility indirectly, and end up exhibiting and, more often than not, simply embracing and exemplifying a degrading view not just of women but of human beings in general.

        They set out to expose something ignoble and instead expose their own baseness, so tend to receive as little sympathy as they showed in the first place.They think they’re engaging in savage satire, but end up simply as savages – a common pattern that goes well beyond this peculiar sexualized version of it.

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        • CK MacLeod: Simoes went on for quite a bit: He didn’t just offer his opinion briefly and impulsively (“It’s fucking hilarious”), but is the one who discussed how his mother would react, and appears to be quite knowledgeable about the history of FHRITP.

          That may all be true, but there’s still a distinction between discussing a phrase’s history/ meaning and the hypothetical response of others, and deploying the phrase itself; after all, we are all here doing the former, but hopefully not standing out on streetcorners doing the latter.

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          • Right, but none of us is speaking into a microphone and camera declaring his or her support for FHRITP and the Effin Hilarious Party. On the same basis the morals clause could conceivably kick in even for criticism if one’s critique of the pornographic/exploitative act was itself reasonably judged porno-exploitative – which is also part of the Howard Stern (and, eventually, the Stewart/Colbert) playbook. This bleeding of one category into another is what produces, from the other side, the element of common sense in the otherwise (it seems to me) grossly excessive “trigger warning”/”safe space” approach to speech policing.

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    • , it’d be a pretty boring thread if it was just you and me telling each other how right we both are about the correctness of the company’s decision to terminate this, um, fellow.

      I’m quite interested in the discussion about what should have happened out on the street. Should the reporter have felt threatened? Should police or bystanders have interpreted these remarks as an actual threat of violence, or as uncouth but harmless bro-chants, in that context? If that interpretation is unclear, should they have erred on the side of letting people do what they want until it’s obviously harmful, or should they have erred on the side of squelching the potential for violence? The answers to those questions are not at all obvious to me and I might be persuaded either way by the arguments people bring out.

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      • I think the reporter knew exactly what it was. It was a group of men, shouting her down and trying to humiliate her. Why? Because they could. Why that particular phrase? It’s effective on women for reasons that are very obvious and, bluntly, revolve around rape.

        For every 100 guys that issue a rape threat (whether in person or on the internet), I’d be shocked if even 10% of them would do the deed even if given the perfect chance. Far less for strangers — some random woman on the internet that has earned your weekly ire.

        Why? Because the point was never about sex, forceful or otherwise. It was about the threat. Causing the fear.

        And why the threat? To either demonstrate power (“You’re not in control here”) or to force compliance (“Stop doing that thing you’re doing, because I will keep you in fear until you do”) or to punish (“I will keep you terrified until I think you feel sorry for that thing you did”).

        There’s a large step between causing fear and actually acting, but I think rape threats have a uniqueness — they tap into a very specific fear, and into a very real power disparity and a lot of history of gender relations.

        What did these guys want? Control over the conversation. Control over her. To exert their collective will. And the end result was, of course, hilarious. And also, it was a compliment. Why can’t women take a compliment when a dozen men drown out her words with it?

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    • “the police were not looking to HYDRO to dispense punishment. ”

      The police took it upon themselves to insert themselves into the social media conversation of what happened, and strongly implied that they themselves may act to (begin the process) of dispensing punishment.

      So conversations about the police and justice are very important.

      A guy losing his $100k job is like a Finland speeding fine, a penalty that scales up with socioeconomic status.

      But the police get involved, the penalty is going to get progressively harsher as one moves down the socioeconomic ladder.

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      • A guy losing his $100k job is like a Finland speeding fine, a penalty that scales up with socioeconomic status.

        Is this true?

        It’s easy enough to imagine that a guy who got the six-figure job in the first place might have an easier time finding another similarly paying job than a guy who was making $40k.

        The second part I agree with.

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        • There is still a sense of gentility when it comes to professional jobs. Certainly, anyone can now do a cursory google search and easily decide if its worth hiring a person with baggage. You have to be truly elite in your field to get past a scandal doing what you were doing before without taking a significant pay cut. (like, a professional major league athlete).

          (also keep in mind that we are are taking a Canadian 100K, which is only (now) an 83K US)

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    • First off, it doesn’t matter whether or not Toronto is an at will employer.

      I respectfully disagree. The OP seems to be an OP about the issue of “at will” vs. “for cause” employment regimes. Jonathan seems to be trying to parse the in’s and out’s of the two types of employment law systems and how they work and ought to work. (Perhaps I read his OP that way because I’m contemplating a post on “at will” employment policies and proposals for instituting “for cause” policies.)

      I think Jonathan missteps a bit because the harassment issue could count as a “for cause” firing. I say that for the reasons you state in your comment and others, like Burt and Veronica, have stated in theirs. But Jonathan doesn’t deny that what’s uttered is a rape threat, and for that reason I think it’s unfair to accuse him of saying he’s “okay” with it. He also stresses that he’s not going to agitate for this guy to get his job back.

      He also seems to misstep because he doesn’t make it quite clear where his objection lies. Is it in “for cause” regulations in general, or conversely in “at will” policies? Is it in the idea of “codes of conduct” being too broad a way to avoid “for cause” regulations? Is it in the idea that Ontario Hydro didn’t follow certain due process to formally find that the man violated the code of conduct? For the latter question, maybe Ontario “for cause” policy requires something like a “formal notice” followed by an investigation or finding of fact. Or maybe not. But I’d like to hear more.

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    • Finally, conversations about justice and police are largely beside the point. HYDRO was not acting as a SJW, and the police were not looking to HYDRO to dispense punishment. This was nothing more than a corporation protecting their public reputation — something they have both the right and responsibility to do for their stockholders and employees alike. All the talk beyond that is us bringing our pet issues into the mix.

      As far as Hydro goes, all this +1

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  8. People want to abstract that out of the problem, but as a woman and a queer that is the entire problem itself.

    I want to respectfully push back against this. Neutrality with respect to conceptions of the good is the basic underpinning idea behind a liberal society. Leave aside liberal neutrality and let’s just look at it as a matter of basic morality. Part of what it means to obey the moral law is that we don’t make exceptions for ourselves, not if morality is to be an interpersonal standard.
    You wouldn’t want everyone to act on the principle that they should fire those people that they believe to be deviants. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. The fact that you are making an exception for yourself should tell you that there is something wrong with this idea that you are endorsing.

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    • — You assume the law will find the right level of abstraction, but why assume that, and do you not understand that the level of abstraction is itself a location of disagreement?

      Kant says, “Do not lie, even to the murderer.” I say, “What is so special about lying compared to helping others kill?” Should I take ‘help killers’ as a categorical imperative, or should I take ‘hinder killers’? Kant thinks that lying has a special status, and that we build the abstraction barriers there. I disagree. Helping or hindering murderers seems equally important to me.

      Which is what I mean when I said I can go “more meta.”

      So why is the right abstraction barrier “those who people see are deviants” rather than “people who are in fact doing wrong.”

      I mean, the obvious point is that folks disagree on who is deviant. But so what? The disagreement is there in either case, whether we have a society where no one ever faces social punishment for being terrible, or one where sometimes they do.

      Again, that’s a different place to draw the abstraction barrier. If you think you have found the one right place, you probably have not.

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      • I agree with you about level of abstraction, but the problem you pointed out is not related to that. Its related to the issue of subjective vs objective maxims. If morality is supposed to be an interpersonal standard, it can only be in order to coordinate actions in a sort of way. (e.g by people pointing to the standard that they mutually accept) Moral standards work by being able to not just be agreed upon verbally, but also by pointing to a required action in a way that both parties can accept. For instance, “Do the right thing” is uninformative as a principle of action as everyone knows that it is right to do the right thing but disagrees on what the right thing is in a given situation. Inflict social punishment on people who are in fact doing wrong is problematic for very similar reasons. The homophobe/misogynist and you disagree about what’s wrong and you cannot offer this as a reason to him for inflicting social punishment on him. He will say that his jeering and other statements are precisely aimed at punishing wrong-doers (only that he has different criteria than you as to who the wrong-doer is). However, something more specific like punish homophobes, while it does not cause confusion into what action it requires, is problematic because the homophobe cannot accept it as a moral rule. At least not without other supporting reasons that are capable of demonstrating to him that homophobia of the sort he displays is in fact wrong.

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  9. I don’t know how I feel about the firing; but: we also do not know about the former employee’s record. If his was fucking hilarious; it’s quite possible that he was a frequent teller of misogynistic jokes, maker of inappropriate comments, and generated some history.

    We are not party to that history; but it’s entirely possible this public action is not the sum total of what forced the employer’s hand.

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  10. The *only* concern I have with this episode is the number of attempts to relate it to freedom of expression, including by the blog’s author. Nobody limited Mr. Simeos’s freedom of expression in any way.

    Quite the opposite – his statement has been broadcast and rebroadcast hundreds if not thousands of times around the world on television, and that same statement can easily be found online on countless web sites. Mr. Simeos’s freedom of expression has also been defended by everyone who quotes him.

    Indeed, Mr. Simeos is free to repeat exactly the same statements that led to his firing as often and as publicly as he wants. Of course, he may choose not to do that now that he knows (one hopes) that freedom of expression can have consequences.

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    • There is formal freedom of expression, and at that level, you’re unquestionably correct, . No criminal charges were filed for this guy’s endorsement of the FHRITP chant, nor should there be. There’s also practical freedom of expression, which deals with whether the obvious practical consequences of a particular remark are so awful that an expression is chilled. It’s not quite so clear to me that when you can be fired on the basis of speech alone, you’re got practical freedom of expression.

      Maybe that’s a good thing. In other contexts, governments distinguish between formal freedoms and practical freedoms and legislate to reconcile practical freedoms with the promise of formal freedoms. Consider, for instance, these sections of the California Labor Code:

      1101. No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy:
      (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.
      (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

      1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.

      I happen to think these are not good laws and if I were in the Legislature I would vote to repeal them. The flavor of your comment suggests that you would join me in that effort. But I can easily see the reason why these laws were enacted in the first place, and how the legislative expansion of the practical freedom of political activity was put in place because employers overreached beyond what was reasonable and tried to control their employees’ votes and retaliate against them for agitating in favor of the “wrong” mainstream candidates.

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      • Or, to put it in political philosophy terms, Liberals like myself tend to think that we have a better handle on the good than Libertarians because we understand that a government allowing one to do something is not the same as having the actual capacity to do it, and therefore other actors in the free market, individually or collectively, can limit liberty almost as much as government can. So if we take ‘s point and run with it, it implies that we shouldn’t mind if public support for a particular political party or a particular policy position becomes a fireable offense for most workers. After all, there’s no limit on free speech if the government isn’t preventing you from saying anything, right? I do think this becomes somewhat more complicated when we start talking about positions where the employee is bound up in the company’s public image, but it’s hardly a trivial concern.

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        • Yeah, that’s about right. Not saying I totally agree with the idea, because there is a material difference between governmental and non-governmental disapproval of speech (or some other activity). But I do think it’s a weighty enough idea that it needs to be addressed reasonably and with sobriety.

          I should be able to fire my employee for marching in a parade with a bunch of Nazis. That makes everyone associated with the parade look bad, and if I don’t fire a Nazi, I can expect to be asked if I endorse their speech. “No, I condemn their speech, but I simultaneously endorse their right to speak” is a fine bar exam answer but not one that works nicely in the real world.

          I should not be able to fire my employee for having a “Vote for Hillary” bumper sticker. Maybe I’m a die-hard Republican and I think Hillary Clinton will be an atrocious President. But I can’t reasonably expect that my employee’s advocacy for a candidate I strongly dislike is going to materially impact anything I care about.

          Which is why one termination looks fair and the other does not. If we’re looking at it from a strictly free speech perspective, then there’s no principled differentiation between advocacy for Nazis and advocacy for Hillary Clinton. Both constitute forms of political speech; it’s just that the one is a lot more palatable and mainstream than the other.

          The question is, is it possible to draw this line somehow?

          (Pre-emptory dismissive eye-roll at all attempts to crack “advocacy for Hillary [or some other actual candidate] is advocacy for a Nazi” jokes. Making such a joke amply demonstrates a lack of intent to seriously engage in the discussion of the issue I’m raising.)

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          • From a legal perspective, if an employer wants to make “Vote for Hillary” bumper sticker a firable offense, I’m at least unsure that shouldn’t be their prerogative, though (a) Unless the policy is extremely well documented and maybe even then it should be considered “termination without cause” as far as UEI is concerned, and (b) they should catch PR hell for doing so. Oh, and (c) I find myself more and more supportive of voter/petition/donor privacy in part for this reason.

            I feel less strongly about this than I did a few years ago, and it’s subject to change. But that’s my view at the moment.

            But what is the line as far as (b) is concerned? I’m not sure. It depends a lot on the circumstances and you almost have to take it piece-by-piece..

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  11. Sorry to see this discussion degenerate. This is an instance of immatute individuals trying to get attention by saying the latest vulgar meme on tv, no more no less.

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  12. On the question of whether this is a real threat or not, I have a story to tell.

    Last summer, some old friends went on a European vacation while putting their son (age 13) into a summer camp. With my permission, they gave my name as backup contact. While I was sitting in the waiting room while MrsJay was getting radiation therapy for her brain cancer (she’s in remission now, thanks!) I got a call from the camp. The boy was being sent home because of problem behavior.

    As it turns out, I’m also this boy’s sensei. I know him to be somewhat impulsive, and we’ve been working on that. I am furious about the interruption, though, but I control my temper when I take his older sister (age 21, but no driver’s license) to the bus dropoff to pick him up.

    The story emerges: After two other incidents (both of which, in the days of my youth, would not have been actionable, but that was then, this is now) he was in his bunkroom on Friday night with no counselor. One other boy was making irritating noises and preventing the others from going to sleep. My student said, “If you don’t stop that right now, I’m going to come down there and kick your ass.”

    The target stopped, and eventually told the camp leadership and this got the boy sent home. We had lengthy discussions with his parents about this, and about what he would need to do in order to be reinstated to class. At one point, his mother (whom I have known since about 1985) asked me, “Just was was so bad about what he said [in the third incident]? It was an empty threat, the sort of thing people say all the time.”

    I thought a moment, and remembered the sort of Gamergate thing that was going on, where women like Anita Sarkeesian were getting tons of death threats, so I asked her, “You know that thing where certain women online get lots of death threats in comments? Are those empty threats?”

    She replied, “Well, it’s hard to tell if you don’t know someone”

    And I said, “Do you want your son to be someone who makes those kinds of threats, even if they are empty?”

    A sort of shocked look of, well, satori, crossed her face. “Oh, I see.”

    I think that a lot of this stuff comes out of subcultures where threats of violence are understood to be empty, and someone isn’t taken seriously unless they are using violent language. But when that intersects with someone for who is not of that subculture (and I am not, for instance) there are problems.

    ********

    I think that the pleasure that Mr. Simoes (and others) derive from this situation is because of the disruptive and rapid shift from one context (in which he is meaningless and invisible) to another (in which he is the center of attention and in which his rules of conduct apply). It is an exercise in power, and this is a common motivation for rape itself. I think it is extraordinarily unlikely that Mr. Simoes had any intention to carry out his words, but they invoke, on a much smaller scale, the same feelings as a rape would – feelings of powerlessness, primarily.

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    • Glad to hear that about your wife.

      You bring up some really interesting observations about cross-cultural stuff. I don’t come from a culture where shit-talk and empty threats are a form of playful banter. I don’t even like doing that stuff with my guy friends too much but there are lots of people who do come grow up around constant smack talk.

      This raises the question of which culture should conform to the other and when. When should someone (who is probably at some level of bourgeois) just accept smack talk as being meant to be friendly and when should they not. Such decisions are hard.

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    • “Do you want your son to be someone who makes those kinds of threats, even if they are empty?”

      I’m not sure the lesson you’re imagining is the one that the kids actually learned. Maybe what they learned was “tattling works, stepping up doesn’t.” And then we end up with a crowd of people watching a man drown, vigorously agreeing with each other that someone in a position of responsible authority ought to do something to help him.

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      • Rest assured that I do not teach any of my kids, regardless of gender, that stepping up doesn’t work. The issue isn’t whether you should step up, it’s how you should step up. Doing good is not easy, it’s hard. It requires skill, focus, commitment and wisdom. And these are things that can be learned.

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  13. veronica d: More often they serve to degrade, to control, to dominate. They communicate power and contempt.

    This is, actually, the relevant point. Rape & sexual harassment are not about sex, but power. Comments like this, while not a true threat to physical harm, are a manner of signaling that power. Doing it on a live news feed just signals that to a wider audience.

    The culture people are concerned with has to do with the fact that (usually) not only will those men, who signal that power & contemp, not face significant consequences for that crude signal, amongst their peers they will be applauded. You can see this in how casually & confidently he engaged the reporter, with no shame or fear that this would come back to haunt him. I applaud the reporter for getting in his face, but she was throwing rocks at a tank.

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    • Oscar Gordon: You can see this in how casually & confidently he engaged the reporter, with no shame or fear that this would come back to haunt him. I applaud the reporter for getting in his face, but she was throwing rocks at a tank.

      Alcohol’s a hell of a drug. It can eliminate shame and fear, and make you signal power you do not have.

      But you can’t stay drunk forever, and I suspect this WILL haunt him; and he will have significant trouble obtaining another job that pays as well. His mom probably won’t find this hilarious. Me, I think this dumbass will probably get what’s coming to him.

      And if you are going to “throw rocks at a tank”, it’s always best to do it with a camera crew at your back. Are you implying she was in any real danger in this specific instance, or is “tank” a metaphor for the larger culture?

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      • I hope he does.

        By throwing rocks at a tank, I meant that he effort to stand him down fell flat against him, either because he was too drunk to recognize the battle, or he was quite confident that he would be adequately rewarded amongst his peers.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean she should not have done it, because the confrontation had a wider value, much as the sight of a child throwing rocks at a tank may motivate others to more decisive action.

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        • I’m glad she did it.

          One thing I think is interesting is that in such an environment, a bold woman shaming an out-of-line man and telling him to stand down is, IMO, fairly likely to achieve the desired effect, whether she has a camera crew at her back or not. There’s (I think) still enough ingrained “you don’t hit a woman” in our culture (both because it’s just plain not right, and because it might make you look bad/weak in front of your friends) that she could verbally get in his face *fairly* safely, in public at least.

          As men: had you or I been there instead, and tried to tell these drunk fools to cut it out, we might have gotten our asses handed to us right then and there. There’d be no social pressure for one of them not to take a swing, hopped up on hops and adrenaline as they undoubtedly were.

          Which is not to say that men shouldn’t do it either; but the risk of violent altercation IMO rises.

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          • Glyph: we might have gotten our asses handed to us right then and there.

            Perhaps, but probably not. I sometimes wonder what the correlation is between men who demonstrate humility and men who have taken a few solid punches & had their ass handed to them. I’m betting it’s pretty solid. The older a man gets, the less willing he is to suffer that humiliation, the more he’ll try to find a way to bow out and save face.

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            • Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d be looking for a peaceful resolution. But a man engaging 4-5 rowdy drunk guys in their (I’m guessing) twenties, and a woman doing so, I think carry different risks (again, in public; in private, things change).

              A divey bar I used to go to often had the female bartender throwing drunks out (she was a pretty tough chick, but still) instead of the male bartender, because drunk jerks were much more likely to comply with the female – they’d complain bitterly, but they’d go. To get physical with her, would be to lose face in a big way.

              With the male, they might try to prove something, plant their feet or throw a punch.

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  14. It’s nice to know that “being on camera” inherently makes you a public representative of any and all organizations you happen to be affiliated with.

    I’m sure that won’t chill free speech at all.

    I mean, certainly we won’t have employers scouring the Facebook pages of annoying social movements, looking to see if their employees appear in any of the photos or comments.

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    • There’s this awful tendency to conflate “chills speech” with “speech has consequences”. (And of course to conflate “freedom of speech” with things like “people have to listen” and “you can’t kick me out of this private forum, free speech!” and other idiocies).

      For instance, if I suddenly blab to all of my friends about how the white race is superior — I will shortly have no friends. Is my racist speech chilled?

      People listened, decided I was a racist a**hole, and decamped. That seems very chilling, encouraging me to keep my views on races to myself!

      This guy was a massive idiot on TV, said some truly dumb stuff, and his company decided they REALLY didn’t want to be associated with that.

      Reacting negatively to the content of your speech is not ‘chilling speech’.

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  15. But I’m also concerned about this punishment. Simoes isn’t an executive for Hydro One (the provincial electricity concern). He isn’t a spokesperson or a PR flak. He isn’t the face of Hydro One. Nor is he an HR rep. He’s not the person that other employees have to feel comfortable approaching with issues of workplace harassment. There is no tie between his comments and his job duties.

    Sorry Jonathan but I disagree. He has women colleagues and they would look at this guy and know he found it acceptable to shout very derogatory comments at women, that it was “hilarious” to do it, and that his mother would find if funny (who has no doubt disabused him of that notion by now; personally I hope she gets interviewed before this blows over). I think a lot of his male colleagues would agree with them. And Hydro One obviously feels that their employees deserve more respect and that their customers should see the company as one that is professional at all times.

    How hard is it not to act like a drunken frat pledge in public? Whether he was a public figure or representative or not, it was not a private act – the whole point was that the reporter was conducting on-air interviews.

    MLSE, the football club, has also banned him from their stadium for a year and is checking security camera footage for other hecklers so they can be banned too. ( http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/05/13/mlse-reviews-security-video-of-verbal-attack-on-reporter.html ) They’re trying to market themselves as a family-friendly sports activity; they’re aware that parents will have second thoughts of exposing kids to jerks like this.

    It’s not a free-speech issue; it’s not a feminism issue. It’s an issue about expecting civilized behaviour in shared public settings from someone who is old enough to know better. Good luck getting another job, asshole: “Yeah, we’re looking for engineers, send in your resume – hey! Aren’t you the guy who got canned from Hydro One? What were you thinking?!?!?”

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    • It seems worth mentioning that Hydro One has a single shareholder: the Government of Ontario. That makes it essentially a government entity, and thus potentially a free speech issue, at least if we were talking about US law (and we’re not). Emphasis on potentially. If all this guy was doing was defending or explaining his friend’s actions, then it could well be a free speech issue. Having seen the video, I’m not sure that was “all” he was doing, and he was probably a participant in the harassment himself.

      Another interesting issue is the extent to which these actions – which, if done in the workplace, would probably constitute actionable sexual harassment – would be viewed as speech because they are done outside the workplace and are not actionable (at least as against the individuals – there are circumstances where it could be actionable against MLSE).

      I actually don’t know the answer to that, and I’ve not thought about it enough to have an opinion on it.

      Mostly, though, I just wanted to point out that this is a public employer and that therefore free speech considerations can absolutely come into play here in a way that would not otherwise be the case.

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      • I’ll take that bet and raise you five. If Hydro One is a government employer, that means he was a civil servant and therefore the restrictions on his speech and actions will be more stringent than those on a private sector employee.

        Really, it’s in his best interests right now to grovel a bit and say he’s deeply sorry, etc. and won’t do it again, so as to get it all behind him.

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        • You’d be very wrong at that, at least under US law. I can’t speak to Canadian law, but in the US there is no shortage of case law making very clear that the government may not fire an employee for acts of speech outside the workplace, nor may it place restrictions on that employee’s speech outside the workplace. There are some exceptions to this for political appointees, but for the overwhelming majority of low and mid-level civil servants, firing for speech outside the workplace is prohibited. To say otherwise would be to say that rank and file government employees have no right to participate in public debate.

          Seriously, at least in the US, there’s a mountain of caselaw on this subject.

          There are heavy limits on how far this extends – it only goes so far as protecting employees from being fired for speech on “matters of public concern” (a limitation I had forgotten above; I cannot imagine this would be a “matter of public concern” so the protection probably wouldn’t apply here). It also doesn’t apply when the speech directly relates to the employee’s performance of their job or is made pursuant to their performance of their job.

          But it’s a protection that still exists and is significant, and does not exist at all for private sector employment.

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          • I’m open to persuasion that US caselaw applies in Canada but I doubt it. CEO Carmine Marcello, in the Ottawa Citizen interview I linked to, seems pretty clear that the guy violated their Code of Conduct. He’s pretty explicit about it.

            One thing does impress me: how fast Hydro One and MLSE moved on this. It indicates they saw that only a quick defenestration would do and acted accordingly. If this guy had a legal leg to stand on, there would have been more time taken over it.

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        • It’s a bit iffy. The point of a crown corporation (like Hydro One) is that it’s at arm’s length from government. Some crown corps are considered agents of the crown, such that the crown is liable for the corp’s actions, and others are not agents of the crown, so their actions are not considered those of the crown (except for actions the corp took on express instruction of the crown).

          As near as I can tell, Hydro One is not considered an agent of the crown, even though it has only one shareholder.

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  16. Mark Thompson:
    It seems worth mentioning that Hydro One has a single shareholder: the Government of Ontario.That makes it essentially a government entity, and thus potentially a free speech issue, at least if we were talking about US law (and we’re not).Emphasis on potentially.

    [snip]

    Mostly, though, I just wanted to point out that this is a public employer and that therefore free speech considerations can absolutely come into play here in a way that would not otherwise be the case.

    Common sense says that in this case, an employer responded to the public conduct of an employee. The detail that Hydro One is a public employer should not matter. That being said, until and unless the dismissal is challenged in court, there is no definitive answer.

    But with Hydro One as the employer, the case will never get to court. Hydro One will offer the former employee a massive confidential settlement, which he will cheerfully accept as he laughs all the way to the bank. You read it here first.

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    • I’m doubting whether it will be that “massive”. He’ll get a severance package that will be topped up slightly due to lack of notice. And as a publicly-owned agency, it will be possible to FOIA the info in due time. Accountability and all that.

      And I doubt if he’s laughing all the way to any bank. He’s been on the front page of the largest daily in the country for three days, everyone has seen the videos, and he has a distinctive last name – as I said above, good luck getting another job. He’s too young to be some kind of engineering super-expert whose loss would be detrimental to the company and he’ll be easily replaced. The smartest thing he’s done so far is keep his mouth shut so it’s possible it will be a learning experience for him and make it easier for him to move on. Because I can guarantee that he’s not going to fight this – that will make it worse for him in the short term.

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  17. For those who’d like to read the Hydro One CEO’s view:

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/national/Hydro+calls+conduct+reprehensible+employee+fired+over+FHRITP/11052783/story.html (Note: you’re only allowed 10 views a month at the Citizen, otherwise paywall)

    And for the Hydro One Code of Business Conduct (the document that Mr. Simeos violated):
    http://www.hydroone.com/Careers/Documents/Code_of_Business_Conduct.pdf

    Hope these aren’t too many links.

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  18. So when my employer monitors everything I do and scrutinizes my every action looking for the slightest hint of wrongthink…that’s okay, because I might be one of those evil sexist pigs and it’s really important that I not get away with that sort of behavior.

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  19. Did anyone else catch the whole thing on Twitter where a bunch of people piled on and started contacting the employer of that violinist who was in the train crash and wrote a tweet that wasn’t to the mob’s liking?

    I am starting to think contacting the employer has become the modern-day equivalent of “I’m telling your daddy!”

    She won’t lose her job, presumably, but if she is made to apologize I may have to go on a Twitter vacation. She has decided to take a permanent one.

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  20. The short answer to your question is “Yes, this is the new reality.” At my old job, the social media policy that was put in place could be summed up as “You can only relay good aspects of our business. If you disparage our products even on a private Facebook/Myspace page, we can and will fire you.” How you appear on social media is now part of the huge list of offenses that employers can fire you for. The employee could challenge the dismissal but, especially with the Hydro One CEO being upfront about sending a message, it probably either is part of his employment contract or the CEO has taken a look at all the people who have been canned for inappropriate conduct over any form of social media and likes his odds at winning any court case.

    Is it right? Meh. Using the responses above as well as the ending to the OP as an example, most people are good with it happening because it strikes us as just comeuppance. The only time anyone really protests this sort of thing is when it happens to them or when it offends their sensibilities of what is good and just with the world. That usually ends in the person making the futile argument of “Well, this time, it’s wrong” and wondering why everyone is either laughing at them or agreeing that what happened was just comeuppance. In short:

    “Nobody reads Niemoller”

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  21. Tabitha Southey in the Globe and Mail has a killer column today (note: the G&M only offers 10 free views a month):

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-vulgar-heckling-incident-let-me-spell-it-out-for-you/article24454966/

    Sample: “Yet, given ample chance to retract, give nuance to, or provide mitigating context for his position that what those men aimed to do was ‘fucking hilarious,’ he offers up what is possibly the worst defence of any joke that can be made. Namely, that lots of people have made it before (some of them in England!) and then Mr. Simoes went with: “You’re lucky there’s not a fucking vibrator in your ear … like in England!”

    This may be the most perverse kind of anglophilia ever. Possibly weirder than egg coddlers.

    It’s not, however, fair to put these men in the spotlight, we’ll be told – after all, they were only trying to get on television.”

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    • If you want to make the argument that we should expect more decorum from people in public and on TV, I’m on board with that.

      That is, however, a different argument from “white guys think rape is cool”.

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