Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Another Victim of Irresponsible Internet Behavior
We are living in a fascinating and confusing time. I’ve written about internet comments before. It’s one of my five favorite posts ever. I continue to be amazed at how many people end up in hot water because they just can’t control typing whatever is on their mind and posting it for the masses.
Americans believe in free speech. The founding fathers believed in it so much it was covered in the first amendment to the constitution. As much as some of the things people say that get on my nerves, I’m still glad we can say or write what we want and not face a firing squad. At the same time as free speech is protected Americans also believe in the right to be quiet. We believe in it so much that the Fifth Amendment says you even if you are arrested for a crime you doesn’t have to say anything. You could be a serial killer and don’t have to tell how many people you killed or where the bodies are. Both the right to remain silent and the freedom to say what you want are a true test of free society because sometimes they clash with situations going on in the world.
Social networking has taken the clash between these two things to an entirely new level. I don’t think in the history of the world has so many people said things willingly to cause themselves problems. Mr. Mark Traina was a school psychologist for 20 years in Jefferson Parish. Part of his job was evaluating kids to see if they needed to be referred to alternative schools. He's had a few issues for making comments on NOLA.com and Twitter. One of his tweets mentioned how black thugs needed to be put down like animals because that’s what they are. When interviewed on the news he said he wasn’t racist. He’s just fed up with crime.
First of all Mr. Traina is an educated man. I’m assuming that because he’s been a school psychologist for 20 years. I’m sure he could have come up with a better way to express his frustration with crime. He has to understand how comments like the ones he made look in relation to the job he has. He’s evaluating troubled kids and many of them look like the same thugs he wants to put down like animals. If I was a veterinarian and posted all over the internet about how I couldn’t wait to kick dogs in the face, and any dog that wasn’t pure bred should be put to sleep would you send your pet to me? Even if I was qualified and claim to love animals, how could you ever feel comfortable leaving your pet in my care? You wouldn’t and now that his opinions on “black thugs” are public no parent is going to take his evaluation without question especially if their kid fits the description. His own words put his effectiveness in question.
Personally, I have no problem with Mr. Traina no longer having his job because of what he said but what I don’t understand is why he just didn’t share his opinions with his friends and family and keep it off of the internet? I guess people being exposed for their views by their own choice is a good thing but the logical side of me just can't make sense of it. The truth of the matter is that he’s not the only person who thinks the way he does. It’s just that most of those people are not sharing with the world, hiding their identity or not working for the school system evaluating troubled kids. The amount of people who are willing to put their careers in jeopardy to make comments never ceases to amaze me (Maybe it's all the random folks online too scared to use their real name and with nothing to lose cheering them on but that's a topic for another post. If you lose your job because someone name CajundudeXXX kept cosigning every ridiculous thing you said online and you just had to keep satisfying their lust for ignorance then you deserve to be unemployed.) We have freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean that there are no repercussions at all.
I’m definitely not always a happy guy. I get frustrated with a lot of people both public and private. I have opinions about a lot of things but I try not to present them in a way to offend anyone. The reason is pretty simple. Babies need food and clothing. I like going to the store with my debit card and buying stuff. Unless there was something that would change the course of my community or make me so much money that I didn’t have to work it’s not worth it. Maybe that means I don’t have enough courage but at least I still have my career which is more than Mark Traina can say. He may not have a job anymore but he probably picked up some new Twitter followers. I hope that makes him feel good about the situation.