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Diatribe: Think Before You Speak Because EVERYONE Is Listening … Even “Chubby Wubby”.

05/15/2014

think-before-you-speakLadies and gentlemen it’s high time we all agree that we’re responsible for our own words and deeds.  With virtually everyone and their children carrying a smartphone, camera or other recording device, the old adage “think before you speak” has never been more true than it is today.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a crack-addicted Canadian mayor or the racist owner of an NBA franchise, it’s unlikely that your words will be taken out of context when that context is also preserved and quickly shared via the internet for the entire world to see.  Harmless asides under your breath no longer exist.  We live in a world where we must, essentially, assume that there’s a live microphone within earshot at all times.  You can’t even fight with your in-laws on an elevator any more without the possibility of video footage making the news!

People are listening, too, and no matter how loudly folks cry about losing their “freedom of speech” they seem to forget that their words have consequences.  Each of us is certainly free to voice our opinions but we should never feel persecuted or claim that our right to speak our mind is somehow being infringed upon simply because a great deal of our peers believe that what we have to say is wrong.

Raymond Cote recently learned such a lesson that prompted him to resign from his position as President of the Mahopac School District Board of Education in upstate New York and to withdraw his candidacy for re-election later this month when a video of him calling a parent “chubby wubby” at a meeting surfaced online.

“I would like to apologize for my choice of words after the close of the Board meeting on April 8, 2014, which are regretful.  My words were inappropriate and do not reflect my feelings or attitudes.” – Raymond Cote.

The video shows Cote saying into a live microphone, “This one here, chubby wubby, she gets fatter and fatter at every meeting.  She really does.”  Interestingly, Cote was involved in a diversity and sensitivity initiative earlier this year.  Apparently, he wasn’t paying much attention.

Was it wrong for Paula Deen’s empire to crumble because of something she said?  Maybe?  Was it wrong for HGTV to cancel a pilot for a new show staring the Benham Brothers because of something they said?  Was it wrong for the NBA to fine Donald Sterling?  Yes, I believe it was.  Not because of what any of these people said … they, clearly, have a right to say whatever they want … but because “it’s just business”.  Paula Deen’s advertisers didn’t want to be associated with her racist views, HGTV didn’t want to be associated with the Benham Brother’s virulently anti-gay social stance and the NBA chose to distance itself from a rambling racist madman.  The Mahopac School District Board of Education doesn’t want a President that calls parents “chubby wubby”!

We’re all free to agree with everything these people have to say but, then again, they don’t work for us do they?

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One Comment
  1. I think fewer and fewer people will want to be in public service as they have to be on guard at all times. Not that I condone inane comments, but even the slightest poor word usage can make you look like a fool when taken out of context.

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