Monday, November 01, 2010

Taking a joke

There might only be three episodes and no hope for new ones any time soon, but I'm a big fan of the BBC show Sherlock. Well acted, cleverly written and a wonderful example of how you can update old material but not lose the soul and respect of the original source.

I'm writing about Sherlock this evening because there's a line from the pilot that's been rattling around in my head all day. In it Watson turns to a detective with Scotland Yard and asks why he keeps working with Sherlock Holmes, even though he is, by his own admission, a high functioning sociopath.

"Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man. And one day, with some luck, he might even be a good one."

I love that line. In some ways that's the theme of the whole show. Holmes is clearly a great man. A rare genius who sees the world in different ways than other human beings. But that doesn't always make him a good person. That's Watson job, in some ways, is to make Holmes a better man than what he is right now.

The reason that was going through my mind today was the blog post by Geoff Meeker about Pamela Pardy Ghent being fired. Quoting from Meeker here, "Ghent is a founding member of the province’s Rural Secretariat, which was founded in 2004 to give rural communities a voice in the development of social and economic policy at the provincial level. She also sits on the secretariat’s provincial council."

On Facebook yesterday morning she made an off-colour joke regarding the size of the premier's penis. Facebook is not as private as some people think and lord knows there's enough past precedent for people getting in trouble with the things they've said or pictures they've put up. Also not working in her favour was having three "friends" who happened to be Conservative MHAs. One of them ratted her out and a few hours later she got a call from the Deputy Minister with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development letting her know her services were no longer required.

I find myself praying that Ghent had a dozen things leading up to this that had given the government cause for firing her. That she was incompetent or had done something truly awful over the past few months. That the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador didn't just have a volunteer on an undermanned board fired because she made a pretty lousy dick joke on Facebook one Sunday morning.

Yeah, it's Facebook and yeah you need to be careful (as a precaution, I'm de-friending Mount Pearl MHA Steve Kent this evening, just in case he rats me out for something), but seriously? That's the type of thing that, if you must, you drop a line to someone and go "do you really want to be making that kind of joke?" and then you go "ooops" and delete it. Because it's Facebook and I think you have to give some people a bit of leeway for the occasional thoughtless remark.

But firing someone. Really?

There may be more to this. I really hope there is. However, the government's slow response to the issue isn't giving me a lot of confidence. It feels very much like something that just blew up in their face when they thought it would be a matter dealt with quickly and quietly. If so, there was some spectacularly bad judgment at play. Right now it's a PR nightmare that's going national because Ghent isn't exactly shy telling her story to anyone who is willing to listen.

Danny Williams may well be a great premier. He may well be the best premier the province has ever had, although that's a pretty shallow pool of talent. But there are times I wonder how good a man he is if he's firing people for jokes on Facebook. Because I really would hope he, or any government cabinet minister, would have better things to do.

Last Five
1. Brandy Alexander - Ron Sexsmith*
2. Metaphor - The Pursuit of Happiness
3. Que' onda geuro - Beck
4. Hands of time - Ron Sexsmith
5. Hero - Regina Spektor


Dave said...

I agree that losing your job is a bit extreme over a comment on facebook. The company I work for monitors Email and I got called on one that had the Fword in it. I think this kinda bullshit will get worse before it gets better. We still have it better than some places in the world, A public comment on a goverment leader would get you jailed or killed even.

Corey said...

I tend to disagree with the above (maybe its below?) comment. When you are a representative of an organization, you have to be careful about what you say in a public forum. Whether you agree or disagree, Facebook is a public forum, and anyone using it should know that anything said can, and probably will be used against you. What if she made that stupid comment in a letter to the editor? Would the firing be more acceptable? What is the real difference? It only takes one person to get the word out, and then everyone knows.

Bottom line is, everyone needs to be careful with what they post online. Obviously she wanted people to see the comment, or she wouldn't have put it as her status, and frankly deserves to get fired. If I made some off-colour remark about the owner of my company on Facebook, and a co-worker saw it and told my boss, it would be of no surprise if I was let go.

Ron said...

I don't expect you to have given this much thoght but if there ever was a ridiculous and useless looking appendage it is the male penis. It is probably for that reason that I have always preferred Blackadder's phrase for the male genitalia - The last Turkey in the Shop.

That pretty much sums up my broader thoughts on this week’s kerfuffle back home - Unless I was going to derive some benefit from it I really don't want to think about the Premier's penis. But now a significant segment of the province will be doing just that. I mean if I am going to think about penises I want them attached to buff hairy men in prison cells or perhaps a truck stop, but not some skanky old desk jocky. And pretty much for that reason this leaves me... errrr... cold turkey?

A few other random thoughts

1) Its too bad the Rural Secretariat had to be dragged into this as it is a useful office of gov't doing good work. The point of the advisory boards and councils is to... well advise agencies and offices in gov't to help them make better policies. I don't know anything about Ghent but I assume she was asked to sit on the RSAC because of expertise or as a representative of some relevant segment the population. That however was all negated by her somewhat childish sense of humor (who, over the age of 14, tells dick jokes anyway?)... Jesus Danny Man up and take one for the team - You're at 80% in the polls - its not like the opposition is biting at your heels. Put her back on the advisory board and say you made a mistake in the heat of the moment. Everyone knows you're got a short... errr... fuse. Do you have to keep proving it? Maybe it is time to demonstrate abit of personal growth and oh I don't know, a sense of humor?

2) It is bizarre to me that anyone reading a 'joke' on facebook would then run to the Premier and basically "tattle" on the writer - I wonder what will happen if someone says “the Premier dresses funny and walks like a girl”. If you want to get him mad that is what I would do... that and call him a ‘sissy’. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a sissy mind you, or gay – MESSAGE TO GAY TEENS READING THIS BLOG – It gets better!)

3) At his age he should be happy that any woman is thinking about his penis in any context.

4) It is a real shame that the Premier has decided to be such a dick about this...

5) Sorry about #4 “I just had to slip that one in” (Ba-Dum-Bump!!)

6) As the Bishop said to the actress (Ba-Dum-Bump!!) - Oh I am a funny guy. Wipes away tears.

Ron said...


WJM said...

I don't expect you to have given this much thoght but if there ever was a ridiculous and useless looking appendage it is the male penis.

I would imagine a female penis would be even more ridiculous, but I'm old-fashioned.

The Perfect Storm said...

It's Facebook. Enough said. Why anyone exposes their lifestory there has always been a mystery to me.

But then, I've only been in IT since the '70s so who am I to judge.