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Fallout from the McKenna staffer resignationJuly 18, 2012 @ 5:39 pm (Updated: 5:48 pm - 7/18/12 )
A staffer for Rob McKenna's campaign for governor has resigned following a controversy about racially insensitive tweets she posted before she joined his election effort. This won't be the last time someone learns a social media lesson the hard way.
A much talked about story The Stranger broke lead to an interesting debate about the subject, with comment threads along these lines:
What someone says on Twitter isn't a big deal. The media is showing its bias by jumping on a non-issue to make the candidate look bad. Conversely, there are those who say the media is protecting McKenna. Others criticized the staffer's apology as missing the point because she focused more on the dangers of tweeting a personal grievance than a realization that her comments were offensive.
Kathlyn Ehl, who started work as a campaign volunteer in April and became a paid policy assistant last month after graduating from the UW, resigned after she had a chance to meet with leaders of the Asian American Coalition.
She deleted the tweets, apologized, deleted her entire Twitter account, apologized again to local Asian Americans, and resigned from the McKenna campaign.
On Twitter, people are sarcastically offering to help Ehl find another job. @NarkyMark tweets, "I'm an Asian with an English degree, so hit me up if you'd like help with your resume. Good ruck job-hunting!"
"As the father of two young women, it pains me to accept the resignation of a young woman for a mistake which occurred before she had even begun her career. However, as we have said, and Kathlyn readily acknowledges, her tweets were offensive and insensitive. Kathlyn suggested, and I agreed after consultation with some of our campaign's grassroots leaders, that her ongoing involvement on the campaign would be a constant reminder of her lapse in judgment," says Randy Pepple, McKenna's campaign manager
"Life teaches us difficult lessons, and sometimes at a very young age. My hope is that she will find some benefit from having learned this lesson now, as it will undoubtedly be a long-lasting one," says Pepple.
This is not the first time a young person has discovered their words, posted on a public forum, are judged harshly.
Some of Congressman Rick Larsen's staffer were fired after they tweeted about not liking their boss, and drinking on the job as they created a December to remember last year. Miss Seattle Jean-Sun Hanna Ahn learned comments about annoying people in Seattle don't go over well in Seattle.
Why can't people tweet what they think? Why does everything have to be so sanitized? Can't someone just let their opinions flow on social media? I hear those questions, generally from people who aren't using social media.
You are what you tweet.
You can say something obnoxious, but realize you're putting that out on a public forum and people will assume you're obnoxious. If you can live with that, tweet away. That tweet is forever, so your future employers will think you're a jerk too. Still okay with that?
What you write in 140 characters says as much about you as something you would say in a public space. If you tweet something offensive, you'll be judged the same as if you walked into Starbucks and loudly said the same thing to everyone in the room.
By LINDA THOMAS
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