MARGARET DICKSON: Your mama would have your hide!

Posted February 2

The following is a version of a column originally published in Up & Coming Weekly of Fayetteville.

By Margaret Dickson

Did our newly elected N.C. Insurance Mike Causey actually say that?

Did a two-term state Sen. Joyce Krawiec really say what was reported?

Indeed they did.

They did not just say it, they posted it on social media! It’s there for the world to see. It never, ever goes away.

After millions of women marched across our nation and the world Causey impulsively took to Facebook: “In one day, Trump got more fat women out marching than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.” The Commissioner compounded his insult by linking it to his Twitter account. A little while later Sen Krawiec of Forsyth County Tweeted out: “Message to crazies @ Women’s March—If brains were lard, you couldn’t grease a small skillet. You know who you are.”

Would these folks say those kinds of things in front of their mothers?

After a flood of backlash and outrage, both apologized, repeatedly and profusely in Krawiec’s case.

It “was a momentary lapse in judgment for which I am truly sorry.” Causey posted. He then deleted the offending comment from his social media but -- not from other people’s minds or their hard-drives.

Krawiec was even more contrite.

A mere 45-minute after her “lard” tweet, she followed up: “BTW I was speaking only of those DC protesters dressed inappropriately and spewing foul language. Disrespecting women. Not representing women.”

A minute later: “I applaud those women who were there for the cause and were respectful. They know who they are.”

Thirty minutes later: “I apologize to those women who marched for the right reasons. I was only talking about those I described. They didn’t speak for all women.” Six minutes later came a final wail. “I apologize. I apologize.  I was only talking to those who acted inappropriately.  Forgive me  Please.  Twitter Lesson learned.”

Still seeking to recovering a shred of dignity, Krawiec issued a statement later the same day:

“Like many other Americans, I was deeply offended by vulgar language and graphic imagery used by some protesters. I have apologized for the words I used to express those frustrations, which were unfair to the many women who advocated for their beliefs in a respectful way.”

Thanks, but that toothpaste is out of the tube forever.

How did we get to the point where our highest elected officials, people we entrust to make decisions that affect all of us, abandon common decency and seen empowered to take to social media with its great reach and feel free to insult others who, for the moment, they don’t agree with?

What’s happened to respecting the Constitutional rights of others, even when we disagree with what they are saying? Is civility in our culture dead, buried, and forgotten?

While I agreed with the objective and concerns of the marchers, there were some signs, slogans and speeches that were over the top, offensive and inappropriate. I am a baby boomer who still reflexively respects the parental admonitions to “watch our language” a bygone concept these days.

It’s never occurred to me to callout protesters I’ve disagreed with as fat or stupid.

      Social media allows, unlike sitting down to write a letter or an opinion column, to reflexively punch a few words into a cell phone and hit “send.” It all happens in a flash and, too often, with even less thought --  as Causey and Krawiec and many other have learned the hard way.

Unfortunately, once words have been posted, they never go away. The sting remains no matter how sincere the apologies.

Steve Shallenberger, author of the bestseller, Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, addressed incivility in our politics, business, and ordinary life this way. “Replacing rudeness and impatience with the Golden Rule may not change the world, but it will change your world and your relationships.”

Shallenberger tells what our mothers and grandmothers told us. Courtesy and kindness are never the wrong positions to take.

Rude people enjoy the same constitutional protections as anyone else. But it is also true that the childhood lesson that rudeness, incivility, and unkindness say more about those dishing it out than those on the receiving end.

Margaret Dickson represented Cumberland County in the N.C. House of Representatives from 2003 through 2010 and in the N.C. Senate from 2010 through 2011


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