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EDITORIAL: Haunted by a distant past


If you’re one of those people who has simply never bothered with social media you could be in great demand one day.

You might be one of the few who can run for politics.

One happy detail surrounding all the candidates who have been dumped by their leaders in the Nova Scotia election campaign is that it involves all three main parties. That should help cut down on the shaming and finger-wagging.

Character, a higher moral standard – these kinds of traits are typically cited when we discuss our expectations from political representatives. And that’s good. But in an age that sees people continually posting the most mundane of activities or thoughts online, instances of stupidity or at least lapses in judgment are bound to occur.

The latest unfolding, involving Jad Crnogorac, who was to run for the Conservatives in Dartmouth South, saw the candidate challenging her dismissal and claiming she’d been given no opportunity to explain. Her offending comment involved a tweet that appeared to make light of a date rape drug.

In a subsequent interview with media, Crnogorac said the tweet was a response to an acquaintance who thought the drug in question was a female version of Viagra, and that her comment was in disbelief that someone actually thought that. Sarcasm, in other words.

That explanation does sound credible. It’s hard to imagine any female who thinks date rape, or being incapacitated by a drug while someone performs sex on them, is funny.

And that’s the thing about quips several words long – on social media or anywhere. They can easily be taken out of context and interpreted by someone as having quite a different meaning or intent.

Such comments, when unearthed by opponents in an election campaign or anyone with an axe to grind, can certainly be used to advantage. And they are there, online, for the record. This isn’t a silly, flippant comment made to a friend in a bar over several drinks – where the words disappear into thin air.

And we would be naïve to think that people manage to get through life without making the occasional crude comment – including those fine, upstanding types.

We can understand the concerns of the parties, that they need prospective candidates to divulge any aspects of their current or past existence that could serve to call character into question.

But this has gone beyond the pale. We could blame it on the lack of judgment of people for posting anything and everything, from inane to four-martini wisdom. But that is the nature of the beast these days.

There’s another way of looking at it. A political candidate pounces upon a minute, careless, but otherwise dismissible comment made years in the past by an opponent and uses it for ammunition. Does that say anything for the attacker’s abilities or grasp of issues and policy, or is it just a cheap shot?

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