Disgraced former candidate’s apology insincere

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If you decide to call women skanks, whores and bitches on Twitter and then decide to run for public office, you should expect that those comments will come back to bite you. That's the thing about the Internet: it's forever.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/03/2016 (2471 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If you decide to call women skanks, whores and bitches on Twitter and then decide to run for public office, you should expect that those comments will come back to bite you. That’s the thing about the Internet: it’s forever.

A “technology expert” such as Liberal Southdale candidate Jamie Hall should know that and yet, there he was on Wednesday afternoon, apologizing for tweets made in 2011 and 2012. They include such bon mots as “If a whore screams in the bedroom and no one is around to hear it, is she really a whore?” (That one was accompanied by the hashtag #trees.)

“I have countless friends that are women — my girlfriend, my mother, my sister, my grandmas who are no longer with me — and I am not by any means sexist,” Hall told reporters on Wednesday, claiming that the sexist tweets were sent during the promotion of his sexist novel, 7 Deadly Women, as though that makes it better.

Jamie Hall, a candidate for the Liberals in Southdale, resigned Thursday over sexist and derogatory Twitter comments. This tweet is from March 1, 2016, after getting the official nomination.

The NDP called for Hall to step down. “I don’t think the NDP has many legs to stand on in that regard, considering one of their candidates that they have,” Hall said.

Hall was referring, oh so coyly, to NDP Fort Rouge candidate Wab Kinew, a former MC who has written and performed misogynistic rap lyrics. NDP critics took to Twitter Wednesday with shouts of double standards.

And they aren’t wrong, exactly. Sexism and misogyny, whether it appears in tweets or in songs, should absolutely be examined and called out. Everyone makes mistakes and has done stuff they are not proud of. And, these days, those mistakes are often a Google search away.

Kinew was a well-known public figure long before running for the NDP. Hall was well-known in some circles, and hey, I get where the Liberals were coming from: “businessman and technology expert” does sound objectively better than “club/foam party promoter and sex novelist.”

But the critical difference is in how Hall and Kinew handled their past transgressions. Hall apologized only after he was called out.

In his 2015 book, The Reason You Walk, Kinew apologized for his lyrics. Since then, he’s been publicly committed to working to end gender-based violence — and, for that matter, misogyny in hip hop. “Big picture I believe women should be leading the conversation about ending gender based discrimination & violence in our society,” Kinew tweeted last night. “But there’s a role for men like me to play & that is to let other men know misogyny is not acceptable & help make the public sphere safe.”

Hall’s apology, meanwhile, hit every square on an Insincere Apology Bingo card: Satire! It was a joke! Free speech! I love women — my mom’s a woman!

Deflection is never a good look, and there is a wide gulf between saying you’re sorry because you got caught and saying sorry because you’re sorry.

Kinew is not getting a “free pass” despite his lyrics, as several folks have charged. Rather, people are choosing to accept Kinew’s apology because he chose to own his past mistakes, which speaks to growth as a human being as well as leadership. Be the change and all of that.

Hall doesn’t seem to understand why his comments are problematic, only that they are problematic. And that’s a problem.

And it was likely the problem that took him down in the end. On Thursday, Hall resigned. “As a woman, I cannot accept comments that disparage women,” Liberal leader Rana Bokhari said in a statement. “Manitobans have every right to expect and demand a high standard of their candidates and MLAs.”

That’s correct. Let’s hope that his replacement is properly vetted.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @JenZoratti

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti
Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and author of the newsletter, NEXT, a weekly look towards a post-pandemic future.

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