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Letter to the editor: Backlash to social media posts ought to be delivered in a rightful manner

March 21 2019 —

RE: “What you say online rightfully has consequences

While I appreciate the viewpoint the author presented in her Feb. 28 article regarding the consequences of one’s online behaviour, I believe she has failed to properly explore a vital part of the issue. Sherwani acknowledges that “social media holds individuals accountable for actions which may no longer be a reflection of who they are,” but brushes past that fact instead of giving it the attention it deserves.

It is true that we make public statements when we post on social media, and we should definitely be held accountable for those statements. Yet, holding someone accountable is not the same as crucifying them for actions or posts that occurred long ago and do not reflect their character anymore. Unfortunately, the internet breeds judgment of the latter variety on a regular basis.

Take James Gunn for instance. He was fired last year by Disney for inappropriate tweets regarding rape and pedophilia posted between 2008 and 2009. While his actions themselves were unacceptable, they occurred nearly 10 years before his firing. Let’s not forget the unanimous open letter signed by the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast supporting Gunn in the wake of his firing. Any reasonable person would acknowledge the likely possibility that the man’s decade-old trashy tweets may not be representative of who he is today. After all, who knows him better? The general public, or the actors who have worked with him closely?

If we found out that Gunn murdered, raped or defrauded someone 10 years ago, that would be one thing. But given that his offences consist only of a series of inappropriate tweets, tweets that he profusely apologized for, it is time for people to give him the benefit of the doubt. Disney did the right thing reinstating Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and hopefully what happened to him can stand as a lesson in how not to pass judgment.

Yes, the things we say online rightfully have consequences, but those consequences ought to be delivered in a rightful manner as well. Due process is important. Throwing people to the kangaroo court of public opinion is neither fair nor just, yet it is something that internet users do all the time. We as a society can learn to be better. Just because someone is in the spotlight doesn’t mean that person isn’t entitled to a fair trial.

David Song

Letters to the Editor published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board. The Gauntlet retains the right to edit submissions for brevity and clarity.

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