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Angry MobThe social media mob was out in force last week against a Greece teacher.

The American Sign Language teacher wrote words her students wanted to learn how to sign on her SMART Board. One of the students called out the word c–ks—er and the teacher wrote in on the board. Months after the incident, a parent posted a picture of it on her Facebook page.

A few days later, the teacher had resigned.

The parent was within her rights to post the picture. People were within their rights to comment and express their opinions. But I’m wondering if sometimes we let a social media frenzy dictate outcomes.

Maybe the teacher should have lost her job. There are things we likely don’t know. But I’m willing to bet she’d still be employed if the parent had privately approached school officials.

On Facebook and Twitter, people pick up their pitchforks and demand action. They want to KNOW SOMETHING WAS DONE. Did school officials react to the mob? Would they have taken the teacher complaint as seriously if it hadn’t gone viral and hit the news? Did social media perform a public service or commit a possible injustice?

We’ve see incidents go viral in Rochester before: the Greece bus monitor video, Craig Schaller’s LPGA blog, and the Muslim checkout line at Wegmans.

GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram wrote this about the woman fired from her job after a terrible tweet about AIDS and Africa:

With tools like Twitter and Facebook and the focus on real-time news, a single comment or bad joke or moment of poor decision-making can quickly escalate into an international incident. But is this kind of behavior a good thing? Is this how we encourage positive social values now? Or is it just a faster and more modern variation on the ugly mob?

At what point does the behavior of those responding to the offence become more offensive than the original comment, or at least out of proportion to it?

Is there a way to get the benefits of this kind of public shaming without it going overboard and becoming a mob with pitchforks? That’s hard to say. But we seem to be getting more and more chances to get the balance right, so perhaps we will figure it out eventually. I hope so.

I’m worried we no longer accept two words that used to symbolize an effort to learn, heal and show good faith: “I’m sorry.”

Links of the Day:


– Give the RCSD $325 million to rehab schools. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out a lot. In a report clearly showing the media was asleep at the switch for two years, the Democrat & Chronicle uses audits to expose overspending and mismanagement of the Facilities Modernization Plan. For example. principals were allowed to change work orders after projects went out to bid.

– Drop the kids off at school. Go fly a drone. Maybe pull the trigger. The Niagara Falls Air Base has a new, controversial focus.

– By cracking down on prescription pills, the government pushed people to heroin. It’s a big War on Drugs blunder.

– “Libraries have become bustling community centers where talking out loud and even eating are perfectly acceptable.” Libraries are more popular than ever.

11 Responses to Social Mob and Consequences

  1. How about another two words? “Glass houses”

  2. March 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm lynn e responds:

    I don’t think people will go to college to become teachers very soon. Why waste a degree and time for such a hassle?

  3. March 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    the RCSD rehab project, sounds like business as usual. far to many chiefs and not enough Indians 🙂

  4. How about paranoia?
    This stupid poster needed to use some common sense, which I find severely lacking in way too many parents today.
    It’s too easy to blame someone else when they don’t, or don’t know how, to do their job.

  5. Difficult situation without knowing the whole story. Starting with the first person one needs to talk to is always good in this instance the teacher.Taking someone else with you for the conversation is always good. Telling the other person they should have someone there is also good. If issue is not resolved then outline next steps. Parts of the teacher story are missing from both sides. But students do not need to learn those expressions in a classroom. Society is getting crasser and crasser. Students use obscenities and say the adults in their lives say that along with other behaviors that do not support student success in the world of work, but school is not a place to perpetuate that.

  6. March 10, 2014 at 1:57 am dew4794 responds:

    And while we’re at it, could we clean up the trash talk and acts in sports locker rooms? Anything that teacher did pales in comparison to what goes on in school athletics.

  7. The teacher RESIGNED. I did not read anywhere that she was fired. I wish we knew all the facts. In regards to social media being a factor, it was nothing more than the means to which the “act” was discovered. It is the “act” which should be the focus. Have we, as a society, lost our sense of decency and morality that we believe it is acceptable for our children to be taught that words and phrases like these are appropriate? I would hope that the people entrusted to teach our children would be morally and ethically beyond reproach. It isn’t that difficult. Bad deeds are discovered in many different ways. Social media is just one.

  8. March 10, 2014 at 10:41 am Booored...man...street responds:

    My first question was “Did the student who took the picture with their cell phone in class get in trouble?”. I assume that phones aren’t allowed in class.
    Dan LeBatard, a Miami-based ESPN radio host, often makes fun of the angry Twitter mob who is just waiting to out-outrage the next person. “There’s the guy who said that thing, GET HIM!!!”. This happens in sports and in life, and it’s pretty ridiculous. Most of my responses to the initial spark of these ‘controversies’ is “Who cares?”.

  9. March 10, 2014 at 11:49 am scoale responds:

    talking with my 10th grade son, he indicated that his class is reading a poem that includes some very graphic language(c*nt). A bit surprising concidering this teacher’s attempt to educate students while there have been many formor students coming out and supporting her skills.

    A simple “don’t do that again” would have been acceptable to me.

  10. March 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm Bob Lewis responds:

    Next Up – Let’s go after the students pictured with the dog doing a keg stand. I’m sure certain local media types will whip up the mob for their stupidity.

    Too often the punishment is overly harsh for the crime.

  11. March 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm Orielly responds:

    Not the first time some one tried to get a Dog Drunk, won’t be the last. No matter what method is used, someone won’t like it or approve.

    Same with outlawing the use of certain words, like the N or the R word. Now a rich feminist wants the word Bossy outlawed. Because she, doesn’t like it.

    This is a free country – or at least it was. We have the right to free speech. We don’t have a right to ” NOT be Offended”.

    Media, Politicians, and School leaders will restrict speech at any turn when it “offends” some group or individual, especially one with “social power”. This push for word censorship reminds one of Nazi Germany, WW 2 Japan or current Islamic Radicals.

    Our supposed sensitivities and being offended are really just a way for a minority to blow the issue or words well out of proportion, all to exert power over the majority.

    Some day, some one or group needs to stand up for the majority of all people.s freedom of speech.

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