In another lesson about the dangers of social media, two Toronto firefighters have been taken off duty after a national newspaper brought attention to their sexist twitter habits.
In June Lewaun Edwards suggested another tweeter hit a girl who was saying “like” more often than he thought was appropriate: “@deansomerset would swat her in the back of the head been considered abuse or a way to reset the brain?”
Matt Bowman, using the twitter handle @Hero_Matt, quoted cartoon South Park in March: “I’d never let a woman kick my ass. If she tried something I’d be like Hey! you get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!” Six months earlier he published a quote from American sitcom The Office: “Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind. Also weak arms.”
Bowman and Edwards are no longer on active duty with Toronto Fire, following an article in National Post detailing the sexist tweets.
“They are not on duty,” Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales told National Post. “That is all I am prepared to say. I hope you understand why.”
Frank Ramagnano, secretary-treasurer of the Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, called the situation “unfortunate.”
“Things people write can be taken out of context. I don’t think the tweets represent the kinds of individuals that those two members are.”
Chief Sales described the tweets as “absolutely unacceptable,” and said there would be a comprehensive investigation.
“We want to be an open and inclusive employer,” the chief added. “At times we have individuals who do not share that common view. We have got to increase our sensitivity training. I am disappointed that (a) that it happened, and (b) that it showed up in the press. But if that’s what it takes to make us aware, then so be it. Our responsibility is to ensure that we become a supportive employer in all ways, shapes and forms.”
Did these firefighters deserve suspension or is off duty social media out of HR’s control?