This is a link to a recent happening in Toronto, Canada. An employee of a government owned utility company was fired either because a) he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and behaved in an idiotic fashion or b) he showed blatant disregard for a fellow human being and his behaviour was in direct violation of his company’s code of ethics. You decide after reading the article or my summary below!
For those who don’t want to read the entire article, the story went something like this: at a sporting event a female reporter was heckled by some hooligans using the ever more popular phrase: FHRITP. If you’re curious, please google it as I’m not sure the actual words are appropriate for this site! (Admin note: I’ll spare you the effort…it means “F**k her right in the p**sy”. ) Following this, the offenders began laughing and eventually left. The agitated reporter began interviewing bystanders asking whether they thought it was appropriate and one of said bystanders was the man who was fired. He may have been drunk and he told her he thought it was hilarious and that he was laughing. She kept asking him questions including: “What would your mother say to this?”. The answer was something to the effect that she would also laugh and find it hilarious. At the end of the segment, he added that she was lucky there wasn’t a vibrator on the scene (referring to an old incident in which a male British reporter had a erm…blue vibrator pressed to his ear).
There’s no question that the phrase is derogatory and only funny to idiots but I’m curious about what everyone thinks of the firing. On the one hand, the man in question is a complete jerk but the fact remains that he didn’t start the whole thing, was off the clock and gave his opinion only when asked for it. I will reserve my opinion for the comments in an effort to keep this piece as unbiased as possible! 0513-15
The phrase came about last year when TV reporter John Cain was reporting on the case of a missing 20 year old woman and he thought his mic was not live. Unfortunately for him he was not only caught on camera but live news broadcast saying that he would “f**k her right in the pussy”, referring to the missing young woman. He was promptly fired from his job. Subsequently an anonymous man named “Fred”, having seen the John Cain video clip, interrupted a live news report by a female reporter by jumping in front of her, grabbing the microphone from her hands and saying “FHRITP”. It has since gone viral and the phrase now used to disrupt live news reporting which was what occurred in the Canada to form the basis of this submission .
I don’t see anything remotely humorous about this whatsoever. John Cain deserved to be fired for what appears to be a grotesque reference to a missing young woman who may have been been assaulted or dead. It is a grave indecency to the woman and her family and shows an almost pathological disdain for the feelings of others in a time of crisis. And a burning question I had after watching the John Cain comment was, “What kind of man thinks of sex with a woman who has become newsworthy because she has gone missing?” I mean, shouldn’t there be other more important, pressing issues on the mind than sex?
And “Fred”should be outed by someone so that news media and police have him on their radar during future live news casts. Because what Fred has started is a viral campaign against female reporters thus creating a hostile workplace for them. potentially limiting their exposure on the news, and demeaned their work by ruining the shot. He thinks it’s all a big joke and apparently fired Shawn Simoes thought so, too.
Dear Mr. Simoes, Just because someone asks your opinion does not mean you are obligated to actually give it. Etiquette certainly provides us with a number of suitable ways to demur from answering questions that would be imprudent to respond to. But respond you did and by doing so, you made a choice to validate behavior that any reasonable, civil person views as reprehensible and threatening. There is no doubt as to where you stand on the issue and I do believe there should be consequences for the choices one makes because I would not want to interact with you as a representative of your previous employer knowing that you have such a profound disdain for women and a poor moral compass in regards to what is considered humorous.
Stupid man, you had the opportunity right in your hand to become a viral hero to tens of thousands of women internationally. If only you had responded like this, “I think the phrase is disrespectful to women and indecent. I’m sorry you were the recipient of that verbal insult, Ms. Hunt.” But in a crowd of like-minded men, you went along with the pack mentality lest your man card get revoked and you became the unemployed poster child of insensitive, disrespectful, cretinous men worldwide.
And this isn’t entirely about freedom of speech or the consequences of speech but more so about the disappearance of common decency and respect in the public arena. Why would anyone think a sexually charged phrase is an acceptable joke? Where is the sense of decency that restrains behavior and not bring shame upon oneself? This is another of those “jokes” where if you do not play along with the viral “joke’, you are viewed as a spoil sport so the tables have been turned where the target of the “joke” is under greater social and peer pressure to tolerate indecency than those using the phrase.
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This has been addressed at least once before. If you behave in a certain way in a public place and it reflects poorly on your employer, you can expect some reaction from your workplace.
To suggest a sexual attack on anyone is horrible. To stir up a crowd of men, especially those who may have been drinking at a sporting event, shows a lack of good judgment and a total disrespect of the lady who was the target of his remarks.
It reminds me of the story of when the British took over India as a colony. It was the custom in India that a lady should commit suttee when her husband died. If she refused, she was forced onto the funeral pyre. The British government began hanging those involved in the forced burnings.
When an objection was raised that this practice was an old and accepted custom, the British government replied that, while they would respect the local custom, they would also insist on enforcing their own custom of hanging those who burned people alive.
He had the freedom to say what he wanted; his employer had the freedom to decide that he was no longer needed at the workplace.
@Cat – I think that you are comparing apples and oranges. The British were an Imperial force who conquered India. The people we are talking about in the story above are citizens of a free country, working for different companies.
Apart from that, you totally oversimplified Sati, and all the social reformers – BOTH from Indian and the UK – who fought against it. I am not going into the details, but it is a totally far-fetched comparison.
It was not meant to be a comparison of apples to apples. Americans are quite aware of the British Empire’s imperialist polices and mercantilism. They did burn Washington, after all . Several of my ancestors fought against the British with the Richland County Militia, South Carolina.
Nor was it meant as an exploration of the culture of India. It was simply a story I read some time ago which reminded me of the fact that, what one group may consider acceptable and correct, another group may find totally unacceptable. Both have a right to their viewpoints.but they can conflict and cause tension.
Men often engage in what we call “locker room talk” which would be insulting if a lady were to hear it, but is perfectly acceptable among men. Our culture is changing in that such language is now moving into the usage of the general population. As some posters have noted, some women also engage in such language. They do not find it unacceptable. Most of us still find it objectionable.
Cat – The Canadians (or British, as you prefer) did burn the White House, but that wasn’t as an imperialistic act. It was in defense of the invasion, by the Americans, in the latter’s attempt to take over (what was) Canada. The Canadians weren’t thrilled with that kind of aggression so they went to Washington to send a message – thus the White House is white today, because after it was burnt it had to be painted. That was the War of 1812 and, thankfully, America losing that war has helped to dissuade further invasions since.
Yes, burning down a building is a great way to send a message.
The Americans of that were after Canada in order to get the British out. The British were supporting American Indian raids on settlers in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, even arming them with weapons. The British also set up restrictions on U.S. trade with France and forced U.S. seamen into the Royal Navy, and the backlash from the Chesapeake Affair of 1807.
Historians are still divided about the cause for American declaration of war. Some Canadian historians say that the U.S. wanted to annex Canada, others say it was just a threat to obtain a bargaining chip. This would not have happened if the British were not supplying guns to the Indians in the Midwest, stopping expansion through there.
Yeah I agree, complete apples and oranges comparison, and the simplicity of the Indian and British customs description borders on offensive.
You people get easily offended. My parents are from India, and that is what happened – in a nutshell. Cat didn’t mean it in an offensive fashion, and crying offense isn’t helping matters.
I never said it didn’t happen. The original comment makes it sound like the noble British Army swooped in to save India from its savage customs. It ignores the fact that, as AS said, Britain conquered India and the existence of social reform within India. It’s a whitewash of history and yes, I find that offensive.
As – is Cat supposed to know the entire history of sati? My father witnessed acts of sati as a child growing up in India in the 1940s and 1950s, and it was the local British authorities who stepped in and stopped it. It still has not been eradicated. Despite all these people fighting against it, nothing has happened. I find that to be more offensive than Cat’s way of interpreting it.
I agree with you. We are allowed the right to free speech, but many people forget that free speech isn’t consequence-free.
That, exactly that!!!
There is a right to free speech, but there is no right to be employed. There are certain protected characteristics that you cannot fire someone for (race, gender, etc.) but “jerk” is not one of them.
I don’t think it was an incitement to rape and I do understand that it’s a joke with something of a viral history behind it. That said, I think verbal agression is one of the ways some men assert ‘ownership’ of public spaces and the women in them. The anchor’s right to do her job, to appear on television, to exist in public without being harrassed by sexually agressive threats is clearly of no importance at all to these guys.
If I employed this guy, there would be consequences. I would consider that this showed poor judgement, behaviour likely to reflect negatively on the company, and an attitude towards women that could affect the happiness, safety and productivity of other staff. I don’t know whether the consequences would be dismissal or demotion or diversity training – that would totally depend on details of the situation that we don’t have.
The thing to take away from this is that the internet/social media have dissolved a lot of the boundaries between ‘professional self’ and ‘personal self’. If you behave reprehensibly in public as your ‘personal self’, it is likely that you will be identified and the repercussions will spill over into other areas of your life.
This is the impression I get from the media coverage where I live — that this wasn’t used as a rape threat to rile anyone up but rather as the most derogatory thing they could say — sort of as if they had been behind a minority reporter and tried to drown him out with racial slurs. As I understand it, this is something that is being done to many female reporters. I find it incredibly offensive on so many levels — that a woman’s only value is for sex; that a woman should not be speaking in public; that rape is a joke.
What kind of “joke” is this? How exactly is this funny, I have to wonder? It is completely lost on me. I find absolutely nothing funny about it.
FHRITP is a directive to rape. The “you” is implied, as in “(you)FHRITP”. The same as if someone in a crowd yelled “(you) kick him in the crotch” or “(you) cut off his head”. Those would be considered utterances intended to incite violence against a particular person. There is no law against saying stupid things in public but there are societal rules and job rules that can, and do, promise consequences for these actions. Uttering threats or trying to incite violence against someone is definitely against the law. A defense that “I didn’t mean it” or “I didn’t know what it really meant” is really just an argument for the person uttering the threat to be considered terminally stupid. Not sure that’s the way Shawn Simoes wants to be considered.
Before anyone feels sorry for The Idiot consider that, given his position at the company (engineer?), he likely will receive a severance package, and a generous one, at that. I think taxpayers, the ones who will be paying that severance, should make sure The Idiot will not be welcome at another government job. This is where internet shaming can really be a benefit to society, in my opinion.
@ Elizabeth, I am not entirely sure if the comment is meant to incite rape or not but I do agree with you about an employer addressing this in an individual employee. Especially the different options you mention including diversity training.
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” – Thumper (Bambi).
When an animated rabbit has more sense than an educated adult male, I weep for humanity. I would not want to work with someone who finds a rallying cry for violence against women (how else to interpret that phrase) a hilarious joke. Would acting on it also be a joke to him and his mother?
Did Simoes deserve to be fired from his high paying job? Yes, because even if he doesn’t necessarily represent his employer on his day off, he will definitely be seen as a liability to and by his coworkers. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.
To say nothing of the company’s customers. This guy worked for a utility company. The fact that he would thinks this appalling behavior was even a little bit appropriate and amusing is telling. And if I were a customer of this utility, government-owned or not, and had seen him on TV acting like a slug, if he showed up at my door to do repairs or whatever, there’s no way I’d let him in.
The guy went out of his way to get on TV, and get on TV he did. It was hardly a hidden camera. He shouldn’t be too surprised then, to find out that he got on TV, and that spewing misogynistic filth (or supporting his buddy who did) is reprehensible to most people and therefore the public reaction (and that of his boss) is less than favourable to him.
That’s what gets me about this. This isn’t like that “public shaming” post awhile back where a man’s joke was overheard and tweeted about without his knowledge. The man here knew full well that his words would reach an audience, and he chose to act horribly anyway. If that’s how he chooses to represent himself, his company has every right to have second thoughts about him representing them.
Not sure if it works exactly the same way in Canada as in the U.S., but “free speech” in the U.S. merely means that the government can’t limit your speech except in some extreme cases (e.g. threatening people, inciting a riot). It’s not illegal to say crude and idiotic things in a public place, but your boss can still fire you for being obnoxious. (Maybe the fired guy has the right to sue the boss, but he’s not going to paint a flattering picture of himself by doing so.)
I’m glad the reporter at least called the hecklers on their behavior; stupid misogynist memes have become entirely too widespread. She came off as a responsible adult, and the hecklers as spoiled children in dire need of adult supervision.
You are absolutely right except for one detail- it actually is illegal to use foul language in public (especially in the presence of children, etc). It’s called disturbing the peace. But ordinarily, no action will be taken unless the person spewing filth is being beligerent or excessive and there happens to be a police officer around. Generally use of the F-word would apply, while saying some of the more “tame” swears (damn, arse, shite) are nothing notable.
But yes, freedom of speech certainly has no implication of lack of consequences. It seems like most people who quote their right to free speech actually have no idea about the particulars of the right. Perhaps firing the guy was a little too far, but there certainly should have been a formal reprimand.
It’s free speech, not consequence-free speech. My example is that I can use company e-mail to call elected officials idiots and not worry about the secret police hauling me away. I will, however, most likely be fired for misuse of company property.
In Canada, it’s actually freedom of expression and it is not limitless. In Canada all fundamental freedoms are “subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. So any freedom can be limited.
Even if the guy didn’t break the law, he’s a complete idiot if he didn’t think he’d get major consequences for this. It’s a clear demonstration of his lack of judgement and character and I wouldn’t have him working for me either.
Here in Cananda a lot of companies have their employees sign some sort of code of conduct that basically says that they will behave appropriately at specific times. I used to work for a company that included clauses on social media behaviour (we were not allowed to say anything negative about our company on any platform for any reason) and one of the things mentioned was behaviour in a media related envrionment. The reason behind this was very simple. All it takes usually is one Google or LinkedIn search to discover where salespeople work and that can reflect horribly on a company. This particular individual was an account executive (high level salesperson) and it was easy to find out which company he worked for. And that looked terrible for the company. Firing him was a wise PR move because they were able to publicly say that they don’t stand for sexist or lewd behaviour.
Oh my! Where on earth is that a popular phrase?? I never ever want to go there!
I didn’t know the dildo comment referred to the incident mentioned here. I took it as a different more dangerous threat. I not sure as a utility employee if he would be going to people’s houses. I refuse to allow Comcast employees in my house unless another person is here, because I was made to feel unsafe twice by their employees. (Once they tried to take my tivo claiming it was illegal, the other time I was cornered and he demanded money under the table for drops I didn’t want) So if someone recognized him at their door from this incident, I can see a woman not wanting him in their house – especially if they are alone.
I think plain stupid behavior (silly pictures for example) that becomes common knowledge should not cost people their jobs. Also legal behavior – drinking a beer on their own time in time/place it is legal for example that gets photographed and posted to Facebook should not cost a person a job. http://goo.gl/H1uXnS But if you engage in illegal or bigoted (racist, sexist, homophobic) behavior that could make people who have to interact with you feel unsafe – you deserve to be fired and ostracized.
In my experience, guys who think this stuff is okay when they’re drunk (and therefore uninhibited) also secretly think it’s okay when they’re sober.
Dear guys of the world who find this crap as reprehensible as the rest of us, creeps like these dudebros don’t listen to women telling them it isn’t okay, but they will eventually listen to other guys saying it. Make it so unpleasant to be the kind of guy who says these things that eventually they disappear. Women shouldn’t have to live their lives afraid of these kinds of boys.
girl, you are completely wrong.
No man in a sober state would ever think this is OK.
I think girl_with_all_the_yarn’s point is that while they might not think it’s okay to scream those things out in public, someone who would think it’s okay to say it out loud while drunk probably agrees with the sentiment while sober. Drinking doesn’t usually cause people to change the way they think, it just gets rid of the inhibitions that tell them what not to say in public.
I hate to break it to you, but my husband has related to me with great disgust many a tale of perfectly sober men who think this sort of thing is absolutely fine, and are happy to discuss it with other men. They just won’t say it outright to a woman until they’ve had a few drinks.
I believe that if an employee engages in behavior that is a public embarrassment to his employer, the employer has a right to fire him. The man has a right to free speech. His employer has a right to fire him. Many of us, if we engaged in behavior that caused problems for our employers, would probably lose our jobs. He could have said, “No comment.”
I live in the area. What he got, in my opinion, was what was deserved. Never forget, in the age of the internet, than anything you say or do will be captured on camera. And really? If you’re even believing this sentiment in your own mind, you need professional help (at the very least). How is it funny to think that the “R” word is in any way humourous?
Had it happen to me, many long years ago. I cannot forget, even with counselling. Will never forget. “Freedom of speech” does not exempt you from consequences of same.
They can bury that phrase right along with ‘bae’.
I feel it is nothing less than an invite to a rape, especially in an intoxicated or riled up crowd.
(shakes head). As for the firing, that’s up to the fellow and his employer’s conduct code (code of ethics). If they canned him I think they had enough grounds to do so, period.
I think “bae” and “FHRITP” are on two completely different levels.
“Bae” is used as a term of endearment while the other is a misogynistic tool to entertain misogynistic tools.
I couldn’t agree more. Plus BAE is useful because there are no gender connotations.
My folks called me just last week to say they were looking at their grandson’s Twitter accounts, and asked me what the heck “BAE” means?!?
They thought it to be a typo, until they noticed it in several posts.
“before anyone else” is what I was told it means.
I don’t consider the words to be equivalent. I’m just tired of the first (bae) being stuffed in my face at every turn. It sounds to me like an old school texter that can’t spell.
The other one I consider a massive insult.
I wish both terms would be buried.
@NostalgicGal: I agree with you….what is so difficult about typing “girl/boy friend”?
Bae is a gender neutral colloquialism and a general term of endearment. I have friends who do not subscribe to male or female pronouns, thus it would be inappropriate of me to use a term of endearment that is inherently gendered. There are other terms of endearment that I can and do use, but bae is amongst them. On top of that, I use it more frequently to refer to inanimate objects that I enjoy, like many others of my age group do. Eg: “This burrito is bae.”
Whether or not you enjoy modern slang is actually a bit of a nonissue in relation to this topic. I am certain that there was slang when you were in your late teens/early twenties that your elders did not approve of. Bae is harmless. Now FHRITP on the other hand…..
Bae means something else entirely in Danish. My Danish husband was horrified when he heard that American teenagers were calling each other a profane word for excrement in his language.
“Bae” makes my skin crawl. The English language is literally being reduced to grunts.
I can’t even read bae without thinking the person typing it is dumb considering it means crap in Danish.
@iamayeti: I don’t find “bae” offensive in the least, either, just another “hip” phrase that will disappear soon like “yolo” (you only live once) did eventually.
If I had my way, along with “FHRITP”, I would gladly be rid of “baby bump” to refer to a pregnant lady…while that’s not offensive either, it just rubs me the wrong way…I don’t know why, it just does!
Everything means something else in a different language. That doesn’t mean people don’t have the right to use the word. Not everyone knows Danish and implying they’re dumb because they don’t know a language is just as ignorant and elitist. It’s a colloquialism. Does it hurt you? No. Is it DIRECTLY inconveniencing you? No. Does it directly OFFEND you? If you think so, then the problem isn’t the word.
Aristotle complained that paper made scholars lazy. People will complain about everything. If you want to be an elitist, go ahead. Just know that others are going to call you out on it.
I use “bae”. I can’t use the word “girlfriend” because my partner and I aren’t dating and because constantly saying “platonic partner” or “non-romantic life partner” when referring to her sounds ridiculous. She finds the use of it to be perfectly acceptable. It’s gender-neutral but clearly defines my feelings for her. I put her before all else.
iamayeti is right. It doesn’t hurt anyone. It will probably fade away and be replaced by something else that means something offensive in another language not everyone is familiar with. The world moves on.
Reading this, I think the part that got him fired was him saying she was lucky there wasn’t a vibrator on the scene. That sounds far more threatening than him being amused by idiots saying stupid things. The whole “FHRITP” thing is something rude to say when rude people know they’re on live tv (a news report). I can see how people who aren’t aware of this stupid trend might take it as being threatening. It’s a more vulgar form of how people tend to make faces in the background of a reporter talking to a camera at sporting events.
In any case, he was fired because something he said reflected poorly on the government and they didn’t want to be associated with it. And I honestly don’t think him saying he thought it was funny was what did it.
“I can see how people who aren’t aware of this stupid trend might take it as being threatening. It’s a more vulgar form of how people tend to make faces in the background of a reporter talking to a camera at sporting events.”
Totally agree with this. It’s pretty OTT to regard this as an incentive to gang rape someone. It’s juvenile and stupid but it’s a far reach to say that someone is going to be gang raped because some jerks saw this done before, thought it was funny, and decided to do it themselves.
I actually saw footage of it being done by a woman a few days ago. She jumped into a live shot and yelled “F ME RITP!” and then giggled and ran away. Again, stupid and juvenile, but I’m quite sure she wasn’t asking to be raped.
The right to free speech is not the same as the right to speech without consequences. He chose to go along with this reporter every step of the way. He may have been off the clock but his actions could have created problems for his company. He chose to exercise his right to freedom of speech in public, and the government has done nothing to abridge it. However, the amendment doesn’t protect him from the private consequences of speech. But truthfully, is this etiquette? This doesn’t seem to be the start of an etiquette question so much as it seems like a prompt I would give my students (if I taught social studies instead of science!:D) on the nature of freedom of speech.
Everything else aside, it really bugs me when people talk in acronyms or “text speak.” It’s one thing to abreviate when texting, but to actually talk that way is just annoying.
And that is a particularly stupid acronym (as well as being horribly offensive). If you would swap out the euphemisims for the technical terms it’s basically saying “hey, I’d like to have vaginal sex with her!” It doesn’t seem very creative or clever. Just dumb.
They shout the words, not the acronym. The acronym is used on the Web and in print media to explain this trend in a manner that’s still “fit to print.”
I agree with you that it is just dumb. Also offensive to women. The female reporters are out there keeping the public informed. Even the sports and entertainment reporting is important because it helps keep ratings high, ensuring that the program stays on air, and holds viewers’ interest so that they can pick up critical information. Reporting is not an easy job. It requires a lot of long hours and travel to wherever the police scanner sends you. Sometimes, it can be dangerous. And if you’re on television, you have to do it all while looking good. These idiots reduced this woman to a sexual object. I’m glad they got called out for it.
Thanks for clearing that up for me. Somehow I just pictured a bunch of sports hooligans yelling a bunch of letters, a moronic snapshot in my head. That they were yelling the actual words, on camera, while absolving them from being darned to the scorch of heck for talking “textspeak” further consigns them to the perpetual hotdog roast of ehell (in my opinion) for rudeness, misogyny, sexual harassment, obscenity and vulgarity.
I would be distraught if someone said that to or referring to me and I’m not a prude at all. How disgusting and demeaning.
Perfectly put, admin. As a rape survivor I find the gross insensitivity of these incidents very upsetting and am at a loss for a response. But your words captured it perfectly and help me feel secure that there are decent people in the world prepared to condemn publicly this attitude. Thank you.
I’ve seen videos of this for quite a few months now, thanks to my (usually) respectful teenage sons.
I hate it, it’s beyond disrespectful and just disgusting in my book. I honestly don’t “get the joke”, and don’t know why ANYONE thinks it to be amusing or funny in the least.
We had a bunch of my kids friend’s over one night, and as I was clearing supper dishes and cleaning up, I kept hearing that phrase being passed around on one the kids phones.
I flipped out and poked my head into the dining room and said “the next time I hear ‘FHRITP’, I’m TAKING THE PHONE of the person who is playing the video….And I’m KEEPING IT!”
One of my son’s said, “Oh its not my phone, Mom….It’s Jimmy’ s phone.”
“Fine. Then I’m taking Jimmy’ s phone, and his parents can call me later to find out why I wouldn’t let him have his phone!”
“Jimmy??? Your mom will think that video is really funny, right?”
“Uhhh….No, Mrs. K….She yelled at me the other day to stop looking at those ‘FHRITP’ videos.”
“Right. So STOP looking at them in this house, too……Thanks, boys….now please bring in the rest of the supper dishes and go outside!”
A well respected worker who was an asset to the company wouldn’t have gotten fired, odds are the company was lukewarm about him anyway
“Well respected” and the belief that this phrase is “hilarious” are two incongruous concepts.
A well respected worker who was an asset to the company presumably wouldn’t have behaved like a cretin in public–in front of a camera. He’s an idiot who got what he deserved.
Not necessarily. He might have been an incredible employee for all we know. The bottom line is he did something incredibly stupid that hurt the company image. Even if he was the best employee there, he still would have been fired to save PR.
He might be a fabulous engineer, but his social skills are sorely lacking. Not to mention common sense.
He managed to make himself a liability. A decent employee would not behave life this.
He seems to be both unpleasant and stupid, but I do not think he should be fired.
It might be appropriate for him to be fired if:
– His words / actions amounted to a criminal offence
– He was in uniform or otherwise representing /appearing to represent his employer when he spoke
– He was already subject to a disciplinary process for similar or related matters and making such comments in public were in breach of any warnings he had been given
I think that it might have been more appropriate for him employers to have dealt with this internally and to have given him a warning, rather than going straight to a sacking.
And I say that despite being of the view that the original phrase and calls were totally inappropriate and not remotely funny.
Oh course he should have been fired.
Shawn Simoes was an employee who, publicly and enthusiastically, engaged in and defended as appropriate, the sexual harassment of a woman in the workplace. Remember: the reporter he harassed was at work even if he was not. This is what Margo and many of Shawn Simoes’ defenders have missed, but his employer immediately grasped. A man who thinks that sexual harassment in ANY workplace is hilarious, right, and “substantial” is not a suitable employee or acceptable as a representative of the company.
It does not matter if Shawn Simoes was not officially representing his company; he was easily recognizable as an employee by the women with whom he worked. And what would a woman from his own workplace think of him when she saw this video? Would that woman feel comfortable around him in the workplace? Of course not. The employer did the right thing in protecting its employees, and in preventing a further decline in the baseline level of human decency.
Just to say that, as I made clear in my original post, I am not in any way defending him.
It may be that my view is coloured by my knowledge of employment law where I live.
The issue about the reporter being at work is an interesting one . However, my view is that Sexual harassment, whether in or out of the workplace, is inappropriate and unacceptable. If the reporter who was the victim of this incident chose to report the matter to the police with a view to those involved being charged with harassment or whatever other offences might be appropriate I would be standing up and cheering her every inch of the way.
if the person who was sacked had an employment contract which included clauses about about behaviour outside the workplace, and that contract provides for summary dismissal if those clauses are breached,then of course the employer is entitled to follow that policy. There is not anything in the original post to say that is the case, and if it isn’t, then I think it is concerning that someone be sacked for non-criminal acts outside of, and unconnected to, their work.
We can all get behind the idea of a sexist jerk getting sacked for behaving like a sexist jerk, but the problem is that the next person who gets fired for what they say outside the workplace might be a woman speaking out in favour of the right to choose, or someone speaking out in support of gay marriage, or in support of, or against, a specific religion or religious observance., for instance. Would you support the right of an employer to summarily sack an employee in those circumstances?
(I am not familiar with Canadian Law so can’t judge whether the behaviour of this man did amount to a criminal offence or not)
For me, this is not about defending or protecting a jerk from the consequences of his actions, it is about the extent to which it is reasonable for an employer to be able to dictate what their employees do off the clock.
It may be, of course, that his employers did look at the specific implications for him in his role at work, and took the view that he could not practical continue with his role and that there was no alternative work which he could d – i.e. that they did have, and did follow, a specific process which related to his job, rather than sacking him because it would be bad publicity not to.
I live in the US and work for the government. This incident was the topic of conversation when I went in to HR recently. I was told that had this been an employee in our branch of the government, he would have been fired. As is fairly common knowledge, it is really hard to fire a government employee after they have passed their probationary period. However, there are some behaviors that can result in an immediate dismissal and engaging in “hate speech” is one of those behaviors. To be clear, most of the interview where he is just giving his opinion, his behavior wouldn’t have been actionable even though most of us find that opinion reprehensible. It was the last bit where he said the reporter was lucky he didn’t have a certain object that it became hate speech and what he would have been terminated here for.
I am very surprised, at the number of posters here, that do not understand the liability these man boys pose to their employers.
They are now in a perfect position, for any co-worker to accuse them of inappropriate action – true or untrue, witness or no witness. They are on record, and how will they defend accusations in the future? To the employer, they are in danger of potential lawsuits waiting to happen. They now have the reputation of being totally inappropriate toward women.
This is why it is not appropriate for the President, to have relations with an intern. Blackmail opportunities. Do you realize, that if a boss is having an affair with a subordinate, the other female subordinates have a perfect lawsuit. He showed favoritism. True or untrue. The boss gets booted, the subordinate usually keeps her job, or is transferred to another area of the company. The female subordinate in the affair “I had to – I need this job! I was afraid he would fire me if I did not sleep with him!” Happens every day. They will keep her or PAY HER OFF with a nice severance package. I have witnessed this so many times (large employers my entire career).
Who will want to seriously even date these idiots? The arrogance of the guy trying to explain to the reporter, how FUNNY it is, will ruin him for years come. You cannot fix stupid. I note the guy that figured it out and got the heck out of there, once he realized his buddy was acting the fool.
I have never worked anywhere, where my job was absolutely guaranteed. Union or not. You can be laid off, let go, redundant, etc. for no reason, at the drop of a hat. No one owes you a job, nor do they need to keep you (this guy is not brilliant and needed, as some other poster mentioned he could be, are you kidding me?). He and the guys that actually said the nasty comment, are indeed liabilities to any company, as they can and will be accused in the future.
If this were Facebook I would hit the “like” button on Rory’s post.
As a woman, if I was an employee of this company and worked with this man, I would feel incredibly uncomfortable working with him after this video. His employers not only have to think about their PR after this incident, but the comfort and safety of their other employees. This man publicly said that public sexual harassment of women is not only acceptable, it’s hilarious. If I was his boss and saw this, it would make me question his performance around female coworkers and clients.
Not to mention the PR nightmare this caused for this company. Firing him was the only real move they could make to declare that they found it unacceptable and it will not be tolerated. If they had only given him a slap on the wrist, it would have given the impression that they did not take it seriously and that the company might even agree with him.
As far as representing the company, it doesn’t matter if you’re there officially or not. If you’re employed by a company, you’re always “representing” that company. Especially today, all you have to do is look at someones Facebook or LinkedIn to find out where they are employed, or sometimes even a quick Google search will do it. The type of person a company employees says a lot about that company to many people and can make or break a business.
. Exactly this. They are all LIABILITIES and prime for co-workers or customers to watch their every move, and file a claim. No more friendly inappropriate jokes, guys. Someone will want to take advantage, and sue your company as you offended them. Fair or not, true or not.
Legal departments do not put up with idiots setting them up for a lawsuit.
These morons have set their employers up for trouble, as well as ruined their own credibility. Yes, it is their employers business if they act like filthy fools toward women outside of work, on television! I still can’t get over the guy, insisting to the reporter how FUNNY this is.
Or the person who does file a claim against the rude person might have a legitimate claim?
And I thought LOL was pathetic.
When you choose to act, you also choose the consequences of that act. When the employee chose to openly support the men making the vile comments, then he chose the consequences that he suffered at work. Freedom of speech is being misunderstood in this context. Nobody suggested that this man be jailed or criminally prosecuted for what he said. That is as far as the right to free speech goes. The government may not restrict speech, but this restriction does not apply to private employers, parents, private schools, etc. If this horse’s patoot had gone on the air with a diatribe against his boss, there would be little doubt that he should be fired.
I had never heard of it until I read an article about this incident. I didn’t think I was that out of popular culture at age 41, but maybe I hadn’t heard of it since I am no longer an immature college student. I don’t care if this phrase has gone viral or is supposed to be seen as humorous. If this phrase was said to me, I would assume it constituted a threat to my personal safety and would react based on fear of my safety.
But the viral trend was started not by a college student but by an older man named “Fred” who clearly has grey hair.
It just sounds like something really immature people would say. Another example of how older people can be completely immature and disrespectful. I think that makes it even worse.
Proof that, while idiots grow old, they never seem to grow up.
I’m from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) as well, and it might be helpful to note that this was a HUGE media thing here. Made the front pages of the tabloids and everything. So for his employer it wasn’t just a question of whether to fire a random jerk; it was about swiftly containing a potential PR disaster.
That said, while I have mixed feelings about social media shaming generally, I have a really hard time feeling sorry for Ultimate Dudebro here. Admin put it beautifully: he had a chance to become a hero, and he chose to be a cretinous sleazeball. I’d have fired him for that kind of epic lack of judgement, too.
Just think if someone were to flip that and start yelling at men “Right up your ass with a huge dildo”
You’d never hear the end of the crying and, pun intended, butthurt.
It’s not like this harassment has gone unremarked. If you read the reply above yours you can see how serious this was taken where it happened.
Nonsense. Men would laugh it off.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not grant across-the-board immunity for any and all moronic, hateful comments that stampede past your brain and out of your mouth. It also doesn’t guarantee any right to employment. Hydro One has a Code of Conduct which specifically outlaws conduct which may create an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive work environment. I think that this man’s publicly expressed and obvious contempt for women would more than qualify as hostile and offensive, and working with him would be impossible. Hydro One did the right thing.
A few posters suggest that this guy should be fired because he has no right to work. But, don’t forget, there is such a thing as wrongful dismissal. Obviously, you can’t be fired just because of discrimination on a few specific grounds, nor for your participation in certain civil liberties proceedings, nor for refusing to go along with criminal behavior, but even then you can’t just be fired without due process as per your employment contract.
One of the posters noted that lots of employment contracts include discipline for contributing to a hostile work environment. It’s surely a valid reason for discipline, and firing should be a final option if the employee in question is repeatedly disruptive despite being warned or otherwise disciplined. But to be fired out of the blue, without warning, without any chance to make amends? For something that didn’t even happen in the workplace or involve coworkers or clients in any direct way? That’s excessive.
In general, I think that extending the “work environment” or any public sphere to someone’s personal life is an extremely risky proposition. It gives employers carte blanche to police their coworkers on AND off the clock. If we allow firing some schlub for being a PR nightmare, what’s to stop someone from being fired for privately campagning for a political issue at odds with management, especially if it’s not a labor-related issue? What about firing someone for being at-odds with the company’s brand image because the employee privately bought a competitors product or even just got fat or went bald? Or what about being part of some fringe group or kink community or nerd culture that doesn’t fit the ideal of some harried HR rep trolling your Facebook profile that day or every day?
Sure, John was a crude idiot. “Fred” was a moron. My question is: so what? We have the right to be offended, and both of them should be censured and socially ostracized since we as a society look down on behavior like that. That’s what we’re doing here. But, there are limits to the consequences that they should bear or else we risk stifling society. Firing someone for non-work-related issues should be a no-no.
I’m kind of agreed. Yes, what John said was appalling. But I’m nervous about such a permanent punishment. Freedom of speech isn’t just about the law: we have laws protecting freedom of speech because it’s valuable instrumentally, including when the people saying the offensive things are fundamentally wrong. And there’s a chilling effect from such a serious punishment as firing, which extends beyond the actual topic of speech into related areas.
How is the sexual harassment of a woman in the workplace NOT a “labour issue”? This is not just a PR issue for the employer – it is an issue of the larger working environment for all other employees. Again, what message would keeping him on the payroll send to other employees, male and female?
And how can this behaviour be described as his “personal life”? He was in a public place speaking to a reporter with a microphone in his face.
Shawn Simoes’ employer is not obligated to give him a warning, a chance to improve, or a chance to make amends. His employer is not his therapist or his etiquette coach.
The subtext to arguments that Shawn Simoes ought not to have been fired is the suggestion that what he did was not THAT bad. It was.
I’m kind of a agreeing to this too, & I happen to be an employer. I do wonder how many of us here are part of political parties, religious organizations, wiccans, cult, motorcycle groups, NRA, ( insert your favorite group that you object to) in which we would not want our employer to fire us because he considers what we do to be wrong?
One problem is that, with the internet and social media, it is harder and harder to separate someone’s “work” life from their “personal” life. Plus there’s the fact that very few people can have good judgement at work when they have very bad judgement away from work. If he’s likely to do something monumentally stupid and offensive while on camera, he’s only slightly less likely to do something stupid at work. Finally, with speed with which he was connected to his employer, they had little choice but to take action.
While I agree that our political affiliations and such shouldn’t be grounds for firing, this isn’t that kind of a case and I’m not buying any slippery-slope just yet. The guy proved himself to be a social and work liability and he gets to face the consequences of that.
Endorsing a certain political party and endorsing sexual harassment are two very different things. The difference is the liability issue he brought upon the company. He wasn’t just fired to save PR, he was fired so the company wouldn’t get sued in the future.
I work for a Canadian company and it is in our code of conduct that we will use our company’s products and not the competitors. (Think cell phones, etc). There are a bunch of other things in our code of conduct – things like not sexually harassing people or stealing. Violation of the Code is immediate termination. As Art K said, showing such a spectacular lack of judgement while on TV pretty much guarantees a spectacular lack of judgement in general and he needs to be canned.
I wouldn’t want someone who thought that behavior was appropriate to represent me or my company in any capacity. It would cause me to lose all faith in their ability to act appropriately and maturely under any circumstances, especially if they thought no one was looking.
I would have fired him too, in a heartbeat.
Here in Canada, freedom of speech is a bit different and it is not actually unusual to be fired as a result of an employee’s actions while off the clock. I am in Calgary and a couple of secretaries I worked with were fired after baring their chests during hockey win celebrations on the street outside the hockey arena. They tried suing but were unsuccessful.
Freedom of speech is no different in Canada. It’s just that many if not most people in the US don’t understand that the 1st Amendment restricts the government and not, as many seem to believe, non-governmental entities. If I were running a business and somebody did something like this on TV, I would have their stuff in boxes before they arrived in the morning and I would be well within my rights to do so. If these guys had uttered the subject phrase in public, then they could have been arrested in the US, since obscenity is not considered to be “speech.”
I’d not heard or read that particular acronym before I saw this post and I’m horrified at the thought that this has apparently entered common usage.
Sadly, this seems to be just one more giant step downward in civility. Society has become more and more accepting of the use of obscenities and vulgarities. This was brought home to be me just yesterday when, at a family gathering, a relative’s significant other, twice referred to an ex-spouse as a “d–k”. Not knowing anything about the circumstances of that marriage, I don’t know if the ex-spouse deserved it or not. However, my respect for the person who used the term has gone down somewhat. What ever happened to class?
I heard a phrase once that went something like this: Obscenities/vulgarities are the last resort for those not educated/polite enough to use better words.
I think Admin hit this one on the head. Mr. Simoes heard the target of the phrase say it was distressing and disrespectful. A decent person should, at that point, apologized. Instead, Simoes smirked and indicated that he was quite happy to disrespect her. That smirk is the signature of a bully. I certainly would find it hard to work with someone like that in future.
The last part of your statement….people’s definition of vulgarity is pretty wide. I have some friends whom think saying crap is a swear. Or hell or damn. They get really really upset and offended. In my circle of friends and family those are normal words…not considered swears.
There was an article out recently saying that “Fred” was actually all staged and planned. I never looked into it more because I find it juvenile and not worth my time. But “Fred” has a large following of people who know him. It wasn’t just a one time incident.
Just another bit of information on the story/event – the fired employee sent an apology to the reporter which she has accepted, but she says it was a personal apology and has refused to disclose what was said. I see her decision as a class act in the middle of a media mess, and many people see his apology as an attempt to get his job back. (A further clarification is that although he had a good job, he was not quite the high-ranking professional initially reported and the organization which regulates ‘engineers’ quickly indicated that he was not a member – which he would have to be to have a job as a ‘professional engineer’.) So it was not just his employer who reacted to the situation. Good manners count in a lot more places than we think!
I’m 26 and I’ve never heard of this viral trend. But then most of my friends aren’t weird jerks with dumb sense of humor.
The thing is, I feel like this “trend” is more of a “let’s say something outrageous to get on TV/go viral” and not a serious incitement to assault. Although it does remind me of the Jodie Foster film ‘The Accused.’
“Fred” has already been “outed”, he’s been legitimately interviewed on several TV shows, and there were joke interviews on other shows. So I don’t think “Fred” cares much any more, this whole situation seems to have become his job. He has done it to male reporters too, basically if there’s a camera and he sees someone broadcasting, he goes for it regardless of who is behind the microphone. Not saying the fact that he has done it to men and women justifies it in any way, but just pointing out that “Fred” really doesn’t care anymore.
As for the guy who got fired in this story, freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequence. Clearly wherever he worked decided that his comments would reflect poorly not just on him but on the company and the consequence they picked was firing him. I can get where they are coming from, if he worked for a utility company, there’s a chance he’s going to be going to customers houses/work places, so people will see him and know him.
Is anything being done about the idiots who started this by chanting that obscenity?
Way back in the olden days, employment came with a “morals clause.” That clause said that if an employee did something on his own time that reflected negatively on the company, said employee would be disciplined or fired. People knew they could lose their jobs over behaviour like that, so they didn’t do it.
People have decided that their rights come before the company’s rights, which is true to an extent. The person has the right to say what they please. The company and the general public, however, have the right to not tolerate hate speech. As in: you have the right to say what you want, I have the right to not listen, and the company has the right to not employ you.
Consequences. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
You represent the company that you work for 24/7 whether you like it or not. The man (not going to call him a gentleman) should of known better.
I’d like to know what his mum REALLY thought! I can only imagine she didn’t find it funny at all and is terribly ashamed that a child of hers behaved in such a manner.
I have mixed feelings about this….while I completely agree that free speech doesn’t mean consequence free speech, I also feel that this kind of mob-mentality shaming is way over the top.
So this guy found a tasteless, juvenile joke funny. (I don’t agree with those who see it as an incitement to rape.) Have you ever laughed at a “nut shot” video? or any of the “Jackass” movies or TV shows? Does that mean that you hate men and want to hurt them?
Yes, I think this guy should have kept his mouth shut, but I think that turning this whole thing into a witch hunt that only ends with the guy losing his job is crazy. No wonder people are unable to have an honest discussion about any topic that matters anymore. At “best” they might lose their job, especially if their opinion is not the current popular opinion. At worst, internet trolls may make it their business to destroy their lives, or even reach out into the real world to cause havoc.
This reaction is not a consequence on the same scale…that’s the difference.
I’ve laughed at more inappropriate jokes in my lifetime – is that cause for you to try to destroy me? How about a little forgiveness? Or invite the guy to a forum on why this kind of “humor” is not really funny? What does this mass attack accomplish other than feeding the mob their desired meal?
Livvy, ordinarily I would largely agree with you, but as Twik pointed out, this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment mistake. This guy was given the chance to consider his unpleasant ideas, and he chose to validate them. At that point, he unavoidably has to take responsibility for them.
Yeah, I think in this instance you and Twik are right – this guy was pretty committed about being an idiot, and he didn’t take any time to think about the bigger picture. I still worry about the rise of these anonymous, out-sized public shamings though. I hope this guy will be able to get a job in the future, having hopefully learned his lesson.
Livy – because otherwise they won’t stop doing it? the reporter talked to them. She tried to establish a human reaction. And that made them feel even more superior about what they were doing.
If your so worried about “internet trolls” remember that these idiots are acting out an Internet meme. The sooner people realize that “I’m just joking, and it’s funny on YouTube,” the better.
Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s, but I don’t see where this is funny at all.
I totally agree with the firing – if he were laughing about it in private or just hanging out with friends of his at a private home or table at a bar, then no, he shouldn’t have been fired.
But this was television. He’s representing himself as someone who makes really bad decisions. Definitely fired
In Mr. Simoes’ defense, he did make a private apology to the reporter afterwards, and she believes he was sincere. However, it’s a shame his world had to implode for him to realize that what he was doing was wrong, and didn’t make him a big man in other people’s eyes. Maybe he found out his mother *didn’t* “find it hilarious” when her friends asked her “Was that jerk on the TV your Shawn?”
One of the downsides of the anonymity associated with the internet is that people have begun to feel that they are, and *should be*, completely free of consequences for saying anything they want, or behaving in any way short of physical assault. Presumably these men thought that if they didn’t give their names, they would be as unidentifiable as they are online, and forgot that they still live in an offline world, where people can go, “Hey, that’s Shawn from the office!”
When my husband was a sales manager for a local popular radio station, (many moons ago), even though he was mainly a sales person, sometimes he to be “on the air” live at remote broadcasts for some of his major accounts.
There was a “morals” clause in his employment contract to basically conduct himself on air in a manner befitting the station, it’s parent company and subsidiaries.
It’s one thing to use a vulgar phrase or tell an inappropriate joke amongst a few friends, in a bar, at a party, etc. But to shout this at a televised event–I agree with him getting fired. Absolutely. And good luck finding another job in that same field.
Furthermore you never know what some people’s intentions are. At first glance I might think it was a joke–but you never know.
When you work for a company you represent them, whether on the clock or not. When this idiot mouthed off it opened up the opportunity for people to look to Hydro One (his company) and say “what kind of business employs morons like that?” He embarrassed them and he deserved to be fired.
When you put something out there publicly you have to be prepared for some backlash from said public. I know Admin has touched on public shaming before and this story reminds me of something stupid that happened on Facebook both to me and DH:
We both saw posts of some pretty hateful speech and responded to these status’. Nothing crude or inappropriate, I swear, we pretty much just said “I find this to be homophobic/racist.”
Rather than defend their viewpoint both people responded by getting very upset on being called out – not denying that they were homophobic/racist, mind you, they just didn’t like it being said on their profile. The person said to me “I can’t have an opinion?” and I reminded them that if you put something online for all 400+ of your friends to see then you have to be ready for someone to respond. If you don’t want anyone to disagree, write it in your journal.
Same goes for this guy. He wanted to be oh-so-hilarious and run his mouth off and he got what he deserved. Next time he will think before he speaks. Lesson learned.
For what it’s worth, John Cain was never a TV reporter. He’s a filmmaker and his infamous video was only a hoax.
@ Grey – have you got any links that can prove it’s a hoax? I don’t think John Cain has done is career/reputation any favours either way.
There is a big difference in firing someone for deliberately being sexist (or racist or homophobic) and public shaming that goes so bad threats are made or worst things are done to the person who said it. Now the engineer deserved to be sacked for saying something so offensive on public tv.