(This blog post is in response to Andrew Dreschel’s latest column in the Hamilton Spectator this morning: “McHattie ‘tour’ sparks Twitter cat fight”. You can read Andrew’s column here.)
Andrew Dreschel’s column in today’s Spectator starts off explaining that a fight erupted on twitter between a number of people regarding Hamilton Mayoral Candidate Brian McHattie’s recently announced plans to take a 100-day tour of the whole City, in 180 neighbourhoods. He’s not incorrect in his chronology- a tweet from Chris Cutler, Fred Eisenberger’s (also a Mayoral candidate) campaign manager, was what instigated a feisty exchange between multiple parties on twitter.
Cutler tried to suggest that McHattie hasn’t been visible in other parts of the city, only his own ward. It’s an unfair attack in my view- every councillor deals with city-wide issues as an unavoidable part of their job. It’s just odd for any campaign to attack another campaign, just for campaigning.
I responded by asking where Fred Eisenberger has been for the past 4 years, and whether his interest in Hamilton is limited to holding the position of Mayor. I don’t think that’s an unfair question considering the context and the attack.
To be clear, although I’ve run as a candidate in past elections, I’m not working with or affiliated with anyone’s Mayoral or Council campaign. I’ve been approached by a few candidates and teams, and I’ve declined involvement on that level. As a voter I will have my preferences, but I’m just that, this time around- not a candidate, not a campaigner- a voter.
If Andrew Dreschel had done research, beyond using twitter, wikipedia and a thesaurus, he might know I’m independent of these campaigns. I’m not an “acolyte” or “devotee” to any campaign. (Ok- full disclosure: despite my noted atheism, I’ve voted for Reverend Michael Baldasaro in more than one municipal election.)
Former Mayor Larry Di Ianni, who supports Fred Eisenberger’s campaign continued the same attack as Cutler, saying:
I responded, pointing out that Fred involving in his campaign a former Mayor who plead guilty to 6 out of 41 charges of the Municipal Elections Act is “not [the] best image” either. This is true- Larry Di Ianni’s Mayoral Campaign in 2003 accepted tens of thousands of dollars of illegal contributions, much of it from local developers. This isn’t something I made up, it has been documented thoroughly.
In response, Larry took a nasty jab at my mental state and my employment status.
This was omitted from Dreschel’s column: a former Mayor making attacks against someone’s mental health and employment, in response to my posting news articles about his public record as a former Mayor. That was about the worst of this “twitter cat fight”. But Larry Di Ianni and I have been sniping at each other for years. This may be conduct unbecoming a former Mayor, but not our Larry- I’ve just come to expect it from him.
What made me really chuckle was Andrew Dreschel himself. The first half of the column is an overly-clinical explanation of twitter, followed by a statement that social media can be “amply dappled and oftentimes poisonously dank”. Andrew makes his distaste for twitter (and the fact that his bosses probably required him to have an account) very obvious. He describes his own interactions with twitter, and you can almost imagine him wearing protective gloves and goggles.
Has Andrew ever read the comment section below every news article on www.thespec.com? Over the years, I’ve seen racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ableism and outright falsehoods being left in the comments, usually by anonymous commenters. I’ve seen commenters shaming a murdered homeless woman because when she was alive she interrupted their night at Hess by asking for spare change. I’ve seen outright xenophobic comments about immigrants every time a column deals with local settlement organizations or the ‘sanctuary city’ policy. All on the Hamilton Spectator’s online property.
Anyone who has reported these comments to the Spec might know they can be very slow to react, and the comments can exist on the site anywhere up to a full 24 hours. The Spec doesn’t do a good job of actively moderating the comments on their site, and have never done anything meaningful to address it.
I’ve been on the receiving end of libellous statements for years, referring to my weight, my employment status, and where I live, every time my name is mentioned by their company.
It was ironic reading a Spectator columnist reporting on yesterday’s twitter fights, when they themselves preside over the most poisonously dank pool of anonymous cess on any local website, every single day.
The only thing The Spectator doesn’t like about nasty twitter exchanges is that they’re not happening on their website, beside a KIA or OLG slots ad.
On another note, I’d like to congratulate Spectator Editor-In-Chief Paul Berton on his 100th column about the prevailing relevance of newspapers.