Yesterday I doubt many people would have heard of Nick Sowden apart from his friends and Brisbane student politicians, today the story of his racist tweets is leading the media bulletins and the LNP has acted quickly and expelled him from the party. What a change a day makes. If he ever had any dreams of entering politics those are likely dashed, and his name will forever be connected with his racist tweets because of the internet.
Last night when I saw his tweets by following the #obama730 hashtag I was the first to retweet it to a larger audience and quickly wrote last nights blog post to get the word out as soon as possible. I then tipped off various media organisations to try to get the story in the msm.
I thought maybe it would get a small mention in the Brisbane media and the LNP would quietly act, I didn’t know how big the story would become.
Today Nick himself and a few defenders have come to different levels of defence of his actions, claiming that he was “taken out of context” and that he was actually parodying extreme right wingers and political correctness. He claimed that the tweets were meant not for a wider audience but for people who knew him and his unique sense of humour. I don’t agree with this for a few reasons.
Regardless of his intention his tweets were meant to get a wide audience. If you followed the stream you can see he made the first Obama/monkey joke only to his followers, when this fell on deaf ears did a similar tweet with the #obama730 hashtag so that it would be viewable to everyone who reads that stream. When responses to his unique brand of humour were less than impressed, he didnt try and explain that he was actually sending up racism. He actually retweeted the abusive tweets he received and one of the last tweets before he shut down his account said “All too easy” suggesting that he was intentionally trying to troll for a reaction and wasnt just tweeting to his friends.
I can sympathise with the issue of context. I have never met Nick and wouldn’t know him for a bar of soap, but looking through his previous tweets with various sexist and racist remarks it is hard to think of him as anything but a racist. Liberal blogger Tim Andrews knows Nick and claims that the remarks were taken out of context and that the Liberals shouldnt turn against themselves so quickly. Another tweep who also knows him personally also claims that he is not a racist but just has a very poor sense of humour.
In my view even if he was trying to be funny he shows such poor discipline and judgement that any political party is better off without him. Can you imagine the damage done to the LNP if this was happened close to an election?
A blog called Shiny New Coin did a post on the subject that is well worth the read. It’s true that we adapt our language when we are conversing with different people. Among close friends I will say something designed to get a reaction that I would never say in public. Because my friends know me they know when certain comments are serious and when some aren’t. Perhaps Nick is used to saying things amongst his friends purely for shock value but does not really hold those views. Perhaps he felt relaxed on twitter like he was just talking to his friends and tweeted outrageous things without considering of the wider audience that can view every tweet. Maybe.
Even IF if was a joke gone wrong, I still believe that it is completely inappropriate behaviour for a member of a broad-based political party to say in a public forum.