Fri | Jun 2, 2023

What's in a tweet?

Published:Friday | August 26, 2016 | 8:16 PM


A one-word tweet rooted in bigotry, hate and ignorance triggered controversy during a moment of Jamaican Olympic prowess and celebration. The tweet was directed at Olympic gold medallist Omar McLeod, who created history for Jamaica after winning gold in the men's 110m hurdles at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Brazil.

We have so much to learn as a people about cultural appropriateness and respect even for those who justified the tweet as 'free speech'. A Huffington Post article published online suggested that the disrespected athlete, whose stellar achievement earned him a gold medal, an accomplishment most will never be able to achieve, would be more than welcome in a country like Canada, bringing with him his rare talents and skills, if he felt slighted in any way by the Jamaican public.

Fortunately, many Jamaicans found the tweet offensive and inappropriate, and chose to focus instead on the athlete's achievement and the recognition he brought to our small island, along with our other outstanding athletes. How petty, immature and sad that the first thing that comes to some minds at a great moment of achievement is to question one's sexuality!

Fortunately, LASCO responded swiftly to distance itself from the offensive tweet made from its company's Twitter account, the employee who made the tweet was fired, and the company promised to make amends to the disrespected athlete.

Peter Chin, CEO of LASCO, should be highly commended for his actions. He could've otherwise opted to ignore the controversy, allowing it to quietly go away. Instead, they chose to respond publicly by issuing a statement and an apology.

There's a well-known Confucian saying that suggests the grass will always grow how the wind blows, and this highlights yet again how important it is for our leaders in business, politics, schools and elsewhere to lead by example and to behave in ways that can help to teach those who otherwise might not know better.

I am sure the controversial tweeter learned quite a lesson. Homophobia is, oddly enough, deeply rooted in our culture. There is a strange obsession with sexuality, whether real or perceived. However, there comes a point when, as a people, we must learn to grow up.