So They Turn to Belittling and Harassing Them. And That Has Got To Stop!
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted March 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – I picked up a copy of The St. Catharines Standard this March 16th and there was a headline on the newspaper’s front page that has become all too familiar across Niagara in recent years.
This one read; ‘Harassment is hitting new low, Ip says.’
In this case, Ip is St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip, but the headline might just as well have highlighted the name of any one of a number of higher profile women in public life in Niagara who have been subjected to everything from insults meant to belittle or demean them, to menacing message that smell like threat to them or members of their families.
Just to get back to this most recent headline, there may be no surprise that Laura Ip, who has a record of taking strong positions of issues – positions considered objectionable or controversial to some – might draw strong criticism from those same people.
Yet there is a difference between civil discourse over issues – between people criticizing and challenging the views of Ip or any other individual in public office – and resorting to open or anonymous messages aimed at insulting, harassing and in sometimes even threatening the individual and members of their family.
In the Standard article, Laura Ip, who has roughed it out through waves of harassment before, is quoted saying; “I think the underlying theme to a lot of the abuse is that they want women just to shut up. … We are seeing it with journalists and women politicians – people with a voice.”
A lot of this “abuse” is happening on social media, where cowards often go to harass or threaten others anonymously with such bogus return email addresses and nicknames like “flame thrower” or “exploding with rage” so there is no way to even respond back to them.
But over my last decade or so of trying to continue covering issues of interest and concern in this Niagara region, I have also watched, with disgust, some of our male politicians (and yes, they always are male), belittling both young and older women who serve on council or appear as a delegation at regional and at some of Niagara’s local municipal council meetings.
The attacks so many of these women have faced, whether they be elected councillors, representatives for other public bodies in our region, or simply private citizens appearing before a council to make a point, have so obviously had as their motive, to belittle or demean these women, or as Laura Ip says, have them ‘SHUT UP’.
To his credit (and I would not expect anything less from this good man), I have not seen this kind of disgusting behavior happen or go unchecked under the leadership of the current Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley who, in The Standard article, was quoted saying: “It is disheartening that it keeps happening, and I have to condemn the behavior and language of certain members of our community. … There are no circumstances where this type of language is acceptable and it only serves to denigrate a member of our community and denigrate our overall public discourse.”
Hear, Hear to Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley.
And I would only add to that the following – that we all work to root out all of those, including some of those still commanding seats on municipal councils across this Niagara – who engage in this kind of harassing behavior, and that we do everything we can to support those women, whether we agree with their views on issues or not, who are targets of this ugly garbage.
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