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Shauna Hunt interviews a soccer fan in Toronto on Sunday, May 10, 2015, in this video frame grab. A man caught on video hurling obscenities at a female TV reporter is now out of a job. Hydro One says it is taking steps to terminate one of its employees for violating the company code of conduct. (HO/The Canadian Press)
Shauna Hunt interviews a soccer fan in Toronto on Sunday, May 10, 2015, in this video frame grab. A man caught on video hurling obscenities at a female TV reporter is now out of a job. Hydro One says it is taking steps to terminate one of its employees for violating the company code of conduct. (HO/The Canadian Press)

TART

The vulgar heckling incident: Let me spell it out for you Add to ...

Very shortly, (I check my news-cycle clock) we’ll be told to feel nothing but pity for Shawn Simoes, the man fired by Hydro One this week for making a complete ass of himself.

He shouldn’t be publicly shamed, we’ll be chided. This of a man who was, with his friends, eagerly awaiting his turn to participate in the humiliation of a woman, before a vast audience.

What he did shouldn’t affect his employment, we’ll be told, although the meme he passionately defended when CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt calmly asked him and his friends about their plans to yell obscenities into a microphone specifically involves disrupting other people’s work.

As soon as the video of the incident which took place at last Sunday’s Toronto FC game was posted, some said that the men had been ambushed by Ms. Hunt, who, upon hearing them conspiring, asked them about the endgame, allowed them to answer her questions and then to clarify those answers.

As an ambush goes, this ranks right up there with, “Have you folks decided what you’re having today? No? So, would you like a little more time? I can come back in a few minutes.”

Yet, given ample chance to retract, give nuance to, or provide mitigating context for his position that what those men aimed to do was “fucking hilarious,” he offers up what is possibly the worst defence of any joke that can be made. Namely, that lots of people have made it before (some of them in England!) and then Mr. Simoes went with: “You’re lucky there’s not a fucking vibrator in your ear … like in England!”

This may be the most perverse kind of anglophilia ever. Possibly weirder than egg coddlers.

It’s not, however, fair to put these men in the spotlight, we’ll be told – after all, they were only trying to get on television.

When did we, as a society, (hands wringing throughout the land) become so uncivil as to draw attention to people innocently going about their business of yelling “fuck her right in the pussy!” during a live broadcast?

Obviously this was a private thing, it will be said, by people apparently not as stunned as I am to realize we live in a world where a man can lose a job that pays $107,000 a year because he seems to be incapable of understanding that people who have seen his face before might recognize his face if they see it again.

Loathsome as he is, I kind of want to play cards with this guy. Hell, I bet peek-a-boo still gets a laugh. Oh, but he did not actually say those six exact words, we’ll be told, as if somehow his failure to succeed in this ridiculously easy and malicious ambition absolves him.

Let’s be fair, the argument goes: Standing on live television with his face clearly in view and screaming an obscenity that degrades women into a woman’s camera, to be heard by all the people at home – you know, all the little girls watching the soccer game, maybe wearing their team scarves – was the best-case scenario.

He never actually pulled off the stunt he lauds at length. He lost at being a loser and, were it not for that pesky social media, he would have got away with it, many will complain.

I’m struck by how many who bemoan this trend (which I’ll grant you can be tiresome, and sometimes the crowd gets it very wrong) have themselves been privileged to denounce and pronounce upon the masses, upon relatively voiceless minorities and specific individuals from media pulpits for years.

Many complaints about “mob justice” come from those who have been wrong and biased and sometimes flat-out cruel with virtual impunity. One can’t help but see some self-interest in their objections – now that people can answer back.

It’s true that when everyone has a voice it gets noisy, but passing judgement is hardly new, my fellow columnists. The system is not broken, our monopoly is.

When people tweet things at me that are as emphatic as what I’ve written, I try to remind myself, they’re not trolls, they’re micro-columnists.

We have always crowd-sourced justice. Now we just have better “Wanted” posters, so let’s stop wholesale shamer shaming. Shaming is in part a means of asserting our values – values like, don’t scream “fuck her right in the pussy” at people.

I won’t use the acronym for those words decorously deployed by many when writing up this story; it’s an acronym coined by the man who came up with this stunt, and every time the media coyly use it, we help that creep sell one of his lousy T-shirts.

This is news and we should spell it out the way women have to hear it and, if offends you to read those words, then imagine how someone shouting them in your face, often grabbing you or your work tools as they do so, must feel. Perhaps 10 times a day.

There will be, of course, wails about free speech from people who do not understand that the concept of free speech includes the right to say, “You’re an idiot.”

Also, I don’t care that this lame, tired stunt is occasionally done with male reporters as well. That hardly redeems it: Shouting sexually explicit things is sexual harassment.

“Surely there was some way this could have been handled without Mr. Simoes losing his job?” some have said. Likely, yes, but that wasn’t Hydro One’s call. And Hydro One is not Mr Simoes’s parent or his therapist. It’s not nanny-Hydro One, and they’re not obliged to coach or reform him or employ him, and there’s no question the man made himself, through considerable effort, not a momentary one-line lapse, a liability.

Hydro One has other employees to consider, people who might not feel comfortable working under or beside a man who has made it clear that sexually harassing women while they work is something fun that he’s entitled to do, and if they object they are failing in their duty to feel grateful they don’t have a vibrator in their ear.

It strikes me “he lost his job” is mostly said in a graver tone than “she lost her job.” Somehow, one often senses that a woman losing her job is just not considered as serious a thing.

It’s as though on some level she likely didn’t need that job, or really love that job, as perhaps a television reporter might – were it not, say, for the relentless, degrading treatment she was forced to endure while she did it.

“He lost his job” is said in the same tone as “she lost her looks,” and am I delighted that Mr. Simoes lost his job?

No, no more that I’m delighted that he behaved like a raging moron, but thousands of women walk quietly away from their jobs because of sexual harassment – so they lose those jobs. I’m not crying because one harasser lost his.

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Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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