Why the FHRITP guy doesn’t deserve to be fired
It’s not a good day for douchebag culture.
By now you’ve seen the video of City TV reporter Shauna Hunt confronting two men at a Toronto FC game after someone yelled “F*** her right in the p****!” into her microphone while she was interviewing people (sports people. I have no idea who).
For some context, the meme (henceforth referred to as FHRITP) started in 2014 with a video posted to YouTube of a reporter talking about a missing woman and, supposedly not realizing he’s live on the air, saying he would FHRITP when she was found. The video is a hoax by filmmaker John Cain who then posted another fake of a man yelling “FHRITP” into a reporter’s mic, which kicked off the trend of real people yelling “FHRITP” into both male and female reporters’ microphones.
The now famous City TV video shows a man yelling it into Hunt’s microphone, after which she approaches two other men standing nearby and asks them if they are waiting to do the same. They reply in the affirmative, but “not to you” (possibly implying that she’s not hot enough for such a privilege [at least that’s one way to interpret it]), then go on to make complete jackasses of themselves. One of the men, who has since been identified as Shawn Simoes, says she’s lucky she doesn’t “have a f***ing vibrator in [her] ear, like in England,” where it seems someone once accosted a reporter with a vibrator in her ear while yelling FHRITP.
Hunt, who is just plain fed up with it, asks what his mom would think of this and he replies that “she would die laughing, eventually.”
The video, of course, sparked public outrage, and Simoes has since been fired from his 106K public servant job at Hydro One.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin tweeted the message: “Public servants should b held to a higher std at all times. Engaging in a very public act of sex harass’t deserves quick sanction.”
Which brings us to the question: is that fair?
Let’s look at two sides of the argument.
On the one hand…
Is it fair? I don’t know. Who cares? Life isn’t fair. It’s not fair that women are not allowed to occupy space in the world and just do their damn jobs without being accosted by obnoxious, sexual harassers and made to feel threatened on a daily basis – and don’t argue with me that women aren’t constantly made to feel threatened. Go take your white male privilege and argue about some race issue you don’t understand either.
I doubt these guys have any idea where the meme started or any understanding of its underlying irony and are simply enjoying yelling “FHRITP.” And yes, even if you are yelling it at a male reporter, you are yelling it about women. So, it’s still sexist and debasing. At its core it is a phrase designed to debase women, take them out of whatever comfortable place they’re in and put them in another less comfortable place – where they belong, if you will. That’s its purpose.
Does Shawn Simoes understand that? Probably not. He doesn’t come across as a master of nuance. But that’s neither here nor there. He’s a public servant.
If you live and work in this day and age you should be aware by now that there is no line between public and private life and you should conduct yourself accordingly. If you don’t, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Everything is politics. Hydro One is a public company and Simoes has been tried in the court of public opinion. It’s their right to fire him if they choose to do so. It would be a PR nightmare not to do so and, unfortunately for Simoes, he put himself in the line of fire and has been made an example of as a result.
Was he just being stupid? Sure. He was also rude. Does he deserve to have his life destroyed for it? Not necessarily. But sometimes stupid actions have very large consequences and that’s just the way things are.
On the other hand…
He didn’t even yell the words!
Update: OK, we saw more footage than we originally saw and he might be yelling it later in the clip. He didn’t yell it first, but he might be saying it. I can’t quite make it out.
The reporter came up to him and his friends and asked his opinion. So, he gave it. He thinks the meme is funny. So do lots of other people. The comments about a vibrator in Hunt’s ear might seem threatening, but he’s actually just referring to another video, not threatening to do it.
Simoes didn’t start any of this, he wasn’t the main instigator, so why is he being punished so severely? Losing a six-figure salary and having your firing be publicly celebrated, these are life-changing events. Does he have a family to support? A mortgage to maintain? Is he caring for an ageing mother (until she eventually dies laughing)? His livelihood and those who depend on it could now be in jeopardy because he answered a question when asked on camera.
Yes, he comes across poorly in the video. But he doesn’t deserve to have the rest of his life ruined because he laughed at something that someone else yelled and then defended why he thought it was funny. It’s not funny. But the level of frenzied delight with which social media and the new lynch mob of public opinion can tear a person apart for transgressions real or imagined is downright scary.
And the precedent it sets is a concern.
In the end, I don’t know what side I feel strongest about.
OK, now what do you think? Column A? Column B? A little of both? Let us know.