Mama always said…

May 30, 2018

I feel like it is an appropriate time to share one of my wise mother’s rules. I grew up in a Catholic household and my mother was a teacher, assistant principal, then principal in the Catholic School System. We weren’t “holy rollers” but we went to mass weekly. My mother used say, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I think this an appropriate lesson this week.

Whether you are talking about the ride to school in the old VW Vanagon or on Twitter today, it’s a relevant message. Many of us who read this blog live in the United States. We enjoy the right to say what we please, it’s called the Freedom of Speech. Under that freedom, any person can “articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction.” It is an absolute right and a foundation of our democracy.

But there is a greater creed that that my mother taught us to live by. She taught us respect. She taught us that each person, no matter what they look like, where they come from or what they believe, deserve that respect. There was no room in our Vanagon (or home) for disrespect, racism or hurtful words. Sometimes it’s not about what’s legal. It’s about what’s right.

So, Roseanne, maybe it’s time for you to meet mother. She used to be a fan of yours. At least, maybe it’s time to learn a lesson from Mrs. Baumann.

It’s important for us, as individuals and brands, to watch what we say while online. We must remember that diverse populations see what we write. If there is anything that seems remotely disrespectful, it should never make its way to any social media platform.

Perhaps the best response to this situation came from an unlikely place, Sanofi US, the maker of Ambien. Roseanne, in an effort to save some face, blamed Ambien, the well-known sleep medication for this. Sanofi quickly replied back, “people of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people all around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” They are correct. It’s no side effect. It’s ignorance and it doesn’t belong on our social media networks.

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