Facebook Foul. By Patrick Costello, author of the Brigantine best seller; ‘Greenhead Politics‘.
Brigantine Now strives to be a positive influence on the community, and in my work I am mindful not only to be as fair and unbiased as possible, but also to maintain that standard of positivity. A seriously community-minded website should address relevant issues and always seek to avoid descending into the muck and ugliness of name calling and personal attacks.
However, sometimes addressing an ugly issue is the only way to serve the community. If it cannot, or should not, be avoided, it must be faced, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us. It is for that reason that I apologize in advance for the journey into depravity on which we must embark.
The recent controversy over the comments made by local educator and lieutenant of the Brigantine Beach Patrol Fran Masino on his social media page should be a matter of concern to all Brigantine residents.
For those fortunate enough not to have been exposed to his obscenity-laced diatribe, I offer the screenshot of Masimo’s actual Facebook posting.
Unfortunately, the censorship required to make this suitable for a family website, as if such language could be considered suitable in any setting, makes this tirade a bit hard to decipher. However, minimal effort is required to immediately recognize this for what it is: a fairly typical internet rant, full of bile and impotent rage. That in itself is nothing so unusual. Anyone familiar with the internet knows that public posting sites are chock full of angry adolescents with limited vocabularies and unlimited time. Bad grammar, profanity and the bravery of attacking by keyboard are the usual state of affairs online.
With that said, when something so heinous is posted by a person entrusted with the care and education of our children, we have progressed beyond harmless internet “trolling” and have encountered a situation that requires further attention. Not only is Fran Masimo an area teacher, but he is also entrusted with a leadership position on the Brigantine Beach Patrol, which is also somewhat youth-oriented. For someone holding such positions of responsibility to conduct themselves so outrageously in a public forum raises serious concerns, or at least should.
Put aside the language for a moment. Ignore the hostility and even the implied threat at the end. The real concern in this case is the extremely poor judgment displayed by a man who not only teaches our children and protects our beach-goers, but who also holds a significant amount of influence with the leadership of Brigantine. Everyone is certainly entitled to their feelings, and nobody likes everyone. That is simply a fact of life.
But the questions must be asked: Is Brigantine truly well-served by placing an individual capable of such poorly considered acts in a position of responsibility? Are the students who are influenced and affected by him every day truly being educated properly?
Facebook has in the past been connected with several cases of online bullying that have resulted in tragedies. Many members of the online community have taken steps to prevent further occurrences of such situations. At a time when the children need positive role-models to emulate, Fran Masino’s post bears a striking resemblance to many of the instances shown to have been connected with documented cases of what is being called “cyber-thuggery”.
Simply removing the offending post is not enough. It is time that teachers and persons in positions of responsibility start setting the proper example, and that city officials who protect and show them patronage take the proper action when something like this occurs.
Patrick Costello, Author of the Brigantine best seller; ‘Greenhead Politics‘.