No matter how many times careers and reputations are destroyed because of nasty emails, people continue to destroy themselves with nasty emails. There is just something about typing in solitude that makes an email seem like a permanently private conversation. And it is, until it isn’t.
Here is the verbatim Vox.com summary of the Ferguson Emails as revealed from the U.S. Justice Department:
- A November 2008 email said President Barack Obama won’t be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
- A March 2010 email mocked African Americans with horrible stereotypes about their families and how they speak. One line of the email read, “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”
- An April 2011 email depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee.
- A May 2011 email said, “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”
- A June 2011 email said a man wanted to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”
- An October 2011 email had a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”
- A December 2011 email made jokes based off offensive stereotypes about Muslims.
The Justice Department also concluded that it was unlikely that anyone ever said “hands up, don’t shoot.” But that point in the Police’s favor was obscured by the anger over the racist email. It is important to note, these emails were sent during work hours, to court officials. These were not sent on AOL to best friends on a Saturday afternoon.
If you are going to have a job that deals with the public, that involves tax dollars, and that affects citizens, you have to realize it’s not just what you say and do in public anymore; it’s also what you write in email to others in the process.
TJ Walker advises governments how to handle the media during a crisis. You can reach him at 212.764.4955 at Media Training Worldwide