CFN – While Canadians were taking pleasure in the radiance of June-blooming poppies, something unlovely was germinating within the contaminated soil of a Cornwall-area Facebook group that specializes in mockery and cyber bullying.
But it is the group’s pre-Canada Day defilement of the poppy that has the Royal Canadian Legion seeing red.
“It is a first. I have never seen such a blatant defacement of our sacred symbol and believe that if other Canadians could see it, they’d be as outraged as I am,” says Bill Maxwell, who is secretary of the Legion’s Poppy and Remembrance Committee.
Truth is, the defiled poppy is still sitting on the group’s Facebook site (as of press time) where it is viewed by close to 400 adult members as a joke.
“If you can’t take a joke take it and bleep off and that goes for all the whiny little cry asses.”
The group’s members include a deputy mayor, city council hopefuls( including one veteran himself ) and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who represented the riding of SD&G for the Ontario Liberal Party.
The image of the group’s ignoble jape will not appear within this story. It is hoped that members (whose names will also not appear) will reset their moral compasses and voluntarily remove the post that is accompanied by the following words from the group’s leader, who makes a mockery of Remembrance Day solemnity:
“Let us all remember “member’s name” and remain silent and NO POSTING till his Facebook Jail term is complete I believe around 9 am Saturday morning but in the mean time feel free to report the people that like to do all the reporting…Till then “member name” your fight has not gone unrecognized.”
The Legion’s Bill Maxwell also points out that the symbol is protected by trademark and copyright and says people should understand that serious consequences exist for any group, or individual, who co-opts, wrongfully uses, abuses or defaces the symbol.
Cornwall-area citizens who are not members of the group but who monitor posts by choice, remain shocked about the symbol’s defilement particularly when it resides among so many garden-variety vulgarities, including one member’s custom photos of dog and chicken feces.
But concerning the poppy defilement specifically, at least one local resident bravely asks on her own Facebook page:
Could this be any more disrespectful to our soldiers?
If you’re reading this wondering why only one local person has dared to speak up, it’s simple: speaking up leads to predictable counter attacks, even though the group’s original nastiness (due to pending law suits) has become a ragtag collection of LOLs, LMFAOs, LOCKED CAPS INSULTS that often include references to human and animal excrement, Internet memes, photos, and the group’s favourite refrain that they are speakers of truth.
The group will also turn on its own members. Recently when a member challenged another (the one who’s so enamoured with his dog’s poop), the latter – who appears to be in his 70s – posted:
“…I am a big boy and can stand my own ground very easily. I am used to dealing with assholes, so go kick your dog or something “member name” . We do not need your kind here.”
Incidentally, the go-kick-your-dog-comment got a resounding public “thumbs up” from a deputy mayor.
So is the group interested in truth as it claims? Many are thinking poppycock, and others are plain fed up.
In an editorial that appeared in Cornwall’s Standard Freeholder, the bullies were cursed with the phrase:
A pox on all your houses,
which in 14th century Verona (the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) would most certainly be the modern equivalent of: I hope you all get cancer, H1N1, SARS or Ebola, get sick, suffer and possibly die.
Presumably, the nuance of a slightly modified Shakespearean quote was lost on the group, as it remains the only comment it has not responded to.
Ironically, the group emerged around the time of pink t-shirt day, 2014, and made its debut as the “angry mob” complete with an image of people carrying weapons.
Within short order, Facebook shut the group for using violent words and images against its primary victim – Cornwall citizen and mayoral candidate Jamie Gilcig who owns and is editor of Cornwall Free News, an online newspaper. But everyone knows it’s difficult to control invasive and noxious weeds.
Before you could say: “Get out of my face, Jamie,” the mob reinvented itself, as a “fun” group, with some strategic help from a representative of the Ontario Press Council who in all fairness could not have imagined a trajectory that lead to (among other things):
- Images of bonking Gilcig over the head with a baseball bat;
- A photo likeness of Gilcig lying in the street as though wounded, dead or dying;
- A statement to Gilcig and a friend that reads like a death threat: (…Psst, Hey…Don’t be afraid we are here to help you go to a better place);
- Depictions, photos, and comments about Gilcig’s body, abode, pets, family members and friends, listing of the newspapers clients for the purpose of intimidation, and of course
- The present desecration of the Remembrance Day poppy.
There have also been events involving group members outside their Facebook haven. Some evidence suggests the possible manipulation of a local 80-year-old veteran to affect political controversy, and group member’s political gain.
Cyber bullying among all age groups is a tragedy and a growing phenomenon.
A recent airing of CBCs Cross Country Checkup posed the question: How can cyberbullying be stopped?
Oh, how we long for the answer.
…We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.
Post Script: The Cornwall N area group’s page suggests its members have gone underground to a non-public Facebook page.
Photo at top: Corporal Neil Bryden RAF/MOD