Plum residents not buying school board member post was ‘accidental’
By and large, Plum residents are not buying that a school board member’s Facebook post that has been criticized as being anti-Muslim was an accident.
Plum school board member Brian Wisniewski said the Feb. 1 post was accidental after some residents went to social media demanding him to resign and the school district condemned the post that read: “Does it worry anybody that we have three devout Muslims in Congress who have unlimited access to our TOP SECRET GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS?”
The post has since been removed from his profile.
Several people in Plum social media groups have said they don’t buy Wisniewski’s excuse.
Others weren’t so tactful in their approach to rebuke Wisniewski.
Some people defended Wisniewski’s action as exercising free speech.
Sharing something on social media can be accidental, said Heather Starr Fielder, Point Park University professor of social media.
“It could have been accidental. Sometimes people share something quickly without thinking about the repercussions,” Starr Fielder said. “But in a way that’s something telling, right? If your gut reaction is to share it without thinking, is that your true feelings on it?”
Starr Fielder said her advice to her students – and everyone – is to slow down.
“People need to be cautious on social media,” she said. “We need to be diligent about the content we’re writing and sharing. It’s all a reflection of ourselves. It’s important for people to slow down and think about what they’re posting and think about how what we’re posting is reading to our constituents or neighbors or friends or family.”
But she also warned social media users to be cautious to have a “mob mentality” and jumping to judgments too quickly.
“Sometimes people are jumping on the bandwagon and making an evil person out of someone without knowing the person or the full story. Before calling for the resignation or calling for them to be fired – it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon before we know all the information,” she said.
For example, she said, how many engagements did Wisniewski’s post receive? Did people comment on the post? If those things happened, he would have received notifications, she said. On the flip side, if there was minimal or zero engagement, he could have missed the mistake.
What concerns her, as a parent with a child in an area public school, is how long Wisniewski’s post remained on his profile page.
Former school board President Michelle Stepnick has said the post was up for three days before it disappeared.
“Certainly that’s a red flag,” Starr Fielder said. “If it was truly a mistake and three days went by before he noticed and deleted it, OK. But if three days go by before he realized his opinion was going to get him in trouble that’s a different story. So we can’t say what the truth is now.”
Wisneiwski did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Board members Richard Zucco, Sue Caldwell, Vicky Roessler, Jim Rogers, Steve Schlauch and Scott Kolar were not immediately available to comment.
When reached by phone, board member Scott Coulson said the board will have a statement on the matter later.
When asked if he thinks Wisniewski should resign, Coulson declined to comment. When asked if he believes Wisniewski’s post was accidental, he said, “I can only go by what he says. If he says it was accidental, that’s what he says.”
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .