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#PennySparrow - Facebook Racism Snowballs into Massive Corporate Fallout

Daily Mail
Over the past few days, South African news has been awash with stories about Penny Sparrow and Jawitz Properties. Sparrow recently went on an extremely ill-advised Facebook rant about the black community in Johannesburg, referring to them as monkeys. Horrible, yes, and as you might have predicted, viral now as well. Within hours of the post going up, Sparrow was being lambasted on every corner of Twitter and Facebook, as was Jawitz, the company she was most directly affiliated with, seemingly. The thing is, she hasn't worked for them in months, and her nasty rant has absolutely nothing to do with them.

If I were Penny Sparrow, I would take a moment to congratulate myself on my amazingly Dickensian name, but shortly after that I would jump on Facebook, apologise for all the awful things I said and make it abundantly clear that my abhorrent racism doesn't not reflect in any way on the company that I no longer work for. This is obviously a bit of a stretch, I'm about as far removed from Penny Sparrow as it's possible to be, estate agency is a job I would hate and be awful at and I most certainly don't harbor any racial hatred. Apart from blue people, they need to go away.

Comments made by a an ex-employee is threatening a company that is built on integrity, morals and values. We are...
Posted by Jawitz Scottburgh on Sunday, January 3, 2016

The point I'm meandering around is that if you do become the subject of a social media typhoon because of your stupid, putrid views, don't drag anyone else down with you, and certainly not your old company. Jawitz have gone on record to say that Sparrow's statements do not reflect on company policy in any way, shape or form, and that they're getting an attorney involved to 'deal with this matter', which presumably means counteracting everything this story has done to smear their reputation. Sparrow has apologised as well, but it reads like the kind of apology a 5 year old gives after pulling their sibling's hair, she doesn't seem to even understand what she's apologising for.

Eyewitness News
The backlash has gained so much momentum now that anyone who makes any comment on it other than simply jumping on the death-band wagon is getting dragged down with her. South African radio host Gareth Cliff commented on the potential criminalisation of racist social media posts, vaguely suggesting that such an act would be a violation of freedom of speech. That was all it took for him to get swept into the fray and before long he was apologising too. Once again though, he didn't seem overly sorry. The difference there is that he didn't really have anything to be sorry for.




This is the problem with the so called 'social justice' movement. It is, ironically, indiscriminate in who it goes after. The only person guilty of fault in this scenario is Penny Sparrow, and even then her failing is one of ignorance, rather than malicious intent. Will this social media crapstorm push her into a state of self-questioning, making her a more tolerant person? Probably not. Will it do any long-term damage to the reputation of a blameless estate agency? There's a good chance it will. Everyone else will have likely forgotten about all this by the end of the month.




Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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#PennySparrow - Facebook Racism Snowballs into Massive Corporate Fallout Reviewed by Callum Davies on Wednesday, January 06, 2016 Rating: 5

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