Editorial: Public figures should think before tweeting

November6cartoonAlmost everyone who has ever applied to colleges, been on a job hunt or seeking an internship knows the impact social media can make on a person’s image.

Even more so, politicians and those in the public eye know well how tweets, though they can be deleted, may never truly disappear. Houston Mayor Annise Parker seems to have forgotten that fact after a recent incident with the Department of Public Safety.

Parker’s daughter was denied the chance to take a driving test to get her license. The mayor claimed it was because the documents presented to the DPS indicated her daughter has two mothers. Parker married Kathy Hubbard in California this year and is one of the first openly gay mayors in the U.S.  She wrote the following tweet in response to the incident.

“Daughter needs drivers test. Has all docs, some in MomA name, some MomK, but w/ birth cert showing both. DPS says can only be from 1 mom!”

DPS officials responded, saying Parker’s daughter was denied, not because of her parents’ marital status, but because she failed to prove Texas residency through her documents.

Parker is not the first person to be turned away from the DPS without accomplishing a task on the first attempt. Even with the required documents listed online, it is still difficult to provide everything when trying to get a driver’s license. This is not new. What is relatively new is the public shaming of an agency via a mayor’s Twitter. While the process can be undeniably frustrating, her response was unprofessional.

Furthermore, her public, inaccurate claim that the refusal was at all related to marital status could be seen as exploitation of her sexual orientation. By relating the issue to the fact that Parker is a lesbian, she was drawing unnecessary attention to being openly gay, a fact that is already widely publicized.

However, if the DPS did make it difficult for the child of gay parents to obtain a license for marital status reasons, the issue should be remedied. This was not the case for Parker’s daughter. If it was, Parker would have substantial reason to complain. A child should not have to suffer from the consequences of their parents’ actions by being denied a driver’s license.

In the future, Parker should check her facts before causing a national scene with the DPS or any other agency. It did not reflect well on her, just as similar outbursts reflect poorly on others. In this generation, a new mantra should be made: “Think before you tweet.”