Nfld. & Labrador

'I've been called a Nazi': Social media attacks prompt Liberal MHA to appeal for calm

MHA Bernard Davis says he can take criticism, but the name calling and cursing on Twitter and Facebook goes too far.

Bernard Davis says he's been insulted on his personal Facebook page, which his family reads

MHA Bernard Davis says he can handle political grievances, but personal insults are a step too far. (CBC)

Liberal MHA Bernard Davis is challenging his social media attackers, asking for more considerate comments in light of a string of insults he says he has endured amid an uproar over Newfoundland and Labrador's tax.

"I've been called a Nazi, people threatened to throw coffee in my face, cursing is a regular occurrence on Facebook and that's on Twitter as well," Davis, the MHA for Virginia Waters-Pleasantville, told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

In a June 3 Facebook post to his personal page, Bernard asked for a more moderate tone out of respect for his family and friends.

"I respectfully ask that you avoid swearing and insults here," he wrote.

"I have many other mediums for you to reach out to me."

Davis' post asks for more personal, polite interactions. (Facebook)

'OK with criticism'

Like other Liberals, Davis has heard plenty of sharp words since a tax-hiking, cost-cutting budget was brought down in April. 

"I'm OK with criticism, don't get me wrong," Davis said in an interview.

"They can say what they want to me on my personal email or on a phone call to me, which is fine. But I'm the one who signed up for public life, not my family."

Davis said it's a minority who are causing the most trouble.

"Most of the people are really, really good. They don't take it to the Nth degree," he said.

"Some people overstep the line, and by sending a message to them on mass media, I just wanted to let them know, you can't have an adequate debate on Facebook. It's great for sharing information back and forth, but its not great for a debate."

The message, not the medium

Davis maintains personal and public Facebook pages, as well as Twitter, and said overall they are great tools to connect with constituents.

"I think it's a great medium for people to reach out. I've learned an awful lot of people's feelings from Facebook," he said, adding he's always willing to take those online comments offline.

"I invite everyone to meet with me, or phone me directly or I'll call them. I try to reach out to everybody when I receive messages."

Davis said he understands that people are angry over the budget and a myriad of other Liberal moves, but just hopes for that to be channeled into fewer personal insults and more productive conversations.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show