Most Canadians pride themselves on living in a country that is welcoming, accepting, and tolerant.
But sometimes social media reveals another side of our culture, when people use it to make offensive comments in a public space.
Tuesday night's edition of TSN's SportsCentre was hosted by Gurdeep Ahluwalia and Nabil Karim, two talented broadcasters we're always excited to see on the air. The fact they're breaking barriers is just a bonus.
Sadly, some people took to Twitter to comment on the ethnicity of the hosts.
Yahoo! Sports blogger Neate Sager shares his take on the sorry affair right here. He also includes some of the Tweets. A warning before you go: they're offensive and sad.
Strombo.com spoke to Rubin Friedman, the Principal Operating Officer of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), about the offensive Tweets.
"Social media makes it easier for everybody to express their views. That includes racists," he said.
"It's wonderful when we get to hear from people who promote democracy and are fighting for human rights, but you get the opposite, easily."
Friedman has been thinking about how technology impacts public discourse for a long time.
"I did a presentation to the UN Commission on Human Rights back in 1996, basically pointing out to them how easy the world wide web made it for people with racist views to talk to each other," he says.
"And the same thing happens in the Twitterverse. As soon as somebody sees one comment, they feel empowered to make another. And as soon as you see two, then somebody feels empowered to make three. And so on."
Strombo.com also spoke to Elliotte Friedman from CBC Sports about the situation, and he told us he's received anti-semitic Tweets in the past.
"It's not unusual for me to get a racial slur on Twitter," he said, from users who attack him for his Jewish background.
He says he believes anyone who's on Twitter and receives those types of comments has two choices: "You either retweet it so people will get on that person, or you ignore it."
Earlier today, Friedman Tweeted about Rebecca Marino, one of Canada's top young tennis prospects, who just announced that she has "decided to step away from tennis" because of comments directed at her online that have "affected her emotional well-being in the past couple of years."
He took to his Twitter account to wish her luck, and also said this:
Anyway, bottom line is this: You've got to have a thick skin. If you don't, you shouldn't be on social media. Probably sad, but true.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 20, 2013
As for Ahluwahlia and Karim, Friedman told us he hopes they dismiss the comments and those who made them.
"I hope they say 'these people are idiots' and move on from there," he said.
The Twitter outburst following Ahluwalia and Karim's broadcast has generated some interesting discussion online. On the Canucks.com forum, user YSSUP wrote about the Tweets, saying "I just wanted to get the word out about this, about how people are still living in the past and that there still are racist people out there."
Commenter WeatherWise responded in part, "I don't doubt xenophobia, homophobia and gender discrimination are rampant among us. We don't see it when there's a camera in front of us because today's society is taught to admire and praise tolerance ... When people can hide their identities, however, the truth becomes evident."
Sadly, this isn't the first time these two journalists have been subjected to negative comments online. When Ahluwalia and Karim were announced as SportsCentre hosts in 2012, there was a similar outburst of offensive Tweeting.
This site reported on those Tweets. If anything, they are even more offensive than the messages that went out last night.
The CRRF's Rubin Friedman believes Tweets like these are proof that organizations like his have their work cut out for them, and that people need to learn exactly how public comments on Twitter are.
"People not only have to understand that racism in 'officially public space' is wrong," he told us, "they have to understand that even things they consider to be an offhand comment to a friend of theirs, which is often the way you think of it, as Tweeting and social media, even that can have a big effect, and in the modern world, that's the way it is now."
Twitter does not regulate the content of Tweets on the site. Their current legal framework covers impersonation, trademark and copyright infringement, privacy, violence and threats, and unlawful use, but there is no mention of hate speech or offensive content.
As for situations where "someone you're following is Tweeting things you find very offensive," the company recommends "that you block the user and end any communication."
Go Habs Go.