EDITORIAL: Documenting incidents and shaming abusers go hand-in-hand

Torontorians are shaming the “leprechaun” after a video of him confronting another TTC bus passenger went viral.

The unidentified man — dubbed a leprechaun for his green shirt, bowler hat and beard — allegedly insulted and assaulted commuter Brenda Davie after she asked him to remove his bag from an empty seat so she could sit.

Davie posted the incident on her Facebook page last Wednesday and wrote that she politely requested the man to remove his bag. The man refused, and when Davie insisted he reportedly said: “Get the f–k away from me, airhead. The seat is occupied.” Davie wrote that when she pressed him, he pushed her “backwards into a pile of people” and stomped on her foot.

Juan Hodem, who confirmed Davie’s account, was also on that crowded 72 Pape bus. Hodem took out his phone to film the incident, and later uploaded the video on the Internet. The video shows the man saying to Davie, “You get nothing, pay attention.” She replies with, “You’re the one that won’t let people sit down because of your f–king bag.” The man calls her a “f–king airhead,” and Davie says, “I’m glad your bag is comfortable.”

It didn’t take too long for the video to go viral. The post was seen by thousands of people, the leprechaun was condemned, and someone even created a fake Twitter account of him under the name @TTCLeprechaun.

However, some people argue that using social media to shame the unknown man is a violation of his rights. The footage shows the verbal confrontation between Davie and the man, but not the assault. There’s no security footage from the TTC bus, and the only witness that’s come forward is Hodem. The man who still hasn’t been given an opportunity to defend himself is already defamed.

However the video doesn’t appear to be doctored, nor does it document exactly what happened.

Citizen journalism is a growing phenomenon, and it is common for those who carry cell phones and use social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. It’s easier for people to be scrutinized for their bad behaviour and be documented on social media. So while name-calling and bashing someone isn’t a very nice thing to do, holding them accountable is.

TTC commuters are all too familiar with passengers that are inconsiderate towards fellow passengers.

Last year, the TTC collected fares from about 1.7 million passengers on an average business day. In a regular TTC bus, 36 passengers can be seated and a total of 51 can occupy it. Most commuters who travel during rush hour can agree that the buses are filled with people, trapped back-to-back, arm-to-arm and from door-to-door. Room or not, passengers try to squeeze their way into small spaces just to get on the streetcar. Many of those tired passengers are going back home after a long day of work. Finding an empty seat is like finding a needle in a haystack, and only a commuter can explain the joy it brings. Finding an empty seat occupied by a backpack is frustrating.

TTC’s spokesman Brad Ross apologized to Davie on behalf of the TTC and said: “Bags do not belong on seats. Seats are for people. Bags don’t pay fares, people do,”

As for all the leprechaun hunters, there’s no pot of gold at the end of this search — just a guy who hopefully regrets his actions.

Comments are closed.

Read previous post:
RyersonianTV Freeze Frame 853x480
RyersonianTV: Luka Magnotta trial begins today in Montreal

RyersonianTV is a daily newscast produced by the School of Journalism's masthead class. Watch us live, Monday to Friday, at noon...