A Liberal Democrat councillor has defended a tweet in which he said “fortunately many of my followers appear to be fit young women” in a conversation about canvassing.
Peter Lord, who represents Trumpington for the Liberal Democrats on Cambridge City Council made the comments in an online conversation.
In an interview he said he didn't think that any offensive connotations could be a reasonable interpretation of his comments.
Encouraging another person to run for the council he said on Twitter: “Between us, we have potentially 6000+ Twitter followers who I'm sure would be pleased too turn-out, knock doors and promote your campaign.
“Naturally, you would also have to do a lot of legwork, meeting constituents on their doorsteps, finding out what their concerns are…
“…I don't know about you, but fortunately many of my followers appear to be fit young women who just need a little financial assistance to get to Cambridge, but would doubtless be happy to go canvassing for you when they arrive…”
In an interview with the local democracy reporting service he said he meant only that many of his followers appeared to be “healthy” and “young women”.
He said: “They are young and their photos appear to be able bodied. And I do say appear to be of course because nothing on Twitter is what it seems.
"The interpretation that I personally intend by it is their profiles show them as being young and healthy women, which in fact they probably are not. They are much more likely to be perhaps someone operating out of French Algeria."
"I will say it repeatedly: fit means healthy"
Questioned on the relevance of that he said: “Their photos show usually young and healthy women. And in the context of going around knocking on doors and distributing leaflets and whatever in all fairness it is not something that older people find terribly easy to do”.
When asked if he understood the possible interpretation of “fit young women” and the appropriateness of the comment he said “that is how you are choosing to interpret it”.
He said: “I will say it repeatedly: fit means healthy”.
Despite being asked again why he chose to bring up young healthy women at that moment, despite there being no prior mention of it in the conversation, he repeatedly answered that young people are needed to assist with canvassing, and he does not appear to have many young male followers.
After more questioning to clarify his comments he said that the phrase and use of the word "fit" has the potential to be offensive.
He said: “I would have to have been living in a cardboard box for the last 40 years not to have heard people use that kind of offensive language to women and about women.”
Explaining his word choice he said: “I have a very broad use of English language. I like to use English language, in what shall we call it – a florid way. I dont like using English in a dull flat manner, I like to play with English, and I suppose that also has different ways you could interpret.
“I guess if you mention it then perhaps people who choose to read it the way you are saying they might choose to read it might take offence.”
When asked if that was a reasonable interpretation of his comments by a reader he said: “In my opinion no – but nothing on Twitter is ever what it seems.”
When asked if he accepted it may appear that way without further clarification he said: “I guess if you are having trouble working it out then other people will have trouble working it out as well.”
When asked if people may find the choice of language odd, he said: “Perhaps they will. Perhaps some of them will find it humorous. Perhaps anything. You report it the way you see it. I guess an awful lot of people will start giving me – you know – a hard time about it, and I guess when you put yourself in a public space then you have to be prepared for that.”
Richard Taylor, who was communicating wRead More – Source