on firing people for remarks made outside their job
Mood: contemplative
Posted on 2010-10-29 15:58:00
Tags: essay
Words: 334

Background: last week Juan Williams got fired from NPR for making some comments on Fox News about Muslims. I've kinda gone back and forth about what I think about this - the comments weren't terrible, but they do seem to indicate a bias and NPR is within their rights to fire people who don't represent them well. James Fallows at the Atlantic makes the point that NPR isn't just Fox but liberal - they do strive to report the facts and not let their opinions drive their coverage of the news.

Yesterday, some guy on an Arkansas school board made some really terrible comments about gays saying he wished all gays would commit suicide, etc. His comments were more private (they were made on his Facebook page, not national TV) but a lot more offensive, and certainly point to an inability to do his job fairly. I'm uncomfortable with people being fired for what they say in private, but I think the comments were odious enough to warrant it in this case. (postscript: He quickly resigned and was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, on which he sounded suitably contrite, although it sure sounded like his attitude hasn't really changed...)

Now that so much of our private lives is less private than it used to be, we're going to need to decide what's acceptable. If I'm polite to coworkers during work hours but am a raging racist outside of work, is that grounds for firing? What if I smoke pot, or go out drinking all night? I definitely learn towards the "if it's not affecting your work performance or environment, who cares?" school of thought, but these are going to be real issues. I kinda think that employers shouldn't even be allowed to look at an employee's Facebook page in an official context. What do y'all think?

Creepy Google CEO said that in the future everyone will be allowed a name change upon reaching adulthood in order to "disown youthful hijinks". Maybe it's not such a bad idea...


Comment from omega697:

Eric's not creepy! He's awesome!

Comment from gregstoll:

Can't he be both?

I just feel that he doesn't "get" privacy, like, at all.

Comment from omega697:

The problem is that a lot of his "this is how things are" statements get misinterpreted as "this is our vision for how things should be".

Comment from gregstoll:

OK, that's fair. I will admit I haven't seen these interviews in context...

Comment from flamingophoenix:

I posted about the NPR thing here.

This backup was done by LJBackup.