“Freedom of Speech” Does Not Guarantee You Can’t Be Fired!


There have been numerous stories about high profile media individuals who let their mouths run a little too loose. A few people come to mind. Martin Bashir resigned after his remarks regarding Sarah Palin and slavery. A week before that, Alec Baldwin was fired because of homophobic statements. This week, the big story was the statements made by reality TV star Phil Robertson (shown above) of the A&E show, “Duck Dynasty”.

In the GQ Magazine profile, the 67-year-old Duck Commander founder called being gay a “sin” and compared it to bestiality. “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” he told the mag. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer… But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical… Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

He then went on to say about African-Americans upon growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights Era: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

The uproar caused the patriarch to be suspended from the show, causing conservative backlash from knuckleheads like Sean Hannity, who gave out the phone numbers of A&E executives on the air and supporters shared them across Twitter.   You know, I didn’t hear anyone on the conservative side complain when Gilbert Godfried was fired from AFLAC after insensitive remarks on the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

I was a union steward for 10 years, and I knew that the people I represented was only as good as the information presented by them. I always reminded individuals when they first got hired of their rights. One of those rights was, “…the company always has the right to fire you. WE, have the right to disagree with their assessment through the grievance process.” So when I hear idiots like the half-governor Sarah Palin coming to the defense, complaining about “Free Speech”, I know for a fact that they have no clue what the hell they’re talking about!

Simply put, this is not “right” vs. “left”. It’s not moral vs. immoral. It’s not Christianity vs. any other religion or beliefs system. Get that through your head. The right to free speech does not mean that there are not repercussions to what you say. It just means you won’t go to jail. That doesn’t mean people won’t be offended by what you choose to say, and react accordingly.  Or in this case, getting disciplined by your employer.

Your employer has the right to fire you anytime they want. It’s called “at-will” employment. Your employer can fire you for any reason, and they don’t have to give you “just cause”. The only people who have protections are those individuals who have collective bargaining agreements (i.e. unions) and those people who have contractual agreements. Many of those individuals with agreements have “morals clauses”, which specifically states, you represent the company and are expected to act accordingly.

Phil Robertson, no doubly has a “morals clauses” in his agreement with A&E…which reminds me.  Do this experiment when you go back to work. Say to you boss, “You’re nothing but a worthless piece of shit!” Then see if you still have a job at the end of the day.

An even better example happened this week to a lady named Justine Sacco. She stupidly tweeted upon her flight to South Africa on Friday,


Upon landing in Cape Town, she deleted her Twitter account, but by then, the damage was done.  Her employer, IAC terminated her after a firestorm of hatred from Twitter users. For a time, #HasJustineLandedYet became the No. 1 non-promoted hashtag on Twitter while she was en route to Cape Town. It was also covered widely by both trade and consumer news sites.  One relief organization, Aid for Africa, even registered the domain name justinesacco.com, and had it redirect to their site on Friday.

What it all comes down to is, people have the right to say anything they want.  Just remember, shit always comes out in the wash!


About smoothjazzandmore

I'm a TV producer and an Internet radio broadcaster. I also write for my blogs (An Op-Ed Blog and a Football Blog) here at WordPress.
This entry was posted in #HasJustineLandedYet, A&E, Duck Dynasty, Free Speech, GQ, Homophobia, Racism, Reality TV, Twitter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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