Friday, August 19, 2011

Exchange with a Liberal on Free Speech

Anon 1
GOOD! "Teacher of the Year" suspended for his negative comment on Facebook regarding same gender marriage!
Mount Dora, FL – Jerry Buell, last year’s “Teacher of the Year” at Mount Dora High School, has been suspended from the classroom for a comment he made on his own personal Facebook page, expressing his disapproval of legalized same-s*x marriage in New York. Buell commented that homosexuality is a sin...
  • 2 people like this.

    • Anon 2: You realize this isn't going to gain you any sympathy or supporters, Anon 1.
      about an hour ago

    • Anon 1:
      Whether or not this is Constitutional is not my concern Cynthia. The Constitution and the courts will determine that. But a public figure that places moral judgement on a group of people in a public forum should be called out. He is a public school teacher who teaches all children...straight, and lgbt. To be heard (or read) placing a moral judgement on some of those children via a public forum (Facebook) is NOT in the best interest of those children. A teacher's "personal" views are not "personal" in the public. A child needs to know that he or she is not being judged by a teacher on moral grounds just for how he or she is born. I agree with the action of the school administration, whether or not it is Constitutional.

    • GayCynic
      You might also consider this is a razor-sharp two-edged blade, that in other jurisdictions a teacher might be fired for posting in favor of same sex marriage.

      In general, posting off-duty under an employee's own identity without claims of representing employer opinion is none of that employers business.

      Anon1: ‎@ Ray, a teacher frequenting strip clubs that promote "barely legal" young ladies in school girl outfits, if that became public, how do you think the school board or parent organizations might react? So are publicly racist comments up for question or posting anti-semitic comments on Facebook?
      about an hour ago ·

    • Anon 1: Or is this all just "none of that employer's business?"
      about an hour ago

    • Anon 1: When are people going to understand that telling a young girl that she isn't as good as a boy, or telling an African American youth that "his people" are prone to commit crimes more than whites, or telling Christian kids that only THEY go to heaven, or telling gay kids that they are morally inferior by birth or telling the trans youth that she needs to act more like "the male that she was born" is BAD, WRONG AND THAT IT DOES DAMAGE TO THESE KIDS????? Seriously folks, Facebook is a public forum. It is a public forum frequented by youth also.

    • Anon 2: Anon 1 - whoa! I am not speaking about the legality, but the practicality. Dismissing the 'Teacher of the Year' will not win friends and influence people. It will lead to accusations of 'thought police' and seems to encourage hypocricy. This is not pro- or con- , just an observation of likely fact.
    • Anon 3: So we're to tolerate bigoted teachers because that would be the "practical" thing to do? My, my.
    • GayCynic:
      So it's *also* ok to fire someone who posts in support of LGBT causes, progressive initiatives, and pro-union activities?

      Freedom of speech isn't about "of speech we (or the majority) like and approve of" - it is at its most fundamental when it protects the speech of those with whom we violently disagree and hold to be utterly vile - because with absolute certainty, there are those out there who do not like us, our views, or our ability to express our views with equal fervor.

      @Brad, we should tolerate bigoted teaches (as long as they keep it off school property/stationary/etc) to the precise same extent we expect those on other side to tolerate LGBT teachers (that refrain from promoting LGBT issues on school time/premises).

      And, coincidentally, I think that sucks...but *whatever* choice we make, cuts *both* ways - so we are limited to only promoting policies regarding our opponents that we would like applied to *us* by those who disagree with us.

      Is it *really* a good idea to promote a society where employers (school districts or public entities or not) can suppress under threat of job termination their employees free speech and participation in the political process outside of business hours? Particularly when this could be applied *against* LGBT employees (DADT leaps to mind)...

      The problem with principal is that it often *sucks* in the short term, regardless of any long term benefits. :( The flip side of the suckage is that taking a long term view equally often results in net less suckage over time. It's the "up front" that's no fun.
    • Anon 1: Wait a minute. Please answer my question. If that teacher posted on Facebook that Jews will go to Hell or Blacks are not as intelligent as whites or women are incapable of being successful in certain careers because their brains can't handle it would we be allowing that teacher to teach children? We are not discussing what this teacher said in the privacy of his own home , but we are talking about what this public employee said on or in a public forum. Pretty much like taking out a billboard in his school district and signing his name to it.
    • GayCynic: Let's shift it a little, and then I'll answer. If a worker at GE or Boeing or Starbucks took out a great big sign outside of HQ (to really push the analogy, and the example in no way implies those companies hold those views or would take such actions) promoting same sex marriage and alleging that all those who opposed it were mean & awful bigots that'd burn in hell - and the company du jour fired them or suspended them...would we be celebrating that companies actions?

      Or, is signing on with a public entity (say like Gould, AR; Renton, WA; Quartzsite, AZ) a simultaneous signing away of the employee's civil rights?

      If a teacher posts a *pro-LGBT* post on Facebook while working in a non-LGBT friendly district, is it ok in the face of great public uproar to then fire or suspend THAT teacher?

      I would answer your question that NEITHER teacher should be fired or suspended. That public employment should be based on job performance, not popularity contests. And that the off-duty off-premise speech of the one that we treasure (our allegorical pro-LGBT buddy) is only as safe as the speech of the one we despise.

      Otherwise, we face the question of "should public school teachers be barred from making any public/policy statement during the period of their employ, and from endorsing/opposing/criticizing elected officials?" similar to the rules binding the military.

      I happen to think that we can bear up under allowing teachers to enjoy their civil rights, even when we are unamused at their specific employ of them. Even when I thoroughly disagree with their viewpoints to the point of finding them utterly vile, I think teachers have as much right as your or I to voice their opinions without governmental or employer discipline or retaliation - so long as they do it outside of the workplace.
    • Anon 3: All good points, GayCynic. But would you mind taking up Tom's suggestion and re-writing your last post with reference to Blacks or Jews instead of LGBT? Just as an exercise to see how it feels to even write it.

    • GayCynic: See "disagree with vociferously" and "vile". I do not endorse nor support the positions taken by the teacher in question. I do, with some discomfort, defend his right to make them - however vile I hold them. :(
    • GayCynic: After some thought, the same principal applies, though working past the instinctive flinch when even the faintest hint of racism or anti-semitism is brought into the conversation *does* require thought to move from "emotive" to "logic". I suppose it speaks well of the progress in society that in the last sixty years we've moved from a point where anti-semitism or racism was acceptable to a point where merely bringing them up is sufficient to silence a conversation, even when no racism or anti-semitism has actually occurred or been implied.

      Freedom of speech belongs to *everyone* - regardless of race, gender, orientation, religion, or "niceness". Even when some white-sheeted knuckle-dragger speechifies in favor of one vile bit of bigotry or another, they have that fundamentental freedom - that should never be infringed by governmental or employer action.

      Where that line is crossed, for me, is where physical violence to persons or property is promoted or engaged in - or where speech creates a clear and immediate threat of physical harm. That's where "incitement to riot" and assault/homicide statutes kick in, as well as the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" example in common use.

      There is a *price* to be paid for living in a relatively free society. We get to have our feelings hurt, our viewpoints disparaged, and our worth questioned. But, so do those we disagree with - and I believe that the virtues of a position promoting folks minding their own business (which consenting adults sleep with which other consenting adults and how frequently being a prime, but not exclusive by any means, example of "none of your business") and respecting others as equals worthy of the same set of civil rights one enjoys will, over time, triumph inevitably over the bigoted and small-minded positions of those who would judge folks by such largely irrelevant factors as race/creed/orientation/gender (or even "niceness").

      My experience thus far would indicate that both bastardry and brilliance are fairly evenly distributed across the spectrums of each class named above - and that such equality of distribution is fairly evident to any reasonably observant person with an open mind and two brain cells in fairly close contact with each other.


    Free speech is pretty fundamental to my views, and I tend to take a relatively broad view of it. Similarly, I'm rather attached to "equality before the law". And you can't have either if they don't apply to everyone, not just the folks we like or whose positions we approve of - because what may be good for the goose, is sooner or later what the gander will get too.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Yep, interesting exchange... thanks for posting that!