The Haps With Herb

Freedom of Speech on the WWW

Freedom of Speech on the WWW

Herb March 9, 2005

First, weight updates. Savannah now weighs 7 lbs 3 oz and I have lost 7 lbs. I am down to the weight I had started out at the last time I did this, which is 235. So, 7 lbs in approximately 4 weeks isn’t too bad. Margaret pointed out that if I lose a pound a week I will have lost 52 lbs the first year. I could waste away to nothing! I had been discouraged about it, but after thinking on all the times I’ve been allowed to cheat and done so generously, I should be amazed that I lost anything. It hasn’t been as hard as I expected it to be, but that is due in part to being able to more or less do what I want.

I read an article about different people around the country that have been fired for blogging. Not only because they were doing it on work hours but also because of what they said about their employers and bosses. What about the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech and all that? Well, this lawyer in this article said that it does not extend to the workplace. No one is telling these people they can’t say bad things about their company or boss, but they can be fired for it. This interested me because I wonder now about whether it applies to other things you have to say, e.g., you say on your blog that homosexuality is a sin against God and Nature. Someone from you job reads it and says that you are publishing hate speech (so much for tolerance, btw) and creating a hostile work environment for them because even though you never said this to them, or even spoken with them they are uncomfortable now knowing that someone feels that way. With the childish extremism in parts of our culture (I know it’s in both directions, different topic for another day) could you get fired for such a thing?

I recently visited the website of a major company that labels itself as being very open to what is commonly called “diversity.” And they had a number of organizations and clubs for all manner of minorities. Could I go there and start a “Hetero Christians” club? Their statement says they don’t discriminate because of race, skin color, national origin (which my Irish ancestors would be grateful for) religion, gender, or sexual orientation. How far does this go? Could we all maybe be grownups about this?

But what about a person who makes disparaging remarks about their employer? Should employers have the right to fire a “disloyal” employee for remarks they made in their journal, even if that journal is published worldwide every day? Or should it be more like a group of friends meeting at a bar or restaurant talking about their day? What if the boss walked in and overheard a conversation where you made a negative comment about your company or supervisor? Is it the same thing? What if that employee attends a church where they openly preach that homosexuality is a sin? How far does your private life extend?

Maybe this is good fodder for a new poll question since there haven’t been that many responses to the last one.

Gotta run this A.M. but remember, the good book says, “Don’t eavesdrop! You may hear your servant cursing you! For you know how often you yourself curse others!”

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