Watch Your Tongue. The PC Vigilantes Could Come for You

Donald Green: fired for a politically incorrect Facebook post

The digital mob now rules. Watch what you say on social media. Anything you write, or like, or re-tweet, can and will be used against you. If you work in any capacity for public schools there is a good chance that you will be reported, investigated, and perhaps even fired for privately expressed views — whether or not it affects your job performance in any way.

I’m not talking about candidates for national office, such as Republican nominee Corey Stewart… who now is catching flak for KKK fliers tossed onto driveways in Prince William County. He denounced the KKK yesterday in unvarnished terms, but his partisan foes will continue to play up the story. As far as I’m concerned, he brought the problem upon himself when he dallied with far-right figures involved with last year’s United the Right rally in Charlottesville. Even if he doesn’t hold racist views (which I doubt he does), he showed poor judgment in associating with people who do. If he aspires to statewide office, his past associations are fair game.

My concern is what is happening to regular folks. PC vigilantes are running amok, and craven administrators are caving in.

First case in point, in the news today: The Chesterfield school system has fired its chief of security, Donald Green, who had served since 2014. What was his offense? Did he bungle his job? No. Did Chesterfield schools suffer unforgivable lapses in security? No. He committed the cardinal sin three years ago of sharing the Facebook post displayed to the right.

Now, we can have a debate over the substance of the tweet. I don’t know who these children were. Perhaps they were Palestinians. Perhaps they were indoctrinated by ISIS. But, objectively speaking, there are children in the Middle East raised to hate people in the West. And, objectively speaking, there are people in the West for whom it is dogma that all cultures are morally equal and who assert that it is bigoted to argue otherwise. Is the original post provocative? Sure. Can reasonable people disagree about the validity of the point it is making? Sure. Does it send a message of hate against American Muslims or Muslims in Chesterfield County? Only in the fevered imaginations of the PC vigilantes.

According to the Chesterfield Observer, however, multiple citizens took screenshots earlier this week of the offending posts (apparently there was more than one) and sent them to school administrators. The human resources staff opened an investigation. The school system confirmed Thursday that Green is no longer employed by the school system. Stated school spokesman Shawn Smith: “We take seriously our responsibility to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment that is free from disruptions and distractions.”

Really? Green, who made the Facebook post made in 2015, was creating “disruptions and distractions” in 2018? The people who made an issue of the post were not creating the disruptions and distractions?

Second case in point, also in the news today: A teacher twice recognized as a Teacher of the Year by the Norfolk school system made the following post to a group of Facebook moms: “Going on a field trip to the zoo tomorrow from 1-3 with my 60 middle school kids from the hood. Fair Warning!”

WAVY TV says what happened next:

“I was like, ‘Wow? Are you kidding me? Why would you say something like this?'” said Sydneigh Lillard, a mother of three who is part of the Facebook group. “It was really sick to me for that to be coming from an educator.”

Lillard said educators, in her opinion, are supposed to serve as role models and help uplift students. Lillard doesn’t think the teacher was doing anything close to that in this case.

“To draw negative attention to them by referring to them as kids from the hood?” Lillard said. “People don’t think of positive things when they think of ‘the hood’. But being from the hood doesn’t mean the kids are bad.”

Rather than point out Lillard’s absurd and tortured reasoning — that the teacher had implied that being from the “hood” means the kids were bad — Norfolk public schools responded to the controversy as follows:

Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) is aware of a disturbing social media post that has been circulating today. The views expressed in this post are not reflective of NPS as we pride ourselves with being the cornerstone of a proudly diverse community. A full investigation has been launched into this situation. As this is a personnel matter we are limited in making any further comment.

WAVY-TV thoughtfully declined to release the name of the teacher on the grounds that she “has not been charged with any crime.”

Wow, it’s hard to keep up with the latest evolution in politically correct speech. I didn’t know — and obviously the teacher didn’t know — that it now is a thought crime to refer to “the hood” — not even in a light-hearted reference to her rambunctious, middle-school charges from the inner city. No doubt fearful of losing her job, the teacher issued online an abject, groveling apology.

It’s not as if either Green or the teacher of the year had evinced sympathy for the KKK. (Just curious, is it now not merely odious but a firing offense to sympathize with the KKK?) It’s not as if they had uttered racist sentiments. It’s not as if they had used the “N” word. It’s not as if they had called someone a “nappy headed ho.” A fever has gripped this country, the realm of “acceptable” speech is contracting severely, the arbiters of acceptable speech are the most easily offended among us, and charges of politically incorrect language send administrators into a paroxysm of fear. Innocent people are being investigated and are literally losing their jobs over thought crimes.

This is the Red Scare all over again — except it’s not limited to State Department employees and Hollywood screen writers. The PC enforcers see racists under every bed and read racism into every remark. Everyday Americans are being assailed by the PC vigilantes and losing their jobs. You want more Corey Stewart? This is how you get more Corey Stewart. You want more Donald Trump? This is how you get more Donald Trump. People who are not crass, bullying, belligerent jerks like our president need to stand up and put an end to this madness or more Americans will see Trump as their only defender. And if you think things are ugly now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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26 responses to “Watch Your Tongue. The PC Vigilantes Could Come for You

  1. https://www.richmond.com/news/local/chesterfield/updated-chesterfield-schools-fires-safety-and-security-manager-over-inflammatory/article_80dc42f6-31b6-5d30-88ae-0a93d73678df.html

    Some of the additional materials (and hello, people, there lesson here is what you post will live forever so think about it) are discussed in the Times-Dispatch piece linked above. School system administrators are famously risk averse – they collapse in a light breeze. This person was in a leadership role. He can be held to a high standard.

    I also saw the story on Channel 12. I think this guy was mainly targeted because he was openly and strongly advocating for more armed adults in the schools, but his social media posts were thoughtless and provided plenty of (pardon the term) ammo for those who decided to attack him. I can understand the concerns of a Muslim family after seeing some of that. Goat rapists? Most employers these days make it abundantly clear to workers that they can have no expectation of privacy. These days ad hominem is what it’s all about (happens here on BR, too.)

    • Well, you are right, once something is posted on the Internet, it lives forever. If you have the expectation of privacy, don’t post it on the Internet. And I’ll agree that some of what he said (as quoted in the T-D article you cited) probably was inappropriate for a county employee — even if the reaction to it was overwrought.

      It would be interesting to know if Chesterfield County had a policy on social media posting. If Green violated the policy, I would be less sympathetic. If no such policy existed, if the county had never delivered any warning against the posting, then it had no grounds to dismiss him.

      Some municipalities in California have policies that prohibit the firing of employees for the basis of their political beliefs. I wonder if Virginia localities have any similar protections.

    • Steve’s suspicion that this was a collateral attack on his pro-armed-adults-in-schools stance sounds right to me. But the fact that that issue can only be argued collaterally is troubling also. I agree with Jim, it’s “red scare” all over again. If I were in danger of employment ever again I’d have to self-censor (more than I already do) what I say here on BR, or simply read silently and not participate. How many regular readers of BR out there would like to join in the conversations here but for the concern that someday the internet will cough up some BR archive that, deprived of context or a victim of changing times, will bite them hard! What sort of civic discussion, of adult education, of talk across the political divides, can survive such a wet blanket?

  2. I still don’t think you have gone to the TD story and flipped through all of the screen shots they have posted in sequence. Then tell me they overreacted. Do a little thought experiment, and think – what if you were Irish Catholic and this guy was saying these things about the IRA extremists – wouldn’t you still worry that it was the Catholicism as much as the terrorism that he was screaming about?

    • I am Irish-Catholic and I was vehemently opposed to the IRA. They were terrorists, they did kill innocents and they were partly financially supported by American idiots. While I am troubled by the extremity of some of Mr Green’s comments (especially in reference to goats) I would not have confused the same comments against the IRA as commentary about me or other Catholics. In fact, quite the opposite. As an Irish-Catholic I felt morally obligated to denounce the IRA whenever the matter came up. They did not represent me, my ethnicity or my religion. Those violent IRA members who died without receiving the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are condemned to burn in hell forever along with the non-Catholic terrorists. Jesus made no provision for killing people with whom you have political differences and remaining a Catholic in good standing.

  3. It used to be we established certain objective rules of conduct through laws and ordinances, and what you said was protected speech (short of slander), and/or what the boss hired or fired somebody for required no explanation.

    Now, to make a sweeping generalization — but it bears saying anyway — we attempt to enforce rules of speech and action based on subjective interpretations of intent as established or embellished by administrative agency rulemakings that nobody but those that wrote them understands in full, and all too often employment decisions are subject to review of the employer’s process and motivation from the subjective point of view of the employee.

    We did this to ourselves because of the terrible abuses of discretion we now call race and gender and the other proscribed “discriminations.” And for many, many folks the price we have paid (in loss of discretion) for the resulting advances in civil rights has been worth it.

    But we all know of instances where one bureaucracy or another has gone too far, losing sight of the common-sense objective or shaping the objective in broad, indecipherable terms. The discretion of employers and employees to do their jobs has been replaced with the discretion of bureaucrats to define what is “right behavior” however they wish it were.

    I too rail at the “thought police” who attack by quoting what a person said, often way out of context, often from what was thought to be a private communication — FBI agent Strzok, for example. That may be fair game in love and politics, but I have a lot of trouble with it when the attack’s sole purpose is to get the man fired as an example of questionable behavior that, nonetheless, remains quite legal.

    Yes, Steve, “ad hominem is what it’s all about” and I don’t have any cure for it. But Mr. Trump and his people do. Is their cure worse than the disease? I guess we will see in November.

    • I disagree with you regarding Agent Strzok. When you use company supplied (and funded) communication devices to make inappropriate comments or behave in an inappropriate way you should understand that you are taking a major risk. It was certainly inappropriate for law enforcement agents who were investigating Donald Trump to vent their bile against the man they were investigating. It not only could taint the investigation it has tainted the investigation. The fact that neither Strzok nor Page seemed to understand the risks of using their government issued cell phones to send and receive thousands of those text messages calls into question the competence of them as investigators and the competence of the entire Mueller team. If an FBI agent doesn’t understand how text messages work and are logged I have to wonder about the vetting process for becoming an FBI agent.

  4. I read the story about the teacher in Norfolk Public School system on Pilotonline this morning, and to myself asked “did anyone ask her to which ‘hood’ she was referring?” Hood is an abbreviation for neighborhood. If readers of her social media post made assumptions, perhaps it is they who are doing the labeling and it is they who should be subject to thought policing. I always refer to a section of Virginia Beach I like to call “the Great Neck ghetto.” This comes from my observation that is among the most non-diverse, homogeneous residential areas I’ve seen. Up is down, in is out, right is wrong. I completely agree with Mr. Bacon “People who are not crass, bullying, belligerent jerks like our president need to stand up and put an end to this madness or more Americans will see Trump as their only defender. ” Just not sure where to take my stand!?

    • I was on the board of a charity devoted to helping high school students from inner city Washington, DC for 12 years. During that time I interacted with the young people we were helping in a wide variety of situations. In the informal conversations I often heard comments that I didn’t expect. For example, being “from the hood” was often cited as a badge of honor. Upon reflection I realized that it was better that these young men and women were proud of where they were from rather than ashamed of where they were from. My question regarding the teacher in question is whether any of the students found the comment insulting. I doubt it.

    • Excellent question, Lift. At this point, not voting for any Republican this cycle is the way to empower and to motivate the legislative branch; and they can do much more than any one of us acting alone. That comes as a very hard step for me as it does for many longtime Republican/libertarians who remain concerned about the economy and the safety-net programs we have lost the guts to fix, while passing “tax reform” that only aggravates those concerns.

      All that we, individually, can do in the meanwhile (can you believe we have less than four months?) is persuade every potential voter to register, and get every registered voter motivated to vote, and talk about what’s at stake with those willing to talk — understanding that the low turnout, the “I can’t make a difference so why bother” attitude, of way too many Democrats in 2016 is what brought us to “this madness.”

  5. re: ” Some municipalities in California have policies that prohibit the firing of employees for the basis of their political beliefs. I wonder if Virginia localities have any similar protections.”

    Good LORD! You’re holding up the land of “fruits and nuts” as the model for protecting personal beliefs! GAWD!

    But folks – You don’t get a bye on what you say “off duty” if it actually does relate to your work duties and reflects on your judgement when you are doing your job.

    This is not about the thought police nor protecting personal speech. Imagine a doctor posting online some derogatory comment about people – that in his professional life – he may be treating as a doctor. How about a policeman expressing a personal comment about some “kinds” of people then does his day job where people wonder if he really does act professionally.

    Like it or not – what you say in your personal life can and does affect how you conduct your professional life and others who deal with you in a professional relationship.

    We have gone ape-crap on this …in my view. Used to be, it was the mark of a professional that you not run your mouth so that people would not question your professional work. Even before social media – if you ran your mouth in social settings – word got around about you and deservedly so and back then the concept of “thought police” was … not really a concept. Now days, everything is political … and gets you categorized as to what “tribe” you belong to. Bull hockey. Professionals act professional – no excuses.

    • If you were employed and I had any relationship with your employer I could try to get you fired for what you just posted. The term, “fruits and nuts” in the context of California includes a negative stereotype of gay people (i.e. “fruits”). I could easily cite your comment as an example of homophobia and bias and ask that your employer terminate your employment. Alternately, I could ask Jim Bacon to ban you from this blog for your homophobic commentary.

      Are you homophobic Larry? Do you hate gay people? Or did you just use a homophobic slur by accident?

      Think twice Larry. On the path the SJWs are going there will be a lot of banned speech. At some point people are allowed to have their own opinions even if they are not popular opinions.

      Now, be a good progressive and apologize to all the gay people you insulted with your “fruits and nuts” comment.

  6. Let’s see. No freedom of speech for school employees posting after hours but professional football players have “freedom of speech” during work hours. Huh! One would think this is so inconsistent that even the Goebbels Gang would question it.

    We’ve moved from a nation that demanded content-neutral enforcement of free speech rights to one where speech is acceptable only when its “progressive.” Pardon me while I barf.

    • A question for progressives – should an Army sergeant on the field in uniform during the singing of the national anthem be allowed to kneel without repercussions from the Army? How about the Commandant of the US Marine Corps?

      When Jessie Jackson referred to New York City as Hymietown (sp?) was that anti-Semitic? If so, should anybody publicly supporting Jackson be susceptible to being fired for supporting him?

      TMT is right. Within very broad boundaries the key phrase is “content neutral”.

  7. I also find it interesting that my depiction of Tim Kaine as Pterodactyl Tim is cause for criticism along the lines of “name calling” while this is not …

    “People who are not crass, bullying, belligerent jerks like our president …”

    Jim Bacon even provided a comment on my Pterodactyl Tim column which included …

    “Personally, I try to avoid anything resembling name calling.”

    I guess that holds unless it’s President Trump … in which case being described as a “crass, bullying, belligerent jerk” is somehow not an example of name calling.

    To be fair, I had no issue with Jim’s comments about my Pterodactyl Tim column. I had no problems with any of the comments for that matter. I just find the double standard odd. The same people who take umbrage at my use of alliteration (remember the “p” is silent) to describe a US Senator as possibly being a dweller in the DC swamp apparently have no problem with calling Trump a “crass, bullying, belligerent jerk”.

    Content neutral indeed.

    • You got me. If I had it to do over, I would change the phrase to say, “people who engage in crass, bullying, belligerent rhetoric”…. I think that’s a fair and accurate assessment. Calling President Trump a “jerk” is nothing but name calling and is inconsistent with the tenor of this blog. Thanks for pointing out my inconsistency.

      • I will try to take the “anti name calling” oath myself. Perhaps I should say thatI’ll take the oath but can only promise to try to abide by it. Where I come from nicknames (even if slightly derogatory) are part of life. For example, I know a guy from Oakton who spent his life in Northern Virginia.
        However, he speaks with a deep southern accent. He will always be known as “moonshine”. He calls himself that. Among my friends, not having a nickname proves your irrelevancy. But I get it with regard to this blog. However, just as Spiro Agnew referred to the press as “nattering nabobs of negativism” I reserve the right to assign nicknames to groups (rather than individuals).

      • Heavens, no, please forget about the “oath.” Where then would I ever find such prose as this:

        “He was no longer operating within the corrupt-but-friendly confines of the bourbon-and-branch water set in Richmond. Now he was dealing with the mentally deranged, venomous reptiles-from-hell in the D.C. swamp. He went from Timmy the Sweet to the Lizard of Oz. His election as U.S. Senator from Virginia in 2013 may have pulled him from the deepest cesspool of Washington’s primordial ooze but . . . Pterodactyl Timmy was hatched in the nest of the high-flying reptiles of the Clinton crime family.”

        No, don’t take that “oath,” please don’t. IMO calling someone a nickname is not name calling, although it can easily become so. For me the difference is when I forego explaining the name and just toss it out there. A memorable characterization that sums up a collection of reasoned arguments (the “Imperial Clown Show” comes to mind) can become, without the context of argument, just another put-down. It takes a few more words (hardly a problem here) but a nickname offered at least the first time with the story behind it (“Moonshine”) strikes me as very different from mere ad hominem name-calling. Anyone who takes offense has the argument to respond to, not just the name.

        Perhaps some folks took undue offense that BR maligned Ptero Timmy because he’s all we’ve got left around here, given the alternative. When people are forced to pick the lesser of two evils it hurts to be reminded how bad even the lesser evil really is. Which reminds me, Agnew doesn’t deserve credit for “nattering nabobs,” that was William Safire’s input; later he joined the MSM himself and had a distinguished career with the NYT. Another New York elitest media in-joke, the pot calling the kettle black. (Oops — is that a non-p.c. simile, now?).

    • Re “inconsistent”: Dear Jim, you should take heart from Emerson, the original SJW: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

  8. If you work for McDonalds and in your “off” time, make a comment about McDonalds… chances are you’re going to be terminated….

    If you work for Mercy Hospital and in your “off” time you make a criticism – expect consequences.

    This is not “PC” folks And please differentiate between making a public comment that relates to your employment and making a comment that is about something else.

    Even then – if you work where people expect you to be professional and in your other life you make comments that reflect on your judgement to conduct yourself professionally – expect repercussions.

    This has nothing what-so-ever to do with PC and “progressives” or anything else political. It has to do with how others view you in performing your job.

    And if your own mouth utters stuff that people think may reflect on your ability to do a job professionally – regardless of what media you use to make your comments – the result can be the same – social media just spreads what you said faster and farther but the consequences are pretty much similar.

    If you shoot your mouth off in a social setting… at that social setting notice and when they talk with others – they “share”

    If you are a School security officer and you make a comment outside of work that actually does reflect on your work performance – then folks will justifiably question your judgement with respect to shooting your mouth off when you should have refrained from it.

    No excuses. No progressives. No PR. Common sense for dunderheads. oh my… I bet “dunderheads” is a PC thing,eh?

  9. Dear Jim,

    In regards to your observing how Leftist repression ends up back-firing, politically on them, there is an Internet meme showing the President with these words: “S— like this is why I got elected.”

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  10. A long, LONG time ago – LONG BEFORE the internet and social media, people who had an ounce of brainpower KNEW that you did NOT speak publicly and derogatorily about your employer or your work … it was common sense back then and had nothing to do with this ignorant foolishness about PC, and “leftists” and other idiocy.

    It was simple and non-political. If you did not like your job, then you found another OR if you actually did want to leave publicly then you DID run your mouth around friends and neighbors and sooner or later it would get back to your employer and he/she would accommodate you in the absence of your own backbone and voice.

    The only thing that has changed in this regard is that now we do have the internet and social media and we have folks who supposedly have good enough judgment to perform a job – professionally – with all the good and bad of it but nowdays they undermine their own professional integrity by running their mouth publicly to express some complaint about their work issues that conflict with their own views.

    Now .. folks, tell me how many of you have had a job and had issues with some of the things you had to do – to do your job and how that did conflict with some of your personal views… and how many of you kept your mouths shut and stifled it and continue to do the work that provided you with an income?

    There are very few jobs in this world where you work for others where you are free to express your personal opinions without consequence. Most employers consider you to be – essentially – an agent, a representative of their company and they do not want others who the company/agency serves to question it’s professional duty to serve people without regard to their own views.

    Even people who are their own boss but sell products and/or provide services don’t do stupid things like turn away customers because of a difference of views. Even those who like or hate Trump don’t turn away those of the opposite view. Business is Business.

    Those who lack basic scruples will make this an issue when it’s not.

    Common sense has taken a vacation and some of various political views want to make common sense the enemy of dunderhead logic.

  11. Agree with larrytheG. If this man were just an ordinary citizen he’d be entitled to his views. But if you are in charge of security and the lives of thousands of children in school, you don’t go posting inflammatory material digitally. This has nothing to do with the “liberal” thought police (I can give you plenty of examples of hard right thought police). It is common sense.

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