On May 29, 2018, actress Roseanne Barr posted a tweet that immediately started an online fire. Due to the nature of the tweet, I won’t repeat it in this article, but if you’re truly curious, Google the date and name and you’ll see what I mean. In a nutshell, it was a racist tweet from a widely known actress who was set to bring in loads of money to ABC for the revival of her show Roseanne. In short, that’s not what ended up happening.
After Barr’s tweet, ABC was swift in announcing that the revival of the show would no longer be taking place. That’s right, many people were stripped of their jobs on her new show over this one tweet. People had mixed reactions.
While some people applauded the actions of ABC in standing up for what’s right, there was a very loud group of people who were upset over the ordeal. They felt that “free speech” was gone, and this was just the latest example. Let me explain why it’s absolutely, positively, 100% not a free speech issue.
The bottom line is, just because you’re famous, it doesn’t put you above human decency, and racism is 100%, not human decency. You have a right to say what you want. You don’t have a right to be employed at any given company.
When you start a new job, often times the onboarding process requires the review, understanding, and acceptance of an employee handbook. Here, companies state what they consider to be the appropriate behavior of their employees and what they value as a business.
You can’t do certain things as an employee of the company. Many handbooks include something about talking to the press without authorization, slandering the company, or personal endorsements. A common trait of all these behaviors is that they’re not specific to your workplace. In fact. They’re all things people typically do after hours when they’re not in front of their boss. Social media, especially in today’s online climate, is included in most employee handbooks, and again, it’s a behavior you’re guided on even when you’re out of the office.
Here’s why that’s acceptable: they’re the conditions under which you’re hired.
Again, you have a right to say what you want, but you don’t have a right to a job. The first amendment protects your right to say things. It does not protect you against consequences that may arise from what you choose to say. Your words are yours until you put them out into the world. Simply put, if you don’t want consequences, don’t say disgusting, racist things on the internet. Be smart, be human, and be kind.