Friday, December 27, 2013

Mouth, Meet Foot. Foot, Mouth.

"I can't be fired for things I say while intoxicated, can I?"

Of course you can.  It all depends on how you say them, to whom you say them, or in what venue.  Sometimes, what really matters is all of the above.

Justine Sacco is was a public relations professional with the large media company IAC, which includes such presences on the web as, Vimeo, and news sources like The Daily Beast.  Apparently Sacco is now trying to blame at least part of her amazingly bad judgment on "unfamiliarity with Twitter," but according to other sources she has had been using Twitter for years and simply hadn't completely grasped some of its "nuances."

Being boorish, racist and paralytically obtuse vis-a-vis likely public reaction to such things, while being a supposed expert on exactly such things, is a paradigm almost beyond belief.  Were it played before me on a stage I would deny it as an unlikely fiction.

Justine fired off this tweet right before she got on a plane to her native South Africa:
Take note of that destination: South Africa.  Clearly Mandela didn't get through to everyone.  Clearly some prejudices remain.  And since she was on a plane from New York City, she was in the air for 12 hours, incommunicado, while easily- (and in this case very rightly) offended and even thicker skinned individuals read it, gasped in disgust, and raised their arms in uproar.

Uproar indeed.  Take note how I've carefully edited out the tenses that describe Sacco's state of employment.  She was.  Now she is not.

If you take this tweet at its face value, that of a tasteless joke, it is merely inflammatory.  You can easily find worse than this on the twitterverse and if you went looking, you probably wouldn't have to look far to find it.  But the real rub here is who Sacco is.

Sorry, my bad: was.

Public relations director for IAC.  Holy catfish.  Even if you have made something of a reputation for yourself as a loose cannon on Twitter, you still can't go around making fun of an entire population suffering the slings and arrows of runaway HIV, and then toss off the even more insulting statement that you'll be safe because you're white.  You just can't.  The only kind of people who can get away with saying things like that are Adolf Hitler and David Dukes, and the only reason they get away with it at all is because it's expected of them, because they are Towering Monstrous Assholes.

And when you align yourself with people like that, suddenly you become the kind of person no one wants around: not as an employee, not as a representative, not at all.  Even if your statements are strictly your own and do not reflect philosophies or views of your employer, so what?  You are associated with your employer.  You can be fired any day for any legitimate reason, and in at-will states for no reason at all.  Every day is another performance review.  Just because you're on private time doesn't mean what you do, how you behave, is also private.  If you take your thoughts and actions public - like I'm doing right now - you can and will be judged.  Sometimes that judgment comes from the boss.

In Related News:

Phil Robertson's suspension from his own show has already been reversed.  I was surprised they dared to do it in the first place.  He went over the line into topics on which he isn't supposed to speak, which he has done before...and not been punished for it before.  Well, I guess they had to step up and be serious about their restrictions eventually.  But like a parent disciplining a child, consistency is key.  Don't waffle back and forth.  Either you mean it or you don't.

In More Related News:

Jesse Jackson, who was once respectable but has since descended to the level of "race hustler," has jumped onto the lurid coattails of Robertson's loose lips to build himself a little podium.  Read his diatribe if you like, but it'll sound like a lot of other stuff Jackson has said in the past.  The bit about "without cover of the law" is a little weird.

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