The Limits of Free Speech
The dangers of the tyranny of the majority have only magnified.
In “Freedom Of Speech Doesn’t Mean Freedom From The Consequences Of That Speech,” Doug Mataconis ably struck down the trope that the 1st Amendment protects people from being ridiculed or even reviled by their fellow citizens—or fired by their bosses—for expressing unpopular ideas. We’re also in agreement that the public and employers ought to treat particular ideas, such as the inferiority of blacks and Jews, differently than mere policy disputes.
Still, I’m more sympathetic than he is to Bethany Mandel‘s contention that there is a danger in the naming and shaming of low-power individuals who hold unpopular views. It’s an issue that I’ve written about a lot over the years.
Over a decade ago, in the wake of Don Imus’ “nappy headed hos” fiasco, I observed,
Indeed, if “free speech” means anything, it must protect the expression of unpopular ideas.
Now, obviously, that doesn’t mean that others don’t have the free speech right to condemn racist and sexist jokes. Or even that advertisers and employers don’t have the right to not associate themselves with those who tell them.
It is, however, a slippery slope toward tyranny of the majority. Alexis de Tocqueville warned in his 1835 classic Democracy in America:
“In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fe’, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him. Before making public his opinions he thought he had sympathizers; now it seems to him that he has none any more since he has revealed himself to everyone; then those who blame him criticize loudly and those who think as he does keep quiet and move away without courage. He yields at length, overcome by the daily effort which he has to make, and subsides into silence, as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth.
The master no longer says: “You shall think as I do or you shall die”; but he says: “You are free to think differently from me and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but you are henceforth a stranger among your people. You may retain your civil rights, but they will be useless to you, for you will never be chosen by your fellow citizens if you solicit their votes; and they will affect to scorn you if you ask for their esteem. You will remain among men, but you will be deprived of the rights of mankind. Your fellow creatures will shun you like an impure being; and even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they should be shunned in their turn. Go in peace! I have given you your life, but it is an existence worse than death.”
In his 1859 essay “On Liberty,” John Stuart Mill issued a similar warning:
“Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism.”
The value of an old white man being able to refer to black women he finds unattractive as “nappy headed hos” over the airwaves is minimal at best. Still, where do we draw the line? Surely, if Don Imus must go, Michael Savage must. And what of Rush Limbaugh? Bill Maher? Keith Olbermann? They all repeatedly say outrageous things on the air. What of “South Park”?
Later that year, in the wake of a much-less-publicized incident where members of the US Women’s Bridge Team were censured for using an awards ceremony to protest then-President George W. Bush, I wrote,
As to the possible sanctions, I’m rather torn. On its face, the protest was innocuous enough and Americans should not face threats to their livelihood over their political views. Then again, highjacking an event like this for personal political expression is unseemly and may well violate the rules of the association. (So far as I can tell from a quick check, though, the Women’s Conditions of Contest only discuss the point system for playing; there are no personal conduct rules aside from penalties for tardiness.)
Of course, the First Amendment only prohibits Congress (and via incorporation via the 14th Amendment, the several States) from abridging speech. In the same way that “freedom of the press is reserved to those who own one,” people face practical limitations on what they can say and when they can say it because of economic relationships.
The Dixie Chicks are free to bash President Bush but country radio stations are free to stop playing their records and country music fans are free to stop buying their albums and paying to attend their concerts. Isaiah Washington and Michael Richards are free to say what they want about gays and African Americans but they’re not immune from the economic consequences that follow.
In many ways, that’s lamentable. Unpopular and controversial ideas deserve the highest level of protection and tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the almighty dollar is, in many ways, no better than the tyranny of the king. Only the latter is prohibited, though.
Five years ago, I contrasted two very different instances where misplaced expectations of privacy on the Internet ruined people’s lives:
In the first instance, a bad person is likely to have his real life-including his ability to make a living-upended by the conscious act of a reporter. In the second, two young people who did nothing more than join a school club had their biggest secret exposed by a well-meaning person who made the mistake of trusting Facebook, a data mining company that makes billions by getting people to give them their personal information.
In the case of Brutsch, it’s hard to feel much sympathy. While it’s quite possible that everything he did was legal, most of his online activity is despicable and possibly ruinous to others. I’m seldom on the same side as Amanda Marcotte on matters in controversy but the notion that there’s such a thing a “non-consensual porn” is disgusting and those who create it should be ostracized.
That said, there are plenty of people—including commenters on this site—who use pseudonyms for perfectly benign reasons and contribute positively to Reddit, blogs, Gawker, and other online communities. Maybe they don’t want their neighbors to know they’re gay. Or don’t want their boss to know they’re members of a different political party than they are. They’re just as easy to track down as Brutsch and there’s no moral bright line between exposing postings that are obviously malicious and those that are merely embarrassing or inconvenient.
Where one draws the line is a tricky thing, indeed. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for neo-Nazis or Internet trolls and don’t see much value in protecting those particular forms of speech. But, even setting aside the slippery slope argument, it’s possible that even these cases will do unwarranted damage. Even aside from the cases of truly mistaken identity that Mandel references, there were surely a significant number of people at the Charlottesville rally who aren’t Ku Kluxers and Nazis. It’s not obvious to me that they should be considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
The dangers of the tyranny of the majority expressed by de Tocqueville and Mill in the nineteenth century have been magnified by the social media landscape of the twenty-first. Thoughts that would once have been private are now merely “private” and subject to widespread public broadcast. Even appearing at a rally, a public act, was largely private not all that long ago. But with cell phone cameras now ubiquitous and the photos now easily shared via dozens of social media platforms, it’s not all that hard to identify and harass every single participant.
As I noted in the case of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, whose cause was much less vile than the white supremacists, the standard is simply different the higher one ascends the social ladder.
I fully support […] toleration for others’ beliefs, including those I find distasteful. I’m no fan of the lynch mob mentality that social media enabled to go into full gear every time someone gets found doing something others find distasteful. Having every private act of pettiness spotlighted and set upon viciously through viral campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or whathaveyou is damaging to our society.
If Eich were an ordinary employee—even a senior vice president or chief technical officer—of Mozilla I would be on Sullivan’s side here. But CEO is a different animal altogether. As CEO, Eich was the public face of the company. As such, what for an ordinary employee could simply be chalked up as his private opinion on a matter having nothing to do with his job is instead going to be perceived as the Official Position of Mozilla. Once his financial support on the losing side of such a controversial issue came to light and the backlash ensued, including a boycott campaign, there was simply no saving him. Mozilla had a fiduciary obligation to its shareholder to distance itself from Eich. Whether Eich did the honorable thing and did the deed himself or his board magnanimously let him resign rather than face the additional humiliation of being fired, the outcome was inevitable.
But we should be very careful in holding nineteen-year-old college students or even sixty-year-old construction workers to that level of scrutiny.
Additionally, we don’t have to get into slippery slopes to see where coalescing public outrage on a given topic restrains the expression of perfectly valid opinions. This morning’s post about Freddie DeBoer’s struggles, for example, reminds me of his essay on the manufactured Rolling Stone rape story. Our political climate makes it very difficult to question specific accusations without being accused of supporting the crime itself.
A while back Bill Maher was complaining on his show about a petition to disinvite him from delivering a commencement address at Berkeley due to his remarks about Muslims, arguing that it would have been a violation of his free speech rights. One of the panel guests, a secular Muslim woman, asked him how he’d feel about a college inviting an anti-Semitic speaker. Maher became real indignant that she’d dare compare his views to that of an anti-Semite.
Here’s the thing, though: if you start making distinctions between opinions that deserve free speech protections and opinions that don’t, then you don’t understand the concept of free speech.
Couple of thoughts, James.
1. As long as we keep the Government out of it, the “dangers of the tyranny of the majority” are limited by the presence of any type of sizable minority. See, e.g., the movement towards SSM (an area where I think Doug made a mistake in describing it as merely political). At its infancy, it was profoundly out of touch with majority opinion. An absolutist theory of the “tyranny of the majority” would have meant it would have died there in its cradle. But, in reality, there have always been people in the minority to support unpopular opinions. With a compelling idea, the disparity between minority and majority gets ever smaller until it switches sides. If an idea is so repugnant that there is literally no functional marketplace for its ideas (think NAMBLA), that carries its own kind of message, no?
2. It is the public exposition of these ideas that impacts the “nineteen-year-old college students or even sixty-year-old construction workers”. And that is a societal good. I’m guessing that, over the medium-, let alone long-, term it will have little or no impact on them if they, going forward stop espousing racist and hate messages.
Similarly, if you don’t make distinctions between government actions and non-government ones, you don’t understand the concept of free speech…
Note that beliefs that were in the minority only became accepted over time because the individuals who espoused them believed in them enough to stand up behind them and were willing to get their real names out in public. In spite of whatever social consequences occurred.
If there’s no consequences, there’s nothing to fight back against the twits who are “doing it for the lulz.” Which means you’re just encouraging the flood of junk on the internet and the number of people who think that no matter what they say, there are no consequences. At some point they’re going to have to learn that no, “freedom of speech” doesn’t mean that you get to say anything you want with no consequences.
I’m sympathetic to the idea that doing something stupid at 19 shouldn’t tar you for life. I just don’t know how we get past it in this day and age. I tell my teenagers that people my age lived in an almost unique time in history: we could easily move away from one town and state and go to another one and start a whole new life where our youthful stupidities wouldn’t follow us. (It’s the “easily” that made our era unique.) But today they are growing up in the biggest small town the world has ever known. So much of what they do is observed and documented and will be talked about long after they themselves would have wished it down the memory hole. Did you do something stupid with the high school football team? Well, just like in the small towns of my youth, any new person in town will eventually hear of it, even fifty years later. March with neo-nazis screaming about Jews and it will follow you around for the rest of your life. Not fair, but fair is a man-made construct, and we have no power at the moment to erase these memories.
I have often said that I support free speech because I want to know who the idiots are. But I am sympathetic to many of these arguments.
I’m thinking of my low-information cousin and her husband posting on Facebook, both of whom are suddenly very interested in “preserving history” (i.e. leaving statues alone). But in no way are they related to the alt-right, they’re just ignorant. If the Charlottesville rally was close enough to their hometown in order to get the husband’s ass off the couch, I could imagine him going without realizing any of the dangers (physical and otherwise) he would encounter. The guy served many tours of duty in the Middle East; he may not be very bright but I don’t see any point in ruining his life over his poorly-informed politics.
That said, I couldn’t say what percentage of those protesters were alt-right types and what percentage were just regular old proud-of-their-Southern-heritage types. From media reports, it seemed pretty heavily skewed towards the former.
@SKI: But the whole point of this post–and the concept of “tyranny of the majority” going back nearly 200 years–is that, if expressing ideas ostracizes you from polite society, then there is no real freedom of speech. The fact that it doesn’t constitute a 1st Amendment violation doesn’t change that.
I must state, with respect, that your conception of Free Speech strikes me as both empty and ahistorical. The very point of the First Amendment is that it protects people who are outside of polite society from being persecuted. If there are to be no consequences from society, what about the speech needs protection?
Further, and I say this as someone who had family lost in the Shoah, it is insanely dangerous to somehow claim we should be tolerant of people who advocate intolerance.
I don’t think you have thought through the actual implications of the claim that Free Speech means that there can never be views that are such that they should be shunned from polite society. Perhaps you are conflating and confusing the concept of Academic Freedom with general “Free Speech”?
Is he so “not bright” that he would be comfortable hanging around in a demonstration almost completely occupied with people in hate-regalia (swastikas, faces, confederate flags, etc.) who are chanting loudly “Jews will not replace us”?
If you think he would have hung around and been photographed screaming hate slogans with the rest, it may not be such a bad thing to have him suffer consequences?
Marching heavily armed through the streets calling for extermination of the jews and surrounding a synagogue and trapping the people inside while waving torches isn’t speech; it’s intimidation.
McAuliffe temporarily bans protests at General Lee statue in Richmond
Banning all protests for three months seems unconstitutionally over-broad to me.
In Doug’s post I tried to give the perspective of someone deciding whether to hire or fire a march participant. Employers are obligated to strive for a non hostile work environment. If I were to hire one of these Neo-nazis screaming “Jews will not replace us” and see their Facebook posts talking about ovens and disparaging other minorities as inferior, I would never be able to have that person in a position of influence over other employees. He has made it clear that he does not believe they should be treated equally. So that leaves very hypothetical positions where they essentially work from home and work exactly to spec and are not part of any team. In those circumstances, if he was already an employee with such little interaction I would make it clear that a) he has no chance of advancement in the company and b) if the position changes such that it would require interaction with other employees, I would have to let him go at that point. And I would still have to worry about him parading around with his baby hitler mustache, shouting obscenities and being identified as “an employee of MarkedManCo”.
And if this was a potential new hire, well, why would I want someone who would never be able to contribute more or grow into a larger role?
@James Joyner: James–I wonder whether you would have the same opinion if you were a member of a group which historically has been “under the gun” from mob/state violence. It’s very easy to talk about “all viewpoints must be tolerated and there can’t be any social pushback” if you can’t imagine what it’s like when you are the target of hate speech and the group has the power to back up their hate.
This is an academic discussion for the most part because this horse has long-since left the barn. Social media is defined by its lowest common denominator. And that LCD is using social media to threaten women with rape, among many other things. Outing Nazis is the least of what’s happening online.
There was an article by Kat Rosenfield on the effects of social media attacks on my little area of the world, young adult books. These attacks come almost exclusively from the Left, and the net result has been an atmosphere of fear – virtually no one in YA would go on the record, including me. I know at least two other big time YA writers (in addition to myself) who are getting out of YA in part because of PC bullsh!t.
So, unfortunately, both sides do it, both sides are defined by their worst aszholes, and that is the reality of social media. Rail all you like, it doesn’t matter. This is the world now.
@Franklin: I’m not sure how much people are entitled to be “proud of their Southern heritage.” For example, I fairly proud of my Tuscano/Piedmontese heritage. Of my “no Pope here/whore of Babylon” Northern Irish heritage, I’m only proud of it to the extent to which my family tried not to be that kind of Protestant, so not so much. Not much at all.
I am proud of my uncle who at fairly significant economic cost declared “I’ll not sacrifice my family to this cause” and left Belfast when his children were old enough to become part of “the troubles”–a road his sons had decided to travel–and moved them all to New Zealand.
People have a responsibility to step away from hate speech. You show up because you’re a civil war buff, and you find yourself surrounded by nazis and klansmen, and you have a moral obligation to, at the very least, step away. Or start shouting “Nazis go home”.
@SKI: “The very point of the First Amendment is that it protects people who are outside of polite society from being persecuted.”
I’m not sure that I agree. Try this on for size:
“The very point of the First Amendment is that it protects people who are outside of polite society from being persecuted by the government and it’s agencies of police power.”
(And of course, the first statement is dependent on how one conceptualizes “persecuted,” a term of wide latitude. For my revision, persecution is pretty much limited to physical violence and/or threat thereof. Maybe some incarcerations.)
@Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: yes, that is what I was referring to – governmental action.
We need to keep fighting to keep speech and protesting as our right to be free. Privacy is every Americans right. Freedom of speech and freedom of the internet,. We must keep the internet free from the government. No tracking search engine that owns its own search results Lookseek.com try it have a nice day
Mill was not writing about governments. He was specifically critical of the tyranny of prudish English bourgeois society, which ostracized and shunned anyone who did not give convincing lip service to a strict code of “proper behavior”. No government power was necessary to ruin the lives of people who fell afoul of that censure. Mill was adamant that the correct standard was not “does society disapprove?”, but rather “is anyone actually being harmed?”.
…and that’s the part that always seems to be missing in these discussions. They are always framed in terms of a marketplace of ideas and opinions, but the rubber only really meets the road when those ideas and opinions translate into actions — how we treat other other people. You are entitled to your opinion that [insert group here] should be treated sh!ttily, but I believe society has a legitimate interest in preventing you from translating that opinion into actually making life sh!tty for those people. “Incitement to riot” is, to me, a less serious offense than “incitement to subjugate”.
Aside from the irony of advocating intolerance for intolerance, it’s worth noting that the Holocaust was an extreme example of a hostile majority silencing an unpopular minority.
As noted in other threads, I agree. But that’s a different subject.
I didn’t directly mention this in the OP but I agree that it’s the strongest argument in favor of punishing this particular viewpoint–implicitly, it goes beyond mere belief in a viewpoint but creates a hostile work environment. But, of course, it may be that the hostility is created by the outing rather than any actual workplace misconduct.
This is definitely an academic “ought” discussion. I think it’s possible to change, at the margins, what’s considered acceptable behavior in these instances but there are always those who will act irresponsibly.
To play the devil’s advocate – letting people know doing stupid things 19 won’t hurt them later in life isn’t exactly a good way to discourage said stupidity. Why does young stupidity get a pass when old stupidity doesn’t? We like to say they don’t know any better and will grow up to regret their actions but without any negativity associated with it, will they? There’s no real incentive to gain a conscious or have a moral shift – you are just trusting they will somehow become a “better person” through the sheer act of aging.
It’s like cheating. Once they cheat, how do you know they will keep their word to never do it again? Do you trust them? *Should* you trust them? If a well-known cheater decides to try their hand at sincere romance, is it deceptive of them to pretend they were never a player? How much disclosure helps or hurts depends on the situational context. The internet, for better or worse, is disclosure central.
Everyone deserves a second chance. However, to appreciate just how precious that chance is, one must realize that we’re trusting them not to go back to Stupid Them and accept just how stupid Stupid Them was. Without the stigma of “This could ruin your life!”, you’re gonna see a lot of unrepentant former trolls trying for C-suites with some interesting posting history and questionable contributions to corporate culture.
Interestingly this is part of why I’m somewhat for government censorship but strongly against private one.
In the end I have more trust in a legislative controlled by the majority and constrained by judges and the constitution than I have in individuals or (god forbid) big cooperations as far as “free” speech is concerned.
The entire idea of constitutional protections for free speech is to avoid the tyranny of the majority.
Example of an outing
So, James–what’s the point at which you say no mas? . Was this law firm within bounds to fire this guy or not?
@KM: …considering that prior crimes that an individual did within a certain period of time CAN be submitted as evidence in a similar crime….
(prior convictions for fraud can be brought forth if you’ve been accused of fraud, for example.)
@grumpy realist: It’s really a different issue. Presumably, this guy was able to function as a highly productive attorney for quite a long time despite having some abhorrent personal views. Once alerted, however, the firm really had no choice but to distance itself from this guy’s white supremacism–especially since he’s a partner in the firm. As noted in the OP, the higher one goes up the food chain, the harder it is for a firm to deny the association.
It isn’t irony, James. It is rationality. A tolerant society is not required, by virtue of that tolerance, to engage in self-destructive behavior. Popper, describing this key aspect noted what he called the paradox of tolerance: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
Even Rawls, in promoting the necessity and virtue of a tolerant society as a condition of having a just society, carved out, as a matter of self-protection, the tolerance of those who would endanger the society’s ability to tolerate.
I think it is inarguable that Nazis, White Supremacists and other hate groups were taking actions to try to prohibit Society from tolerating the objects of their hate.
And even if you disagree, how can you tolerate their right to hate me but not the rest of our rights to hate them?
But it does raise the issue of what you think we should do about it.
I expressed the opinion a day or two ago that people shouldn’t lose their jobs for activities unrelated to their job, and got dumped on for it. (I should have made a distinction between being fired because your Naziism might disrupt the workplace, and being fired for disrupting the workplace.) I have also expressed the opinion, going back to Skokie, that the proper response to Nazi marches is to line the street and laugh at them. Ain’t gonna happen. I wish people were better, but they aren’t. What do you think we should do about it?
@James Joyner: The employment conundrum isn’t an academic one. 8-9 years ago my company’s SW department hired a guy and, incredibly, didn’t check his social media. He showed up for work on a Monday morning and by Monday afternoon there had been a train of people into the HR department and SW manager’s office saying he had to go. The women in particular said they couldn’t work with the guy. He hadn’t even interacted with anyone but HR at that point but everyone had checked his social media which was full of “women are just b*tches” and that no woman could be a real coder, and described various graphic and incredibly offensive things he would like to do with women provided they weren’t too ugly. And he gave lots of examples of what he though was too ugly. Something like half of his coworkers were women! He made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t accept them, he thought he was inherently better than any of them, that all they were good for was a quick f*ck and to make babies. He was gone that afternoon.
Do you really think the company was unjustified in firing him? How could a situation like that work? The environment he himself had created with his own words (and if his postings were to be believed, his actions) was the very definition of hostile. James, if I joined you at your work and you looked at my social media and saw that I profess, loud and proud, that all people who were ever in the military are stupid, they don’t deserve a job that doesn’t involve pushing some kind of long handled tool and if they got one it’s only because they f*cked their way into it. By my defintiion you must be an idiot and the workplace would be better of without you. (OK, given where you work, excluding military would be tough, but you get the idea). Do you think that could be a non hostile situation, even if I stopped posting where you could find it? Even if I was willing to sign a document that said I would treat all people fairly, well, what obligation would anyone have to believe it?
But this is ridiculous. Could you, as an employer, put a known nazi sympathizer in a supervisory position over a Jew? That’s ridiculous. It would be purposely putting someone in a position of a authority over someone they literally wish dead. In what kind of pie in the sky world that be even theoretically acceptable? The Nazi will somehow treat the Jew fairly and there will be no workplace fallout? For gods sake, just run that sentence through your mind a couple of times. And as an employer, if you know of a situation like that and do nothing, you make yourself and your company totally liable for what will inevitably take place. And simply as a decent human being, why would you put anyone into such the situation of the Jew? I can’t believe this is even a discussion. In the immortal words of Loretta Castorini to Ronny Cammareri, “[SLAP] Snap out of it!”
In that case it shouldn’t be an issue to wait until he misbehaves?
Hate Speech brings Hate, it’s simple as that. One can argue that government should have no power over speech, but society as whole has a responsibility to counter hate speech.
@Ebenezer_Arvigenius: You don’t know much about employment law, do you?
The Nazi’s very actions (of publicly stating their Nazi views) is misbehavior that creates a reasonable impact on their coworkers. Publicly declaring oneself a Nazi – with all that conveys – is sufficient misbehavior.
Every time they make a decision, take an action (or don’t) or otherwise do (or not do) anything, it will be understandably questioned.
They created a hostile work environment by advocating that their coworker isn’t fully human and shouldn’t be tolerated.
@Ebenezer_Arvigenius: “But your honor, the employee merely stated that he wanted all Jews dead and he would like to put them in the ovens himself. But other than that I had no way of knowing that he would treat this Jewish employee unfairly.”
That’s just ridiculous. You are knowingly putting the Jewish employee in a hostile and even potentially dangerous situation. And I don’t even understand the airy-fairy reason why. Because we shouldn’t accept the Nazi at his word? Because we shouldn’t believe him when he says he cannot treat the Jew as an equal? He said it! He posted it! Why am I supposed to pretend he didn’t? Why am I supposed to pretend their is no reason to believe he would mistreat a Jewish employee? Even if he were to say something different when backed in the corner, why would I believe him and put the Jewish employee at risk?
You can stuff that condescension where the sun doesn’t shine. Thank you very much :D.
We were talking about principles here. The questions of current employment laws doesn’t come into it as they derive from the principles we’re discussing here.
The problem here is that (as long as he manages to leave it out of the workplace) the action leading to the impact is the co-worker or HR department looking up his private opinions. And no, I don’t have a good solution for that.
To add to this: One of the specific problems of big data is the potential of total supervision. Problems that would never arise “normally” are created by the multiplicator internet. For example it significantly lowers the seniority level at which someone might be considered to represent the company or negatively impact the company image.
In the end it’s not a nice idea to have people even more streamlines and conformist just to protect their basic employment. It’s none of Chick-a-fils business whether I go to church on Sundays nor Ben and Jerries if I volunteer for an ultra-conservative congressman.
With respect, the problem here is that the employer knows something about the motivations of the potential employee. And once they know those things, they can’t, and shouldn’t, try to unknow them. As an employer it is your duty to do everything you can to maintain a fair and non-hostile workplace. Legally, but more importantly, ethically too.
Here’s a thought exercise:
Hiring Manager: You would be supervising Mr. Goldstein
Nazi: Goldstein? Sounds like a Jew. All Jews should be killed.
No brainer, right? But why? Because the Nazi has made it clear that he cannot be fair. And once you know that, it is your ethical duty not to put the Jewish employee in such a situation.
What you are proposing is that if you find this out from the Nazi’s social media account rather than from the interview, you are obligated to ignore it. But why? You know that is how the Nazi feels. What is the reason you are supposed to pretend you don’t know?
Philosophically? Because I oppose thought crimes. As long as no Rechtsgut [hard to translate to an Anglosaxon context. Basically a legally protected interest] is impacted there should be no punishments beyond the purely social sphere.
And if one is impacted I would prefer it to be handled by the criminal justice system with all its safeguards and public oversight instead of HR departments and braying mobs.
If he states his opinions in the workplace that’s his problem. He chose the sphere. But as long as he keeps his opinions to his private sphere the worst that should happen is increased oversight and perhaps a telling note in the files in case that actual complaints turn up.
As I stated in the other thread: nazism has been proven to be actively harmful so it should be right out regardless of the sphere impacted. But the point in general stands.
It’s a very interesting social phenomenon, social media is. It’s having profound effects, mostly not good.
For one thing it annihilates the adult-child dichotomy – your SM past follows you now. Your childhood, insofar as it appeared in SM can no longer be forgotten or ignored. The dreaded “permanent record” is a real thing now. We’ve eliminated gatekeepers and the result has been awful.
I have for some time believed the only way to fix the lowest-common-denominator nature of social media is by outlawing anonymity. You want a social media account? Then you have to be verified and use your real name. Anonymity empowers the worst.
There are downsides to this, though. LGBT people not ready to come out of the closet may find it problematic. Whistleblowers as well. But the negative, corrosive effects of SM outweighs the benefits. If tomorrow everyone on Twitter had to use their real names the level of attacks, bullying and threats would fall of a cliff.
Rather than trying to decide where we are to draw a line that cannot be drawn, pass legislation requiring true identities. Then we are all responsible for what we put on SM. The internet’s outlaw years must end.
Step One: Twitter should be much faster and more small ‘d’ democratic in the way it hands out blue check marks. If average people could be verified their numbers would grow relative to the bots and the anonymous, with a resulting split in perceptions that would isolate the anonymous and pressure them to disclose. We would reach a tipping point where blue checks edged the anonymous out of most people’s feed.
@Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Since when is marching through a public park holding a torch and screaming “Jews will not replace us” keeping things in the private sphere? But even setting that aside, I guess I just can’t see the distinction you are making between someone that says “I hate Jews” in the office building and someone who says it when they step out onto the sidewalk. In both cases you know what they believe. You don’t feel you have any obligation to evaluate what that would mean for the work environment? This guy literally believes that it is OK to kill Jews. It just seems ridiculous to say, “But I know that because he was marching through a park and posting on Facebook, not because he said it on the office side of the front door.” It’s OK to look at a regular candidate and say, “well given their personality I don’t think they would fit in here” but not ok to say “well, given that they say they think Jews should be killed I don’t think they would fit in with the culture we promote here”?
Prof. Joyner already covered that one in his article so I won’t tackle it again.
“Believe” being the operative word. I generally oppose punishments for thoughts that do not lead to verifiable actions. As soon as he acts – whack him. Before that it’s a no from me. Can’t put it clearer than that.
You’re evaluating personality on the basis of their behaviour in the workplace. No one would say “he posted his personality test on Facebook and we don’t want introverts in sales” if he doesn’t actually behave oddly in the workplace.
Basically the power disparity between employer and employee to me means that the rules that govern purely social disapproval cannot apply. There needs to be a good reason to apply that power and pure thoughts without actions do not qualify.
But if I did not know, and he was doing a good job, dealing fairly with any minorities or women, I would have no reason to fire him just because I found out. If others also found out and it caused problems, yes, then I might well have to fire him to correct the problem. But because of a problem, not because his views.
@Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Sorry if it came across as condescending. I have to believe however that you haven’t any experience in HR or management. This isn’t a tough case or all that unusual. While it isn’t often a Nazi, it is often someone with string convictions/views/prejudices that relate to someone else they work with.
There are a hundred actions/non-actions that take place every day that are susceptible to accusations of bias. We don’t have telepathic powers so we can’t know for 100% sure whether a particular problem/decision/action was motivated by bias but I wouldn’t want to have to take that case to a jury. “Sure, he is a misogynist but he chose the male over the female for the promotion/better shift/etc. having nothing to do with his views.”
@gVOR08: but you can’t know that he is. And they for sure aren’t going to believe that he is. And a jury won’t either.
There are really two competing ideas here: one, what defines polite society, and two, what freedom of speech is.
There are lots of things we suppress in order to have a polite and functioning society. If everyone simply unloaded his or her mind on any given subject, we would not have a polite society. My father, who is losing his hearing, sees fit to critique anything from a woman’s chosen attire to people’s weight. There is a reason we try and keep him out of the public sphere as much as possible. Free speech doesn’t enter into it–being a decent human being does.
Which brings us to free speech: just because one has an opinion and can freely share it doesn’t mean it isn’t despicable. Government can’t shut political ideas and speech down (unless it treads too close to “fighting words”-type content, which is not protected (and yes I know the Court has narrowly defined this)), but that doesn’t mean that polite society has to stomach it.
I’ve wondered if we are approaching a challenge to NYT v. Sullivan that broadens the scope beyond public officials to include people who create their own “celebrity” online.
I would be interested in hearing an employment law person weigh in on this. My assumption is that there is a potential for a case, even if one “just finds out” because if there IS ever an issue, the employer could be held responsible under the “knew or should have known” standard.
In other words, Joe Brown is working just fine, but employer ACME company learns that he was at a neo-Nazi rally. Three months later, in a peer review setting, Joe Brown gives Jane–who is Jewish–a negative review. Does Jane have a case that ACME “knew or should have known” that Mr. Brown might have a nefarious motive for the negative review?
Clearly I am way over-simplifying this, but I think saying “well, until the person actually causes a problem there’s no issue” might also be an oversimplification of current employment legal standards. (Note: IANAL, so really curious if there’s anyone who can break this down for me.)
This can be disproved by one look at the comments section of any newspaper using Facebook comments.
If I find out that an employee espouses that is OK to kill Jews, that it is desirable to kill Jews, there is no way I would keep him on. But if for some reason I had to I would consider it my moral duty to warn every single Jew that this person is advocating killing them. Who am I kidding? If I was overruled in firing the person I would warn everyone and then quit.
Let’s up the stakes a bit. As an employer you have someone that comes into contact with children. You find out that he frequently posts on pedophile sites. For this argument, it is only discussions, not porn. You confront him and he says he has never acted on these urges. Do you keep him on? If you do, do you warn people who might be bringing children in?
I like John Scalzi’s formulation of this, which I believe is not original to him:
Tolerance is not a principle; it’s a peace treaty. It has to be bilateral to work. Tolerance is not a recognition that the other person’s point of view is valid — it’s a recognition that the argument over whose point of view is valid is more destructive than leaving each other alone.
If a company can force you to wear a uniform or business casual, they can surely expect that that if your name is googled, it does not come back with white supremacist attached to it. It’s not like wearing crappy chinos and the blue button-up is helpful to working on Excel and answering emails. It’s about appearance. Also, if you are busted with a felony at 19 for drugs you are going to have a very hard time finding a job. Far worse than if you think that black people deserve to be enslaved again.
I should interject at this point that very few neo-Nazis overtly espouse the above. What if your employee, say, simply denies that the Holocaust happened?
@Kylopod: That would be different. But I think more Nazis say things like “Hitler did nothing wrong” and reference sending people to the ovens more often than you might think.
Of course they do, but they also deny Hitler killed 6 million Jews.
At demonstrations? Sure. But white nationalist literature (for lack of a better term) is typically at least a touch more sophisticated than that. And when it is, in certain ways I find it more disturbing than the people at rallies screaming about sending Jews to the ovens. Part of how we’ve gotten to the place we are now is due to a decades-long effort by portions of the movement to penetrate the mainstream.
How does “failure to perform due diligence” color the right to terminate? I don’t actually know and have no dog in this sort of fight, but I suspect that he may have ended up being indemnified for the termination. If it had been me, I’d certainly have contacted an attorney.
Actually, I personally people in positions of authority who do and have, but I agree that it is a foolish and shortsighted approach. The problem doesn’t yield itself to simple solutions which is why I think we should err toward presuming that people can keep their personal issues out of the workplace until they show that they can’t.
I don’t imagine that any of the advocates for preemptive action would want to be terminated as a preemptive protective strike, but we all seem to be good with having the authority and “right” to do it to others. It’s called “the human condition.”
You think that everyone uses their real name on Facebook. That’s so cute.
Sadly that is very true.
Clarifying my last statement: you asked “what if they only denied the holocaust” and I took it to mean “what if they were simply conspiracy theorists and not a nazi”. But if what you meant is that you know they call themselves a nazi and you also discover they denied the holocaust, then they are still a nazi. They have aligned themselves with killers.
@michael reynolds: I would add to this the concern that many a parent has over their child’s social media activities. I know some who are in a total panic over this and they simply don’t know what to do that their children are up all night on the cell phone. Then all the gossip and secrets go around. I have told them to monitor their activities and that their service provider has ideas and apps that can help them.
Believe me – the biggest concern of school parents is not grades but their kids social media activity. And this is even 8 year olds !
When I was a child there were two forms of distance communication – the rotary dial land form and the US mail service.
We are in a whole new ball game today.
But the true, deep irony is that at some point the preservation of a tolerant society requires some level of intolerance for intolerance. I agree that this is a problematic statement, and it requires more fleshing out than I am going to do here.
At a minimum, the government has to tolerate intolerance by allowing the intolerant the right to speak, publish, assemble, and associate, but those who oppose that intolerance have to use those same tools to combat them. I am not sure, therefore, that using free speech and a free press to ridicule those who are engaging in the intolerance isn’t actually, the proper route. It beats violence, yes?
There is nothing in our politics that requires society to simply accept the intolerant, is there?
Hence, while I am uncomfortable with the doxxing, although I am not sure it is really unfair. Again–that is a thought that needs more consideration.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Absolutely agree. I think Popper handled it well in The Open Society and Its Enemies
Never Forget. Never Again.
Not that I disagree, but I dislike the guilt by association argument. As many have pointed out, communists killed as many people as Nazi’s in the 20th century. So if you’re a communist have you aligned yourself with killers? Or for that matter, the US gov’t has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in the last few decades (and millions if you go back a few more). Are we all aligned with killers? Does the charge even mean anything when you really examine it?
There is already a meme going out that punching a communist is as right as punching a Nazi. Pretty easy to see where that trend leads. People always assume that if their side is currently in control it will stay that way, so increasing powers to put down others is good. But these things change continuously, and quickly. You only have to have been on the downside of these things (say for most of the last few centuries since Christopher Columbus) to realize these swords are very two-sided, and the tool you use will sooner or later be used against you.
On the other hand, hitting people linked to people or ideas you dislike is a very old human tradition, probably going back to homo erectus. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Someone who expresses supremacist views, or endorses violence as a pre-emptive solution, is evil on their own right. I don’t see how anything is added by linking them to a broader movement, their evil is, as the saying says, sufficient onto itself.
You can’t be serious. If someone is posting threats to rape or murder you, those are just words so you wouldn’t want anything done until *after* they’ve acted on them?
If someone ‘believes’ and is vocal about ‘believing’ that certain type of person doesn’t deserve to live, you can’t refuse to hire them to supervise people in that group? Even if the job they’d supervise involves physical risk?
The pedophile argument is spot on too. If you were interviewing someone to coach your 10 year old’s softball team, statements that he ‘believed’ there was nothing wrong with men having sex with underage boys would be ignored. You’d actually advocate waiting to see if he acted on them?
This is stupid. As stupid as the comparisons going around from them last week between Lee and Washington. Both completely miss the key elements of intent and purpose.
Yes, the United States killed lots of people but the US’s ideology isn’t based on killing/eliminating/”solving the problem” of hated groups.
Yes, the charge that publicly identifying yourself with an ideology that advocates mass murder is enough by itself means all that it needs to.
As Maya Angelou stated: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.“
Shouldn’t we wait until the Dingo actually eats a baby, before firing it from that babysitter job?
If the goal is making your childhood past invisible so your past doesn’t follow you, there’s a much better case for requiring anonymity until you reach a certain age, than for eliminating it. Eliminating it makes it impossible to hide your past.
@Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:
It’s obvious to Teve Tory’s friends who Teve Tory is, but it’s not obvious to employers who google search for (name rhyming with Teve Tory) 😛
This is Management 101. You reward and punish for how people do their job. You don’t reward and punish for what you think they think.
I did my supervising in an at will state, which means legally I could fire people because I didn’t like their haircut.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I am opposed to doxxing when it’s real doxxing, like, “Hey I snooped and used sketchy means to discover that HiTlErLuVeR69 on 4 chan is really Gerald Varmint of 412 squirrel barf lane, Opelika, Alabama, and his sister Ronny Sue works night shift at the Dairy Queen whose phone number is 876-…”
But when the ‘doxxing’ they complain about is “Hey, you see that guy in the fred perry polo illuminating his unhooded face while doing the hitler salute? I know that guy! It’s ol Gerald Varmint…” then that’s not really doxxing. If you appear in public as a nazi and get recognized, you doxxed your damn self.
You know, this whole “it doesn’t matter what we think a person means we can only look at there actions” is how the Republican Party went down the racist rathole to begin with. If we can interpret Trent Lott’s or Donald Trumps obvious racism in any other way, no matter how much of a theoretical stretch, then we have to pretend he didn’t really mean it. Snap out of it! If someone is celebrating Hitler’s final solution, then that person is a danger. On the other hand, if someone says “I think Karl Marx had some good ideas” that’s not the same thing at all. If someone says “I admire Joseph Stalin, and think that I should kill those who disagree with me”, then, yeah, it is the same as the Nazi thing.
to be precise, the question isn’t about what people think, it’s about what people say in public.
@teve tory: I can’t figure out whether their use of “doxxing” in these circumstances is in order to glom on to the reputation doxxing has on the internet, where it is a No-good, Bad, Naughty thing to do–or whether these nitwits live so much of their time on the internet that they can’t see the difference.
As said, when you’re marching down a street with your bare face illuminated by tiki torches and everyone snapping pictures of you, “doxxing” isn’t the word.
That’s it exactly. You are not guessing what they think. They told you. The argument being made is that we should pretend they didn’t. No one on this thread has answered that fundamental question: if someone has said that he believes Jews are inferior and deserve the oven, under what crazy code of ethics are you obligated to pretend they didn’t mean it?
And even shy of murder, if they just say blacks or Jews or women are inferior and by their genetic makeup can’t do the job, under what crazy code of ethics are you required to believe they will set that aside and treat their workers fairly? You seem to be pretending that the work environment is completely measurable and it is obvious whether or not someone was treated fairly. That in no way resembles the real world. Why would I hire someone who I know does not view his coworkers fairly?
I think that’s fair. My qualms are linked, regardless of what one may call it, to the real possibility of mis-identifying someone in a crowd. I am less concerned with knowing, for certain, that John Q. Nimrod was in the crowd and we have positively identified him than I am trying to guess if Paul F. Normalguy is, in fact, the guy next to him. There is a real risk of outing the wrong person.
Note what we’re discussing here: a person who believes that the Holocaust didn’t happen.
Holocaust denial serves two purposes. First, it’s an attempt to sanitize the original Nazis by clearing them of the crime that gave them their monstrous reputation in the first place. This isn’t altogether different from Stalin apologists who attempt to minimize or deny Stalin’s crimes.
But it has another purpose, which is that it charges the Jews of being involved in a massive conspiracy to create and maintain this “hoax of the 20th century.” Here, it reveals itself as essentially a modern version of the blood libel. In the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of poisoning wells or baking Christian children in their matzo, and this claim wasn’t just a loopy conspiracy theory, it was a pretext for mass murder; countless Jews were slaughtered over these beliefs.
Let’s move away from hypothetical examples for a moment and get into a real case. I’m thinking of the controversy over Professor Leonard Jeffries of City College in New York. Jeffries isn’t a white supremacist but a black supremacist–or, as I like to call him, a bizarro white supremacist. He holds that mankind is divided into “ice people,” comprising those of European descent, and “sun people,” comprising everyone else. Ice people are violent, materialistic exploiters, while sun people are kind, compassionate peacemakers. Dr. Jeffries also maintains that Jews financed the slave trade and continue to use Hollywood to promote black subservience. (I always find it interesting that white supremacists and black supremacists seem to have equal contempt for Jewish people.) He was involved in a years-long legal battle over the college’s decision to remove him as chairman of the Black Studies Department, and it sparked a debate about academic freedom and its limits. It happened around the same time as another professor from that university, Michael Levin, was being disciplined for his having written papers arguing that blacks were genetically less intelligent than whites. (It seems CUNY has a nice balance of black anti-Semites and Jewish racists.)
Without getting into the legal aspects of this controversy (which are fairly complicated), I’ll just comment that holding views such as these isn’t simply a matter of believing nonsense, it raises real questions about how people who hold these beliefs might treat members of the groups they despise. I don’t know if Jeffries or Levin has ever directly advocated violence. I don’t know if they’ve ever even advocated discrimination. But if you’re a Jewish student in Jeffries’ class, or a black student in Levin’s class, it’s not unreasonable to suspect you might be treated less than equitably.
Guy flies Confederate flag “for giggles” and “to piss people off”, gets canned.
Considering that Canada is even more touchy about “hate speech”, I’m surprised that this guy took this chance. (It was also his totally tone-deaf remarks about swastikas and the deaths in Charleston that got him canned, I suspect.)
Coming back to something James raised and I agreed with, the long term and universal availability of something posted on the internet has raised the stakes, and in a bad way. The Washington Post had an article today about a Catholic Priest who just let his congregation know that 40 years ago he was arrested for his KKK actions, including burning crosses on people’s lawns and attempted bombings. He seems to have truly turned his back on that life and become a good person. He says he feels like he is talking about someone else when he discusses those times.
But you have to wonder if the Nazi-bros in Charlottesville will ever have that chance. Will they ever be able to move away from where everyone knows they were hateful and evil and dangerous? And if not, and if they want companionship and friendship and love, their best option is to stay with the old crowd. Like I said up-thread. We now live in the biggest small town ever, where everyone endlessly remembers every stupid thing you do.
@Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: I’ve seen tons of hateful vile (racist/sexist/etc) spewed on various sites that use facebook for comments. Those people were all using their real names. I know this because when I first ran into this I was like “there is no way people are posting that shit with their real names”. After extensive further investigation it turns out yes people will say hateful terrible things with their real names. I’m sure some don’t use their real names but there certainly is a LOT more who are. Hell thanks to facebook I’ve discovered some of my old friends are racists idiots just because of their normal daily posts or likes. I’ve been unfriended by them after confronting their ignorance/hate.
What I can’t get my head around is how Micheal’s proposition is even supposed to be enforced. I could quite easily pretend to be someone else and if pushed I could even provide SS numbers and such.
Almost two decades ago when Ragnorak Online was in beta the english servers were shut down for several months (to transition to the open beta build). Hundreds of fans started playing on the Chinese servers. In order to get onto that server you needed the equivalent of a SS number and more. Despite the massive language barrier and the physical distance they still pulled it off.
I don’t think intent is as important as you do. First nations had their children taken away with the good intention of aiding assimilation and civilizing us – and yes, many of the people behind those policies believed they were do the right thing. Our languages were restricted by the same good intentions.
Blacks will tell you of how many slave owners truly believed that slavery was in the black best interest.
The list goes on a very long way. Few people who do awful things do them with bad intentions – most people are very good at convincing themselves that what they do, however evil, is done for the greater good or justice.
The important word there is “shows”. A country that kills hundreds of thousands of civilians in an unnecessary war has shown you who they are. Whatever words of regret they might add are meaningless, because actions speak louder than words.
If guilt by association is valid, its valid across the board. Because everyone finds a reason to excuse their own evil as a necessary part of a greater good.
I agree holocaust denial is a horrible thing. So is the denial of the genocide of the first nations of North America.
However, there’s still a big difference between someone denying something and a physical act of violence.
And again, these things come around. If when you’re in control you give the power to silence those you think are evil, that power will still be there when your opponents inevitably gain control. Its actually the same reason gun control makes sense – powers, like weapons, don’t only work against ‘bad guys’, and bad guys can use them as well as ‘good guys’.
Agreed. Indeed, part of the point I’ve been trying to make is that the issue is trickier than how some of the people in this thread have been making it, when they turn to easy examples like someone openly advocating the killing of minorities.
But what I’m also trying to get across is that even if you (universal “you” alert!) don’t openly advocate violence, when you turn to crackpot theories that essentially slander a particular group as being involved in a massive conspiracy, it raises serious questions about your ability to treat members of that group fairly.
20 years from now, I will be happy to consider whether their actions since that date have demonstrated genuine remorse and a desire to do good.
@DrDaveT: Legally changing one’s name and moving to a different country might do it….
I share this concern, but I do know that one thing that Americans seem to love is a redemption story. They’ll have to be sincere, but I do think it’s not only possible that they’ll be able to move away from this, they are likely to be lauded for it. But it will take work, a lot of it.
@grumpy realist: I’m not quite sure what to think about people who do things like fly confederate flags to piss people off and then are shocked when people get pissed off. It’s like these trolls feel they have an unlimited right to annoy people, and no one should ever be allowed to act on that irritation.
No disagreement with that at all. I’m completely on board with calling out people who advocate hate. I’m responding more to the people who want hate speech legislation (it just drives it underground), want to ban certain groups from demonstrating (the problem with banning Nazi demonstrations is that in ten years a different group is in power and they’ll modify the legislation to ban their opponents), and worst of all, who think its okay to “punch a Nazi” just for being a Nazi, as opposed to punching a Nazi who’s punching someone else.
Are today’s Nazi’s extremely anti-semetic (I assume no one questions that about Hitler’s Nazi’s)? Absolutely. Do I think their speeches and marches should be met with opposing speeches and counter-protests? Again, absolutely. Do I trust them at all? Not in the least. Would I ban them? No.
Is anyone on this thread actually advocating governmental action (legislation/banning, etc.)?
As an academic exercise, I could quibble on whether or not someone “being a Nazi” is in itself sufficient threat to my personal welfare and security under our current laws to justify a viable assertion of self-defense such that I could use non-lethal force to defend myself from them. To “be a Nazi” means, at a minimum, that they are openly advocating for my less than human status and the extermination/elimination of me and my family. That would seem to be sufficient to justify a reasonable fear of them at a threshold that would allow me to get to a jury – a jury that would be inclined to accept it.
Way to take a word out of context! Good job!
The reference to intent was about why it is ok to differentiate the reaction to someone who associates themselves with an ideology whose intent is to discriminate (aka Nazis) versus one that doesn’t carry the same implications (USA).
And, if you can’t see the difference between the two, you aren’t worth engaging with.
@wr: Which is why I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who gets involved with one of these groups “for the lulz.” And then discovers that he’s trashed his future. Hipster Nazis. Bah.
P.S. If anyone wants to see how one does repentance correctly, look at what John Profumo did.
Hey you could just move to a stand-your-ground state and then you could shoot the first nazi you saw through the head. Let the police try to make the case that you DIDN’T feel your life was threatened by them.
Who here was advocating hate speech legislation? (Let alone punching Nazis?) The discussion was about whether it’s right to fire employees who are found to be part of a hate group.
Yeah, I was responding to things I’ve seen in other places … my bad.
On topic (belatedly in my case) I’ve said previously that I have no problem with someone firing employees for being part of a hate group, though that of course inevitably will include things like Nazi’s, communists (has happened for decades), anarchists (ditto), and any other group the employer doesn’t like, simply because that’s just the way these things work.
Employers have let go of workers for political views throughout history, and its unlikely that’s going to change. And firing someone for being a Nazi is fairer than many of the things people are fired for, so it seems strange to suddenly draw a line and say they shouldn’t be fired for that.