October 3, 2022

Remember the woman who called the police on a black man who was bird watching? You probably saw the clip when it went viral. Her company saw it, investigated it and fired her. She then sued the company for defamation. Well, she just LOST the case.

I want to use this story to illustrate how the RW responds when someone finally faces justifiable negative consequences for their words and actions. They have learned to flip the script and will try to convince everyone that they are the REAL victims. They aren't. We need to anticipate their use of this strategy, point it out when it is used, then refocus on the harm they have caused to actual victims as we seek justice.

The RW always has to be the victim, even when it's clear they were the aggressor and in the wrong. The good news in this case is because there was DUE process and an investigation when they fired her, the company was on solid ground and proved even MORE so that she was fired for a justified cause.

This is why I lately I've been talking about giving the people making threats a chance to do the right thing before we go to their boss or bring in the law. Many WILL turn around and say they are the victim or go on to attack others even more! When they do that we can then use our evidence of offering them an out, but them not taking it. Too many times they refuse to accept when they are wrong, and incriminate themselves further. (See TFG as the prime example.)

If, say for example, we find the people making threats to Boston Children's Hospital and it looks like they made them "on the clock" while at work. We need to provide evidence and the employers should investigate before they act. Maybe they were on a lunch break when they sent vicious death threats! Or maybe they did it on company time via a company phone. Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding.

Besides being the right thing to do, another reason we push for due process is that anything that we do in good faith they will do in BAD FAITH. They love to flip the script so they are the REAL victims who were "just stating an opinion!" They want to turn any legitimate push back against them when they are caught saying or doing horrible things into, "It's all just a big witch hunt because I'm a conservative!"

Many intentionally refuse to get it. We can say, "You had a chance to be better, but you doubled down on racism and threats of violence. Now you have double the loses. Just stop it. You lost. You were wrong." That is the kind of message that others need to see.

I found this comment under the YouTube video very interesting, because it shows the thought process that many people go through:

In kind of two minds when it comes to firing someone for what they did off of the clock. For certain jobs I can see it, like if you are a cop or a judge or a teacher; But what if you are a roofer? a plumber, or store clerk? There should be a certain amount of freedom allowed people who mess up and still keep a job.

I dont know. I havent decided yet which is the correct way to be. Personally what she did was abhorrent, but it wasn't while she was at her job. Should we just fire all racists? What if you were on one side of covid or another and your employer had the opposite side and just decided to fire you because you went to a rally, but you complied with whatever orders the employer decided was best?

Its not as cut and dry as we think. I can see many instances of me wanting to fire someone because they are horrible and I want the revenge of seeing them fired, but I can also see where it would be unfair to do so.

The only conclusion I can come to based on those facts is that it is a bias to do so, therefore free speech is NOT the overriding principle here.

With that said she did do something wrong, but being fired for that alone should not have happened.

Cell phone video grab by Christian Cooper Credit: Christian Cooper

I responded.
This follow up story of the case is important. The woman was given a chance, IN THE MOMENT, to do the right thing. She didn't. She intentionally lied to the police. She is the perpetrator.

When the company saw this, they investigated. That is the right response, because they needed to know the context, see the whole video and talk to people. (She was first put on administrative leave, then fired.)

Now in most situations companies don't HAVE to do this because in most states people are at will employees, but doing an investigation is the right thing to do because people do make false accusations, and employees can turn around and sue for wrongful termination. )
(This is one reason we have unions and tenure, it gives people due process for false accusations.)

But notice here how you put yourself in her shoes for being fired for what she said and did "off the clock" and then faced negative consequences for it.

Now please put yourself in the shoes of the black man who was falsely accused of threatening her.
Police could come and it could be a death sentence for him. He was "off the clock" too. Was it fair that he might end up dead?

Christian Cooper is a prominent bird-watcher and works in communications Credit: Brittainy Newman The New York Times

These days, people who make racist comments, or threaten violence to others, often face NO consequences for their actions. In this case, she did. In a civil society if your "off the clock" peers accept your racism we don't have a way to ensure negative consequences for that. But corporations can have guidelines for employees. Sometimes an employee's actions are public and their association with the company is made known. If it is a GREAT thing, they are fine with that, they might even promote it. "After hours these employees save sick kittens!"

But in this case they didn't want their brand to be associated with this woman's racism and the actions that came from that. To NOT do anything about it (after the investigation) would be to condone it.

But the woman didn't accept that she was wrong, even after it was proved she was wrong. Society's impression of her racism was already out there, she didn't "walk it back" immediately. She got hit with a fast, massive response condemning it. Then afterward, when she didn't recant, she got hit with modern day shunning which can follow you around forever. That can be done to people unjustified and is a problem that needs to be addressed, but in her case it is now more clearly shown it was justified.

One way that we enforce norms in our our capitalist society is to use financial leverage. Sometimes even that doesn't work. We are seeing now how racists RAISE MONEY on their racism or bigotry "I got fired just for trying to protect my life!"
(Forgetting to mention the lie, the racism and the knowledge that her actions could lead to great bodily harm to the man.)

You worry about the fairness to HER for losing her job because you identify with her. You think, "what if that happened to me? What if I was unfairly accused?" (Of course some people know they would be FAIRLY accused, and are afraid of it coming out!) Your desire for fairness is a GOOD thing, We SHOULD work for equal justice for all. What we are seeing is how today's modern bullies try to use our compassion, empathy and fairness AGAINST us.

We need to prepare for when they do this. In my earlier piece I explain how that's done, who is doing it now and how to help them. Then we use their clearly shown horrible words and actions against them for further negative consequences.

Can you help us out?

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