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Posted by on Oct 18, 2010 in At TMV | 0 comments

Corporate America’s View Of Free Speech

Give credit to MSNBC.com for a timely article Monday on politics in the workplace: Be careful what you say; it could get you fired.

Contributor Eve Tahmincioglu cites a variety of examples and suggestions how to conduct oneself in a politically correct yet politically polarized environment.

Commenters who rant daily on political websites take note: “There is no First Amendment in corporate America.” So says Donna Ballman, an employment attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “You can’t say whatever you want and expect not to be fired.”

And this:

“One person’s opinion is often considered another employee’s hate speech,” said Chris D’Angelo, a New York employment attorney who does harassment training for employers.

I believe all of us can share experiences of letting our political drawers drop at work or in our social relationships.

When I worked nearly two decades for a newspaper publisher in San Diego whose henchmen considered themselves Republican Party kingmakers, I knew my place and surprisingly kept my mouth shut.

After all, we were newsmen and told to keep our personal opinions to ourselves. There were two exceptions to that rule. In both cases, the entire newsroom stood up and applauded, chanting “The King Is Dead, The King is Dead.”

The first occasion was when the Supreme Court voted unanimously to order President Nixon to turn over the Oval Office tapes on Watergate. The second was the day he resigned.

You would think newspaper rooms would be a bastion of free speech. Tell that to at least three reporters I recall who where fired for expressing their passion for a candidate or political issue not in favor of the company line.

The MSNBC author suggests First Amendment rights may be trampled upon in today’s highly polarized environment.

Advocates of free speech conveniently forget that such expressions does not mean they are not stupid or ill-timed.

I am reminded of that daily with my best friend whose politics are dead opposites of mine. To keep the peace, I try to remain mute on politics and don’t always succeed. If you work at it, it is amazing how much there is to talk about other than the weather.

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EPILOGUE

Corporate America is in charge of so many of our purse strings that sometimes I think they own the damn constitution. Think about it. They can fire you for saying stuff they don’t want to hear. And they can hide behind the skirts of anonymity when they fund a political campaign designed to enrich their coffers.

(Graphic courtesy of IllumeMagazine.org)

Cross posted on The Remmers Report

Comments are welcome. Link to my blogsite or go to my email address at [email protected] . Remmers’ varied career spans 26 years in the newspaper business.