“And you think you’re so clever and classless and free”
— John Lennon in Working Class Hero
We all know the next line in that song, eh.
As long as you’re working for someone else, you are not free “to say and do whatever I please,” as Lesley Gore put it in the song You Don’t Own Me.
OK. Enough of the classic rock and pop songs — though so many of them have such great messages, yes? But I digress.
Freedom of speech and actions are restricted when you are an employee. Most companies have a code of conduct you must follow, including what you say in social media settings. It’s not that the board of directors really cares whether you are, say, a white supremacist or a homophobe or a transphobe. They care about how your opinions expressed publicly might reflect on them — and affect their bottom line. So, you are advised to keep it to yourself, both in the workplace and publicly.
I can see how someone like J.K. Rowling — wealthy and self-employed — might overlook that fact when she defended one Maya Forstater, whose consulting contract with a British nonprofit was not renewed because of complaints about “her open transphobia,” as Dr. Veronica Ivy phrased it in an opinion piece on the NBC News website. As Dr. Ivy puts it: “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.” Ms. Forstater lost an appeal to a work tribunal.
As Dr. Ivy says, the case would be “mundane” itself if J.K. Rowling hadn’t decried the decision and spoken out in defence of Forstater’s so-called right to free speech. Rowling sparked an online movement of angry people who feel they know all about everyone’s chromosomal development. There can’t be any variations or abnormalities, in their view.
Says Forstater: “I believe that it is impossible to change sex or to lose your sex. Girls grow up to be women. Boys grow up to be men. No change of clothes or hairstyle, no plastic surgery, no accident or illness, no course of hormones, no force of will or social conditioning, no declaration can turn a female person into a male, or a male person into a female.”
It’s her belief, and it’s her privilege to believe it. Modern medicine doesn’t agree, nor do so many others struggling with gender identity issues at a young age. They didn’t ask to be born that way. They had nothing to do with hormonal misfirings in utero or with the chemicals mommy may have consumed when she was pregnant. Or with the way God made them.
They may not have been fortunate enough to have the normal chromosomal journey their detractors had.
The detractors don’t even want to consider any of that, but many of them do expect you to accept the fact that gay and lesbian and bisexual people are born that way.
They dismiss any possible causes of transgenderism, specifically MtF (male-to-female) transgenderism, and they campaign against trans people.
It’s ignorance, and it’s hateful.
In Forstater’s case, she was pleading to ignore all of that as well as the fact that, as the tribunal judge said in his ruling: “If a person has transitioned from male to female and has a Gender Recognition Certificate, that person is legally a woman. That is not something that the Claimant is entitled to ignore.”
J.K. Rowling sided with Forstater and the angry mob that would go on to delegitimize trans women on social media in the wake of the ruling.
Oh, yes. Big time.
No comment on the transphobia.
But the implications of this are truly Orwellian.
if cancel culture is legitimate and a person’s career can be destroyed merely for expressing unpopular beliefs, you have effectively censored all unpopular beliefs. The principle of free speech is not for the virtuous nor for the currently accepted version of the truth. (And there are many.) Not even medically accepted or scientifically proven truth. It is for the scoundrel in the corner who refuses to get on the bandwagon.
Witch hunts are never good, no matter how virtuous the hunters imagine themselves to be.
Thank you. “believe me” your point is well taken. However, as a Friend once told me(Lawyer), “property is 9/10ths of the Law.” Why he couldn’t wait to get out of the “profession” is for another day. moral of lesson: at the end of the day, you have to sleep comfortably. I did manage to finally solve the riddle of The Lottery-S. Jackson though. Guess who was throwing the stones. Free Speech is Constitution. Unfortunately, there are those who 1. Never read it 2. Don’t understand it 3. Take it for granted 4. Abuse it 5. Would burn it..lalalala. Hopefully though, the end of days will not happen before I die. If it does, it’s going to be quite a Show. Hollywood isn’t going to even come close %D%;%O
Fred, this is not about cancel culture. It’s about employers worried about employees hurting business. There are consequences for free speech when it is discriminatory. Imagine a bank executive saying the Holocaust was not real . . . do you think the bank might lose some customers?
re: Banks. I hate to say this, but in Canada, eh. Not likely. However, MSM is definitely another story. In this, I get the point. It’s quite the PITA. No POTUS intended, because we “all” know what ITs game is %@
Well they might well be concerned. But most employees do NOT have a morals clause in their contract. They go home and the job is gone. What they say in their own time – and long as it is unrelated to work – ought to be off limits.
OTOH, she was a consultant and consultants can have a renewal denied for almost any basis that is not legally prohibited.
Although, if one is to be truthful, she did express the dominant cultural definition of male and female in most of the world. Even in my corner of it. One of our monster wildfires out here was caused by a smoke generator at a “gender reveal” party for an unborn baby. Most people in the US would not think twice about that.
Actually, Fred, most employees do have a code of ethics they need to follow outside of the workplace, but they may be unaware of it. Again, it’s a bottom line thing: If your conduct outside the workplace hurts the company’s business, you will face suspension or dismissal. Even the corner garage would fire a mechanic if people start demonstrating outside because of what he or she might have said about a minority group.
The person in question was delegitimizing a group of people recognized and protected by law. The company, apparently, has trans employees, too. The company has good cause to be concerned. And, remember,no matter what you might think of LGBTQ people, their money is as good as anyone else’s (unless you are a baker who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings).
I’ve seen employees suspended and fired for a lot less.
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This might be of interest on this topic. https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-transphobic-is-jk-rowlings-new-novel-troubled-blood-very
Thanks for that. I was hoping to get a preview of the book from google books, but they aren’t offering one yet. The Ebook is $18.99, kind of expensive.