The Tyranny of the Brand
By Charles Pierce, Esquire
20 December 13
What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being?
s the day went on, I heard an unfortunate number of progressive friends address the issue of the suspension of the crackerfamilias with the flat assertion that the First Amendment doesn't apply to corporations and that therefore, A&E was within its rights to suspend the guy. (Which, as Steve M. points out, isn't really a suspension but rather that the crackerfamilias is sort of banned from A&E world HQ while his program is on hiatus, which many of the show's fans likely believe is a form of hernia.) I do not deny the basic legal correctness of this point, but I do wonder if progressives should be quite so blithe about it.
The Bill Of Rights is supposed to be durable and universal. Now, though, in our schools and in our workplaces, it has taken a severe beating. Regularly scheduled drug testing without cause eviscerates the protections of the Fourth And Fifth Amendments. Just this week, Senator Professor Warren proposed a bill that would decouple credit checks from the application process, which at least is a step toward reasserting a right to privacy. To say that, well, Phil Robertson doesn't have a First Amendment right to a TV show is only to make half an argument. What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being? As it happens, I had disciplinary action taken against me at the last newspaper I worked for because of things I had written on the Esquire.com Politics blog prior to coming to work here full time. When I asked my immediate supervisor why this happened, he replied, "My primary obligation is to the company." (I looked down to make sure I wasn't wearing a nametag with the word Wal Mart on it.) If I showed you the official letter of reprimand, you wouldn't believe that it actually was written by anyone who worked for a newspaper in any capacity except hawking it from a steam grate. They were within their rights to do what they did, but if you believe in civil liberties, you have to start wondering how truncated those liberties are in daily life.
And my favorite left-wing left-winger passes along another story from within this rapidly expanding gray area.
According to the new policy, "improper use of social media" includes any "communication through social media that":
"ii. when made pursuant to (i.e. in furtherance of) the employee's official duties, is contrary to the best interest of the university"; "iv. subject to the balancing analysis required by the following paragraph, impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, impedes the performance of the speaker's official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the university, or otherwise adversely affects the university's ability to efficiently provide services. "In determining whether the employee's communication constitutes an improper use of social media under paragraph (iv), the chief executive officer shall balance the interest of the university in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees against the employee's right as a citizen to speak on matters of public concern, and may consider the employee's position within the university and whether the employee used or publicized the university name, brands, website, official title or school/department/college or otherwise created the appearance of the communication being endorsed, approved or connected to the university in a manner that discredits the university. The chief executive officer may also consider whether the communication was made during the employee's working hours or the communication was transmitted utilizing university systems or equipment. This policy on improper use of social media shall apply prospectively from its date of adoption by the Kansas Board of Regents.
Does your job own your civil liberties when you're off the clock? Does it own your thoughts, expressed freely, when you're home? Are we saying that the government can't abridge your constitutional rights, but that The Brand can? If you answer instantly, "yes," think again about what you're saying, and about the kind of country in which you want to live.
And a relevant comment from TCinLA:
As someone who has worked frequently in the same swamp Mr. Robertson works in, i.e., Okeefenokee West, otherwise known as Hollywood, the situation is different. When you take a job in Duh Biz, your contract includes your agreement that you, as a public figure associated with the project you are working on, will not publicly do anything to harm that project. Generally, it's been a way of keeping people like screenwriters (like me) who might work on the project and get fired off it when our view of things conflicts with that of the producer or director, from "bad mouthing" the final result. But it also includes your agreement not to open your mouth and say ignorant and idiotic things that bring the project into disrepute. This is what Robertson did, and he had signed away his right to do so in return for a considerable sum being deposited in his bank account. Whether his attorney explained that to him when he signed the contract, or whether being your standard-issue 10-generations- inbred southern alligator bait, which he is, and therefore being unable to keep his mouth shut about "the way we all do things down heah" doesn't matter. Like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, he's incapable of not wanting to flaunt his ignorance and poke a thumb in the eye of "all y'all outsiders."
So tough shit. He signed away his right in return for money, and if he's too fucking stupid and ignorant to understand that, then fuck him.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine from Boston came for a visit. His family and his wife's family live in south Florida, but he drove up to see us. He was close friends with my stepson, who passed away just before Christmas in 2009. He was a radio personality when he lived here many moons ago, and he's also an actor, having appeared in several movies. Actors are unionized and elect their own union representatives. Then they have agents who act in their behalf. And, as stated above, when they accept a role, they sign a contract. I think most of you know this, but it seems to have slid by some.
Here's a summary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:Major Features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(Public Law 88-352)
Title I—Voting Rights
Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements, but did not abolish literacy tests sometimes used to disqualify African Americans and poor white voters.
Title II—Public Accommodations
Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining "private," thereby allowing a loophole.
Title III—Desegregation of Public Facilities
Permitted Justice Department suits to secure desegregation of certain public facilities.
Title IV—Desegregation of Public Education
Encouraged the desegregation of public schools and authorized the U. S. Attorney General to file suits to force desegregation, but did not authorize busing as a means to overcome segregation based on residence.
Title V—Civil Rights Commission
Addressed procedures for the Commission, broadened its duties, and extended its life through January 1968.
Title VI—Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs
Authorized but did not require withdrawal of federal funds from programs which practiced discrimination.
Title VII—Equal Employment Opportunity
Outlawed discrimination in employment in any business exceeding twenty five people and creates an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to review complaints, although it lacked meaningful enforcement powers.
Title VIII—Registration and Voting Statistics
Directed the Census Bureau to collect registration and voting statistics based on race, color and national origin but provided that individuals could not be compelled to disclose such information.
Title IX—Intervention and Removal of Cases
Made reviewable in high federal courts the action of federal district courts in remanding a civil rights case to state court and authorized the Attorney General to intervene in certain private suits.
Title X—Community Relations Service
Created the Service to aid communities in resolving disputes relating to discriminatory practices based on race, color, or national origin.
SOURCE: Congress and the Nation, 1945-64 (Congressional Quarterly Service, 1965): 1638-41.
NOTE: The text of the entire act is posted at http://library.clerk.house.gov/reference-files/PPL_CivilRightsAct_1964.pdf
- See more at: http://www.congresslink.org/print_basics_histmats_civilrights64text.htm#sthash.J1bBxtoE.dpuf
Question: How were this idiot's civil rights violated? Seems to me he's the one who violated his contract, along with the boundaries of good taste...if there are still such boundaries.