Virginia deputy fights his firing over a Facebook 'like' - CNN.com
The sheriff is an elected official. A deputy "liked" his opponent on facebook. The sheriff won re-election and then fired the deputy. The reason for the firing was due to the "liking" of his opponent.
Thoughts?Free-speech advocates argue that the "like" should have been clearly protected by Carter's right to freedom of expression. But a U.S. District Court judge in Virginia ruled differently saying, in effect, that free-speech protections don't kick in when someone doesn't actually say something.
"Liking a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection," Judge Judge Raymond A. Jackson wrote in his May ruling, because it doesn't "involve actual statements."
This confuses me a great deal. Liking a page on facebook, if nothing more, should at least be considered symbolic speech. (Sorry, don't think I can edit the typo in the title - speech, not speach.) Symbolic speech has held up in many SCOTUS rulings such as flag-burning, the F word on clothing, etc. So I'm not sure I entirely sure how this doesn't qualify. If on his own time, he wore a campaign shirt, would that be speech enough? It sounds like it's pushing a technicality because the judge knows if it is speech, he would have little choice but to withhold previous rulings.
It also confuses me because of the political nature of the speech. It was clearly retaliatory on the part of the sheriff. As an elected official, he is subject to people supporting his opponent. It makes me wonder how far the politics of the issue could extend.
This is a tough one for me. I know I have, by accident, liked something that I didn't mean and sometimes don't even notice it. I definitely think the intent of the firing is awful and I would second guess anything that sheriff did. I'm not sure it qualifies as protection of speech though.
I guess if the argument is that it's not speech, how could he be fired for "not" saying anything? IOW, if it's speech because it conveys his message, how does not remain speech for purposes of his rights?
The question at the heart of this is whether or not you can be fired for expressing your political beliefs outside of work. Yes, it was his boss, but that is an elected position. They've made it clear he was fired for liking the elected official's opponent.
Last edited by ethanwinfield; 08-10-2012 at 08:59 PM.
This is similar to the debate that we had quite awhile ago about the teacher getting fired for putting something on his wall against homosexuality. If I remember correctly, most people though he was justified in being fired. I am not sure why this is different. You either have the right to put whatever you want on FB, or you don't.
Another thing is that speaking against homosexuality could be considered hate speech (I don't remember the details of the debate) or pose an uncomfortable environment for students. The same could be true if a teacher posted about hating boys or girls or short people. But there was no dispute the teacher said it/posted it.
But in this case, did he "say" it didn't he "say" it? If he said it, they shouldn't be able to dismiss his claim because it was "insufficient" speech. If it's "insufficient" speech, how can it be enough to fire him over?
I have a feeling if he had liked another page - hating homosexuals, NAMBLA, KKK - there would be no question it was speech and he would be fired for the nature of that speech.
I think this judge is in for a rude awakening should someone decide to appeal, and it is such a ridiculous appeal to have to make. Freedom of speech is the offering or receiving of ideas or information. It's not limited to any one media. Of course the "like" button has never been mentioned as it's relatively new; however, all specific media hasn't been listed either. The "Like" button is akin to typed communication of digital form just as perhaps a check box is on a piece of paper.
It is ridiculous to be fired for liking an opponent. Besides goodness gracious what an insecure little person to be that offended by a LIKE that he fires him! Talk about czar-like!
I think this stupid move is going to cost the government an obscene amount of money. They will likely at some point have to backpay the man plus all of the fees from losing that they'll have to bear. There is no way this'll stand up in a higher court.
In addition to our own individual National constitution, there is also a Universal Dec of Human Rights and I think it exactly goes along with our constitution regarding freedom of speech.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."Today freedom of speech, or the freedom of expression, is recognized in international and regional human rights law. The right is enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Based on John Milton's arguments, freedom of speech is understood as a multi-faceted right that includes not only the right to express, or disseminate, information and ideas, but three further distinct aspects:Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
the right to seek information and ideas;
the right to receive information and ideas;
the right to impart information and ideas.
International, regional and national standards also recognize that freedom of speech, as the freedom of expression, includes any medium, be it orally, in written, in print, through the Internet or through art forms. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression.
I too am confused my the "insufficient" part of the ruling. "Like" is a word - how is it not speech? Are we really instituting word count minimums on what constitutes "speech" and therefore what is protected under the freedom therein? How bizarre. Having said that, if he had "liked" something that threw into question his ability to be an effective police officer, I would think that might be a stronger case for being able to fire him. For example, if he liked a white supremacy group, people might question if he would be able to equally serve and protect people of color. But liking his boss's political opponent? That has nothing to do with his effectiveness as a police officer. Also, on a side note, if his boss is the kind of person that would fire people over liking someone else on facebook, it's not hard to understand why they were rooting for the other guy!
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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This would open up every military and civilian federal government employee from ever liking any political page except the current president's....I don't like it.
Okay I guess I wasn't looking at hitting the like button with actually saying it out loud. Guess that was just me.
I see what you mean now.