The issue of whether a mall should have fired a long-time Santa who posed for gag photo in a MAGA cap inevitably invited comparisons with the Naked Teacher Principle, which holds “that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.” There are many variations of the NTP, including the recently visited Naked Congresswoman Principle, which cost Rep. Katie Hill her seat.
The question: Is there, or should there be a “President Trump-supporting Santa Claus Principle?
Here is Alizia’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: Santa In A MAGA Cap”…
“I think this one might fall into The Naked Teacher Principle.”
I think I can understand why you would say that, but I think there are a few problems with that assessment. I will try to explain:
First, a school teacher who engages in sexual misconduct, is transgressing in a limited area. Our social norms — though this is changing of course — does not allow teachers of children to appear to be loose sexually. Long ago, and more especially for women who were teachers — and mostly women were teachers — it was part of cultural norms that a teacher have a ‘chaste appearance’.
But in a sense there is no issue of ‘speech’ involved when and if a teacher posts a naked photo. That is, there is no ‘speech content’ or political opinion expressed. If there is a ‘speech’ issue it is only of a vary limited sort.
The Santa who had his photo taken with a Trump hat should never have had to apologize to anyone. He was completely free to take such a photo of himself. There is no possible argument that could be brought out in a so-called free society that could successfully take the man’s right away.
And definitely not to a private commercial interest. He put on a Trump hat for his own reasons, took a photo of it for his own reasons, and I do not believe that any private commercial interest should a) feel that it has to mediate this or b) should be given a right to do so. They should stay out of the whole controversy. (They should sit down and shut up.)
Neither does any (vindictive) private citizen have any right — according to my sense of what is proper– to put a private commercial interest in the position of having to offer an opinion, and to force that business to fire the man (any person who expresses speech that is protected and should be protected).
That partisan citizens can do this — can apply pressure to a company to then inflict harm on a private individual — is horrifying. Citizens know that they can do this, and they cynically and deviously do put pressure on private commercial enterprises to inflict their will and to do harm.
The way to cure the problem is to establish an ethic whereby private citizens opt to *play fair* and not to try to ruin their opponent’s lives (as getting a man fired might amount to). The citizens who publicized this private sharing on FB should be condemned, not the man who took the photo. And the ‘Mall’ should also be condemned. It would be a sign of a certain decency. But, and let’s face the fact: people are becoming more and more indecent