Once again, I am 90% certain, maybe more, what the right answer should be, but also again, I’m close enough to the cusp to have “reasonable doubt,” or as they would say in the Chauvin trial, “Never mind!”
Chris Malone, an offensive line coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC), , was fired two days after he tweeted,
“Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!”
The school responded, through its athletic director,
“Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention. The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our Athletics department or our University. With that said, effective immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today (as I head to my oral surgeon for the latest emergency…):
Was it ethical to fire him?
Conservative media is lining up with Malone, calling him the latest in a series of “blacklisted Americans” being “cancelled” for “criticizing a Democrat.” Is that really what’s happening here?
Blogger Robert Zimmerman writes, “Though Malone’s language was crude (though completely typical of almost all of Twitter’s childish commentary), it hardly rose to the level of ‘appalling’ as claimed by the school, unless of course the school and the administrators of its athletic department are partisan Democrats and are intolerant to any opinions that criticize the political party they support.”
That’s funny: I think the tweet is appalling (and as readers here know, the rationalization that it was typical of crude Twitter banter is not persuasive on Ethics Alarms), and I’m not a partisan Democrat, as you may have noticed. The tweet uses Abrams’ gender, race and weight in an ad hominem attack, unethical all. Take those away,and I’d agree with the coach’s lawyer, who said, in part, of the university, “As a public school, it cannot control what its employees say at social gatherings or on social media. It certainly cannot fire them for criticizing and mocking politicians.”
It can fire employees who embarrass their employers and raise legitimate questions about the caliber and character of its instructors. It happens that Abrams is a Democrat, but if the same ugly rhetoric were used by a college employee about a conservative Republican, the offense would be the same. (Whether the response would be the same is a separate question.)
If you are as dumb and inarticulate as the coach apparently is, and work for an educational institution, you have an obligation to shut up, at least in public forums.