WARNING: Believing that the First Amendment gives you the legal right to express your opinion may be hazardous to your career.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment
Of course, that refers only to Congress.
It says nothing about employers–and especially those self-appointed pseudo-gods who set themselves up as judges of virtue and infallibility.
If you doubt it, just ask Scott Lees, who until March had worked for four years as boys head lacrosse coach at Fryeburg Academy.
His crime? Posting to his personal Facebook page an open letter to President Barack Obama that one of his friends had emailed him.
Lees posted the letter on March 17. Two days later, he was ordered to resign from his four-year position as the academy’s lacrosse coach.
The letter had been written in response to a speech Obama gave in Cairo in 2009. In this, Obama said, “I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s history.”
Among the issues the letter raised:
“Were those Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native American Indians.
“Were those Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and Native American Indians.
“Can you show me one Muslim signature on the United States Constitution? Declaration of Independence? Bill of Rights? Didn’t think so.
“Did Muslims fight for this country’s freedom from England? No. “Did Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in America? No, they did not. In fact, Muslims to this day are still the largest traffickers in human slavery.
“Your own half-brother, a devout Muslim, still advocates slavery himself, even though Muslims of Arabic descent refer to black Muslims as ‘pug nosed slaves.’ Says a lot of what the Muslim world really thinks of your family’s “rich Islamic heritage,” doesn’t it Mr. Obama?
“Where were Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this country? Not present. There are no pictures or media accounts of Muslims walking side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. or helping to advance the cause of Civil Rights.”
(The most prominent Muslim group in America at the time of the civil rights movement was the Nation of Islam. Its onetime spokesman, Malcom X, preached a gospel of separation of the races–and condemned whites as “blue-eyed devils.”)
“Where were Muslims during this country’s Woman’s Suffrage era? Again, not present. In fact, devout Muslims demand that women are subservient to men in the Islamic culture.
“So much so, that often they are beaten for not wearing the ‘hajib’ or for talking to a man who is not a direct family member or their husband. Yep, the Muslims are all for women’s rights, aren’t they?
Where were Muslims during World War II? They were aligned with Adolf Hitler. The Muslim grand mufti himself met with Adolf Hitler, reviewed the troops and accepted support from the Nazis in killing Jews.
“Finally, Mr. Obama, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th, 2001? If they weren’t flying planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle East….
“And THAT, Mr. Obama, is the “rich heritage” Muslims have here in America…”
Interviewed by Top Right News, Lees, 48, said he had never before been fired and had been coaching since 1992.
Fryeburg Academy is a private school in Fryeburg, Maine.
Lees said that he was supposed to meet with Head of Schools Erin Mayo and Dean Charlie Tryder on March 19. But Athletic Director Sue Thurston told him a decision to fire him had already been made.
Mayo told Top Right News that “Scott Lees did post a message on Facebook regarding Muslim people last week that was negative and, of course, public in nature.”
Mayo was right on two counts about the Facebook post: It was negative and public.
What she didn’t say was: It was also entirely historically accurate. It did not urge its readers to violate the law. It did not defame anyone (unless telling the truth about a group’s documented activities counts as defamation).
This is similar to the policies–and atmosphere–of the Joseph McCarthy “smear and fear” era of the 1950s. You didn’t have to actually be proven an actual Communist, or even a Communist sympathizer.
All that was needed to condemn you to permanent unemployment was to become “controversial.” That way, the employer didn’t have to actually prove the employee’s unfitness.
An employee’s right to out-of-work speech should be fully protected unless it crosses the legal line–such as committing libel or urging others to violate the law.
And employers who fire him for embracing his First Amendment right should be criminally prosecuted.
Until this happens, the workplace will continue to resemble George Orwell’s vision of 1984–a world where anyone can become a “non-person” for the most trivial of reasons.