You just might get it.
(this post is a reply to the almost 200 comments received on the previous blog post on Google+. And the fact that it has almost 200 comments and my blog post here has 6 comments is a great example of why I am talking more on Google+ than on this blog, FYI)
People are often eager to snatch power for themselves or their ideology or their political wing, without carefully considering the consequences when that power is handed to their rivals. Back when George W. Bush was violating international law abroad and using signing statements at home to essentially invalidate law in an unconstitutional way, I told my Republican friends that there is going to come a day when they regret establishing that precedent for the next Democratic president.
This myopia is rampant and easy to fall into. It has been around a long time. It is not going to go away.
David Hill, A. Miles Davis, Rafael Chandler, Aaron Steele, Robyn Hines, Craig Velenski, and others who disagreed with my previous post on Teachers don't see that they are falling into this trap.
David even put up a counter post where he riffed on the old meme of "when they came for X, I didn't speak up". Ironically, that is precisely the problem with his beliefs. When they came for the bigots, he didn't speak up because he wasn't a bigot. The problem isn't when they come for bigots. The problem is after the bigots, they might come after you. The problem with freedom of speech issues is that they always have to come down on some asshole that nobody wants to defend. But you have to defend that asshole to hold the line. You have to oppose the wiretapping of suspicious swarthy types without a warrant so that nobody with an axe to grind against YOU put a wiretap on YOUR phone.
The argument appears to be that it is OK to fire teachers based on reasons other than their effectiveness in the classroom. It is OK to fire them for their personal views, expressed outside of school. And while that might work out in your favor on THIS issue, you can't be sure it will on the next issue. How many beliefs do you have that are frowned on by the mainstream? Ruminate on that a bit. How are you going to feel if the sword is turned around and used to stab YOU?
As Stuart Robinson pointed out, we are moving into a society where private and public lives are blurred. Seems like hardly a day goes by without someone getting fired for saying the wrong thing in public. And that is just the cases that make it to the media level of attention. It is surely far more prevalent than reported.
Once you establish a precedent that it is OK to remove someone from their job for what they say in their free time and not how they behave on the job, you steal their free time from them. The stories told in the comments on my previous post about how teachers have to basically hide all their personal beliefs from people makes me sick. What a travesty that simply because they are teachers, these people cannot even talk about how they feel about something without an overwhelming fear that it will be used against them.
What this guy said is hideous, but whether you like it or not, it is a religious belief. So if this guy gets fired, it will be for being public about their religious belief. People asked me if I would be OK with this guy if he was saying bad things about blacks, jews, etc. I ask you back, would you be OK if they were firing a Muslim teacher because he talked about his support for Islam online? or an Atheist because his atheism makes fundamentalist parents nervous?
We already have a hard enough time recruiting good teachers. Maybe the fact that we are functionally denying them a personal life is part of the equation.
Furthermore, there has been a refrain in the comments about how the school is legally able to remove him. I agree. But just because something is legal doesn't make it right. Just because the situation exists a certain way, doesn't mean it should.
Society doesn't exactly have a great track record of treating beliefs fairly. Just take a look at the Red Scare for some clear data on that. Or the Salem Witch Trials. Or the Alien and Sedition Acts. Or the suppression of homosexual sentiments for... oh.... since before there was an America. The Founding Fathers knew this, that's why they developed a model for government that intentionally removed itself from issues of speech, religion, and so on. Rather than risk someone in government we don't like imposing their beliefs on others, we removed the ability of all people in government to impose their beliefs on others.
The law is not protection from abuse. Protection from law is. Hence, constitutional guarantees against law.
But the problem we have today is not the government. It is us. Big Brother is US. We are watching each other like hawks, waiting to jump on ourselves at the drop of a hat.
Oh, this guy has an opinion I don't like, lets get him fired, blacklisted, and personally destroyed.
And while that sounds great when it is someone that you disagree with, just wait a bit for the roulette wheel to come around and you can be outraged when it is going the other way. You might think that guy who doesn't like gay marriage is a bad influence on gay children. And you might be right. I don't know. However, when someone wants to fire a gay teacher because of the danger he poses to straight children, how are you going to stop that school district now? You gave them the power to fire people based on their beliefs. And you did so on the flimsy evidence that because he thinks a certain way, he is destined to act a certain way. And if that logic doesn't sound familiar to you, it should. It is the same logic constantly used to frame gays as dangerous, cast them as pedophiles, etc.
Human institutions are flawed because people are flawed. That's why I prefer to take their power away. So that regardless of who is in power, I won't end up on the chopping block. That also means that people I don't like won't end up on the chopping block either. And it means that I have to hear views I don't like. I have to be occassionally defend the rights of some asshole to be an asshole. That part sucks.
But it is a small price to pay so that our country doesn't look like a game of Shadowrun.