The Social Media Ejaculation

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Last week the Washington Post reported, “During a heated exchange with another commenter, Guy Estergall, a 26-year veteran of the Cleveland Fire Department, wrote that the “overwhelming majority of pedophiles are homosexuals” before calling on the man to get psychiatric help “to become normal.”

The smashup was in reference to a Facebook page showing a tearful teenage boy worrying about being gay.

Estergall wrote, “the 13-year-old boy “needs psychiatric help” and is “delusional.”

“Cleveland fire spokesman Larry Gray said that an investigation is underway to determine if Estergall violated the department’s social media policy.”

The Post quoted Estergall, ““We’re all entitled to our own opinions,” he said. “A witch-hunt is now being formed against me by some individuals to use the media and my employer to try and punish me because they didn’t like what I said. Half the world believes what I said, that homosexuality is a mental illness.”

A Job Connection?

Just what is the connection between spewing vitriol, words and images, on social media, and one’s employment?

And, if there is a connection is it over ridden by free speech concerns?

The issue is a moving target.

Our democratic and secular society has been on a march of inclusiveness since at least 1964.

Before that blacks could be lynched with impunity and there was no LGBT “community”, per se.

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Not so many years ago, being “out” required three strikes.

Today, words and images that would have been either accepted or commonplace are viewed as at least odd and often vicious.

The advance of civil rights for people of color and sexual minorities are largely responsible for the reversal where “nigger” “spick” and “faggot” have become clarions of hate rather than kitchen table banter.

Those civil rights now often include extremely important workplace protections which can put social media and employment rights on a collision course if they slop over into the firehouse.

But What If They Don’t?

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Can someone express themselves in the manner of Guy Estergall and work effectively with gays and lesbians?

“Fire talk” is rife with exclamations that all must be the best and super qualified, gore-tex clad super heroes, so I doubt if Mr. Estergall would work happily alongside someone he felt was mentally ill or not “normal” whatever that is.

But, the presumption would be yes until otherwise noted.

“With” versus “For”

I can work “with” just about anybody but I wouldn’t want to work “for” someone who viewed gays as mentally ill.

Why?

Assigning authority implies power over others and such views as expressed by Estergall, et al, prove their inability to lead in a 21st century fire service.

They can hold their increasingly anachronisitic views, but never from a position of power, not even for a shift as an acting officer.

“SHARE” to End Ignorance and Intolerance.

 

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