December 21, 2013

If I Said What the Duck Dude Said

...I would at the very least be suspended, and probably terminated, from my job.

Why? Because in my 'reality show', I work at the pleasure of my employer, and if I'm casting them in a negative light, they have every right to not keep me around. We have an employee handbook, we have a Code of Ethics, we have a social media policy, the whole nine. And all employees are expected to not only abide by what's in the guidelines, but report situations that we see as potential violations of the Code by other employees.

I have friends and coworkers who think that's unreasonable, that an employer shouldn't have the option of terminating someone 'without cause'. One particular case locally that got us on this discussion was Syracuse University's termination of Bernie Fine, in the midst of as yet unproven allegations of child sex abuse. As the pressure heated up -- with multiple accusers (two of them presumed to be liars, the other two a little more convincing at least in the eyes of our DA for Life Bill Fitzpatrick) the topic of conversation moved away from SU basketball and started to focus on Fine, his case, what head coach Jim Boeheim may have known about the situation, and so on.

The fact that the university had previously investigated the situation and had already decided to stick with Bernie as Boeheim's chief assistant likely contributed to their decision initially to suspend him, and ultimately terminate him. You know the old adage, 'once bitten, twice shy' and I think that was SU's situation.

It's been the same situation for other employers, over the years; after all, political correctness has been around for a long time. Sometimes the issues change, but the outcomes are similar.  Here's a refresher:
  • Juan Williams, who spoke about being scared of Muslims in their garb while on Fox, and was let go by NPR as a result of that and previous line-crossing in violation of his contract. 
  • Helen Thomas, who lost her job as a White House reporter because of anti-Semitic comments 
  • Gilbert Gottfried, for joking a little too soon about the tsunami which cost him the spokes-duck job for Aflac; Shirley Sherrod, former government worker who was dropped for allegedly being biased against white people; and CNN's Rick Sanchez, who went overboard talking about Jews in the television business (you can link to their stories here and here)
  • Howard Cosell, who killed his career with his 'look at that little monkey run' comment years ago
  • Paula "I is what I is" Deen, for using the N-word on one or more occasions
  • Martin Bashir, who resigned from MSNBC after slamming Sarah Palin for ridiculous remarks she had made when exercising her right to free speech. Palin immediately took up the Duck call, no surprise there, appearing on Fox wearing her Duck Dynasty cutie camo.
  • Just yesterday, there was a report that an Air Force general was fired for, among other things, 'rude and brash behavior' and showing up late for a meeting. 
Importantly, these folks were let go for a variety of comments bashing a whole host of populations, and except for the general, they didn't get in trouble while they were working for the company that fired them, suspended them, or 'let them resign'.  And that's the point here.

The Duck Dude is entitled to his opinions, and those opinions apparently should not be surprising to anyone who watches the show, or to A&E, the network that airs it. After all, you can take the boy out of the Louisiana backwoods, but you can't take the Louisiana backwoods out of the boy. The network accepted the risk, obviously, and as with most employers, there are limits, even when cash is pouring into the coffers. When you jeopardize the brand, the business, and the bottom line, employers will act, and they should.

One other thing that's important to note here, on the sponsor thing: WalMart, particularly in their rural stores, is a huge seller of all of the Duck Dynasty spin-off merchandise. I haven't heard yet that they were dropping those items, but I think they have to.

After all, that's what they did to Paula Deen; and isn't what's good for the goose good for the, er, Duck?