Fired Bloggers (or, what were they thinking?)

There’s been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere lately about folks being fired from a variety of different jobs because of blogging activities. Via the Earth Wide Moth blog, I found this link and this link on a blog called the Papal Bull. I’m certain that this list is incomplete, but it gives you an idea of the various types who have become recently unemployed.

A few thoughts about this in no particular order:

* I of course believe in the idea of free speech and people ought to be entitled to write and speak their peace. But, as Stanley Fish argued a while back, there really is no such thing as “free” speech in the sense of words without consequences. So it makes sense to me that (for example) people working at Starbucks who were writing on their blog about the poor quality of Starbucks coffee might have an employment problem. The rhetorician in me thinks that to not see that suggests quite a lack of basic “audience awareness” on the part of these writers.

* As I have mentioned before, I keep both this official blog (where I post things about academia) and an unofficial blog (where I post things about the rest of my life), and I try to divide up what I post where accordingly. I don’t think much about job security based on what I post in either place because of issues and traditions of “academic freedom” and tenure and because EMU is pretty mellow about these things.

However, that doesn’t mean I should or do say anything. I don’t make overtly negative comments about my students or colleagues, for example, not because there’s nothing bad to say (nothing is perfect, right?) but because that strikes me as both incredibly unprofessional and, well, dumb. About the only thing I’ve really vocally and negatively critiqued about EMU is the whole President’s House fiasco, but that was very much a topic in the public media/domain, and I was pretty confident that they weren’t going to fire a tenured faculty member over complaining publicly about the house.

In any event, I suppose you could say that what I’m doing is exercising “self-censorship.” But I prefer to think of it as “sense.”

* While I have written here before about my negative feelings about anonymous blogging, this particular situation seems one in which being anonymous isn’t such a bad idea. Of course, one could also argue that the person who feels compelled to anonymously blog about their bad situation perhaps ought to be spending her or his time getting out of that bad situation, and it seems to me that some of the folks on the fired list were trying to blog anonymously and got caught.

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