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    Should anti-Semitic Occupy LA woman have been fired? (Reader poll)

    Should anti-Semitic Occupy LA woman have been fired? (Reader poll)

    An employee of the L.A. School District and active Occupy Los Angleles supporter was fired for her anti-Semitic comments which have garnered a lot of attention.

    Here’s the video of her reaction to the firing, where she doubles down (h/t IsraellyCool):

    The easy answer would be sure, fire her, she’s a despicable person.

    But, her comments were not made at school.  And while there’s no doubt that she is an anti-Semite, we’ve also seen hundreds of times here how the race card falsely is played against conservatives.

    We’ve seen examples where the most innocuous use of words which sound like other words can lead to charges of racism, and of course, how criticism of Obama’s policies is deemed racist.  Indeed, the entire Tea Party movement falsely has been condemned as racist.

    If being racist (or anti-Semitic) completely outside one’s job is a ground for being fired, then how do we distinguish between charges of racism and false charges of racism.  Who decides?

    Donald Douglas, who has been the subject of attempts to get him fired from his job, writes:

    The district’s decision reaches into the realm of personal space. And it should not. This is tyranny.

    Admittedly this is a tough one, but I agree.  So long as it’s completely outside the workplace and does not impact one’s ability to perform the job, what stays outside of work should stay outside of work.

    What do you think? (Poll closes at 9 a.m. Eastern on Friday, October 21)

    [Note: a lot of the commenters are arguing over whether she “could” be fired. The question is whether she “should” be fired, not whether the District had the legal right to do so.]


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    Certainly she has the right to free speech and any attempt to criminalize her speech would be dead wrong.

    But does she have the right to be insulated from the consequences of anything she says?

    Does an employer have the right to say: “If you really believe that and insist on expressing such views so publicly, we feel you are unfit to perform the duties to which you have been assigned. You are welcome to seek employment elsewhere.”

    I think the answer is to the latter question is “yes” though the employer may have been hasty (depending on past history, of which I am unaware).

    As to the question of Should, I believe: yes, she should be fired. Her attitudes are not acceptable and the fact that she went out of her way to trumpet them in public shows that she cannot be counted on to keep those attitudes out of her class and away from her students.

    In this age of instant media, her students will easily (inevitably?) become aware that she hold these views and holds them proudly — how can that not negatively affect her teaching? In a sense, she was not “outside the workplace” because her actions intrude into her workplace. (Recall that is has long been the case that teachers can be fired for “moral turpitude”, because what teachers do in their off-hours, especially in full view of the public, has always been felt to reflect on their jobs.)

    As for the question of determining whether a charge of racism (or the like) is justified, in this case that is easy. This is not a “he said, she said” or a hypothetical presented in class to as part of a lesson. This is not a blog comment or post where the author cannot always be positively ID’d.

    Such charges should meet a very high standard of proof (which this incident does) and should have a clear bearing on one’s ability to do one’s job (which this incident does).

    Case closed.

      Concur on all points.

      K in reply to Owen J. | October 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

      But does she have the right to be insulated from the consequences of anything she says?

      I seem to recall a recent OWS assertion (and sorry I can’t find the link at the moment…it is one of those things I should have clipped when I originally saw it) that the 1st Amendment not only guaranteed free speech but the right to be heard as well. IOW, not only does the Constitution protect your right to speak, but it apparently also provides you an audience. It is no stretch to assume that she feels the Constitution affords her the right to speak without any resulting negative consequence.

      Ironic…when you consider that people the world over are quite willing to risk death in order to be heard. In this respect Obama is perhaps right. We are soft.

      As other commenters have mentioned…this is not a 1st Amendment issue. My previous mention of it is only in reference to how I imagine this woman will be defended, which is why I’m against her firing. It prevents her bigoted views (and those of her supporters)from being exposed for what they really are and falsely wraps it in the Constitution.

    This woman most definitely should be fired. Most teachers or employees of any company would be for her flat out anti-semitism.

    I think if she examines her contract she’ll find that her ‘opinion’ is not acceptable behavior for someone who is supposed to be an educator and is a fireable offense.

    KM from Detroit | October 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Relatively late to the party, here, but I would like to point out that stories abound of teachers being fired for less–while still away from their place of employment.

    One example I know is of a teacher who, while on vacation in Europe, had a photo taken of her with a glass of wine in her hand. That photo went up on her Facebook account in a photo album (not the profile picture that everyone sees all the time, but in the albums that you have to work to view).

    She was fired shortly thereafter for something akin to “promoting alcohol usage among her impressionable students.”

    On the issue at hand, I think it’s possible to respect this woman’s right to say distasteful (a milquetoast word, I know) things, but I think it’s also possible to respect her employer’s right to disassociate itself from those things by firing her. One thing my employer is keen to impress on us is that we are all always representatives of the company, even when it’s not apparent. That’s why I try to avoid being derogatory or inflammatory on my own Facebook page–I’m listed as being an employee of my workplace there, and I’d like to keep my job 🙂 As was stated above, the First Amendment, word for word, extends to Government. Employers, even public schools, are not the Government.

    Were this woman in any other position–full-time teacher, maybe, or some other blue- or white-collar profession–I could support disciplining her in some way–mandatory leave, suspension without pay, drafting an apology, anger management, etc. Being that, as was pointed out above, she’s a substitute teacher, it seems to me that the ONLY recourse available (not knowing enough about the school system) was to just say “You can’t work for us any more.”

    Liberty | October 21, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I voted NO if for no other reason than – do people have to now be afraid of losing their jobs if they utter in public anything that is going to “offend” someone in any way? Yes, I think she was not very judicious in her public comments, but who hasn’t at some point in their lives. She just happened to do it with a lot of people in attendance with AV capabilities. One must be very careful nowadays when “mouthing” off in public because, like Phil Mickleson once opined when “caught” by a worker in the drive thru at a donut shop in Augusta, Ga., with their cell phone while wearing his newly acquired Masters Green Jacket out in public, which is against the rules, 😉 that EVERYONE is MEDIA today.

    ThomasD | October 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

    “…So long as it’s completely outside the workplace and does not impact one’s ability to perform the job…”

    I agree, and I voted no. I tend to think I’d say the same about any other bigoted hate-monster – be they Islamist, Klansman, or Aryan variety of Nazi.

    The only problem I foresee is what happens when someone within her work environment makes it an issue? Say a student who, knowing her strongly held views, subtly (or not so subtly) goads her on, or merely repeatedly broaches the topic?

    Sure, she might exercise restraint, and try not to go too far with her own responses (specifically I doubt this one is able to do that), but the mere fact that she has this vulnerability is a tremendous potential for disruption.

    I’d really hate to be her supervisor knowing that she’s a time bomb waiting to go off.

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