Elon Musk and the timeless talent of not trashing your boss
· · Jun 21, 2022 · NottheBee.com

I freely admit that I'm far from being, as the great radio icon Rush Limbaugh used to claim, on the cutting edge of societal evolution. I happily acknowledge that the developing standards, rules, guidelines, and ethics that govern our morally mangled culture change too quickly, and are applied too arbitrarily, for me to even attempt to keep up.

So someone is going to have to tell me when it became a reasonable expectation for someone to believe there would be no consequences to trashing their boss publicly.

If you missed it, here's how it started:

Here's how it's going:

I don't care if you're a conservative who distrusts Musk for his socially liberal positions, or a conservative who trusts Musk for his commitment to free speech on Twitter. I don't care if you're a liberal who adores Musk for his allegiance to furthering climate change hysteria, or a liberal who despises Musk for his recent declaration that he is starting to vote Republican.

There is nothing remotely political about the time-honored axiom that if you take to a public forum and voluntarily call out your boss for being an embarrassing, crusty perv who makes light of sexual abuse allegations, you can fully expect a pink slip in your company mailbox sooner rather than later.

I used to do custodial work when I was going to grad school. One of the day shift janitors told building employees that our boss was lazy, spending his day driving around while the rest of us did the grunt work. Word got back to the big man, and she was terminated.

Even with the tremendous levels of protection offered to teachers by their unions, I've taught with two teachers over the last 20 years of my career who have been fired for insubordination, and one who almost met the same fate, but was saved after a heartfelt apology – and the knowledge that they were excellent at their job – changed the superintendent's mind.

Surely I'm not wrong in saying that is standard operating procedure everywhere else too, right? If you mock or embarrass the boss, you get canned; this really isn't a difficult principle to grasp or accept. Until now.

In our current hyper-politicized environment, particularly one where Musk has become an outspoken advocate for minimal content restrictions on open speech forums like Twitter, suddenly there exists a galling lack of awareness over the distinction between freedom of speech and the characteristics of at-will employment.

Progressive tabloid Jezebel describes it this way:

Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest man, is in the process of closing a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter because he was very upset that some people got kicked off the platform for being hateful, disinformation-peddling Nazis. He believes in Free Speech, and he believes in it For Everyone—unless, apparently, you want to criticize him.

The left-wing publication goes on to blast those who fail to recognize that any fair understanding of the First Amendment, "would definitely include allowing your employees to be disappointed in you."

Does the author of this piece, Lauren Tousignant, honestly believe that she could begin publicly trashing the CEO of G/O Media (the parent company that runs a host of left-wing websites like Deadspin, Jezebel, The Root, The Onion, etc.) as an embarrassing potential felon, and not face any repercussions? And if she did get canned for it, would she honestly believe that she would have grounds for unlawful termination based on her First Amendment rights?

The First Amendment, like all the amendments, is a protection of citizens against the power of their government. When Musk and others lament the censorious actions of the progressive Twitter overlords who really can't stand the Babylon Bee torching their sacred cows, that's not fundamentally an issue relating to the First Amendment. What's being debated in that case is the forum's commitment to open and earnest dialogue, the free exchange of ideas, their openness to honest debate.

It would be a free speech issue if, say, the government was acting to fine or punish people for the things they posted on Twitter. It's a dishonest or skewed marketplace of ideas if Twitter puts people in the social media gulag for "mis-gendering" a boy by calling him a boy.

So is Musk being a hypocrite by blasting Twitter's slanted bias favoring progressive speech, while at the same time firing his own company employees for criticizing him? Only if you think it's cool to compare apples and oranges to arrive at such a conclusion. Had Musk criticized Twitter for firing their own employees when they slammed CEO Parag Agrawal as a deranged lunatic, then yes, his actions would have been hypocritical. But he didn't do that. At all.

And just stop with talk of free speech for the now former employees at SpaceX. It would be a twisted and bizarre reading of the First Amendment to suggest that James Madison and the boys meant that I'm under legal obligation as the founder and operator of my own business to continue financing the slanderous demolition of my own reputation by wayward employees who have an axe to grind.

I know it's now a sign of weakness in our culture to show enough humility to learn something, but let this be a clear lesson to the uninitiated. If you bad-mouth your boss to other people, the First Amendment protects you from government retribution. It does not, however, shield you from getting the much-deserved boot.


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