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It's interesting when an allegedly left-winger forum (not DKos, another one) punishes a user for wanting his fellow users to engage in polite, but firm left-wing activism. Rule of thumb: don't post about outrages unless readers can do something about them, and don't punish users who advertise potential legal and polite solutions.

You are probably already familiar with the Lindsey Stone and Jamie Schuh case. They were involved in posting a private photo they took at Arlington National Cemetery to their Facebook page. In a silly gesture, one of the people posed in front of the "silence and respect" sign and pretended to do the exact opposite for the sake of irony by flipping the bird and pretending to shout. It could have been a sign at an airport, a school, or a hospital and the gesture would have meant the same thing. "This sign is telling us to do something, and we're having a laugh by pretending to do the exact opposite." Some people might consider this a dumb move, and that's fine. It was an act of silliness, after all.

But of course, the photo escaped from their private control, went viral, and these individuals became subject to actual real-life harassment from the sort of people who post on FreeRepublic, because they instinctively think (without reflecting) that this was some sort of "we hate the troops" gesture. The two are now on administrative leave from their employment at Life, Inc. of Hiyannis, MA because they bent to pressure from the wingnut harassers calling for them to be fired.

I heard about this incident on another Internet forum that is also largely populated with those of a left and center-left viewpoint. The forum itself is a "big board" style that includes literally dozes of sub-forms grouped by interest. I heard about it on a forum specifically devoted to politics. This forum had threads to get President Obama elected (and re-elected) in the past, sanctioned by the moderators, so it was no stranger to hosting activist efforts. I went to the Life, Inc. page, took a screenshot of its contact information, and posted it to this forum with this message:

"Yeah, well two can play at this game. I don't think Lindsey Stone and Jamie Schuh should have been fired for what was a private photo joke. Here's there contact info: tell them as much. I can pick up a phone too and register my opposition. Whaddya think about that, righties?"

Hours later, I'm put on a week of "probation", meaning that I cannot post on their forum for that amount of time. My username is also put on a public shaming sub-forum (called "The Leper's Colony"), which my offense listed as:

"It's not OK to post someone's business information and ask us to call and harass them. User loses posting privileges for 1 week."

Tell me on what planet encouraging others to call up an employer to demand that two people to be reinstated constitutes "ask[ing] us to call and harass"? One that's either uber-sensitive or is populated by moderators with serious CYA proclivities, apparently. "Oh goodness, these Life, Inc. people might think we at this Internet forum encouraged people to call them to demand that they give two people their jobs back."

I love this other forum and have been a participant for years. The participants there are witty, intelligent, and compassionate on the whole. It's participants do things in the offline world (or so I've believed) to realize their values. To be called a harasser by its administrators is, at my most charitable description, seriously misplaced. Calls from wingnuts to Life, Inc. got these people fired. If I cannot encourage like-minded lefties to call Life, Inc. to right a wrong and get these people reinstated, then what good is this political forum if encouraging a simple, polite, straightforward action like that is punished with probation and derided as encouraging "harassment"? The point of politics is not to sit on one's arse, gripe, and spread outrage for the sake of seeking company for one's misery. It is to make what one considers positive changes to the world.

I am all about outrage - with a point. Outrage at life's injustices, and the inability of people to accept that it is their responsibility to take reasonable (read: not too much time/money/effort here) steps to address those injustices when they are made aware of them are core reasons why I'm an activist for broadly left-wing causes. But to spread outrage with no expectation that anyone actually address that outrage - and encourage such a standard of communication through one's management policies - is irresponsible and pointless. When the FReepers can lord their capacity for action over you, it is time to pause and reflect.

And to practice what I preach, here's something you can do about this. Not to be too self-referential, but ask yourself if it's worth your time to inform others of outrages without suggesting some sort of action to address it. Otherwise, it's worthless, I don't want to be angry alongside you, and if you're angry about it, you're better off using that anger to donate money and/or time to a cause, or failing that, go for a jog or hit a punching bag, assuming you're physically capable to do so.

Oh, and please call and/or email Life, Inc. at Cape Cod (I won't post the info since that would be "harassment" according to some people) and ask them to restore Stone and Schuh to their full-time positions, because no one should be fired because wingnuts can't tell the difference between joking irony and actual troop-hate.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    Dems can't win in Georgia anymore. If you can't beat 'em, antagonizing and driving them crazy is the next best thing.

    by Lothar2009 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:06:49 PM PST

  •  I think that actions have consequences.. (6+ / 0-)

    god knows I've majorly paid for pissing off various psycho bosses. Mostly, you're at their mercy, but if they actually break a law in your jurisdiction, I hope you ream 'em.

    Websites are a different thing, they have their rules. If you don't like it, get a differnet one. There's only like a billion of them, duh.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:28:48 PM PST

  •  Perhaps, rather than taking photo that (9+ / 0-)

    demeaned the troops, these women should have been focused on the sacrifices of the real, live human beings who were buried steps from where they were laughing.

             Standing up for the fallen,
                         For Dan,
             the widow of a US Vietnam vet,
      who also has at least one friend whose son
                 is buried in Arlington.


    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:51:06 PM PST

  •  I'm so sorry... (6+ / 0-)

    that I wasn't able to be the one who fired them.

    •  So? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What's the point of your posting this? If you really hate them, go burn dog poop on their porch after ringing their doorbell and cursing at them, I don't know. At least you won't ruin their lives that way, and you'll actually have done something, Internet.

  •  Lothar - have they been fired? (8+ / 0-)

    In one part of your diary you state they are on unpaid administrative leave and in another place that they have been fired.

    There are lessons to be learned, one of which is that everything you post on the Internet can soon be made widely available to the public, so be cautious of what you post.  The second is that what they did was highly offensive and it is hard to have much sympathy for them.

    I won't be making any calls.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:18:02 PM PST

    •  Honestly, not sure (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, gfv6800, Tonedevil

      Some sources have them as being "on administrative leave", others as "fired", so I unfortunately had to use the terms interchangeably. Good catch, in any case.

      I have sympathy for them because they didn't have ill intent (it was just to pretend to do the opposite of what a sign said) and it was supposed to be a private photo. I appreciated the irony - and let me say that again, the IRONY, people. If I thought they were somehow being disrespectful, then I wouldn't care about this as much. But they've had their lives ruined over a harmless private joke by people who make it their business to get ordinary people fired over politics.

      I've seen it happen before on another forum years ago when another wingnut got someone else fired over some sort of Bush-era thing they posted over the Internet (I forgot the details, it's been so long). This has got to stop. I'm tired of having them magically fire people because they get offended by something they see on the Internet. Well I'm offended at what they're doing, so I want to magically get people rehired. They're trying to hurt, I'm trying to help, and it's the only thing I can do short of confronting them face-to-face, pointing at them and telling them to stop it. Since I can't make this real for once for them (hey, actual person confronting you, in the flesh, different ain't it?) and encourage them to stop, this is the next best thing.

      If you're outraged at the photo, then I don't think you really understand the humor behind it, and that's fine. You and I have very different senses of humor then. I'm just tired of seeing this happen, again, and I just wanted people who shared my outrage to make a simple polite phone call. That I was probated on the other forum because the mods thought it was "harassment" showed what sort of forum it really was, and perhaps that's a good thing.

  •  Let me see... (7+ / 0-)

    (1) Two ass clowns post a photo of themselves flipping the bird at Arlington National Cemetary, and this makes them Heroes of Free Speech and we should all gaze in wonder at their brave expression of an idea.

    (2) While the free speech rights of ass clowns is sacred, the free speech rights of complaining wingnuts is not.  Thus, it is bad form to call the ass clowns' employer and complain.

    (3) Further, employers of ass clowns are obligated to soak up whatever public relations damage their employees' actions do to them.  Ass clowns must live in a consequence-free bubble so we can all continue to gaze in wonder at their deeds in the name of free speech.

    (4) But while whiney wingnuts are forbidden from complaining about ass-hattery in a public space, those who support freedom of ass-hattery aren't held to the same standard.  They are totally free to call the ass clowns' employer and express their solidarity with stupid, juvenile expressions of defiance.

    (5) Like ass-hattery, solidarity with ass-hattery is also sacred free speech and community message boards are forbidden from sanctioning members who support ass-hattery.

    It sounds a bit one-sided to me.  While free speech is free in the sense that the government is not allowed to interfere with it, speech has consequences.  

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:52:06 PM PST

  •  Recced for attempt to lessen the severity (0+ / 0-)

    of punishment. Obviously these women did not grasp the pain of veteran's loved ones and should have understood this.

  •  That was definitely too harsh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey, Minnesota Deb

    Most Americans don't serve. Ever. So of course you are going to have moments like this. Punishing them financially, though, seems excessive. I think a more fitting punishment would be require them to actually meet with people who have family members buried there and find out why they might find it offensive.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 11:47:49 PM PST

  •  that woman was an ass. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, oldpunk
  •  In my own most humble opinion, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lothar2009, ciganka, Tonedevil

    as both a guy who has fought in our wars and who is still on active duty (for a little bit longer, anyway), if I ever ended up in Arlington and my earthbound ghost bore witness to a similar outrage... I'd probably think it was absolutely hilarious.  As I noted elsewhere, I am probably an anarchist trapped in an officer's body, but the extreme to which this reaction has been taken is a little bit ridiculous.  Again, in my own most humble opinion.

    I hardly think the dead are as humorless a lot as some people seem to believe.

    "If Mitt takes office, sooner or later, the Zomnies will come for all of us." -Joss Whedon

    by quillsinister on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:12:49 AM PST

  •  Man, if everyone who did some silly shit like this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was fired, who would be left to clean the toilets of the 1%?

  •  The real issue here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annetteboardman whether or not they were on the clock when they did this.  One account I read indicated they were on a business trip.  If they were, their employer is well within its rights to discipline them for behavior that reflects negatively on the company.  If they were on their own time, it's none of Life, Incorporated's business.

    That said, I'm of the opinion that their behavior was out of line.  Irreverent humor is a vital part of political discourse, but in order to be effective, it needs to be delivered at the right time and place.  This, sorry to say, doesn't qualify.

  •  If it was posted on Facebook (0+ / 0-)

    the photo wasn't private, was it?

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