AS100: Episode 100 with Cog Dis!!

For the second half of our episode 100 spectacular, Tom, Cecil and I discuss this article:

This turned out to be quite a contentious debate on free speech. Please let me know what you think of the arguments!

5 thoughts on “AS100: Episode 100 with Cog Dis!!”

  1. I think that Tom (from CD) nailed it…no one gets to choose to be white or black, gay or straight, etc (though we do get to choose to a specific religion or married/single – though we have chosen to make those a protected part of a person’s identity)…and, while yes, someone may not have chosen to have their personal statements made public…they did, however, choose to be a bigoted or racist (or whatever) person and have those views…

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Thomas, I think there’s something huge missing here and I’d like to hear your thoughts and possibly Tom and Cecil as well. My thought is that you can’t impose your privacy on someone else, except your wife, lawyer, doctor or priest. If you call someone and pull a Donald Sterling, you’ve communicated to that person. That person is not required to protect your privacy, simply because you have them the confidence that they wouldn’t.

  3. That was most serious that Cog Dis has ever been!!! Everyone was smarty pants today.

    What were really talking about is degrees. There just isn’t freedom vs. control in fox news black and white. The question is, where does freedom of speech end and assault on someone else’s rights begin. And there is no easy answers; nor should there be.

    In Canadian we do have defamation laws that protects people from being venerably attacked, laws for uttering threats and even hate crime laws that go beyond normal civil litigations. Whether or not the intent to protect from slander or promoting violence out ways the freedom of speech is a question that needs to constantly tapped at that is most likely viewed differently here than in the U.S. . Our views on what the government should be involved in is also quite different, so take the rest of my rant with that grain of salt.

    The notion that freedom of speech means you have freedom to harm is a little strange to me. This idea that words don’t harm is totally looking over mountains of historical material.. ON the flip sound there’s mountains of history showing that censorship can stop the positive role words bring the world….What a sticky mess!

    However, I think the university case has its genesis from a different source, There was a case where a teen committed suicide after her alleged rapist slut shammed her, and harassed her family and friends online. They where not charged, and other harassment litigation did not stick (our civil law for suing people is considerably different, and suing a bunch of teenagers you might no be able to clearly identify…and.for what their xbox?)

    After this case, the was rumblings that the government may go ahead with some pretty serious legislation that really treads the wire between online privacy and protection. Just telling the family of the victim (and other victims of similar cases) to grow an backbone and take it is really not a keen idea for much of the Canadian public. Should the victims give up their freedom of assembly (say online…here’s a touchy subject for next time) because it is outweighed by the attacker’s freedom of speech? If is a constitutional question, than the government should get involved.

    And yet we don’t want to government to grasp to much control and go nuts, because our conservative (small c), just might have intent do so. It is indeed tricky.. So maybe the university dealing with it in this manner is the best way for this to go down.

    As for employers, I don’t want to comment to much…because you know 1984… but to take what Tom (the other one) said completely out of context and go down the slippery slope once again (weeeee!). Chick-fil-A is going around it wrong. Instead of denying insurance for contraceptives, it should just fire employees who make the claims, have/had abortions, or have children out of wedlock…because the employee can control this. What about A quick search of social media that shows an employee got his little buddy fixed so he can’t have kids…boom fired because….its amoral….is this protected? What about saying you cannot marry someone working for the competition? So really it isn’t just a matter of what you can control and not control, it is a matter of social perception and your cultural agreement of what’s acceptable. Think that’s what Thomas was trying to say. .

    But yes, of course employer do have a reasonable right to terminate an employee who has gone too far and to protect their business. I would do it, as would any reasonable person. I totally support this. Here in Canada we have rights for both employers and employees to help as guideline in these cases. It is by far not perfect, and might be a bit heavy handed in American eyes, but it work with a few kinks Even employers promote the ideal to help draw talent and even consumers; a socially responsible employer gets a lot of props . From our socialist point of view from the north pole, just letting money run the system just for money’ sakes means we should just get on the toboggan down the slope and bring back forced unpaved labor and just be done with it.

    I totally recognize that freedom of speech without government censorship is important for a strong stable society, especially when questioning said government. But do I wonder if the slippery slope argument “any regulation on speech is harmful” is any different than the argument “any gun regulation is harmful” from the other side. Things to ponder on.

  4. I was surprised to hear my hometown talked about on the podcast.

    The students involved in the Dalhousie scandal were dental students in their final years of university. They are about to become medical doctors and they do work with patients in a public clinic throughout the week. Not only were comments and photos posted about specific classmates in the Facebook group, but there was also talk of drugging and assaulting female patients. Many of the public don’t want to see a physician who thinks drugging and raping people is a great joke. That is where a lot of the outrage is coming from, and this behavior is unbecoming of a medical professional. It is also the reason several provincial dental associations are requesting the names of the men involved – they don’t want to licence them. Doctors are held to higher standards of professionalism- they’re in a place of power and trust. If they were history majors, the situation might be a lot different.

    The facebook group was also titled after and directly named the university, so it looks awful on the school itself and draws even more attention to the “old boys club” atmosphere in the dental program (sexism and sexual assault on post secondary institutions is a whole other issue of which I’m sure you’re aware).

    As far as Im aware, there are no criminal charges (no laws were broken) and the university has not expelled the students. Although many wish they were – clearly they haven’t learned a level of professionalism appropriate for a dentist. The female members of the dental program still have to go to school with these guys. has been covering this scandal a lot and there have been opinion pieces from a few different viewpoints if you’d like to read more details.

  5. Thomas: I think the gist of the contention between arguments is this.

    You said that since privacy was violated illegally, the information obtained from that illegal act should not be used to cause a person to be fired.

    On the other side they (I’m sorry it’s either Tom or Cecil) say that even though the information was obtained illegally, the fact is that the info is out there, and the employer may be compelled to act on that illegally obtained, now public info, particularly if there are business considerations at stake.

    I think Cog Dis wins here (imho).

    Wikipedia article on the “Exclusionary Rule”:

    “The exclusionary rule is a legal principle in the United States, under constitutional law, which holds that evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights is sometimes inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law.”

    “The exclusionary rule does not apply in a civil case, in a grand jury proceeding, or in a parole revocation hearing.”

    In the case of an employer firing an employee, and an employee suing for wrongful dismissal it would be a civil issue regardless if it’s on prohibited grounds (race, sex, sexual orientation e.t.c) or otherwise.

    If your argument is that if courts can throw out illegally obtained info, then the employers can do so as well: the logic doesn’t flow because we’re talking civil, not criminal.

    Remember also that privacy law and employment discrimination law are different things. Assuming the scenario mentioned in the podcast discussion, the violators of each law would be different (in the former, the 3rd party privacy-violator, and in the latter, the employer for firing based on prohibited grounds). The punishment for violating those laws would be separate.

    The separate question, perhaps, that you raise: Is it acceptable/moral for employers to act on illegally obtained info in the domain of employment law? Maybe or maybe not – but I think the law as it is now answers that question (“yes it is”).

    I suppose a jurisdiction could enact an ordinance or statute explicitly forbidding an employer from firing an employee based on illegally obtained info….a law like that may or may not hold up against constitutional scrutiny. I could totally imagine a law like that being struck down under first amendment grounds.

Leave a Reply