Should This TV Commenter Have Been Fired For an Off-the-Air Comment About Gay Marriage?

I’d like your opinion on this:

Sports commentator Ralph Gurdy was recently fired from an NBC affiliate for saying — not on the air, but during a public function unrelated to his TV work — that gay people are born that way and that there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

That’s pretty weird and outrageous, isn’t it?

It didn’t actually happen (I made it up as a thought experiment; there is no Ralph Gurdy who’s a talking head for NBC), but this did: Sports commentator Craig James (pictured below) was fired from a regional Fox outfit because he was “not a good fit” and a “polarizing figure in the college sports community.” Fox also said that James, who had just one on-air performance before he was kicked out, had not been “properly vetted.”

So far, so uninteresting, but the problem lies in a further statement made to the Dallas Morning News by an unidentified Fox spokesperson who referred to James’s unsuccessful Senate run, during which the candidate said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to answer to God.

Craig James (Bob Daemmrich – Texas Tribune)

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” said a Fox spokesman. “He couldn’t say those things here.”

Again, James didn’t say “those things” on the air, during his commentator gig. Instead, he voiced his opinion many months earlier, as a political candidate. While I disagree passionately with his opposition to marriage equality, it should be noted that his views on homosexuality are firmly in the mainstream (if not the majority), and are actually part of the GOP platform. It seems bizarre that he’d get fired for voicing such a widespread opinion (especially by the same network that owns the arch-conservative, pro-GOP Fox News Channel that’s been known to engage full-throttle in exactly these kinds of culture-war skirmishes).

Fox reflexively defends Christians against this kind of thing, so it’s hard to know what to make of the Craig James case. Maybe the Dallas newspaper misunderstood the Fox spokesperson. On the other hand, maybe the spokesperson was uninformed and misspoke, erroneously suggesting that James’s exit was the result of his anti-gay stance during the political campaign.

And then there’s the unpleasant possibility that James was indeed fired for his opposition to marriage equality.

Whatever the case, he just decided to sue Fox, and he immediately went overboard in rather grotesque fashion, by alleging that “people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports.” That’s clearly not true — but he does have a less hyperbolic point worth considering. Should he have been pinkslipped for his statement on gay people, if that’s indeed what happened?

If the firing of the fictional Ralph Gurdy (in the first paragraph) rubbed you the wrong way, how about the equivalent actual firing of Craig James? Once you take politics and your personal opinion on gay marriage out of it, is it fair that Fox kicked Craig James to the curb?

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Sven2547

    Whatever the case, he just decided to sue Fox, and he immediately went overboard in rather grotesque fashion, by alleging that “people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports.”

    This ‘omg Christian persecution’ thing is so tiresome. They have no idea what persecution is. Imagine how upset they’d be if they weren’t allowed to marry.

    • Jasper

      But they are allowed to marry… just opposite-religion people. Could you imagine the amoral chaos this country would descend into if Christians were allowed to marry other Christians?

  • $74156041

    If he had said that those who mix the races would have to “answer to God” and that interracial marriage was wrong, would we be asking this question?

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I would say yes but almost everyone would agree that would be a racist statement. When people discriminate against teh gheys they are not considered racist.

      • Norman Dostal

        right-they are considered bigoted religious kooks

    • Allan Carter

      Interracial marriage is wrong in my book. Don’t believe in it. My children don’t believe in it and their children won’t believe in it. There us still a large gap between the average white and Black incomes. If a white has a marriage with a black she reduces the chance her children will have .

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        That’s your opinion. Mine is that you’re a worthless trashbag.

        You have no say in what your grandchildren will believe. Statistics suggest that their opinions will be a lot more progressive and decent than yours, thank God.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        …..

      • RobMcCune

        Don’t believe in it

        Well too bad, because there are plenty of interracial couples, many of which are married.

        My children don’t believe in it and their children won’t believe in it.

        It’s sad that you don’t care about your children beyond their role in your eugenics experiment.

        There us still a large gap between the average white and Black incomes.

        Because of racist people like you, you fucking moron. Income is not genetic. Too bad your ancestors inbred you with so much stupid.

      • McAtheist

        “Interracial marriage is wrong in my book”.
        I assume the book you refer to is the bible.

      • tubi11

        Hey, everyone, it’s Romeo Rose!

      • Carmelita Spats

        EWWWWW! It’s Allan Carter! Inter-grammatical marriage is wrong. In my book, inter-grammatical marriage with Allan Carter is wrong. Don’t believe in it. My children don’t believe in it and their children won’t believe in it. There us still a large gap between the average person’s grammar and Allan Carter’s grammar. If a person has a marriage with Allan Carter, she reduces the chances her children will have of composing a tolerable essay, resume, letter or job application. Don’t marry or procreate with Allan Carter. English grammar depends on this. Inter-grammatical morphemes may be sexy but inter-grammatical marriage is wrong. Thank you.

      • Amakudari

        Man, I feel so bad that my marriage doesn’t have your approval.

      • smrnda

        Ever wonder if a reason for these gaps is that white people are racist and do what they can to piss and shit on Black people and make sure they don’t get a chance to get ahead?

        And, despite averages, you still have to account for educated, affluent Black people and poor white people who actually exist. So… you’d hate your white kids to marry Black college professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers and accountants? Rather they marry some white person, *ANY WHITE PERSON* whether they’ve got a criminal record, can’t hold down a job or do drugs?

      • Itarion

        Any sufficiently advanced sarcasm is indistinguishable from idiocy.

        And the corollary, any sufficiently advanced idiocy is indistinguishable from sarcasm.

      • Mira

        So what about me? I’m Caucasian-ish and I’m in a committed relationship with someone of Arabic descent. Can’t mix brown and white either?
        /facepalm

      • Oranje

        That “she” in the last line is very telling.

      • SeekerLancer

        Wow. I think you walked in the wrong door, Stormfront is that way.

      • Oswald Carnes

        Fuck you and your mutant spawn.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        You might want to read a different book. You’re book sucks.

      • Matt D

        Everyone has opinions. Let me share mine.

        Although I see you likely surrounded by guns, ammo and beer, I still find it positive (though miniscule) that you’re willing to share repugnant ideas (like racism) with outsiders. It’s possible that you do so because you feel confident you are right, or safe behind the internets anonymity, or just trolling.

        However, even if your motives aren’t sincere, sharing such a taboo opinion with people outside your (anti)social circle is a positive step forward, even if you immediately jump back in the cage. Unless you ignore all replies, you will now learn why you are wrong in several flavors, why modern society rejects them, and why you must cower behind the internet to express such ideas.

    • eric

      No, but that’s because the vast, vast majority of watchers would take offense at that, and the employer would have a credible, rational expectation that having such a public spokesperson associated with them would impact their business.
      Hemant’s point is that his position on gays is mainstream; its popular (even if it’s wrong). Fox can’t say they expect a drop in viewers if he’s saying something they expect their viewers to agree with.

      • Kodie

        My impression is that we’re missing information. Ostensibly, he is being fired for having an opinion. Although it is a popular opinion and one possibly held by his employer, doesn’t mean he should feel free to express it. On the other hand, it might have been something else, but this is an appropriate instance to hang a court case off of.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          So can Hemant’s school fire him for criticizing religion in media appearances? That’s what it sounds like people are saying.

          • Neil

            If it was a religious school, it would be understandable. For a state school, totally inappropriate.

          • Kodie

            No, that’s not what I meant. But when you make yourself a public figure, there are lines you shouldn’t cross and things you shouldn’t say if you want to keep your job. I think it’s ok to make insulting impressions of your boss in the privacy of your group of friends, but it’s not a good idea to use your real name online and post publicly available derogatory comments about your boss or the company you work for. It seems to me there must be more to this story than we’re hearing anyway. I think Hemant takes care to remain kind and his criticisms fair, while he could go a lot more dark, threatening or insulting, and it might make his employers question whether he is an appropriate role model in his position as a teacher, which may also be a liability to the company if he were in sales or his career if he were in politics.

            In the public eye, there are certain positions in which having a vocal and possibly controversial opinion is what they want – like, the ladies of The View or any talk radio host. But if you are on tv in other roles, like reporting the news, you are your tv persona all the time. They all have twitter accounts and obviously have to keep up an image, even when they are tweeting about their personal lives. There isn’t room for them to have a real private life in social media and really let loose and be regular people, since it always reflects on their present employer and is something that is looked at by future employers, like it or not. It might be none of their business, but that’s how it is.

            • eric

              I don’t think teachers and professors are typically considered public/media figures, so the same logic doesn’t hold. Hemant can do his job, and the university can do its job, pretty much just fine even if he says something unpopular. But when your job is to get people to watch your show/channel, it’s a bit different.

    • Itarion

      If he was fired for it, possibly. Opposition to mixed marriages doesn’t get votes, though, so why would a Senatorial candidate have said it?

      Yeah, they should be equivalent values of political suicide.

  • regexp

    “Fox reflexively defends Christians against this kind of thing”

    Not to nickpick but a station that is affiliated with the Fox broadcasting network isn’t part of the cable tv network Fox News and generally are more liberal.

    This isn’t some guy who bitches about gays at a bar. He spoke them in public running for office. And that makes him a public figure. And he is being hired to be the public face for college sports for a station. His very public and very negative opinions on gays could very well impact his ability to do his job. They have every right to fire him.

    • Conspirator

      Yes, it’s important to distinguish between Fox News (and Fox Business) and everything else Fox. After all, the Fox network brought us The Simpsons, Married With Children, Family Guy and every other Seth MacFarlane show, Glee, and many other shows that do not fall in line with conservative values.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        FOX is also bringing us this….

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBTd9–9VMI

      • Allan Carter

        Not true,I’m very conservative, I like some of theses shows.
        Just speak for your self.

        • Conspirator

          And there have been many complaints and protests against the shows I mentioned and almost all of those have come from “conservative” and “family” groups.

    • Allan Carter

      He has a right to his opinion. Public or Private. Thats what our country is all about.Freedom of speach and thought.

      • JT Rager

        He has a right to his opinion. He doesn’t have freedom from consequences for his free speech. The work environment is a private environment, and if a company feels that a person’s actions within the work environment are damaging to the work environment, then they have every right to tell him to stop or leave.

        This is not the same thing as eliminating free speech rights. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences of free speech.

        • Allan Carter

          Its the same. You don’t have to listen.

          • JT Rager

            You clearly don’t know what free speech is. It prevents from government intervention on what a person can or cannot say (within limits on “clear and present danger”, etc.). It does not say that private organizations must continue to allow people who represent them continue to be affiliated with them if they act contrary to the organization’s policy.

            I interned for a mining company last summer, and I am vehemently opposed to environmental harm such as emissions and acid leaching, things that mines are notorious sources for. Had I voiced my opinions regularly, it would have caused lots of arguments in the workplace. HR would have been well within their rights to tell me to stop voicing my opinion or leave. That’s because it’s a private company, and they want everyone on behavior that is conducive for a strong work environment.

            What freedom of speech DOES protect me from is when I voice my opinions outside the work environment. Christians are allowed to voice their hate speech, and I’m well within my rights to call them bigoted and hateful. I’m allowed to speak about anthropogenic climate change, and they’re allowed to tell me I’m stupid and wrong (even though I think I’m not). The company is a private organization, and if Craig James speaks in a manner that causes trouble within the workspace, NBC can tell him to leave.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              As someone who is careful about expressing opinions about religion using my real name, I have sympathy for a person losing a job for expressing opinions that have nothing to do with job performance. It may be legal, but it’s still not right. It would be better to talk to this person and explain to him why it’s important for same sex couples to be able to marry than to fire him and thereby create yet another for the religious right.

            • Carlos Ribeiro Da Fonseca

              “What freedom of speech DOES protect me from is when I voice my opinions outside the work environment”
              And that is exactly what happend.
              He said those things outside the work, in fact, when he said them he wasn’t even an employee of the TV station.

      • Kodie

        Companies who hire you are allowed to censor you because you don’t have free speech on their property or while representing them in the public. You have a right to say whatever you want, but nobody has to hire you.

        • JT Rager

          Funny how many people think “freedom of speech” means “freedom from criticism of what you say” or “freedom to act however you want at work” or “freedom to not get your company boycotted”

          • Conspirator

            When the word came out that Chik-Fil-A was sending money to hate groups a lot of Christians acted butt-hurt over the notion that people were boycotting them and were claiming that the company’s freedom of religion was being assaulted. Much like freedom of speech, you’re free to do/say what you want, but people don’t have to like it or support it.

          • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

            I agree that people have every right to criticize him. And the network has every right to fire him for things he says on the air. But if our employers can fire us for having opinions they don’t like elsewhere, that is a very dangerous precedent.

        • smrnda

          The problem I have is with the ‘representing them in public.’ Some companies seem to argue that employees are *always* representing them and they can fire you for *anything you do at any time* even when you’re in no way doing anything work-related.

          The other problem is that employers have no problem forcing workers to listen to their opinions much of the time, so it’s kind of a ‘property owners get more free speech than proles’ issue too.

          • Itarion

            Way i see it, as soon as you’re off the clock, you’re not representing the company anymore. Unless you, in the process of espousing your opinions, claim the capacity of representing that company – actively tie yourself to it – you can’t be held responsible by that employer for those opinions. If they ain’t paying me for that time, I ain’t working for them for that time.

        • rwlawoffice

          However, if he was fired for his religious views, then it is illegal because religion is a protected class. Much like if he was fired for being an atheist.

          • Norman Dostal

            not true at all-you can fired for any views that are counter to what the company wants to present-religious or otherwise

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        I’m gay and I agree with you. The thought experiment was effective. I’m sure some people would be mad if he came out for gay marriage. Would it be okay to fire him for that view? People have a right to opinions, even stupid ones.

        • Norman Dostal

          thats stupid-no one would fire you for having the CORRECT view!

      • Fentwin

        “Freedom of speach”

        hehehehe

    • eric

      I generally agree with your reasoning but not necessarily with the timing. If his off-camera public speech causes them to lose ratings or results in people calling for a boycott of the station, yeah, they have a right to fire him. Prior to any negative feedback, the decision is a little more sketchy.

      That’s the ethical argument. The contractual argument is probably a lot more cut and dried; if he signed an at-will contract, and they are citing some behavior (rather than race, age, internal belief, etc.), then yes they can. And in fact many businesses take it very seriously when an employee does “sideline” public speaking or appearances, precisely because if you are their employer, your conduct can reflect on them.

  • LesterBallard

    They say shit like ‘they’ll have to answer to god”, but so many of them want that job for themselves.

    • Stev84

      It’s really just a nicer way to say “Burn in hell, faggots”

  • Mr. Pantaloons

    This reminds me a lot of Nevada Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey, who said a few days ago that 2014 is going to be a great election year for his party because a lot of young people and minorities won’t be likely to show up to vote. Even though that may be statistically true and even if voter suppression literally IS the main strategy for the GOP as of late as far as winning elections goes, other Republicans condemned the comment immediately because they don’t want it on written record that they support the strategy (of low voter turnout) as anything more than a coinciding trend.

    That’s basically what Fox is doing – cleaning up after themselves. It’s easier to sell an image perpetually dancing around an unpleasant implication, and be free to cater at will to one side or the other, than it is to outright publicly state the fact and then immediately be forced to choose a side (and alienate the other). As a media company phenomenon, that doesn’t strike me as unusual at all – certainly, hypocritical, but that’s to be expected: you can’t keep the ratings up by only clinging to the ideals of the audience you already have.

  • Ryan Jean

    Should he have been pinkslipped for his statement on gay people, if that’s indeed what happened?

    The “if that’s indeed what happened here” is a BIG if… We really don’t know about the circumstances beyond the fragments we’ve collected to date.

    Maybe he was saying things in the breakroom, or in segments that were never aired, or any number of other places that made themselves known to management. Maybe there are entirely separate issues in play, that had nothing to do with those comments, but those are what’s getting focused on. Maybe he’s still actively politicking in a way that violates the contract with Fox (and for what it’s worth, Fox Sports is a whole different animal than Fox News).

    Then again, maybe it really is about his past-stated views on homosexuality and marriage equality, but not anything else he’s said/done since (excepting only that he still holds the past views, but doesn’t state them in the workplace). If that’s the case, his termination would appear at first glance to be unlawful. The statutes that protect against viewpoint-based discrimination in the workplace are available equally or they have no meaning at all.

    It’s also possible, though, that there’s some place in the middle on this. What if several of his co-workers were gay, and upon learning of his employment complained to management that based on his stated views they would feel uncomfortable working with him? What can/should the company do in such a situation? What if his contract was probationary, and he had given them significant reason to believe that he would continue saying such things in a company environment?

    In the end, without a full response from both sides, it’s difficult to ascertain what actually likely happened, and that makes it difficult to decide what is the right course of action for Fox Sports to have taken either as a matter of ethics or of law.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    NBC can’t continue to operate without adequate revenue. If Gurdy’s opinions deter part of the audience, then he creates a risk for NBC. Unfortunately, even a news source must make decisions based on maintaining adequate credibility and revenue.

  • Topher Kersting

    Craig James was a polarizing figure long before starting his political career. As a football player for Southern Methodist University, he was one of the players who admitted receiving money, causing SMU to be the only school to be given the “death penalty” by the NCAA. Add to that the controversy with his son’s playing career at Texas Tech and his miserable showing in his political career (he ended with four percent of the vote in his primary), and it’s pretty safe to say that James probably wasn’t popular with a large segment of Texas sports fans (the footprint of Fox Sports Southwest). The anti-gay remarks alone might have been OK, but in this case they were simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    • OhioAtheist

      That’s exactly what I was going to say.

  • Glasofruix

    Whatever the fox does, it allways defies the common logic.

  • http://NuclearSalad.com/ Kevin C. Sullivan

    Unless it violates an applicable anti-discrimination law, they should be able to fire him for any reason they want.

  • JT Hammons

    Texas is a right to work state so he can be fired for any reason. He could be fired because he he’s an ass hole (as is this case) or because he wore mismatched socks, either way it’s legal.

  • Stev84

    Fox and Fox News are hardly the same. Remember that Glee – easily one of the gayest TV shows – runs on Fox.

    Anyways, if it’s a firing offense at all, I think there should be difference between on air activities and people’s off-screen life. Though some things can become problematic when they are said or done in public and don’t stay private.

  • Dave

    I think the gay marriage thing is just a smoke screen. He was caught eating shrimp wearing a mix of polyester and cotton.

    • Carol Lynn

      That drives me crazy – the prohibition is not on wearing simply ‘mixed fibers’ it is specifically on wearing a mix of animal and vegetable fibers! (Lev 19:19 KJV – “neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee” and probably harks back to the old farmer/herder divide that made animal sacrifice and purifying in blood more acceptable to the lord.) As polyester is a chemical synthetic it is neither animal nor vegetable and probably would not count. Now a nice wool/rayon or linen/silk blend suit is right out and definitely an abomination. (edit – does that need a smiley?)

      • ElitistB

        Polyester is synthetic, but “synthetic” as in it is most often derived from processed fossil fuels. Thus it is formed of both animals and plants. Polyester is, in and of itself, a mixed fabric, and needs to be mixed with nothing else.

        • Carol Lynn

          OMG! Polyester is an abomination in and of itself. That’s brilliant! I am sooooo stealing that!

  • Tina Schmidt

    Well, Fox can’t comment publicly on why he was fired, because, well,
    it’s a personnel issue, so we won’t know the deets, other than what Fox
    could LEGALLY say (which they did) unless this actually comes to court.
    I’m sure Fox will settle out long before that, if it survives a motion
    for summary judgment (which is pretty pro forma in these types of
    cases).

    My bet is, he either said something on
    set (but not on camera about it), or something else entirely went down.
    I can see how having an anti-gay commentator would cause a problem with
    more and more athletes coming out, but not properly vetted could mean a number of reasons.

    For one, it could have to do with who he took campaign contributions from, that could give the appearance of….well, it’s not like he’s reporting hard news, but of favoritism or unprofessionalism. Or MAYBE, since he was a former ESPN employee, he received a campaign contribution from them, and Fox Sports didn’t like that.

    Or maybe it had to do with his involvement in the termination of his son’s football coach. Again, his professionalism, and his ethics, could be called into question.

    But just as important to remember is the fact that it looks like he was terminated by Fox Sports, not the parent company, so the parent company may not have been consulted on the termination, unless it really WAS on the grounds that Fox Sports claims – in other words, something that could come back and bite them in the behind.

    They would have to know that firing someone for something he said not only before he got his job, but outside his job duties (his job is to comment on sports, not to make religious decisions, or talk about same sex marriage), and he didn’t say this on camera as PART of his job (like on a show), that they would face a lawsuit, and they would lose. And being the business they are in, he would be on contract, so that makes it even harder to terminate him without just cause.

  • bmorejoe

    The positions are not equivalent. Getting fired for saying people of color are just as good as “white” people is not the equivalent of getting fired for saying people of color are inferior to “white” people. Nicht wahr?

    • StevesWeb

      I agree, and we very often see this sort of false equivalency put forth, where after reporting the stance of a non-bigoted, pro-equality activist the various news media will turn to a known hate group for comments.

      On the surface it might seem there was no basis to fire him, but since he had demonstrated an inclination to promote bigotry and other religious values, it seems Fox may have acted to prevent an on-air attack on some of their listeners.

      Saying everybody should have equal rights does not victimize anyone, not even homophobic crybabies who pretend my marriage harms them.

  • Michael

    Can we get the quote about saying “those things” in full context?

    Given that he went totally loopy and made that ridiculous claim about fox banning religion, I’m far from convinced what “those things” refer to. For example, you probably couldn’t say that Fox bans people of faith in a lot of places. I need to know without doubt exactly which things he couldn’t say before judging.

  • esurience

    This was a very sloppy piece. Being anti-gay is not equivalent to being pro-gay. You lost me when you tried to make that equivalence. If there’s nothing wrong with being gay, then that means there is necessarily something wrong with being anti-gay. Treating them differently is not just morally okay, it’s morally required.

    • Helix Luco

      it’s not that the two statements are equivalent, it’s that this would be a precedent for the idea that it’s perfectly legal for somebody to get fired for expressing opinions their employer doesn’t like, even when they’re off the clock. i can see such a thing being used as a weapon against unionization or any kind of grassroots political activity that doesn’t benefit big business. how well would Occupy Wallstreet have gone if everyone who tried to participate were threatened with unemployment?

  • http://empiricalpierce.wordpress.com/ EmpiricalPierce

    It’s a false dichotomy. Two opposing statements are “We should discriminate against women, homosexuals, and racial minorities. These groups are inferior.” and “It’s not right to discriminate against people like women, homosexuals, or racial minorities. All people are equal.” Only one of those statements is going to fly in the US, though.

    Discrimination is illegal in the US, but opposing discrimination is not.

  • R Vogel

    It’s a tough call. Because he is an on-air personality, his off air persona matters since it may prove to be a distraction. Think of Rush Windbag on Monday Night Football. In that environment it matters. I think a previous commenter mentioned that this was not them prying into his personal life to determine his personal beliefs, but a public figure who already put his beliefs out in the public. I have to side with Fox on this one, and with the station in your thought experiment. Those who work in the public eye are subject to different standards – just look at the libel laws.

  • TravellingBeard

    Okay, if he said: “I’m just not comfortable with black and white people marrying each other because I think it’s wrong”, what would the consequences have been?

    Ultimately, until gay rights are elevated to equal status as other “rights”, there will always be room for these morons to get away with it, because there will always be enough people to support their point of view.

  • Warren McIntosh

    No question. He is wrong, but entitled to be wrong and stay employed as long as the two do not conflict. I would never want to experience the horror of being fired for something I passionatley belived in, in circumstances where it did not affect how I performed my actual job. No one should have to go through that.

    • Warren McIntosh

      And, thank you Terry Firma, a good call. It’s a tough path giving credit to one’s enimies.

  • StuckNtexas

    I’m surprised you believe his views “are firmly in the mainstream (if not the majority).” 55% supported gay marriage, and only 39% supported DOMA,as of June 2013 according to this CNN poll: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/307853-poll-55-percent-support-same-sex-marriage The figures match those of an ABC News/WaPo poll taken about the same time. “Mainstream?” Maybe, but definitely losing ground. “Majority?” Does not seem to be. Regardless, there’s much more to Craig James’ rhetoric than just this one instance. I do not believe he was fired merely over this one statement.

    • Terry Firma

      As for “majority,” it depends on where you ask the question. Craig James is a Texan. His majority position with regards to same-sex marriage in that state is probably evidenced by the fact that the Texas legislature adopted a law in 1997 prohibiting marriage equality; more to the point, repeated efforts to repeal that law have gone nowhere for the past 16 years, so Texas voters don’t seem too enamored of gay rights. If a majority wanted change, they would have voted accordingly by now (and pressured their representatives). Instead, a majority of Texans keeps the current inequality going.

      Mainstream? Yes, I would think so. I don’t know what the cutoff percentage is for something to be considered mainstream (less than 5%? 10%?), but I’m an atheist and I consider my ideas perfectly mainstream (at least here in the Northeast). As for opposition to gay marriage … like it or not (I don’t), but that’s mainstream too.

  • Kodie

    This is the kind of thing you don’t say in a job interview. A private corporation is under no obligation to honor free speech. I believe that people should be entitled to their personal prejudices, but as soon as this become public, it can be a liability to the company that hired them. If an actor went on an interview with David Letterman and said things, the show they act in could fire them to protect their bottom line. It is like this – Michael Richards said some racist things and he was not acting on a tv show at the time he performed that stand-up routine that ended in anger and racial epithets, but his agent could fire him, and it counts against him in future hiring decisions for sitcoms he might be hired to act in. His reputation makes him a liability so they wouldn’t hire him in the first place. Being fired for similar reasons is like, you are a liability to our reputation and our bottom line. I forget what the thing was with one of the residents in the Big Brother show, but I read about it. I think she had been working at or hired as a model, but in the “fishbowl” she was a total asshole and a racist, intolerant bigot to everyone and nasty. It was announced to the public she was fired, but she wasn’t notified since the atmosphere of BB is to be sequestered from the public and outside news. What is the difference? Is she allowed to be a foul bigot on her own time and keep her job? Is it normal to go to a job interview and make derogatory comments and still get the job?

    I do not think employers have a right to inspect one’s facebook page if you keep it private, and I don’t think someone should be fired for having a private life that doesn’t happen to please your new boss, but being vocal and public about your opinions is similar to blurting things out in an interview, and if you are that comfortable and not self-conscious, if you are a liability to the company employing you, you should not take your job for granted. It’s getting harder and harder to get or keep a job because employers want to own you 24/7, but if you make a public spectacle of yourself, why should your company pay? I don’t even know why this is a question. People are fired all the time for saying stupid shit on facebook, meanwhile having friended their boss (mandatorily). It sucks having to filter your true feelings sometimes, but I also don’t know why people allow their boss access to their facebook, and then say something personal to their real friends, knowing their boss can see it.

    For the longest time, people would get outraged if you use a fake name on the internet, and claim superiority because they use their real name and stand by every word they say. It’s not that I don’t stand by what I say, it’s that it’s nobody else’s business who Kodie is in real life. It’s not my boss’s right to know what I say on an atheist blog comment. The opposite of that is being proud to use your real name on public statements that tie you to your public news organization that just hired you. Yes, you are entitled to your private life, but once you are hired, you are not entitled to keep a job and make your employer look like an ass to be associated with you when you make publicly available statements using your real name. Why am I the only one who understands the downside to using your real name in every instance on the internet?

    • smrnda

      The problem with this is that you get institutions firing people for going to the wedding of their child who happens to be gay. Imagine a low-income person whose let go from their menial job since their self-righteous ass of an employer can’t *condone homosexuality* – I mean, it’s NOT making a public spectacle of yourself to attend a same-sex wedding, but in the opinion of bigots, GLBTQ people should stay in the closet and just existing publicly is a ‘spectacle.’

      Let’s not assume that employers are always sensible in their opinions and that only people doing extreme things are going to get fired for ‘bad PR.’

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    Independent of the merits of the specific case, the thought experiment makes no sense. Substitute slavery for gay marriage and you’ll see that not every position is equally as valid as its opposite.

  • RobMcCune

    Since when did Friendly Atheist become Libertarian central?

    Never, why do ask?

    but don’t dress up your homophobia in libertarian theory.

    So the idea that employers can’t be able to punish employees for their politics in democracy is libertarianism now? Or is it homophobia, cause that makes sense.

    You don’t understand how anti-discrimination law

    No, that seems to be you. Do you have any evidence that James was say, creating a hostile work environment? So long as he’s not doing that his views are protected under laws against religious discrimination.

    • RobMcCune

      Nobody should be able fire anyone for being gay. In what upside down world are you literate?

      • RobMcCune

        You might want to take your own advice there, sport.

    • RobMcCune

      Actually I’ve been commenting here longer than you dipshit.

      • RobMcCune

        Don’t you get tired of trolling atheist websites?

    • RobMcCune

      it carves out certain protected categories that limit and proscribe an employers otherwise unfettered right to terminate employment.

      Odd that you would use that definition, since you think anti discrimination laws mandate that employers fire homophobes.

      An employer has pretty much free reign when it comes to who he or she wants to hire or fire. Political views do not fall into a protected category.

      You’re now a libertarian all the sudden?

      “Religious discrimination” is not what you think it is

      You mean it’s not discrimination against a persons private religious beliefs and practices?

      it is not an affirmative right that exempts you from otherwise applicable positive law.

      Oh, you mean it’s not that thing that no one is arguing for, and has nothing to do with Fox Sports Guy getting fired? Whou’d a thunk it.

      Take your contrarianism and religious bigotry and shove it asshole…

      Boy do I feel dumb, I’ve been arguing with a mindless spambot that escaped from tumbler this whole time.

      • RobMcCune

        Great point by point rebuttal.

  • UWIR

    Ah, yes, the pernicious idea that anyone who disagrees with you as to what the proper response to X is, must actually support X. Don’t think we should fight terrorism by putting passengers though full body scanners? You must be a terrorist. Don’t think we should fight homophobia by passing laws against anti-gay speech? You must be homophobic.

  • shuteme

    No.

  • Foridin

    I’m not sure that I would say these two situations are equivalent, mainly because Craig is saying that an entire group of people are bad and are going to be punished, while Gurdy was not deriding an entire demographic.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I am seriously surprised that fox fired him since their stance is that lgbt people are out to destroy the social order and they still have O’reilly and Coulter on the pay roles.

  • HollowGolem

    An important point from a Texan (where this went down):
    For better or worse, we’re a “right to work” state. What that really means is “right to fire employees for just about any, or no, reason whatsoever.”
    Also, in an ideal world, neither firing would happen, because diversity of opinion (especially among sportscasters for chrissake) would be valued among the general population.

  • RobMcCune

    Then you might want to try being smart!

    *Badum-ching*

    • RobMcCune

      This my cave, why don’t you fuck off back to wherever you came from.

      • RobMcCune

        Says the delusional troll.

  • Thiriel

    Seeing as we don’t know exactly what happened that led to his being fired, it’s hard to say for certain whether it was fair or not. Certainly is he was fired because of something he said months earlier in a situation unrelated to his job at the news station, then he does indeed have a case, but I somehow doubt it, because he took an anti-gay stance and was fired from the most anti-gay station in the states.

    Need more info before a conclusion can be reached.

  • Terry Firma

    “You don’t like gay people — we get it.”

    Through years of pro-marriage-equality activism, including public speaking and writing newspaper editorials (at some risk to my bottom line as a small-business owner), I hope I played some part in making gay marriage a reality in my state last year.

    I live in one of just two states (plus the District of Columbia) where same-sex marriage laws prevailed by popular vote, which delights me even more.

    13 states down, 37 to go. See you on the barricades!

  • Sven2547

    You don’t like gay people – we get it

    Who are you talking about? Terry Firma? Hemant? I honestly don’t think you read the post at all.

  • Mick

    21st Century journalism at its finest:

    Somebody said
    It has been said
    People say
    Some people say
    unidentified Fox spokesperson

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Fuck him, the bigoted douchenozzle brought the firing on himself, let him deal with it.

  • Bdole

    It didn’t actually happen (I made it up as a thought experiment

    You filthy hobbitses try to trick Gollum!

  • Itarion

    Because he said these things outside of his capacity as a Fox employee, he shouldn’t have been fired for them. Certainly, if he, as a Fox newscaster, said things that don’t line up with how Fox wishes to present itself, they have every right to fire him. The fact that the firing was done prior to any on air blunders makes this an issue. It’s entirely possible that he would not have brought his opinions on air, and he deserves a chance to show restraint.

    • kelemi

      I remember a 60 Minutes Piece in 2004
      A woman was fired for being a tobacco smoker
      A man was fired for having a “Kerry” bumper sticker on his car.
      An employee of “Coors” ordered a Coors beer and was given another brand. He was fired because he didn’t send the beer back and order a Coors.

      All are legal. Those people shouldn’t have been fired either.

  • James Probis

    There is a huge, *huge* difference between supporting equality and supporting discrimination. The mealy-mouthed bullshit false equivalence that both are simply viewpoints does nothing but excuse the vilest bigotry.

  • Mankoi

    Firstly, I think we need to make a distinction between legality and morality here. As many have pointed out, the firing was perfectly legal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it should have happened. Also, we don’t know the exact reason for his being fired, so I’m going to treat the issue as hypothetical. IF that was why he was fired, was it right?

    My first reaction is no, because all of these are statements he made prior to his being hired by Fox. They were public statements that were on record. If the company didn’t like them, they shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. That would be like me getting fired for something I said during my job interview.

    The major concern for me is the implications though. You can make the case that, as this person was a public figure, it’s okay this time. But it’s a precedent we have to be careful about. We all hold minority viewpoints, and many of us are open about them. Many of us publicly express them, and do activist work. Again, as many have pointed out, from a moral standpoint, it’s not the same. But from the standpoint of being fired because your boss doesn’t like you being open about your beliefs, or reflecting badly on a company, it is the same. Or what if someone was unwillingly outed as being a practitioner of some sort of unusual kink? It would reflect badly on the company, even if it was done in a safe, consensual, risk aware way.

    Frankly, I think this does tread a little on freedom of speech. Moreso for people who aren’t in the public eye. While freedom of speech doesn’t protect from the consequences of speech, allowing employers to fire people for what they say or do in their off time gives them an undue influence. Certainly if someone says something awful we, as a society, are free to call him on it, shun him, and otherwise act negatively towards him. However, when people livelihoods and ability to survive are on the line, it gives individuals the ability to suppress thoughts that they don’t like. People who run companies don’t just have free speech of their own, but the ability to quell the public actions of the people under them, or even the private actions that may inadvertently become public. I’m very uneasy about allowing those with money to have that sort of power over people who aren’t as fortunate. The power discrepancy is so vast, I think we need some kind of protection. Obviously it’s a complex issue, and I’m not saying people should be allowed to do whatever and face no employment consequences. What people do publicly, outside their job, can create a hostile work environment for their co-workers. The problem is making a distinction between when it’s something the speaker needs to be removed for, or if the people made uncomfortable need to deal. For an outspoken atheist, Christian co-workers may be offended by having to work in the presence of such a person… but that’s their problem. For, say, someone who publicly advocates re-in statement of laws that allow him to beat his wife, women in his workplace may feel genuinely unsafe around him, and for good reason, making it a very different situation. Obviously that’s an extreme example, but that’s kind of the point. The trick is in finding where the line is.

    I’m not trying to be the guy who wants to find a middleground in everything, because I know that sometimes, there isn’t one. There isn’t a middle ground between evolution and creationism. One is right, the other is wrong. But this is a case where I feel uncomfortable with either extreme. Total freedom of employers to fire people for their public, off the job actions makes me very uncomfortable. But obviously the opposite isn’t going to work either.

  • SeekerLancer

    If he got fired for having an opinion outside of work, sure that’s not right.

    But the “not properly vetted” comment makes it sound to me like he got fired for more than his off-hours opinions.

    I don’t want to make a judgement here because I don’t feel like we’re getting the entire picture.

  • toth

    This is what we call a “false equivalence”. I’m disappointed in Terry.

  • Norman Dostal

    yes of course he should have been fired. America doens’t want to see bigots talking sports or news-that time is OVER

  • Daniel Miles

    Sounds to me like they want to avoid having a polarizing political figure in their sports department. I vote “reasonable.”

  • John_in_Vegas

    If someone told you he held the opinion that the sun revolved around the earth, if you didn’t immediately dismiss him as a kook, you would tell him that he cannot hold that opinion because the evidence does not allow it to co-exist as an alternative theory. If he was a member of a large group of people who espoused the same opinion, you would not accept the idea that he was entitled to that opinion because many people agreed with him. You would dismiss the entire group as kooks. Why would you allow anyone to hold the opinion that being gay is a choice because others believe it when the evidence absolutely disproves it?


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