Monday, June 19, 2006

Intolerance for the "Intolerant"

In what can only be described as and act of politically correct intolerance, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland fired Robert J. Smith, one of his appointees to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, last week. Mr. Smith had appeared on a local cable talk show "21 This Week", which is a political roundtable discussion program on cable Channel 21 in Montgomery County.

The Baltimore Sun states:
Smith's remarks came during a show taped June 9 that has aired at least three times since. The discussion included a proposed federal gay marriage ban.
Hmmm, was it a discussion about a federal gay marriage ban or was it a discussion about the Marriage Protection Amendment which was discussed in Congress and would declare that marriage in the U.S. would be between one man and one woman, if passed?

What exactly were the offending remarks? American Family Association gives the full quote:
Smith responded to a speaker who said homosexuals do not want the government interfering in their sex life. "That's fine, that's fine," Smith said. "But that doesn't mean that government should proffer a special place of entitlement within the laws of the United States for persons of sexual deviancy."

Robert J. Smith is a Roman Catholic and was merely expressing his personal views against "gay marriage" during his personal time. Many people believe that giving homosexuals the right to marry is inconsistent with the inherent definition of marriage. However, regardless of what one thinks about that specific issue, do we want to become a nation where the thought police control our words and views both on and off our jobs?

Mr. Smith's feelings about this matter follow:
"The comments I make in public outside of my [Metro board job] I'm entitled to make." His personal beliefs, he said, have "absolutely nothing to do with running trains and buses and have not affected my actions or decisions on this board."

According to the Baltimore Sun:
The termination came a few hours after Metro board member Robert J. Smith...was publicly confronted by a transit board colleague. Board member Jim Graham, a District of Columbia councilman who is openly gay, called on Smith to disavow his remarks or resign during yesterday's regular meeting of the panel, which oversees Metro business.

Graham said he was gratified that Ehrlich decided to replace Smith..."Governor Ehrlich got it; Mr. Smith was clueless until the end," Graham said. "This is serious. To defend this point of view is beyond the pale. And so I think Governor Ehrlich got that very clearly, very quickly. So I appreciate his action."

"Robert Smith's comments were highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable," the governor said. "They are in direct conflict to my administration's commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance and opportunity."
So Jim Graham throws a hissy fit and Smith gets fired. Nice.

Yo, Gov., just how tolerant are you? Now you are intolerant of Christians who believe in marriage between one man and one woman. What would you do with a Muslim in your employ? While they, according to their faith, may take up to four wives, their religion also doesn't support same sex marriage. Can't people in your employment utilize their First Amendment right to free speech even off the job?

This isn't the first time that Ehrlich has fired people because of their off the job comments.
The Baltimore Sun said:
In May of last year, the governor fired the head of an Eastern Shore judicial nominating committee after the official used a derogatory term for Mexicans in his personal Web log.

Now, I don't know what term this former committee member used. I probably wouldn't like it, but to fire people for personal views expressed off hours? Whoa. Bloggers, beware!

In my opinion, we have here yet another example of political correctness run amok. For the PC crowd, protecting the feeeeeelings of everyone on the Left takes on a religious quality. Even the Baltimore Sun used a religious term to describe Mr. Smith's position, "Smith was unrepentant in a discussion with reporters". "Unrepentant", huh? Maybe he hasn't sinned in expressing his opinions and has nothing to repent of.

I thought the First Amendment was supposed to protect our right to free speech. Apparently not.


At 6/21/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger AnonymousOpinion said...

Human events got to this one after you did.

Ah yes, part of the root reason many of us bloggers attempt anonymity.

I have no wish to ever be misconstrued as speaking for my employer or the person(s) that hired me.

Part of my agreement with my employer states that I do not make statements to the press in regards to my job without their consent. There is also a general mandate not to wear any job-related insignia in my off hours unless I intend to conduct myself as I would if I was at the workplace. And, as you know, I have refrained from biting the hand that feeds me on at least one occasion. The policy isn't entirely unreasonable.

Although I disagree with the manner in the Ehrlich issue was handled and have not seen the broadcast, if Mr.Smith was on "21 this week" AS a member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority he may well have violated his contract. If so, he has nothing to stand on. If not, he may have some recourse.

Somehow, I doubt the ACLU will come to his aid.

I think that implying the belief as a Catholic that gay=sexual deviancy is the same as Catholic beliefs=dogma=discrimination is a fallacy in any case.

At 6/21/2006 11:06 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

My understanding was that he was on the show as a private citizen and had been doing the show on and off for a long time. I could be wrong, but as I understood it, that was Smith's whole point--that what he did on his own time was his business.

I do understand employers expecting their employees to represent them well, as you described. But on an issue that is so evenly divided in this nation and one that involves a person's religious beliefs that this firing was WAAAY outta line.


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