Thursday, January 13, 2005

Can't we find something more worthwhile to be outraged about?

More weird news from across the pond. I really must stop reading The Guardian:

A bookseller has become the first blogger in Britain to be
sacked from his job because he kept an online diary in
which he occasionally mentioned bad days at work and
satirised his "sandal-wearing" boss.

Joe Gordon, 37, worked for Waterstone's in Edinburgh
for 11 years but says he was dismissed without warning
for "gross misconduct" and "bringing the company into
disrepute" through the comments he posted on his

Published authors and some of the 5 million self-
published bloggers around the globe said it was
extraordinary that a company advertising itself as a
bastion of freedom of speech had acted so swiftly to
sack Mr Gordon, who mentions everything from the
US elections to his home city of Edinburgh in the
satirical blog
he writes in his spare time.

The blogosphere is buzzing with outrage that this guy was fired because he discussed his job online. But come on. Waterstone's fired him not for merely discussing his job, but for saying nasty things about his boss and about his company in public. And contrary to an opinion expressed by SF author Richard Morgan in a letter he sent to Waterstone's, reading a blog is not at all like overhearing a private conversation in a pub. Mr. Gordon was not keeping a private journal of his thoughts or even sending a letter to a handful of friends. He intentionally broadcasted his views, offering them to every stranger who stumbled across his blog, and if that's not "public", I don't know what is.

Is it so difficult to understand why Waterstone's, which is not exactly a nonprofit venture, might be a little concerned that Mr. Gordon's unflattering remarks would scare away some customers?

This is not a "freedom of speech" issue, and the authors and bloggers who have jumped into the fray to defend Mr. Gordon have made themselves look ridiculous. Yes, the guy can write about anything he wants. It's his blog. But Waterstone's has some rights, too, including the right to expect a modicum of loyalty from the people they employ. Obviously, they object to smart-mouths who take a paycheck with one hand while using the other to thumb their noses at the company.

So they fired the guy. Good for them.

Somebody give me a shout when a blogger's rights really are being trampled. Mr. Gordon's were not.


MiddleMan said...

And what is worse, the blog, from the excerpt I read, was uninteresting. And so I read only that.

This fresh breath of, quit yapping you silly free-speechers, is quite interesting, at leat for this post and enough to get a comment out of me. (Whoa, that is a real pat on the back).

But seriously. Good to hear someone stand up and say shut up. Protect our friggin free speech somehow else that cowtowing to some boring clerk who trumps up his position and the interest in him at any rate.

Umm, was he really the first blogger in Britain to be sacked? Probably not. I am sure that there were many bloggers sacked for their jibes at their boss before now, weren't there? Seems to me this one had the feathers that when ruffled (as he surely liked), made the biggest noise.

Brenda Coulter said...

Ric, I didn't spend much time perusing his blog, either, but we can be sure he's getting lots of traffic now, thanks to this "controversy". How long do you suppose it'll be before we hear he's writing a book?

Thanks for stopping by.

Small Blue Thing said...

Absolutely not.

As a writer, I can say everything about my employers on my blog, except insulting them. And, as a worker with passed-by rights, if my employer wants to fire me, it will cost it a little. Not just money, but my honour. Good for the guy. Tomorrow maybe your books. Or mine. Or you. Or me.

Workers are Davids. Always.

Blue Thing