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Friday, February 13, 2015

Freedom of speech and unemployment: lesson in social media challenges

President F. Roosevelt was a free speech proponent who would not have let what a man said keep him from a job.
"A comment on a Facebook post is what led to a six-month suspension -- and a decidedly uncertain future -- for the single most recognizable (and one of the best-paid) journalists (Brian Williams) in the country." Clint Cillizza, Washington Post

What does it take to get a job these days? What do you have to do in order to feed yourself and your family? You've got to be competitive and have skills, experience, education/training, connections, say the right things, be at the right place at the right time, and look good, true?

But is it right to deny people the opportunity to get a job because of note passing, i.e. using social media in a technological age to communicate feelings and personal information? A disturbing report last week of an Irish girl not being hired because of a TWEET proves that you have to limit what you say which mocks freedom of speech, one ideal on which this country was founded. Even though I'm a journalist/photojournalist/blogger, some people have told me to stop blogging because it may hurt my employment chances. Should I not speak truth as I see it?

Franklin Roosevelt, who served 12 years in the White House, wrote his "Four Freedoms Speech" to promote freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear that the American people should be able to depend. Freedom of speech was recently defended in France under the guise of the Je Suis Charlie movement. I defend freedom of speech and think everyone should be able to voice their opinions.

And what about speaking your mind if you're black? Could it have a bearing on employment? Is what you say affecting the black unemployment numbers? How can discrimination cases be waged as violations of freedom of speech and employment defenses harbored on freedom from want?

In September 2014, the Washington Post reported that, "The unemployment rate for blacks (11.4 percent) was more than twice that for whites (5.3 percent). We call this stubborn for one simple reason: In the 42-year period during which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has separated out unemployment data into different races, black unemployment has always been higher than white unemployment. In fact, it has always been at least two-thirds higher.

"Since January 1972, the black unemployment rate has been 115 percent more than the white unemployment rate -- as it was in August -- in 279 of 512 months. That's more than half the time," the Post reported.

If you can't communicate, you are not free. If you can't work, you can't eat. If you can't eat, you starve. Allowing a major portion of your citizens to starve is genocide!

Wake up.

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