Today it was announced that Jeffrey Cox was fired from his job as Indiana Deputy Attorney General. His offense? On Saturday, he tweeted that officials should “use live ammunition” to clear protesters from the Wisconsin Capitol.
This brings up a host of sticky questions.
First, to what degree are we to be held professionally accountable for our public actions online when wearing our personal hats? We hear with increasing frequency stories of people who are fired for posting pictures of themselves at parties. Or people who aren’t hired in the first place because of things they’ve said online. Is this appropriate? Are we no longer able to compartmentalize our lives? And, if so, where, when, and how are we expected to let off steam?
Second, does the First Amendment protect a government employee’s right to political speech? Case law clearly allows for restrictions on government speech, but should that apply to a government employee speaking as a citizen, particularly when that employee hasn’t indicated that he is speaking on behalf of the government?
Finally, do Mr. Cox’s tweets count as protected speech? When someone suggests the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, are those fighting words? Was it satire? He followed up with, “against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You’re damn right I advocate deadly force.” Is it still satire?
So what do you all think?
- “Use Live Ammunition ” Against Wisc. Protesters ??? (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Jeffrey Cox: You’re Fired (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Idiana deputy attorney general tweets: “Use live ammunition” on demonstrators (boingboing.net)
- Indiana Deputy AG’s Solution to Labor Protests: “Use Live Ammunition” (crooksandliars.com)
- Shooting Protestors (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Official fired after tweeting “Use live ammunition” on Wis. protesters (queerlandia.com)
- Liberal-Progressive Discourse — Not So Civil (bokertov.typepad.com)
- Canned (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Indiana Deputy Attorney General: “Use Live Ammunition” on Wisconsin Protesters (grantlawrence.blogspot.com)
- Indiana Deputy Attorney General Says “Uses Live Ammunition” On Wisconsin Protestors (alan.com)
- Indiana Deputy Attorney General Fired (politicalwire.com)
- Indiana Deputy AG Fired Over Incendiary Tweet (alan.com)
- Only later did we realize that JCCentCom was a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana. (barbaradiamond.blogspot.com)
- Deputy AG suggests shooting Wisconsin Demonstrators to Death [Greg Laden's Blog] (scienceblogs.com)
- Is the Attorney General of Indiana an Idiot? (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)