Free Speech, Facebook, and Your Boss

Six employees of a sheriff’s office in Virginia lost their jobs for liking and commenting on the Facebook page of their boss’s opponent. The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor, saying a “Like” on Facebook is protected free speech. A lower court judge had differentiated between hitting the “Like” button and posting a full comment.

What if I “Like” a page of some organization whose values don’t agree with those of the denomination I work for? What if some of my constituents made a stink about it?

I once interviewed Paul Rees, an evangelical leader, who mentioned that he subscribed to a liberal Protestant publication. When I raised my eyebrows at the mention of that publication, he told me, “I don’t agree with them, but I want to know what they’re saying.” Could he have been blackballed because of that subscription?

I’ve read books by atheists, to better understand how they view my faith. Could I be labeled as guilty by association? The political punditocracy certainly majors on this, drawing obscure connections and decreeing, “Guilty!”

Suppose I “Liked” an LGBT Facebook page. My intent might be innocent enough–just trying to keep abreast of what they are saying. But suppose I also posted on that LGBT page positive comments about LGBT lifestyles. Okay, that could get me in big trouble with my church constituency. Could it get me fired? Possibly.

Could I win a court challenge, claiming free speech? Possibly…but I would hope not. A Christian organization should be able to enforce its beliefs.

Just some musings from the intersection of technology and free speech.

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