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"Freedom of Speech" doesn't mean "Freedom From Consequences"

Kenneth Gagnon is a junior at the University of New Hampshire, majoring in journalism. And as is usually desirable in such people, he has no problem with speaking his mind. He also seemed to be on a fast track to success; he worked for the student newspaper and had a work-study job for the school's public relations department.

And then he started blogging. He decided to publish rather coarse remarks about a campus feminist activist (that she reported to authorities as a "threat to rape her") and he talked about work. He described his duties as "writing propaganda for the school" and talked about specific people he worked for in rather unflattering ways.

Surprise, surprise -- Mr. Gagnon is no longer working for the school.

Mr. Gagnon has just learned one of the most important lessons in life -- if you take the King's gold, you play the King's tune. And if you say bad things about the King, he might stop offering you his gold.

And before anyone cries "censorship," let it be noted that no one tried to keep Mr. Gagnon from saying whatever he wished to say on his blog. They just decided they didn't feel like paying him while providing him with fresh material.


Update: Story link and releated stories.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Freedom of Speech" doesn't mean "Freedom From Consequences":

» Weekend Pundit linked with Tuesday Night Shorts

» The Southern California Law Blog linked with Use a Blog, Lose a Job (But Don't Whine About it)

Comments (11)

Jay, you have forgotten the... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Jay, you have forgotten the First Rule of Journalism: Journalists are immune from the consequence of their actions. It is illegal to punish them in any way for anything they say or do, no matter what. Journalists are our intellectual and moral betters, and if anything they do appears to be criminal or obscene to us, it's because our Red State pea-brains aren't developed enough to understand the subtlties and nuances of their actions. I expect the school to be begging Mr Gagnon's lawyers to accept an eight-figure settlement any minute now, as soon as they recognize the error of their ways.

A link to his blog so we ca... (Below threshold)

A link to his blog so we can judge for ourselve's?

Although I can't help but w... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Although I can't help but wonder if he would have lost his job, if he had been attacking various right oriented organizations and people on campus (for some reason I think not).

But I have to agree, for some reason people seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences of such speech.

I knew Gannon Guckert would... (Below threshold)

I knew Gannon Guckert would turn up somewhere. hmmm the name change was so radically different who would have suspected that he was hiding in New Hampshire. they have found our right wing hero again, masquerading as a student-journalist this guys is a virtual chameleon. He just cant catch a break.

I bash my job all the time.... (Below threshold)

I bash my job all the time. Difference is, no-one knows. I keep it all annoymous. He might be a journalist, but he was bad mouthing his employer - which is a damn good reason to fire his ass.

details here:<a href... (Below threshold)

details here:

I remember my Dad (self emp... (Below threshold)

I remember my Dad (self employed restaturant owner) having an encounter a rather obnoxious customer who was ranting loudly and proclaiming his "right to free speech" etc... This guy wasn't complaining about his food or anything he just stood up in the restaturant and started complaining about politics in a loud voice.

My Dad's response was "You are correct. You have the right to be an asshole. Just don't be surprised that I've decided to treat you like one."

At which point said customer experienced a bodily removal out the door at an accelerated rate...

"In his Nov. 7 entry, junio... (Below threshold)

"In his Nov. 7 entry, junior Ken Gagnon, reporter for and editor of On the Spot for TNH, wrote, "I'd F****** rape the face of Whitney Williams and deny her a job just because she's got a vagina if I could. I wouldn't do this because I hate women. I'd do this because I hate Whitney.""

"Gagnon has been let go of his duties as "On the Spot" editor from TNH, and has also received an e-mail from Ted Kirkpatrick, the dean of Liberal Arts, telling him he can no longer attend his English 519 class. English 519 is a pre-requisite for journalism majors. "

I can see letting him go from the school newspaper, but tossing him out of class before meeting with him is a bit knee-jerk.

Stupidity has not ended the studies or career of many a young journalist.

That is why when Oliver Wil... (Below threshold)

That is why when Oliver Willis says that his comments are not those of his employer everyone knows it is BS. If he started bucking the system that paid him full time he would be out on his collective butt. Oliver cannot prove he is not carrying the Kings water.

Ahem. The Constitution pro... (Below threshold)

Ahem. The Constitution protects free speech from the government. A person can't be thrown in jail for spouting off. In addition, the protected speech was the content, not the choice of words.

Newspapers and other publishers can censor, er, edit, to their hearts' content. As has already been pointed out, a person is not protected from the consequences of their speech.

I have to say, as a longtim... (Below threshold)

I have to say, as a longtime friend of Ken Gagnon and a student at UNH who has watched the whole furor develop from small-town personality clashes into media witchhunt, I think the whole thing was poorly handled from the beginning. Ken's journal was written as comedy. Admittedly, low-brow sophomoric humor, but nothing worse than what George Carlin is paid to say. Whitney Williams, the woman who denounced Ken to the authorities, had been making rabidly anti-male statements in the school paper all semester. She had had her information removed from the UNH student directory, but then thought it appropriate to look up Ken in Facebook (since he had criticised her comments in the school paper that the only good male was one who had been castrated) and then follow the link to his livejournal. She did not (to my knowledge) send Ken any email to the effect that she found his journal offensive or offer him the chance to apologize or take it offline; rather, she immediately reported him to the UNH police, Dean's office, and FBI. He never had a chance. I've known him for over 6 years, and if I ever thought he was actually seriously planning rape and murder, I would have called the police myself. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion entirely. His only "crime" was not making the livejournal friends-only.






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