Cowering Before Mammon

1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

Craig Campbell, a well-loved and respected teacher at South Coast Baptist College in Perth, was sacked after it became known he was gay. This did not align with the dogma of the religion who owned the school where he taught.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied social advocate, writer, 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year”, was forced out of her job at the ABC after an Anzac Day Facebook post: “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine …)”

Reporter Scott McIntyre was fired by SBS after Anzac Day tweets “remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan”, adding, “Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.”

UPDATE: And another one –

Angela Williamson was sacked by Cricket Australia after it claimed she had breached its social media policy and rendered her working relationship with the state government untenable because of tweets from her personal account that were critical of the state’s abortion services.

They were let go, we are told, because their personal views, publicly expressed on social media, did not align with those of their employers.

Predictably, those on the left thought this was all a bit rich, while those on the right thought it perfectly right and proper: positions that were abruptly reversed when Israel Folau began preaching online, and Rugby Australia fired him – because his publicly expressed personal views did not align with theirs.

Overmighty employers

I think this is wrong. Rugby Australia should not have fired Folau. SBS should not have fired Scott McIntyre. Yassmin Abdel-Mageid should have kept her job at the ABC. And South Coast Baptist College should not have dropped Craig Campbell.

None of them claimed they had their employers backing. None of them posted on their employers’ social media pages, under their corporate logos, or on company time. There was no suggestion they were expounding their employers views.

They were fired because people might think that they were. That’s pretty thin stuff: a piss-poor excuse to deprive someone of their livelihood.

And before anyone mentions religion: a person’s religion should never disqualify them from employment (or be a qualification for employment either) – unless they are a worship-leader. As someone pointed out the other day, there are no such things as Catholic maths, Pentacostal horticulture, or Scientological floor-mopping.

Freedom of Speech

If freedom of speech is to mean anything, it should mean we are free to express our personal lives and political views on social media without wondering if we are placing our jobs at risk. Whether we – or our employers – are LGBTI or straight, secular or religious. So long as we remain within the law.

We should not be subject to arbitrary extra-legal constraints and punishments by mere bosses. They buy our time and talent during working hours but have no ownership of any part of us at any other time.

We are just individuals – although some of the individuals mentioned here are better known than others. These corporate Big Brothers are, by comparison, rich, powerful and well-connected. They can and should stand up in defence of their employees in the face of bloviating press barons, politicians, prelates and pontificators.

Overbearing and overmighty employers, religious and secular, should butt out of our personal online conversations. It’s none of their business.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)