I am going to have to try my best to be vague in order to protect the privacy of certain individuals, so bear with me. I am a government contractor, which often leaves me waiting until the last minute to find out if my contract has been extended and I still have a job. I’m not faulting my contracting company, as this is just the way it’s done. To their credit, I have never been out of work due to last minute renewals not going through as planned. Not everyone in my building is as lucky though; contracts end all the time and some without much warning. Last week, one was forced to put their employees on furlough “until further notice” because the funding was not approved and they have no way to pay their employees until it is.
Naturally, the affected employees were upset, and they had every right to be. One took to Facebook almost immediately to voice her disappointment. Her comment got feedback as you would expect, but one person (I’ll name him Bob) went slightly overboard. Bob was also affected by the furlough and was apparently more upset than anyone could have imagined. His comments were not only inappropriate, they were threatening towards important people in the United States. Word got back to his supervisor about what was said, because it’s Facebook and you can’t say anything on there without the whole world finding out. I heard rumors that the FBI and the Secret Service were both notified and looking for Bob. I heard for sure that both of his supervisors suggested he be dismissed immediately, as employees that say what he said should not be employees for the government. The whole thing is a mess.
Apparently, Bob went to the hospital shortly after stirring things up with his comments. The general opinion is that he did this in order to explain the comments away as some sort of temporary insanity. That opinion is just that, and he could be genuinely sick for all I know. From the feedback I’ve heard and the remarks from those involved, it’s not looking as though it will matter what frame of mind he was in when he said what he did. Regardless of intent, he made threats. I highly doubt Bob would have gone through with anything, but one look at the front page of any news website or paper will tell you that we’re no longer allowed to go easy on people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Too many psychos in the world are causing irreparable damage for anything to be ignored at this point.
What did surprise me though, which may reveal my naivety, is that Bob is very likely without a job now because of a Facebook post. I recently made a comment on Twitter that sometimes I’d like to throw people out of windows when they get on my nerves. I will go through life without throwing a single living thing out of a window though; it’s normal for us to turn to social media when stressed in order to vent. If my comment was about throwing my boss out of a window, would that be a threat? Would I lose my job? It’s a strange thing to think about, but offhand remarks about harming others are taken much more seriously now that we know that people exist that will be more than happy to follow through with a vengeance. If I posted about throwing my boss out a window, and then I did so, the first thing people would cry out is “why wasn’t anything done to her when she made those threats??!?”
Bob behaved like an idiot and unfortunately he and his family are currently paying the price. People are going to say awful things about he and his wife as they try to navigate through this mess. It’s unfair and could have easily been prevented had he just watched what he said or simply said it in the privacy of his home rather than a public website. Freedom of speech only goes so far. There are things you just can’t say. I can say Obama Sucks until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t say I’m going to track him down and do something awful without suffering some sort of consequence. I might know that I’m not being serious, but how is anyone else to know unless they check me out? I’m curious to know what you think. Where do we draw the line with critiques on our government and officials? What is okay to say and what is crossing the line? How should we decide what is a serious threat and what is just someone blowing off steam?
Posted on May 7, 2014, in Crazy People, Friends and/or Enemies, News, Work and tagged blame, comment, facebook, furlough, government, obama, president, threat, usa. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.