Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with our freedom of speech

Oh bleep! Here we go again! Another mindless liberal assault on the most sacred of all amendments – the one that stands before ‘em all. When will my despicable and dastardly progressive brethren finally relent and let those poor persecuted conservatives speak their stilted minds in peace?

It’s always fun to hear what they haven’t been thinking about!

First, Rush found out you can’t call a young woman a “slut.” Then those Duck Dynasty dopes discovered the dangers of waxing poetically about gays. Laura Ingraham and Paula Deen learned that only black folks can use the N-word and Cliven Bundy’s political support started slipping when he started talking about the finer points of slavery.

It certainly ain’t easy being a conservative icon these days. Next thing you know you’ll actually have to think about the merit of you latest thought before simply spewing it forth.

EPD2

And now we have a similar situation right here in Elgin. In his more recent Facebook musings, 17-year veteran officer John Lentz proposed that the Ferguson, Missouri police “did society a favor” when they shot and killed Michael Brown. Apparently, an alert EPD sergeant noticed that the post violated the department’s social media policy which prohibits officers from making statements that would compromise the department, the city, or themselves.

Not one to quit while he was almost ahead, when command staff asked Lentz to remove the post, he kinda complied by leaving the one-word preamble “Hmmm” in it’s place.

Of course, this marginal act of defiance solicited a more thorough review of the officer’s offerings which resulted in the discovery of 10 more Facebook posts containing the kind of racial overtones that really make ya wanna wince.

So on August 21, the City placed Lentz on his fourth administrative leave pending a full investigation. Though it’s not germane to this conversation, should you wish to learn more about his running Facebook commentary as well as his lengthy disciplinary history, Elena Ferrarin covered it pretty well right here.

And what do our conservative compatriots love to shout whenever one of their ilk is cornered in this heinous manner? That’s right, “Whatever happened to freedom of speech?” So in addition to the chorus of newspaper commenters, even Lentz’ attorney, Tim O’Neil, asked the question, “What happened to the First Amendment?”

Fearing the worst, I checked Wikipedia this morning only to find that the Constitution still intact and that no one’s been messing with the Bill of Rights either. You are still free to speak your mind though I’d urge most of you to refrain from that practice because it really does remove all doubt.

You see, what conservatives really want isn’t just freedom of speech, they want freedom of any consequences from that speech when the constitution makes no such guarantee.

The truth is, despite the insipid nature of their celebrity commentary, none of the aforementioned folks – including our officer Lentz – have spent a single night in jail, have been whisked off to some secret gulag, or were summarily shot for issuing their proclamations. They were and still are free to share their unbridled viewpoints.

But no one better than me understands the inherent perils involved in laying it on the verbal line, not the least of which is potentially aggravating your boss.

So, once again, I’m going to challenge my conservative friends, who so fervently believe in their absolute right to say whatever they want, to fire up facebook this evening and offer a disparaging dialogue on the state of your employer. If you’re feelin’ particularly frisky, liberally make mention of your boss as well.

Don’t worry, I know you won’t do it because you know what will happen if you do. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech, in fact, it can often turn out to be quite expensive.

The irony is that Officer Lentz has far more protections than either you or I do. He can’t be fired outright because of union rules. He can expect a rep at his hearing and the union  will cover his attorney’s fees. If he is terminated, a very unlikely possibility, he can avail himself of all sorts of avenues of appeal.

And don’t forget, he’s getting paid for his involuntary time off.

Ah! But If we said something that reflected as poorly on our company as Lentz’ statements did on the EPD, swift and surely, the ax would fall. Yes! You could file a lawsuit, but Illinois is a Right to Work state so that would get you about as far as a submarine with screen doors.

Not only do officer Lentz’ racial ramblings discredit the EPD in the eyes of the public, but can you imagine the damage they’d do if anyone ever files a discrimination suit against the department? They wouldn’t have to go very far to find the smoking gun now, would they?

I was also particularly amused by Attorney O’Neil’s assertion that, “We are appalled that the press knows [about the investigation]. I will strongly advise my client to sue the city.” Call me crazy, but could that “leak” have something to do with the fact that officer Lentz put his philosophical meanderings up on Facebook?

Here’s what really happened. The sergeant was likely alerted to the offending post by another officer who didn’t find it very amusing. But despite officer Lentz’ lengthy internal rap sheet, rather than have to endure all the hassles involved in the union disciplinary process, they simply asked him to take it down.

But instead of being a team player and following the eminently explicit and equitable EPD social media policy, officer Lentz decided to be a bleep and flip his bosses the figurative bird by leaving a portion of it up.

So now the command staff decided to delve a little deeper, they found new evidence, and suddenly the prospect of expending the time and energy required to pursue an action didn’t seem so bad. That’s all this is and nothing more.

There’s nothing wrong with free speech my conservative friends. It’s doing just fine.

One thought on “Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with our freedom of speech

  1. Officer Lentz is not the only City of Elgin employee to post offensive diatribes on Facebook; I’ve seen a Fireman post Ferguson related profane garbage as well. It’s not that individuals with these views are 100% bad people; they can do otherwise wonderful, productive, and helpful things. Life is complicated and I’m glad I do not work in human resources. There needs to be some middle ground in dealing with personal views: losing a career over a facebook post doesn’t seem right and neither does letting a racist spew hatred toward the people he is sworn to protect & serve.

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