Thursday, February 10, 2005

The price of free speech

Blog sites are buzzing about one of the latest victims to lose a job, i.e. be Dooced, over writing about work on a blog site.

The latest high-profile victim is Mark Jen, who was working at Google and writing about the experience, which was apparently not too popular. His blog site is apparently high on traffic, but short on posts these days.

The source of the term, dooced, which has become slang shorthand for being fired for your blog, is Heather B. Armstrong, who is also getting lots of media attention these days. She writes a mighty fine post, particularly if you are interested in following the early childhood development of her daughter or the life of a former Mormon from the South who now lives in Utah. I'm sure the Church of Latter-day Saints would like to fire her too, except that she tossed herself out of the merry band some time back.

So, be careful out there in the blogosphere ladies and gents. Remember that the First Amendment protects you from the government limiting your speech, but that doesn't necessarily mean your employer has to put up with you shooting off your mouth -- or your blog, as the case may be.

For those of you who slept through the civics lesson, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Nowhere in there does it say the people who sign your paycheck have to let you give away proprietary information, bitch about your work life or otherwise spout off about the ineptitude of your supervisors or colleagues, particularly not in a forum available worldwide. But if you are interested in learning more about your rights under this article, check out the First Amendment Center.

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