Well, that’s one way to get attention.
The above post comes from Kenneth Lewis, who is an assistant state attorney in Florida. He made that Facebook post on Mothers’ Day. As noted by Jezebel, this isn’t the first of the more off-color posts that Lewis has made. Other highlights include:
- A post that implied that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer only got her position because of a Affirmative Action.
- Encouraging people to support free speech by changing their profile pictures to Donald Sterling.
- Articles blasting ESPN for their Michael Sam coverage.
However, an important note: While the posts can safely be categorized as repugnant, offensive and demeaning, there is nothing illegal or threatening about them. If I were Lewis’ boss, I’d certainly question his judgement, and thus his ability to perform his job, but I wouldn’t fire him simply because of his controversial remarks. Whether we like what someone says or not, people have a right to express their opinion.
That’s a tact that Lewis’ boss, State Attorney Jeff Ashton, seems to be taking. In a statement, Ashton said:
I have been made aware of certain statements attributed to Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis on social media. I do not agree with the political sentiments expressed by him and I find some of the words he chose to be both offensive and dehumanizing. Political speech is protected by the first amendment of the United States Constitution and I do not police the private thoughts, views or expressions of those in my employ.”
It got even more embarrassing for Lewis, who then had to speak at a press conference about the issue. At the press conference, Lewis admitted that his post was a “poor choice of words,” and apologized to all he had “unintentionally offended.” However, he also said that the post was taken out of context (not quite sure what context would make such a post acceptable, but alrighty) and stood by his “intended message.” Lewis then attacked the press for covering him, not the people who actually did crack and the consequences to their children. Perhaps the most telling part of the press conference:
Asked if he believed he deserved a reprimand, Lewis was blunt: “I think I’ve been reprimanded enough by having to endure this press conference.”
This story is makes for an interesting comparison to the story I wrote about yesterday in Kansas, where professors can now be fired for making posts that are “contrary to the interests of their employer.” My preference, without question, is what happened here. Again, though what Lewis is unquestionably offensive, he didn’t do anything illegal, and people have a right in America to say offensive things. That being said, there is no freedom from consequences in this country, and Attorney Lewis did find himself the subject of national humiliation.
What do you think? Was this one handled right? Let me know in the comments.