Monday, July 27, 2009

Pornography, Free Expression, and Public Life

In Fort Meyers, Florida, last week, the town manager was fired because his wife is an adult film star. The mayor said that his job performance was fine, but that he feared it might become disruptive.

Councilman Tom Babcock, responding to residents' questions, said at a council meeting Wednesday that Janke was fired because his wife's profession brought an inaccurate image to Fort Myers Beach, according to the News-Press of Fort Myers.

"When you become a public figure you are held to a different level of scrutiny and ethics," Babcock said.
This reminds me of a discussion I had with a Contemporary Moral Issues class a few years back. We were discussing the freedom of speech and the question I posed was whether a corporation should be able to fire you for posting nude photos of yourself. To my surprise, they overwhelmingly said yes. The right for them to be profitable, they contended, was more important than your right to free expression.

Here the case is even more interesting because it was not the person who got fired, but his spouse. Is your spouse's expression something that employers ought to have a say over? If one's husband was a Holocaust denier or white supremicist publicist, should that be something your boss should be able to consider?