Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Capitalism versus Free Speech

I have had conversations with people who are convinced that Free Speech, in particular, and Freedom, in general, are synonomous with Capitalism. That you cannot have one without the other. Stories like this one convince me otherwise. That Capitalism tolerates Free Speech and Freedom only as long as it does not threaten profits.

The Register

"Bookseller Waterstone's has sacked a long-serving employee for writing a blog. Joe Gordon from Edinburgh, who worked for the company for 11 years, says he was dismissed because he "brought the company into disrepute".

His Woolamaloo Gazette was started in 1992 and is a satirical diary that, in Gordon's own words, enables him "to vent steam on stories which are bugging me or amusing me and hopefully make people think at the same time".

While most of the material he covers does not involve his work, he does occasionally mention his time at Waterstone's. As he puts it: "Like many folk I am not always happy at work...and coin terms such as 'Bastardstone's' and have a character called 'Evil Boss' (my equivalent to Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss - in fact I compared head office directives to being in a Dilbert cartoon)."

While many people have already judged these this to be harmless, Waterstone's appears to believe they provide sufficient grounds for dismissal. Now Mr Gordon is angry at the way he's been treated and believes that, if the company was so offended, the matter could have been dealt with just a "quiet word".

Wrote Gordon: "I am not a serf; I am not an indentured servant. I am a free man with the right of freedom of expression. The company does not own me, body and soul - conforming to their rules at work is to be expected, but in your own time and space? How can anyone be expected to go through their personal life in fear of saying the wrong thing? No-one should."


Joe Gordon's blog is here