Two Louisiana Police Officers Fired Over Facebook Post…And That’s A Good Thing
This is not a question of free speech
It always starts with one stupid decision
It all started, as so many things do these days, with a Facebook post. Charlie Rispoli saw a post claiming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thought soldiers were paid to much (she doesn’t by the way) and it angered him. As someone who also support our service-members, I would have been fairly upset as well. However, Rispoli then made two career ending decisions.
First, he did not verify that the content was true. Seriously, it is such an easy solution to so many problems. Check the sources, do some research. It’s not difficult and in many cases, especially this one, it would have saved a lot of trouble. Secondly, instead of just sharing the post and saying something along the lines of “Well I think Congress gets paid to much,” or even the more aggressive “Let’s see her go put on a uniform”, he chose a darker route.
In the post, made on Thursday, Rispoli states “This vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she use to serve”, a reference to her previous job as a bartender. Then, as if the idiocy was contagious, fellow officer Angelo Varisco liked the post. The post was taken down on Friday as backlash began and Rispoli completed deleted his profile on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Rispoli and Varisco it didn’t matter. The damage to their personal lives was done. And frankly, that is exactly the way it should be.
But it’s free speech! Hang on, free speech still has consequences…
In general, Americans seem to have an issue actually understanding the concept of free speech and it isn’t what you think it is. Since Rispoli didn’t actually state an intent to harm the Congresswoman, he gets a free pass from the government. So his freedom is safe. But protection from government consequences is not protection from all consequences and it shouldn’t be. Any employer has the right to terminate an employee if their actions reflect badly upon the institution in which they work, especially if said entity has a code of conduct. Guess what? They did.
So now both men are looking for new jobs. The Gretna Police Department in Louisiana, where the two worked, is still investigating as to whether other officers participated.
Deal with it folks
Public expressions have consequences and they need to. Far to long we have allowed hateful, vile and violence-inciting rhetoric go unchecked. It’s not just your friendly neighborhood police officer either, it’s in the Oval Office. Renewed hateful attacks by President Trump on four Congresswomen have also brought a fresh round of hate from his supporters. With most believing they are “telling it like it is”, which is also how they defend Trump. But guess what? You’re not. This is not telling it like it is. Sitting there are purposely promoting lies is not telling it like it is. Sitting there and being racist, xenophobic and sexist is not telling it like it is. Making excuses for people who do so is not telling it like it is. It’s being a lying, racist, xenophobic, sexist enabler. Pure and simple.
You’re allowed to disagree and have opinions. You’re allowed to speak your mind, loud and proud. You are not allowed to behave in such barbaric and disgusting manners. Gone are the days of hiding behind a computer screen to freely bully and belittle. Gone are the days where if you do something hateful it remains private. Because even if there aren’t government consequences, there are still consequences.
Welcome to the digital age.