The following are the first six paragraphs on a story that appeared in Friday's Chattanoogan.com:
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist and public affairs official resigned Friday, two weeks after posting a controversial diatribe on the social networking site Facebook.
His departure comes just one day after Chamber officials sent an email to board members notifying them that [this dude] had been suspended without pay for a month.
The controversial Facebook comments were posted on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, and included repeated profanity and racial slurs.
"This picture says it all, even after eight years. It symbolized our anger after those ragheaded b------ds manifested theirs through death and destruction. There is no substitute for victory and plenty of work left to be done. There is something to be said about the 'Chicago way,' but Sean Connery (in the film 'The Untouchables') left out the last line ... when they send one of yours to the morgue, you send a thousand of theirs straight to hell,” Mr. Ledford wrote.
"We don't need to be reckless in our resolve,” he continued, “nor fail to remember that they came at us. Measure it right, use overwhelming force and decapitate those sons of b------s once and for all."
The comments, which were summarily deleted within days after they were posted, were available to his 730 Facebook “friends” who reportedly included both state and local officials as well as members of the Chattanooga business community.
What will disturb many people who "ain't from 'round here," but what won't surprise a soul who has lived here more than a year or two, is that locals quickly came to his defense on our little in-town cyber-paper. (No seriously, go read the first three. You'll love it. I'll wait right here.)
As someone who works in public relations for a school and writes a blog where I use profanity and say some potentially controversial things, perhaps I should be more unabashedly opposed to the suspension and resignation of this man, who has a wife and children but must now search for employment at a time when jobs aren't exactly widely available.
The risk of "new media" like Facebook is that it allows all of us a moment of stupidity or weakness that can't be erased. In the 20th Century, if you had a drunken midnight rant, the only people who heard it were either family members or other equally-drunk people at a party or a bar. Whatever the case, I can't recall many people who weren't D-I college basketball coaches whose late-night moments of stupidity got them fired.
But now, one slip-up on Facebook is permanent and available not just for your 200 or 300 or 1,000 "friends," but any of your friends' friends who happened to really like or really hate what you wrote. This kind of Foot-In-Mouth Disease used to be a pesky STD that hurt a little and required some penicillin, but now it's AIDS that can't be cured and won't go away.
I had a highly-entertaining conversation with another PR guy who's much more in the downtown mix than myself, and he felt certain that the entire problem rested on "ragheaded." He's probably right, although that leaves me feeling kinda sad, because what is more disturbing to me is that people like Mr. CoC have watched Commando too many times. He -- having apparently no understanding whatsoever of the real military and real war -- seems to think you can walk into a foreign country, quickly identify the Good Guys from the Bad Guys, kill all those bastard Bad Guys, and then shower off and go back home. Either that, or more likely, he just doesn't care how many innocent lives are lost, so long as they're in a country where people wear something other than baseball caps on their heads.
Hiding behind "free speech" is interesting, since our Founding Fathers' concerns about free speech was solely to shield the individual from the government. Very little about our country's notion of free speech were meant to protect individuals from their employers, perhaps save for a few "whistle-blower" laws. The man who resigned from the CoC wasn't blowing a whistle, and his rights weren't being attacked by our government.
He was, quite simply, the victim of the cold and impartial capitalism.
Just like the two writers of Bottom of the Glass could be at any time, which is exactly why we try to keep our complete identities and that of our school at least a tiny little bit in question. All the really awful stuff I write goes into Texts From Last Night!
We Were Promised Jetpacks is a sublimely raucous Scottish band whose album These Four Walls I'm proud to have obtained via eMusic.