Fired for Thoughtcrime: Not Agreeing with the Zeitgeist

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Suddenly a CEO getting axed for having been discovered to be an opponent of same-sex marriage is not the most frightening speech-related firing of the year:

Turtle Rock Studios community manager Josh Olin, who has been promoting its upcoming co-op multiplayer game Evolve, has been released from the position following some controversial tweets about embattled L.A. Clipper owner Donald Sterling.

Today, on his Twitter account, Olin wrote the following statements regarding now-banned NBA owner Donald Sterling, who was recorded making racist and inflammatory comments by an ex-girlfriend:

And here is what his former employer had to say:

What values are Turtle Rock Studios pretending to uphold? As Olin clearly explained in later tweets, and which was fairly obvious from the initial tweets, he was not defending Sterling. Olin’s point is that Sterling expressed a truly despicable opinion, but one stated in the privacy of his home and on a call that he was not aware was being taped. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed concerns with the manner in which Sterling’s views were made public. Olin merely objects to the media sensationalism.

I think Olin’s only error was calling Sterling a victim, as that could be perceived as a blanket defense of Sterling’s views. But we’ve now reached a point where people are getting fired not even for their own publicly expressed viewpoints, but rather for objecting to the public backlash. Yes, we all take risks when we express our opinions in public, especially those of us who do not hide our identity. Yet this is perhaps the scariest example of intolerance towards viewpoint expression.

Getting back to Jabbar, I think he expresses the ridiculousness of these public spectacles quite nicely:

Moral outrage is exhausting. And dangerous. The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging. Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking.

As Jabbar also points out, it’s a bit hypocritical to scream in outrage about the NSA while casting a blind eye to the secret taping of a private conversation. I guess it’s a good thing Kareem doesn’t work for Turtle Rock Studios, or else he’d undoubtedly be a goner by now, forced to retire in shame and potentially even changing his name to Roger Murdock just to hide his disgrace.

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  1. Social media mobs demand compliance. Instant reaction to the flash point words.
    The hue and cry is immediate. No one has time to think: Is this response wise? What would be the just and prudent action?
    Arab spring was slow by comparison now- as the mob demands satisfaction. Look how fast the mob formed at the Catholic HIgh School in response to the nun’s talk. Social media mobs force immediate response from governments, institutions, and businesses. People lose their jobs, nuns sequester for teaching Catholicsim.. so the point isn’t whether or not Sterling was a good man, or how terrible what he said was. The point is the mob doesn’t like it.

  2. Well, guess that’s one game I won’t be playing. Even if it is “ingenious.” Any company that would fire THE GUY IN CHARGE OF MEDIA without even talking to him, over a tweet, is going to make really insanely stupid choices because the forum trolls yelled loud. Then wonder why the game sinks.

    They commonly had controversial stuff on the tweet thing, and then object that someone wasn’t extreme enough…..

  3. What values are Turtle Rock Studios pretending to uphold?

    None. It’s high school. When I was a kid, people actually grew up. In Blue America, not anymore.

  4. If he’s the media guy, one would think he’d be more communications-savvy.
    Discretion is the better part of valor. If I am going to challenge the mob, I won’t do it casually, and I will weigh the risks of an improper approach. Delivery is as important as content in the current Kulturkampf.

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