Get Thee to HR, to Be Hanged

So the now-infamous McKinney pool party happened, and it was terrible and continues to be terrible. I am amazed that incident concluded with nobody dead or in a hospital. And now we're in the everyone-is-upset-and-angry period, soooo of course I've seen some calls to try get a woman fired. Maybe a bystander, maybe even the woman who started the whole thing by saying racist crap and then slapping a black teenager. This makes me deeply, deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

Let's look at a counterpoint. This weekend, Tor creative director Irene Gallo got some heat for expressing some opinions on Facebook about the Sad Puppies, and was thrown under the bus by her employer. And a lot of people are calling for her to be fired, too.

This is our nuclear option on the internet, and we go straight there whenever our dander is up. Someone should get fired over this. Salt the earth. Wreck their Google results. Make it so they never work in this town again, or any other town for that matter. Sometimes it works. Mostly against women. But... not exclusively.

Every time I see this, I grow more and more upset. This is not the tool of a just and reasoned discourse. And this is a real slippery slope kind of issue. Look, I don't want to live in a world where "you made some people on the internet angry" is a firing offense. 

If the McKinney woman that people are trying to get fired is the right person who assaulted a child, then you know how justice should be done? By taking her the hell to court for criminal assault and battery charges. Or make it a civil case. The avenue for justice is not emailing her employer. Likewise, if Irene Gallo done wrong, the place for that is in court, too, for slander or libel, not emailing her employer to take her job away. And then if there are clauses in an HR manual or employment contract about criminal behavior (or opening the employer to lawsuit liability) then take it to HR for review, fine.

But that's not the very first step in the process. Unless you're happy operating as an angry mob like GamerGate, and I am very much not happy with that. I want to be better than that. If you believe in social justice, you damn well should be better than that. Due process. It's a beautiful thing. I believe in it, because I'd rather justice be slow than that innocent people have their lives ruined.

I'm starting to think we need some kind of Geneva Convention for public online discourse. Social media is not the arbiter of justice, and we should not be serving as judge, jury, and executioner. Because that sword doesn't just cut the people you think are racist, sexist, homophobic assholes. It cuts the people you like, too, the people who have opinions exactly like yours. And sometimes they bleed out right before your eyes.

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