Wilson wrote an absolutely rubbish and mostly banal post called ‘The Lefty Lexicon’. Not a very original idea, this this one certainly isn’t among the funniest. Indeed, parts of it are downright puerile. His ‘lefty’ definition of ‘Islamophobic’ is “anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.”
Now, that’s not very nice, you might say, but he should have the right to say that if he wants. I would agree with that.
But by the same token, Orange — as a private company — have the right to sack him for expressing such views. Especially seeing as he was Orange’s “community affairs manager”. Not only this, but he boasted about this fact at the top of his post! Having this man in charge of community affairs is like having a luddite in charge of IT. It simply would not be wise for Orange to continue to employ him for this simple reason.
I guess we bloggers are all a little bit jumpy because we don’t like the idea that we could be sacked for what we write on our blog. Indeed, sometimes people get sacked because of their blog for no good reason — Petite Anglaise for instance. But bloggers shouldn’t be able to expect to be able to say any old shit on a blog and get away with it.
Inigo Wilson was a person who was in charge of community affairs for Orange, and he expressed borderline racist views. Frankly, I’m not surprised that Orange felt the need to sack him. And I’m somewhat disappointed that so many people in the blogosphere seem to be jumping to Wilson’s defence, seemingly for the simple reason that he spouted his bile on a blog.
Inigo Wilson has freedom of speech. But in his position he also had great responsibility, and in my view his blog post was highly irresponsible.
The whole affair really is a miserable storm in a teacup – as far as I know, Wilson hasnâ€™t had his site taken down, nor has he been arrested, thrown in jail and/or had his testicles electrocuted for what he has said; nor has he been forced to go into hiding, or flee the country altogether, as those who truly have been persecuted for their words have. A distinction has to be made between genuine repression of free thought and speech by states, and companies worrying about an employeeâ€™s ability to perform his job relating to customers.
A community affairs manager is also usually responsible for community consultation regarding the new mobile phone masts sites. It is therefore alarming that Inigo Wilson says “Consultation – a formal system for ignoring public views while patronising them at the same time.” Even if you are charitable enough to ignore his racist comments, then this one alone highlights his unsuitability for doing the job he is employed to.
It’s his unsuitability for public relations or community affairs which is the reason why Orange had to act as it did and it’s nothing to do with curtailing free speech or bowing down to pressure from MPAC.
Update: As Garry says:
Own goals all round really.