Sunday, June 26, 2011

Anchorage "Conservative" Pundit Paul Jenkins Chides Anonymous Web Posters, But One Man Was Denied A Job Because Of Facebook Post Considered "Racist"

In an Anchorage Daily News comment piece entitled "Crawl out from under your rock, Anonymous", Alaska pundit Paul Jenkins, the webmaster for the Anchorage Daily Planet who bills himself as "conservative", takes issue with people who post anonymously or under pseudonyms online. Apparently, someone accused him online of having a Doritos fixation, and he's upset; he writes "I seldom read the mostly anonymous, vicious and uninformed comments because, well, many of the writers clearly are liberals, mentally deficient or off their meds -- or all three. Too many of the posts are wrong, outright lies or have nothing to do with the piece they are lambasting".

Of course, Jenkins is absolutely correct about the quality of most of those types of comments; look at any Sarah Palin story on ADN and you'll see proof. But Jenkins claims that anonymous commenters are simply are too prissy and too afraid to put their name to their thoughts. He minimizes the fact that people have been known to be harassed or even lose jobs and employment opportunities by posting controversial or politically incorrect opinions online.

Such as the case of one job applicant who found himself out of the running for a job after being branded racist because he once joined a Facebook group called 'I shouldn't have to press one for English. We are in the United States. Learn the language.', referenced in a Daily Mail article entitled "How anything you've EVER said on the internet could be seen by employers as Feds approve firm that dishes dirt on applicants". The article actually focuses on FTC approval of a firm, Social Intelligence Corporation, which scours social media sites to check on job applicants. This means anything posted publicly online, in particular to high-volume sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist can be seen by your would-be employer. The FTC ruled that the corporation complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, even though it keeps the results of its searches on file for seven years.

This means that anything you post on the Web, even if it's years old or was meant as a joke, can be uncovered in background checks and used against you. Furthermore, job applicants who use online pseudonyms aren't always safe since the firm has special analytical software which can link those nicknames with real, offline names known to employers. And in an at-will employment environment, any pretext, no matter how slight, can be used to terminate a worker or deny consideration to a job applicant.

Therein lies the real problem. It is undoubtedly wise to have a company like Social Intelligence Corporation screening prospective job applicants to uncover potential "land mines". Employers can find themselves suddenly blindsided by discrimination charges from civil rights agencies or victimized by civil litigation stemming from negligent hires. The real problem is in how the employer uses such information. If employers use relatively harmless online posts to deny people jobs, then they are acting as proxy enforcers for political correctness. Of course, that dovetails perfectly with the agenda of the elite who control this country; they can keep the lid on without resorting to an army of visible KGB agents which would expose the growing totalitarian nature of the American regime; American reaction against TSA abuses shows limits to how much overt control we will tolerate. Better to have the private sector do some of your enforcement work.

And the expanded definition of "racism" is also a factor. Anyone -- and I mean anyone -- who even questions diversity, multiculturalism, or mass immigration is now branded a racist. DJs like KWHL's Bob & Mark who tell a silly "Cash for Tlingits" joke are placed in the same gutter with someone like Robert Gum who physically attacked an Alaska Native man for racial reasons. One size fits all -- just like the federal government in education and criminal justice.

How we can reduce the abuses of at-will employment without fundamentally violating the right of employers to hire and fire according to their needs is the real dilemma. It is difficult to draw a "perfect line". But perhaps Paul Jenkins should realize that just because he's grown fat and comfortable from taking the shilling from Bill Allen all those years does not mean others have the same advantages.

If you feel posting online publicly under your own name will impose too much exposure upon you, don't let someone like Paul Jenkins bully you into doing it.

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