Florida cop sets A PERFECT example of how to get fired for exercising your freedom of speech

Not long ago I wrote a blog in support of Coach York of Skowhegan.  On his personal facebook page, he shared a picture of his souvenir “scalp cloth” from the ancient times in the 1980’s where people were a little less sensitive, and in my opinion, a little more fun.

Somebody in his contact group shared the pic, and a member of the Penobscot Nation, Maulian Dana Smith, caught wind of it and because she found it offensive, almost immediately began calling for Coach York’s job. Something I felt was VERY wrong.

In my blog, I pointed out that Mrs. Smith had also shared something people could find offensive I further added that, to me, she had singled herself out when she listed herself as the Human Resources Director at Penobscot Indian Nation Enterprises/Federal Program Integrators.

My point was, Coach York had not connected himself to his place of employment on his facebook page, so he drew no special attention to his employers when he posted the photo that some found offensive. On the other hand Mrs. Smith does connect herself, not only with her employer, but with an entire race of people, and in my opinion, that makes her more open to making her employer look bad.

I believe if anybody should be terminated from their place of employment, because of the things they say and do in public, it should be folks who also choose to connect their public lives, with their professional lives.

Case in point: Police officer, and instructor, Andrew Ricks, of the Sanford Florida police Department.  On 13 November Officer Ricks took the stage, IN FULL UNIFORM…WHILE ON DUTY… with the death metal band Vital Remains to sing “Let The Killing Begin”  You can see the video in this BLABBERMOUTH.NET article 

Personally, I don’t have an issue with what he did, (I can see how others might.) but there are some things you don’t do when you are at work.  Especially if you are a police officer, and in this case, singing a death metal song about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of them.  Because when Police Chief Cecil B Smith saw the video, he fired officer Ricks, effective 18 November 2015.

It bears mentioning, that the BLABBERMOUTH.NET  article reports that Officer Ricks had already submitted a letter of resignation back on 30 October, for the date of Friday 20 November.  I have not been able to determine why he had intended to leave the force, but it appears his boss wanted to beat him to the punch for his actions on stage.

In my view, this is a PERFECT example of a FAIR consequence of exercising your right to free speech! Had Officer York been off duty, and out of uniform would he still have been relieved of duty?  Or what if he had been on duty in uniform, and had stood ’round a bonfire with a group of young folks, and sang “Kumbaya”?  We will never really know the answer to that, now will we?  But he did something potentially offensive, and made a direct link to his employer.

Think of this the next time somebody is being condemned for something they did, or said in private. Unless somebody publicly makes a scene, and can directly be linked to their profession when they did it, cut them some slack! Especially if what they did was decades ago…(As in with the case of Paula Deen).  Stand up for people exercising their freedom of speech, even if you don’t agree with it!  You never know when one of your freedoms will come under attack!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.