Public sector workers have greater free speech rights than do private sector workers

The NY Times writes in “Speaking Freely About Politics Can Cost You Your Job” that private sector workers ‘ “…don’t have the right to speak freely in the workplace.” Or even outside it.’

Unlike public sector workers: “… anyone who works for a government office, whether local, state or federal, is for the most part protected by the First Amendment”.

Public sector workers have a greater free speech right than do private sector workers (which is most of the workers in the country).

The Houston Chronicle notes this disparity:

The United States Constitution prevents only governments, not private citizens, businesses or organizations, from interfering with a person’s freedom of speech. Therefore, private-sector employers can generally demote or fire employees based upon the views they express. Government employees enjoy protection for statements they make as citizens on issues of public concern, unless the speech hurts the government agency’s ability to function

Not only can private sector employers limit your freedom of speech, they have a legal right to compel some workers to engage in political speech. In the private sector, certain employees can be ordered to vote a certain way in to retain their job.

Federal election laws allow corporations to persuade a “restricted class” of individuals to vote for or against a political candidate. The “restricted class” is defined as “executive or administrative personnel” who are employed by a corporation on a salary basis and have policy making, managerial, professional or supervisory responsibilities.

CBS News also notes that employers have a right, in most states, to ask you to vote a certain way but since your ballot is secret they cannot know how you voted.

Stated another way, private sector workers may be legally muzzled in what they say, and can be forced to cast votes against their personal beliefs and views. In my state, like many states, public sector workers are even protected by a State law that prohibits retaliation in any form against a public sector worker for their political speech.

This disparity warps public discourse as the small public sector cohort can be louder than the private sector cohort that is nearly 6x larger in size.

By creating two classes of free speech – those in a protected class and those who are not in a protected class – we distort public discourse.

Public sector workers have a greater freedom to influence the political process than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers greater political power than private sector workers, harming democracy.

A 2011 report says just over 15% of the workforce works for governments, on average (varies greatly by state). This slim segment can speak more freely than than the 85% who lack speech protections (about 8% of private sector workers are unionized and some union contracts have speech protections).

As asked in a previous post, Should some people have a greater right to engage in “free speech” – including hate speech – than others?

Think about the impact this has on public discussion of say, adding a new government run program, expanding and existing government program – or conversely, discussion about reducing an existing government run program. Those who work for the government have more rights to support or not support such policies than do private sector workers.

When speech includes items shared on Facebook and Twitter – items containing speech that can lead to private sector, but not public, workers being fired – the propaganda messaging on social media becomes warped to favor those who work for the public sector.

Among public sector workers, especially at the State level, a majority are both unionized and members of the Democratic Party.

This is particularly true in academic institutions (in sampled institutions, the Democrat to Republican ratio of staff exceeds 10:1) where workers have the greatest free speech rights of all.

Since these workers have greater free speech rights, this suggests more political discourse, such as that shared on social media, is likely to come from and favor positions of public sector Democratic party members.

Social media is therefore an amplifier of the political views of the public sector.


Professor Zeynep Tufekci points out another distinction between private sector and academics in both public and private institutions:

If you go work for the companies, you have nondisclosure agreements. And if you work for Facebook, you’re basically focused on ad targeting. Whereas if you’re in our space, you say, How can we do this better? You’re not trying to make someone money, you’re trying to think about the public good.

Private sector workers are also encumbered by non-disclosure agreements whereas those in academics are not (usually) restricted. This is what tenure is supposed to protect; not vile, hurtful speech.

(At one job I was handed a form to sign. The form said that I could not go to work for anyone in the tech industry for 12 months after working at this firm as a relatively low level, line worker. I refused to sign it noting I was the sole bread winner for my family and could not be unemployed in my career field for a year. Being unemployed for a year would be career suicide as one would be seen as “out of date”. The HR person reached into a folder and handed me a much less restrictive NDA for me to sign (which I did). This highlights the absurdity of these overly restrictive NDAs – they had different ones sitting around and readily available but tried to trick most workers, who likely did not read them, into signing the absurdly restrictive agreements.)

Related: Judge rules that journalists have more rights to access government information than the public.

You may remember the line in Animal Farm: Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

Should professors have more free speech rights than others?

If we engaged in widely publicized hateful or hurtful or vile speech, our employers would likely begin job termination procedures within 24 hours regardless of whether we made such comments in a private capacity or not.

As the NY Times notes, “Speaking Freely About Politics Can Cost You Your Job“. Private sector workers ‘ “…don’t have the right to speak freely in the workplace.” Or even outside it.’ Unlike public sector workers: “… anyone who works for a government office, whether local, state or federal, is for the most part protected by the First Amendment”. In other words, public sector workers have a greater free speech right than do private sector workers (which is most of the workers in the country). This disparity warps public discourse as one very large cohort can be vocal while the other must often remain silent.

Professors and teachers argue their speech is protected by “academic freedom”, which they assert protects them from sanctions (or as seen below, even criticism by others) for engaging in hate speech. They assert they have greater speech rights than the rest of us. Randa Jarrar  says “I will never be fired” because she says, she has tenure:

While she asserts that her tenure gives her absolute freedom of speech, university officials publicly disagreed with her claim. Further views on that from the Washington Post.

A different Fresno State professor argues, in so many words, that objecting to his speech is wrong – while simultaneously condemning the speech of those criticizing him for his comments.  He asserts that due to academic freedom he has greater free speech rights than the rest of us and that he should be exempt from consequences (Read it: Fresno State’s Castro didn’t defend my free speech– from the title, he demands others defend his speech, thereby desiring to control the speech of others.)

The First Amendment restricts the government from passing laws controlling (most) speech; it does not require employers to embrace your speech nor does it prohibit employers for sanctioning you for your speech.  Nor does it prohibit others from condemning your speech and calling for sanctions. The First Amendment does not call upon others to defend your speech.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says ““Randa Jarrar’s speech is constitutionally protected, and Fresno State cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, discipline her for it”. That protection, however, does not extend to the rest of us, who as noted above, would be quickly fired.

Most expect professors and teachers to engage in civil discourse, based on facts and logic, and to not adopt the methods of propagandists using emotional language, swearing, hurtful and hateful speech, and doxxing a suicide crisis phone line. This is the behavior of middle school students – and not what we expect of professionals.

By creating two classes of free speech – those in a protected class and those who are not in a protected class – we distort public discourse.

For example, in my state all public sector workers are protected by law from retaliation in any form for their political views or activism. Private sector workers in “at will” employment have no protection and can be fired for any reason, including their political views.

This means public sector workers have a greater freedom to influence the political process than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers greater political power than private sector workers. This distorts the public discourse, harming democracy.

This distorted concept of free speech becomes a powerful tool in propaganda messaging. Randa Jarrar used the simple method of Name Calling (Bush is a racist). Academics frequently use the Appeal to Authority argumentative form (or as Jarrar put it, people want to listen to here, she’s a tenured professor and your not) but some also use their unique academic freedom to say what they want knowing that others are gagged. Which is a form of censorship that applies to one class but not the other.

As noted by the NY Times, public sector workers have greater rights to free speech than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers are louder and stronger voice in public policy discussions and activism.

Should some people have a greater right to engage in “free speech” – including hate speech – than others?

Note – my comments have nothing to do with left- versus right-wing, causes, statements or proponents. My comments are about the question of whether some are more entitled to greater free speech rights than others and the effect this has on public discourse. Further, the actions of (presumably) a few faculty tarnish the reputation of the school and diminish the value of degrees earned by students at these schools. How is such nasty discourse helpful to anyone and how does it lead to making lives better?

I expect to discontinue this blog,

I began writing this blog, privately – not visible to the public – back in 2014. It was a way for me to keep notes on my observations about propaganda on social media.

At the time, due to Facebook’s incorrect characterization of my politics, my news feed was filled with very left wing propaganda – typically what I call “propaganda posters”. I observed that this seemed like propaganda – a topic I knew little about back then. I set about to learn more and ended up reading numerous books on propaganda spanning about 100 years of recent history.

I began this blog as a way of documenting the propaganda messages and how they worked to influence us, and especially to document how social media became a friction-less platform for the spread of propaganda messaging.

In the summer of 2016, I started making posts live, editing and publishing posts I had written over the prior year and half or so. As we entered the election season, I saw more and more propaganda, much of disgusting, vile, laced with hate and anger, and almost always using various techniques of propaganda (fear, lies, etc).

It got to a point that I unfriended a dozen friends, unfollowed even more, and began using Facebook’s “Hide post” feature such that most of the propaganda garbage was filtered out of my news feed. That of course, gave me less material to work with! I also aggressively began “Muting” prolific propagandists on Twitter.

In March of 2018, the issues with Facebook’s global surveillance, propaganda and manipulation efforts became well known. There is no longer much to say about this topic. Most people now understand that social media operated in a dangerous and reckless manner and continues to do so

I learned though this experience, and my (very negative) experience with ObamaCare that no one cares what I think nor do they care what you think. Hence, there is no reason for me to continue writing this. I kept at it up until now as a way to take notes for myself, thinking I might put together an e-book on the topic of social media propaganda.

But the reality is, I lack the proper credentials and am not a member of an elite institution – hence, no one cares what I have to say. I’ve learned repeatedly, unless you have a PhD degree or an executive title at an institution, no one listens to us – I could give you real world examples of the many times I encountered this attitude by parties that could have saved everyone much grief if only they had been willing to listen.  But they don’t listen because the people in power are arrogant and believe they know what is best for everyone else.

Consequently, this blog is mostly fading away. I will probably move the content back to my own server at so I don’t have to pay WordPress hosting fees. This is not happening right away – I’ll post an announcement when this happens (could be months yet). If all works out correctly, the domain name should go straight to my own server once that switch happens.

Pyschographic profiles do not work #Facebook #Twitter #DeleteFacebook

Previously, I noted Facebook’s algorithms concluded I am Liberal.

I recently downloaded Twitter’s assessment of me and Twitter concluded I am Conservativeand I am a supporter of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, and I like to watch the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting).

This was news to me because I live in the United States – and do not have TV!

It is fascinating how the brilliant artificially intelligent algorithms at Facebook classified me as a Liberal while those at Twitter classified me as a Conservative supporter of a liberal prime minister in another country.

Contradictory and both incorrect.

Keep this in mind when – after each new problem of social media is discovered, Mark Zuckerberg shouts “More AI will solve this!

AI will not solve most of the problems that Zuckerberg claims it will solve. He shouts this claim frequently because the reality is, he has no idea how to solve these problems and retain his present business model (surveillance and propaganda operations).

Empirically (the word of the day), Facebook’s AI does not work.

Begging the Question Fallacy: “This is not who we are” … once again

Previously I wrote about the “Begging the Question” fallacy (and another example here).

Immediately after an event, say a mass shooting, a city Mayor says “this is not who we are” – we live in a safe community. But empirically, based on what just happened, they are not a safe community.

These scenarios play out frequently – and the response “this is not who we are” is a staple of public relations staff, even though reality demonstrated that this is who they are. See the links, above, for many examples of how this technique is commonly applied.

Today, a Fresno State University professor made rude, mean spirited, and vile comments on her Twitter account.

Not surprisingly, the University President issued, via Twitter, a statement saying in so many words, “This is not who we are”, even though empirically, they just demonstrated that this is who they are (in fact, this is the 3rd Fresno State professor in 12 months to engage in hurtful or illegal speech – see below).

Note the President’s attempt to distance FSU from the Professor and her comments (they were “made as a private citizen” even though her platform clearly identified herself as a professor at FSU and furthermore said that people listen to her because of that). The President then refers to her as “Professor”, using her university title, apparently wanting her to be a citizen when she casts a negative light on the University but a professor otherwise.

In so many words, he is saying “this is not who we are” even though a member of his faculty just demonstrated the behavior being denied (with evidence this is not the first time this has occurred).

Empirically this is precisely who they are.

Fresno State is going the way of the University of Missouri and Evergreen State College in Washington. The President’s words saying this is not who they are are bogus.

See: News conference: Fresno State professor calls Barbara Bush “racist” | The Fresno Bee

For years, #Facebook hosted groups with 300,000 members, focused on committing cybercrimes #DeleteFacebook

Hours after being alerted by KrebsOnSecurity, Facebook last week deleted almost 120 private discussion groups totaling more than 300,000 members who flagrantly promoted a host of illicit activities on the social media network’s platform. The scam groups facilitated a broad spectrum of shady activities, including spamming, wire fraud, account takeovers, phony tax refunds, 419 scams, denial-of-service attack-for-hire services and botnet creation tools. The average age of these groups on Facebook’s platform was two years.

Source: Deleted Facebook Cybercrime Groups Had 300,000 Members — Krebs on Security

#Facebook is designed to “reward content that elicits emotion” #DeleteFacebook

Because emotionally roused viewers are more susceptible to advertising messages:

The service’s algorithm, designed to reward content that elicits emotion, made it a perfect tool for Russian propagandists to spread disinformation during the 2016 election.

Source: Instagram Looks Like Facebook’s Best Hope – Bloomberg

Nice to see others recognizing that Facebook emotionally manipulates people.

#Facebook ad sales team told politicians that FB can “hand them the election” #DeleteFacebook

Until literally a few days before, this entire ad sales team at Facebook was literally telling every politician with any budget that Facebook can actually hand them the election. It is incredibly disingenuous and strange for an exec to get up and say that there’s no way Facebook could have potentially impacted the election.

Source: Antonio Garcia Martinez, former Facebook Employee Interview

One of many Zuckerberg lies. It blew my mind when when the CEO of an advertising company (FB) said they had no influence on the election. In other words, advertising on the Facebook network does not work?

#Facebook used to brag about its ability to influence elections #DeleteFacebook

Facebook’s website had an entire section devoted to touting the “success stories” of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.

Source: Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence Elections