Peter St. Onge

Here’s why you should be fired

You should be fired.

Well, not you, specifically. Unless you’ve made a mistake recently. Then you should be fired.

You should be fired if you fumbled a punt.

You should be fired if you botched a restaurant order.

You should be fired if you think that dress was white and gold.

You should be fired if you bragged about elite military service, as Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald did to a homeless veteran last month before apologizing for his false boasting.

You should be fired, of course, if you posted something insulting on social media. That’s what Charlotte Fire Department deputy chief Jeff Dulin did recently when he shared an offensive Facebook post about former Olympian Bruce Jenner, who is transitioning to a woman.

That’s also what fire investigator Crystal Eschert did with a Facebook post that questioned how civil rights advocates would have reacted if the victim in Ferguson, Mo., were white.

Eschert was fired in November. Dulin “retired” Friday, the fire department announced.

You should be fired because it’s not a big deal. Donald Trump does it for our entertainment. Corporations do it in big chunks to please analysts. Impatient owners do it for impatient fans. And because it’s become so commonplace, maybe we’ve forgotten how traumatic it is to lose your livelihood.

You should be fired because jobs are more disposable now. Used to be that employees wanted to stay at companies forever, and employers wanted them to. Now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker moves around to 10 jobs before age 40. So when bigger mistakes are made, people aren’t as invested in working things out.

You should be fired because Twitter and Facebook say you should be fired. Twitter and Facebook say that a lot, often in emoji-wielding mobs that grow into social media waves. Those waves tend to scare employers and, even worse, advertisers.

You should be fired because mobs don’t care whether your mistake has any bearing on how you do your job.

You should be fired because mobs are too lazy to distinguish between what’s truly destructive, like defamation or threatening violence, and what’s merely offensive.

You should be fired because we have become so ready to be offended, aggrieved, insulted, and injured that we sometimes don’t remember what it’s like to be forgiven.

You should be fired because forgiveness equals weakness. It gives the other side a pass. It gives the other side a win. So we fight nastiness with nastiness, insensitivity with insensitivity. We dismiss apologies and howl at any punishment that isn’t the big one.

You should be fired, because accepting anything less for a mistake just might acknowledge that we all make them.

Peter: pstonge@charlotteobserver.com.

  Comments