Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First Amendment Extremist Immature Insane Batshit Crazies

One of the weird little issues that have popped up collateral to the whole Wisconsin melt down (for lack of a better way to say it,) is that some professor in the State University System has been harassed by a FOIA request by some GOP hack legislators. They are after certain emails, designated by certain key words. They claim the right to do so under some open records law. Ok. The opposition seems to be relying on the fictional, childish, extremist free speech ideology, and as well, "academic freedom." What silly assed bullshit. That. The opposition.

My heart goes out to the professor. But he apparently never had "that" conversation with a good lawyer. One as good as me. As I will explain. Before I get to the part where I quote myself and my counsel, I'll give the preface.

I have worked as a contractor, sub contractor, temp for so many years, it is not funny. I remember working at this one shop for a spell. I was on a team that was processing mass tort claims. We lawyers had our own work stations, email, normal Internet access, and shared paralegals (really liked that part.) And not only did management make it's use policy clear, the IT crew were more blatant. One guy told me point blank, yes we do monitor the Internet use policy. And that was cool. Meaning, it was legal. Why? Anything done on the employer's equipment, on the employer's network was their business to pry into. Simple rule, Ain't it?

Fast forward to my time as a union/employment lawyer. I would give "the speech," often. I would give "the speech," at the drop of a dime, even if not in context of the consult. Short version of the speech? I have typed part of it already. "Anything done on the employer's equipment, on the employer's network was their business to pry into." I took it another step further. I would tell people,"Assume your boss reads each and every email you send on work place equipment." If I were being even more particular I might throw in, don't even use a personal net mail account. They have the right to fire your ass for that. So don't even do that.

But here's the thing some morons do not get, even if they should know better. Just about every employer above a certain size has the same core Internet policy. You are only supposed to use their network and equipment for work related reasons. And breaking that rule is grounds for being fired. More to the point, though, most places above a certain size make you sign an E-policy form where all that shit is laid out. So no one has any cause to whine here. Or in a similar circumstance.

This is not about free speech. It is not about academic freedom. It's work place/employment law. It might not be kind. But there nothing ambiguous about it.

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