KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The New McCarthyism, Take 5

From fellow freelancer Christine Hunt, about copy editor Tim Mahoney's suspension from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

I think the issue is far more complex than "Yes, it's my time," "No, it's not;" there is possibly more at stake than whether I am simply reflecting my personal or my professional identity.

The same St. Paul Pioneer Press has also reported the debacle of the Minnesota Vikings football players and their "party sex-boat scandal." Those football players, too, insisted they were "on their own time." This comparison reflects only the "on my own time" dilemma and I in no way intend any implication that a strong social stand equates to any degree whatsoever with immorality or perversion. It does, however bring to light the question: Where does one draw the line between personal freedom of expression and personal accountability, in this instance accountability to the entity through which I obtain shelter and sustenance?

If the Pioneer Press had previously indicated a policy for their employees to not be involved in certain activities and an employee proceeds to do so anyway—especially at a time when his employer was calling him to work (as per the article)—then perhaps the company has a right to take a stand of their own. If the Pioneer Press had no such policy, they at least listened to his reasoning and thoughtfully deliberated before giving him what amounts to a "Don't do it again." They could have just terminated his employment and found someone else without a word of explanation to him.

[I seriously doubt social bias played much of a role in this case—except that his anti-war stand possibly kept him from getting fired immediately. One Twin Cities slang name for this liberal newspaper is The Pioneer Proletariat. Had he attended a pro-war rally, past experience with this paper tells me he wouldn't even have gotten a hearing.]

To achieve a balance between "on my own time" and my personal accountability is another art form that requires significant thought and, perhaps, communication beforehand with those affected by my decisions. Is the stand I take more important than feeding my family? One day the answer may be "Yes."

Note: Christine Hunt is a writer and graphic designer; her business's name is Right Line Editing and Design.

The New McCarthyism Take 2 Take 3 Take 4 Take 5 Take 6 Take 7

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