Video: Charity fires director for Facebook comments on Tucson shooting
posted at 3:35 pm on January 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Er, really? Glen Busch and his wife have clothed more than 2,000 poor children since starting the Chicago chapter of Coats for Kids in 2005. That seems like a success story, but apparently a couple of Facebook postings asking people to stop leaping to conclusions over the Tucson shootings outweigh the years of good work performed by the Busches. The national organization fired Busch from the position he created after finding his messages on line, informing him that his connection to the charity is untenable after entering the political fray:
Jumping into a thread with friends discussing the possible politics behind the attack, Busch wrote:
” This was not a political thing, it was a psychotic thing. This kid was nuts! Now lets drop the ink wars and pray for the families. Maybe apologize in public just like your accusations as well? I’m just saying.”
When the shooter, Jared Loughner, was identified Busch posted “Now that we know that this kid was an extreme socialist and democrat, does that change some of the opinions? Guys look, this is not political, he’s just crazy. I do not hold liberals responsible for this now that the facts are known.”
But his boss Paul Darby, the president of the national chapter of Coats for Kids, didn’t like it. Glen says he called the next day severing Glen’s involvement in the organization saying the posts were too radical and political.
I disagree with the analysis in the second message; Loughner was not a registered Democrat and didn’t vote in the last election anyway, and his lunacy was neither Left nor Right, but just plain nuts. But his overall point about it not being political is exactly correct — and apparently too political for Coats for Kids. They told him that getting involved in anything controversial violated their policy:
“As a public non-profit foundation, it is essential that we not become involved in public controversy, either in support or in opposition of an issue or cause. You have every right to make whatever comments that you wish as a citizen. We support that right as Americans. Unfortunately, you name is clearly associated with the Coats for Kids Foundation and the activities by the Foundation in Chicago.”
Well, actually, the foundation doesn’t “support that right as Americans.” If they did support that right, they would not be firing Busch for making a couple of political arguments on Facebook on his own time. From the message, it seems as if the foundation has laid claim to Busch’s entire life and his name, and required him not to participate in any kind of political activity, on his own time and resources or otherwise. Whatever that is, it’s certainly not supportive of his right as an American to engage in participatory democracy. And I’d say the same thing even if Busch had been arguing the opposite.
Busch and the foundation almost certainly had an at-will employment relationship, which means that the foundation can terminate that relationship really for almost any reason within its legal rights. But that doesn’t make them correct if this is the entire reason for his dismissal. I blogged for several years and wrote much more controversial opinions than Busch while working for a private-sector company, which never told me even once to stop engaging in politics, even when I became more well known for it. That’s support for the American right to engage in political action.
Hopefully, Coats for Kids will rethink its dismissal of a committed man of charitable works, and actually support his right to engage as an American.