Only Because it’s Government

Man Wins Case After Firing Over Confederate Flag

When I saw the headline, I was expecting my diatribe to take a different route. I thought he was fired from a private employer for the issue, and expected to launch into a private-property, I-can-hire-and-fire-who-I-want-because-that’s-freedom rant. But it appears all is well.

A man who was fired by the city of Tampa for refusing to remove his Confederate flag license plate has settled a lawsuit against the city.

Larry Carpenter will receive $4,500. But Carpenter, an employee in good standing for six years, won’t get his job back as a traffic maintenance specialist.

The paper reported that Carpenter’s case began in January 2002, when his boss told him to remove the tag because someone had complained. Carpenter would not follow the order to remove the tag, so he was repeatedly disciplined. His discipline included negative comments on his annual evaluation, suspension without pay on three occasions and then firing in September 2002, The Tampa Tribune reported.

Now, I’m no fan of the “South will rise again” types. But I don’t think that’s what this is about. It’s about an employer’s right to hire and fire based on some simple ideological standards, and whether or not something that one employee might find “offensive” is grounds for a firing. In private business, it’s up to the employer to choose. But when it comes to the government, I think there is a higher standard.

The government is to hold people equal before the law. Absent written regulations regarding this behavior (which did not harass, only offended), to take one person’s feeling of being offended over another person’s right to free speech is unacceptable.