This weekend, a reader sent us a link to a forum posting about a Pennsylvania DJ who was supposedly fired for being anti-gun. Before having all the facts, the original forum poster made a declaration that he was opposed to the firing over personal political views, and the reader indicated similar concerns based on the “facts” of the forum post. I didn’t post it because, to be honest, I don’t trust random forum posts that aren’t backed up by actual news sources.
When I finally found a real news source on the issue, it turns out that not only is the forum post completely wrong on the facts, any employment concerns on the part of the dj have little to do with political views.
To sum the situation up, a morning show dj, Tim Benz, is extremely anti-gun and used his show and the associated social media accounts as a way of promoting his personal politics. Apparently, he has been having fights with listeners in the Pittsburgh area about this issue recently. On Friday, he decided that he was sick of hearing from all these annoying pro-Second Amendment people and walked off of his job while on the air.
In other words, if he is actually fired, the dj will not be fired because of his personal views. If the station does let him go, he will be fired because he is incapable of behaving in a professional manner when people disagree with him – something Benz freely admits to in subsequent interviews. Now, obviously, Benz wants to keep his job. He claims that he did not officially resign, and he’s happy to serve out his contract in whatever manner the station chooses, even if it’s off of the air. However, given that the morning show slots are typically some of the most competitive times for listeners, it would seem unlikely that the station would have much interest in keeping a dj who acknowledges that he brings his personal politics to air and cannot accept disagreement in a rational manner.
I’ll be frank and say I don’t have much pity for the guy. He knew what kind of divisive topic he was bringing to his employer, and he couldn’t handle the notion that the listeners had different ideas that they care enough about to call in and/or comment about it online. He is the one who made the decision to walk off of the air rather than handling the debate in a more reasonable manner. Basically, he made a decision to screw his employer, so I think his employer is more than justified in releasing him from his contract.
That said, I think there are a few lessons here. One, if you’re a radio show host who cannot handle debate about core personal political views, it’s best to leave them out of your show. Two, if you’re a radio show host who cannot handle people who disagree with you, then perhaps you should steer clear of major political debates in general. Three, an employment agreement is not a matter of the First Amendment; you don’t get protection from saying things or behaving in a manner that reflects negatively on your employer, so don’t fall back on that defense. Four, this is somewhat related to a question that Uncle asks often in his posts: Why are anti-gun activists so violent? In this case, it’s not violence, but it is still an inability to control one’s temper to the point where it interferes with his ability to hold down his job.