The Arguments For and Against Josh Olin's Dismissal
The Internet world is awash in debate.
Turtle Rock Community Manager Josh Olin was fired for some comments he made on Twitter concerning the Donald Sterling scandal. If you're unfamiliar, Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was banned from the NBA for life after making racial comments.
Now, I'm not here to take a side; I'm not stupid enough to voluntarily throw myself on that particularly explosive grenade. However, considering all the arguments, I thought it might be a good idea to look at this from both sides, so:
The Argument For Firing Olin
The company has a right to do it
From the company's standpoint, they didn't want to be associated with anyone who makes comments that would denote them a racist. Whether he is or not is probably irrelevant in the company's eyes, as they're only worried about protecting themselves from future backlash. For instance, if they come out and support Josh and his comments, those who found his statements offensive might boycott Turtle Rock and their upcoming products (in this case, the anticipated Evolve).
The company has every right to protect themselves. It's nothing personal; it's just business.
You don't make personal comments in the company's world
This is tricky because while Olin obviously wasn't speaking for his employer and he was on his personal Twitter page, he's a Community Manager. He gets the word out; he's essentially PR. Just about everything he says and does in the public realm can be tied to the company, which, by the way, must suck. It means that you really can't say anything at all on the Internet because honestly, where do you draw the line? What's "personal" and what's "business?" If it's all available for public consumption, it's tough to say.
Besides, you just don't do it. Olin had to have known his comments would've been controversial, and he had to know they might get him in trouble. If I'm a high-profile Community Manager, I would never think of addressing a situation such as the Sterling debacle. It's just suicide and he should've known better.
The Argument Against Firing Olin
The company misinterpreted Olin's comments and, as he says, "bought into the hysteria"
Olin has since made it plain that he does not condone Sterling's words and actions, and he was expressly attacking sensationalist media, and the fact that our privacy is no longer our own. From a personal standpoint, I wholeheartedly agree with him in this respect. The problem is that his employer apparently didn't even ask for an explanation from Olin; they just fired him on the spot.
One could argue he had violated some sort of company policy - and that'll likely be very subjective - but if the company misinterpreted, they were wrong to fire him, right? Yes, they have a right to protect themselves and if I was the boss, I might cut ties and run ASAP. It's the fastest, easiest, safest solution. However, if you don't even ask to hear your own employee's side, one could contend that you really are simply "giving in to hysteria."
What's wrong with speaking out in favor of privacy and against sensationalist media?
If Olin is being truthful, are we really going to find fault with his position? The problem with firing Olin on the spot without determining the facts is this: It looks like a knee-jerk reaction and an automatic "OMG, you're racist" accusation that is extremely hurtful when it's false. If people believe Olin - and it looks like many do - Turtle Rock and 2K are coming across as the companies that spat in the face of freedom of speech. Furthermore, they seem more interested in damage control than ascertaining the facts, a tactic that doesn't go over well with the public.
Of course, this is all assuming that Olin's comments aren't damage control. They seem genuine but you can't be certain.
One personal statement
I've presented both sides of the argument, as I see it, and I'll remain a bystander. However, this is for Josh: Whether it was right or wrong to fire you, you just don't do what you did. It's a mistake, plain and simple. Even if you're right, even if you think it should've been said, it couldn't possibly end well, especially when you're in the position of Community Manager. And you definitely don't do it on Twitter, where you can't properly explain your position.
Just bad judgment, dude.Originally Published May. 1st 2014