Den­ver doc­tor’s fir­ing for her racist com­ment on Face­book

The Denver Post - - OPIN­ION - Re: Ken­neth Scott, Jeanette Ox­el­son, Don Or­tiz,

“The high cost of free speech,” Dec. 3 edi­to­rial.

Con­trary to your edi­to­rial, I be­lieve it was ap­pro­pri­ate for the Univer­sity of Col­orado School of Medicine to ter­mi­nate the employment of a doc­tor for mak­ing racist re­marks on Face­book. While po­lit­i­cal speech rightly de­serves First Amend­ment pro­tec­tion, racist speech should not be af­forded the same pro­tec­tion, par­tic­u­larly when it may serve to un­der­mine con­fi­dence in the abil­ity of a doc­tor to pro­vide the high­est level of care to all pa­tients, re­gard­less of skin color or eth­nic­ity.

The ar­gu­ment for an ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy on Face­book is flimsy at best, and is clearly out­weighed by the se­ri­ous ques­tions raised by racist speech. There is no way to know for sure whether the doc­tor in ques­tion is un­able to pro­vide equal care to all pa­tients, but this is be­side the point. The fact that she has even al­lowed the ques­tion to arise, through her reck­less and highly un­pro­fes­sional re­marks, is good cause for ter­mi­na­tion of employment.

BBB While I agree with most of this edi­to­rial, there is one point I feel I must make. Pub­lic em­ploy­ees must, not should, fall un­der the more strin­gent rules of ex­er­cis­ing free speech when that speech is highly racist. While Dr. Michelle Her­ren was ex­er­cis­ing her right to free speech, and no one should be de­nied that right, her pro­fes­sion as a doc­tor at a ma­jor hospi­tal au­to­mat­i­cally puts her in the cat­e­gory of “un­der­min­ing the mis­sion of the pub­lic em­ployer.” Would a racist doc­tor ac­tu­ally be able to give peo­ple of color her best med­i­cal per­for­mance?

BBB While I agree with the premise re­gard­ing free speech in your edi­to­rial on Dr. Michelle Her­ren, I dis­agree that the ex­e­cu­tion of her du­ties would not have a ma­jor im­pact on the valu­able ser­vices she pro­vides to Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Col­orado and Den­ver Health: How many AfricanAmer­i­can fam­i­lies would want a physi­cian with her views to be in the op­er­at­ing room with their child? Her cre­den­tials lead me to be­lieve she made a se­ri­ous er­ror of judg­ment, es­pe­cially against a woman who has worked hard to make Amer­ica a bet­ter na­tion.

The Univer­sity of Col­orado fired a pe­di­atric doc­tor who made a racist remark about first lady Michell Obabma on Face­book. The As­so­ci­ated Press

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