Is The Public Shaming of Former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson Justified?

Freedom of speech does not grant anyone carte blanche to say whatever they want without any accountability for their words or actions.

You’d think that at the very least, people in the media would understand the concept of personal brand and how that brand can affect your employment status.

Apparently, Pax Dickinson, former Chief Technology Officer for Business Insider never got the memo. After gossip column Valley Wag called him out as a bigoted tech bro nightmare, Dickinson was dismissed from his position.

Henry Blodget issued a statement the day after the Valley Wag report saying, “A Business Insider executive has made some comments on Twitter that do not reflect our values and have no place at our company. The executive has left the company, effective immediately.”

Of course, now there are the apologists who would paint Dickinson as a victim of public shaming. Because, hey, it’s a free country and Dickinson can say what he wants, right?

Indeed, we all have first amendment right to protection from government censorship. Beyond that, freedom of speech is a social contract based socially acceptable normative behavior. Contrary to popular internet belief, freedom of speech does not grant anyone carte blanche to say whatever without accountability for those words.

As an executive for a popular online publication, Dickinson was public figure and a representative of Business Insider the company brand on Twitter. Sure, he was within his rights to say what he wanted and both the public and his former employers had the right to hold him to account.

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