“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

For Moderately Confused:*

On the general principle of contacting employers about the outside activities of employees you would, all things being equal, tend to be correct, but the particulars in this case are not equal.

First, it is Mr. Grisham who has drawn attention to himself, making himself a public figure. That is what demonstrations are for. By these acts he has given up a right to privacy as far as this activity and the public record are concerned. In stark contrast members of the Swingers Club have chosen to maintain their privacy and, no harm being done, should have some right to it.

Second, Mr. Grisham's motivation in contacting employers of Swingers Club members was to further his mission to expose, harass and intimidate with the explicit threat of (and realized) termination by employers. On the other hand The Amarillo Independent's inquiry could not "expose" someone who was already a public figure whose outside activities were already known. And making investigative inquiries is what journalists do (not self-appointed pastors) which was meant to illuminate, as said in the piece, whether Pantex had talked to Mr. Grisham about his outside activities.

Third, supposing certain members of the Swingers Club were in high-security positions, their private behavior (however libertine) cannot be said to pose a real risk to their employment (other than termination) or community, nor should their work influence what is essentially a passive (restricted) private behavior. The same cannot be said of Mr. Grisham, who has proven to be aggressive, threatening and deceitful, whose employment gives him access to weaponry (he’s not patrolling Pantex with a soda straw) and who therefore could, conceivably, pose a risk both to the community and his workplace.

A final and obvious point is that Mr. Schwarz’s contacting Pantex was to confirm or deny rumors that Mr. Grisham’s superiors had asked him to “cool” his outside activities. If the rumors were true it is Pantex not respecting the personal freedom of its employee, to put it in your own words, not Mr. Schwarz. In asking that this rumor be confirmed or denied Mr. Schwarz was not interfering with Mr. Grisham’s employment status or personal freedom. Mr. Grisham’s contacting of employers was to inform on employees, to deliberately harm their employment and damage their personal freedom. That is hardly the same thing.

Your proposition on all counts is therefore undermined.

Let’s not pretend here. Most anyone who believes a nature preserve is a pagan cult center or an espresso macchiato is the devil’s work has got to be off their nut. Mr. Grisham has a First Amendment right to be off his nut, but he does not have a right to impose his beliefs on others -- except in Amarillo.

Were he any other run-of-the-mill Amarillo nutcase who worked for an auto parts dealer, or ran a religious radio station, or taught history at WT, and had access to your everyday Amarillo stockpile of automatic weapons, he could be laughed off as just another extremist clown. But he is not ordinary. He works at Pantex at the pleasure of Pantex. Maybe he’s just guarding paperclips. Maybe he’s guarding W82’s. No one knows whether he’s mentally competent to do his duty or not, or whether he’s a deluded ticking time-bomb.

But we know Mr. Grisham is into taking people down, and escalating his tactics. Normally it is only a matter of time before people like him cross the line. His sympathizers want the rest of us to ignore him and do nothing. Perhaps we should just wait to watch John Alan Jones before a congressional panel trying to explain how he did nothing to stop David Grisham from blowing up an Amarillo gay bar resulting in 165,000 casualties, mostly Republican.

*With apologies for the delay. But you deserved a cogent response.