We’ve talked about this repeatedly, and many professionals in the criminal justice system have also warned about the dangers of posting potentially controversial statements or images on social media. But time and again, someone who you might think would know better just can’t control his or her urge to spout off, only to learn the hard way that the high-tech world has a serious downside.
The latest example is Adam Smith. No, I’m not talking about the famous 18th Century economist. I’m referring to the guy who became famous (infamous?) in 2012 for his angry tirade against a hapless young girl working the drive-through window at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Smith originally posted a YouTube video of him telling her that the fast-food chain has “horrible values” for, among other things, the owners’ stance on gay marriage. The original video of Smith’s verbal assault can be viewed at:
At the time, Smith was earning $200,000 a year as a chief financial officer in Arizona. After the dust-up following his ill-advised Internet adventure, he was quickly fired from his job. He reportedly also lost $1 million in stock options. That’s a pretty heavy price to pay for two minutes of narcissistic bloviating.
But that’s not the end of the story. Fast forward to today, where it has just been reported that Smith and his family have now been reduced to having to use food stamps:
Apparently, even though Smith publicly apologized, and despite the fact that almost three years have gone by, prospective employers are still reluctant to take a chance on hiring the 37-year-old executive. What this story illustrates is how long the consequences of something said or posted on social media can persist.
This case is particularly instructive for those of us in the carry community. We need to understand that anything we put out into the electronic world can come back to haunt us. Yet in spite of the number of cases of social media stupidity that have appeared over the last several years, including the high-profile embarrassment of major politicians and sports figures, a disturbing number of people in the gun-owning community still seem to have not gotten the message.
Check out any news story related to guns, especially cases of armed self-defense, and you will see in the “comments” section some truly disturbing postings (“I’d have blown the scumbag’s head off!”). Even pro-gun-rights or gun-related sites will feature more than a few subscribers spouting things that could one day wind up being read to a jury—a scary thought.
Remember, if you should ever find yourself involved in a defensive gun use situation, especially where you have had to actually shoot or kill an attacker, have no doubt that prosecutors will dig up your emails, your postings on any bulletin boards, your Tweets, your Facebook page—anywhere you have left a “footprint” in social media.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting that you stifle your comments on current affairs. Far from it—we need as many proponents of armed self-defense as we can muster. We’re merely suggesting that you use common sense. Before you post anything, simply ask yourself: “Would I be completely comfortable with this comment (or ‘selfie’) being shown to a jury?”
The First Amendment is a wonderful thing, but as the wise old saying goes, “Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.”
Being safe starts with being smart.