There are now tens of thousands of people in the world who know you only as the guy who said that one embarassing thing one time.
For that matter, anyone who Googles you will know you only as the guy who said that one embarassing thing one time.
[EDIT: See here for discussion of various complicating factors; my claim isn’t going to be that a completely innocent person was punished, so much as that this entire paradigm of punishment is dangerous] What particularly bothered me about this situation was that the columnist involved was a libertarian who writes for Reason, and her supporters were mostly other influential libertarians.
And they were all using the old argument that the concept of “free speech” came into existence ex nihilo on December 15, 1791 with the ratification of the First Amendment, and has no meaning or significance outside a purely legal context of delimiting government power.
Have any of you ever said or done anything which, if signal-boosted, would be very embarassing and might prevent you from getting a job?
Before you answer, consider this: the person signal-boosting you has much wider reach than you do.
If you’re a very stupid libertarian strawman, you might ask whether that town had any anti-gay laws on the book – and, upon hearing they didn’t, say that town was “pro-gay”.
If you’re not a very stupid libertarian strawman, you hopefully realize that being pro-gay isn’t about boasting how progressive your law code looks, it’s about having a society where it’s possible to be gay.
Maybe you voted for Trump (a firing offense in some places) or against Trump (a firing offense in others).
Maybe you committed a crime someone can find on a public crime database, or maybe you said something perfectly innocent which can be twisted into a sinister “dog whistle” out of context.
My own story – some antipsychiatry crackpot decided to target me, went through a couple of posts I’d written defending the practice of involuntary psych commitment in certain cases, and took a few statements out of context to make it look like I thought we should lock up all mentally ill people and throw away the key.
A quick philosophical digression: what are we even doing here?
My thought is: we’re trying to hash out a social norm.