(Reader Chad Chambers sent us this case of Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome.)
Belding, Michigan Fire Chief Gregg Moore told a reporter he’s furious. Chief Moore said a Facebook post by one of his firefighters has turned into the worst personnel matter he’s handled in his 16-years in charge.
The chief, according to WOOD-TV’s Leon Hendrix, said his decision to immediately fire Firefighter Ryan Hudson was backed by both the city manager and the firefighter’s union. Prior to this the chief considered Hudson a good firefighter.
Hudson’s firing came today (Monday) because of Facebook comments in a post about President-elect Donald Trump. A conversation with a California woman turned to the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem and the Black Lives Matter movement. It then got ugly.
That’s when Hudson, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, made a profanity-laced comment.
Initially, Hudson told the fire chief and 24 Hour News 8 that he did not author the post. But a short time later, he called 24 Hour News 8 saying he had come to the realization that he did make the posting. He said he had been drinking and doesn’t remember doing so.
“It’s very out of character for me,” Hudson said. “I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart because it doesn’t reflect everybody.”
Hudson said the Kapernick debate hit a nerve for him, in part because of his service as a Marine. While he admits the postings are offensive, Hudson insists he is not a racist.
“I served with black people,” Hudson said. “I was willing to die for them.”
“I’ve actually never had to fire someone,” said Chief Moore. “This is a first. My employees are excellent employees, and I’ve had nothing but the utmost respect for all of them. They do what they are supposed to do and this is so out of the ordinary for a firefighter to do.”
And the woman that Hudson reportedly said horrible things to says it’s not just about hurting someone’s feelings.
“Yes we do have free speech in this country, but free speech does not mean you’re safe from the consequences of your free speech and your decisions,” the woman said. “We don’t just get to spout off at the mouth and spew hatred and ignorance.”
“It was some of the worst words I had ever seen in my life,” said Moore. “I knew immediately I had to do something.”
After speaking to the union representative and to the Belding city manager, the decision was made to terminate Hudson’s employment. Moore said the process took less than 10 minutes.
“There is no excuse for anything like this,” he said. “This is nothing we can stand for.”