As a journalist, tweeting hate speech has consequences—as it should

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It’s well within a newspaper’s rights to fire staff with cause—especially if that staff member is expressing hateful views.

Student journalist Jonathan Bradley recently alleged he was fired from Ryerson University’s student newspaper, The Eyeopener, because of his strict Roman Catholic beliefs. What Bradley, who was not on staff but voluntarily contributed to The Eye, fails to consider is that he wasn’t “fired” for his religious views, but his hateful, homophobic, and anti-trans tweets.

His views aren’t just opinions; his words have real-world consequences that promote hatred toward the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

The Ontario Human Rights Code states people are protected from discrimination and harassment because of their gender expression or identity. People who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ have a right to feel comfortable and included in their workplaces. Bradley’s homophobic views—which he publicly broadcasted online—threatened that.

It’s ironic Bradley is claiming he was discriminated against when he holds discriminatory views against LGBTQIA2S+ individuals.

The fact that he publicly tweeted these views also jeopardizes his effectiveness as a journalist. Those ostracized by his tweets—whether staff members, contributors, or present and potential sources—are less likely to feel comfortable working with him.

Like any job, an employer has the power and right to stop publishing your work if you create an unsafe work environment; Bradley’s hate speech did just that.

Bradley claims he was barred from contributing because of his religion, but that’s not true at all. Let’s call it as it is: those tweets were hate speech.

Bradley can’t hide behind his religion to evade blame. Being religious and being tolerant aren’t mutually exclusive. Many Catholics don’t spew homophobic speech online, and even Pope Francis himself voiced support for same-sex unions last October.

The Bible is open to interpretation. Ontario’s Human Rights Code is not.

If you’re going to tweet, especially as a journalist, you need to have respect for others’ rights. Bradley lacked that respect and faced the appropriate consequences. He has the right to speak, tweet, or write anything he likes—but, in turn, he must be willing to accept the fallout.

At the end of the day, while striving to be objective, newspaper publications have their own set of values and code of conducts. If something a staff member or writer says publicly doesn’t align with those values, the paper has every right to let that individual go.

The Eyeopener put the safety of its staff and sources first when it barred Bradley from contributing—something well within its rights to do.

Journal Editorial Board

Corrections

The previous version of this article stated Bradley was staff at The Eyeopener. Bradley never held an official position at the Eyeopener, but contributed articles on a voluntary basis. The article has been updated to reflect this.

The Journal regrets the error.

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