There is no Sanity Clause

11 April, 2003 at 8:45 pm (dear diary)

My employer requires — as good, litigious-minded employers do — that I read all of the rules and regulations of the school prior to signing my contract. Despite the presence of an insulting, fascist restriction, I did so.

The clause is as follows:

4.12 : Electronic Information and Communication Policy (E-mail, Voice-mail, Internet, Computers, etc.)

Personal Websites and Outside Computer Use

Employees are prohibited from maintaining home or personal sites that are, or may be, offensive to any member of the school community or which could detrimentally impact the reputation of the school.

Excuse me? I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to publish anything on the web that MAY be offensive to ANY member of the school community? And when my employer says “school community” they mean a huge spectrum of parents, trustees, past trustees, alumni, grandparents, faculty members… Trust me, if I had some of the normal everyday conversations I have with my friends in front of my colleagues, they would be offended. The odds are against me that I have kept this website pure enough to satisfy the unrealistic censorship standards of the above clause.

And let’s not even delve deeply into the fact that this sort of requirement goes far and above the ordinary expectations of an employee. My home life is my own, and my netlife is my home life, so long as it comes from my computer and not the computer at my office. I do not consider that my employer has the right to dictate the rigors of my behavior when I am not under the auspices of the duties and hourly requirements of my job. I showed the above clause to a colleague — who had signed her contract without reading the handbook — who said that it reminded her of thirty-year-gone finger-wagging by employers who told teachers that “living with an unmarried partner reflected badly upon the image of the institution…” Has the internet’s wages of sin become the new breeding ground for such mealy-mouthed moralizing? Freedom of speech is protected everywhere… except the internet? After all, it’s not really The Press and it’s not really Speech, so… it can be censored and regulated and monitored and controlled.

Please, make sure to e-mail my employer with any complaints about the offensiveness of this page and its linked content.


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