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Online Forum Leads To Hostile Workplace Lawsuit

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the freedom-to-be-jerks dept.

The Internet 330

Tiger4 writes "A group of black Philadelphia police officers have filed a lawsuit against the police department and the city, alleging a hostile work environment due to a private website popular with police. Their story has received wide coverage. From CNN: 'The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job. Domelights' users "often joke about the racially offensive commentary on the site ... or will mention them in front of black police officers," thus creating "a racially hostile work environment," according to lawyers for the all-black Guardian Civic League, the lead plaintiff in the suit.' The site appears to be owned and operated by a member of the police force, but it is not funded or operated by the city. Management clearly knows it exists; it is possible police force members access it on the job, and the suit says some of them reference it on the job. Individual police force members have a right to their own opinions, but management has a responsibility to enforce the law fairly and equitably across the city and among their own workforce. What is the solution here?"

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330 comments

What's up with black firefighters in the USA? (-1, Troll)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741503)

They can't pass the written exams for promotion. And get their feelings hurt by online forums.

> or will mention them in front of black police officers

Not mentioning a joke in front of people of a certain race would be racist in my opinion.

Re:What's up with black firefighters in the USA? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741537)

Black people have a lot to get over in general. They are their own worst enemies because of the thug image alone.

It takes a black man to be a colored person. It takes a real fucking nigger to see thugs and say to yourself "wow a hateful little fuck with a shitty attitude who glorifies violence and abuse, i'll make him my idol and imitate him in every way and totally adopt all his mannerisms! Thug life yo!" Seriously what the hell is wrong with these people?

Re:What's up with black firefighters in the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741565)

It takes a real fucking nigger to see thugs and say to yourself "wow a hateful little fuck with a shitty attitude who glorifies violence and abuse, i'll make him my idol and imitate him in every way and totally adopt all his mannerisms! Thug life yo!" Seriously what the hell is wrong with these people?

Well, our society glorifies a lot of these people. Kids see these people making tons of money and being hugely successful, despite their attitudes. Is it so unbelievable that they idolize them?

Re:What's up with black firefighters in the USA? (1)

casings (257363) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741559)

How about not mentioning the joke at all? Or would that be joke discrimination?

Re:What's up with black firefighters in the USA? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742313)

These are grown men and women, not little children in a playground. The should be able to take a joke -- they don't have to enjoy it themselves.

Racist cops..... (3, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741513)

And racist cops are news because??? Also, how is this tech news other than the fact that someone used the internet?

Re:Racist cops..... (1)

Stu1706 (1392693) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741689)

I agree that this does not really fit on /. but I do find it troubling anyway. I think an openly racist police officer should be fired. If not, you get crap like Rodney King on one extreme and OJ on the other. Things like this make it hard to support cops. The youtube videos of police brutality out there don't really help either. I still believe most are good, but I feel as a whole they are worse than the general public.

Re:Racist cops..... (1, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741781)

The problem is, cops tend to be jerks no matter who they are. Heck, you can give anyone power and see that they are jerks especially when given very little oversight (if you don't like the president you can vote them out of office, but the most you can do to a police officer that you don't like is recommend them to have disciplinary action... to another police officer).

And as for racism, everyone is racist to some degree. As evidenced by it we target marketing to certain ethnic groups, fill out ethnic information on census forms, etc.

What really needs to be done is elect police officers on a neighborhood (in larger cities) or town (in smaller cities) basis to make them accountable to the public.

Re:Racist cops..... (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742223)

The problem is, cops tend to be jerks no matter who they are.

Please. First, cops who abuse their power for any reason deserve to be fired. Second, a cop who's a jerk to everyone, versus a cop who's just a jerk to black people, are two very *very* different things. The former is at least fair. The latter means the law will likely be unevenly applied, and last I checked, that violated the US's equal protection laws.

And as for racism, everyone is racist to some degree. As evidenced by it we target marketing to certain ethnic groups, fill out ethnic information on census forms, etc.

Holy shit... you aren't seriously trying to draw an equivalence between denigrating someone based on their race, and targeting marketing at them based on cultural differences, are you? Because, frankly, that's fucking absurd. Referring to ethnically-target marketing as racism makes the term utterly meaningless.

Re:Racist cops..... (0)

Yold (473518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742235)

Electing police officers would be insanely costly and prone to manipulation by local socioeconomic factors, corruption, etc. Taser is actually making a camera surveillance system designed to record officer's actions, and this would be ideal IMHO. Unfortunately, it will probably never see widespread use (its called AXON).

Even more unfortunately, it is elected officials that have actually given the police enough power to harass citizens. Case in point, disorderly conduct. This is known as a catch-all offense. If you offend someone, act boisterous, or even walk down the fucking street without a clear destination (which you must tell police about), you can be arrested. Public intoxication, what a fucking load of shit. How many thousands of drunk people are there in any town on any given weekend? It allows police officers to arbitrarily arrest people, and then convict them with a 99.99% success rate. You don't even have to take a breathalyzer.

Fact is, a considerable portion of police officers are ignorant, freedom-hating, egotistical/narcissistic, thuggish, and racist. Most fall into at least one of those categories. But it is something that we as a society need, and there is really no better alternative.

Re:Racist cops..... (1)

Crystalmonkey (743087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742283)

"What really needs to be done is elect police officers on a neighborhood (in larger cities) or town (in smaller cities) basis to make them accountable to the public."

The problem with this is that being a police officer requires time and specialized training. Perhaps a better oversight group might be more practical? (And THOSE members could perhaps be elected.)

Re:Racist cops..... (0, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741803)

Rodney King had what was coming to him 110% He was speeding 90+ mph in a residential neighborhood high on cocaine, drunk as fuck, possibly on PCP. He wrecks the car and immediately tries to fight the multiple cops who were chasing him, and everytime they got him on the ground, the stupid bastard KEPT GETTING UP. Maybe you've never seen someone fucked up on coke, let alone PCP, but they can be a fucking beast, especially PCP. I've seen videos of relatively small guys on PCP fighting 4+ people and beating the shit out of them through sheer strength/adrenaline + lack of pain reception alone. All he had to do was stop fighting, trying to attack them, and he wouldn't. It was only when his body was physically crippled to teh point that the drugs weren't enough to keep him going that he was finally subdued.

Re:Racist cops..... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741785)

If you get into the actual facts of the story it is clear, though the summary didn't really touch on it.

At it's heart it's a question of whether a person that runs a bulletin board is responsible for what posters post, a subject of frequent commentary on slashdot.

In point of fact, it would be like calling Commander Taco a racist homophobe because of all the troll spam that's gotten posted here over the years.

Re:Racist cops..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741821)

I know, who cares about a bunch of cops who get together and create a group specifically not including people based on race? And then getting together and suing others who are exercising free speech on a web forum?

Re:Racist cops..... (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741823)

Exactly. If this were cops watching 'Amos & Andy" and making "Mammy" references on duty, it would be no different.

Re:Racist cops..... (4, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741887)

"And racist cops are news because??? Also, how is this tech news other than the fact that someone used the internet?"

The moral of the story is that "the all-black Guardian Civic League" is A-OK.

If it was a forum of all minority officers, and they were doing the same thing to all the crackers and honkies (ie, being racist against whites) anyone complaining about it would just be "the man" and "trying to keep them down" and violating their civil rights.

It's like where I went to school. There was a black student union, a black choir and a black homecoming (run in parallel with the normal one) with their own black king and queen. "The man" didn't make these groups to segregate the whites and the blacks, the black students themselves made these organizations. Unfortunately we couldn't ever get anyone brave enough or stupid enough to try to make the white student union, choir, and homecoming.

Re:Racist cops..... (4, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741959)

Sir! I will have you know that I am neither a Cracker nor a Honky! I am a Jive Turkey and proud of it.

Re:Racist cops..... (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741935)

Agreed, this is hardly tech news.
The simple fact of the matter here is that racism is an outward expression of ignorance by an individual. People are people regardless of skin color. We all eat, sleep, and shit each and everyday from the day we're born until we die. Some contribute to the community to make life better for all, but most are worthless uneducated meat sacks.

Cops on the other hand are no better than anyone else, although they like to think they are 'special'. Most are assholes with little dick syndrome. Give them a gun, and now you have an armed asshole with a little dick running around on the loose, and contributing nothing of value to humanity.

i woudln't do this. (3, Insightful)

sandmtyh (560543) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741543)

starting a lawsuit is the best way to get people to drag their feet when responding to an officer down call.

Solution (3, Insightful)

Dread_ed (260158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741545)

Private ownership is private and government ownership is government. Sounds like a simple case of plantiffs going after the deepest pockets and those most easily controlled through political and media manipulation.

Re:Solution (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741649)

Private ownership is private and government ownership is government. Sounds like a simple case of plantiffs going after the deepest pockets and those most easily controlled through political and media manipulation.

And what happens when government employees bring "private ownership" to work in a racist attitude?

Oh yeah, you don't want to address the actual issue here, just quote one small piece and dismiss it entirely.

Re:Solution (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741673)

There is no evidence that they used the site at work. Unless I missed something.

Re:Solution (1, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741753)

FTFA: "The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job."

Re:Solution (2, Insightful)

c_forq (924234) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741833)

Note what the parent to your comment said, evidence. I can allegations are not evidence.

Re:Solution (1)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741885)

What does it matter, anyway? I use slashdot from work, and there are certainly racist pricks around here. Should my employer be open to a lawsuit because of racist trolls at slashdot?

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742263)

no, but maybe you should be reprimanded/fired for wasting company resources.

Re:Solution (1, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741873)

FTFA: "The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job."

Until our political & judicial system is as bad as it was in Soviet Russia or as bad as it seems Europe is getting, allegations do not equal evidence. The GP specifically said they gave no evidence, and you just backed him up with your quote from the article.

It's a real dangerous world when allegations are considered proof.

For my personal opinion, these people are entitled to host and discuss their personal website at work. Depending on the internet usage policies governing what websites they can or can't visit, viewing a personal website is fine on the job. However, these people must work together in life-or-death situations on a regular basis, and if some of these officers were causing division - intentionally or unintentionally - then management needs to deal with their staff. If it was unintentional (hard to imagine in this particular case), a simple "Hey, quit talking bout that shit at work, it makes your fellow cops uncomfortable" will probably do the trick. If it is intentional, they need to be moved or canned if they won't straighten up their act.

The lawsuit is only the correct way to go if the upper echelon were supporting these cops.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741943)

Unless it is allagations from women in which case no evidence is needed. Furthermore, in that case all contrary evidence are just proof that science is an evil patriarchal tool used to keep women down.

Re:Solution (2, Interesting)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742009)

Reading your post I thought of an interesting situation. Since the site is obviously not overtly racist, is it against the rules for an officer to read any site that might contain racist material in the comments? If so Slashdot would be banned from tons of work places. Being a member of a site that has a few racist assholes, does not make you one of them. On the other hand, participation during work in these discussions ought to be punished. If it can be proven of course.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742105)

> Until our political & judicial system is as bad as it was in Soviet Russia or as bad as it seems Europe is getting, allegations do not equal evidence

I beg your pardon?!

Re:Solution (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741949)

Did you even read what I said? Evidence- as in is there anything to show/prove that they did this from work? I mean the plaintiff putting it in their complaint is hardly evidence, and I somehow doubt they have access to the police internet logs. Thus I think you like many people here have jumped to a conclusion based on the trust of lawyers who are too stupid to even know the difference between government owned and private ownership.

Re:Solution (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741841)

Racism always solves itself through the free market. Always. The only time that it doesn't is when there are laws promoting the racism thus making the market non or less free.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742127)

Yeah, but since when is it wrong to have your own opinion? You totally act as though there is no such thing as a racist black person, which is hardly the case.

Re:Solution (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742169)

"And what happens when government employees bring "private ownership" to work in a racist attitude?"

I'm not sure what this has to do with the website. I know they read it on a forum, but if it was a weekly flyer or local bar the cops were getting their material from and bringing that to work in the form of racist jokes and comments wouldn't they still be suing work because co-workers had created a hostile work environment?

I don't see how they can enforce the website being taken down, but the owner could be fired if he works in the department. Think if it in another way: if I was running a porn site and told all my co-workers and they all surfed it from work and the female employees complained I would expect to lose my job.

Here's one of the jokes on the website: [google.com] "Guns don't kill people ... Dangerous minorities do."

That's pretty vague, is that the best example they have? That's not even clear enough to identify who they're talking about, no race was mentioned. The could be talking about Muslims of the terrorist variety since I'm pretty sure Muslims fall into a "minority" category in Philadelphia.

Screw'em! (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741557)

We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

It's time to say "toughen up!!!" It's not like they are in fear of anything. There will always be something to offend people if you dig deep enough. So stop digging and you won't find things. There will always be aspects of humanity and society that seems annoying and offensive. When people take those things too far, you end up living with Taliban rule. What is "too far"? I don't know. But black and female people have long since expired their period of needing special treatment and are fully equal in opportunity and respect as far as I can tell. It's time we all treat each other equally badly.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741693)

We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

It's time to say "toughen up!!!" It's not like they are in fear of anything.

Actually, men have also files harassment claims, mostly for man on man. I guess they should have just toughened up as well.

The point is that this type of behavior in a workplace is simply wrong; and employers havea duty to take action to prevent or stop it.

Re:Screw'em! (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741809)

I would argue that men filing complaints on men is typically people taking advantage of the system that was built to foster equality in the workplace. And that is yet another problem resulting from the "fixes" put into place.

Women in the workplace and black people in the professional work place "were" new things and needed policies and even laws to make the transition less painful and unpleasant. But it was a //transition// that has been made. All these claims simply aren't needed the way they once were.

Now if something is criminally actionable, forget going to HR. Let one or more people sue one or more people directly. HR has no place in the matter. But if it's jokes and crap like that? Forget it! There will always be groups and cliques and things that make some people uncomfortable. It's standard human ... no, standard animal behavior. It's not something that is going to go away with regulations and policies. Every workplace is "hostile."

Re:Screw'em! (2, Interesting)

bhsx (458600) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741999)

OK, here's a part of my past I'd rather forget:
I was a waiter at TGIFridays in '97-'98. I had worked there for a year when a new manager came on duty, I'm 5'10", he's 6'4" and the first day I worked with him he "choked" me to the point where I fell on my knees in front of him in a particularly unnerving way. He had a fairly creepy smile on his face while this was happening. This was a "joke" you see? It was supposed to somehow be funny. I was "lovingly" abused as a child (by a Chicago cop, no less), and I didn't appreciate the "joke". I told the General Manager about it, including my own abuse, as if he'd somehow understand. I was told that they'd keep an eye on it and if anything else happened with this manager, that I should let the GM know.
This manager continued to be an idiot, and completely inappropriate; but not in a way that would cost him his job.
A few months later I left TGIF to work at my first DOTcom, a short-lived PeaPod competitor called OnCart(later changed to ShoppersExpress). Within about 8 months they closed their doors for good and it was back to waiting tables... at Fridays(mental images of Chad Lowe giving you the finger are common)...
Within ONE week this old nemesis of mine, the manager "Jeff", came walking-up to me on a Saturday lunch. I was at the POS entering an order when he said "Hey Bobby, let me show you what's been going on since you've been gone" and proceeds to punch me in the nuts. In the middle of the restaurant, in the middle of lunch. (apparently punching each other in the nuts is a joke)
I immediately yelled "What the FUCK?!" and had to go into the bathroom to puke. I went to the doctor and had a fucking lump on my nuts from where he hit me. Considering the history, and his creepy closet issues, this was set to be the first male v male sexual harrasment suit in IL. I never followed through with the suit, but i should have.
I know I've omitted several points, making this less than cohesive; but what happened shouldn't have, and there should have been a court decision to compensate me for my loss (couldn't work there anymore).

Re:Screw'em! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742047)

The answer starting from the first count of assault should not have been to contact HR or upper management, but to call the POLICE. Assault is a crime, not an HR matter. Any number of civil complaints could have been filed as well, but they don't have to be "racial" or "sexual" and can be filed against the people involved, not the company. This is what you should have done and depending on the statues of limitations in your area, it is what you SHOULD do.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742121)

Oh bullshit. You should have gone to the police. Why should _you_ get money out of something like this when some poor guy or woman who gets raped by unknown assailants in the alley gets jack shit? Civil law in this country shouldn't be used to right all wrongs, it should be used in cases of fraud or negligence. The criminal code is intended for stuff like assault.

Re:Screw'em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741701)

'Nuff said, close thread.

Re:Screw'em! (0, Troll)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741705)

Wow. I've never encountered a more appropriate slashdot alias in my life. Do you have any idea how racist and bigoted you sound, or are you just trolling?

Re:Screw'em! (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741839)

Read through my posting history. MOST of my stuff is positively rated. I speak my mind sincerely in almost every case.

I am not racist. I am not bigoted. I am for fair and equitable treatment of ALL people and race and gender isn't even close to being the issue. In fact, most people would agree that the problem of "racism" is largely maintained by those who benefit the most from it and isn't nearly the problem at large that it once was.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741983)

I did read your posting history. And I agree with your description of those comments. However, your GGP comment is either a troll, or you did not even read the summary before replying, much less the linked news article. Or you really are that callous, which I don't want to assume - that's why I asked if you were aware how it sounded.

On further reflection, I believe you hurriedly replied to the title of the /. article, and were therefore misled.

Re:Screw'em! (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741725)

We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things.

We pander because those same groups have a habit of hiring lawyers and having laws passed to "protect" them.

My girlfriend is black, I'm not ... and we both feel precisely the way you do. Granted, she wasn't born here, she's African by birth. In spite of that (or, more likely, because of that, she grew up in some damn tough environments) she believes that a lot of people in this country just need to deal with the fact that life can be harsh. Fact is, some people are assholes. Period, end-of-statement. Wasting more than a millisecond of neuron time over that is a complete waste.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742069)

We pander because those same groups have a habit of hiring lawyers and having laws passed to "protect" them.

The laws ARE deficient. Nobody should have to endure racist and sexist jokes and commentary at work. The message these groups want to send is simply: Go outside for that. That's where the first amendment is, not here.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742143)

People think "at work" is some special "zone" that's somehow owned by we, the people or the big nanny government. It's not. These laws are all stupid and unconstitutional. Alas, we're stuck with them so they should only be used in the most blatant cases.

Re:Screw'em! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742275)

My girlfriend is black... Granted, she wasn't born here, she's African by birth.

White Americans treat immigrant Africans as a "model minority" group in comparison to African Americans from slavery. The la times has a decent summary of the sentiment and you can find more in American studies papers.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-chude-sokei18feb18,0,7298828.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Basically just because Minority group X (where x is Asian, immigrant Africans or whatever) seem to succeed and accept racism, it does not generally justify or excuse it. The Civil Rights movement was not for just Blacks. Asians (highest economic levels in the US) and women (majority population in the US) both are protected by that bill.

And more to the point, your opinions are not protected at the WORKPLACE. That's unprofessional and stupid. You dont browse p0rn at work why the hell would you browse racist stuff at work. I say fire the dumbasses.

Re:Screw'em! (2, Insightful)

Stu1706 (1392693) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741735)

I do agree that we are to PC, except in the case of what is said about white men. If Sotomayor was a white guy talking about the plight of white men in this country everyone would have been yelling racism. But when you have an openly racist police officer, that is a totally different than just dealing with people not being PC.

Re:Screw'em! (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741901)

Sotomayor is a terrible example, there are/were legions of people yelling racism about her comments.

Colbert did a great bit last week showing Roberts and Alito making vaguely similar comments about their life experience. The Daily Show showed Lindsay Graham making an ass of himself during the Alito hearings, and then doing it later during the Sotomayor hearings.

I don't think she did herself any favors with the remark that she made, but I also tend to think that she was making the remark based on the context of the different life experience that is implied, not based on race itself (the difference in life experience for a minority was probably a bit more significant for someone of her age than it is for someone who is 20).

Re:Screw'em! (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741825)

The issue isn't people taking offense to things. The issue isn't even the website, though it is being used as a tool in this case. So what is the issue?

The issue is people using racism as a means of intimidation, either because they are on an ego trip or because they want to force the "outsiders" out. Toughening up may be an option in the first case, but I would argue that it isn't an ideal solution. The act of toughening up in order to preserve the "freedom to" of one group is at the cost of the "freedom from" of the second group. And once you have taken away the "freedom from" for a group of people, you have effectively taken away their "freedom to" as well. (They do not have the freedom of speech or movement, because they are under constant threat. Heck, they don't even have the freedom to define their own identity because it has already been defined by racial stereotypes as well as your desire for them to toughen up.)

Then there is that forcing out issue. Toughening up in anyway that is perceived as pushback or stubborness will only lead to violence. That is because a particular group of people is trying to purify their fraternity. Pushback and stubborness will escalate the situation because the target is not listening to the message. Or worse, they are fighting back against their fraternity.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742005)

I can't speak for the police force, but I can certainly speak directly of the military having been there and done that. There are black groups and non-black groups and divisions and cliques and all sorts of causes of friction... and yes, even sexism and problems that resulted when women were allowed into areas they weren't previously. But when it comes to "facing the enemy" or anything dealing with professional performance, all of those other issues are forgotten very quickly. I imagine the same is true of the police force.

And I have to say, from what I have seen, when "police" deal with black offenders versus white offenders, the treatment black offenders is usually more harsh and it doesn't matter if the police officer is white or not! The fact is, the police I know generally experience more violence from black people than from white people. It only takes a couple of incidents before anyone, black or white, becomes more guarded against black offenders. It may "look" bad, but the facts bear out the responses issued. And once again, the race of the police officer does not appear to have much bearing on the general state of things... if anything, black police feel more free to be rough on black perpetrators.

I will make an observation that is somewhat contrary to the point I just made and that is of the former chief of police in the city of Dallas, Terrell Bolton. His behavior was absolutely amazing. He hired, promoted and fired based largely on race. Many of his arrest and charging policies were also based on race. He refused to attend meetings with his superiors and even hired his own personal driver and car for "official business." (He was police chief, not the governor!!) And during his time in office, the crime rate in Dallas was out of control... actually #1 in the nation where prior to his being there wasn't even in the top-10. It took a LOT to fire this black police chief and he is STILL fighting it. Last I saw, he was literally crying in front of TV cameras about racism being the cause of his firing. (No, it had nothing to do with his insubordination, his practices and policies exceeding his position or the fact that the crime rate was wildly out of control or that the hiring and promotion of black officers wasn't even close to being proportionate to the actual makeup of the Dallas police force or the general population being served and protected.)

The PC pandering to blacks and women needs to be pulled back in favor of fairness and equality to ALL. Affirmative actions are still racism.

Re:Screw'em! (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741917)

We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

Using women or blacks as an example and how they're allowed to make jokes that others aren't is a specious argument; Two wrongs don't make a right. The issue is that some people are failing to keep things professional. The expectation when you show up to work is that you work. Everything else is secondary to that, and if your color commentary is interfering with my (or anyone else's) work, it needs to stop. It's just that simple. You don't have a right to be offensive. That said, you're right insofar as some people overreact--just because someone else is a douche doesn't mean you have to sink to their level. A polite reminder or a memo is sufficient in 95% of all cases to correct the behavior. You don't even have to involve a manager most of the time. People are dumb, they make mistakes; Don't get worked up about it. For the remaining 5%, we have laws like this. On the clock, everything you do should be related to your job. But if you can't do that, at least have the decency to be mindful of the company you're keeping and making sure they are okay with your side conversation. It's just... being a decent human being.

That said, police work consists of piss poor pay, long hours, high stress, a decent risk of getting a bullet in your ass, and it's a thankless profession. Like EMTs, most emergency services personnel have a dry and/or odd sense of humor that others find morbid, offensive, or downright rude. A lot of them smoke or "self-medicate" to cope. I think it's only natural that they'd need an outlet to express their work frustrations outside of work. And once it leaves the workplace, it's fair game, first amendment and everything. What you do on your own time is your own business, even if it is offensive and derogatory towards your coworkers. As a woman, I expect men to make sexually crass comments when I'm not around. I also know some of them will go home and smoke pot, do drugs, eat hot dogs and hamburgers until their heart explodes... and you know what? I'm okay with that. Just keep it away from me.

People need to be mindful of the social spaces they occupy. I don't go to the bar dressed in a low-cut dress and then act outraged when some drunk creepy guy (or girl) hits on me. That's what bars are for. If the same person shows up drunk at the grocery store when I'm dressed in nothing more than jeans and a hoodie and does the same thing he's playing with fire. Likewise, showing up on an electronic forum for inner-city cops is likely to be full of racist, sexist, and every other kind of -ist and -ism out there, not because those people are somehow inherently evil, but because they deal with the worst examples of those groups on long shifts day after day.

MOD!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742017)

This deserves a mod... damn my anonymity.

Re:Screw'em! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742037)

Using women or blacks as an example and how they're allowed to make jokes that others aren't is a specious argument;

Not at all. If women can make sexist jokes that a man couldn't, it's a double standard, which is what we're trying to avoid.

I'm a muthafuckin' COP KILLER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742059)

I got my black shirt on, I got my black gloves on
I got my ski mask on, This shit's been too long
I got my twelve gauge sawed off, I got my headlights turned off
I'm 'bout to bust some shots off, I'm bout to dust some cops off

I'm a cop killer, better you than me
Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your family's grieving
(fuck 'em!)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even, ha ha

I got my brain on hype
Tonight'll be your night
I got this long-assed knife
And your neck looks just right
My adrenaline's pumpin'
I got my stereo bumpin'
I'm 'bout to kill me somethin'
A pig stopped me for nuthin!

Cop killer, better you than me
Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your momma's grieving
(fuck her!)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even, yeah!

Die, die, die pig, die!

Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Yeah!

Cop killer, better you than me
I'm a cop killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your family's grieving
(fuck 'em!)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even, ha ha ha ha, yeah!

Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Fuck the police!
Break it down.

Fuck the police, yeah!
Fuck the police, for Darryl Gates
Fuck the police, for Rodney King
Fuck the police, for my dead homies
Fuck the police, for your freedom
Fuck the police, don't be a pussy
Fuck the police, have some muthafuckin' courage
Fuck the police, sing along

Cop killer!
Cop killer!
Cop killer!
Cop killer!

Cop killer! whaddyou wanna be when you grow up?
Cop killer! good choice
Cop killer! I'm a muthafuckin'
Cop killer!

Cop killer, better you than me
Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your momma's grieving
(fuck her!)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even!

Re:Screw'em! (1)

Bralkein (685733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742083)

White men wouldn't really get offended by such jokes because they have nothing to fear, but despite your claim to the contrary I think that others do indeed have something to be afraid of. It's easy to forget how recently racism and sexism were the norm, and those two spectres still loom large, even in the light of today's more enlightened attitudes. I think that extra caution is often warranted, especially when an institution like the police are concerned. The idea of a police force who discriminate based on race, sex, nationality or anything is so appalling that I believe extra safeguards are justified.

There may be little harm in a joke about black people shared privately between two friends in a bar, but racist jokes made by white police officers on a website during working hours is at best seriously unprofessional and at worst downright scary.

Re:Screw'em! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742241)

There is a term in social science called "structural inequality". Basically, its implication is that the structure of society creates "haves" for whom the structure is convenient and "have nots" for whom the structure imposes barriers to success. The groups that fall into each category vary around the world breaking differently along gender, racial and class lines in different places at different times, but a common symptom appears in many cases. Essentially, its easy to convince yourself that you are a "have not" when, in fact, many basic social systems are helping you along.

It is likely human nature that we focus on the hardships in our own life. Its difficult to accept that when you have worked your way up from poverty and claimed a better home and job that this was not entirely your own personal accomplishment. It diminishes us to recognize that something nebulous, like social structure, might have lent us a hand that isn't extended to others. Rather it is much easier to say, hey, I worked hard; I succeeded against adversity; I was strong and useful; why does't everyone else just "toughen up". I succeeded why can't they?

However, its often simply not true that where one succeeds others always can. Sure a good portion of any success is personal ability. To ignore that is also problematic. But pretending that there is nothing else at work, that the decades of past social protest and long histories of racial and gender inequity have not consequence today, seems too simplistic an answer to be useful.

The Solution Here (5, Insightful)

fragmentate (908035) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741561)

A lot of people misinterpret what "freedom of expression" means.

People believe they have the write to "express" themselves as they please in the workplace. That simply isn't the case. Our rights -- our freedoms -- are protected against government interference not private interference. Your employer -- even a government office -- can silence you. There are laws for the workplace that take precedence over your rights. The law protects employees against being discriminated against or being harassed because of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, disabilities, sexual orientation, and gender. Those aren't rights, however. You don't have a right not to be harassed. You are protected by laws.

Quite simply, these officers are out of line, and have broken laws. They don't have a choice but to change their behavior. If they want to frequent this site from home in their private time that is when their right to express themselves is enforceable. However, we all know there are consequences to actions in our private lives as well. But trying to make people behave to serve their best-interest is just a futile effort at protecting "stupid."

The comments about this story are already ridiculous (search news.google.com, and blogs.google.com). Everyone thinks they know their rights, but I can tell by the comments none really know what their rights are, or what a right is.

Re:The Solution Here (2, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741629)

I don't think it is clear at all that they were posting whileon the job. Where did you come to that conclusion except based on the random guess of the plaintiff? I have yet to see a shred of proof. Its dirty and mean, but not illegal.

Re:The Solution Here (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741811)

Who were you replying to? The post I just read doesn't mention anything about posting while on the job.

Re:The Solution Here (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741865)

Nevemind, I'm blind, it's here: "If they want to frequent this site from home in their private time that is when their right". Still, I don't think they were saying that going on the site was illegal (or they are really ill informed). At worst it would be against the workplace policy but that should not be in itself illegal. I think they were referring to the expression of views from the site in front of people who would likely be offended by them. Which would be analogous to sexually harassing someone in the workplace.

Re:The Solution Here (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741775)

I actually had a class that dealt with workplace harassment and discrimination, and sexual orientation is not protected under any of the laws. Although it should be but it is a common mistake many people think.

Re:The Solution Here (1)

mckinnsb (984522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741985)

I'm not sure if I agree completely with your rights vs. laws discussion, but I agree with the general sentiment of your conclusion. If they visited the website at the police station and then used the website to conduct or even discuss police business while those discussions contained racist comments, then they are *way* out of line should probably be reprimanded in some way, either by suspension, demotion, or termination.

Even if they didn't post these messages at the station, and did so within their private residences, there seems to be strong evidence that it directly related to their police work and this should trouble everyone. It's fine for everyone to have opinions, and technically its not illegal to have 'racist opinions' or ethnically stereotype people, but hate crimes and discrimination are very much so against the law and that is exactly what the police are charged with upholding. Members of the police force have to be held to a higher standard (just like the Armed Forces) than the common citizen, and as a result must forgo some of the rights the rest of us enjoy - but they understood this sacrafice, or should have, they day they took the badge. If you could call the 'forgoing the right to be racist in your opinions' a sacrifice.

Re:The Solution Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742035)

Ya, people shouldn't be able to create a racially oriented group at the workplace and exclude others based on the color of their skin, that is entirely inappropriate.

Re:The Solution Here (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742231)

A further point of confusion is that the US constitution talks about right without regard to precedence. Supposedly these are rights that cannot be infringed, which is silly. As other bill of rights documents acknowledge, rights are hierarchical and, when they come into conflict, the one with higher precedence wins. Your right to freedom of speech ends when it begins to conflict with my right to security of person. An imprisoned murder's right to freedom of movement is curtailed because it conflicts with the rest of the population's right to life. These cops' right to freedom of speech does not overrule a coworker's right to a safe, respectful workplace.

Statistically, blacks cause most of the crime. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741569)

I'm not talking about white officers writing up a black guy for speeding and looking the other way while white people speed. I'm talking about some black woman gets beat up by her boyfriend and calls the cops when her black boyfriend pulls out a gun and threatens her black girl friends.

Don't believe me, and think the statistics are racially biased by the people collecting them? Get yourself a police scanner and discover the sad truth.

Re:Statistically, blacks cause most of the crime. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742175)

Statistically they don't overall, but proportionately they do. Or to be more precise, poor people disproportionately commit crime and black people (thanks to our asshole forefathers) are disproportionately poor.

judgement (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741587)

Someone in possession of the full facts needs to exercise some judgment and if this behavior is unbecoming of a police officer, the officers should be disciplined. I would be surprised if the officers involved did not have some contractual requirement to maintain at least an appearance of impartiality.

in other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741595)

Santa Claus is suing Philadelphia and its pro sports teams for fostering a hostile work environment.

It's a public site... (2, Informative)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741605)

After browsing the site in question, there doesn't seem to be any rule that states that only law enforcement officials may register and participate in the discussions. Moreover, the site used to allow registration (it's been disabled due to so many users registering over the past day, however).

Cry me a river (3, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741611)

While it is certainly in bad taste to have officers voicing these opinions on a forum, what is even more absurd is the lack of integrity of these lawyers to file such an insane lawsuit. Was anything illegal even committed? Also worth noting that these same lawyers are tacking the "pool kids" case. I can't help but think that perhaps that story is a similar pile of "I'm a victim" bullshit. Its sad when people abuse race, because it leads to distrust of those who are actually being discriminated against and need help.

Seems pretty obvious (5, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741615)

If a man goes to a private website like say, Playboy in private and then discusses it in front of female co-workers, they may be charged with harassment. Guess what, just because its a private website, magazine, or bar doesn't mean you should repeat those thoughts or experiences or stories in front of your co-workers who could most obviously be offended.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741767)

Bingo. This has absolutely nothing to do with the 'online forum' and everything to do with inappropriate conduct in the workplace. If these people didn't read it on the 'online forum', they'd have read it elsewhere instead and the same thing would have happened.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (1)

asdfman2000 (701851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742055)

Your comparison is completely wrong.
The situation is more akin to a programmer going to slashdot.org (a community website for people of their trade) and mentioning it to coworkers.
Just because there are a few assholes on slashdot that hate on women, etc, it doesn't make every user of slashdot racist / sexist.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742279)

That's not what the article or the summary says the suit is claiming.

The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job.

Domelights' users "often joke about the racially offensive commentary on the site ... or will mention them in front of black police officers," thus creating "a racially hostile work environment," according to lawyers for the all-black Guardian Civic League, the lead plaintiff in the suit.

(emphasis mine)

So his analogy is completely right. It's like a programmer going to slashdot, at work, posting sexist comments, then joking about it in front of his female coworkers.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (1)

spnz (1003292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742061)

Sure, if they were not suing the city then I agree - where this case looses all credibility for me is that they're not suing the individuals but the city. As someone else stated - if I'm at work and I view something offensive to a co-worker, I'm the one at fault, not my employer.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (1)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742091)

Yes, but if someone is offended, that someone should say so. Then if it continues seek stronger measures. However, it seems certain people jump straight to litigation rather than solving it at the lowest level.

Re:Seems pretty obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28742167)

You're one stupid fucking nigger.

Simple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741635)

Get rid of the lawyers

Fire their asses. Simple as that. (5, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741643)

You're allowed to hold any idiot opinion you want in the USA. You are not allowed to express it on the job. Workplace harmony trumps freedom to be an asshole. This was settled long ago; it's a dead issue. It goes double for cops, who need both to be sensitive to the public AND to have the full confidence and support of their fellow officers.

Don't like it? Go be a cop in Saudi, where I'm sure you're allowed to be as racist as you like.

That's Why I Exclude Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741669)

That's why I don't like having niggers around. They hate white people all fucking day, but you better not say one negative thing about this race of spear chucking apes.

Niggers are usually lazy and dumb, so you don't really lose anything by not hiring them.

suck it up niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741801)

niggers are the first one's to pull out the "white cunt" phrase. so fuck you and fuck all you black cunts who rape women and break into houses/businesses.

there's a bloody good reason 1/3 people in jail are nigs.

If the cops wanted... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741847)

...a forum to anonymously post racist remarks, why didn't they choose 4chan?

Re:If the cops wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741869)

Because then they'd be in trouble for viewing child pornography.

One way discrimination (2, Insightful)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741855)

Ok, if the white cops post their opinions about the minority (black) residents of their city, it's discrimination. Does anybody want to lay odds that a similar comment made by a minority officer about a white resident would NOT be considered discrimination? Or that if an accusation of racial discrimination was made against the minority, that a charge of discrimination against the accuser would be leveled?

I did RTFA. Some of the sample comments that the article displayed were a bit over the top, and the officers that made them should be censured, but calling the statement: "Blacks and other minorities frequently don't have the resources that white people have. Consequently, blacks may not be able to keep their vehicles inspected, registered, and roadworthy." racist is bogus. This is an observation of fact. You could have made the statement more racially neutral by saying "Lower income groups don't have the resources that white people have. Consequently, those groups may not be able to keep their vehicles inspected, registered, and roadworthy." The only difference between the statements is that the first presumes that Blacks and other minorities are lower income. This is a statistic, sad but true. Preventing someone [even a public employee like a police officer] from publicly posting this kind of statement will not change this.

Re:One way discrimination (1)

hamanu (23005) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741981)

Um, dude. That statement by itself isn't racist. The policy that the statement is meant to defend by camouflaging it, RACIAL PROFILING, is racist. And the statement is wrong. Studies (that I do not have links for, sorry) have shown that after dark when the race of a person driving a car is harder to see the racial disparity in traffic stops decreases.

Re:One way discrimination (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742183)

Ok, if the white cops post their opinions about the minority (black) residents of their city, it's discrimination.

WTF? That's not discrimination. Do you even know what the word means? It came to be used in regards to minorities in the work place for a reason. It actually means chosing one thing over another. For example, when deciding whether to eat an apple or an orange, you discriminate between them and choos the apple because you like red better, or you may choose the orange because it has more vitamine C. That's discrimination, the meaning doesn't changed when applied to minorities, just the criteria. When it relates to race, "descrimination" means choosing one person over another based solely (or largely) on their ethnicity. It's choosing the apple because it is red rather than for any nutritional value it may have. That's the kind of discrimination in the work force that is illegal.

You are right that discrimination is illegal when it comes to employer-employee interaction. Harassment is also illegal, though they tend to focus on certain criteria (like racial harassment). It is very difficult, however, for an employee who is not in a position of authority over another employee to discriminate them in a way that would be illegal.

At best this is a case of harassment, and even then it seems more like "what they talk about makes me uncomfortable" rather than going out of their way to intimidate their co-workers. I could be wrong, and if I am management should be taken to the cleaners for allowing such behavior in the workplace.

Solution (2, Insightful)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 4 years ago | (#28741877)

Grow up. Its just words. The "victims" give the words power, not the racists. Learn from the gay movement.

Re:Solution (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742307)

Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself, then we'll make fun of you. Then you can imagine that we're your coworkers and that happens all day, every time you go work.

I can relate to that... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28741979)

I can relate to that and I'm not even black. I was born in Africa and got my first job in North America as a 'Token Black'. My new employer was rather surprised to see that I was white. Since then, I have on numerous occasions been turned down for a job as soon as the employer learned that I was born in Africa. When I mentioned to a friend that being an African American White causes trouble while job hunting, he said that I have nothing to complain about, since he is an African American White Jew... The only solution to American racism is to start your own company.

Good thing you're white (0, Troll)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742057)

I can't believe some of the comments. So you guys are actually defending racists cops? Good thing you're white then I guess. Obviously those officers have every right to their opinions, however they don't have an inalienable right to be police officers, so I say fire their asses. Some professions require a bit higher standard of personal conduct and behavior, and law enforcement is one of them. Which makes this article especially disturbing as well: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/06/15/neo_nazis_army/index.html [salon.com]

So..... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742081)

"management has a responsibility to enforce the law fairly and equitably across the city and among their own workforce." ...what law have they broken again?

What is the solution here? (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28742297)

Babies. Suck it up and be a man. If you don't like what others say, don't listen. If you don't feel they have a right to say it, please leave the country as we have a right to say it.

If a cop isn't willing to respect the US constitution, what the hell are they doing on a police force in the first place?

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