Facebook Fallout

Birdsong has been loath to comment on the recent brouhaha concerning Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley and President Obama.  However, a recent news story has made me want to jump in with some advice about how not to use your “Facebook” site.

Let me preface everything I say here by admitting I am a law professor with a pretty good understanding of how the the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution works.  Normally, a police officer is not allowed to arrest a person in his own home without an arrest warrant unless the officer has been in hot pursuit of  such person fleeing  a felony crime.  This was the reason that disorderly conduct charges were immediately dropped  against Gates.  The arrest was violative of the Fourth Amendment.  There was no warrant stating probable cause to arrest him in his own home.  Gates was not a fleeing felon. 

Now the fallout… A woman who was not a lawyer and who obviously knew little about the Fourth Amednment  wrote statements on her Facebook page about the Cambridge arrest that got her ousted from her job.  Writing it may have made her feel good but now she needs another job.  Some thoughts you should not publish on your Facebook pages.  Keep them to yourselves.

Lee Lador, 24, who worked as deputy press secretary to New York’s Manhattan Borough President was forced to resign her  $45,758 a year position after it was revealed that she labeled Professor Gates a “racist” and dubbed President Obama “O-dumb-a” in her Facebook rant defending racial profiling.

Among other things, Lador wrote “I get it — white men have dominated for hundreds of years and there’s lot of anger there.  But HOW MUCH MORE can the white people do to correct past injustices of their ancestors.”  She went on to write, “If Mr. Big Shot Harvard would have kept his mouth shut, shown his ID and not started yelling at a police officer, he  never would be arrested.  So please, its time to get over this ‘It’s because I’m black’ bull_ _ _ _”  Finally, she wrote, “Racial profiling does exist, but for good reason.  Take a look a this country’s jails: who make makes up the majority of the inmates? Exactly.” In her posting she referred to the President as “O-dumb-a.”

Ms. Lador posted these politically and racially charged comments online while at work on Friday, July 24, 2009. The Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, demanded her resignation the next Monday morning, July 27, on the grounds that her comments were inappropriate and in direct contravention to his views.

To my law students I say — know the law and be careful of what you post on Facebook.

Birdsong can say in all candor that what Lee Lador did was “stupid.”

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *