Christopher Maximilian Sandau, 33, is by all accounts a perfectly good minor hockey coach in British Columbia. Nevertheless, he was fired recently by the North Delta Minor Hockey Association because of his support of Nazi propaganda and history. It is the latest example of an employee being terminated for their statements or associations outside of the workplace.
I have previously written about concerns that public employees are increasingly being disciplined for actions in their private lives or views or associations outside of work. We have previously seen teachers (here, <a href=”http://jonathanturley.org/2011/10/12/georgia-court-rules-against-teacher-who-lost-job-after-posting-facebook-pictures-drinking-in-europe/”>here, <a href=”http://jonathanturley.org/2009/04/02/model-teacher-english-teacher-faces-possible-discipline-over-modeling-career/”>England, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here), here, here, students (here and here) and other public employees (here and here and here) fired for their private speech or conduct, including school employees fired for posing in magazines (here), appearing on television shows in bikinis (here), or having a </</aaprior career in the adult entertainment industry (here).
In this case, there is no allegation that Sandau discussed his views on the Nazis as a coach, let alone showed prejudice in dealing with others. Rather, his Facebook site contains Nazi propaganda. The association ruled that “The posts contained extreme and objectionable material believed to be incompatible with an important purpose of our minor hockey association — to promote and encourage good citizenship” and that “[t]he NDMHA requires that our coaches present themselves as positive role models for our children athletes.”
A parent put it more succinctly: “You can’t be a Nazi and coach kids hockey.” That presents the challenging question for free speech advocates in where to draw the line.
Putting aside the difference between private and governmental action, the question is whether people should be allowed to hold views that others consider objectionable so long as they do not manifest those views at work.
Sandau’s Facebook page is described as “a shrine to Adolf Hitler and Nazism,” including a picture of the swastika with the message, “If this flag offends you you need a history lesson.” There is a great deal on the site that many of us would find objectionable, but there remains the question of whether employees should be forced to adhere to conventional historical or political views in their private lives.
Sandau insists that he is merely a “a big history buff,” though his view of history includes holocaust denial.
We have seen increasingly monitoring and punishment related to private expressions or association, particularly on social media. It is part of the “Little Brother” danger that I spoke of recently. I have little patience or interest in such views. However, I am concerned about employees feeling that they live in a fishbowl where views or associations in their private lives must meet some undefined social standard of acceptance.
It all comes down to the specific statements. Obviously, someone who is raving about racist views or people being subhuman cannot be trusted with children. So there does come a point where your public comments (even outside of your position) are material to your continuation as a coach or employee. I did find one article quoting a radio host who said that his interview with Sandau was highly disturbing and “deeply hateful.” It would be useful to see or hear the specific statements that led to the termination.
I found this observation that again reflects his general denial of allegations against the Nazis and his insistence that the Nazis were “not that evil as we’re told.”
I could not find the interview transcript or recording. The original statement of the association did not give specific on which statements on his Facebook were determinative for their decision. Putting aside the possibility that there could have been statements sufficient to force termination, there is the question of whether a person should be terminated if he (as Sandau claims) is a holocaust denier and a person with a different (if disturbing) view of history. What do you think?
Source: The Province
36 thoughts on “Hockey Coach Fired Over Facebook Postings Glorifying The Nazis”
Where did your friend get her beliefs about Jews, if not from how she was raised? Entrenched prejudice is usually, although not always, taught from birth.
I understand what you’re saying, about employer vs employee rights.
Let me clarify my position: I prefer at-will employment. I also believe in many unlawful termination laws. (For instance, protection against being fired if you won’t sleep with your boss.) My repeated criticism of the unions is that they typically have contracts that prevent firing for cause, without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and spending 2 years wading through courts. (Exhibit A: The Teachers Unions that provide pedophile teachers with cushy pensions for when they get out of jail because they cannot be fired, even when convicted of sexually assaulting their students. They retire, instead.)
I believe that employers have the right to fire someone for cause, or if they are cutting back on staff, or even if they are just not getting along with an employee. You should not be forced to employ someone against your will, but you also do not have the right to abuse employees, either.
Just because I think employers should have the RIGHT to fire employees for cause does not mean that I will always agree with their decisions to do so.
In this case, I believe it is a safety issue for the kids. And, frankly, it is also a business decision, in that few parents would send their children to be coached by an affirmed neo Nazi who had a very disturbing radio interview. Not everyone agrees with me.
There have been cases in the news where Christians have been fired from their jobs for expressing Christian beliefs. I understand this can be a business decision if this opinion drives away enough customers. However, I believe that people have the right to express their own religious beliefs. Unless a company is losing significant revenue, I believe it is right to support an employee’s freedom of religion. Example: I would not fire a Wiccan even though her faith may be unpopular.
Why does it matter if revenue decreases? Every single one of us work to make a living. They call it “volunteering” otherwise. If a business is in danger of going under, they have a right to try to right the ship. They also have the right to tough it out in support of their employee. Their choice. Again, I don’t always agree with decisions to fire employees. I also do not think a company has the right to monitor private FB or other social media accounts, or spy on an employee in private. Their private lives are their business as long as it does not interfere with their business, or raise a security or safety issue.
I don’t know if this was a private or public FB post, or if the kids had access. Regardless, the cat is out of the bag. The parents all know now he’s a NeoNazi, and I doubt they would send their kids to him to be coached.
I told you hockey is so much worse than football.
When the liberal weenies start to complain on the weekend they should talk about hockey not football. Just saying.
Usually I agree that one’s private views are of no concern to his or her employer, but when it comes to an employee who supervises children, I will sometimes, but not always, make an exception. I will also make an exception when those outside affairs interfere with the normal performance of one’s duties or the mission of the employer.
Both those exceptions apply here. All parents in the area should fill secure in Mr. Sandau supervision their children. Can they? I certainly would not trust my children to a man who decimates anti-Semitic or Nazi propaganda. I could not care less if a coach is a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, or whatever, but a Nazi. I think of my former sister-in-law, the only child of two Holocaust survivors, both of whom lost their entire families. Could she really enroll her two children in this program, to be taught by a man who glorifies the insane movement which murdered her grandparents as well as her every single aunt and uncle.
I was a teacher for many years, and I learned that children come to model themselves on those in position of authority. On most mornings, I would usually arrive early to prepare my lessons for the day, laying out assignments, arranging desks, setting up displays, and the like. Frequently children would follow me to my room, and as I worked, they would listen to the music I played, ask to look at whatever book I might be reading at the time, or simply to chat about whatever crossed their minds.
Not uncommonly, students would come to share my interests. Several began playing chess, for example, and others learned the lyrics to some of the show tunes I frequently played. Some even came to read some of the 19th century classics I love to read. Children learn from our example, and they emulate us. We have a moral duty to be deserving examples, and Mr. Sandau has failed.
I always carefully hid my own views on religion and politics: I believe a government employee has no business discussing such opinions with minors under his or her supervision, but my students surely noted my values.
And they will too with Mr. Sandau.
larche, thanks for real world common sense and decency. More lawyers need to listen to such things, instead of thinking of what can possibly go wrong and working on the worst case scenarios and taking such things to extremes.
I think Hitler will get more popular as time goes on and the people who lived through those years or know people who did, die off. I would not be surprised if a hundred years from now, there are high school football teams who call themselves the Nazis or the Stormtroopers, etc. This is even more likely the more Muslims there are in America.
Squeeky – the Stormtroopers come from WWI, not the Nazis.
Karen, I had a friend from Brazil, she ran in “good” circles, her husband was a major journalist, they dines with the president, she is educated and swore the jews owned all the banks. When presented with proof to the opposite she still held to that belief. Sadly it does not take being indoctrinated form childhood for anti-Semitism to be a part of a belief system.
As to the coach if the kids can access his FB page thru him then his views are relevant to his work with them. I also could have sworn there had been a column at one point where folks on here who are now saying he has the right to say anything and this is PC stuff and inappropriate to fire him were clamoring about employer rights to fire whomever they want at will.
The article doesn’t make clear whether this guy was a public employee or an employee of a private non-profit. My guess is the latter based on youth sports on this side of the border. Youth sports clubs, in order to pay a coaching staff, need to retain paying players. Once this guy’s holocaust denier viewpoint becomes known to parents, he’s a liability to the club. I can easily picture the parents of his players going to the club management and telling them the entire team walks if you don’t replace this coach. On the other hand, there might be communities in Canada AND here, where his views would be tolerated by the parent community. It’s as much a marketing issue as anything. Youth sports is big business.
John, I wonder how you get that FDR was anti-Semitic since his good friend and neighbor, Morgenthau, was his Sec. of the Treasury. The fact is that anti-Semitism was the majority opinion in much of the US and mostly in the GOP and in the ruling class circles. FDR hardly fit in with that crowd.
Since this fool is in charge of young kids of all backgrounds, he is unfit to be a coach since he will be dealing with those who he PUBLICLY denigrates and uses his profile as a coach to promote his ideas along with casting a shadow over the league. If he posted these things using an alias and distancing himself from the team publicly, THEN he could keep his post. I don’t think we need a police agency to secretly investigate the politics of coaches. It is a far different thing when he uses his association with the team and SHOUTS his views. The team DOES have the right and duty to protect itself, and the kids from being identified with the politics of the Nazi.
randyjet – I did a project where I got to read letters send by FDR to the Governor of Arizona and it was clear the man was prejudiced against Jews and blacks. Iffy about Latinos. He could have allowed more Jews into the United States to save them from the Nazis, but he didn’t. His administration knew about the concentration camps and did not make it public, so although so anti-FDR papers were reporting it, along with Jewish newspapers, the FDR controlled press kept a lid on it. FDR is the one who send Japanese, Germans and Italians into internment camps throughout the United States.
PC in Canada. This is why PC must be stopped by any means necessary. This guy is an ignorant, bigoted a-hole. There are hundreds of thousands of bigoted, ignorant, coaches. Does it affect their job? Absent proof of that, he should keep his job. Hire investigators to do background checks on all coaches and the results would be shocking. Social media has not just blurred the line between personal and private, it has erased that line.
Paul – so true. You are allowed to glorify certain mass murderers, like Lenin. And you can get jobs at universities if you were a domestic terrorist who still preaches anti-Americanism.
If asked whether employees should be fired for expressing their opinions in private, I would say no.
However, if a teacher was found to belong to NAMBLA, or on a similar chat room, I would be burning rubber to the school to demand he be fired, because that information reveals he would be unsafe around children.
Here, I would similarly feel this man was unsafe to be around children, because he glorified a racist mass murderer.
Goldenboy – the problem is combating beliefs entrenched since childhood, and Internet misinformation.
I knew a Persian once who was rabidly anti-semitic. But in Iran, they are taught that Jews are subhuman from childhood. They also chant “death to America” every morning in elementary school. He was also adamant that the Jews all knew about 9/11 beforehand, and stayed home without warning anyone else. So he contorted himself to shift the blame from the terrorists to the Jews. There was absolutely no reasoning with him. He’d “read it on the Internet.” I tried to show him a list of the dead, with Jewish-sounding names, but he didn’t want to hear it. He had also been taught, as a child in Iran, that the Holocaust was all a lie, and the photos of the victims are all fabricated or photoshopped by the West. There was absolutely no reasoning with him. I wish I could have made him watch one of those Holocaust movies.
He was a relative of a friend of mine. There was such a gulf in beliefs and education between those born here and those born in the Old Country.
Karen – hockey is a sport of violence and yet they are upset with a guy who espouses Nazi values? They should have him giving seminars. 😉
I don’t understand this love for Hitler.His 1000 year Reich lasted only 11 years.He caused the death of millions of innocent men,women and children,destroyed Europe and the naive fools still think he was a great man.”Stupid is as stupid does”
I’d fire him if he were my employee because I wouldn’t want to be associated in any way with his views. There should be a certain amount of tolerance of differing opinions. But, free speech has never meant that you’re free from the consequences of your speech, including social ostracism.
Reblogged this on HumansinShadow.wordpress.com.
We know from statistics that universities have no problems with getting rid of conservatives in their midsts, so what is the problem with a Nazi or two. If the FB page had supported Mao or Lenin he would have been scot free.
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I’ve always been perplexed at the notion that Holocaust Denial / Revisionism is per se hateful. It would seem that it more naturally arises from a refusal to believe that human beings, i.e., Germans, could be quite as evil as they’ve been supposed to be. If Hitler wasn’t quite the monster he’s been supposed to be, then it’s not that monstrous to look positively on some of the things he did to lift Germany out of subjection. (And Hitler was hardly unique if he was “only” anti-Semitic at the time, the U.S. President at the time being such.) And in fact, Holocaust Denial’s earliest proponents were anti-war rather than anti-Semitic.
And if I were to impose discipline on this guy the first thing that I would do is get the caps backward thing straightened out.
If he were a German citizen then I would think that his school, and his government would be correct in correcting his behavior and firing him would be part of that. Why Germany and not the United States or Canada? Because Germany showed that the innate craziness behind the anti Semitism can not be tolerated or it would spiral upward and result in another Nazi Germany and Holocaust. Now, as to Canada. Were any of his students of a German heritage? Jewish? Catholic? He could both incite race, ethnic and religious hatred in his students, in his non adult athletes. Can Canada say: No you can not coach because you are a roach? The answer is probably yes. In the States the problem is more difficult. Does freedom of speech, association and the right to petition one’s government for redress of grievances prevail over any uttered speech or association or demands upon his government? Maybe it is not always a Trump even in America and even in spite of The Donald. It may be that his guy is wacko and requires psychiatric intervention imposed by the government under its police powers. When we get into Wacko and Politics then we have a horse of a different color.
There is a big difference between drinking a glass of wine in Italy when on vacation, and dealing with kids on a daily basis while advocating fascism in public venues. This is similar to my situation when I was employed by an airline and advocating political views in public in my uniform. Most people can understand that doing so is not appropriate. That does not mean the employee cannot engage in discussion with fellow employees on the job as long as it does not detract from working. Once again. let’s use common sense.
Yes … we should criminalize all thought and expression. I, for instance, am offended by the pro-union facebook posts my teacher friends display. Can we fire them too??
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