“I’ma Stab You”: Connecticut Woman Fired Over Pro-Black Lives Matter TikTok Video

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We have been discussing the free speech issues raised by efforts to terminate professors who criticize the Black Live Matter Movement or aspects of the protests following the killing of George Floyd.  However, there is another such controversy with the inverse fact pattern.  Claira Janover has been fired as an “incoming government and public business service analyst” at Deloitte after posting a video that suggested that she would stab people who said “all lives matter.”  Yesterday, we discussed a dean at the University of Massachusetts who says that she was fired for using such a line in an email. Ironically, Janover shows the same intolerance for anyone with an opposing view, but the case still raises some of the same free speech issues that we have previously discussed, including the punishment of individuals for their social media postings.

Janover just started the job after graduating from Harvard University but was fired after her TikTok video where she lashed out at anyone who tells her that “all lives matter.”  She attacked anyone with “the nerve, the sheer entitled Caucasity to say, ‘all lives matter.’ . . . I’ma stab you. I’ma stab you, and while you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters, too’”

She posted that video and later returned to social media to lash out at her termination.

Janover insists that  the clip was “clearly” an “analogous joke,” and noted a message with it explicitly stating: “For legal reasons this is a joke.”

I did not see the message but I honestly took the video as a poor joke.  We have seen other such jokes go awry. Indeed, while such jokes can often receive strikingly different treatment from universities and employers depending on who is the butt of the joke.  I would prefer a more tolerant approach that is not dependent on the content of such a posting.

For years, we have discussed the free speech concerns as private and public employers punish workers for their statements or actions in their private lives. We have addressed an array of such incidents, including social media controversies involving academics. In some cases, racially charged comments have been treated as free speech while in others they have resulted in discipline or termination. It is that lack of a consistent standard that has magnified free speech concerns.  We have previously discussed the issue of when it is appropriate to punishment people for conduct outside of the work place. We have followed cases where people have been fired after boorish or insulting conduct once their names and employers are made known. (here and here and here and here and here and here).

Janover has been mocked for saying that she fear being “murdered” and added “Apparently I’m threatening the lives of people — unlike cops, obviously.”

Janover seemed to careen from the defense to the attack, hitting her company on social media: “I’m sorry, Deloitte, that you can’t see that. That you were cowardice [sic] enough to fight somebody who’s going to make an indelible change in the world and is going to have an impact.” That would certainly rule out any reconciliation with the employer.  She also lashed out at Trump supporters: “I’m too strong for you. I’m too strong for any of you ‘All Lives Matter,’ racist Trump supporters. It sucks. But it doesn’t suck as much as systemic racism. And I’m not going to stop using my platform to advocate for it.”

The question however remains the same.  Does it matter if you believe (as I do) that this was meant as a dumb joke?  It should.  She made no connection to the company. That was done, yet again, by critics who wanted her fired.

I have previously raised my concern that the greatest threat to free speech values may be coming from “Little Brother” rather than “Big Brother.”  This comes in the form of private censorship of social media but also punishment by companies for statements on social media.  The result is a type of fishbowl society for free speech as everyone feels that they are being monitored for any controversial pictures or statements.  The result is chilling for those, like Janover, who want to speak out on political causes like Black Lives Matter.  One can certainly criticize her for her rhetoric and even her views but there is no reason why her personal views should be viewed as material to their work at Deloitte.

The controversy also shows the hypocrisy of many in these controversies, including Janover.  Those who fostered intolerance for opposing views are the first to demand tolerance for their own views. Those who criticize the “cancel culture” are the first to try to cancel others.  I fear that the loser in all of this will be free speech and the sense of freedom to engage others on social media or public forums.

 

 

389 thoughts on ““I’ma Stab You”: Connecticut Woman Fired Over Pro-Black Lives Matter TikTok Video”

  1. Comparing a nurse who gets paid, presumably, for teaching students that all lives matter, and is then fired for saying “all lives matter” in private correspondence, to somebody who publicly threatens to stab people who say “all lives matter” is a decided stretch. Although I agree in principle with what you’re saying, I think the threat of physical harm (however hyperbolic) puts the issue on a different plane. Furthermore, the nurse’s statement is a simple statement, not a negation of any other statement or any person’s right to make contradictory statements, whereas the other woman’s statement is actively meant to suppress dissenting views. And yes, both have the right to freedom of speech, but there is nothing in any non-crazy world that renders the nurse’s statement incompatible with her job title or is problematic (once again in a non-bizzarro world) for her employer’s PR, whereas for Deloitte, having their name associated with a violent psycho is potentially problematic. These two cases are apples and oranges. Nice try.

  2. Would any sane person who knows All Lives Matter want to work within a mile of that sort of unhinged behaviour? And she needs to buy a dictionary and look up the meaning of analogous. Of course she should have had the job offer withdrawn. No doubt the Seattle mayor or any other Democrat mayor will have a job for her …… so long as she doesn’t work anywhere near their office. Chop Chop!!

  3. She just HAS to integrate that hipsta slang into her comedy act! So darn funny! Man, she’s good!

  4. Wow! She is quite the comedian. Now that she is fired she can a lot more money on the stand up comedy circuit! Good for her! Why the tears? I though women are emotionally stronger than men? “I am woman, hear me roar, with a voice too big to ignore…” And she is so darn funny!

  5. When my wife told me, I laughed. Deloitte is a Big-4 CPA firm. They don’t put up with that kind of idiotic talk and I know people who have been fired from the Big-8 (yeah, I’m that old), -6 & -4 (as they’ve merged or failed) over the decades for things not nearly as bad as threatening to stab people.

    1. I feel you are grotesquely naive to believe her rantings as a joke. She brings great fear to me and much like a rattlesnake in the corner of the room as you retire for the night, you ignore her at your peril.

    2. DBB – The yo-yo-ing is obvious Cluster B behavior.

      Not a professional, but if I had to say, I would say overt narcissism (because of her grandiose and self importance…”they will regret their decision statement”), plus borderline unstable moods (because she flips from crying to self talk/justification), plus histrionic (because of the attention seeking/dramatic behavior, she filmed the whole thing and put it out there online for everyone to see, why!?).

  6. i’ma stab you.
    i’ma harvard grajuwit.
    i’ma ona unemploymint.
    .
    Ms. Janover just interviewed for every job she’ll ever apply for.

  7. I don’t know. This seems different. The other case studies I’ve seen have individuals ranging from merely lacking a filter to actually attempting to build bridges. This on the other hand is self righteous vitriol, punctuated by violent metaphor. I don’t think it’s a joke. Even jokes that fail to land aren’t presented with anger.

    That said, to the extent that Deloitte fired Janover due to public outrage, I completely agree with John.

    But to the extent that she was fired because, independent of the political message, Janover presents as a toxic individual who would make any workplace less hospitable, I totally disagree.

    Most likely, it’s something in-between.

    1. I noticed that the police sent a message that they were disengaging and not to follow them.

      They should be engaging, not disengaging.

      Portland voted for this so they are getting it good and hard.

      1. I was in Portland twice in the last few years on the way to somewhere else. Stayed downtown overnight and it was unpleasant. In fairness, it does get nicer later in the morning once the business owners hose the excrement off the sidewalks and into the street. Zero interest in going back. Although Mt. Hood and the Oregon high desert are amazing.

    1. It’s tough on the child’s identity formation when Asians get adopted by white folks. Probably more tough when they get adopted by liberals.

      but it’s probably better than being stuck in the slums of Manila. A trip there might do her some good.

      America is a great place in the opinion of a lot of the Asians I know, some of who paid dearly arrive, as much as a few year’s wages to a “snakehead” (shitou) to get onshored one way or another. But to a kid brought up here with junk food and video games and so forth, it must be a whole other ball of wax.,

      Madame Chiang Kai Shek said: “Man’s mettle is tested in adversity and success. Twice is this true of the soul of a nation.”

      Very smart lady she was!

      1. Mr Kurtz,
        “It’s tough on the child’s identity formation when Asians get adopted by white folks.”

        Why? A person’s identity does not have to be oriented to their culture of origin.

        I have seen both sides–adopted Asian kids growing up great or struggling when adopted by white folks, so I think it’s more about the parenting and homelife.

      2. Pappy Boyington met Madame Chiang Kai Shek when he was with the Flying Tigers. He thought she was really running the show and Chiang Kai Shek was little more than a stuffed dummy.

        The University of Washington was going to put up a statue of Boyington since he had gone to school there but the students raised hell and said there would be no more statues of white men. The ignoramuses didn’t know that Boyington was an American Indian from Idaho. But, he won the Medal of Honor, so to them that is probably reason enough to deny him a statue.

        The world has gone insane.

      3. She has almost no family. Her adoptive mother was a spinster who had no other children. There are no no paternal-side relatives at all, of course. Her mother had an older brother. The man lives in Eugene, Oregon. He is a childless divorce..

        Her mother’s parents died in 1986 and 1992, respectively. She never met them. They died in Colorado, which is to say that when they got old, they moved near their son rather than their daughter (who lived in Connecticut). These two had eight siblings between them, of whom one is still alive, one died last year, one died in 2012, and one died in 2004, the rest apparently earlier. How close are you to your great-uncle?

        The young woman has certain assets (intelligence and looks), but one can suppose her development may have been peculiar due to the denuded family situation. Also, the mother was a teachers’ union official, so one can imagine political sectarianism was mixed in with the Gerber’s and every meal thereafter.

  8. Having practiced labor & employment law for 20 of the 30 years I practiced in PA, I believe Turley got it wrong this time. I watched both of the young woman’s videos and concluded that it is fair (and lawful) for an employer to terminate someone for the first post and to stand by that decision after the second post. There is no reasonable basis for describing the statements she initially posted as a bad joke! When I dealt with internal and external complaints and with litigation, I was often left with a belief that some people simply do not accept responsibility for their actions and, instead, blame others, offer excuses for their misconduct and allege that employment decisions were made for an unlawful reason. Given what she said, it is clear to me that she is that kind of person – and that she has no one to “blame” except herself.

    1. You’re right: The forever burgeoning legal community, veering more and more sociopath, has created the perfect environment–a paradise–for lawyers. Step left or right and you pay them money.

    2. I think you have it right. Convincing comment. And it feels right. I would have seen an incurable troublemaker in her videos and I would not have hired her.

  9. “I have previously raised my concern that the greatest threat to free speech values may be coming from “Little Brother” rather than “Big Brother.”

    I suspect the problem runs one layer deeper than “Little Brother”. Let’s call him “Little Brother-in-Law.” The company doesn’t fire Janover to chill free speech. It doesn’t even primarily to protect its reputation with consumers and shareholders. That’s a concern, but memories are short.

    Janover is fired because the present American ecosystem of liability and tort law leaves them with two options:

    1. They keep Janover on payroll, and risk her actually stabbing someone at the workplace, leading to a potentially catastrophic unsafe workplace suit if it can be shown they were made aware of her online threats.

    2. They fire Janover , risking a wrongful termination lawsuit and perhaps one cycle of bad PR.

    Neither option is good. But when the actuary takes a crack at it, only option #2 remains. The Title IX termination suit is settled quietly out of court, for a far more palatable sum than the “unsafe workplace” suit (or suits) would be. Freedom speech takes another shiv to the gut because the limitations on liability are so lax, and the incentives both to sue and settle suits are so strong. But the company doesn’t collapse, at least, and Little Brother-In-Law still walks away with a chunk of change. That’s the tradeoff Americans are making every single day, even without knowing or understanding it.

    By the same logic, I suspect “Little Brother-In-Law” (and our nation’s refusal to curb his powers and appetites) is the hidden culprit behind much of what ails our crumbling civilization.

    1. The second is the kind of claim or litigation I (almost) never settled! If the decision is defensible, defend it. It was often the case that a former employee would settle early on for the employer’s agreement to provide only dates of employment and job titles to prospective employers – leaving themselves to explain their departures.

    2. This was positively not the first negative outburst on social media for this creep.

      Besides firing her, they need to also fire the idiot at HR that hired her in the first place. Beyond that, she’s a Harvard grad with 6th grade grammar? Give me a break.

      I hope this pathetic excuse for a human being with a Harvard diploma likes greeting people at Walmart. I doubt she’s even fit for that. Maybe cleaning latrines?

  10. Gotta deal with culture, which is much more important than law (which only reflects culture). Orwell said something to the same effect (paraphrased): in societies where there is strong public support for free speech, there will be free speech, regardless of whether there are laws prohibiting it; and, in societies where there is not strong public support for free speech, there will not be free speech, regardless of whether there are laws protecting it. So far, the strongest defenses of free speech in our time have been coming from the right, in the contorted modes one would expect, and in fewer cases in the measured way here of Professor Turley. But we can no longer rely on the ACLU to be the principled advocate of the right it used to be. Figures like Bill Maher (whom the task should not be left to alone) are doing much more of the work necessary to turn this dreadful tide around.

  11. Written in 1999

    The Problem With Today’s Kids is Their Parents

    Christmas, Jane. The problem with today’s kids is their parents. National Post. (Canada) 10 August, 1999.

    The incident is annoyingly typical: An eight-year-old is riding her bicycle in a schoolyard when two boys, about her age, take aim at her with their sticks and pretend to shoot her. It’s safe to say these kids don’t have malicious intent in mind, they’re simply horsing around. However, their actions throw the girl off balance, catapulting her from her bike. Observing the episode, the girl’s father marches toward the boys and admonishes them. The young turks immediately run to their father and tell him they’ve been “growled at by a man.” Father A senses what’s going on and heads toward Father B. “Your boys pretended to shoot my daughter, it scared her and she fell off her bike.” His words barely leave his lips when Father B says: “Don’t approach a child.” “But your boys startled my daughter and. . .” “Don’t approach a child,” Father B replies evenly. He then takes each boy by the hand and walks away.

    Not audacious enough? How about this. A teenager steals a neighbour’s van and he and a group of friends take off for a joy ride. The mother of the thieving teen explains her son’s actions thus: “I told him [the son] it was not his fault. There were other kids there, too, and they were just as responsible for doing this.” No punishment. No apology.

    As Nicholas Tavuchis writes in his 1991 book Mea Culpa: A Sociology of Apology and Reconciliation: “…apologies call attention to what we may be as well as what we have done.”

    And what these two examples call attention to is that today’s parents have blithely abrogated their basic responsibility to society in order to stay on buddy-buddy terms with their children.

    Baby boomers are credited with some remarkable achievements and advances over the years. But in the social history of North America they will have the dubious distinction of having initiated the hey-pal style of parenting, a casual, parent-as-buddy approach to raising children that, on the surface, looks family-friendly but is, at its core, void of standards and values. It’s a style that’s as rampant as head lice at an elementary school and as difficult to eradicate.

    More worrisome is that it isn’t necessarily being practised by your basic yobbo adult; you know, the fathers look like bikers, the mothers look like crack addicts. No, we’re talking about your basic salt-of-the-Earth types; they work hard, they’re well-educated (some exceedingly so), they care about their children, they probably even use their tax refunds to top off their RRSPs; in short, decent, average folk. But they suck as parents.

    Hey-pal parenting takes its name from the clarion call of the progenitors: “Hey, little buddy. Playing with matches isn’t a good idea.” Or the female version: “Hey, babe, let’s think about navel piercing next week.” Here’s a sample from their manifesto:

    Serve non-alcoholic beer to 10-year-olds
    Show more-suited-to-adults movies at the birthday parties of eight-year-olds
    Allow your 14-year-old to stay out until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. because, as one mother explains, “Everybody else’s child does.”
    Leave cigarettes out for children so they don’t suffer the trauma of smoking behind your back
    Counsel your 12-year-olds about losing their virginity, despite the fact that when you were 12 the only thing you worried about losing was the key to your diary.
    And what happens when “Babe” or “Buddy” screws up? The parents revert to Teflon-mode and find someone or something to blame. In fact, a hallmark of hey-pal parenting is to lay the blame for your child’s problems squarely on (take your pick) environmental contaminants, sugar consumption, government cutbacks, the media and immigration.

    Let’s face the truth: It’s the parents, stupid.

    The point is you can’t be a buddy and a parent to a child. A buddy doesn’t tell you to brush your teeth and go to bed. But most parents prefer to mellow out with their kids. “Feeling good about yourself” has become the ’90s Golden Rule.

    That’s not to say parents don’t talk to their children. Boy, do they talk! At the rec centre, you can witness their loud voices and gestures instructing their young on perfecting a front crawl, dissecting every motion as they talk, talk, talk. Another father is overheard bragging about how he and his wife took their daughter to Lollapalooza “to show her what can happen when people drink too much or take drugs. We had a great time.” Yeah right. I’ll bet the poor kid is still living down the humiliation. Why this need for parents to link themselves inextricably to their children?

    Will the recent suggestion from the American Academy of Pediatrics propel parents to remove TVs and computers from the bedrooms of their children? Of course not. Such a move would damage the precarious buddy bond, which, as these parents demonstrate, must be preserved at all cost.

    Never before have children been more indulged materially and so bereft of mature guidance. And as their gotta-have-it-now odometer rises so does their anxiety. Is it any surprise that we read of Ritalin statistics, such as those cited on these pages recently, indicating that 6% to 16% of boys under the age of 18, and 2% to 9% of girls in the same range, have a “conduct disorder”? Has anyone considered that most Ritalin prescriptions are panaceas for parents who are just too darn lazy to teach values such as humility, sacrifice, duty and love? And by love, I don’t mean that mushy hey-pal-give-me-a-hug love. There’s far too much hugging going on. A teen sweeps a floor and he gets a hug, a child brushes her teeth and she gets a hug. Since when did basic hygiene and helping around the house merit a hug? Some parents dispense such frequent public displays of affection both verbal and physical you wonder whether they’re covering up child abuse. No, intangibles such as strength of character, courage, humility, are for war veterans, not modern parents. Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation (no, it wasn’t the baby boomers) reveals an era in which sacrifice meant more than saying no to Nintendo, and duty was a moral virtue, not the act of car-pooling the Brownie pack.

    In the hey-pal style of parenting there are few limits beyond “Don’t hit your brother,” and “Don’t swear in front of grandma.” With such flaccid standards, and no code being taught or enforced, who’s in control? Hey-pal parents say an open approach enables children to grow, unencumbered by someone else’s rigid standards. Interestingly, it’s these same parents who get their love beads in a knot whenever Mike Harris, the Ontario Premier, or Preston Manning, the Reform party leader, float the idea of making parents responsible for the conduct of their children. I wonder why.

    https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/marriage-and-family/parenting/the-problem-with-today-s-kids-is-their-parents.html

    1. A decent commentary overall. However, it appears the Greatest Generation wasn’t so great at parenting, since they are the ones who raised the Baby Boomers.

      1. Rose, you need to read “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069”, followed by “The Fourth Turning”. Both co-written by Neil Howe and William Strauss.

        Then you will find out that the Baby Boomer generation was going to turn out the way it did regardless of parenting.

        The only problem I have with their Generational theory is that it doesn’t account for what I call the bridge generations that occur between generational shifts.

  12. She showed very poor judgement. And she’s quite politically militant and overreactive. Why would Deloitte want someone like that as an employee? She’s a ticking bomb. Huge liability for a corporation. You can bet they are glad to miss that bullet.

  13. Is this the best a Harvard degree in psychology offers the world? If so, the question arises if the world wouldn’t be a better place without Harvard.

    1. A psych degree, eh?

      Another data point upholding my opinion of far too many people with degrees in psychology…

      There are some wonderful, stable, level-headed people out there with psych degrees…then there’s examples like this…

      1. Prairie. We have too many people enrolled in non STEM programs and soft science. Many graduate with little knowledge as to how to appy what they learned. They end up with opinions of themselves that are way to generous.

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