Cancer researcher fired
Suzy Weiss writes here about a top scientist felled by cancel culture and vague allegations of some kind of wrong doing in engaging in a fling with a junior colleague and completely insubstantial insinuations of promoting “a sexualized undercurrent in the lab.“ Turns out the way the cancellation was manipulated had a lot to do with how the employer could continue to harvest the various sources of income this particular employee had secured for the Institute’s research, after he was gone.
What bothers me most about the whole dismal but completely non-sordid affair, is the paragraph:
“But then, in August 2018, the Whitehead adopted a new Consensual Sexual and Romantic Relationships Policy, which stated that lab heads couldn’t have a “consensual or sexual relationship” with any coworkers. “Not going to H.R. right then was my critical mistake,” Sabatini told me.“
What is it that gives institutions, employers and companies the idea that they have the right to police the private lives of their fully adult employees, and decide who they may or may not sleep with? And the employee, a grown man in his fifties, finds it a “mistake” not to reveal his private life to the employer. Is it not enough that they buy your time and expertise, but they need to have your soul too? This is capitalism gone beserk. To hire is to own apparently and nobody seriously seems to think of questioning this ethos as a basic violation of human rights.
However necessary the #metoo phenomenon might have been in getting real dickheads exposed shamed and - in cases where they violated the law - prosecuted, this is an example of where the culture #metoo is embedded in produces grotesque injustices which in the long run not only destroy the lives of individuals but ultimately cause society immense harm. For Sabatini isn’t simply fired from his employment he’s been tarred with an unearned but indelible stain which makes him unemployable anywhere. Society loses a unique talent it sorely needs. That society can do this to a person means that there is something very fundamentally wrong with this society, and what is wrong is this power put into the hands of people holding the purse strings who apparently do not possess the guile to resist the influence of pressure groups and powerful forces of litigation, when called upon to decide who is and who isn’t worthy of employment across the board.
This sort of thing could be stopped in its tracks by making it illegal for employers to act in this way as if they own their employees, and force them to respect the boundaries of personal privacy. Naturally I can see the argument that this may make it more difficult to ensnare people who genuinely are pests who need to be weeded out of the work environment for the good of all, but creating a culture of guilty until you prove your innocence is a price way too high and isn’t the way to do this. The power being wielded in this way by an institution like The Whitehead is - when all is said and done - a power enabled by money and that power needs to be trimmed and curtailed for the sake of the whole society.