Jan 172015
Kelvin Cochran, Former Atlanta Fire Chief

Kelvin Cochran, Former Atlanta Fire Chief

The story is based on a recent action by the City of Atlanta in which they fired Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran for the publication of a religiously themed book, and how it was distributed within the department. The book included some pretty strong anti-gay comments, so of course the main characters in anti-gay, inc. are all grifting on Cochran’s martyrdom. I’d like to offer some reminders to these staunch defenders of “free speech.”

Let’s lay out the facts of the case (and not the overwrought screeching of the ‘phobes). First, as part of taking an executive level job with the City, Mr. Cochran had to agree to and sign a work agreement. One requirement imposed by the work agreement was that Cochran (like anyone else in a similar position) had to get the City’s permission for anything he might publish. This is not at all unusual. Cochran didn’t bother to get this approval.

The grifters have tried to make the claim it was all innocent, as the book was written for a bible study group in his church (in one explanation), or, was just given to a couple of friends who asked for it. Actually, it was given out by Cochran to several of his subordinates in the fire department. Let me remind you, he was the Chief, therefore had direct influence over the employment status of these people. This just isn’t acceptable in any work environment, let alone in the public sector.

In addition, while Cochran was on suspension, and the situation was under investigation, Cochran was making speeches about how he would do it all over again just the same way. So the City had no room left to try to arrive at an amicable resolution. So, the Mayor did the only thing he could, and fired Cochran.

But let’s see how anti-gay, inc. plays all of this.

The SPLC designated hate-group, Family Research Council has certainly jumped into the fray. One of their spokes-people Josh Dugger (of reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting) had this to say:

“After 30 years of distinguished public service, the mayor fired Kelvin Cochran because he self-published a 160-page book written for his church Bible study. This is not the first story we’ve heard about government’s attack on our religious freedoms. In this case, only one half of one page in his book discussed the Biblical view of homosexuality. This example provides us with just the most recent illustration of why — now more than ever — we must stand up for religious freedom.”

Of course, this came as part of a money beg.

Duggar’s boss at FRC, Tony Perkins (who founded the FRC using a mailing list illegally purchased with campaign funds from white supremacist, David Duke), flew down to Atlanta to speak at rally for Cochran painted the situation this way:

“Make no mistake about it. Last week’s violent assault was designed to intimidate and silence others who would dare exercise that fundamental human right of the freedom of speech, but whether a journalist in France satirically writing about religion or a fire chief in Atlanta, Georgia writing about the sacred teachings of his faith, the silencing of either is a threat to the freedoms of all.”

Tony Perkins - FRC Founder and speaker at various white supremacists' meetings

Tony Perkins – FRC Founder and speaker at various white supremacists’ meetings

The violent assault to which he’s referring was the terrorist attack in Paris. Naturally, since public sentiment world-wide is largely favorable towards a defense of free speech, it is no surprise that the krazy kristian kooks have tried to appropriate that sentiment. This might not be a great idea, as they are also trying to defend the terrorists (since the satirists at Charlie Hebdo had the temerity to also be critical of Christianity just as they were of every other religion). Their defense is that if one goes too far, there are consequences, and that is precisely what happened here. The Chief published a book without first getting the required approval, he distributed a religious book in a work place (a government workplace no less), and created a possibly hostile and discriminatory workplace.

Of course, I’d really love to know (though I think I do) if Perkins would have traveled to Atlanta to rally in support of Chief Cochran had Cochran’s book been about his Muslim faith, or had he been passing out Qurans?

And then, along comes Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (which is supposed to be dedicated only to preserving “natural marriage, but seems to hate all things gay related):

“Mr. Cochran was simply exercising his First Amendment rights, publishing a book as a private person and not making any claims as a representative of the city. His views – which, incidentally, are views shared by a majority of Georgians and a majority of people throughout the country and across the globe – have no bearing on whether he is fit to serve as the city’s Fire Chief. There is simply no justification for firing him on the basis of this book! But, of course, the radical gay agenda isn’t interested in the First Amendment, or in the values of tolerance and respect for a diversity of opinions.”

Let’s take a close look at Brian’s statement here. First, Brian, as a person in a high-level position within the City, he is a representative of the City, and that’s why his employment agreement required him to get permission before publishing his book. Which he didn’t bother to do. And no, Brian, the majority of people are actually opposed to creating a hostile work environment, and having your boss impose his beliefs on you. But since I know that wasn’t what you were trying to say, let me be clear, it doesn’t matter how popular the beliefs expressed in the book might be, there shouldn’t be a requirement for everyone else to hold those beliefs. May I please impose my beliefs on you?

By the way, this included a money beg, but of course NOM nor FRC are in any way providing financial or in-kind support to the Chief…that money is just for them.

Proving NOM’s never met an anti-gay martyr they wouldn’t raise money from, Brian got out another money beg with this in it:

“The Times has just declared war on Christians and members of other faith communities that serve in government position. It is open season, according to the New York Times, to make sure that we lose our jobs. The new authoritarians now state openly that we can have our beliefs—we simply can’t talk about them. And then they are going to actually have the gall to say that ‘this is not about free speech or religious freedom.’ This is OUTRAGEOUS.”

Again, let’s take it apart. The New York Times declared war on no one. They simple restated what most people in this country believe, that the work place is not a place to hold religious discussions. Not everyone agrees with everyone else, and especially if you’re the boss, it’s not fair to make me sit through a discussion about something as personal as one’s faith.

But, this is just proof that, as the marriage fight runs out of the steam, the grifter’s of anti-gay, inc. have to gloom onto some other issue to keep the money train on the tracks.

  2 Responses to “Atlanta Fire Chief and Free Speech”

Comments (2)
  1. The article lays out the three, clear-cut, viewpoint-neutral violations that justify firing Cochran. Not one requires even a passing reference to the religious views expounded in his book. Yet from the beginning, the Atlanta Mayor has continually referenced those views, which in my opinion muddies the issue unnecessarily. I’m not sure he consulted with the City legal department before speaking (which would be normal in a situation like this, I’d think); at one point he even blasted the ex-chief for not getting HIS permission to publish, which isn’t required by the relevant ethics code section.

    I think the firing was justified, but considering that this is obviously an issue of religious expression, I believe it’s crucial to be very clear, strictly legalistic and black-and-white in stating the reasons for it. I think the mayor has blurred the issues in his statements, in ways that may even create legal snags, but at the very least muddles the distinction between the cited, specific rules violations and Cochran’s personal religous views.

    • I agree with you Booker. While I applaud the Mayor for doing what is right, and sticking to his guns, he allowed the krazy kristian kooks to take control of the debate.

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