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The following candidates are the ones we believe will help our business move forward
October 29, 2010 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Ohio McDonald's Restaurant Tells Employees to Vote Republican As the election season is here, we wanted you to know which candidates will help our business grow in the future. As you know, the better our business does it enables us to invest in our people and our restaurants. If the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected we will not.

The franchise owner has admitted to an "error of judgement", the inclusion of such a pamphlett with the employee's paychecks being a direct violation of Ohio law
posted by moorooka (70 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm getting tired of these 'apologies' that essentially say "I really wish you hadn't found out, and I'm sorry that you did, but I was still right anyway."
posted by twirlypen at 5:18 PM on October 29, 2010 [42 favorites]


As an employee I would take this to court.
posted by Max Power at 5:20 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This happens a lots of places, albeit not in such a blatant fashion. One tech company in Seattle has kinda sorta done something like this with an income tax ballot initiative, but again, probably not in such a blatant fashion that it would raise eyebrows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:20 PM on October 29, 2010


So, the law linked here says you can essentially do this for a fee of between $500 and $1000. I'm sure someone more math inclined than I will crunch the numbers and decide that it's far cheaper and more effective to do this sort of directed advertising than carpet-bombing TV stations. Unless I'm missing something here, and the penalty goes beyond a nominal monetary fine.
posted by reformedjerk at 5:21 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, it's great they apologized. So, how are they going to take responsibility for what they did?
posted by fuq at 5:25 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not only are the fines pitiful, but in any event they happen after the fact, well down the line. So really, if you're willing to pay for it, you can do anything like this and nothing bad will happen to you until well after the election is over and people aren't really thinking about it anymore.

It frustrates me a lot that so much of the conservative movement in Ohio is so ham-handed. I don't mind conservatives, but I mind reactionary idiots a lot. The Tea Party in a town over from here started this huge 'scandal' about a local candidate who they supposedly 'knew' because they had been 'told by someone in the county government' was using county employees to put up her campaign signs, in working hours. It didn't happen. It was established that it didn't happen. The group leader told the newspaper that he didn't even know what law she would have broken if she'd done it.

But does anybody hear about that part? No. Much of the electorate heard "OMG corrupt government!" and that has an influence on their voting even when it's proven wrong later. This has an influence even when it's proven wrong later. Even if a church gets its tax exempt status pulled, every pastor who stands up and tells his congregation (let's be honest, it's almost always his) to vote for the Republicans... that only comes back against them after the election.

Which is, I think, why they do it.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:29 PM on October 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


McDonald's should've taken it to the Supreme Court and won.
posted by planet at 5:30 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You forgot the tag "assbag"
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ahh, Canton. Home of the Football Hall of Fame and not much else.
Given that the average income is about $15,000, with roughly 20% living in poverty, it's no wonder the owner of the store feels he can get away with this shit.
I hope someone has kicked this up to the franchise board. They usually take a dim view of negative press and asshattery that smudges the brand name,
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:41 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This just reminds me of the awful tragedy that is working fast-food.
posted by hellojed at 5:44 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels.

This sounds like an agreement. Can they be held accountable for this?
posted by weston at 5:45 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't wait for the day when a corporation straight-up pays me to vote for someone, because by that time the economy will be so bad I'll really need the money.
posted by hamida2242 at 5:50 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


This sounds like an agreement. Can they be held accountable for this?
It doesn't sound like an agreement at all. It's a statement about what they expect to be able to do, not a promise of what they will do.

I don't think there's any general action for detrimental reliance on a forward looking statement (as opposed to a promise).
posted by planet at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2010


This is why I'm a fan of the secret ballot.
posted by washburn at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I honestly had no idea this was against the law. I used to think it was, but after getting stuff like this from employers in the past, and ignoring it, I thought it was legal but skeezy. I've gotten emails from the administration at my college job telling us what a good idea it would be to vote yes on something. In one middle school I volunteered at, one of the teachers told all the kids to tell their parents how to vote on some measure affecting school funding. Is that kosher, and if so, how does it differ from a for-profit business encouraging employees to vote in a way that helps the business? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:55 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


And remember, if the democrats win, our taxes will be so high that we'll have to fire ten percent of the staff. If the republicans win we'll be able to give right percent of you raises!
posted by boo_radley at 6:00 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


how does it differ from a for-profit business encouraging employees to vote in a way that helps the business? I'm genuinely curious.

The examples you gave don't have direct control over your livelihood. If I got something like that from my employer I would at least partially take it as a threat.
posted by ghharr at 6:00 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


As an aside, the Ronald McDonald being arrested in the stock picture is now a member of NZ parliament - Gareth Hughes.
posted by scodger at 6:05 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes. We know. Rah. Rah. Ronald McDonald will be able to give raises and benefits and it'll all be 'Happy Meals Are Here Again!' until Mayor McCheese and the other Republicans "accidentally" crash the economy one more time. And then he'll Grimace and shrug and let the Hamburgler loose amongst the innocent, starving Fry Kids, to ruin more childhood dreams.


Also... I'm still waiting for an answer to this question: "if you start with 100% beef, then add a pinch of salt, what percentage is the beef in your burgers?"
posted by zarq at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The examples you gave don't have direct control over your livelihood. If I got something like that from my employer I would at least partially take it as a threat.

With a secret ballot? Not sure how that can be a threat.

This whole issue seems overblown, given that it's just a (dumb) suggestion and the employer has no way of knowing how his employees will actually vote. I wouldn't care if some non-profit told their employees that voting Democrat would help their organization, and I don't care that some small-time McDonalds franchise owner did it for Republicans.
posted by ripley_ at 6:09 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I got something like that from my employer I would at least partially take it as a threat.

But how could they enforce such a threat? How do they know who you voted for? I suppose it could have a chilling effect on you publicly supporting the other candidates, though.

Of course, both my recent employers have PACs, so this isn't new to me. But I have way more job security than most McDonald's employees would have, so it's pretty different in that sense.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:09 PM on October 29, 2010


ghharr: I'm definitely not saying this is okay, but as I said I just never knew it was illegal. I don't see how a note from the president of the university where I work is any different from a note from someone's boss at McDonald's where livelihood is concerned.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:10 PM on October 29, 2010



Down here in Flori-dee there are lots of Wendys, McD's, BK's etc. and let's not forget doctor's offices. Obviously we have only been in some of them. But every single one we have been in plays Fox News on their TVs.
How can that be? The wife and I just went over(in our old and feeble minds) and came up with a twenty+ for twenty+ score for Fox. Can that possibly be random? (Talking about the 8am til noon time slot.)
posted by notreally at 6:13 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Richard Riordan was running for Mayor of L.A., I was working for a company that he owned a small piece of (which was located well outside the L.A. city limits). I jokingly asked my boss if I could put a bumper sticker for another candidate on my car and he said "as long as you never park in the company lot...."

Seriously, the First Amendment has never applied to employees.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:13 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is exactly how Mayor McCheese gets reelected over and over.
posted by orme at 6:18 PM on October 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


notreally: Occam's Razor tells me it's probably what older folks without work who hang out at fast food places in your region tend to like to listen to in the background, but I'm sure someone will pipe in here who knows for sure.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:20 PM on October 29, 2010


This is exactly how Mayor McCheese gets reelected over and over.

The Hamburglar won't settle for stealing food. He wants to steal our jobs.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:21 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


ripley and wildcrdj write: With a secret ballot? Not sure how that can be a threat....Not sure how that can be a threat.

The problem is that the secret ballot is more and more going away. For example, in Ohio (where this McDonald's is), officials are encouraging voters to vote by mail. As it happens, it's often progressives who are happy to push for alternatives to the secret ballot (as a means of improving access to voting), but I'm not convinced they've adequately considered the unintended consequences on this.
posted by washburn at 6:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It isn't even a very credible threat, is it? It's basically saying "We could cut costs by denying you raises and benefits, but if the candidate we want gets elected, we're not going to do that for some reason. We'll just decide that costs are low enough and hope that the shareholders are okay with that."
posted by baf at 6:33 PM on October 29, 2010


officials are encouraging voters to vote by mail

But how would the employer see those ballots? Or is the idea that they would collaborate with election officials? Thats definitely illegal (not that that means it could never happen).

(BTW, I am required to vote by mail in California because my precinct has too few registered voters to merit a polling place)
posted by wildcrdj at 6:36 PM on October 29, 2010


Talking Points Memo reports that an anonymous group in Texas put fliers on cars in a minority neighborhood implying that Republicans had reprogrammed the voting machines to change a vote for Democrats into a vote for Republicans.
"Republicans are trying to trick us!" the flier reads. "When you vote straight ticket Democrat, it is actually voting for Republicans and your vote doesn't count. We are urging everyone to VOTE for BILL WHITE. A VOTE for BILL WHITE is a VOTE for the ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC ticket. We have fought too hard to let Republicans use voting machines to deny us our basic rights. We must guard the change and NOT VOTE STRAIGHT TICKET DEMOCRAT!"
posted by ob1quixote at 6:42 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


did anyone consider that the phamplet may have contained information that could help them, give one hope? It must have if he broke the law, risked his freedom to tell a wider truth. If that phamplet touched just one employee in a positive manner, the fine and possible jail sentence would be worth it.

anyone consider that
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 PM on October 29, 2010


the hamburglar is not involved. He's a friend, likes beef, not political chicanery.
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on October 29, 2010


Hmm, interesting, so it's only illegal because it was included with the paychecks - otherwise it would have been ok?

This reminds me a bit of when I was doing constituent correspondence for a congressman, and we would get lots of big letter-writing campaigns from the employees of a business, on business letterhead. I always wondered how much choice people actually had in sending them, or if they had their boss staring over their shoulder while they signed their name to a pre-typed statement about "Vote yes on x!" or "Cosponsor y!"
posted by naoko at 6:52 PM on October 29, 2010


TPM also reports dirty tricks in Alaska, where the deadline for qualifying as a write-in candidate for Senator was Thursday the 28th. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that voters could ask for and receive a list of write-in candidates at the polling place to ensure that they spelled their desired candidate's name correctly. This ruling was thought to give write-in candidate for Senate Lisa Murkowski a better chance at the polls. Between that ruling Wednesday and the deadline yesterday, dozens of people applied and qualified to be write-in candidates for Senate in Alaska, in an effort dubbed "Operation Alaska Chaos" by one of its originators.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This makes me Grimace.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Time to start polluting the deep fryers. I wouldn't eat at that McDonald's for a while ever.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:28 PM on October 29, 2010


washburn: I've been voting by mail since they opened it up for anyone/any reason. As far as I know nobody at the handling center is scanning the inbox for my particular name and forwarding my letters to my boss, who will then turn around and write me up for not following the company party line and vote for his second cousin for dog catcher.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:32 PM on October 29, 2010


Please know, it was never my intention to offend anyone.

It was, however, his intention to bully his employees into voting for the candidate of his choosing. Fuck Paul Siegfried. I hope McDonald's has the sense to pull his franchise.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:46 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


wildcrdj: The reason the move to vote by mail is suspect to some of us is that it makes it far, far easier for abusive people to make others vote a certain way. Imagine an abused spouse having their ballot filled out by their abuser. Employers could demand an employee bring in their ballot to be filled out, etc. Yes, these types of things are possible now but less likely (how does the abusive spouse make their victim vote a certain way at a polling station? the abused can always lie and say how they voted).

Someone actually wrote Andrew Sullivan and claimed his father forced his younger brother (in college) to send his ballot to his dad as a condition of having his tuition paid. Not necessarily true, but it is a far more credible story in a state where almost everyone votes by mail (Washington).
posted by R343L at 8:00 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


P.S. Please keep in mind that victory for the Republicans does not in any way, shape or form guarantee future employment for any or all of you. However, the tax cuts that they'll extend will help me afford that bitchin' Corvette that I've had my eye on, so there's that. Best, Paul.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 PM on October 29, 2010


I thought America had recently decided that corporations were allowed to influence elections as much as they want. Why is this special? Because it's McDonalds?
posted by pompomtom at 8:17 PM on October 29, 2010


Please know, it was never my intention to offend anyone.

if i wanted to be offended by you, i'd buy your food
posted by pyramid termite at 8:30 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


While the voting by mail is available, for what it's worth, most of the people I know in NE Ohio--clearly not a majority of the population, but a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life--are voting either normally, or by going in to the Board of Elections in person before the day of the election and voting on the real machines, which I think is an excellent voting alternative. But I"m not sure I'd want voting by mail not to be available, because you do get people who are out of state and legitimately entitled to vote and they should have that opportunity.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2010


What I know about Ohio is the dump that's always on fire. I'm sure there's more.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2010


Well, it's great they apologized. So, how are they going to take responsibility for what they did?

pa-da-ba-da-da. I'm LOVIN IT!
posted by hal_c_on at 8:52 PM on October 29, 2010


notreally: "But every single one we have been in plays Fox News on their TVs."

McD's, at least, are very carefully designed to drag you in and then drive you out. Everything visible externally - the folksy home-like building design, the wide and welcoming doorways, the large windows showing off the dining area, the clean and efficient-looking lobby, and the warm inviting colours used in the foyer and on the menu board - is designed to invite you in.

Conversely, the actual dining area - garishly-coloured decor, hard and uncomfortable seats*, tables placed slightly too low (or, sometimes, too high) for a full-grown adult to comfortably eat from - is designed to drive you out again. It's all about maximising revenue by increasing customer throughput: invite people in, then once you've got their money push them out again.

I'm just sayin' their choice of televisual entertainment may be part of the same strategy…

(* Many years ago I was amused by the McD's at Kings Cross in Sydney - no chairs, and waist-high tables too low to lean on. I wonder if it's still like that?)
posted by Pinback at 9:03 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


TWOALLBEEFPATTIESSPECIALSAUCELETTUCECHEESEPICKLESONIONSONAPRE-MARKEDBALLOT

Get the idea?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:09 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


People who work for McDonald's know exactly how much concern their bosses really have for their well being. I just hope these people do remember to vote.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:17 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I worked there, I would deliberately go out and vote against what my employer wanted, just because it annoyed me so very much. I wonder how many employees are registered to vote? It would be too late to register at this point.
posted by annsunny at 11:26 PM on October 29, 2010


I honestly had no idea this was against the law. I used to think it was, but after getting stuff like this from employers in the past, and ignoring it, I thought it was legal but skeezy. I've gotten emails from the administration at my college job telling us what a good idea it would be to vote yes on something.

Holy fuck me, does nobody learn history? One of the many things the labor movement got passed that's pretty uncontested nowadays (or so I thought) was the secret fucking ballot. Employers would, in the bad old days, look up the records of their workers and fire everyone who voted in a manner they disapproved of. That's why this shit is against the law. Telling voters to vote in a certain way, as an authority that has a direct economic influence upon their lives, is directly counter to the whole idea of a democratic process.

Why does everyone seem to want to return to the 19th century?!
posted by Ndwright at 11:37 PM on October 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


washburn writes "The problem is that the secret ballot is more and more going away. For example, in Ohio (where this McDonald's is), officials are encouraging voters to vote by mail. "

Is there a link in Ohio? Here in Canada there is no recorded link between who and how. They keep track of who voted by mail in to prevent ballot box stuffing but they don't link your name to how you voted.

R343L writes "The reason the move to vote by mail is suspect to some of us is that it makes it far, far easier for abusive people to make others vote a certain way. Imagine an abused spouse having their ballot filled out by their abuser. Employers could demand an employee bring in their ballot to be filled out, etc. Yes, these types of things are possible now but less likely (how does the abusive spouse make their victim vote a certain way at a polling station? the abused can always lie and say how they voted)."

The flip side being that, hopefully, more people will vote. In a stable relatively uncorrupted election process it's usually a good trade off. Not sure if the US system can be described that way though. While not banana republic bad the US implementation appears to be significantly more problematic than many other first world countries.
posted by Mitheral at 1:10 AM on October 30, 2010


Are paychecks at McDonalds in any way proportional to the state of the economy? I would have thought that when profits are high, then it's more money for the shareholders period. Whereas wages McDs are primarily determined by the minimum amount of money that you need to spend to hire someone who is functional enough to flip burgers for several hours at a time, the lower bound being minimum wage.

I suppose that the voting recommendation is something that McD employees anywhere can use to argue for higher wages: "You said that when business improves, you'd give us all a raise. Your profits have risen by X%, so therefore we demand a raise of X%."

I hope they do.
posted by sour cream at 3:04 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck me, does nobody learn history? One of the many things the labor movement got passed that's pretty uncontested nowadays (or so I thought) was the secret fucking ballot. Employers would, in the bad old days, look up the records of their workers and fire everyone who voted in a manner they disapproved of. That's why this shit is against the law. Telling voters to vote in a certain way, as an authority that has a direct economic influence upon their lives, is directly counter to the whole idea of a democratic process.

Yeah, no.

Have you seen the modern US?

Is the corporation directing the vote, or just using it's money to suggest things, like the supreme court says is entirely fair? It sounds like you're trying to restrict freedom of speech.
posted by pompomtom at 4:52 AM on October 30, 2010


So, does Diebold tell their employees how to vote? Because they'll know if you've complied.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:45 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


But every single one we have been in plays Fox News on their TVs.

Does the USA have TV's in all of its restaurants, or is it just the fast food joints?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:11 AM on October 30, 2010


Is the corporation directing the vote, or just using it's money to suggest things, like the supreme court says is entirely fair? It sounds like you're trying to restrict freedom of speech.

You're equating vote-by-mail with freedom of speech? I'm not quite sure that I follow.
posted by indubitable at 6:42 AM on October 30, 2010


Peter: Most Americans eat at diners, bars, sports bars, and bar-theme restaurants, all of which have TVs. I've actually never seen cable TV in a McDonald's, but I've had to watch CNBC at my hometown diner much too often. (And yes, like many Americans I eat alone.)
posted by shii at 6:47 AM on October 30, 2010


Thanks shii: I knew sports bars had 'em, but I'd always associated those places with drinking rather than eating. I'd be continously hearing the voice of my mother in my head -- "It's rude to watch TV while eating your meal." I suppose if you're eating alone, it doesn't matter, but it seems like an imposition on other diners to have a TV blaring out continuously.

(Sorry for the derail, folks.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:29 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're equating vote-by-mail with freedom of speech? I'm not quite sure that I follow.

Me? No, not at all.

I have an idea of freedom of speech which is rather limited, compared with that practiced in the US these days. I'm the sort of fascist that would disallow the incitement of racial and religious hatred, but I've been told a number of times, on this august forum, that this won't do. As I understand the US, the only appropriate restriction on speech involves theatres and fires.

The US Supreme court, as I understand it, has recently enshrined the notion that cash equals speech. I'm just wondering why this instance is any difference to the various methods by which people like Newscorp or Raytheon direct the actions of the US government.
posted by pompomtom at 7:40 AM on October 30, 2010


In general the law frowns upon threats, coercion, and so on, but most threats only manifest themselves as speech; by the time a threat becomes more than speech it has turned into something else entirely. As a concrete example: telling your soon-to-be-ex-wife that "I'll beat you within an inch of your life if you leave me" is certainly a threat but is also only speech -- it's just words from one person to another, after all -- and by the time you've gotten around to actually beating your soon-to-be-ex-wife to within an inch of her life your threat has turned into assault and battery (and is no longer just speech). Some threats manifest entirely as speech, even when the threat is carried out; blackmail falls into this category ("If you don't do X I'll say Y.").

So imagining yourself for the moment as a legislator you can see there is a clear tension here: the first amendment says what it says about speech and regulations thereof, but common sense tells you that not having some way of prosecuting threatening behavior means you're going to have a society riddled with threatening (as, after all, such threats can be effective -- and inexpensive -- ways for the threatener to negotiate a better outcome than would have been the case if that option were off the table; if the threatener cannot be prosecuted for making such threats the only remaining restraints will be social considerations, which usually don't matter much to the threatener by the point the threatener is in fact making threats).

Similarly, the first amendment says what it says about speech and regulations thereof, but common sense tells you that not having some way of prosecuting fraud means you're going to have a society riddled with fraud (for the same reasons not having some way of prosecuting threats means you'll see a lot of threats); if one party uses their freedom of speech to "creatively describe" what they are selling the other party that is, after all, just a bunch of speech, and nothing more.

Similarly, the first amendment says what it says about speech and regulations thereof, but common sense tells you that the constitution provides for copyright law (and copyright laws have been enacted by previous legislators), and as all violations of copyright are intrinsically also speech acts it is hard to see how you can have anything resembling copyright law without having violated the letter and spirit of the first amendment.

The law has many other tensions, all essentially similar (eg: slander and libel, trademarks, patents, obscenity, noise pollution ordinances, etc.). Given that we have laws that prosecute threats and fraud and copyright infringement and so forth we've clearly reached some kind of compromise, but what compromise do we have?

You could try to draft a cleaner, more-nuanced ideology with a two-level approach: all speech acts are intrinsically speech acts -- this is a tautology -- but some speech acts are also other things (threats, fraud, copyright infringement, slander, libel, etc.); freedom of speech applies to the production of speech acts, but when a speech act is also something to which liability is attached then "freedom of speech" does not in general supply a defense against those other liabilities.

The above compromise position is a little vague but is at least in principle capable of being crisply defined and easily communicated; is it what we have today?

The answer is yes and no. For "yes": at a practical level the various compromises we've made are all approximately in line with the above approach, though not without a number of idiosyncrasies and special-cases. For "no": despite the practical situation being about what you'd expect given the above, it's not as though there's some clause you can be pointed to that spells it out so nicely.

Instead, what we have is mishmash of various precedents and concepts largely invented out of thin air (commercial speech, immediate incitement to violence, etc.) that approximately establish what is in practice a similar regime. This isn't all bad -- it keeps the government on the sidelines in role that's essentially a post-facto referee, rather than some sort of bureau of correct speech with which you'd be obligated to pre-flight anything you wished to say -- but it does mean the exact contours of freedom of speech are obscure, to put it kindly.

Given that situation we have to live with the consequences, and one of those is that the obscurity of of the actual rules around freedom of speech are difficult to present in a civics 101 class (which for many Americans is the last -- and only -- time they give serious study to the detailed workings of their government, as opposed to the back-and-forth of politics). The typical presentation is that we have freedom of speech except for a couple exceptions -- like fire in a crowded theater, etc. -- the justifications for which are usually a bit hand-wavy. This presentation gives a good general sense of what freedom of speech means in practice but leaves you unprepared when faced with modern developments like, eg, "money=speech"; since you never received a principled explanation as to exactly why, eg, laws against threats or fraud or slander or libel or copyright infringement, etc., aren't unconstitutional restrictions on speech, you're left to try and puzzle it out on your own, which is hard without the right tools.

So in answer to pompomtom: the difference is that speech acts can also be other things in addition to being speech acts. This McDonald's owner-operator's corporation's freedom of speech allows him to spend the corporation's money with a fair amount of liberty but "freedom of speech" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for using that "freedom of speech" in ways that violate other statutes; this is no different than the way that, eg, the owner-operator's corporation's freedom of speech speech wouldn't protect the owner-operator's corporation from a libel lawsuit were it to buy advertising in the town paper libeling the nearby Burger King franchisee's corporation as serving whoppers made from rat meat.
posted by hoople at 9:01 AM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


hoople writes "by the time a threat becomes more than speech it has turned into something else entirely. As a concrete example: telling your soon-to-be-ex-wife that 'I'll beat you within an inch of your life if you leave me' is certainly a threat but is also only speech -- it's just words from one person to another, after all -- and by the time you've gotten around to actually beating your soon-to-be-ex-wife to within an inch of her life your threat has turned into assault and battery (and is no longer just speech). Some threats manifest entirely as speech, even when the threat is carried out; blackmail falls into this category ('If you don't do X I'll say Y.')."

FYI battery is the physical beating, all that is required for assault is the speech.
posted by Mitheral at 9:20 AM on October 30, 2010


The right needs a new slogan. I suggest ANTI-HOPE. Every fucking pitch they make comes from fear and intimidation. Why people don't see right through that is beyond me.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:21 AM on October 30, 2010


Mitheral: you are correct right on battery, but not entirely correct for assault. To qualify as assault the threat needs to meet certain standards for overtness and credibility; saying the above quote within arm's range reach of the intended target while shaking fists, etc., would be assault, but the further away the threatener is, the less overt the threatening language, and the less credible the threat the less likely it is to qualify as assault (though it may still qualify as harassment, for example).

EG: if I were to say, right here:

- "Hey, Mitheral, I'm going to send a strike team of nanobots to give you an embarassing facial tattoo in your sleep, unless you stop incorrectly nitpicking minor points in ways that don't disturb the overall line or agumentation!"

...that's many things (including evidence of mild insanity, perhaps) but assault is not one of them (unless, of course, we had some prior history that lead you to believe the above was code for something that qualifies more classically as assault).

More on point: "If you leave me I'll make you regret it" might've been a better example of "just words" to use as it's more clearly not going to be assault all by itself unless the manner of delivery tips it over the edge.
posted by hoople at 9:53 AM on October 30, 2010


At least it's a change from that time I boycotted McDonald's because Joan Kroc gave a mil to the Democrats. Guess you just can't please everyone all the time.
posted by Kylio at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2010


I'm not seeing the "... direct violation of Ohio law." The linked statute prohibits printing propaganda on the pay envelope or posting it in the establishment. Not a word about including a pamphlet in the envelope.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:19 PM on October 30, 2010


There's two sentence fragments between an 'or' (print and printed upon the envelopes) in the first phrase which can be expanded to these two sentences.

No employer or his agent or a corporation shall print any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees

No employer or his agent or a corporation shall authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees
posted by sleslie at 10:36 PM on October 30, 2010


A few years ago, I was working for a nation-wide company that felt it had a great deal to lose if the Democrats won in an upcoming election. They sent out emails to all employees that were *just* this side of "vote republican", but only just.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:17 AM on October 31, 2010


Good god, I just opened my email this morning and thought immediately of this thread:
We are experiencing these cost increases primarily due to the monstrosity called “Obamacare”. This is based on the little portion of the bill that has gone into effect. I just can’t fathom what would happen when more of this bill goes into effect, unfortunately the experts are learning about this law everyday. I agree we need to figure out way to fix our health care system, but this bill is not the solution to it- it is far from it. I hope every one of you, who go to the polls to vote remember this tomorrow. We must repeal and replace this bill with something that will make sense.
This is about the fourth email we've had talking obliquely about voting for the "right people," but this is the first time is was communicated with an announcement about our benefits. It's probably not illegal, but this is exactly the motivation I need to step up my job search.
posted by gladly at 5:55 AM on November 1, 2010


Pretty ironic considering all that Kroc money is what is going to keep NPR broadcasting to the proletariat after the Republicans cut the tiny fraction of their funding that comes from Federal grants.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2010


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