22 y-o University of Miami Iranian medical technician fired for uttering: ''Some birthday gift from Osama bin Laden!'' after Nine Eleven.
November 16, 2001 12:55 PM   Subscribe

22 y-o University of Miami Iranian medical technician fired for uttering: ''Some birthday gift from Osama bin Laden!'' after Nine Eleven. To my knowledge he wasn't insulting anyone but just expressing his State given right to be sarcastic. (Lol, I will mock the State every chance I happen upon.) [Encore via DR.]
posted by HoldenCaulfield (22 comments total)
I would have fired him if I were in charge. The guy sounds like he's a bit of an asshole.
posted by MaddCutty at 1:10 PM on November 16, 2001

People like this are harmful, because they delegitimize real claims of discrimination.

I mean, really: It doesn't take a super-genius to realize this sort of comment, expressed the way and at the time that it was, was going to be very troublesome. It also seems pretty clear that there is probably no pattern of discrimination against Arab-Americans' in the University's past. University campuses are rarely a hotbed of racism; this suit was probably brought in the hopes of settling before trial.

You have no state given right to employment. When you do something stupid like this, you knowingly run the risk of getting fired. and when you bring a suit over the firing, "average Americans" read about it and, as a result, are more quick to dismiss the next claim of discrimination that they hear about.
posted by gd779 at 1:14 PM on November 16, 2001

Come on folks...he was being SARCASTIC. If he had said "Thank you OBL for the birthday present!" I might have been a little worried.
I smell a lawsuit...
posted by aacheson at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2001

Oh please. Regardless of whether or not he's an asshole, he should not have been fired for saying something as innocuous as this. This is on a par with all those "Kid gets suspended from school for drawing a picture of a gun" stories. People overreacting wildly.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:18 PM on November 16, 2001

i was so ready to post a "this totally unfair and discriminatory" comment ... until i got to few paragraphs from the end:

the fact that the decision-makers in this case are apparently of Jewish ancestry is certainly evidence that would seem relevant

Rahat and his attorney lost my sympathy at that point. The 9.11 comment in of itself should not have resulted in termination...but it seems to be part of an ongoing pattern.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2001

It definitely sounded like sarcasm to me... tempers are running short right now, but it seems that there could have been a better way to handle it.

. An interesting thing about the article is that they don't even point out that the University President, Donna Shalala, is an Arab American. It should be noted that the student is neither Arab nor American (he's an Iranian citizen), but still it seemed prescient.
posted by cell divide at 1:21 PM on November 16, 2001

It sounds like an unwise remark, a somewhat thoughtless piece of unfunny sarcasm.

But MaddCutty, you'd fire someone over that kind of lapse in judgement? If so, you'll be one busy pink-slipper.

Of course, for all we know there were other reasons -- maybe this was the final straw after a list of other offenses or on top of really poor performance. I didn't see anything like that mentioned in the article, but perhaps it's there.

HoldenCaulfield, I confess to not understanding your remarks about the State at all. Are you referring to the state of Florida? The modern concept of the nation-state itself? The wretched MTV comedy show?
posted by BT at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2001

cell divide: Prescient? OBL had already bombed the WTC. I don't think that surmising that a second attack could be his work is a terribly prescient thing to do.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2001

jenny-- oops! I have to confess that English is not my first language (a close second) and I occaisionally get words mixed up. I should have said germane.
posted by cell divide at 1:29 PM on November 16, 2001

Cell divide -- It's okay. Didn't mean to jump all over you there. Germane it was indeed.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2001

UM's vice president of university relations...denied that discrimination was at issue, saying that UM has "many, many Arab and Muslim students, faculty and staff.''

Translation: "Some of our best friends are rag-heads".
posted by jpoulos at 1:56 PM on November 16, 2001

I agree with Dan. The guy made a dumb rtemark. Then he said was discriminated against because of his ethnicity and noted that jewish administrators behind this discrimination!
In sum: asshole but ought to be kept around to be butt boy for Jewish adminstrators.
posted by Postroad at 2:16 PM on November 16, 2001

"Private employers -- including Goodwill and UM -- have a right to fire employees if they don't like their political beliefs..."

Is this true? I know you can fire an employee for some tenuous issues which an employer can represent hurts the ability to perform the job, productivity, etc., but can the employer use personal political beliefs as an argument?
posted by mmarcos at 2:33 PM on November 16, 2001

My mom's birthday was 9.11... she made a similar remark to me (and, knowing my mom, to many others). I imagine that everyone who had a birthday on 9.11 made a similar statement...

If the firing was over the comment, it was ill-advised. Of course, this is just one side of the story. Maybe the good man was also a complete idiot, and was fired for incompetence.

mmarcos... most employment contracts contain an at-will clause that gives both parties the opportunity to end the relationship for whatever reason they wish.
posted by silusGROK at 2:34 PM on November 16, 2001

Expect race/ethnicity/othergroup conflicts to increase in frequency and severity in the near future. It will get a lot worse before enough people realize how stupid it is and stop it.

BTW - is there any good, polite way to refer to (jewish culture/ethnicity) and (jewish religion) individually? I mean, "christian" is simply a religious moniker, and doesn't connote any specific ethnic profile. Religion and ethnicity get thrown together with "jewish," and it would be nice to be able to politely indicate either the religion or the ethnicity individually.
posted by yesster at 2:35 PM on November 16, 2001

(my birthday was Sept 10, and I seem to remember making a few cranky remarks about my b-day getting ruined for the rest of time...not that it had gone too well as it was.)
posted by epersonae at 2:43 PM on November 16, 2001

BTW - is there any good, polite way to refer to (jewish culture/ethnicity) and (jewish religion) individually?

I haven't heard of one, and I am Jewish. I suppose you could adopt some of the suggestions made to George W. E. Russell while he was campaigning for Parliament in 1879-80:

"After my first speech in the Corn Exchange of Aylesbury I was severely reprehended because I had called Lord Beaconsfield [Disraeli] a 'Jew.' If I had known better, I should have said 'a Semite' or 'an Israelite,' or--his own phrase--'a Mosaic Arab,' and all would have been well." (George W. E. Russell, One Look Back [Garden City and New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1912], p. 183.)

This is my favorite example of pre-twentieth century PC in action.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:41 PM on November 16, 2001

Can anyone pinpoint exactly when the idea of free speech became "free speech without any consequences?" If the Darwin Awards had a category for idiotic free speech, this guy would win it hands down.
posted by prodigal at 5:35 PM on November 16, 2001

People seem to be assuming the guy was making the comment seriously, not sarcastically. Repeat after me folks, if it was sarcastic, he was actually saying it WAS NOT a good birthday present. That he thought the attacks WERE BAD. He looses some credibility for the highly unlikely assumption that this was a result of Jewish administrators, but that doesn’t change the fact that he should not have been fired.
posted by Nothing at 9:37 PM on November 16, 2001

Even if he was happy the WTC got bombed so what? If they are doing their job employers have no right to fire people because of their political opinions. Especially Universities.
posted by dydecker at 11:23 PM on November 16, 2001

Jewish group criticizes lawyer in UM firing case. Update from Miami Herald.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:51 AM on November 17, 2001

after thinking some more ... the guy could be bin laden himself, but even then that joke would not be a legitimate basis for firing him.

i want to be able to say anything i want among my coworkers without fear of termination.
posted by danOstuporStar at 10:36 PM on November 17, 2001

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