How Leaders Impact Freedom – Constitutional Freedoms vs Society
What’s any leaders’ obligations when dealing with their team’s freedoms? Do leaders have freedom of speech?
It’s a difficult question, and in times like in 2020 in the United States of America, it’s become a major challenge. People lose their jobs and livelihoods because they disagree with their “boss” in public forums on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Even without mentioning their company or boss.
Fact-checkers that “verify” your statements are granted more credibility than those researching and documenting facts. Most of the fact-checkers come from media organizations. They are not scientists, or established experts in the fields in which they fact-check. In most cases, they fact-check based on what their company wants you to believe.
For leadership, this is a major problem because social media is no longer a social platform enabling freedoms. The major social media platforms are now a political messaging machine where you must agree with them or be “fact-checked,” blocked or even banned. Sadly, too many Americans believe whatever a media pundit says, or fact-checker says without even a second of further research.
How Military Leaders Have (or Had) Freedom of Speech
When I began my career in the military back when the internet only existed as a military tool (ARPANet) and the only social media was your paper, telephones, and your mouth – we had no problem challenging each other.
The rules were the same then as now. Military members cannot make political statements as uniformed military members in support of partisan activity. But they did retain the right to make statements as a private citizen and non-partisan.
Active-duty military are prohibited from making political statements or participating in political activities in such a way that implies military support for their cause, brings discredit on the military or seeks to undermine the military's duty.
This meant, you could join a group, or discuss political matters in your private life if you didn’t use your military position to back your beliefs or to suggest you could use the military to support it.
For some things, it was easy…
- A military member cannot participate in working against the government in or out of uniform. It doesn’t matter if you like the party in power or not.
- Military members cannot participate in partisan activities.
- Commissioned officers are further restricted from contemptuous talk by specific directives under the UCMJ.
You can read the restrictions as they exist in a DoD Directive.
If you followed these rules, you could think, or say what you liked about political decisions and candidates.
For the record, here’s what’s in the UCMJ:
Article 88 of the UCMJ states, "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
This applies to active and retired military but has never been successfully used against a retiree. A retiree was once charged under Article 88 in 1918, but not convicted.
How Leaders in Business Impact Freedom
As a leader within your company, you have similar restrictions, though most can’t land you in court as in the military. However, they can cost you your livelihood.
The problem is more compound if your company changed from not making political statements, to doing the opposite. What do you do when you disagree?
Private companies and private organizations in most western countries have no legal obligation to allowing free speech in doing business for the company. The leaders job includes “selling” the message of the company to the public and to their team.
However, we’ve seen how private companies in the 21st century have taken to being mouthpieces for political movements, regardless of the facts behind the movement. When this switch occurs in your company, and it goes against what you know are the facts and against your morals and beliefs, what do you do?
Technically, expressing an opinion or belief without referencing your company or bosses should not be a problem. Legally, it isn’t. But how many news stories have you seen of people expressing their opinion based on facts resulting in their termination from the company – even without mentioning the company or anyone in it?
Sadly, I see these types of stories every week, if not getting near daily.
Examples Happening Now
Here’s an example of how free speech is impacted.
The United States of America just completed a Presidential election that clearly has powerful evidence of fraud. Cases will soon go to the United States Supreme Court. Several cases have finally made it to state courts.
For various reasons, media refuse to show the evidence or the cases. Social media won’t let facts related to the fraud be posted. They fact check it ignoring the clear expertise of the people reporting and analyzing the potential fraud sources.
This documentary on this page is called “Absolute Proof” and was investigated by a patriotic CEO because he is committed to facts. He created the documentary by interviewing experts in computer fraud, computer hacking and direct witnesses.
Regardless of the factual basis and 100% credible experts, social media has banned this documentary. It’s been pulled or blocked on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a few other lesser sites. It’s fact-checked by people who are not experts or direct (or indirect) witnesses to anything discussed in the documentary.
Simultaneously, the media attacks this business leader calling him a kook, and fringe conspiracy theorist. They actively seek to destroy his business because he wants public facts they don’t want public. Watch the documentary and see for yourself if it is nutty or on the fringe.
Mike Lindell is a business leader. He is an example of sticking with beliefs based on evidence. He won’t waiver because others with no evidence call him names, attack him and try to destroy his business.
However, what is happening to him is why many businesses and business leaders won’t go against what social media and mainstream news media want you to believe, with or without evidence.
What Should a Leader Do?
For military leaders, you do have to ignore it as a matter of military law. Just do your job since your job doesn’t include making political statements.
But for business leaders, particularly the “C-Level” leaders, what should you do?
Honestly, I don’t know. I believe I would quit a company where the board is forcing me to follow or make political statements counter to facts.
If I’m a leader with strong principles and a record of success, then changing jobs or going out on my own is not a problem.
Leaders have an obligation to seek truth and live by truth, regardless of what the truth is. I’m certain that if the experts were proven wrong on the election fraud evidence, that Mike Lindell would say he was wrong. He is a leader.
Donald Trump would do the same.
However, in the example case, to date of this publication, no evidence showing the fraud experts are wrong has been presented. The only case against them is a case by proclamation in the media, by partisan politicians, and on social media by “fact-checkers” with no expertise.
A leader grants life’s freedom to their team by not backing down to pressure to lie or bear false messages. By doing so, they ensure freedom rings clear for others and others will not bow to political, media, and social media messaging that does not bare the facts.
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Former US Navy commanding officer. Expert in leadership development and using digital tools and marketing to make your company the winner even in the worst disasters. Proven expert SEO and Web Copywriter. Contact him today.