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Turtle Rock community manager fired for Twitter comments

Turtle Rock community manager fired for Twitter comments

Fri 02 May 2014 8:18am GMT / 4:18am EDT / 1:18am PDT
MediaPublishing

Josh Olin voices opinion on NBA scandal and falls afoul of Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock's community and esports manager has apparently been fired after weighing in on a scandal involving racism, the NBA and, of course, Twitter.

Josh Olin's very public mistake was to comment on an escalating controversy from the world of professional basketball, where Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has been banned from his team's operations and fined $2.5 million for making racist remarks to his girlfriend.

On Wednesday, Olin used his personal Twitter account - which carries the tag, "All my tweets are belong to me" - to speak out in support, if not defence, of Sterling.

The public reaction to the statement was predictably divided, ranging from outright disdain to those who agreed with Olin's principle but took issue with his description of Sterling as, "the victim."

In the subsequent discussion, Olin further clarified his position as being rooted in the way Sterling was exposed: a nine-minute tape, leaked by TMZ, that was recorded without Sterling's consent in his home. From Olin's perspective, that made it an illegal act, and a breach of privacy.

"He made no public statements, " Olin continued. "He was illegally wiretapped by an emotionally manipulative young girlfriend... [He] has the right to believe what he wants, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else."

Despite couching his argument in the tenets of free speech - as opposed to a justification of Sterling's racism - yesterday Turtle Rock publicly distanced itself from Olin's remarks.

Olin is no longer with Turtle Rock. In an email sent to Polygon he described the situation as "developing", though he would only say that it "appears" that he has been fired. Olin accused Turtle Rock of "buying into the hysteria" and claimed that it hadn't communicated with him directly on the matter.

"Anyone who follows me knows my tweets were not in support of Sterling's actions. Rather, they were promoting three core tenets I believe in: 1) The harm sensational media presents to society. 2) The importance and sanctity of your privacy within your own home. And 3) The right to be whatever you want to be as an American, as long as it isn't hurting anyone else. That last point not to be confused with condoning Sterling's actions, which I don't.

"Ironically, [this situation] serves as a great example of why I hold tenet #1 above so close to heart."

43 Comments

Neil Young
Programmer

296 372 1.3
I'm not going to comment on the opinions expressed or the apparent firing, but I've been reliably informed that such disclaimers on twitter profiles don't have any legal effect - they are useful only as information.

Posted:4 months ago

#1

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

177 274 1.5
Firing somebody for their beliefs sounds like discrimination to me

Posted:4 months ago

#2

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

280 1,061 3.8
Calling a rich old white guy a 'victim' is more than a little offensive to all the people that rich old white guy likes to think of as subhuman. You can't weasel out of that by saying 'I'm not defending racism, I'm defending someone's right to be a racist!' because those are the same damn thing.

Olin knew he was in dangerous territory when he said it was an 'unpopular opinion' and as a highly visible member of Turtle Rock's online team I'd say they're well within their rights to want to distance themselves from such nonsense.

Edit: Also, Craig, 'racism' is not a belief protected by any kind of anti-discrimination laws I know of.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 2nd May 2014 11:28am

Posted:4 months ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,337 0.9
And 3) The right to be whatever you want to be as an American, as long as it isn't hurting anyone else.
On the recording, a man and woman argue about photos posted to Instagram in which she appears with African-Americans. The man says he doesn't want the woman bringing any black people to games with her.
I would argue that hurts other people.
Firing somebody for their beliefs sounds like discrimination to me
Yes and no. Objectively speaking, it's not his beliefs that are the problem, but the fact that he aired them in public. A "community and esports manager" making such comments publically negatively affects the perception of the company, and would affect community and business interactions in the future, all of which is bad business.

Posted:4 months ago

#4

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

177 274 1.5
Popular Comment
He wasn't fired for being Racist Jessica, He was fired for voicing his belief in free speech in a persons private residence

Posted:4 months ago

#5

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

280 1,061 3.8
No, he was fired for defending a racist's right to be a racist and pretending that it can't hurt anybody for a rich and powerful man to hate people for the colour of their skin. He was fired because he defended bigotry and in doing so attracted negative attention to his employer. He didn't have to speak up, he knew what he was saying was incredibly controversial, and for someone whose job is being visible on the Internet for his employer he took a gamble with his job and lost.

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

177 274 1.5
Popular Comment
No he wasn't, he outright called him a Bigot

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,245 401 0.3
Popular Comment
I know it is beside the main point, but I don't get why a person who clearly dislikes black people owns a basketball team, of all things?!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 2nd May 2014 11:47am

Posted:4 months ago

#8

Andrew Watson
Programmer

92 200 2.2
Popular Comment
This sort of thing is exactly why I like to keep my internet presence and real life completely separate.

@Jessica: Why do you keep on pointing out the fact that he's white and rich like it's some kind of awful affliction?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Watson on 2nd May 2014 11:50am

Posted:4 months ago

#9

Helen Merete Simm
Senior UI Artist

48 249 5.2
"@Jessica: Why do you keep on pointing out the fact that he's white and rich like it's some kind of awful affliction?"



@Andrew Watson - I'd say the point that he is rich is valid, he is a high profile person who has a lot of power and influence, and its obvious he is using that influence in racist ways. It isn't an affliction but it is a factor of importance in this discussion.
In addition I think people who are publicly racist do need to be socialised by their peers. It is how we learn what is right and wrong.

Posted:4 months ago

#10

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

442 410 0.9
Freedom of speech does not mean exemption from consequence.

I do suspect though the possibility that he was being tongue in cheek but it just came off wrong.

Posted:4 months ago

#11

Caleb Hale
Journalist

154 230 1.5
Since its advent, I wonder how much total lost income potential the Twitter user base has experienced? That said, if you're going to sound off on a public forum about the outrage-of-the-week, you'll have to be prepared to suffer at least some of that rage. Some of these developers, however, might be a little too quick to cut loose employees. Adam Oorth got fired for telling the Twittersphere they might just have to accept the way a game box - one they would be, in no way, forced to buy - might function. Employees should consider how their public comments might reflect on their employers. That's just professional common sense. Yet, employers, out of professional courtesy, should develop a spine and not immediately fold in the face of backlash. A reprimand, I think, was more in order than termination.

Then again, I am talking about part of an industry that is so averse to risk, they dare not rock the boat at any level of discourse, for fear of underperforming and upsetting the profit-hungry shareholders in their parent company's board rooms.

Posted:4 months ago

#12

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

280 1,061 3.8
Caleb, I would agree but apparently this is not the first time Olin has said controversial things so I guess Turtle Rock decided he wasn't worth the negative publicity he kept generating for them.

Posted:4 months ago

#13

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
Popular Comment
Yeah, free speech is not the right to be an asshole without repercussions, it's the right to be an asshole without being imprisoned for it. If you're a community manager you represent your company, and your company has the right to fire you when they feel that you are publicly representing them in a negative light.

Also, may I redirect you all to this comic. http://xkcd.com/1357/

Posted:4 months ago

#14

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

449 158 0.4
I find it quite amazing that he would be stupid enough to use company channels to make this argument. I mean, lets be serious. Even if I pretend to subscribe to Craig Burkey's point of view, he is the owner of a basketball team. You can't just privately declare that you have racially based hatred for the most publicly known members of your company and get caught. Choosing to ignore that to make the argument that he has free speech in his own home is like stating that when Hugh Grant get's filmed punching his wife it should be fine because it was in private and she has no intention of pressing charges.

While I'm at it the basketballers are an embarrassment for not walking out. They send a message that racism is okay. And Craig. No. He was fired for expressing his opinion that closet racist man was a victim for being caught stating his closet racism in private, completely ignoring the elephant in the room (the actual racism) and thus making it sound like a non-issue. The dismissal of racism as a non-issue is why he was fired.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 6th May 2014 12:10pm

Posted:4 months ago

#15

Bill Young
head of strategic partnerships

9 3 0.3
"Detroit" Clippers?

Posted:4 months ago

#16

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
Well this is a little warning that even in your own house you have to act as societies status-quo dictates. How long before we have thought crime?? 10-20 years maybe?

Posted:4 months ago

#17

Patrick McCarthy
Lead Automation Engineer

10 3 0.3
You can't weasel out of that by saying 'I'm not defending racism, I'm defending someone's right to be a racist!' because those are the same damn thing.

So, to revise and extend... Once Can not defend being gay, unless you are.... You Can't Defend Womens rights, unless you are a female?... You Can't defend People with Disabilities, unless you have a disability?

One can VERY WELL defend someone's right to be a racist, or to be a Muslem, or to be a Republican
Without being a Racist, Muslem Republican
One can do so by adhering to the tennents of liberty that we hold to be... our countries...

Posted:4 months ago

#18

William Usher
Assistant Editor

41 29 0.7
@Bill

Detroit couldn't afford to pay someone to tie a pair of shoelaces.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by William Usher on 2nd May 2014 4:56pm

Posted:4 months ago

#19

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,337 0.9
Well this is a little warning that even in your own house you have to act as societies status-quo dictates.
Yup. Because change comes from society saying "No, don't be racist, regardless of where you are."

Posted:4 months ago

#20

David Lee
Chief Concepticator

17 6 0.4
In Sterling's case, it was far from a thought crime. He had openly discriminated against minorities for decades, including trying to remove them from his real estate holdings--while making statements that were far worse than those on the TMZ tape. It's a sad comment on our society (and more specifically, the NBA) that it took a public incident that made even advertisers avoid Sterling like the plague to make the NBA take action. It's not that action was taken against Sterling, it's that it took so long to happen.

Posted:4 months ago

#21
@Bill Oof. Fixed that. In Matt's defense, I don't know how much coverage the Clippers get on that side of the Atlantic.

Posted:4 months ago

#22

Bill Young
head of strategic partnerships

9 3 0.3
@Brendan - i developed copy editor's OCD in college...apologies.

Posted:4 months ago

#23

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
@Morville

Olin got stung over this and lost his job, but I do understand what he was trying to say and I think some people have just glossed over that and gone straight for the easy target which is to bundle him in with the racist crowd.

He dared to say anything other than 'down with the racist scum!!!' and got shot down because he didn't echo the racist whirlwind which had been whipped up by the media. Of course he should have seen it coming, but I do think he has been a bit harshly treated over this.

But then again in this sensational, bigger than life hyper reality we live in I guess this is the way things will go.

Posted:4 months ago

#24

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,337 0.9
@ Darren

I think his point about
The importance and sanctity of your privacy within your own home
would have carried more weight if he hadn't explicitly related it to the Sterling situation, and if he hadn't have called Sterling a "victim". Sterling's girlfriend (afaik) isn't a member of the authorities (police, FBI, etc), so whilst what she did was illegal, it's no more or less illegal than releasing a celebrity home-sex tape (at least, from a non-legal-professional pov). Sterling can easily press-charges (in civil or criminal court), so whilst he's been caught out by what he said, to call him a victim is pretty poor. In this sense, then, Olin only has himself to blame for getting shot down.

The issue of privacy within-the-home is a big one in the US - the media used is different in the Sterling expose, but this situation bears a lot in common with "revenge porn" - but to blame a media "whirlwind" for this is not the correct response, either to Olin being sacked, or Sterling being caught (imooooooooooo). :)

(I also idly wonder if Olin has been this public about privacy rights in the past; for instance about wiretapping-without-warrants, and GPS tracking without PC. Though that in itself doesn't signify anything, I am curious. :) )

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd May 2014 5:42pm

Posted:4 months ago

#25

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
Sure, he could have gone about getting his point across in a different way and probably still kept his job, but I stand by my statement that he did get caught up in the media whirlwind. His timing was awful and he could have phrased things differently and as a result became collateral damage.

It is almost as if he has been labelled a racist by association, like voting UKIP or something. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 2nd May 2014 6:01pm

Posted:4 months ago

#26

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Darren Again, stop calling this a criminal punishment. This is not a crime. He's not being charged with breaking the law. He's being fired because his job is to positively represent the company and he just failed to do his job.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 2nd May 2014 6:12pm

Posted:4 months ago

#27

Nic Wechter
Senior Designer

32 68 2.1
I think its also a good idea that if you want to weigh in on something controversial with an inflammatory opinion then maybe twitter isn't the best place, its hard to get across much detail of an opinion in 140 characters.

If he had posted this on a blog instead I bet he'd still be employed.

Posted:4 months ago

#28

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
@ Darren Again, stop calling this a criminal punishment. This is not a crime. He's not being charged with breaking the law. He's being fired because his job is to positively represent the company and he just failed to do his job.
Well I don't know what you are reading but I never said or alluded to this as a criminal punishment, sure you aren't confusing me with someone else? Or did you speed read over what was actually said and formed an incorrect assumption?

Strange......

Posted:4 months ago

#29

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

442 410 0.9
Come on. He sympathised with an undeniably racist disposition which, given his position, shows serious incompetence as a community manager. His demonstrated lack of judgement and common sense invalidates his claim as being fit for purpose.

It's incredible that there's even any argument at all. Debate in order to explore what this could mean I can understand, but arguing for and defending his case is without a doubt ridiculous at best.

Posted:4 months ago

#30

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
You said "How long before we have thought crime?? 10-20 years maybe?" implying that this is in any way a legal situation or leads to legal situations.

Posted:4 months ago

#31

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
No Nicholas, you are way off the mark with your interpretation of my comment.

If you read it, I give a little warning about the ever real possibility that we may be monitored in our own homes and the next logical step which would be thought crime. Minority Report, 1984 etc etc The context was given in my first line (Home privacy) and not anything to do with Olin being sacked.

I thought it was reasonably understandable when I wrote it. But it just goes to show how intention and perception do not always align and people get the wrong end of the stick.

At least I get to keep my job. :D

Posted:4 months ago

#32

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

449 158 0.4
Darren, first of all, if you were in any way clued up about the situation you were talking about you would know that he in fact requested the recordings to be made. He told his girlfriend to record anything he says as he often forgets things that he needs to do. Second of all, thought crime being a logical step from this would imply that he was being punished criminally. Surveillance in your own home is a far cry from prosecution on the basis of in your own home... without a criminal element to use to make the jump, and even then you still have to make yet another jump to Orwellian hyperauthority. There is no connection at all without the law, which he is not breaking, and the surveillance was a deliberately requested recording which his girlfriend made, so the only thing he is a victim of is his own stupidity, and choice of girlfriend. Whether it was a good choice of girlfriend or a bad one depends on which side of the fence you sit, but it shows incredibly poor understanding of the situation for both you and Olin to try and claim that Sterling was in any way victim to anything but his own stupidity.

To offer some insight into the twitter hyperbole however, had there not been a small minority percentage of white middle aged males willing to jump to both Sterling and Olin's defense on whatever little things they could pluck out like so many attorneys trying to save him from a jail sentence, the focus would have left Sterling long ago and been placed squarely on the basketball players and their lackluster, passive, financially neutered response. This is not animal rights or gay marriage we are talking about, there is no 'yes, but really he is entirely allowed to say that'. It may not be illegal to have racial bias, but it results in the deaths of people every day and endorsing it should entirely be political suicide.

People are so selfish these days.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 3rd May 2014 12:09am

Posted:4 months ago

#33

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,098 1,061 1.0
<irony on>
99% of all wives get beat up at home. Stop government tyranny of home tyrants. Legalize wife beating now!
<irony off>

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 3rd May 2014 1:03am

Posted:4 months ago

#34

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

925 1,381 1.5
I was wondering when the Strerling case would make the gaming rounds, although I was hoping it happened the day after never. And I agree that Olin, for a community manager, really sucked at his job.

Something people seem to constantly forget when it comes to twitter, facebook and the like is that when you work for a company you don't have to be the president, CEO or a public figure of that company to be a reflection of it. As long as you work for a company(even as an intern or work-for-hire employee) you are a representative(by association) of that company and any opinions you share publicly will be associated(rather you want them to or not) with the company you work for. I figured this was common knowledge in 2014, especially for a community manager. But it seems there are many people who didn't get the memo.

Posted:4 months ago

#35

Darren Adams
Managing Director

240 436 1.8
@Andrew

To explain again: I made my original comment on the context of home privacy and what is acceptable in your own home. I don't support Sterling as you claim and never said I did, nor did I say Olins sacking was criminal. This is now becoming a bit silly, so I will leave you to make whatever assumptions you want.

Posted:4 months ago

#36

Benjamin Kratsch
Freelance Journalist

18 5 0.3
Can we please stop to take twitter so seriously? Holy crap, it's Facebook with text only. No reason to fire an employee.

Posted:4 months ago

#37

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

280 1,061 3.8
I don't see any reason to take Twitter or Facebook any less seriously than what we read on newspapers or news sites - more so, in many cases, as there's less filtering. People often say what they think on social media(internet comment threads like this one included...) and reveal interesting things about their beliefs, priorities and personalities as a result.

Posted:4 months ago

#38

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
@Benjamine
It's nothing to do with twitter. When you tweet, blog, write an article, or put out any other kind of public facing message, you put your opinion out there for all the world to see. If you are attached to a public organisation, like a company or government, then it's only natural for people reading your tweet to see you as that organisation's representative. Your views then become, by association, an extension of their views. The thought process going something like "He works for company X...I didn't know company X had this kind of racist/homophobic/megalomaniac viewpoint!"

Turtle did the only thing they logically could do in this situation and that was to distance themselves as quickly and as cleanly as possible.

Posted:4 months ago

#39

Lewis Pulsipher
Game Designer, Author, Teacher

30 34 1.1
It is already illegal in Britain to use racist speech, in any context. I hope we don't come to that. But "political correctness" (essentially, wanting to force everyone to be like everyone else) heads that way.

Posted:4 months ago

#40

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

655 270 0.4
<irony on>
99% of all wives get beat up at home. Stop government tyranny of home tyrants. Legalize wife beating now!
<irony off>
Maybe marriage should be illegal.. 100% of the wife beatings happen to married people.. :)

Posted:4 months ago

#41

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,175 1,124 0.5
Two cents; Being a racist may not be a crime, but racism is absolutely behind many crimes when a bunch of like-minded folks (or even just one) decide they wants to do something against someone else considered "inferior" by their stupid standards. History is full of stories, as you know...

Posted:4 months ago

#42

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