One of this column's various mandates is to keep track of people who get fired from their jobs solely for holding certain political beliefs. Firing a person because you don't like his or her politics runs contrary to just about everything this country stands for, but it is not against the law. My interest in this topic was stimulated a couple of years ago when I learned that my childhood friend Michael Italie, who sewed U.S. Navy jackets for Goodwill Industries in Miami, got fired for appearing on television as the mayoral candidate for the Socialist Workers Party, in which capacity he made some predictably provocative statements. Subsequently, I wrote about Bryan Keefer, who lost his job as a research assistant with the Service Employees International Union for writing an online column critical of the coinage, "Enron conservatives." In both of these examples, the extracurricular activities that caused offense were entirely unrelated to the fired person's job and were not performed, or even discussed, in the workplace.
The same is true of Lynne Gobbell of Moulton, Ala., who on Sept. 9 was fired from her job at Enviromate, a company that makes housing insulation, for driving to work with a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker in the rear windshield of her Chevy Lumina. The person who did the firing was Phil Geddes, who owns the company and is an enthusiastic Bush supporter. (Although Gobbell hasn't done any proselytizing for Kerry at Enviromate, Geddes distributed a flyer to all Enviromate employees explaining why they should vote for Bush.) The insubordinate bumper sticker.