Internet Mistakes: Ian

Fired Over a Four-Letter Word?

"I was fired from substitute teaching because of my band's MySpace page," Ian claims. "On my MySpace page, I think at the time I had two or three songs, and one them had the F word in it. The songs weren't meant to be malicious. They were just meant for my own personal music expression.


"The first time I got fired from substitute teaching was because I handed a well-behaved student my band's sticker, which had the link on it. The student went to the link, the principal found out and didn't approve of that, so I was fired. When I found out I was fired, I called the superintendent of schools directly and told him that I thought this was unfair, I should be able to substitute teach and pursue music at the very same time without having conflict. As soon as I was fired, I took all the explicit material off of my MySpace page, and I got my job back.

"Over the summer break, we came out with a new song. I created a music video and put it on my MySpace page. I had a quick clip of a girl exposing herself in the music video. The kids who saw the video were very supportive and very complimentary of my work, but I was fired again. I'm a very respectable person, and I keep my job and my music separate, and there's no reason I should've been fired," he says.

"Here's the thing, and I want to admit, this is a slippery slope," Dr. Phil tells Ian. "The line is difficult to draw. But don't you think that, as a teacher, you're looked up to by students? Very young, very impressionable, and because you're in a position of power and authority as a teacher, everything you say and do and validate, either implicitly or explicitly, is magnified in their eyes. Would you agree?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, I agree," Ian says.

"Plus, you're young, so they're going to look at you as more relevant to them than they would to me. So having said that, don't you think you're held to a higher standard?" Dr. Phil asks.

Ian explains that the first time he was fired, he only promoted his band once, and that was by handing out the sticker.

Dr. Phil points out that other students are on MySpace, and now he has posted a video clip with nudity. "Do you really think it's appropriate for a teacher to do that?"

"I'm pursuing a music career, and they knew that," Ian says. "What I have to ask the recruiters is if, as employees, we shouldn't let our personal lives affect our job performance,
what gives you the right to let our personal lives affect the hiring and firing process?" he says, addressing Brad.

"You're right. We shouldn't," Brad says. "But the fact of the matter is we live in an information age, and when it comes to hiring or even keeping people involved in their jobs, people are going to look for information. If you were to come work for my company, what's the first thing you do? You check me out online."

"What happened to common sense?" Dr. Phil asks. "I was shocked by what you just said," he tells Brad. "He just asked, ‘Why should my personal life affect my business life?' and you said, ‘Oh, it shouldn't, but it does.' What do you mean it shouldn't? Why shouldn't it? I want to know the character of people working for me, and if I'm turning my child over to somebody at school ... If, for example, I got on the Internet, and somebody was, like, slaughtering chickens and worshiping Satan, it certainly does matter."

"What I'm saying is what you do behind your closed doors, at your home, if you keep that private and to yourself … " Brad explains.

"But if you're a public official, if you're in a position of authority representing me, if you were in a classroom, making an impression on my child, then I want to know that too," Dr. Phil says. "I want people to do their job and do it with a reasonable value system, and if [they don't], then I want to know that, and I think I'm entitled to know that."

"And I agree with you 100 percent," Brad says. "What I'm saying is, people are finding out more and more information about people because " let's say he had a band, and let's say he played in his garage, and let's say he used that objectionable language from time to time, but he didn't post it online, would you want to know that? Yes, but the means by which you could find that out wouldn't exist. But since it does exist, that's why the school district fired him."

"Do you think you crossed a line?" Dr. Phil asks Ian.

"No, absolutely not," he says. "I think I should've been warned that I can't give the sticker out. I don't think I should've been fired. I got my job back, but then he fired me the following school year. I was not promoting. Word of mouth got around and eventually, almost everyone knew that I had a band on MySpace."

"Yeah. And maybe those two mindsets just aren't compatible. It's pretty edgy music and a pretty conservative educational environment, and maybe those two just don't fit together," Dr. Phil surmises.