Let Go in Under 140 Characters

by Dan Ward

Houston Rockets Digital Communications Manager Chad Shanks was let go on Wednesday for firing off an incredibly insensitive tweet as his team finished off a playoff series with the rival Dallas Mavericks.

Did he deserve to be fired? After posting emoji of a gun pointed at a horse’s head and a message reading “Shhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon,” I’d say the only question is why he wasn’t fired the instant he hit “send.”

Before you accuse me of hypocrisy, yes, I know that last year I defended the digital manager for DiGiorno, who posted an insensitive tweet with a hashtag tied to stories of domestic violence.

But there’s a clear difference in my mind, and the difference is the intent of the sender. In the DiGiorno case, the digital manager made a stupid mistake, not checking the meaning of the #WhyIStayed hashtag before posting. He also immediately apologized, not only to his entire audience but also in individual responses to those who were offended.

It clearly appears Shanks knew what he was doing, knew that an image of a gun to a horse’s head was offensive, and knew that his “just close your eyes” message was demeaning. And his “apology” after being fired, claiming he pushed the envelope too far for some, feels empty when it’s immediately followed by his desire to be hired by an organization “in need of someone willing to take chances.”

Organizations can live with employees who make mistakes. They can’t live with bullies.

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