A senior vice president for a major regional bank recently learned a few hard lessons about free speech in the United States.
June Pridmore held a top position in charge of lending operations at Regions Bank, a financial institution with a major presence across the Bible Belt, along the Eastern Seaboard and all the way down to South Florida. Following the surprising victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, Pridmore posted a shameful and bigoted rant against President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as well as their daughters and event the family dog.
The long and rambling social media update posted by Pridmore presented a rich tapestry of ignorance, poor spelling, and general hatred towards President Obama ahd his wife, whom Pridmore believes to be very unattractive when compared to former nude model Melania Trump, the presumptive future First Lady of the United States. Pridmore also confessed that she is happy to have voted for Trump because she thinks he has a lot more money than President Obama. Moreover, Pridmore thinks that Trump will not accept a Presidential salary and that he will probably forego government security for his young son.
Not surprisingly, Pridmore’s tirade got the attention of many Regions Bank customers who were horrified to learn that someone like her was in charge of their mortgages and car loans. Upper management at Regions Bank was likely concerned over the negative attention that their financial institution was getting on Facebook, and thus they decided to take action. A spokesperson was quick to point out that the views expressed by Pridmore did not reflect those of the Alabama-based entity. The message from Regions Bank also indicated that Pridmore was no longer with the company.
For the record, Regions Bank took federal bailout money in the wake of the 2008 crash of Wall Street, which was partly caused by irresponsible lending practices. Regions Bank was one of the first major regional banks to repay the bailout funds in full and without consequence.
The hard lesson about free speech learned by Pridmore is one that all Americans should be familiar with. While it is true that the First Amendment grants people the right to free expression, it is important to note that free speech is not without consequence. The government cannot silence Americans, and this extends to the legislature and even the police; however, this does not preclude a business from firing an employee who goes on racist tirades in public. In other words, Pridmore is free to make the comments she made, and she can continue to post similar Facebook updates from her smartphone as she stands on the unemployment line.