Is a tasteless and crass joke enough to get you suspended indefinitely from a job?
Well, yeah, probably. Tis’ the life of an at-hire employee, after all.
But is a social media “like” of a tasteless joke enough to get you suspended indefinitely from a job?
That’s a much murkier question and one that lays at the heart of a raging NASCAR controversy involving driver Noah Gragson.
The 25-year-old Cup Series driver has been suspended “effective immediately” according to a Saturday social media post from his stock car team, Legacy Motor Club.
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— LEGACY MOTOR CLUB (@LegacyMotorclub) August 5, 2023
“We have made the decision to suspend Noah Gragson effective immediately regarding his actions that do not represent the values of our team,” the statement read, in part.
Initially, it was not clear what behavioral issue triggered the hefty suspension.
Is this a fair suspension?
Yes: 4% (12 Votes)
No: 96% (294 Votes)
NASCAR then came out in full-throated support of the suspension:
NASCAR fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson. Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and has placed him under indefinite suspension.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 5, 2023
“NASCAR fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson,” the post read. “Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and has placed him under indefinite suspension.”
According to ESPN, it was eventually revealed and confirmed that the reason Gragson was being suspended was over liking a social media post regarding George Floyd.
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Floyd, as you will assuredly recall, was the black man who died in 2020 after a police officer knelt on his neck. The death sparked mass riots and protests, leaving swathes of the country practically razed that summer.
The controversial post in question was tracked down by TMZ and depicted Floyd’s face superimposed on a crab’s body, with the text “Under Da Knee” written twice on it.
The not-so-subtle allusion is to “The Little Mermaid” character Sebastian, a talking crab, and one of the movie’s more iconic songs, “Under the Sea.”
It’s a tasteless and sophomoric meme, to be sure, but an “indefinite suspension” feels a tad heavy-handed for a social media meme reaction, no?
In fact, much of social media appeared to agree with that sentiment, at least based on the vociferous reaction to NASCAR’s above social media post:
Suspending people for liking memes? NASCAR is officially WOKE
— Hodgetwins (@hodgetwins) August 5, 2023
Do not agree with this. Idk what the post was but seems a little extreme given the world we live in today. Might as well toss all social media for all drivers if its risking their career over a like. SMH. Dangerous precedent. (If precedents still exists)
— Cameron Ledford (@CameronLedford) August 5, 2023
Absolute major L for you guys.
— SuperHero (@iSuperHeroBK) August 5, 2023
Gragson, for his part, apologized and owned up to the mistake on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” Gragson posted to X. “I understand the severity of this situation. I love and appreciate everyone. I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are.
“I messed up plain and simple.”
So did Gragson make a grave error in judgment? By his own admission, he absolutely did.
But did this mistake deserve to potentially derail — for an “indefinite” period of time, mind you — a promising career?
For this writer, okay, suspend Gragson if you must (a hefty fine would make more sense in this context) but give him a hard start and end date.
A suspension is still probably a tad too harsh for the “crime” committed, but nobody deserves to just dangle in the wind when it comes to their career like that.We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards. Facebook
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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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