As of the start of November, no writers work at Deadspin. At one point, they were a strong media brand based in sports, who also wrote about other things on occasion. Not everyone liked Deadspin’s content, but they were writing about things other media outlets often weren’t. When a business goes from many employees to none in a few days span, one often assumes the company went out of business. Not the case at Deadspin, though, where in one mass-exodus the entire staff quit one after another.
They quit because the media editor of the private-equity firm that bought them issued a mandate; no longer would Deadspin writers be able to write about anything not-sports. It might seem like an innocent request to force writers of a sports website to write sports, but what was really happening is corporate interference in the independent editorial process, the dreaded fear of any publication. So when the Deadspin staff quit, they weren’t whining about not being able to write about food or politics anymore. They were looking their overzealous bosses in the eyes and telling them they won’t be trampled on.
Many workers in America have few freedoms: low wages, little vacation time, no maternity leave and they often can be fired at-will without a given reason. Relatively few belong to unions, especially in low-wage jobs, and many unions don’t have the teeth they once did. For example, the collective bargaining agreement Deadspin’s union settled on had a no-strike clause in it, giving them little recourse when they needed to fight back. Really, the only universal freedom every worker has to protest injustice in their workplace is the freedom to quit, and far too much grief is given to those who use it.
For instance, Kevin Clancy, a blogger at Deadspin’s meat-head competitor Barstool Sports, tweeted in response to the mass-quitting: “…If you are a real person… you don’t quit your job as a temper tantrum because you don’t like your boss. That’s a cry for attention, not some grandstand of morality and integrity.” Kevin, who famously cheated on his pregnant wife, is a bootlicker, and does not know anything about morality or integrity. He bows his head to a company who would never let him unionize (which is illegal) and thinks it’s all okay because, for now, things are going swell for him. If Kevin had integrity, he would quit in protest of this unfair action. Instead he stays to lick his boss’s boots and get praised by people who would prefer to constantly get screwed over by their boss than to do something about it.
In a laissez faire capitalist society, there are only two real ways to ensure corporations act ethically: either customers stop shopping in protest, or workers quit in protest. Strikes, petitions and other forms of action can work too, but companies simply can’t survive without consumers or workers. Yet, there is a weird and pervasive spirit in America suggesting these actions are somehow bad and dishonorable. Workers should just grit their teeth while they are exploited and consumers should shut-up and shop. No good for the common person can come from this mentality. Next time you’re at work, and your boss is stepping on you, (and please only do this if you can afford to) take a page out of Deadspin’s book and send the boss a message by walking out.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.