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Thread: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

  1. #1
    the Black Prince's Avatar British Patriot
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    Default The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I posted this on a facebook group and got an interesting range of replies, but since the group was generally quite left wing there may have been a bias to the debate and I wonder what TWCs reaction would be.

    So, I'm gay (no news there) and have a close gay friend that I've known for 6 or 7 years. Both of us are white males, both of us varying degrees of right wing in UK political terms, though his views are more right than mine.

    Recently, there was a viral incident about equality in his industry, but not involving his employer, that got me asking out of genuine curiosity how he'd respond in similar scenarios. His replies outright astounded me, and demonstrated extremely discriminatory views against pregnant women, people of different racial backgrounds (all kinds) and disabled people. The conversation was over fb messenger so I've got a complete chat record of his comments.

    Some examples include -
    disabled wheelchair users shouldn't be allowed on planes unless they can afford to pay the extra cost of carrying their wheelchairs and providing their assistance - airlines shouldn't have to cover that themselves

    its easier to just ignore applications with foreign sounding names when doing recruitment as statistically they aren't likely to have the values we're looking for anyway and it saves time


    Here's the catch - I know his boss. I don't work for the same employer though, or even in the same industry.
    My friend is involved in recruitment, training, staff development and line management, so his views (if acted on in his job) likely mean he's already done things that breach UK employment law on discrimination.

    Is it right to report a private conversation to his manager and provide chat logs if required?

    On the one hand, it's a massive breach of trust. On the other, it's protecting the people he works with, both staff and customers - and the potential future employees he would prevent from ever getting a job...

  2. #2

    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    This is the most 1984-esque thread I've read in a while. Thank you for convincing me that I'm stuck in reality of some 1950s dystopian sci-fi novel.
    But seriously, reporting your friend over essentially superficial things is a very dishonorable thing to do. If you disagree with his stance on such matters, then do what a friend would do and convince him otherwise yourself.

  3. #3
    the Black Prince's Avatar British Patriot
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Rest assured, debate is ongoing.

    But the reality is his views if acted on in his employment would be illegal. They'd cause his company some serious issues. He's effectively a lawsuit waiting to happen. Not to mention the impact on people whose job applications have gone on the reject pile because their name is Ahmed rather than Andrew.

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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    (1) Do you have evidence that he broke the law? No => there's nothing to report* . Talk to him to let him know his views are not entirely ok.

    Yes 1 => (2) Is it mandatory to report anybody you have knowledge of breaking the law? No2 => talk to him about what a douche he is by acting like that and give him a chance to make good. If he refuses/fails/breaks the law again get his ass fired.

    Yes2 => Report him.


    *Only ultimate douche-bags try to get people fired because they don't like their opinions and those people deserve to burn in the lowest pit of hell.
    Last edited by Settra; August 04, 2019 at 02:10 PM.
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Can you prove that he actually discriminated someone?

    If not, leave it alone. Being racist is not a crime. Acting upon it is. However, his employer would probably fire him over any excuse had he found out, you'd ruin your friendship and in the end, it would cause nothing but grief.

    Either convince him otherwise, end the friendship or get over the difference.

  6. #6
    Imperator Majora's Avatar What's under your mask?
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I think it's pretty simple.

    If he hasn't acted on it, it's none of your damn business.

    If you keep him as a friend, try to convince him otherwise, tell him off or anything along those lines, well, that's all up to you.

    If you can definitively say he will/has acted upon those biases and have evidence of that, act, as it is probably actionable and fair to target. Upon review, this stood out.
    its easier to just ignore applications with foreign sounding names when doing recruitment as statistically they aren't likely to have the values we're looking for anyway and it saves time
    If the individual is part of the hiring process, further steps, possibly research would be necessary. Bouncing to reporting is an extreme first step given the limited context available. However, this is simply unfair recruitment and potential damage to the company, not to mention the consequences if this fact went out (again assuming he is a part of the process). My first step would be to refer to the post below, to moderate him and attempt to have him see reason. If that cannot be established, particularly to the point where again, he's part of the process and openly discriminates by 'foreign sounding names', then I think you are well within reasonable moral boundaries to take further action.
    Last edited by Imperator Majora; August 04, 2019 at 06:00 PM.

  7. #7
    Kritias's Avatar Petite bourgeois
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I'll actually have to agree with Sar1n here - being a crappy person but not acting on it is not a crime. There's the argument, however, that oft gets raised in law schools: can you draw a difference between what a person says and their motivations for acting?

    I'll go out on a limb here, Prince, and assume that since you're friends you must be seeing some redeeming qualities in your friend. If that's the case then your course of action seems pretty clear to me -- protect them. You're friends first and foremost.

    Open a dialogue and state your fears that they might be on the receiving end of a lawsuit that might hurt them financially, socially and mentally. Raise the question whether your friend has already discussed this at work, and whether they will throw them under the bus if hits the fan. Tell them that they ought to protect themselves from getting into a situation that would severely damage them - I don't think that HR agents will be recruited easily if fired once for discrimination.

    That's step one - making sure they do not perpetuate their beliefs in the workplace, but since you can really change their minds in a limited space of time, try to make sure they won't be fired because of them.

    Step two is just talk to them on the subject - from what you write your friend must hold some views you disagree with. Get them to talking and maybe you will be able to moderate their views.

    But reporting them? You'd only be protecting their company from a lawsuit and getting your friend harmed in the process. What's more, your friend will have learnt nothing from the process -- if he already holds certain views and gets punished for them, that will only serve to push them further down to the more extreme right.

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    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    What does friendship mean? If what you have written went viral would your friend not see that you were talking about him? My point is did he tell you these things in confidence as a friend expecting it to remain confidential between two friends? No matter what he thinks or does the very last thing he would expect from you is to divulge his confidences given you as a friend. So, the onus of what that friendship is falls on your honour, not his. Genuine friends are hard to come by and if it is genuine he will listen to you and take on board the dangers that lie before him if he continues to carry on. I mean how true are his words? Is he not just bragging as blokes do? Could it be that he is testing you and your friendship? Be careful.

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    Mithradates's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Quote Originally Posted by the Black Prince View Post
    it's a massive breach of trust.
    With him, and with everybody else who will learn what you did to him.

  10. #10

    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    If he's your friend and you have a friendship going with him, you should explain why racism is wrong or try to have some talk about it. Technically you can reach an agreement of sorts.

    The moment you report him for having dissenting opinions, the friendship is over.
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    @ Black Prince

    I LOL'd at the "ignore application" bit because its so relevant to what I have experienced in the past few decades working for different companies (so it happens everywhere, can't point the finger on a single industry/company).
    We often recruit when a position has already been filled internally. SO the poor 15-20+ applicants coming for the interview will never get the job no matter how well they do at the interview (among other things its all just for formality).
    Your friend speaks the truth LOL. WELCOME TO REALITY

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    the Black Prince's Avatar British Patriot
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I named no names, or companies. And it was within a large FB group that he's not a part of. While there's 1 mutual friend also in that group, unless he also knows the original friend has strong racist views he'd not make the connection.

    What's fascinating is on the FB group the balance was massively split. I got 100+ replies agreeing I should report him immediately. But equally as many suggesting not to for a variety of reasons.

    I haven't. I doubt I will, coz tbh I don't have the strongest evidence of him actually doing anything. I certainly think an awful lot less of him.

    @stario - my organisation doesn't go external unless we've failed to fill a position internally, either through lack of interest or no candidate getting an appointment score at interview. Or for an entry level job. Interviewing for a job you've filled internally sounds like a massive waste of time.

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    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I'm going on a limb here and will assume that if he'd told you he was actively discriminating in his job function, you'd have told us so. So it's not even a moral dilemma as in: "Should I report my friend for having committed crimes." In which case the answer would depend on the crime but mostly be a yes. But that's not your dilemma, is it?

    You know there were times even in your country where being gay was illegal and being denunciated guaranteed job loss and worse. In 1933's Germany, "Berufsverbot" was one of the very first oppressive measures introduced by the new Nazi regime, and in the Soviet Union... uff. Not much better. In the US we also have the glorious McCarthy era.

    I'm going to be harsh now and say it: If you believed in Democracy and pluralism, that you wouldn't even be asking that question right now.

    Worst part is that your dilemma seems to be more about him being your friend, not about harming a persons life in principle.

    And it's shameful that this is the time we live in. People on the left and right starting witch hunts against each other. It is NOT ok.
    We have this thread somewhere here in the debate forum where someone talks about a "crisis in conservativism". This thread here makes it obvious that there isn't even a crisis of liberalism anymore. It's mostly dead.

    So let's say you do rat him out and he loses his job. Is he going to become a better person? Probably the opposite. He might even have a hard time getting a new job if you destroy him well enough. Maybe he'll kill himself. Or maybe decide he'd rather go out with a murder rampage. I don't think the rise of political correctness and that of politically motivated violence are unrelated.
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    ''its easier to just ignore applications with foreign sounding names when doing recruitment as statistically they aren't likely to have the values we're looking for anyway and it saves time''

    He's a moron. However, if you want to change his mind, reporting him won't work. Your best shot is to make him meet nice foreign people. If you can show him evidence that someone being called Ahmed isn't necessarily a terrible person, then he might change his mind.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Quote Originally Posted by the Black Prince View Post
    I named no names, or companies. And it was within a large FB group that he's not a part of. While there's 1 mutual friend also in that group, unless he also knows the original friend has strong racist views he'd not make the connection.

    What's fascinating is on the FB group the balance was massively split. I got 100+ replies agreeing I should report him immediately. But equally as many suggesting not to for a variety of reasons.

    I haven't. I doubt I will, coz tbh I don't have the strongest evidence of him actually doing anything. I certainly think an awful lot less of him.

    @stario - my organisation doesn't go external unless we've failed to fill a position internally, either through lack of interest or no candidate getting an appointment score at interview. Or for an entry level job. Interviewing for a job you've filled internally sounds like a massive waste of time.

    You don't know if he has acted on those views. A lot of people.sometimes express views that in real life they don't act on in real life. A person may feel that foreigners should not be hired, follow the company's policy even if they don't agree with it. I may feel I shouldn't have to pay taxes to support or promote things I don't agree with, but that does not mean I won't pay my taxes. We

    I find a lot of people are harsher in their views in their writing than in real life - when contronted with real people, many of them just don't would not act out their harsher views. A person mY say that illegal immigrants shouldn't get medical treatment, but when actually facing a sick illegal.immigrant child, would relent in their actions. You could get your friend in lot of trouble for nothing, and frankly, you are not much of a friend to be talking about this to strangers. You should be talking to your friend about these views, explaining how they are wrong, and challenging him whether he would really act the way he talks. Reporting him could needlessly cause him.trouble when he hadn't actually done anything. At the least, you could ask him if he has acted on his views before you turn him in.

    Only if it were a life and death situation would you be justified. For example, if he were a nurse taking care of old people, and he thinks that old people are just a waste of human resources and should all be euthanized, you might want to consider it. Or if he does think having sex with little children is wrong and he has fantasies about doing it, and he is a grade school teacher, then yes. But your friend isn't in any of those situations from what you say.


    And your reaction on some of his views says as much about you as your friend. While I disagree with his idea, the idea that people who require extra service should be required to pay extra for such service as using s wheel chair is not necessarily completely unjustified. I think is is a little.selfish, and short sighted, since I don't think it is unfair to spread the cost such of enable a wheel chair over the rest of the passenger gets, and we will help from others in our life style one time.or another. Not really that much different than the views of those who oppose a universal health Care system. But I don't see that as a reason for reporting your friend, since he isn't in a position to change get policy with regard to wheel chairs and airlines. Not something that seems to be reportable to me, no different than someone who is opposed to the government requirement to put in handicapped access in all public places, regardless of the expense, or the fact that their might not be any person who actually uses it. We might not agree with those views, but it is not something I think needs to be reported.
    Last edited by Common Soldier; August 06, 2019 at 06:49 PM.

  16. #16
    Muizer's Avatar member 3519
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I read this today. Reminded me of your post. Is about an australian civil servant being sacked for expressing views on social media that could be seen to conflict with her job.

    Crucial part being, these views were being posted on a twitter account which had never disclosed "that it was operated or endorsed by a member of the public service". They were posted in her own time on her own device under a pseudonym. Yet the court ruled that this did not meet the standards of "reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest (real or apparent)" with their employment. Civil servants, in other words, were supposed to be a-political, not just act apolitically in their job. Her laywer expressed concerns it would not be hard to extend this to employees working in the private sector. So, to all you Ozzies on TWC, I hope you've been on your best behaviour!

    As for the topic of this thread, your friend making these remarks make him suspect, but not guilty. Suppose, however, that in the future you hear of actual wrongdoing either by him personally or just common practice where he works, then I think you should at least feel free to report on it. So, IMHO, the big question for you is "what do I tell my friend now such that if this ever comes to pass I can disclose what I know with a clean conscience".
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    In Australia the terms of employment are made clear. When I have worked in the public sector its been spelt out I was not to make political comments under my own name. We are a bit over the top with this sort of paperwork but we like an apolitical apparatus.

    Seems extreme to sack the woman if she posted anonymously though, is this right? IIRC (it was awhile ago) I was told "you can give can interview anonymously as a private citizen but not as an officer of X".

    OP if your friend has committed an offence then you should report them, and then tell them you reported them. If he's talking crap then tell him he's talking crap.

    A friend of mine (who died recently, miss her a lot) would occasionally talk crap about how she hated Jews, Muslims, black people, lesbians etc (but didn't mind gay men, weird) and we'd stoush over the stupid things she'd come out with. However she had friends who were lesbians, Muslims (she loved her Sunni Turkish neighbour, they always be giving each other things from the garden) Jews, black people etc. basically she talked a lot of crap but lived a good life.

    People can be really stupid about what they say (I know I am) but it matters a lot more what they do. If your mate is pushing over cripples in wheelchairs he belongs in gaol. If he's talking crap on the internet help him out by challenging his stupid ideas. He might challenge some of yours too, win/win. If he tells you to GAGF then unfriend the POS. Life is too short to waste time keeping dickheads happy.
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  18. #18
    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    I know that it is human nature to have thoughts about just about anyone one has to work with and it's human nature that many can't keep their thoughts to themselves. It's not restricted to men only as women have the same tendency towards others as well. When one employs someone a judgement has to be made yet one never knows what lies behind them in terms of their thoughts. That goes with friendships too in many cases. I mean what friend has never divulged a secret to another person? I have but never anything that could destroy one's job, never anything that might destroy a marriage or break up a family but nonetheless it may destroy forever a friendship. The propensity to raise someone up and see them fall is like a national sport but then I suppose that's the nature of man and always has been.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Quote Originally Posted by the Black Prince View Post
    I posted this on a facebook group and got an interesting range of replies, but since the group was generally quite left wing there may have been a bias to the debate and I wonder what TWCs reaction would be.

    So, I'm gay (no news there) and have a close gay friend that I've known for 6 or 7 years. Both of us are white males, both of us varying degrees of right wing in UK political terms, though his views are more right than mine.

    Recently, there was a viral incident about equality in his industry, but not involving his employer, that got me asking out of genuine curiosity how he'd respond in similar scenarios. His replies outright astounded me, and demonstrated extremely discriminatory views against pregnant women, people of different racial backgrounds (all kinds) and disabled people. The conversation was over fb messenger so I've got a complete chat record of his comments.

    Some examples include -
    disabled wheelchair users shouldn't be allowed on planes unless they can afford to pay the extra cost of carrying their wheelchairs and providing their assistance - airlines shouldn't have to cover that themselves

    its easier to just ignore applications with foreign sounding names when doing recruitment as statistically they aren't likely to have the values we're looking for anyway and it saves time


    Here's the catch - I know his boss. I don't work for the same employer though, or even in the same industry.
    My friend is involved in recruitment, training, staff development and line management, so his views (if acted on in his job) likely mean he's already done things that breach UK employment law on discrimination.

    Is it right to report a private conversation to his manager and provide chat logs if required?

    On the one hand, it's a massive breach of trust. On the other, it's protecting the people he works with, both staff and customers - and the potential future employees he would prevent from ever getting a job...
    I will give you some free advice. Take or leave it as you please. no political bollocks, just what is expected in a workplace environment. This assumes that anything takes place in the UK.

    As Muizer said, and it's a good point...
    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    . So, IMHO, the big question for you is "what do I tell my friend now such that if this ever comes to pass I can disclose what I know with a clean conscience".
    Worst case scenario- If he is involved in recruitment he is certainly a liability to the firm, at some point he could disclose this to someone who would have no problem putting corporate interest before self. If caught doing something unlawful and the employer has a half decent conduct and discipline policy, then in the event of a discrimination claim the employer will try to avoid personal responsibility by proposing that the discriminator themselves and /or those who facilitated that conductshould be partly or entirely responsible for any financial penalties arising as a result. He would be likely to be sacked anyway and anyone associated with the misconduct would certainly expect disciplinary action.


    It's your choice, only you know what evidence you have. It's not your workplace so you have no obligation to do anything unless a crime is being commited. Doing nothing may look like any easy option, but it won't be, because you will still have that nagging doubt.

    It wouldn't hurt to say ,especially if he repeats such comments, that they are not welcome. If you are able to go further, you can ask him if he can afford to lose his job and pay £10s of 000s to a complete stranger for no reason.If he protests you could insist that if he says it again you cannot tolerate discrimination and you are put in the position you have just described.

    I'm not sure to what extent the Equality Advice and Support Service can help you as a third party, but if they can, you would have the benefit of independent, professional and unbiased advice.
    Last edited by mongrel; August 17, 2019 at 10:08 AM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: The ethics of reporting a racist friend..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I read this today. Reminded me of your post. Is about an australian civil servant being sacked for expressing views on social media that could be seen to conflict with her job.

    Crucial part being, these views were being posted on a twitter account which had never disclosed "that it was operated or endorsed by a member of the public service". They were posted in her own time on her own device under a pseudonym. Yet the court ruled that this did not meet the standards of "reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest (real or apparent)" with their employment. Civil servants, in other words, were supposed to be a-political, not just act apolitically in their job. Her laywer expressed concerns it would not be hard to extend this to employees working in the private sector. So, to all you Ozzies on TWC, I hope you've been on your best behaviour!

    As for the topic of this thread, your friend making these remarks make him suspect, but not guilty. Suppose, however, that in the future you hear of actual wrongdoing either by him personally or just common practice where he works, then I think you should at least feel free to report on it. So, IMHO, the big question for you is "what do I tell my friend now such that if this ever comes to pass I can disclose what I know with a clean conscience".
    The difference is the OP has word of mouth responses, and Australian court has a governmental policy of civil servants being required to be a-political and a civil servant is going functionally on public record not taking such reasonable steps to be a-political whether such things were posted under an anonymous pseudonym or their own name.

    You even get a lot of this in America in certain aspects of of federal service. Some get to go further and wider in their 1st Amendment affectations, but, let's say, the military. The military in America finds itself willingly put in a box because the military will not participate in the politics except to vote. A military enlisted or officer stepping outside this box in America can find themselves swiftly and harshly dragged back in.
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