Sometimes You Quit Your Job to Speak Your Mind

10 Feb

We are currently living in an environment in which our freedom of speech is under siege more than ever before.  We are denied access to vital information, misinformed by those who we trust to keep us aware, denied the opportunity to safely express our opinions.  Students are threatened with expulsion, journalists with incarceration, employees with termination all simply for holding others to reasonable standards of behavior.  And all this is so incredibly intertwined with money, power, ego, and entitlement that those of us lacking access to any, and sometimes all, of those things can be left completely voiceless, powerless.  That shouldn’t be so.  At a time when people reference the Bill of Rights almost constantly, why do so many of us feel so very silenced?

I have always been an opinionated girl.  What started out as indiscriminate screaming as a toddler has evolved into well thought out and incredibly strongly held beliefs about all manner of things.  It is one of my favorite things about myself but also what gets me into most of the jams I find myself in.  Sometimes I wish I could just keep my mouth shut, simply not care as much as I do, but then I wouldn’t be me.  The fact of the matter is that I care. If I had to go out on a limb and articulate what I care about more than anything else it would probably be equality.  At the same time,  if I had to say what it is that I personally work on harder than anything else, it is seeing everyone as equal.

I think that we are all raised in environments that, due to a myriad different factors, value certain people over others.  Be it due to skin color, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, class, appearance, profession, native language, accent, mental or physical ailments, we have a very unfortunate tendency to assign worth to individuals.  I am by no means innocent of this very thing.  The thing about it, though, is that I am trying.  I am trying, while understanding the privilege that I was born with, to shed preconceived notions of people, to make myself more tolerant, more understanding, more open, more human.  One of the by-products of this journey is that I am acutely aware of when I, and those whom I love, are treated as somehow lesser than.  It happens to me because I am Jewish, because I am female, because I work in the service profession.  It happens all the time and, just as I think others do not deserve that kind of treatment, I believe that I deserve better.  And so I speak and I write and for that I am not sorry.

Honestly, I am angry that I am writing this right now.  I think it is crazy that I have to sit here and talk about the fact that I believe people, all people, should be able to wake up in the morning and feel safe.  We should feel safe in our homes, on the streets, at our jobs.  We should feel as though we are of some value, some worth.  We should feel as though our friends and families are in our corner.  That should simply be part of being.  None of us should go through life constantly being told that we are not deserving of simple human kindness and yet, day after day, this is what happens to so many of us.  We shouldn’t have to justify our existence, our choices.  I was born female, I was born Jewish, I chose to bartend.  All of these things have made me who I am and I am not ashamed of any of them and I never will be.

If you come into the place in which I work and you disrespect me, my coworkers, my employers, you had better believe I am going to have something to say about  it.  Being drunk does not give you an excuse to treat other people with utter disregard.  We should never be called names, be threatened, or have things thrown at us simply for doing our jobs.  Nobody should.  We all are worth something, but by treating others poorly because you think your money or your degree somehow makes you worth more you are simply devaluing yourself.  Threatening a small business with a baseless, frivolous lawsuit simply so you don’t have to be held accountable for your own poor behavior devalues your profession.  Threatening someone’s freedom of speech simply because it gets your nose out of joint devalues the law itself.

So I quit my job.  I quit my job because I was asked to take my blog posts down and apologize to those who were bothered by them and I will not do either of those things.  I quit my job because a few members of an otherwise kind, intelligent, fun and caring group of legal professionals decided to lob an empty, and I believe ethically questionable, lawsuit at a bar because a barely-read blog detailed the extremely poor behavior of a few.  (One of whom, might I point out, has already had his name and profession published in the New York Post in connection with a drunken assault charge.)  The thing is, I never published last names and I have only published first names, and common ones at that, twice.  Once was retroactively, after I received an anonymous comment from an email address that was created for the occasion and subsequently disabled and after I quit my job, and the other because the person repeatedly threw things at me, on camera, which seems to me grounds for an assault charge.  And yet I left their last names out, and will continue to do so, not because I am afraid of being sued but because, for whatever reason and in the face of years of poor treatment and bad behavior, it seems like the moral thing to do.  Sometimes a girl just needs to vent, she does not need to impact someone else’s life in any real and negative way (possible ego bruising aside).  But that’s just me.  Some of these people might be assholes, but they are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

And besides, my integrity is simply too valuable to me.  I might not have as much money as some other people, and my resume might not be as impressive, but I feel damn good.  I have a right to say what I believe and I have the obligation to attach my name to what I say.  If that means that people don’t like me, that people threaten me, that people undermine the ethics of their own profession, that is their problem, not mine.  I have always been me and I always will be.  If I like you, believe me you will know it.  I will tell you in no uncertain terms.  But if you are disrespectful to me or someone I care about, I will tell you what I think.  That is my right and my obligation as a person who gives a damn.  You want to use your education to scare a few kind, hard-working, small business owners to death?  Go for it I hope you’re proud.  I will use mine to simply treat people with the kindness and respect they deserve.

Good luck and enjoy the bar, it’s all yours.

16 Responses to “Sometimes You Quit Your Job to Speak Your Mind”

  1. heather February 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    holy shit, girl.
    almost all the lawyers that go to that bar are the worst of the worst. from rape-eyes to the asshole students. good luck with everything and i am proud of you for standing up to the disrespectful bullying and self-righteousness of those people.

    • FranklyRebekah February 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks lady!!! Let’s catch up soon. I’ll come visit ya!

  2. elizagritz February 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh, Rebekah. This is a big thing. And a powerful one. I’m super proud of you as always for being you and being so damn good at it. I see great potential in this moment for you, but I also know it must be a bit scary. Sending you lots of love and high fives for being a badass. Thank you for having a voice and not being afraid to use it.

    • FranklyRebekah February 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Thanks girl!! Thanks for always being so awesome and supportive. And honestly, financially it might be stressful for a bit but i needed something to shock me out of my comfort zone because I didn’t have the guts to do it myself. Silver linings always. Love you so very much.

  3. John Peter Zenger February 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Just the fact that one of those lawyers carries the nickname “rape eyes” and is still welcome in that crew, speaks volumes about their collective character despite what oath they all took. When they are in that bar, it is absolutely unbearable. Are the owners such greedy capitalists that they are willing to let their atrocious behavior slide in the name of the mighty dollar, or are they just pussies?

    • FranklyRebekah February 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      I don’t think that the owners are either of those things. The ones that the general public sees, anyway. I think that they were put in a place where their livelihoods were threatened and that is a very scary thing. I can’t be sure that in their place I would have done anything different. What this is about is people misusing their power and for what? So they can buy booze? Please.

  4. Ob tampons February 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Sorry to hear about that!! Just goes to show you how much time young attys have on there hands. Im just disappointed they got what they wanted, and get to remain in the bar. Thats ridiculous! Hang in there.. talk soon.

    • FranklyRebekah February 10, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Thanks man! Talk soon indeed 🙂

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Just so the readers know, these specific lawyers are not allowed in the bar because you left. They didn’t win anything. We just lost a great co-worker. (Justifiably)

  5. creatingcarrie February 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    this made me tear up. and also swell with pride. thank you for being such an awesome role model!

    • FranklyRebekah February 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

      Thanks Carrie! It’s been a rough response so I appreciate all the support. Love you.

  6. hermes evelyne June 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    hermes evelyne
    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!


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