Juli Briskman went for a bike ride last October not expecting to cross paths with the President. As she made her way across the sunny Virginia expressways she was surprised to hear the sirens of a Presidential motorcade roll by.
Almost reflexively, after years of helplessly watching Trump tear into the fabric of American culture, she lifted her middle finger to the passing motorcade.
The parting shot was captured by a wire service photographer and made its way around the internet, and Briskman, feeling especially proud of her brief protest, made it her profile picture on Twitter.
That’s what cost Briskman her job.
Three days later she was called into her manager’s office and told that she had posted “obscene,” or “inappropriate,” content on social media and that “corporate protection,” dictated her firing. The company received a number of government contracts and may have been fearful of retaliation against Briskman through the termination of those.
Briskman has jumped back into the political arena with a lawsuit against her former employer for violating Virginia employment law. In an op-ed of “The Washington Post”, she claims that she is among a growing number of people who have been cost a job because of the expression of speech against the President.
“I am not alone in having my ability to make a living threatened by my desire to exercise my right to free speech. No one who follows football thinks that all 50 quarterbacks signed by NFL teams in the past year are more talented than Colin Kaepernick,” she wrote.
She would go on to say that “Eric Reid, one of the first to join Kaepernick’s protest, is facing speculation that the salary he can draw as a free agent is reduced because he engaged in political dissent.”
Briskman sees a growing number of people whose lives have been turned upside down because they voiced politically controversial opinions.
“This sort of behavior is familiar to people living in Egypt, Hungary, Thailand, Turkey and Russia, where the ability to do business increasingly depends on being seen as favorable to the regime,” she writes before concluding “once the freedom to speak is lost, then the rest of our constitutional rights will not be far behind.”
Her words serve a stark warning of what is to come if the protections of the 1st Amendment begin to ebb.
Following her, firing Briskman launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for the subsequent expenses and raised over $130,000.
H/T: The Washington Post