Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is the Spine Cartel violating your First Amendment Rights?

The First Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791 and it states; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So why is TSB writing about the First Amendment. Recently, it was brought to our attention that companies in our industry are now starting to insert provisions in their employment contracts that prohibit the employees from blogging in their spare time. This is quite disturbing, considering that for the first time, this industry has a forum where participants provide intelligent and knowledgeable information in real-time (at no-charge), using a platform that is not biased or has any financial interest (advertising revenues or investment capital) in the companies, or people that it writes about. We are proud to say that we even have patients and patient support groups following our blog and our readers' commentaries.

Obviously the impetus for these mandates stem from blog sites like "CafePharma" where anonymity is in vogue, because of vulgar and vile comments. The interesting thing is that many of the comments made about some of the industry's well-know sociopath's and recidivist's are well deserved. As I have said in previous blogs, it takes less energy to be nice than it does to be mean and nasty to people. Unfortunately, our industry prides itself on being unprofessional. Leadership, team work, out-of-the box thinking are buzz words that we like to use to impress others that we work in a progressive industry. If you read TSB our objective is never to slander anyone or use untruths to harm others. Our motto is "we want answers and we want the truth." And as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep said in a Few Good Men, "You can't handle the Truth!"

S0 in closing, keep blogging, because as most of you know, you can preserve your anonymity. "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to any person that rises and sleeps under the blanket of freedom (freedom of speech) that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way."


  1. When looking at first ammendment rights, I believe that there is a perceived (<-- Key word) difference between legal restrictions on speech via govt entities, and restriction via corporate entities. If you are an employer, you can essentially monitor and/or determine the every action of your employees. As an employer, you are essentially restricting speech by simply giving someone a job to do: "you're making me talk to widget buyers about buying widgets?! I refuse, I must be free to speak my mind, and widget's aren't on it!!" What it comes down to is this: how important is preserving your freedom, Mr/Ms Employee? Whereas employers have the implicit right to restrict certain (only certain) freedoms, a potential employee has the right to determine whether or not such an organization affords ENOUGH freedom to be acceptable. How much is your freedom worth? How much of it will you sacrifice to take home a paycheck? I think we all know, that the answer is "some" but we all draw the line at different places.

    But, then we throw the religion question in the mix, and it all becomes a bit sketchy. A company can prevent blogging on behalf of its employees, so essentially it can restrict freedom of speech. But we would not expect or respect an organization to restrict an individuals capability/freedom to practice religion.

    It's a slippery slope, no doubt.

    Kinda ranty, but whatever.

  2. I can see the need to prevent proprietary information from being leaked.

    Slander is illegal. Telling the truth is not. I would assume that many companies live in daily terror of an ethical employee getting fed up with the constant disreputable activity and pulling back the curtain on them.

    As long as anonymity is assured, I think venues like this one are great ways to shed a little light on this big, bloated, out-of control, regulatory-nightmare of an industry.

    When it comes to companies trying to protect themselves from discussion, I would have to paraphrase Shakespeare "Thou dost protest too much, methinks"!

  3. Givenoquarter, you are dead on the money!

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