Colleen Oefelein, an associate literary agent with the New York City-based Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, was sacked after her boss learned that she owned accounts on Gab and Parler. The agency’s owner, Jennifer DeChiara, publicly announced on Twitter that the firm had dropped Oefelein after making the “distressing” discovery.
“We do not condone this activity, and apologize to anyone who has been affected or offended by this,” the message read. DeChiara stressed that her agency was committed to ensuring a “voice of unity” and was firmly “on the side of social justice.”
Oefelein said in a tweet that she was fired because she was a “Christian and a conservative.”
Unlike other victims of ‘cancel culture,’ it appears that Oefelein was singled-out not because of anything she wrote or said, but rather because she was guilty of using platforms that are popular with conservatives.
In fact, it doesn’t appear that her presence on the social media sites was ideologically motivated. In a tweet from January 13, the literary agent said that she would be posting less on Twitter because of technical difficulties she was experiencing with the platform, and announced that she would switch over to Facebook and “maybe” Gab.
In November she disclosed that she would begin using Parler, describing it as a “great platform with no censorship,” but it appears she used the site for work-related interactions with writers and potential clients.
Her decision to branch out onto different platforms didn’t seem to cause any consternation among her colleagues, but this suddenly changed after an anonymous Twitter user complained on Monday to the agency that one of its employees “frequents alt-right social media.”
Judging by responses on social media, the literary agency may have been too eager to distance itself from Oefelein. DeChiara locked her Twitter account after publicly excommunicating her former employee, suggesting that she may have received some unwanted feedback about the bold managerial move.
Dozens of Twitter users expressed outrage over Oefelein’s sacking and urged the now-unemployed agent to seek legal counsel, noting that she may be able to sue for wrongful termination.
“I hope you can find a good lawyer. This should not happen in a free country,” read a message from one of her supporters.
Even self-described liberals expressed uneasiness with Oefelein’s termination, noting that freedom of association is central to any truly tolerant society.
Many others warned of the dangerous precedent the case represents, noting that Oefelein was a “random person” who was thrown “under the bus” by her company, apparently in an effort to subdue a handful of upset Twitter users.
Few were willing to defend Oefelein’s firing, although some said that the move would be justified if it was found that she’d posted extremist views.
Parler was forced offline earlier this month after Amazon refused to host its servers, claiming that the social media platform was a safe haven for extremists and played a role in inciting riots at the Capitol on January 6. The app was also scrubbed from the Google Play and Apple stores.
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