“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” – Thomas Jefferson
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson
"[The] liberty of speaking and writing... guards our other liberties." - Thomas Jefferson
"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.... When wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality." - Thomas Jefferson
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." - Abraham Lincoln
New York Labor Law (NYLL) Article 7 Section 201-d protects lawful outside-work political and recreational activities.
In 2008, I was offered continued employment as a Business Analyst when JP Morgan Chase (JPMC) acquired Bear Stearns. I had just then self-published my first novel, Reason Reigns, which I worked on for two years while having a day job. Reason Reigns honors independent thinkers. I decided to use a penname to separate my private life from a public one. Since I consider my close workmates as personal friends, I shared my joy with them when I finished my novel. My managers knew of Reason Reigns and of my penname when I was offered employment at JPMC.
After self-publishing Reason Reigns, I started to blog. In 2009, I self-published Royal Serf, which honors the Declaration of Independence and business heroes. As backdrop, I used Mike Milken’s financial services story. Royal Serf refers to Corporate America, shackled with regulations. Its dedication page contains the following:
The world’s work needs to be done
They toil, the glorious ones
For life’s comforts, jobs, and gems
Thank you, dear Businessmen.
Though shackled, their toil goes on
Unleash these noble Dons
Tyrants’ bashing must now end
Hands off the Businessmen!
The world is blind, soon it shall see
The Royal Serfs shall then be free
Hated as selfish, hogtied as greedy
Soar proudly, Businessmen, enjoy the glory.
On June 11, 2010, I took the online 2010 JPMC Code of Conduct Training which EVERY employee must affirm. Unlike the publicly published Code, the training module contained examples of activities that violated the Code, e.g. posting this statement on the Internet even outside of work: “I think the financial services industry is over-regulated and should be governed by market forces only.”
I then realized the meaning of the following policy in the publicly published Code: “You should not comment on or provide information relating to JPMorgan Chase’s businesses…, in public forums unless you are specifically authorized to do so. The concept of “relating to JPMorgan Chase’s businesses” is broadly defined and generally includes anything related to the financial services industry…”
The example in the training module made it clear that this policy drops the context of proprietary or confidential information.
I did not know then of NYLL Section 201-d, but my mind wished for such a law to protect freedom outside of work. I talked with my managers, who referred me to Code Specialists. I emphasized that I use a penname and that I have never identified my employer in any public forum. An Associate General Counsel together with a Code Specialist told me to take down my blog and to stop marketing my novels.
These words on my blog evince why I could not do as ordered:
Reason Reigns and Royal Serf - A Hearing
“It’s not criminals who provoke great hatred, it’s honest men.” The words of a polymath and polyglot executed by tyrants at age 35: Dr. Jose Rizal.
Honesty is fidelity to the truth. The truth is what conforms to reality. Integrity is fidelity to logic. It is the refusal to hold contradictions; it is the consistent cohesion of words and deeds; it is honoring one’s mental creations by giving them physical existence….
Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero, was executed for writing novels that exposed theocrats and a tyrannical government. A sketch of his sculpture entitled The Power of Science over Death is on the cover of Reason Reigns.
I did not know of NYLL Section 201-d, so I used the words of the Founders to explain why I could not affirm JPMC's 2010 Code of Conduct:
From: Marilyn Tagocon
Sent: Friday, July 23, 2010 10:02 AM
To: Code Of Conduct
Subject: RE: ACTION REQUIRED: Your 2010 Code Affirmation
I have talked with my Managers, Code Specialists, and others regarding this. Please see the attached emails.
I wrote the following when I realized I cannot affirm the Code of Conduct 2010:
May I point to an example given in the 2010 Code of Conduct training that is contrary to JPMC’s policy that employees adhere to the highest standards of integrity, thus must be an error? This is cited as an example of what a JPMC employee is not permitted to post on the internet: “I think the financial services industry is over-regulated and should be governed by market forces only.” The JPMC and privacy contexts are dropped.
It is difficult to suppose that the inclusion of this example is not erroneous because it would then be the most grievous breach of integrity. A Code of Conduct may not infringe Individual Rights:
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” – Thomas Jefferson
The aforementioned prohibited statement violates no one’s rights, thus the right to say it is inalienable. Prohibiting such speech on the internet, outside of an employee’s job responsibility, in one’s own time, and using one’s own resources, is rights infringement and is anti Founding Principles:
“Perfect Freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship.” – Patrick Henry
“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we maybe led like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington
“Our Liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost.” - Thomas Jefferson
The principle of Individual Rights mandates that no individual may violate the equal rights of another. Individuals that make up JPMC are no exception. People cannot delegate a right they do not possess. Since the government’s just powers come from the people, it has no such right either. This is the basis of the Bill of Rights.
Since it is evil for the government or for any individual to infringe Rights, a Rights infringement must not find its way into JPMC’s Code of Conduct.
My husband has been seriously ill. We are not rich. But our top value is freedom! We are proudly standing up for the liberty of speaking and writing outside of work. Many thanks for the support of family and friends. Our gratitude to The Ottinger Firm.
“I am terrified. But Toni and I do not care to live without the freedom to think and act. We will not follow blindly nor live in fear. No. Not ever. I cannot stand by in safety while other decent people confront evil. I cannot hold convictions without acting upon them. To do nothing is not an option because I won’t like myself then. I have to help expose and stop the evildoers.” -- Alisa Connor from Reason Reigns
When JPMC ordered me to affirm its speech-infringing 2010 Code of Conduct Training, to take down my blog, and to stop marketing my novels, I responded by quoting New Jersey Declaration Signer Abraham Clark. Dragooned to renounce his signature on the Declaration of Independence for the release of his two sons, officers in the Continental Army, captured and tortured by the British: Abraham Clark said, “No.”
I could not abandon the words of the Founders nor my own battle cry:
Assert Freedom! Fight the knaves!
Else, be crowned cowards, willing slaves.
"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.... Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry
"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; … Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die." -- George Washington
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, may your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were ever our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." -- Thomas Paine
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us to tamely surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." -- Thomas Jefferson