Community manager fired after controversial tweets about embattled NBA owner Donald Sterling

Josh Olin relieved of his position at Left 4 Dead and Evolve studio Turtle Rock after calling the disgraced NBA owner a "victim."

Turtle Rock, creator of the Left 4 Dead franchise and the upcoming Xbox One/PS4/PC game Evolve, has fired its community manager after he tweeted about embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, calling him a "victim."

Josh Olin, who formerly worked at League of Legends developer Riot Games and Call of Duty company Treyarch, tweeted the following message last night.

This afternoon, Turtle Rock apologized for Olin's tweets, saying they don't represent the company's values and calling Olin a "former" community manager for the studio.

"The comments made by our former community manager stand in stark contrast to our values as a game development studio," Turtle Rock said on Twitter. "We sincerely apologize for his remarks and in no way endorse or support those views."

For his part, Olin responded with a statement of his own.

"Anyone who follows me knows my tweets were not in support of Sterling's actions. Rather, they were promoting three core tenets I believe in: 1) The harm sensational media presents to society. 2) The importance and sanctity of your privacy within your own home. And 3) The right to be whatever you want to be as an American, as long as it isn't hurting anyone else. That last point not to be confused with condoning Sterling's actions, which I don't," Olin told Kotaku.

"That said, it's disappointing to see that a select few in Turtle Rock and 2K Games management bought into this hysteria without even having a conversation with me--or even thoroughly reviewing the context of the tweets themselves," he added. "Ironically, it serves as a great example of why I hold tenet #1 above so close to heart. That said, everyone should totally still buy Evolve. The guys and gals making that game know their ***, and are making it good."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

483 comments
MaddCain
MaddCain

Older article, but I had to comment. This is utter BS...when I first read this article, I figured he did it from the company's twitter account, but it was his personal. And his comments were not even detrimental. *sigh* I'm growing tired of this "PC" world

renegade0894
renegade0894

"I do not agree with a word you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."  Remember that, because this man just got fired for paraphrasing it in a more specific and relevant context.  This is a frightening example of "Politically Correct Extremism".  Freedom of speech can never be a one sided privilege.  My RIGHT to bash racists for making racist comments,  comes with the price of giving racists the RIGHT to make those comments in the first place.  I agree with Josh Olin.  Sterling does have the right to be an asshole, just as much as I have the right to call him one.

BranKetra
BranKetra moderator moderator

Do you know what caused this low tolerance throughout the internet? Jerks on the internet. People cry foul and for good reason, but anyone who has been on the internet for more than a few weeks should know that there is a reason for this strictness. I believe the pros of freedom of speech are greater than the cons. However, the United States of America has been increasing its strictness regarding speech and communication in general for years both in government and social settings. 


Keep this in mind: The Alien and Sedition Acts are still in effect today.

Poodger
Poodger

This whole situation is silly. Way silly.

marie_vivian
marie_vivian

Let's tolerate Sterling's verbal filth for the sake of freedom of speech and privacy?!

Okay YOU do that ... fine for me you can tolerate. But I CANNOT AND I WON'T!

I'm willing to forgo some freedoms if it means preserving decency in the human race!

kurbstar
kurbstar

Liberalism: Where you have no right to personal opinions without harassment from the PC crowd because you're owned by corporate masters 24/7, and you're always on the clock even when you're not getting paid

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

With so much of what we say or do that can go public, not necessarily on this scale, more people will be more careful what they say or do, or they may play it safe and just not say anything. Although I certainly believe in responsibility for one's actions and words, this increased mental guard, perhaps even leading to apathy, doesn't feel healthy for our society. Although he expressed it poorly, Olin brought up a concern regarding privacy (which relates to legal recording of conversation and wiretapping) that even news media began to discuss after the initial outrage over Sterling cooled a bit. He had a chance to provoke questions in his followers, some of whom might otherwise see the Sterling story in much more simplistic light. Although he must have poked enough important people the wrong way, I think he was right to poke.

kalipekona
kalipekona

We are talking about a societal value. Just because the NBA is within their legal rights doesn't necessarily mean that it is the "right" thing to do. But the bigger issue is the politically correct extremism in our society that makes an organization like the NBA feel they need to make a decision like this. That's the real issue. 

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

I don't think the guy deserved to lose his job over such a statement, but on the other hand.. when will people in the public eye stop using social networks to spew their own personal views and nonsense... haven't enough people been shamed and fired already...?  You'd think they would learn... if it's not a popular opinion, you will get torn a new one.

bob15x
bob15x

Guy said nothing wrong.  He is going to sue and will win.

Takeno456
Takeno456

Ok if the guy made the tweet on a company account then yeah he can probably get fired because company policies usually forbid employees from make personal opinions on behalf of the company. However if the guy was at home on his own account and computer and was still fired then I think that's wrong.  

grenadehh
grenadehh

I like how much digging I had to do to actually find the audio of what Sterling said. Clearly he's a dumbass and a bigot but I don't really understand the context so whatever.

grenadehh
grenadehh

Are you shitting me? He got fired for this? Did he use his official turtle rock twitter? 

clint_marshall
clint_marshall

I've been following the Sterling story for a few days now and have grown bored with it. Everybody knows the guy's a dirt-bag. Everyone knows his rights under the 1st Amendment were not infringed upon. The only interesting thing that we will probably never know is the motive behind it. V Stiviano was obviously coached; her purpose was to expose him. She's in collusion with someone. Maybe it's Magic Johnson. Who knows. Like I said, I'm bored with it.


But then this community manager gets fired over a tweet. Now that's interesting. Not surprising. But interesting. The tweet wasn't even especially offensive, except perhaps the "victim" part. He was defending the right to privacy. He chose the wrong battle. 


What I hope this does is bring a heightened awareness to the consequences of social media. In today's age, your private life is intertwined with your public and professional life in a way never seen before. Is that a good thing? Now there's an interesting discussion. Anyone want to weigh in on that question?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

This guy should have attended Adam Orth's seminar!

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Time for Josh Olin to understand what freedom of speech actually means - if you say something that your employer finds disgraceful, they can remove you.


It's such a shame you never understood our constitution.  Sometimes when you have an unpopular opinion - you keep it to yourself.

nobody490
nobody490

Ahhh.. freedom of this and that. No one is totally free to say or do whatever they want, even in this country, unless you are the only person on the planet. If you live in a society with other humans, you always have to watch what you say and do.

skoypidia
skoypidia

Political correctness is todays fascism 

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@marie_vivian  


"I'm willing to forgo some freedoms if it means preserving decency in the human race!"


You're an idiot. You don't deserve any freedom. Maybe you should move to Iran where womens rights are basically on par with objects and house pets.

Disciple_Gamer
Disciple_Gamer

@kalipekona  The owner basically called his players slave labor.  The NBA does not represent those views. Sterlings words threaten the NBA's image.  Lots of corporations have zero tolerance policies.  The NBA is no different.  What exactly is the 'right' thing to do??

kalipekona
kalipekona

I'm not saying the NBA made an unreasonable decision given the current societal attitudes, I'm talking about social values. 


We don't want mob rule. We want a society that is tolerant of individual differences and individual points of view. Even of views that might be distasteful to us personally. 


The hysteria and extremism of political correctness has gone way too far and it is resulting in a sort of lynch mob mentality that is destructive to individual liberty even if "free speech" is ostensibly protected under the law. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@kalipekona Kicking someone out who's a racist and a sexist?  Sounds like the right thing to do to me.  Someone like that cannot be the owner of a multiracial basketball team.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@nl_skipper The ironic thing is the core issue of his comment is worth discussing. If only he used more tact...

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@bob15x  As a private citizen he didn't say anything wrong, but as a company representative, he done goofed!

Disciple_Gamer
Disciple_Gamer

@Takeno456  Its not wrong.  He is a representative for his employer.  If the employer see that their image is being tainted by views they deem inappropriate, the employer has every right to distance themselves from that person.  People seems to think the privacy of their home make them safe from situations like this.  That is only true if said situation stays private.  If it becomes public, be prepare for any consequences.

clint_marshall
clint_marshall

@Takeno456  


If he was a programmer or something, I would completely agree. But the fact that he was the community manager in charge of keeping up public relations really complicates the matter. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@grenadehh So you just admitted you literally had no idea what you were talking about.


Holy crap.

homey_d_clown
homey_d_clown

@grenadehh

You jumped on 4 or 5 different discussions previously telling people they are wrong, but you dont understand the context?

You just lost all credability, troll on.

anvilone
anvilone moderator

It doesn't really matter. A lot of people with personal Twitter accounts still represent their company in public eye, even if the account is explicitly personal ("these thoughts are my own, not X"). GameSpot staff, for example, have a lot of followers because of working here and are seen as employees of the site.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@clint_marshall  Yea free speech is always the wrong battle. Funny how we live in such a fucking tyrannical country that trying to stand up for the most important aspect of American "freedom" only ever gets a mountain of shit dumped on your head.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Thanatos2k  They actually can't. There is no legal precedence saying it's okay for them to do and it's amazing at this point that there hasn't been a case taken to the supreme court regarding companies firing people for things said on the internet to put the matter to rest.

zerofrust
zerofrust

@Disciple_Gamer @kalipekona  

The right thing to do according to Kalipekona would be to do nothing and let your business take a hit over a racist belief you don't even endorse...

Sometimes i wonder in what kind of fantasy land some people live in.

kurbstar
kurbstar

@Thanatos2k @kalipekona  that's probably because you're a filthy commie who can't fathom someone hating the multiculturalist cesspool your kind created

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@nl_skipper @bob15xAh, but there is a rub. Is his tweet a part of his personal life or his professional life? How much can a company claim breach of contract or some such dereliction of professional obligation if his tweet is personal but followed by a whole bunch of gamers in the community he manages? Does it matter whether there is a uproar from the community before his employment is terminated? I think there are some worthy legal issues here.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@Disciple_Gamer @Takeno456The company can certainly come up with more defensible reasons for employment termination, but can it use as sole reason a private account tweet that it considers harmful to its corporate image, without actually proving it harms its corporate image? It maybe that the company can terminate employment at any time for any reason not prohibited by anti-discrimination or other relevant laws, but I am curious when it doesn't specifically have that contractual right.

clint_marshall
clint_marshall

@grenadehh @clint_marshall  


I sympathize with your indignation to a point. 


A) It doesn't seem right that someone should say something, however hateful, in private and then have that privacy broken and then be forced to sell property as a result of that exposure (not that Sterling has sold anything yet, but he will).


B) It also doesn't seem right that a person who feels strongly about privacy and freedom of opinion should be fired for standing up for it. 


But we live in America in the 21st century, not the 18th or the 19th or the 20th. It's not okay to make racial remarks in private or public, not in the eyes of the public. The public--the paying public--weighed in on this issue and condemned Sterling, and the commissioner--the PR man for the NBA--had to show zero tolerance for his racial remarks, which the paying public deemed unacceptable, or otherwise face the consequence of losing millions upon millions of dollars in revenue.



The community manager fought the wrong battle because he didn't take certain factors into consideration: 1) Sterling is a known bigot; 2) Sterling gave consent to his mistress to record their conversations (thereby making them public); 3) as a franchisor of a NBA team, Sterling is responsible for keeping up a healthy image in the eyes of NBA fans. Lastly, this community manager's biggest mistake was getting all indignant in the first place.


Protecting Sterling by twisting this case into something that is protected by the Constitution is like wiping your ass with that most sacred of documents. Now that is something to be indignant about.

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@grenadehh @clint_marshall  He was not imprisoned for his comments. When the constitution was written people in England could get thrown in jail just for talking about the royal family. 


He has public job where he is the face of the company. He should understand that and probably does.  

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@Disciple_Gamer A difference in value doesn't sound like a policy violation. It seems to me Turtle Rock simply has discretion to terminate employment when it deems Olin undesirable. I am not criticizing; a contract is a contract. I am also curious which of TR's values Olin's tweet offended, but we don't need to get into that.

Disciple_Gamer
Disciple_Gamer

@Unfallen_Satan @Disciple_Gamer  Its stated in the article.  "The comments made by our former community manager stand in stark contrast to our values as a game development studio," Turtle Rock said on Twitter. "We sincerely apologize for his remarks and in no way endorse or support those views."  


Turtle Rock protected their values and their bottom line by removing Olin because of his public tweet.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@Disciple_Gamer Certainly. Without knowing the specifics of this instance, can you think of a sample policy that Olin's tweet might have violated?

Disciple_Gamer
Disciple_Gamer

@grenadehh  If what you do in private is a detriment to your employer, they have every right to distance themselves from you, aka suspension or firing you.  The only way for the employer to know what you do in private is for it to become public and people seems to miss that important point.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@grenadehh @Thanatos2k He is a COMMUNITY MANAGER.  It is his job to talk to the public, so any public comments will reflect on the company that employs him.

You're so wrong it's sad.  I hope your ignorance doesn't cause you to lose your job someday, but it just might!

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Thanatos2k @grenadehh  False. Sorry, but absolutely false. Unless you're posting online on an official account your business uses or posting while coming out and manually identifying yourself as an employee of that company, you aren't representing them. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@grenadehh @Thanatos2kThings you post on the internet are public, as if you shouted them from a streetcorner.  When you post online with your name attached - you are representing your employer.


Get used to it.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Thanatos2k  He wasn't. As far as I can tell, that's his personal Twitter. That's why I asked in my original comment is this his twitter or does he use this to tweet as a Turtle Rock employee?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@grenadehh @Thanatos2k NUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

You know that isn't an argument, right?


If you are representing the company, yes, they can.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Thanatos2k @grenadehh  No, it isn't. They have no authority to control what you do on the internet. They can be pieces of shit and do it anyway and claim something else, but I challenge you to find any written authorization anywhere that a company can fire you for what you do on your own time, on your own computer, on your own ISP. That's complete corporatism bullshit.