Donald Sterling, Hess & Hate Speech At Work

Just like Donald Sterling and his hate-fueled racist rants don't represent the Los Angeles Clippers as a whole, I don't think the employee making homophobic remarks towards my boyfriend represents all of Hess. | Source: ShutterStock

Just like Donald Sterling and his hate-fueled racist rants don’t represent the Los Angeles Clippers as a whole, I don’t think the employee making homophobic remarks towards my boyfriend represents all of Hess. | Source: ShutterStock

Oil companies are often regarded as inherently evil, but until automakers create affordable vehicles that don’t rely on petroleum, they’re a necessary evil. That said, my boyfriend did me the favor of filling my tank for me this week. He initially went to a Hess station to do so. We won’t be doing that again–at least not in the city where we live.

When he pulled up to the pump, an attendant greeted him with nothing but “fag.” As my boyfriend eloquently put it:

“Went to a Hess gas station to put gas in my girlfriend’s car, and the attendant looked and me and went, ‘fag’ and then walked away without putting gas in the car. Aside from being a crappy way to treat someone, gay people still need gas and still use regular money, so that’s a pretty shitty business practice.”

He said that part better than I could. He also left and fueled up elsewhere.

Hate speech is a necessary evil that comes with free speech, and while I don’t agree with hate speech whatsoever, I don’t think hate speech should be outlawed in your private life (that whole “slippery slope” thing). But I do think it’s important to watch your mouth, to speak carefully and to take into account the fact that what you think is a private conversation may not be so private.

Donald Sterling made offensive and derogatory comments that reflect his own views on his employees, his alleged mistress and many of his consumers. That’s a no-no.

Similarly, even as freedom loving as I am, in a professional establishment when you’re trying to make money, it’s probably not a good idea to spout homophobic slurs at your customers.

I let Hess’ media relations people know what happened, because, let’s be honest: When bad press is at stake, customer service complaints will get a lot more attention and I’d be less likely to be put on hold. The representative who contacted me assured that the company doesn’t stand behind the actions of this rogue homophobe, which makes me happy, but I won’t be pulling up to one of their stations again.

This is the most basic business sense there is: The people at the bottom are responsible for making the people at the top look good. There’s a reason Starbucks hires perky people to be baristas: If you encounter a real dick before you’ve had your coffee, you’re going to be very unhappy. If you call my boyfriend names when he’s doing me a favor, I’m going to be very unhappy–and then you’re going to be even more unhappy.

Do I want this guy to get fired? Not really. I feel awful whenever anyone gets fired. But I do want this person to understand what that word really means and that he messed with the wrong mouthy person’s beau. I would like him reprimanded and to learn a lesson, and maybe, if this garners enough attention, a contribution to GLAAD or the like would be in order.

And for the record, not that it matters: I’ve both shared a bed with my boyfriend and seen his Internet history, and I can confirm that he is 100 percent heterosexual. So this douchebag, who I don’t believe represents the beliefs of Hess as a whole, can take a seat.

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