When Harvard graduate Claira Janover posted a video to TikTok stating her distaste for people who say “all lives matter,” she likely wasn’t expecting the widespread backlash that would ensue on the Internet, much less the termination of her employment at Deloitte.
In subsequent TikTok videos, she criticizes Deloitte for their “cowardice” and claims, “Trump supporters took my job away from me” because of her videos “standing up for Black Lives Matter.”
But, that’s not what appeared to have happened. Social media users weren’t appalled because she publicly supports Black Lives Matter, as many people do; they were taken aback by the aggression with which Janover spoke about people who represent a differing point of view.
In the original video, Janover said she’d like to “stab” people who claim “all lives matter.” She continued: “While you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters too.’”
While we can assume she’s drawing an analogy for what she sees as the illogic of saying “all lives matter,” it’s still an unusually cruel way of making a point. Her flippant use of violent imagery is what drew people’s ire, and that’s why, presumably, she lost her job at Deloitte.
Some commentators have pointed out that this is an example of the “cancel culture” conservatives often complain about and that it’s thus hypocritical for conservatives to applaud Deloitte for their decision. I disagree. Cancel culture typically seeks to ruin the lives of people who violated political correctness either recently or decades ago. That’s not what happened here.
Janover’s comments at best made light of violence and at worst threatened it. That’s the kind of thing that would have always, even before the age of Twitter and TikTok, gotten employees of major companies fired. It reflects poorly on the employer. Stating a political opinion is one thing; publicly talking about stabbing someone who disagrees with you—even sarcastically—is another.
Janover claims to have received death threats from “Trump supporters,” and if that’s true, it’s wrong. No one should ever be subjected to threats of violence, empty or not. Janover simply needs to realize that that includes people who disagree with her, too.
As I’m sure she didn’t feel those who have allegedly threatened her were joking, many didn’t take her TikTok video as a joke, either. It’s probably just a good rule of thumb not to seriously or facetiously talk about assaulting and killing people who hold different political opinions than you.
The best outcome would be for Janover to learn a valuable lesson—don’t trivialize violence, and definitely don’t post about it online—and for her to move on with her life. We shouldn’t hope the worst for her. Everyone makes mistakes. Where leftist cancel culture refuses to offer grace, we should extend it.
Unfortunately, from what we can see, Janover isn’t interested in self-reflection. Her subsequent TikTok videos blaming Trump supporters for her woes demonstrate a stunning lack of self-awareness and an unwillingness to take responsibility for her words. In my view, she doesn’t owe the mob of faceless internet users an apology, but she would do well to show more respect to her former employer than to call them cowards. It’s hard to imagine that kind of attitude bodes well for future job prospects.
It seems Janover’s disposition is characteristic of many members of the elite left who believe even the most intensely aggressive speech is appropriate and without need of real-life accountability—as long as it’s for the “right” cause. Viral videos of predominantly female protesters screaming profanities in the faces of police officers show that many believe that the standards of decency and respectfulness don’t apply to people who take up the noble fight for wokeness.
Free speech is vital for a thriving society. Of course, no one’s speech should be punished or inhibited by the government, and companies should foster an environment that allows for and accepts a diversity of viewpoints. But there always have been expectations employers have for their employees when it comes to public conduct. Deloitte drew the line at violent analogies on TikTok, and it seems like a reasonable one.
What can the rest of us learn? That the words we use matter, and we should be wise and deferential in choosing them. And, when we fail—because we all do—we should take responsibility and own our mistakes. And when others make mistakes, we should offer forgiveness in return. If we as a society abided by these three things—wisdom, personal responsibility and grace— we’d all be much better off.