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Jan. 6, 2018 — The right move, but was it for the right reason?

This past week, it was learned that Greg Conte, the assistant field hockey coach at Kensington Holy Cross (Md.), held a position as the director of operations for an organization called the National Policy Institute (NPI), which has ties to the alt-right political movement in the United States.

Upon learning of the affiliation, Kathleen Ryan Prebble, the academy’s president and CEO, fired Conte, and sent a note to parents and the school community.

Curiously, part of the text said this:

As for his potential impact on our girls, I conducted an investigation at the time of the firing and determined there was no reason to think he negatively influenced any of our girls with his philosophy. It appears that at the time he was focused on maintaining an appropriate persona for our school environment.

This is troubling.

Prebble has said, in so many words, that the mere affiliation of a person with the alt-right political movement is grounds for firing. That, I think, contravenes the Constitution.

As far as we know, Conte didn’t try to recruit students or faculty members for his cause, didn’t overtly promote the alt-right at the school, or do anything to raise suspicion amongst members of the school community.

Alt-right membership, as unnerving as it can be, is still a form of free speech. And as long as he kept it separate from the school community at large, he is free to run websites, participate in marches, and raise funds as long as it is on his own time.

Which begs the question: if Holy Cross is allowed to do this, is it possible for employers to fire people because of beliefs which are unpopular and yet not illegal?

Think about it.

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