Wednesday, October 20

Baltimore Orchestra Fires Principal Pied Piper Who Spreads Conspiracy Theories | Baltimore

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra fired its principal flute player, months after distancing itself from his social media posts spreading misinformation by questioning the safety of coronavirus vaccines, the efficacy of face masks, and the outcome of the US presidential election. 2020.

The orchestra offered only the broader outline of its decision to fire Emily Skala, but its statement suggests that there were multiple violations of multiple policies. The leaked emails at Skala’s workplace had also come under scrutiny.

BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said the musician had been fired under the progressive discipline policy agreed to with the Baltimore Metropolitan Area Musicians Association.

“Ms. Skala has been disciplined in recent months for violating various policies; unfortunately, it has repeated the conduct for which it had been previously sanctioned, and the dismissal was the necessary and appropriate reaction to this behavior, ”said the BSO statement.

The firing comes about six months after the orchestra publicly reprimanded her for controversial posts on social media. She had been suspended from her job duties and was notified by phone on Tuesday that she had lost her job. The 33-year veteran of the Baltimore Symphony has consulted with attorneys and is exploring her options.

When asked about his social media posts spreading misinformation about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine, he said: “I did all of this basically because I wanted to protect the country’s orchestras. I wanted the fewest people to get lost, so few musicians. “

In a telephone interview Wednesday with the Associated Press, she also suggested that working relations between her and the “younger members” of the BSO had worsened over the past year. She claimed that her younger colleagues had spread “false accusations” against her and expressed feeling uncomfortable being on stage with her. She thinks the BSO should have reprimanded them.

“They [the BSO] they cowed from strong emotional reactions and allowed emotional reactions to dominate the workplace, ”he said.

An incident that she believes led to her firing occurred on July 23, when she went to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to turn in a tax form. She refused to wear a mask and had not been tested for Covid-19 as required by the BSO. He tried to open the door to hand over his form to a security guard. Skala said symphony officials interpreted this as a violation of the terms of the suspension preventing her from entering the building.

He claimed that the BSO violated his constitutional rights, including freedom of expression, and “committed various crimes against me.”

Gautam Hans, an expert in free speech and technology law at Vanderbilt University, said a quick review of the basic facts suggests that the BSO Pied Piper likely had a history of violating company practices. He said the first amendment generally applied to the government, not private entities, and companies had great leeway in their decisions.

“Of course, there could be a problem as to whether, as she claims, that record was rare or manufactured. But that is much more a question of labor law than a question of freedom of expression, ”Hans said in an email.

In February, symphony officials issued a statement saying they did not “tolerate or support” the views expressed in Skala’s social media posts, adding that her statements did not “reflect our core values ​​or humanity-based code of conduct. and the respect”.

Skala’s firing was applauded by Melissa Wimbish, an opera singer and contemporary who publicly posted leaked emails Skala had written to BSO players after an online meeting last year.

Critics said the content of Skala’s emails was racist and anti-Semitic, which she denies.

Among other things, Skala wrote that BSO should not publicly support the Black Lives Matter movement because it would be excessively “political,” adding that he thought it was a plan led by major Democrats and supported by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a unfounded conspiracy theory.

“This behavior is especially damaging to our community, not to mention visiting artists, patrons, and students. As a black woman who was hired by the BSO many times, it was painful to see the lack of action and care in addressing this matter. It opened my eyes to a side of the organization that I didn’t know existed, ”he told the AP.

Wimbish, who is not a member of the BSO, said the symphony’s decision to fire Skala was a good first step in making it a “more equitable place” for Baltimore, a majority black city.

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