Click here to go to the Home Page The Power to Lie - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - BC Columnist

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Anyone following this nonsense should do so with an air of insult and disdain. A disdain for corporate America and the legacy of American privilege - white privilege in particular. Let�s rewind a few weeks to examine the saga of Yahoo�s Chief Executive, Scott Thompson, who demonstrates the reason why Black activists and conscious Americans as a whole demand accountability when �power players� are caught with their proverbial pants down.

A few weeks ago, one of Yahoo�s largest shareholders gave the company an ultimatum to fire Thompson by noon on Monday, May 14 or the investor �will consider it grounds for further action.� The it was that Thompson lied on his resume; specifically he lied about that which helped secure him the top spot at Yahoo.

Lying deceives the hearer and contorts the consequences.

Yahoo hired Thompson this past January. Several weeks later, he signed a regulatory filing for publication, attesting that its contents were accurate to the best of his knowledge. The document said Mr. Thompson had degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. Subsequently, Stonehill College, a small Catholic college in Boston said that Thompson did receive a BS in Business Administration in May 1979. I say, the BS is in more than the degree.

Thompson lied. His public statement on the matter was that he �misstated� his accomplishments. This is an affront to millions of Americans who seek work - honestly - and are denied employment because they are �unqualified,� according to the rejecting hiring managers.

How many of us can get away with falsehoods on our resumes and not get fired? For the record, Thompson apologized for the �misstatement,� but he did not resign. Though I am not a Yahoo shareholder, I called for his termination immediately upon public disclosure of his lie. On behalf of �The 99%� and other �non-organized� workers nationwide, this practice of the casual mea culpa is unacceptable. Obviously, Scott Thompson wouldn�t have agreed. Lying seems acceptable behavior in corporate America - if you�re a white male in a �powerful� position. There�s nothing cool about that double standards. This act of lying-casual mea culpa is symptomatic of racial privilege.

What I know is that, had Thompson been Black, he�d have been fired. We know that former New York Times reporter, Jason Blair, was fired when his lie was revealed in the public sphere. Yahoo is a highly visible and supposedly trusted corporate entity. If it accepts this behavior, then should we trust any claims Yahoo makes about its business practices?

Resume fibbing is nothing new in corporate America. I�m not saying that it is. Veritas Software Chief Financial Officer, Kenneth E. Lonchar, resigned in 2002 after it was discovered that he lied about earning an MBA from Stanford. Radio Shack CEO David Edmonston, lied about his education background in 2006. He resigned in a �mutual agreement.� Terrence Lanni, Chairman and CEO at MGM Mirage, was ousted for his lies about his academic background. Those corporations acted swiftly - and responsibly - when duped by their top executives. Hell, even America pushed former President Nixon off the edge of the cliff when he was caught lying about Watergate. So what was the issue with Yahoo? Why did it take two weeks for Thompson�s exit? (By the way, he left with millions of dollars in cash and already vested stock.)

It could be worse Companies like Bausch & Lomb, after learning the biography of its CEO, Ronald Zarrella, rejected his resignation. Huh? You ask. Zarrella claimed he had an MBA. The company rescinded his bonus, but he remained CEO. You can�t pay me to buy a Bausch & Lomb product to this day!

Lying seems acceptable behavior in corporate America - if you�re a white male in a �powerful� position.

This insulation from moral and ethical fortitude is the result of white privilege. Sure, poor people lie in desperation when it comes to gaining employment. Where unemployment rates exceed 8% in a struggling economy, the poor and working-poor might �embellish� their resumes too. It happens, but we know that when they are �found out,� they are canned. We expect nothing less for those at the top of the food chain. Those in power positions are no better than any of us. We are only as good as our ethics.

Shareholders, the public, and pundits should have demand CEO Scott Thompson�s immediate resignation, especially when CEOs like him are unrepentant and non-remorseful for their deceptions. Who knows? Let�s hope that negative press and shareholder agitation made his position untenable.

For us to apathetically stand by and thumb-twiddle is as irresponsible as Yahoo. If Yahoo had upheld Thompson�s position, I vowed to drop any Yahoo-affiliated products I use and call for others to do likewise. (I happen to prefer Google search tools.) This is the season - an election season, mind you - to demand accountability. Cultural and institutional values are at stake. No one should justify or condone lying, whether it is police testifying, prosecutors withholding evidence, or parents lying to their children. Lying deceives the hearer and contorts the consequences.

No one should embrace the power to lie. I revert to a frequent theme: the injustice criminal justice system in America. This commentary is no different, so I say, many a man has been wrongly convicted by the lies of another. This doesn�t have to be �the way it is.� Scott Thompson had to go. Thank goodness for Yahoo, he�s gone. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, �The Other Side of the Tracks.� He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.

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June 7, 2012 - Issue 475
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