Dave Kerpen | The Difference Between Transparency and Stupidity
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The Difference Between Transparency and Stupidity

The Difference Between Transparency and Stupidity

Last week, Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson was fired after gossip tech blog Valleywag reported his homophobic, racist, misogynistic tweets he’d been tweeting for years. His tweets included phrases such as:

“In The Passion Of The Christ 2, Jesus gets raped by a pack of ni–ers. It’s his own fault for dressing like a whore though.”


“Who has more dedication, ambition, and drive? Kobe only raped one girl, Lebron raped an entire city. +1 for Lebron.”

It’s shocking that he thought he could have a senior level position at a publishing company and share words like this publicly. It’s shocking that he’s been tweeting such comments since 2010 and nobody else has called him out up until now. Most shocking all, however, is that he not only didn’t apologize, he continued to defend himself, even with dozens of offensive tweets on the record forever, and even set up a hashtag and website to raise money for his new venture.

I’ve written before about transparency and its importance in becoming a better leader and marketer. I’m all for increased transparency, from people, from companies, and from governments. But when transparency means writing hurtful, bigoted remarks, you must know there will be consequences. Sure, it’s legal, protected by our free speech laws. But if you ever want a respectable job or company, to say things like Dickinson said is just plain stupidity.

There’s a Twitter account, @YesYoureRacist. The account’s content is tragic: retweeting hatred, vitriol and racism from dozens of people daily in the spirit of exposing them. Here are a couple of examples of tweets:

“@_swalm: We need Reagan back, he was a president. Not this ni**er Obama.”


“@shevs631: I cannot stand f*cking obama, trust me ni**er I wish you were trevon martin, you actually deserved it you f*cking goon.”

Do these people want to ever have a job? Keep their jobs? Run a business? It’s hard to imagine what people are thinking when tweeting such hatred. The bottom line: If you care at all about your career, there is a line between transparency and stupidity. I’m all for openness, honesty and transparency.

But when in doubt, use the Mom Rule I love: Don’t tweet or share publicly anything that your mom wouldn’t approve of. If your mom is bigoted, well then, be better than she is, and keep it to yourself. Because the internet doesn’t forget. Just ask Pax Dickinson.

What do you think the difference between transparency and stupidity is?

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