I was disgusted to see a reblog on tumblr referring to three tweets from a privileged white dude in South Carolina. When I learned that he is a practicing lawyer in South Carolina and a former member of leadership of the state’s GOP, I was outraged. This has led me down an interesting, frustrating, and (hopefully) rewarding path of legal jargon and procedure. With your help, I foresee a significant shift in the way professionals manage the fine line between their personal and professional identities on the internet.
After Todd Kincannon, the sole employee of The Kincannon Firm, took the Princess Pelosi bit to a disturbing new level, he responded to call-outs with inflammatory and immature language, and encouraged his followers to do the same. There were also the straight-up stupid tweets, like Kincannon’s assertion that because there are clothes on my bed in the background of my profile picture, I must be “awful poor.”
Kincannon’s behavior is an obvious violation of the ethical standards which lawyers are expected to uphold, and the connection of his personal twitter to his law firm means that his professional identity reflects the hate speech he spurts when he is drunk and has internet access. Yes, did I mention that he was drunk?
I immediately contacted the South Carolina Bar Association, who responded with the steps to filing a formal grievance. As I prepare my personal letter, I encourage all concerned women to do the same, thinking of the countless women Mr. Kincannon has already and will continue to serve if he continues in the profession. He obviously has major (and sometimes violent) contempt for women (another example), people with disabilities, the LGBT community, and the poor (or in my case, someone he assumed to be poor based on a 50×50 image on twitter). It would have been interesting to see how he reacts to criticism from a woman of color. We can all vividly imagine what the results could be.
Filing a complaint in South Carolina is simple: you only have to write a letter detailing your experience and mail it to:
Commission on Lawyer Conduct
1015 Sumter Street, Suite 305
Columbia SC 29201
Mr. Kincannon has already and will likely continue to fire back with the assertion that the ethical codes of lawyers do not extend to personal life. Which is wrong. According to South Carolina’s Rules of Professional Conduct,
A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs.
When you publish statements which suggest violence against women, ableism, and general disrespect while connecting your name to a professional institution, you get in to trouble. Ask Kenneth Cole. Or Gilbert Gottfried. Or Nir Rosen. Or the countless others, just search “fired after tweet.” While I actively encourage my friends to keep their social networking private and relatively anonymous, I ponder the benefits of such a public way of exposing prejudices. I would much rather know that my lawyer is a misogynist dickwad before I hire him.