Tonight I’d like to introduce a new feature on How Not To Be A Jerk When…
Welcome to the Asshole Hall of Fame.
Yes, this site is devoted to answering questions and sharing essays that help us all be a little bit better as we navigate this world. It is devoted to the idea that we all fuck up some of the time, but want to be a little better. So we try to answer questions and share opinions with a mixture of kindness, optimism, and realism.
But sometimes, instead of writing a few dozen paragraphs on a topic, we should look at what some real-world asshole did and then do the exact opposite.
So tonight, I give you our very first entrant. He’s not the worst asshole ever. He’s even contributed some good things to society.
But dude is an asshole.
I give you Elon Musk.
He is the inspiration for this feature. For those of you who haven’t heard, Mr. Musk fired his assistant after she asked for a raise, because he decided he could do without her once he spent a couple of weeks doing her job.
The author of this piece would like us to think that the take-away here is that people should know their value before they ask for a raise.
The take-away here is that Elon Musk treated his assistant of 12 years with zero respect. She asked for a raise (something that women are routinely denied at a higher rate than men), and he decided that instead of negotiating with her, he’d see if he could do her job. He could, so he fired her.
I’d really like to know if he hired someone later to take on any of her duties, or if he redistributed some of her work to other assistants. If so, then clearly he couldn’t do without her forever. I mean, two weeks is nothing in a large company. People cover the work of people on leave often; it doesn’t mean they could keep it up forever.
That’s an asshole move.
There’s also this from a recent book about him, which alleges that he gave an employee shit for missing work so he could do something as silly as witness his child’s birth. Musk denies it.
But those are just a couple of one-offs, right? I mean, all offices have misunderstanding. Well … apparently it’s not so safe to work in his factories, either.
Now, he allegedly cares about equal pay , but take a careful look at the language he used: “Principles of fairness and justice are what matter.” I’d be interested in learning how he defines ‘fair’ and ‘just.’
And then there’s the fact that he was an adviser to 45. Of course, he eventually quit, but only after 45 confirmed his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, which will likely end up costing Mr. Musk money.
Look, do two or three instances mean someone is 100% an asshole? Of course not. And regardless, are there bigger assholes than Mr. Musk? Absolutely. But the thing is, I’m getting a little tired of us rewarding them. With chairmanships, or glowing profiles about their “work ethics,” or presidencies.
We make excuses for them, arguing that ‘nobody’s perfect.’ And that’s true – nobody is. But we also seem to be totally cool with just accepting people who decide they’re as good as they’re ever going to be. We make excuses for them so long as they give us shiny rockets or pretty phones. We don’t expect them to evolve, or get better at being a person in the world.
That needs to stop.