In the essay What you can't say, Paul Graham said that there are many things one cannot say in modern societies, and that saying them will likely get you in trouble (sued against, fired from your job or even get killed), despite the existence and general acceptance of the Freedom of speech. I felt Mr. Graham was right, but had a problem coming up with such an example, and felt that "The Matrix had me." and I could not think outside the box.
However, I recently came up with an example, and it was right below my nose, and I'd like to share it with you. If you ask someone about his cultural, religious, ideological, ethnic, etc. background while interviewing a candidate for a job, you are likely going to be fired, press charges against, or worse, due to the so-called American "anti-discrimination" laws, which have taken precedence over the First Amendment, which among other things secures the freedom of speech. If you don't believe me read what Joel Spolsky wrote about it in his (otherwise excellent article) "The Guerilla Guide to Interviewing":
First of all, avoid the illegal questions. Anything related to race, religion, gender, national origin, age, military service eligibility, veteran status, sexual orientation, or physical handicap is just illegal. If their resume says they were in the Army in 1990, don't ask them, even to make pleasant conversation, if they were in the Gulf war. It's against the law. If their resume says that they attended the Technion in Haifa, don't ask them, even conversationally, if they are Israeli. It's against the law. There's a pretty good discussion of what's illegal here. (But the rest of the interview questions at that site are pretty stupid).
There are similar things about giving "insider information" about your company is doing (a complete non-crime), and about the post-Rabin- assassination Israel of saying that "I'd like to kill the Israeli prime minister". Note: I'm not serious about saying that Mr. Netanyahu, the current Israeli Prime Minister should be killed, as much as I distaste him. To quote the film "The Princess Bride" "I want him to live a long life alone with his cowardice". All I'm trying to convey is that saying something like that will likely get you in trouble.
I can rant a lot about how anti-discrimination laws are not a good idea, and how an employer can often discriminate against a job candidate, and how the fact that you can only discriminate contracts based on money have made sites such as "rentacoder" and "getafreelancer" into a joke, but I think I'll stop.
This was not an April Fools' Day joke (but see the freshly announced Webscale™ version of Freecell Solver™ ), but it does seem appropriate. Comments are welcome.