In this confusing world of ours, is a bicyclist’s one-finger highway salute aimed at the president of the United States’ motorcade just a good old-fashioned form of political protest or is it an obscene gesture violating a company’s social media policy and a clear-cut firing offense?

As the self-appointed interim senior business etiquette/social media correspondent for this award-winning publication, will attempt answer that question and others.

First, some background: As reported by the New York Times and dozens of other publications with smaller offices, a Virginia woman riding her bike on Oct. 28 encountered President Trump’s motorcade of about half a dozen vehicles leaving Trump National Golf Course in Sterling, Va.

As the cars slowly moved around her, the woman – later indentified as 50-year-old Juli Briskman -- raised her left arm and her middle finger, a gesture captured by the accompanying press and quickly spread by social media.

“I just got angry,” Briskman said in the Times story. “I lifted my arm and started flipping him off. I started thinking, You’re golfing again when there is so much going on right now.”

As the images spread online, Briskman said she thought in might be a good idea to tell human resources for her company, a firm that oversees government contractors, that the now Internet-famous image was her, although none of her social media accounts identified her as an employee of the company.

A day later, according to the Times story, she said she was told the company had “chosen to separate” from her because of its social media policy baninng “obscene content.”

I know many of you have questions in addition to, “Why am I still reading this?” I will attempt to answer them in the follow Q&A.

Q. I am the CEO of a major corporation and I am only reading this because I was suddenly hit by terrible stomach cramps and had to find the nearest public restroom instead of my own private restroom with the gold-plated fixtures and some underling left a newspaper on the floor of the stall and, well, here I am.

It goes without saying I would fire that woman in Virginia for the disrespectful behavior toward our current commander-in-chief (it would have been OK if she had done it to the last one, though), but my question is, can I prohibit all employees from posting videos of cats on their social media accounts? I don’t like cats. I’m a dog man, myself. Well, what’s the answer from the dying media, you dirty ink jockey?

A: While I am not an expert in business law, just a simple hard-working interim senior business etiquette/social media correspondent for this award-winning publication, I believe it would be difficult for you to prohibit all of your employees from posting cat videos on their personal accounts during non-working hours. One solution may be to hire Russian hackers to spread terrible cat-related posts about them and force them off social media forever.

Q. I am self-employed and I don’t like several members of city council. During the Christmas parade when they come through in the antique cars, waving and throwing candy, I am going to drop my pants turn around and play the drum solo from “Wipeout” on my bare backside as a protest. Will I be forced to fire myself after that?

A. That’s not a good idea at all.

Q. What if I play the drum solo from “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” instead?

A. That’s probably a safer choice. Just stay away from those one-finger salutes if you have any pending government contracts. You don’t want to hurt your bottom line.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at

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