Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson. Why not use this market-based controversy to teach your employees about freedom of speech and the resulting accountability?
Which is to say that freedom of speech is constitutionally protected. But that doesn't mean that people can't turn their backs on you.
My take to employees would be that yes, for the most part, you can say what you want. But, if saying what you want causes others around you to be unable to work with you, you might have to go find another job. That's just the way it is. Freedom of speech is important, but it doesn't mean you can say whatever you want. There are consequences. If you're going to be hard-core about any controversial issue in the workplace, you have to be prepared for the backlash.
Consider the cases of the Dixie Chicks vs Duck Dynasty and what happened after both spoke their minds.
Back in 2003, the Dixie Chicks (popular country music group) spoke their minds and lashed out against President Bush and his plans to go to war in a post-9/11 world. A few weeks back, Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson spoke his mind on a host of issues (including homosexuality). The Dixie Chicks got pulled from the airwaves across America and were shocked. Robertson's reality show (Duck Dynasty) was in limbo on their host TV network, A&E.
As it turns out, the audience for the Dixie Chicks and Duck Dynasty is pretty much the same. That's why the Dixie Chicks stayed off the air (regardless of calls for freedom of speech) and had their careers severely impacted, but A&E had to reverse course in a much more sensitive world and say there would be no impact to Duck Dynasty based on Robertson's comments.
The audience for the country music and Duck Dynasty has tremendous overlap. That audience wanted to the Dixie Chicks gone. They wanted Duck Dynasty on the air, with the opinionated Phil Robertson, without any changes.
Say what you want. We'll defend your right to to that. But the marketplace decides whether you have to work someplace else. We'll either cut you up for scrap or make you a hero.