Thursday, March 27, 2014

Politically correct purges: JUST STOP IT

Does anyone remember Richard Grenell? He went to work for the Romney campaign and was hounded out when Evangelicals became outraged to discover he was gay. His being gay had nothing to do with the Romney campaign (after all, the anti-gay message is pretty strong in  Republican presidential campaigns) and nothing to do with his job. He was essentially not allowed to continue simply for being gay.

Cue the outrage: the man was hounded out of his job because he is gay!

Well, it's happening again.

Mozilla/Firefox has appointed Brendan Eich as its CEO: a man who supported Prop8 by giving a donation to the campaign. The company itself has a good diversity profile; there's no evidence that he's going to change that. In fact, he specifically that there won't be changes. But, based on a personal donation he made 6 years ago, some developers have called for a boycott of the browser. Simply because they disagree with the personal politics of the CEO.

Now, readers of this blog know that I was an ardent opponent of Prop8. As a gay, married Californian, I have a strong interest in this fight.

And I will tell you that boycotting Mozilla over the personal opinion of Brendan Eich against gay marriage is outrageous.

Look, we promote the idea that people who oppose marriage equality should live in peace in the secular sphere. It's the price of having a socially diverse civil polis. We promote tolerance. WE say we can live together even if we disagree.

Not if we're doing this sort of politically correct thought-policing, we can't.

This is no different than the firing of Richard Grenell. Or, to use another example from the news today, no different from the reversal of the World Vision charity which now says it will never, ever, hired a married gay person.

Indeed, it ties into the Hobby Lobby case currently before the Supreme Court, by saying a company has the right to control the personal behavior of its employees.

Their thoughts, if you will.

You will be assimilated, or you will be fired.

From the American Conservative: (my emphases!), an excellent piece on why we have to stop these purges:
Balkanized businesses, which only hire employees or leaders that are politically palatable to their donors and customers aren’t economically or socially efficient. Instead of creating weak-tie relationships across ideological divides, they segregate people who disagree, fostering a fear of contamination by association. This exclusionary approach raises the stakes of political conflict dangerously high. When the losing side of a debate is blacklisted, all disputes become wars of annihilation. 

When Eich donated to Proposition 8, his state was split on the issue; the measure passed by a 4.5 percent margin. If, less than a decade later, the losers of that fight are unemployable, the next group on the losing side of a historical shift has every reason to fight dirtier, while time is still on their side….

But neither side benefits from policing orthodoxy as tightly as these boycotts would do. World Vision made its policy shift in the service of this kind of neutrality; since some of the churches it worked with and the states it operated in recognize gay marriage, World Vision would respect, but not praise, their policies. That turned out to be unacceptable to its donors, who saw anything less than exclusion as tacit endorsement.

A healthy body politic requires that there be room to be wrong and still belong to normal society and commerce. A society that won’t live together can’t learn from each other.


Kevin K said...

Well said.

Brother David said...

The employees of Mozilla are asking their new boss to step down.

JCF said...

I can't stop using Mozilla's Firefox: w/ more and more websites on my old soon-to-put-out-on-the-iceflow XP computer, it's the only browser that will work.

That said, I, queer person, wouldn't want to work for Eich unless there was THOROUGH REPENTANCE. Which I haven't heard from him yet.

[Seriously, when I saw the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about the African (Anglican) bishop who was denied a post at Dartmouth last year, even though he WAS (currently) LGBT-affirming. I thought that was a more egregious case than this Eich guy.]

IT said...

Really, JCF? He has a personal opinion that has nothing to do with his or your job, and you wouldn't work for him? You would arrogate onto yourself the right to demand that he "repent" of a that?

So, you wouldn't have a problem that a person might not want to work for you because of your gender identity. Or your politics.

Or someone might choose not to hire you, regardless of how good you are, because they found that you donated against Prop8.

And that's okay to you.

Honestly, I don't get it. The purity cult of the far left-- which denies its opponents speech and independence and tolerance that it insists on for itself.

And the irony is that this is exactly the same thing as World Vision and Hobby Lobby-- and the left is vocal on why thoseare wrong.

IT said...

And one more thought: how is this intervention of a company into the private political activities of an employee, any different from a company saying to an employee,"you'd better vote for and donate to Senator H if you want to keep your job."

You really want to go that direction?

JCF said...


[Thought I was just echoing Bro Daveed. O_o]

Geez, IT. "Personal opinion"?! He ***gave money*** to Prop8. Yes, I wouldn't want to work for him---unless he repented. "Purity cult", SRSLY?

"someone might choose not to hire you, regardless of how good you are, because they found that you donated against Prop8": because there's a moral equivalency of giving TO Prop8, and giving AGAINST it??? :-0

"If I am not for myself [for you, for the "36 thousand" of GMC] who will be for me?" Rabbi Hillel

I guess it's been a long week---peace to all at FOJ. Shutting up now.

IT said...

Yeah, SRSLY.

Do I like what he did? NO. Do I recognize his right to do it? YES.

I guess we just do not communicate on this one. It really surprises me, and I really have to leave the subject because I find this quite upsetting, that people think someone who disagrees with them politically, should be unemployable.

My lord how do we ever expect to mend our society.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

An excellent post. As you've pointed out, if the losing side in a cultural battle does not just lose but is "cast into the outer darkness," blacklisted, and can never hold a responsible position in any company again unless he/she repents in sackcloth and ashes--even if he/she doesn't actually believe any differently, then there is every incentive to use every dirty trick in the book to win. If it were the case that only one view is the valid view, then marriage equality would certainly be a threat to traditional marriage--anyone espousing a belief in traditional marriage would be ostracized.

Kevin K said...

There is a distinction, in my mind,between choosing not to work for someone and saying someone else should not be hired. An employee can for any number of reasons, choose not to take a job. On a personal note, my lovely bride told me, on our third or fourth date, that she wouldn't have gone out with me if she knew I'd voted for Bush 1. Our marriage and our son were and are the greatest joys of my life and our marriage, to such different people that ourselves, made both of us better people.

JCF said...

Noted w/o comment: Eich stepped down today.

dr.primrose said...

Today's L.A. Times has a column by its liberal, but very thoughtful, columnist Michael Hiltzik on this issue - Gay marriage, Mozilla's Brendan Eich, and the role of a CEO.

Some squibs:

"The 'witch hunt' theory of Eich's ouster holds that his personal views shouldn't matter: If he's gone because of his donation to Prop. 8, why not purge every corporate employee anywhere who did the same? ...

"But that's a foolish take on this case. The CEO of a company isn't just any employee; he or she is the face of the company, the standard-bearer and very much the standard-setter. As CEO, Eich had the power to heavily influence corporate policy at Mozilla, and although he publicly stated that he would uphold Mozilla's existing standards of inclusiveness and equal treatment in human relations, plainly these were at odds with his personal views.

"Perhaps more important, his personal views were at odds with community standards. Gay rights, including the right to marriage, have indisputably moved into the mainstream of American society, even more so in the communities from which Mozilla draws its employees, business partners and customers. Don't forget that Proposition 8 itself was overturned by the courts as an example of impermissible discrimination. Opposing gay marriage may not yet be as retrograde today as opposing interracial marriage or racial equality, but the distinction is minuscule. Would someone who donated money to those causes be judged qualified to be a CEO?

"The tension between Eich's personal views and corporate and community standards was going to be felt, whether subtly or overtly, in his dealings with employees, customers and business partners. We know this because it already had: protests roiled the staff, the online dating service OKCupid posted a letter on its website encouraging clients to use browsers other than Mozilla's Firefox, and outside developers expressed dismay with Eich's elevation.

"This is why CEOs and corporations try to avoid taking political stands on anything. Some companies learn this the hard way, as we observed in 2012 in connection with Target Corp.'s unhappy experience with backing a candidate opposing gay rights.

"Executives with unsavory or unfortunate beliefs or behavior in their past often can survive if they have a substantial record against which that factor can be weighed. If Eich had spent eight years as Mozilla CEO assertively upholding gay rights in the workplace -- and successfully building Mozilla's business in other ways -- then his lone $1,000 contribution on Proposition 8, even his personal beliefs, might not have counted for as much.

"But he hasn't. It's true that he has contributed mightily to Mozilla as a co-founder, developer and chief technology officer, but as a newly-minted CEO, all he could do was pledge to uphold gay rights prospectively. It's also worth noting that his overall qualifications for the CEO post were questioned; three Mozilla board members resigned in the wake of his appointment because they thought he was the wrong man for the job. (And not, evidently, because of the Proposition 8 issue.)

"Under those circumstances, his stance on this increasingly important social issue weighed more heavily. Did he have to go? No. Were there reasons that he should go? Yes. But a 'witch hunt' this wasn't."