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.


Glenn Ingersoll said...

Wow. Poor persecuted CEO. I can't imagine how painful it must be to be under attack like this. At least, not while being so highly compensated.

Considering that I'm using Firefox right now I guess I'd have to be a total hypocrite to advocate a boycott. But I'm perfectly fine with protest and making your feelings known. And I won't be up late worrying about the terrible effect on society of gay people defending their families. I would be surprised that you seem to be tied up in knots about it, but whatever. Get into high dudgeon over something. It keeps the blood pressure up.

IT said...

It's the principle of the thing. It's like saying the company shouldn't hire a Republican. Or a Catholic. It's the worst of the politically correct left. Because it's exactly the same thing as a company like Chik-Fil-A refusing to hire a gay person, or World Vision not hiring gay folks.

Hey, I GET that people are still angry over Prop8. And it's fine to say, "you know, we have a problem with your opinion and it was deeply hurtful." But boycotting the company? Demanding his resignation? How does that help, except in making us feel powerful?

We all have to get along here, and the implication that pro-prop8 donors should be unemployable, strikes me as a failure of the very tolerance we demand.

Plus, i think individuals should be free to have private political views independent of their employers' control. Think of it: otherwise it's "you'd better vote for Senator H if you want to keep your job." Do you really want to go that direction?

There will always be people who oppose marriage equality. But it's only by working with them and persuading them that we have a chance of changing their minds.

Otherwise, the logical outcome is "Christianist" companies like hobby lobby, and "gay-friendly" companies like Firefox, and increasing segregation and polarization in our society. And I don't think that's a good direction to go in.

Want Some Wood said...

I agree with IT. I think people should stand up for what they believe in, but standing up for what you believe in doesn't have to mean permanent enmity against everyone who has ever disagreed with you about anything.

I always think Martin Luther King and the other civil rights leaders had it right; while they could be harshly critical of people (like George Wallace or Ross Barnett) when it was merited, in the end, they always said that the ultimate enemy wasn't the other person; it was the bigotry, the hatred that the other person had. People were more than their hatred, and hatred was a characteristic that could be changed.