The Internet is alive with controversy (surprising, I know) but this time the controversy is kind of important, and not just to the Internet, but to society as a whole. The issue I’m talking about is the firing of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after it came to light that he had donated money to a campaign opposed to gay marriage. A shit-storm erupted, Mozilla was boycotted and Eich resigned after 11 days on the job.
He wasn’t fired for making gay slurs, or for not treating gay workers unfairly. He was forced out for having an opinion and donating some money to a cause he believed in.
It’s not altogether different from what happened when the media had a shitstorm about Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty making anti-gay statements in a GQ interview. He wasn’t saying anything controversial on the show, he was giving an interview to a magazine. It had nothing at all to do with A&E and they knew it, but they had to bow to public pressure and suspend him. The Robertson family (See how I didn’t say Klan?) is a very close-knit group and if A&E was going to let him go, they were going to have to cancel the show. Naturally, A&E backed down and everyone moved on with their lives, waiting for the next moral outrage to occur.
Phil wasn’t throwing out slurs, he wasn’t inciting violence against gays. He was saying the kind of shit that 70 year old people from the Deep South say.
This is a very sticky issue for a lot of reasons. Can we deprive someone of their livelihood because we don’t like their personal beliefs? Is so, where does it stop?
We can force a company to fire a CEO who gives money to anti-gay rights causes, so can we force a company to fire a CEO that gives money to any other cause we find objectionable? What if the person donated money to a group that championed abortion? Or to an organization that routinely opposes women’s rights?
And it’s not a cut-and-dry issue, because some prominent gay liberal thinkers like Andrew Sullivan, founder of blogging megasite The Dish, thinks this was wrong. While others in the gay community obviously felt that the best way to solve the problem was to get the fired and prevent him from ever getting another job anywhere else.
Because that is how you show someone the error of their ways.
It really makes you wonder who is the bigger threat to free speech, the liberal left or the conservative right? Both groups seem bound and determined to shut up anyone they don’t like and while their arguments aren’t always coherent, they are often effective..
Condoleeza Rice just joined the Board over at Dropbox ( a service that I use and am very happy with) but now there is a movement to boycott the company. In case you forgot who Condoleeza Rice is, she was George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, and one of the architects of the warrant-less surveillance plans. It seems like a ridiculous idea for a company like Dropbox to hire her, but they did and now they are trying to explain why it’s not so bad.
Dropbox is a place where you can stash your digital goods until you need them again, a digital locker that you can access from any computer with an internet connection. All you have to do is download the app onto your machine, and bam, you’re golden. Files can be remotely stored and shared with only the recipient and the owner of the account able to see what is inside.
Except for the NSA, of course, because they get to look at everything, one way or another. And with someone as politically connected as Rice at the company, it is hard to believe that Dropbox won’t just give the NSA the keys to the building. After all, it has happened before.
So should we demand that Dropbox fire her? And you have to be able to justify that position either way. If you say she should be forced out, then you are likely saying that on the grounds that her political views, affiliations, and prior actions make you uneasy about her willingness to protect your assets from unlawful government seizure.
If you said no, you are likely saying that despite her political views, affiliations, and prior actions, she should still be allowed to do the job at this company because she is qualified for the position.
Did you feel the same way about Eich as you did Rice? How about Phil Robertson?
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking that the world is becoming a less tolerant place for ideas that, wrong or not, we don’t like. And the desire to silence people for speaking out on these views is growing.