Free speech and the crusade against Brendan Eich

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We know that constitutional or legal freedom of speech was not violated when you bullied Brendan Eich out of his job at Mozilla because of his view on marriage. But lift your standards a little. “Legal” does not mean “good.”

Sometimes, public, ugly spats, cases of abuse or bullying, hate, or division can have the effect of causing misunderstandings – or perhaps just properly understood but really wrong views – about moral and legal issues to come bubbling to the surface of public discussion. The appalling treatment dished out to Mozilla’s Brendan Eich recently has been just such an example. In particular, the issue of freedom of speech and the consequences of the exercise of that freedom have been much discussed.

Just yesterday I managed to confuse somebody who supported Mr Eich being ushered out. At one point, when they were talking about constitutionally protected free speech, I pointed out that nobody was complaining about free speech being attacked. But at another point, when I was talking about the freedom – i.e. the ability – to speak one’s convictions without being hated and publicly crucified, I said that freedom of speech was being attacked here. Woah, his head exploded.

As I said when I first commented on this issue, a legal or constitutional right to free speech really hasn’t been the issue here. Mr Eich was always able to exercise that right. This is a legal right to freedom from government censorship, and it’s pretty clear that Mr Eich’s rights in this regard were not taken from him. The way the government was involved in the fact that the IRS leaked a tax return to a gay rights lobby group, revealing Mr Eich’s donation, is fairly disturbing – but that’s a slightly different matter.

What I want to zero in on is this: When people who identify as progressives on the “gay rights” issue (e.g. organisations like GLAAD, who called for Mr Eich’s head, pressure that I say Mozilla responded to in exactly the wrong way) call for acceptance or tolerance (they really aren’t the same thing, but that too is another matter), and for people to not be “bigots,” they are talking about moral issues. They might accept that it’s legal for people to not like them, and even for people to be narrow-minded and, from their perspective, hateful. Of course they don’t like it, but this is the free world. What they are saying – hopefully – is not that it should be illegal to think differently from them and to express points of view that they find objectionable, but rather that – as far as they’re concerned – their perspective is the morally right one, and so it would be good if everyone shared it. Of course, we all take this attitude towards our own moral convictions, myself included.

But when it comes to the poor treatment dished out to people like Mr Eich – who was loudly decried from all quarters and essentially hounded out of his job – suddenly the action is defended on the grounds that it is legal. You might now, after the fact, want to avoid this description and put together an argument that it was morally right for him to be treated in this way. But in the real world as the fallout unfolded, time and time again I have seen this argument used: “What are you complaining about? Brendan’s constitutional freedom of speech wasn’t interfered with. He wasn’t censored. He did speak. And other people used their free speech to call him a bigot and basically make him lose his job. Nobody’s legal or constitutional freedoms were taken away, so what’s the problem? There’s no constitutional freedom from the consequences of your speech. When you speak freely, sometimes there are consequences!”

Suddenly, the bar is much, much lower. Now, all of a sudden, “progressives” (a term most of these individuals frankly do not deserve) are in a race to the bottom. We don’t care whether this treatment was virtuous. We don’t care if it was good or right or not. No legal rights were violated. It wasn’t illegal or unconstitutional, so stop complaining!

Really? This is the new gold standard? Forget virtue, you’re only concerned about legality? So when Westboro Baptist Church pickets another funeral, declaring that “fags die, God laughs,” you should just keep your yap shut and treat everything as hunky dory because they have a constitutional right to do it – because this is legal? If the head of a large bank was pressured to leave because churches worldwide called for her to step down because she spoke at a pro same-sex marriage rally, so the bank issued a statement saying that “in light of this untenable situation, in the interests of the company she has suddenly had an unexpected change of heart and chosen to step down,” the progressives would think that nobody should raise their voice? Because hey, free speech wasn’t violated, legal rights weren’t attacked, and sometimes there are consequences for speaking freely?

Don’t even pretend. Nobody is that stupid. When people say that free speech was attacked recently when Mr Eich was pressured out of his job because he chose to support a traditional view of marriage, nobody is saying that a legal right was taken from him. What they are saying is that the kind of bullying that he faced because of his own beliefs is wrong. What they are saying is that even if it’s legal to hate people because of what they say and believe, and even if it’s legal to hurt them or disadvantage them for it, you shouldn’t do so.

Maybe the take home message to my progressive friends is this: You say that you care about what is good. That’s good. So how about, when talking about the vicious treatment that your friends dish out to the people they hate, you apply that same standard. Legal or not, is it good?

Glenn Peoples

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{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Sheila Warner April 9, 2014, 2:07 pm

    So, for me, the main issue IS the leaking of the tax returns. That is clearly illegal. As to how he was treated, I deplore it. I wish I had been more outspoken when Phil Robertson was fired from his show. In his case, he didn’t lose his livelihood; he still had his duck call business. But, wrong is wrong. I don’t want to live in a society that accepts the firing of people due to their political views, whether or not I agree with those views. Your job security ought to depend on only two things: competency and honesty.

  • Jon April 9, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Glenn, you are defending the book that advocates killing gays and name calls non-believers. (I don’t know your view if you advocate stoning homosexual or not, but I doubt you will say Bible is wrong there). So if you are advocating a “new gold standard?” of dialogue how about advocating gays and non-Christians to be accepted in the US as normal and equal human beings. And how about writing articles how US mega church leaders blame gays for natural disasters or how openly gay people are treated in the Bible Belt or how the President of the US openly states that atheists should not be considered as citizens. Or how about writing about free speech for gay in Uganda or atheist in Saudi-Arabia. Advocate cleaning your own house first before talking about a standard.

    Sheila, if you are a head of an organization your job “security” depends on many other things like company vision and trust of shareholders and board. Or do you really think if pastors lose their faith they should stay in their job if they are honest and competent.

  • Glenn April 9, 2014, 9:59 pm

    Jon, I am not certain, but I get the impression that the above comment means that, although you’d like to be able to disagree with this blog post on principled grounds, you can’t, so you’re just making some drive-by scratch-the-surface-of-other-assorted-issues comment in an attempt to raise dust and noise without revealing any actual reason for disagreeing.

    You might find the subject of this blog post boring, Jon. That’s fine. You might prefer to read a blog post about some other thing that the writers feels is unjust. That’s fine too. You go right ahead and read those blogs, Jon. You just go on and keep reading things that you want to read until you fall asleep. You’re allowed. But you know what? I write about what I want to write about. Crazy, right? Do you agree with this blog post? If not, you’re welcome to share your thoughts on why. Thanks Jon.

    Remember: On topic please. I insist. And by “on topic,” I mean the topic that this blog post is about. (You click a box when you comment that states that you are following the blog policy.)

    PS – You’ve also misrepresented me. I never said that anyone had to believe that Mr Eich had to be accepted as a normal human being. I’m not the thought police.

  • Jon April 9, 2014, 11:37 pm

    If Mr Eich had been a Mozilla programmer he would not have been fired, but as an chief executive he lost his respect/credibility/trust/ability to work with his team and some external parties. Economist wrote “OKCupid’s decision to call on Firefox users to switch to other web browsers is evidence that the fallout was starting to have a real impact on Mozilla’s operations.” And this was probably a bigger issue than freedom of speech. Same could have happened if he had given money to KKK/communists/Nazis/Extreme Muslim orgs or any other org employees and customers of Mozilla would not like. That is a life of a chief executive.

    Note that he had freedom of speech, but not freedom of the consequences. This applies to everyone.

    Now write what you want but I challenge you to write one article how you really believe in freedom of speech.

  • Glenn April 10, 2014, 12:07 am

    Jon, in this blog entry I acknowledged the argument that sometimes there are consequences for what we say and we’re not free from them, so there’s nothing to object to. I also responded to that argument in this blog post.

    If the KKK (to use the same example as you) started screaming for a CEO to disappear because he donated to a charity that specifically helps black people, then sure, legal rights to free speech are not being violated, and sure this reaction is a consequence from which the CEO does not have legal protection, but that doesn’t make it good or praiseworthy.

  • Matthew Flannagan April 10, 2014, 2:55 pm

    Jon

    So if a business sacked an employee because he was Gay on the grounds that large numbers of customers disliked the fact this employee engaged in same sex conduct outside of work. I guess that’s fine and dandy then right? No one is free from consequences after all.

  • Matthew Flannagan April 10, 2014, 2:59 pm

    Just a few weeks ago, I am sure I remember progressives like GLAAD campaigning for laws that prohibited people refusing to employ someone because they are Gay, and laws prohibiting firing people for being Gay. In fact I remember them suggesting that first amendment rights like freedom of religion did not justify not having such laws and that deny this was like supporting Jim Crow laws. I suspect you have a similar memory Glenn.

    Now suddenly first ammendment rights like free speech are invoked as supporting people being sacked for political advocacy outside of work time.

  • Jon April 10, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Matthew,

    Christian Churches and Church owned business can and do sack people who come out as gay. In many countries Churches have the right to discriminate based on sexuality and religion when hiring and firing. For example in Australia you can regularly see Churches advertising IT or cleaning type of roles stating that they only hire Christians. This type of conduct is legal and based on your GLAAD comment you seem to support it. I don’t understand why qualified people should be fired just being gay.

    You don’t seem to understand why Mr. Eich was fired. (Hint: have a look why and how CEOs usually get fired, nothing special about this). And why wasn’t Marriott’s upper management fired?

  • Kenneth April 10, 2014, 10:06 pm

    So here’s how I’m reading this:

    Glenn wrote a short blog post directly addressing a defence of Brendan Eich losing his job. That defence is that Mr Eich’s constitutional right to free speech wasn’t violated, and he merely suffered the consequences of his free speech, which is fine. Glen explicitly addressed the defence.

    Jon came along and laid a tasty, tangy trail of red herrings. Glenn pointed out that it was off-topic and didn’t spend time on it.

    So Jon came back, and simply stated the very defence that Glenn replied to in this very blog entry. Jon didn’t modify / improve the objection, he just repeated it. This doesn’t move things forward, because it has already been addressed in full. Glenn replies by pointing this out – and adding a parallel example (a man being screamed at by the KKK and losing his job, because he donated to a charity that helps black people).

    Matthew Flannagan came along and posed a challenge – if people who use the argument that Glenn replied to (and which Jon simply repeated) learned that a man lost his job just for being gay, then would that be OK too? I mean, consequences, right? He also noted an inconsistent approach on the part of some progressives when it comes to free speech and people being able to keep their jobs.

    In reply, Jon totally ignores the actual question (is it OK for people to lose their job for being gay) and just says that some people can lose their job for being gay. But this evades the challenge, rather than addressing it.

    I have seen this conversation play out in a few different places now, and the result is always the same: Those who think that it’s completely fine to bully people for holding traditional views on marriage and to make them lose their jobs because hey, free speech has conseqences, don’t at all apply the same standard to the possibility of people losing their jobs for being progressive (or gay). It’s the “wigglyness” and evasion of challenges and questions that shows they are in a bind. And that just happened again, here. Jon confirmed the pattern.

  • Jon April 10, 2014, 11:35 pm

    Kenneth,

    Thanks for your commentary. I’m still confused how my first comment challenging the “new gold standard” is off topic, but whatever. Let’s not talk about the “new gold standard”.

    In my second comment I kind of agreed with Glenn, but offered another point of view. And this you see as a problem?

    My third comment included “I don’t understand why qualified people should be fired just being gay” but you claim that I did not answer “is it OK for people to lose their job for being gay”. You clearly did not read my reply.

    I have used Mozilla for ten year (even before 1.0), I’m progressive on the gay rights, but I did not support firing Mr Eich. I’m not ok with bullying, but I also see gays been bullied more that they bully. I’ve seen couple GLBTs bullied a lot worse than what Mr. Eich experienced, but you won’t read that in newspapers.

    I have also seen this conversation play out in a few different places now. People like Kenneth don’t listen or try to understand and blame the other side being evasive.

    But Kenneth prove me wrong and tell what Mozilla should have done with Mr. Eich and why. Or ignore that and tell what gay rights advocates should have done and why.

  • Kenneth April 10, 2014, 11:49 pm

    Hi Jon. I did indeed read your reply. Burying that one comment in the midst of what looked like a diversion certainly wasn’t very clear, nor does it really answer the question.

    You were basically challenged along the lines of “what if the shoe is on the other foot?” And it really still looks – even on a third read – like you didn’t want to really expose the standards that are at work in your thinking. You could easily have said “Of course not. Bullying is wrong, and people should not be pushed out of a job because of who they love” or something. But instead it was 90% made up of: Oh, but Christian groups do this and that… followed up with saying that you “don’t understand why why qualified people should be fired just being gay.”

    So not only was it very guarded and in the midst of some fairly irrelevant claims, it also didn’t answer the question. If I understood Matthew, he was asking you if it was acceptable for a gay person to be sacked because he offended customers of the company. You said that you didn’t understand why he should be sacked. But the question remains unanswered: If his presence bothers customers, is it acceptable for him to be sacked? I actually think that you don’t want to clearly reveal your agreement with Glenn (and Matt?) just because you don’t like them telling that side of the story, when you’d rather they told someone else’s story.

    Maybe I read your comment a bit more closely than you did.

    You can, ironically, blame me for blaming you, but whatever I’m interested in the meat of it. I don’t need to obey you in order to prove you wrong about anything. Your last comment was a bit clearer eventually, and I think you finally clearly stated where you stand: So you agree with Glenn. Great! But you’d prefer that he had told someone else’s story. OK, well… the blogosphere is a big place. Are you sure there aren’t a few people telling the GLAAD story?

    I guess I disagree with you about which story is more important because of the importance of the irony here. What makes the bigotry and bullying against Brendan Eich at the hands of the likes of GLAAD so worthy of notice is that GLAAD is doing this bullying in the name of tolerance. And that’s what we need to notice.

    (As for what Mozilla should have done about Mr Eich, Glenn’s recent post about the letter that Mozilla should have written, instead of an apology, hits the nail on the head. Don’t allow bullies to win. Ever. Shame them and disobey them.)

  • Jon April 11, 2014, 9:19 pm

    Kenneth,

    When you and Glenn claim that my comments are “off-topic” and “fairly irrelevant” it tells me that you don’t understand the issue and you don’t understand your opposition.

    Mr. Eich is seen by GLAAD as a bully and not believing values of the company he leads. GLAAD will work to stop gay bullying, and stopping bullies is not perceived as being a bully.

    Your slogan “GLAAD is doing this bullying in the name of tolerance” is really out of touch coming from Conservative Christians. Would you call human right activists Wilberforce, Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Susan B. Anthony bullies? According to your standard they often acted like a bullies.

    Conservative Christian are also seen as the roots of most gay bulling in the US and the balance of power is asymmetrical. When Conservative Christian apologists start talking about “gold standard” of dialogue between gays and conservatives, progressive eyebrows will go up in disbelief. If this is off-topic or irrelevant to you, you are moved too far from the real discussion happening re Mr. Eich case.

    Being gay is not an acceptable reason for being sacked. I hope that is clear enough. But you and Glenn will defend that Churches must have special privilege to sack gays if that does not align with the Churches policies. This is were GLAAD will see the credibility gap. Note that this was not the reason Mr Eich was fired.

    Regarding I’d prefer that he had told someone else’s story. I see so many people cry for injustice, free speech and tolerance to defend their own view, but don’t lift a finger to defend opposite views. If you truly defend free speech you don’t write a bully letter to try to silence GLAAD while supporting organisation that have right to discriminate based on religion, creed, gender or sexual orientation. You don’t see any irony in that?

    Glenn’s Mozilla letter was cute but did not address the two key things these kind of letters/press releases have to have for customers/employees/shareholders/etc. You and Glenn probably have little experience in corporate world but nothing wrong with that.

    Kenneth, why would you send a bully letter to GLAAD if you don’t support bullying?

  • Glenn April 11, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Jon

    I have no doubt that your comments are on a topic. But as you and I seem already to see, it’s not quite the topic of this blog post. I wrote this blog post to reply very specifically to the issue of free speech, and why I think it’s unacceptable to excuse the treatment of Mr Eich just because nobody’s legal free speech was violated.

    I have no doubt that the issue of free speech as experienced by any number of other people or groups does matter to you, but you are mistaken to infer that just because I recognise that you’re trying to zero in on a different subject, that means I don’t understand those who disagree with me. In fact I do. Indeed, I think this very blog posts shows that I understand at least one of their arguments just fine: Namely their argument that no matter how nasty I think the treatment of Mr Eich was, I should basically get over it, because his speech was still free, and hey, sometimes there are consequences for free speech. In fact you used exactly this argument yourself in these comments, demonstrating that I had gotten it right: This really is what people are saying. So how did I fail to understand this particular argument, exactly?

    You seem not to have understood the blog post, because – as has been noted – you just repeated back verbatim the very argument that the blog post had already addressed.

    Out of interest, where’s this bully letter to GLAAD you’re talking about? All I see is a letter penned by me where I show what it would have looked like if Mozilla had resisted bullying and bigotry. And actually, the fact that I am meeting people who are telling me not to call for this sort of resistance (and you’re one of those people) shows me that we need to do it.

  • Kenneth April 11, 2014, 9:44 pm

    “When you and Glenn claim that my comments are “off-topic” and “fairly irrelevant” it tells me that you don’t understand the issue and you don’t understand your opposition.”

    Jon, I am sure that you would like this to be true. But so far nothing has been said that dumb ol’ Kenneth has failed to understand. I just think that you’re wrong that people must shut up about this injustice because they’re not talking about the things that you care more about. You are free to blog about those if you are made uncomfortable by people defending evil conservative types against bullying.

    Your comparisons with Ghandi or Wilberforce are simply delusional, unless you think that holding a belief about what constitutes a marriage is somehow comparable to buying people and selling them as slaves. That truly is “out of touch.”

    “I see so many people cry for injustice, free speech and tolerance to defend their own view, but don’t lift a finger to defend opposite views.”

    That’s an interesting story, Jon. So how about you tell us all about the last time you spoke up about Christians being bullied?

  • Jon April 11, 2014, 10:13 pm

    Glenn, I never claimed nor repeated back verbatim your argument. And that is your claim that have have not understood the blog post on that??

    I was referring to your fictional bully letter from Mozilla to GLAAD, which Kenneth supported.

    Funny how my comments address free speech, “gold standard” (from your article) and progressives on the “gay rights” issue (e.g. organisations like GLAAD) (from your article), and I get told that I’m off topic. Kenneth did not address the article but just (mis)analysed the flow of my posts, but he does not get told off. How telling…

    You also claim that I “zero in on a different subject” (off-topic one I suppose). Which topic is that?

    Can I ask who are “they” in your argument “Namely their argument that no matter how nasty I think the treatment of Mr Eich was, I should basically get over it, because his speech was still free”. Are they GLAAD, GLAAD supporters, “people who identify as progressives on the “gay rights”?

    Because if you mean “people who identify as progressives on the “gay rights”” I already said I’m part of that group and did not support his firing. So who are “they”?

  • Glenn April 11, 2014, 10:24 pm

    “Glenn, I never claimed nor repeated back verbatim your argument”

    I never said you repeated my argument, Jon. I said that you simply repeated back the argument that I replied to in this blog post. And you certainly did do that. Let me remind you. In the blog post, here is the argument that I described (right before I replied to it):

    But in the real world as the fallout unfolded, time and time again I have seen this argument used: “What are you complaining about? Brendan’s constitutional freedom of speech wasn’t interfered with. He wasn’t censored. He did speak. And other people used their free speech to call him a bigot and basically make him lose his job. Nobody’s legal or constitutional freedoms were taken away, so what’s the problem? There’s no constitutional freedom from the consequences of your speech. When you speak freely, sometimes there are consequences!”

    OK, that’s pretty clearly described. Remember, that’s not my argument – that’s the argument I hear, and the argument that I replied to in this blog post. And then you came along and offered this argument, Jon:

    “Note that he had freedom of speech, but not freedom of the consequences. This applies to everyone.”

    And there it is: He sure did have freedom of speech, you point out, that was taken away. But there are consequences for speaking freely, and he’s not free from those.

    You didn’t defend this argument from my critique – the one I offered in this blog post, you just came along and repeated the argument. So I was correct: You did exactly that. This alone shows that people need to speak up about this – and no amount of telling people to shut up and talk about other people’s story should be heeded.

    PS: This is not me asking you now to go back and improve what you said earlier. I don’t have a lot of interest in the above discussion, if I’m honest about it. I was just pointing out that it’s vacuous to dismissively say that people here who don’t agree with you just fail to understand what other people are saying when in fact you repeated back exactly the argument I addressed, showing that I knew exactly what I was talking about.

  • Martin Smith April 13, 2014, 7:45 pm

    I think that what we think about the Mozilla incident will ultimately hang on what we think is the nature of the same-sex marriage debate. If we think that the same sex-marriage issue is a complicated moral/political debate that intelligent people can reasonably disagree on, then what Mr Eich went through will seem wrong. But if we think that the same-sex marriage issue should /obviously/ be resolved in favour of same-sex marriage – if we think that it is /obvious/ that to deny ‘equal marriage’ is to deny human rights to a certain group of people, then what Mr Eich went through will seem justified. Afterall, if Mr Eich had been sending money to some pro-racist group – a group that promotes views which we agree would, if implemented, obviously deny human rights to a certain group of people, then I think we would definitely not be happy with Mozilla being represented by such a person.

    If we think, then, that if we think Mr Eich has been treated badly, the only way will can convince those who think he was treated fairly is to convince them that the same-sex marriage debate is of the former, complicated kind, rather than the latter, explosive, human-rights kind.

  • Glenn April 13, 2014, 8:09 pm

    Martin, the way I see it, anyone who thinks that believing that marriage is a man and a woman is comparable to supporting a group that lynches people because of the colour of their skin is making a truly extraordinary claim by any standard. It is they who ought to be giving a pretty impressive defence of their stance, which they believe justifies actively intruding into a man’s professional life in this way.

    I and others have, in the past, responded to the allegation that the traditional view of marriage undermines equality or human rights. We can’t make people listen or agree, naturally, but we certainly should not let that stop us from opposing harassment or bullying in the meantime.

  • Glenn April 15, 2014, 8:42 pm

    This is a very, very good demonstration of what I am saying here, driving home eloquently that I have understood well the lines of argument that gay rights advocates are using to justify this bullying.

    The arguments used to justify the end of Mr Eich’s job – the one that Jon spoke about (and appeared to advocate) earlier, effectively saying that his position was bad for business, is the same argument that was once used to justify firing homosexuals: http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/04/07/brendan_eich_homophobia_and_corporate_values_the_left_is_the_new_moral_majority.html

  • Matthew Flannagan April 17, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Christian Churches and Church owned business can and do sack people who come out as gay. In many countries Churches have the right to discriminate based on sexuality and religion when hiring and firing. For example in Australia you can regularly see Churches advertising IT or cleaning type of roles stating that they only hire Christians. This type of conduct is legal and based on your GLAAD comment you seem to support it. I don’t understand why qualified people should be fired just being gay.

    This evades my question, which was wether a person could sack someone for being Gay for the same reasons you suggested Mozilla were justified in getting Eich to resign.
    Note also the situation who mention about churches is dis-analogous here. Churches don’t refuse to hire people who engage in sexual practises with members of the same sex because the people they sell a computer product to are dissatisfied and threaten to boycott. They do so because they are by their nature religious organisations that promote a certain religious and way of life and certain sexual practises are incompatible with that way of life. In otherwords engaging in certain sexual practises are relevant for the job in a way they are not in other forms of employment.

    Now I agree that if Mozilla were a political or religious organisation which existed for the purpose of promoting same sex marriage they could sack people who refused to promote this. Just as I think the Labour party would be justified in sacking a member who suddenly started promoting national party politics, or that GLAAD could sack people who for example opposed same sex marriage.Incicently I doubt anyone would seriously question this in any other context. We don’t see pork consumers demanding that Synagogues start selling pork or Mosques hire Hindu priests to act as an iman.

    But that’s not the situation here is it, the analogous situation here would be a situation where a completely secular company that existed to provide computer products to people sacked an employee because he in his spare time donated money to support same sex marriage and the Southern Baptist threatened to Boycott if all Gay employees were not immediately sacked.

    So your welcome to answer my question rather than trying to change the subject.

  • Jon April 18, 2014, 1:05 am

    Glenn,

    First you wrote “you just repeated back verbatim the very argument…” and then you wrote “I never said you repeated my argument”. Right…

    And my comment was not verbatim and you know it. And my previous paragraph offered a different perspective, but your problem is now that I agreed with you on that point and thus not added anything?

    Funny how you wrote “the IRS leaked a tax return” and Sheila that “the main issue IS the leaking of the tax returns” thus adding “nothing” new, but you did not go after her. (And of course you were both wrong.)

    You wrote “The [Martin’s] arguments [“deny human rights”] used to justify the end of Mr Eich’s job – the one that Jon spoke about (and appeared to advocate)”. While as a long time Mozilla advocate I actually wrote “did not support his firing” and you clearly did not even bother reading my comments.

    Having a meaningful discussion sure is hard. And if you really think that I agree with you then why are you so upset?

  • Jon April 18, 2014, 1:34 am

    Matthew,

    I’m not sure how I’m evading your question. I already wrote above “Being gay is not an acceptable reason for being sacked.” I also did not support Mr. Eich being ushered out.

    You are right that situation about churches is dis-analogous here. Churches have legal right to fire gays which you support. Non-Religious organisation don’t have these rights.

    Your argued “[Churches] do so because they are by their nature religious organisations that promote a certain religious and way of life and certain sexual practises are incompatible with that way of life. “. Did you also support Mormon Church’s right to discriminate based on skin colour because it was their doctrine and way of life?

    Why do you grant Churches rights to discriminate but not to secular companies with their way of life? Why should Church owned large corporations like Sanitarium have right to fire gays?

    Your examples are just misleading. Mosques don’t hire Hindu priests to act as an iman because they don’t even have the qualifications. My example was IT person, even as a contractor position, qualified fixing Church computers.

    My example about Churches was to point out that if you support special right for your organisation, people outside your organisation don’t see how you think your argument is credible at all.

  • Jon April 18, 2014, 2:07 am

    Kenneth,

    You don’t get it. I never said “that people must shut up about this injustice”.

    Ghandi or Wilberforce (and Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony) fought human right issues against Conservative Christians. Now the battles are LGBT equal right and acceptance. I’m sure Ghandi or Wilberforce were told many times that they were “out of touch” pushing their agendas. (BTW I’m no way comparing myself to them. I’m nothing compared to them). But history has shown that people who said to them “out of touch” were actually themselves out of touch. Same can be said about how LGBT has progressed in northern Europe. People against gay right are the ones “out of touch”.

    You asked me to tell you all about the last time you spoke up about Christians being bullied. I do hang around some conservative Christians and we talked about recent World Vision issue. So I defended Christian writer Rachel Held Evans (CNN Religion blog 31/3) position how liberal Christians got bullied out. And agreed with her sentiments about dumping sponsored kids. I thought liberal Christians were bullied. I’m also a regular donator to tear.org.au which has been doing great work with their projects.

    So how about you tell us all about the last time you spoke up about gays being bullied? Or do you donate to gay supporting causes?

  • Glenn April 18, 2014, 11:22 am

    “First you wrote “you just repeated back verbatim the very argument…” and then you wrote “I never said you repeated my argument”. Right…”

    Jon, you’ve just lowered my expectations about what I should expect you to be able to follow, sorry. Either that or your misrepresentation of what has been said is willful, which is really tiresome. It looks like you don’t have the will to understand what others are saying. Yes, you repeated back the very argument that I already responded to, just as I said. It was not my argument. It was an argument that I reject. Is that clear enough? I never said that you repeated back my argument. It is not my argument. In my last reply to you, I demonstrated that this was true. If you’re going to act confused, so be it.

    Secondly, I am aware that you (ostensibly) oppose Eich losing his job. Please read more carefully, I said that you appeared to support the argument that his firing makes sense because hey, he’s bad for business. And yet, the very same sort of argument was once used to make the firing of homosexuals seem reasonable. Full circle, eh?

    Lastly, re: your reply to Kenneth, “Ghandi or Wilberforce (and Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony) fought human right issues against Conservative Christians.” Wilberforce was a conservative Christian.

    PS, please try to avoid the back-to-back comments, as you could have done here.

  • Jon April 18, 2014, 10:14 pm

    Glenn,

    Your argument about your argument (which you wrote but don’t hold) is going a bit stale, as you keep on avoiding to read the paragraph before my “Note that he had freedom of speech..”. But whatever I’ll let you win that one. And you appear to still think that I repeated back “verbatim” which I did not do, so I don’t think we will progress on that either. I let you have that one too.

    Your Salon article does not even support your view. The firing argument was/is different for a gay sales representatives and Mr. Eich. And the article states “Losing your job for being gay is different from losing your job for opposing gay marriage.”

    You still don’t seem to understand why Mr. Eich was fired. As I said about your fictional Mozilla letter did not address the two key things these kind of letters/press releases have to have for customers/employees/shareholders/etc. (Reflect that with Marriott’s case or a leader of a Conservative Church openly supporting gay marriage). Have you worked in a leadership role in corporate world?

    Wilberforce was a conservative Christian according to modern standard. He fought more conservative Christians who, unlike him, wanted to keep the slavery. Modern conservative Christians who now support women’s right vote, inter-racial marriage and equal right for whites and non-whites would have been classified radical liberal Christians 200 years ago. So Wilberforce was a liberal Christian of his days.

  • Glenn April 18, 2014, 11:28 pm

    “Your argument about your argument (which you wrote but don’t hold) is going a bit stale”

    Jon, this actually appears to be a bit dishonest now. Things have been crystal clear: I think that the treatment of Mr Eich was very poor. I outlined one argument that some people use to justify that treatment, and I explained why I do not accept that argument.

    You came along and used that argument, but later you also complained that I don’t understand what people are saying. I then pointed out that clearly I did understand what they were saying, because I got the argument right: People were explaining Mr Eich’s treatment by saying that there are sometimes consequences for free speech and that’s just how it is. And in fact you came into the thread and used the argument yourself.

    Then you started wriggling and trying (rather unsuccessfully) to twist things, saying that you didn’t repeat my argument. When I pointed out that I never said any such thing, and that you repeated the argument that I rejected, you then acted all confused, like I was changing my story. It’s a very tired game now, and yes you’re right, it’s stale.

    I’ll let you have the last say on the issues you mentioned in your last comment. Should you one day decide to consult the annals of history in any serious manner, I think you might update your view. Up to you. Reading Wilberforce’s Real Christianity may be a good place to start (or the work of other conservative Christians who supported him, like John Newton, who had been a slave trader prior to his Christian conversion), comparing it to the work of early Christian writers.

    I’m just going to leave you with your feigned confusion. Thanks for visiting.

  • Anna Wilde April 26, 2014, 3:49 pm

    FWIW (To add a multimedia texture to this somewhat interesting thread)

    http://xkcd.com/1357/

  • Anna Wilde April 26, 2014, 4:00 pm

  • James April 29, 2014, 4:18 am

    Anna,

    I don’t see how the xkcd comic is relevant here. This particular blog post specifically addresses the misconception that Eich’s First Amendment right was violated. Did you read the entire post ?

  • Glenn April 29, 2014, 9:35 am

    Indeed James, it was addressed in the very first sentence.

  • Matthew Flannagan April 29, 2014, 9:35 am

    Jon, I guess this guy was a liberal too right?

    “but they were slaves, of the kind that are still used in some countries, in that after a man was bought the latter would spend his entire life in subjection, to the extent that he might be treated most roughly and harshly: something which cannot be done amidst the humanity which we keep amongst ourselves. Now it is true that we must praise God for having banished such a very cruel brand of servitude.”” John Calvin

    Also the numerous Papal denouncements from the 14th to 15 centuries, as well as the Inquisition condemning slavery, all by liberals?

  • Jon April 30, 2014, 1:14 am

    Glenn,
    I advocated that there a bigger issue than freedom of speech what got Mr Eich fired. People who ~fired him did not use your free speech/consequences argument. That is the bit that you don’t understand and somehow you are fixated that my argument was same as what you addressed in the article,

    You avoided that issue just like
    – you avoided “Gold standard” issue
    – your false claim that “you just repeated back verbatim the very argument”
    – you did not address who are “they” in your argument “Namely their argument that no matter how nasty I think the treatment of Mr Eich was, I should basically get over it.”
    – You did not consider Marriott’s case
    – You did not address why your Salon article does not support your view like you claimed
    – You did not answer if you have worked in a leadership role in corporate world.

    But I guess it is safer to call the other party “becoming a bit dishonest now” and confused than address the argument…

    Matthew, well done for not addressing any of my points to you and posting a non sequitur for me.

    Anne, you committed the cardinal sin by agreeing with Glenn’s view, while offered a slightly different view point. Famous XKCD post regarding Brendan Eich forced resignation and free speech is not relevant to this post…

  • Glenn April 30, 2014, 7:26 am

    “People who ~fired him did not use your free speech/consequences argument. That is the bit that you don’t understand”

    One more recap. Yes there is a failure of understanding: Yours. Nobody fired anybody, and the person who used the consequences argument (an argument that I addressed in the post, and to which people are indeed appealing, cf the link to xkcd) was you, Jon. So you did indeed repeat back the argument that I addressed.

    My “gold standard” claim, namely that we need to be able to do better than simply not take away people’s legal rights, is not false at all.

    A bullet pointed list of red herrings and gratuitous assertions doesn’t change this.

    PS, As per the policy you agreed to, advice about how to run the blog may be sent privately, or it will be removed, as it was here.

  • Matthew Flannagan April 30, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Jon
    Actually I did address your point, perhaps you should read what you wrote here it is:
    “Wilberforce was a conservative Christian according to modern standard. He fought more conservative Christians who, unlike him, wanted to keep the slavery. Modern conservative Christians who now support women’s right vote, inter-racial marriage and equal right for whites and non-whites would have been classified radical liberal Christians 200 years ago. So Wilberforce was a liberal Christian of his days.”
    Here you claim that Wilberforce was a “liberal Christian” of his day because he opposed slavery . That argument assumes that if a Christian opposed slavery at that time they were liberal.
    I provided three examples of Christians from that period of time and earlier who opposed slavery, By your logic then they were liberals. Clearly they were not. So your premise is unsound.
    In fact Wilberforce was a conservative by his own time, he was part of a sect known as the Clapham sect which was the conservative evangelical wing of the church of England. England parliament had liberal (whig) and conservative (tory) factions. Wilberforce was a tory.
    The simple fact is you are either misinformed or trying desperately to rewrite history to fit your current political persuasion

    You then said to Glenn.

    “I advocated that there a bigger issue than freedom of speech what got Mr Eich fired. People who ~fired him did not use your free speech/consequences argument. That is the bit that you don’t understand”

    Again perhaps you should read what you wrote above, here is it is:

    “If Mr Eich had been a Mozilla programmer he would not have been fired, but as an chief executive he lost his respect/credibility/trust/ability to work with his team and some external parties. Economist wrote “OKCupid’s decision to call on Firefox users to switch to other web browsers is evidence that the fallout was starting to have a real impact on Mozilla’s operations.” And this was probably a bigger issue than freedom of speech. Same could have happened if he had given money to KKK/communists/Nazis/Extreme Muslim orgs or any other org employees and customers of Mozilla would not like. That is a life of a chief executive.
    Note that he had freedom of speech, but not freedom of the consequences. This applies to everyone.”

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