SYNDICATED COLUMN: If You Can Get Fired Over Your Politics, What Good is the First Amendment?

Now that the controversy over Mozilla’s firing of CEO Brendan Eich over his antigay politics has subsided (and before something similar happens again, which it surely will), it’s time for a brief tutorial on McCarthyism.

Because, if those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, Americans — who don’t notice history even as it’s happening, while it’s making headlines — are condemned to the endless purgatory of idiocracy.

McCarthyism, also known as the 20th century’s second Red Scare, took on several forms in the 1950s. Today, however, let’s focus on blackballing.

Blackballing, also often known as blacklisting (there are so many a.k.a.’s), is the act of denying employment to someone due to political opinions they express, and activities in which they participate, away from the workplace.

The qualifier “away from the workplace” is important. Denying you a paycheck because of your politics — politics you don’t express at work — is the essence of blackballing, and arguably the most powerful torture device in the censor’s toolbox. Examples of blackballing include the disgusting Hollywood blacklist of left-leaning actresses like Marsha Hunt and director Charlie Chaplin, and the 2004 firing of an Alabama woman because she had a John Kerry bumpersticker on her car. Also in 2004, Men’s Health magazine dropped my comic strip — which was about sex and relationships, 100% apolitical — because I opposed George W. Bush and his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Timothy Noah wrote about the bumpersticker firing: “Firing a person because you don’t like his or her politics runs contrary to just about everything this country stands for, but it is not against the law.” The U.S. embraces the savage fiscal Darwinism of “at-will employment,” which allows employers to hire and fire workers as they please, unless a victim can prove — which is difficult — discrimination due to race, color, religion, gender, age or disability.

Incredibly, your boss can fire you simply for being a Democrat or Republican.

Blackballing squelches expression and debate. Yet the American public doesn’t seem to mind that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them where they spend more than half of their waking hours — at work. Which set the stage for what happened to Brendan Eich.

Star LGBT columnist-editor-author Dan Savage “shrugged off” suggestions that Mozilla blackballed Eich: “No gay rights organizations had called for him to step down. This wasn’t really an issue in the gay community, it was an issue at Mozilla. There were people at Mozilla who didn’t want this man representing them.”

(Disclosure: Savage has commissioned work from me, and I have said nice things about him, which I meant.)

Savage is right. No gay rights groups weighed in. They kept quiet. None spoke out in Eich’s defense.

Hey, if someone offs this turbulent priest, it’s no skin off my ass.

“He was perceived by his own employees as an unacceptable CEO,” Savage remarked, pointing to Eich’s record of right-wing politics, which included supporting Pat Buchanan and Rand Paul, in addition to the $1000 campaign contribution to California’s Proposition 8 in 2012, which attempted to ban gay marriage in the state.

Exactly so.

Eich was perceived as “an unacceptable CEO” by Mozilla. But this was not because of his computer skills, which are widely seen as unimpeachable, or his management talent, which only came under fire after his politics came to light.

The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki showcased the rationale of McCarthyism. Allowing that Eich is “a brilliant software engineer who had been the company’s chief technology officer,” Surowiecki explained: “The problem was that Eich’s stance was unacceptable in Silicon Valley, a region of the business world where social liberalism is close to a universal ideology.” To which one might ask: so what? If I only bought products made by companies whose CEOs I liked, my house would be empty.

And here, the “well, duh” logic that ignores the much bigger question of whether censorship is a good idea: “In interviews, [Eich] repeatedly spoke about the need to respect the diverse views of Mozilla community members…But there was something self-evidently odd about the pairing of Eich’s rhetorical support for diversity with his financial support for denying legal rights to gay people.”

Bear in mind: Eich pledged, in writing, not to discriminate against gay Mozilla employees. There’s no evidence that he ever mistreated any member of the LGBT community.

What is “self-evidently odd” about the argument that a company that values diversity ought to be able to make peace with a right-wing, anti-gay marriage CEO? Nothing. These “liberals” are blind to their own prejudice. In the same way that cable news channels believe that ideological diversity runs the gamut from center-right Clinton Democrat to right-wing Republican, Surowiecki and Mozilla’s top executives think acceptable political discourse allows for no disagreement on gay marriage.

This makes me nervous, and not just because I’m a political pundit or because gay marriage is an issue about which Americans have changed their minds at a breathtakingly rapid rate. If anything you say can be used against you in the court of the HR office, who is going to risk saying what they think? At Mozilla, Republicans would be wise to stay in the political closet. Isn’t that kind of…fascist?

Which is why I have consistently refused to join, actively opposed and publicly argued against boycott campaigns against right-wingers like Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh.

I think Eich is wrong about gay marriage. I disagree with his right-wing views. He’s a rich (former) CEO, so I don’t care about him personally. Nevertheless, Eich has become a symbol of something dangerous and wrong.

If you can lose your job due to your politics — especially if those in charge find those politics repugnant — there are only two options available to those of us who need to earn a living: keep our opinions to ourselves, or lie about them. If politics leaves the public sphere, forced underground by watchful employers and politically correct coworkers and anonymous online crusaders, how does the United States differ from East Germany?

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37 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: If You Can Get Fired Over Your Politics, What Good is the First Amendment?

  1. Still undecided on this one.

    If Eich were a rank-and-file employee I’d totally agree with Ted that letting him go was wrong.

    But C-level executives are a bit different. In a sense they are the public face of a company. They are paid a lot more and “serve at the pleasure of the board” which makes their tenure a bit more arbitrary. They usually get significant compensation when departing a company as well. So perhaps with their increased visibility and greater pay, it’s not entirely unfair that they are more subject to the winds of public opinion.

    • @Russell, True, CEOs serve at the pleasure of the board. I’m arguing that the board made the wrong decision by punishing him for his politics – which, by the way, aren’t exactly wildly unusual. Proposition 8 passed in 2012. Obama opposed gay marriage until 2012.

  2. Well-reasoned, -considered, and -written. This topic and type of column best showcases how Ted is a different kind of leftie. Contrarian for sure, and unapologetic and unafraid.

  3. I always admire Ted’s ability to stick up for the over-privileged. Much as it galls me to admit it, he’s right. If one of us isn’t free, then none of us are free.

    It’s just a lot harder to feel sorry for wealthy assholes.

  4. If a boycott against Dr. Laura or Rush got her or him fired, it would not be because of the opinions they expressed away from and irrelevant to their job. It would be because they had FAILED at their job: selling their advertisers’ products and image. Nothing wrong with expressing MY first amendment rights that anyone who aids and abets such hatred should not be supported…

  5. Consider that some members of police departments were members of the KKK. This is not a hypothetical argument but an historical fact.

    Unfavored races hesitated to call the police, unsure of what uniforms they would show at their door. The US was always a bit like East Germany if you weren’t white.

    All legalisms aside, hateful speech must be resisted. And the government should not be expected to step in to justly break up the verbal fight, being, as it is so often, on the wrong side of history.

  6. The Constitution only restricts the government’s action in infringing on personal rights.

    The Constitution does not even prohibit murder by other non-governmental agencies, much less freedom of speech, at least it didn’t at the time when JFK was murdered, so that any trial for JFK’s assassination had to be held in the state of Texas, where his murder was committed.

    Of course, as John Kenneth Galbraith explains, the theoretical division between the public and private sectors is a fiction, so the legality of any case will be necessarily be a fictional construct of that court where the legality will be tried.

      • Totally agree, Ted.

        But if one displeases his boss, the boss always has the option of building a case for dismissal on other grounds.

        Even in jury nullification, laws a jurist can’t explicitly find the defendant innocent because the law is unjust; other reasons must be “found” for the finding of innocence or the jurist could, in some cases, be found in contempt.

      • It’s hard to understand why political beliefs should not be on the long list of things upon which employers cannot discriminate. Chances are if your employer doesn’t like your religion, he won’t like your politics.

  7. I disagree with Ted’s conclusions here. There’s a huge difference between stalinism and blackballing, namely under stalinism the opposition ends up dead or if they’re lucky, in prison completely isolated from the world.

    The first amendment never promised it would be easy to oppose power, it just promised that to keep you out of government courts. IMO shaming and expulsion have a long and fundamentally democratic history in direct opposion to our modern reliance on capital punishment and incarceration. Our nation would be well served if we rediscovered the value of putting people in stocks and throwing rotten fruit at them. The alternative is spending 100s of thousands locking them up. To internet shaming is a positive development.

    If your fundamental idea is sound the first amendment won’t save your job but it will keep you alive and out of prison. That gives you a chance to promote you idea. It its worth something others will join and a movement will build. It won’t be easy but years later you have a chance to see gay marriage become a reality.

    • internet shaming is a positive thing?
      In Astra Taylor’s new book, she cites a study that girls who used female names/avatars online got 25 times the amount of hate mail than when they used gender neutral names…
      maybe not the best example…

    • Weird. I thought liberals usually decry shaming as being unfair, mean, and backward. Leave everyone alone and let them do whatever they want so long as no one disagrees with a liberal belief. If that happens, then let the shaming begin! 🙂

      • Why is it that conservatives have such a hard time understanding the difference between being a bigot and opposing a bigot?

        Bigots hate for no reason, bigots harm people who have done them no harm. Those of us who oppose bigots protect the innocent; conservatives protect the guilty.

  8. This is an important topic to weigh in on, and I appreciate Ted’s stance. Still, to be perceived as constructive criticism rather than merely as a contrarian piece, it would be still stronger if it would also recognize some of the limits of the metaphor relating PC based overreach to McCarthyism.

    It seems to me that the metaphor relies on the concept of free speech, so I will first look at this issue and then relate back to the McCarthyism comparison in the article.

    While I personally find the argument for free speech both intuitive and compelling, there are also important counter-arguments. For example, people in oppressed and marginalized groups often insist that their first order of business is to get on the radar in the first place, to counter the oppressor’s narrative – even if this means shouting-defiance-while-being-carried-out-of-the-room, which technically violates the free speech rights of the party which is hogging the platform.

    For me this really personally sunk in only after an encounter abroad with otherwise well-informed people in an academic environment. At some point one person casually remarked that all Gypsies are a bunch of iredeemable thieves who decline to work even though the government had offered to pay them wages in excess of what University professors make. What was really striking to me was everyone’s reaction to my weakly expressing that I found this implausible. Around the table people looked at each other in pure incredulity – at why someone would question this “obvious” fact. I had run into people who hold racist views before, and their standard reaction to me – often even before I could open my mouth – was basically “oh, so he’s one of those people who don’t like us to talk like that, our mistake, well, we’ll just wait until he goes away and then continue our conversation”. As this reaction at least acknowledges that another narrative exists, the incredulity was much worse.

    To connect this back to Ted’s piece: to simplify a bit, until not so long ago, the fight for the basic rights of LGTBQ… people was basically at this stage. The name of the game was self-protection and getting their point of view – even existence – out there, by any means. The problem of overreach was almost inconceivable. Now we may approach a stage where this problem begins to arise – and I certainly applaud Ted to make his stand and call out this overreach. However, I think we will be more effective at doing so when recognizing that this problem emerged out of not being able to play by the rules of the establishment because of weakness, rather than from the establishment not playing by their own professed rules to defend their power (as in McCarthyism).

    Admittedly, proponents in this case might be liberals who hold on to LGTBQ rights by proxy as part of their self-image and are not necessarily themselves members of the marginalized community; but even in this case it is still important to reflect where this is coming from.

    Another related point is that sometimes it can be a good idea to step down from a position of leadership because one’s political views would detract from the overall mission of the organization. If a Roman Catholic charity organization were to offer Ted a position supervising their food aid effort in Afghanistan, it might be a good idea for him to consider declining to avoid controversy (and staying on as a cartoonist to promote it ;-). While I welcome the ideal of the techie and the Roman Catholic communities placing their trust in their leaders purely on the basis of character and technocratic merit, it is just that, an ideal. Those communities not being secure enough for having someone perceived as “Other” in charge, while problematic, would seem to be systemically different from a co-ordinated effort of Blacklisting.

    • @andreas5, Your example of a Catholic charity hiring me to work in Afghanistan is unwittingly perfectly in sync with my point. In this example, I would not be able to be controversial as a cartoonist – even if I held my tongue at the Church gig. That’s what blackballing is: punishing you for things you say away from work.

      • Well, it was wittingly 😉

        Again you are right it is technically that. And that it shouldn’t happen.

        My point was that people who are insecure won’t ever think of themselves as being in the position of Joe McCarthy, so you won’t reach them with hyperbole, even if technically accurate. Which is a shame since you do have a point and it is important for everyone to develop a sense of responsibility proportional to their power over another person. Conversely, people who get your metaphor will already think like you on this issue.

        You could argue that McCarthy, Hoover, et al. were personally insecure and paranoid, but they were well connected and socially powerful, so their witch hunts had massive effects on people outside of small social enclaves. This is what people usually associate with McCarthyism.

  9. Still chewing this all over, Ted. But I think the problem can be re-evaluated by keeping in mind what Anatole France once wrote (and which I paraphrase here): “The rich and the poor have a right to sleep under bridges.”

    Discussion of employment and being fired at will isn’t really the problem. The problem is that people require jobs to pay for rent, food, clothes, etc. I’m not trying to be precious here; this is a crucial distinction.

    When EIch gets thrown out on his ass, his ass lands back in a lovely condominium, with a severance package several magnitudes beyond what the average worker will earn in a lifetime, a pension, investments, and so forth. Eich — unless he was terrible at handling money — doesn’t need to work a day in his life again. For him, “at will employment” is, very much a “so what”. For you or for me, at will employment is a shock-collar fitted round our necks. One step out of line, and BBBZZZZZTTTT! There goes our entire lives, right down the toilet.

    That’s part of it.

    The other part of it? And I’ve had this discussion a lot: some personal beliefs are wrong. Example:
    “Stealing is wrong.” Okay. What about stealing to stay alive? Now we’re into a gray area. What about stealing to feed your children? Now we’re into a less-gray area. What about stealing from criminals to save a village of poor, honest farmers, including little Pepito, who walks with a crutch?

    The part that’s ridiculous about it is that — for the person being deprived of his property — whether you’re pawning it to get money for smack or putting bread into your children’s mouths is irrelevant. He’s still out that merchandise. We cherrypick which part of the crime to look at.

    In Eich’s case, his cherrypicking is from an incorrect personal belief system. He recites what he’s been trained to recite: gay marriage is wrong. Then he figleafs by pledgin in writing not to discriminate against a gay employee.

    Ted, you’re a journalist. You should understand this. It’s called the “appearance” of impropriety. It ties in with the whole notion of what Anatole France said. When your boss stands around being publicly identified as opposing a fundamental societal right against your group, but also says he’d never discriminate against a gay employee, he ALREADY HAS. He’s trying to keep teh gays from getting married. And why? Because some bunch of fuckin’ fables invented by illiterate farmers 3,000 years ago to explain why thunder goes boom has been elevated to the status of “how to rule the world: avoid shellfish, sell your daughters, have the blacks hew wood and draw water.”

    As for “Surowiecki explained: ‘The problem was that Eich’s stance was unacceptable in Silicon Valley, a region of the business world where social liberalism is close to a universal ideology.’ ” Holy hell. What pure bullshit. Go back to the notion of stealing to feed your children vs. how the merchant still files for bankruptcy regardless of what happened to the stolen goods. All these Silicon Valley “do-gooders”? They’re lip-servicers at best. They don’t care about “healing” the planet or “empowering” people. They want users to buy their stuff. “Yeah, I came up with a way for people to put captions on selfies and I sold it to facebook for $155 million. It’s how I’m helping to heal the planet through empowerment.” Silicon Valley is just as ruthless as Wall Street. They dress it up in a frillier dress is all.

    • Lotta asinine assumptions here.

      Mozilla is a non-profit, no stock options, no “pension”, no set-for-life executives unless they made out elsewhere. Eich was there for 16 years and he passed on Google and lots of other wealth. See his comment on HN:

      https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5233732

      Who said anything about the bible? Eich never did. California’s AG let Prop 8 on the ballot, it had nothing to do with religion, not did CA family law till the In Re: Marriage case in early 2008. Atheist scientists who think hetero-normative marriage is a selected-for extended phenotype supported Prop 8. Study some biology and history going back to classical antiquity (no marriage equality there).

      The only smart thing in this comment from alex_the_tired (who needs a long nap) is the ending. Silicon Valley didn’t reject Eich and neither did Mozilla Corporation’s employees — his board and co-founder rejected him, in spite of their protesting way wayyyy too much, with too many FAQ questions and answers that kept changing for a week. I work at Mozilla and this is widely seen-through.

      • WeaselHunter,

        Alright, let’s take it one at a time.

        First of all, the ‘non-profit’ Mozilla. In 2006 (the latest figures I could find in a one-minute search), Eich was paid $404,634. The main point I was making still holds. Mr. Eich — unless he literally threw money away hand over fist — is financially secure for the rest of his life. Thus, being fired (or resigning, as he did), will not be comparable to you or I (I assume, perhaps asininely, that both of us do not make six-figure salaries) being fired or being forced to resign.

        As for the brendaneich link you provide. He sure does say a lot without saying anything. He doesn’t describe his salary with a figure. He claims not to be “independently wealthy.” He mentions where he doesn’t live, but not where he does live. He doesn’t drive a “fancy” car (what car DOES he drive?). His enlarged home is “modest.” He points out that he defended himself at an IRS audit and cleared it.

        Audit is one of those words everyone jumps at. But there’s four kinds of audits. It’s only when the IRS shows up at your business or when they run a Taxpayer Compliance Measure Program audit (they’ll want everything, right down to birth certificate) that you really need a lawyer. For Eich to talk about his having successfully passed an audit without legal representation is irrelevant.

        I’ve been doing this for 15 years at least: reading between the lines of statements made by officials to see what they aren’t saying. Eich isn’t saying a lot. But he does talk about Aristotle, Jesus and Mammon. You did ask who brought up the bible. “Eich never did.” Well, yes, he did. From that link you provided: “Aristotle and Jesus agreed on this point regarding money (Mammon) vs. “the good” (God): you can’t serve two masters.” If you want to split hairs about it, fine. I’m not going to participate in that.

        As for California’s AG “Letting” Proposition 8 on the ballot. How do they do it in California? Usually, propositions are placed on the ballot due to a petition campaign. The AG doesn’t have veto power over it. All the AG can do is verify signatures.

        As for “it had nothing to do with religion, not did CA family law till the In Re: Marriage case in early 2008. Atheist scientists who think hetero-normative marriage is a selected-for extended phenotype supported Prop 8. Study some biology and history going back to classical antiquity (no marriage equality there).”

        The argument that a “defense of marriage” law isn’t about religion is pure bullshit. I’m sorry. But it is. The atheist scientists who think hetero-normative marriage is a selected-for extended phenotype and who supported Prop 8? Great! Good for them. (Question: Is it a them, or was it just one? I mean, how many of these atheist scientists were identified? Do they meet up with the 0.03 percent of climate scientists who don’t think global warming is manmade?) The vast majority of people voting for Prop 8 aren’t doing so between lectures on allelomorphology.

        Study biology and history? I suggest the same for you. Biologically, homosexuality has been around since before there were humans. Before there were Catholics, Jews, Muslims, there were gays. I suspect the speciation of “gay” culture occurred only once those people began to be discriminated against.

        And if you read history, you would know that gay marriage has existed in other cultures and in other times. It’s legal right now in Denmark, Iceland, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden. You know, all those terrible places with universal healthcare that no one wants to live in.

        Perhaps I did need a nap when I wrote my OP. But I still think the majority of it holds up. Eich isn’t going to starve. His losing his job is a completely different situation than when a poor person loses a job. Eich didn’t lose his job because he was trying to increase a group’s rights. He lost his job because he was trying to take rights away from others.

        Notice the trend? When the left actually does rise up and resist being treated like shit, it’s analyzed to death. “Oh, was this right? Oh, how wrong was this?”

        No wonder we still don’t have genuine universal healthcare in this country. It would disrespect the opinions of those who think that when the poor get sick, they should die.

      • (I can’t reply so replying to parent comment.)

        alex_the_tired:

        1. Do the math. Eich has family and lives in Silicon Valley, one of the highest cost of living places on the planet. His salary is low compared to Googlers of similar age. They can retire on RSUs, Eich and other people who have worked for Mozilla long-term cannot retire on post-tax savings or 401Ks alone, not with college and medical costs running 4-5x inflation.

        2. Last I saw, Eich drove a beat-up Honda. I don’t know where he lives but it’s south of Mountain View, so probably Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, or San Jose. Here’s a clue: “Independently wealthy” means enough money to invest and live on the carried interest (google it).

        3. Mozilla Foundation as a whole had a package audit, Eich was included, this was in the news in 2008.

        4. Eich quoted Aristotle too — is he an ancient Greek true believer? Anyone literate can cite either Jesus or Aristotle. Your idiotic point about the bible was to assert that it’s the only basis for traditional marriage definition as man-woman in law, the kind on the books for most of human history. Cultures from east to west, from before the bible too, all codified law about marriage based on procreation. Because paternity matters in all cultures worth a damn.

        5. The California AG doesn’t let draft initiatives on the ballot that are plainly unconstitutional. No one put a ballet initiative saying “deprive X of civil rights”. Prop 8 was about definition and it left same-sex couples with CA’s Domestic Partner law, which was equivalent up to the limits of state power — anything different was due to DOMA.

        6. Google “ewald cochran disease theory of homosexuality” and read up. Lots of scientists who can do basic math have a problem with claims that homosexuality is genetic, i.e., heritable (MZ twin concordance is 0.22), that humans are eusocial bees where gay uncles save more than 8 nieces and nephews, or other such pseudo-science.

        7. Gay *marriage* existed in what other pre-modern cultures, when? Specify, please, with sources. Kalahari bushmen can’t understand gay sex, you have to draw pictures, and they laugh. Obligate male homosexuality is unheard of in H-G societies.

        8. Get some sleep and use fewer words next time. Irrelevant whining and trolling about global warming and universal healthcare, vague and unsourced/unsearchable assertions, and way too many words — these are telltales of a weak argument and weaker arguer. Weasel hunting shouldn’t be this easy. Do better, write less.

      • Weasel Hunter,

        1. Do the math. Eich has family and lives in Silicon Valley, one of the highest cost of living places on the planet. His salary is low compared to Googlers of similar age. They can retire on RSUs, Eich and other people who have worked for Mozilla long-term cannot retire on post-tax savings or 401Ks alone, not with college and medical costs running 4-5x inflation.

        Go back to my initial point. The man was making $400,000 a year back in 2006. I don’t care how expensive Silicon Valley is. He had the money to expand his “modest” home. He owns a car. Whether it’s a beat-up Honda or a BMW is besides the point: he can afford a car. At $400,000 a year, he’d max out his 401(k) in about three paychecks. All the rest? As I said, unless he’s terrible with money, he has put aside a nice tidy nest egg already.

        THAT was my point: for Eich to lose his job is completely different than someone pulling in $45,000 a year losing a job. Eich may claim to not be “independently wealthy.” To which I say, I’m from the poor part of Missouri. When he lets me go through his books, we can revisit the topic. He had enough money for the house remodel, he can cover the car insurance. Does his wife work? What sort of investments does he have? Am I seriously to believe that he hasn’t already put aside investments specifically for his children’s education?

        I’m sorry it took so many words to write that.

        As for “Here’s a clue: ‘Independently wealthy’ means enough money to invest and live on the carried interest (google it).”

        Google? Oh, that thing. Yes. Well, interest is usually only part of an investment portfolio. I would suspect Eich having a portfolio consisting of real estate, rental properties, stocks, bonds. Bonds would pay interest. Stocks pay dividends. Real estate and rentals? Those pay out cash. Someone like Eich will have an accountant who will give tailor-made suggestions. Not the one-size-fits-all swill most of the 401(k) krowd gets.

        He may not be “independently wealthy” by the standards he’s accustomed to, but could he sell the home, back up the family, move somewhere with a lower cost of living and not have to work another day in his life? I suspect so. See previous point.

        “Mozilla Foundation as a whole had a package audit, Eich was included, this was in the news in 2008.”

        Great. Because that means what Eich said MUST be bunk. If Mozilla was being audited as a business, Eich would have been gathered in under an umbrella of representation. He would not have been allowed to “go it alone.” If he was ALSO audited on a personal level, then we’re back to my initial point: Eich, just like anyone else, would not need a lawyer for a simple personal audit. Again, until I get more information about exactly what happened in the cubicle, I see no reason to let Eich’s non-statement just pass on by.

        “Eich quoted Aristotle too — is he an ancient Greek true believer? Anyone literate can cite either Jesus or Aristotle. Your idiotic point about the bible was to assert that it’s the only basis for traditional marriage definition as man-woman in law, the kind on the books for most of human history.”

        No. My idiotic point was that I’m sick to death of people, like Eich, invoking God — as he does in the link you, yourself, provided — to cover everything they do in a patina of righteousness.

        “Cultures from east to west, from before the bible too, all codified law about marriage based on procreation. Because paternity matters in all cultures worth a damn.”

        You conflate, sir. You conflate. The issue has never been about paternity. It’s about ownership. The man owns the woman. The father sells her to someone, and she is obedient and faithful (translation: she keeps her mouth shut and has dinner on the table). You don’t need to be a bible scholar to realize a significant portion of it is simply a shame manual for keeping women in their place. If paternity were such a big deal, we would, culturally, have zero children who don’t know who their fathers are. The concept of a man just “going out for some cigarettes” wouldn’t exist, because paternity is so gosh darn important!

        “No one put a ballet initiative saying ‘deprive X of civil rights’. Prop 8 was about definition and it left same-sex couples with CA’s Domestic Partner law, which was equivalent up to the limits of state power — anything different was due to DOMA.”

        Okay. The bullshit meter just blew a bulb. Let me replace it. Let’s put it this way: IF — I’m gonna repeat that IF — “domestic partner” law was equivalent to marriage, then both sides would be willing to trade. The hets can announce “Oh, Jane, this is your sister, Mary. I’m so happy! John asked me to become his domestic partner!” and the gays can say, “Joe, it’s your brother, Bob. Phil asked me to marry him.” I mean, after all, they’re EQUIVALENT so there’s no problem.

        Oh, wait. The whole line about domestic partnerships is bullshit, isn’t it? Yes. And I suspect you agree Weasel. But because “marriage” is covered with a fine mist of religiosity, we all keep having this same ridiculous fight. I say let the gays marry. I have gay friends who have. And I always get a smile when they divorce, just like heterosexuals do. Not because I like seeing my friends unhappy but because it’s simply more evidence that gay or straight, we’re all fucked up in some way.

        “Google ‘ewald cochran disease theory of homosexuality’ and read up. Lots of scientists who can do basic math have a problem with claims that homosexuality is genetic, i.e., heritable (MZ twin concordance is 0.22), that humans are eusocial bees where gay uncles save more than 8 nieces and nephews, or other such pseudo-science.”

        So, if it isn’t genetic it’s behavioral? That is, it’s a choice? Well, I’ll fall back to Dan Savage’s brilliant refutation: if some straight person thinks it’s a choice, all they have to do is choose to suck his dick. And not just perform fellatio, but really get into it. I mean, heck, if it’s a choice, it ought not to be difficult to (heh-heh) take one for the team. I don’t claim to have perfect knowledge. But the people making “opinions” about homosexuality, gay marriage and all the rest of it, are, mainly, conditioned and poisoned by religious upbringing. It is impossible to discuss the fight for gay marriage, gay equality, gay anything without having to bring up religion. And the people who carry on about how “unnatural” teh gays are will not listen to any drawn-out discussions. Ever since the Internet came to town, I keep seeing, in ever-increasing frequencies, complaints about how long an argument is. So, I can try to refute a complex point, but I have to do it fast. Great. The whole world is becoming the TV news.

        I took the time to write the response. You don’t want to read it, fine. Don’t participate in the first place. I’m not typing for my health. I’m sorry if I wander occasionally or take 16 words where 5 would have done.

        “Gay ‘marriage’ existed in what other pre-modern cultures, when? Specify, please, with sources. Kalahari bushmen can’t understand gay sex, you have to draw pictures, and they laugh. Obligate male homosexuality is unheard of in H-G societies.”

        From the google (the citations are in the article): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_same-sex_unions
        (Oddly, I notice that although the article talks about pederast relationships — older man and a boy — it’s awfully quite on the prevalence of older men bedding girls who were barely teenagers.)

        “Do better, write less.”
        Weasel, if you want to have a discussion, fine. If you want to be a snippy little douche, fine. But don’t try to do both. Your post was long. I don’t sit here and bitch at you about it. Sometimes, discussions take time. That’s how adults do it, W. Either be an adult or go join an echo chamber with Ex. But don’t do the TL;DR and think you’re being smart or sophisticate.

      • alex_the_tired:

        1. Severe word diarrhea again, not a good sign. I will be extra-terse here.

        2. Wikipedia has been edit-warred into poor shape. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:History_of_same-sex_unions#.22Same-sex_marriage_has_been_documented_in_many_societies.22 and find better sources for any claim that “marriage equality” ever existed in anything like today’s state by state form.

        No one-off histories about emperors in lipstick please.

        3. Stocks pay dividends? You did not do the math. If Eich has savings, I estimate he has at most a few mil. He cannot just retire on that without using it up before his likely date of death. Here’s a calculator:

        http://money.msn.com/retirement/retirement-calculator.aspx

        Plug in Eich’s age for current and retirement ages, give him a pay cut to 200K and assume he doesn’t lose his house, and screw his kids’ college educations.

        Then fix Fidelity’s absurd 8% return on investment to be 1% (Fed ZIRP, your central bank at work) and press the submit button. You’ll find he doesn’t have enough to retire even in a year.

        Eich needs a job, ideally with some Google RSUs. Too bad he’s toxic and unemployable now.

        4. “So, if it isn’t genetic it’s behavioral?” No, and that shows you didn’t even search for “ewald cochran disease theory”. Disease side-effect (probably; unlikely to be evolutionary strategy). Read!

        5. You don’t like my attitude, I don’t like yours. So what? The problem is your verbose and fact-free argumentation, not your style.

        Stopping here, just 5 short points of fact. Try again and do some real research before spewing forth.

    • “Word diarrhea?” That’s two words and 13 characters. use “logorrhea” next time: nine letters, one word. Much more economical.

      But seriously. Weasel, return to previous statement: if you don’t have the attention span, stop reading. I’m sure you can win a sound-bite fight; this is actual discussion.

      You wrote: “Wikipedia has been edit-warred into poor shape. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:History_of_same-sex_unions#.22Same-sex_marriage_has_been_documented_in_many_societies.22 and find better sources for any claim that “marriage equality” ever existed in anything like today’s state by state form.”
      Fine. Here’s the Yale Law Review. Careful, it’s 97 pages long. Perhaps you can read it over a 97-day period?

      Your comment about “No one-off histories about emperors in lipstick please.” was irrelevant and lengthened the discussion unnecessarily.

      You slapped together some hodge-podge that made no sense. “3. Stocks pay dividends? You did not do the math. If Eich has savings, I estimate he has at most a few mil. He cannot just retire on that without using it up before his likely date of death. Here’s a calculator:” etc.

      Okay. You’ve got about three different things going here. Stocks pay dividends and I didn’t do the math? Actually, stocks DO pay dividends. You estimate Eich’s savings? How did you do that? Are you his accountant? Why don’t you discuss the point I raised about the possibility of investments that general income that would be inflation-linked (e.g., rental properties)? According to my estimates of Eich’s finances, he’s doing fine. [Remainder of this part deleted to keep it brief.]

      As for ewald cochran disease theory. What’s the name of the disease germ that does all this? Oh, let me guess, it hasn’t been identified yet. A mighty thin reed to balance your argument [sic] upon. Perhaps you could try an astrological angle? I don’t read every piece of crackpottery someone insists is important. You tell me to read? I think you need to read more. And not just the things that support your prior conclusions.

      I don’t like your attitude because it isn’t productive. You favor the ad hominem attack. It’s pointless. You whinge about how I write too much at a time for your liking. Then go to Twitter, immerse yourself in the level of complexity and thought available at 140 characters.

      And can the attitude. Answer the points raised. Don’t lecture me on a need for brevity.

      • “Here’s the Yale Law Review. Careful, it’s 97 pages long. Perhaps you can read it over a 97-day period?”

        You left out the link, but I know it already:

        http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2503&context=fss_papers

        It’s a classic case of cherry-picking. Every case from anitiquity to the present, including the new world examples, was rare: 1 in 50,000 or rarer. That’s infrequent enough to be a deleterious mutation.

        Given how obligate homosexual men, seen in 2-3% numbers only in post-invention-of-agriculture societies, manage to propagate their genes *at most* one fifth as much as other men, any genetic factor would have died out long ago. This is basic population genetics.

        You are the one hanging by a thin or non-existent reed: that 2-3% obligate same-sex male-male attraction has no plausible biological cause other than disease. It occurs only in rams, suggesting species-jump within the age of agriculture.

        On Eich’s finances:

        First: if you’re so great at beating inflation (which is not uniform in time or across goods and services: college and so-called “medical care” are exempt from anti-trust law, and cartelized or locally/regionally monopolized, consumer-raping looting parties), why were you poor-mouthing about your finances re: Eich’s?

        Second, I worked with Eich and knew him from Netscape days. He’s not independently wealthy, which again means “able to live on carried-interest income”. I happen to know he has some rental property but not enough to live off of.

        What do you know about being a landlord, or being independently wealthy for that matter? The time you spend here strongly suggests you are unemployed. How about it?

      • Sorry weasel, you’re way off base there. Homosexual behavior has been recorded in scores of species, including our closest relatives, the bonobo chimps. Manatees mate in an orgy and the males spend more time with each other than they do with females. Some male sheep encourage other males to mount them, there are simply too many examples to ignore.

        Gay men react to male pheromones the same way as hetero females, they get aroused. Hetero men exposed to the same pheremones get angry and agressive. Encenphanlagraphs show the corresponding areas of the brain lighting up, and remember you don’t consciously smell pheremones, it’s happening at a level you have no control over.

        Masters and Johnson’s well documented and reproducable experiments show that it’s not black and white. It’s not a question of ‘am I queer?’ But rather ‘how queer am I?’

        The incidence of homosexuality is about the same as left handedness. Are you going to call that a defect as well, or do you just accept that some people are different than you and get over it?

        However, all that is one hundred percent irrelevant. If two gay people want to get married, or a hundred want to have a daisy chain, IT DOESN’T HURT YOU ONE WHIT. It neither breaks your leg nor picks your pocket.

        Homophobia is a lifestyle chice. Instead of worrying about things that don’t effect you in the least, maybe your time would be better spent trying to figure out why you have such a strong reaction to things that don’t concern you in the first place.

      • ” Encenphanlagraphs” ???!!

        “Don’t drink and surf, you might accidentally hit the ‘post’ button.” – Plato

  10. It would have been better if each of his employees could have received a guarantee of a term employment under a new boss if desired, along with a pay guarantee for that period if terminated early.

    If a boss can terminate a worker on a whim, that boss should be prevented from whimsically waving his power organ in people’s faces.

    What is a cut-throat business without a few cut throats?

  11. For what it is worth Ted you are taking EXACTLY John Stewart Mills’ stance on censorship and social censure. I state that as neither a good nor bad thing just a thing. It is funny though how libertarians often cite Mills on censorship when it comes to institutions censoring free speech, but don’t acknowledge that Mills was also opposed to the social censure of ideas as well.

  12. 99.9% agreement, but isn’t a boycott campaign also free speech? (as is speaking out against boycott campaigns)

    My biggest problem is the disparity in power. My bosses’ objections to my politics is much more damaging to my life than mine to his. Eich may have signed a statement, but so what? I used to work at Microsoft, which makes a BFD about their commitment to diversity. My Elbonian boss gave my job to his Elbonian buddy, while hiring more Elbonians, promoting more Elbonians, giving more money to Elbonians, etc,etc. I pointed it out to HR … Who did they fire? Me, or the Elboner-up-the-asser?

    • I knew you were an idiot, now I have confirmation x3.

      1. You worked at MS.
      2. You veered totally off topic to make a personal rant.
      3. You blame your employer for your failures, and racism.

      As noted, you’re a loser. The facts keep bearing that out.

      • And what value does your post add, ex?

        1. Do you seriously think that everyone that works at the largest software company in the world is an “idiot”?
        2. Did you not get the relevance of his post to the topic?
        3. Do you have some magic way of knowing that what he says happened isn’t what happened?

        You’re a jerk. Your posts keep bearing that out.

      • uhhh, ex, your definition of ‘loser’ must be different than mine. My salary puts me at the upper side of middle class. Likewise your definition if ‘idiot’ – my IQ is in the 99th percentile. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even have gotten hired at M$ in a role I doubt you could even comprehend, let alone perform.

        (It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it ;-))

        I’ve lost count of the number of fact-free “replies” you’ve made to my posts. If you want to take issue with something I’ve posted: feel free. Tell me what I’ve gotten wrong, and how to make it right. Simply throwing stones is a waste of bandwidth unless you make them at least a *little* original and entertaining.

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