Blacklists and backlash on both sides
Views 88 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 8 - 2014 | By: Megan Monroe
In the latest wake of career casualties caused by the public gay marriage debate, the former CEO of Mozilla (responsible for the Firefox browser) has been forced to step down from his position over donations he gave in 2008 to the campaign for Proposition 8, the Though the anti-gay marriage proposition won by a narrow margin, it was later overturned.
Eich’s recent promotion to CEO launched a controversy over the donation he made 6 years ago. Though he wrote a blog post explaining his commitment to inclusivity, he never stated that he had changed his mind. Gay marriage supporters were not satisfied, and a public petition asked for his resignation. Dating site OkCupid even got involved, preventing users from accessing the site with the Firefox browser and asking them to sign the petition. By Thursday, he was forced to step down.
Readers might be reminded of backlash against the founder of Chick-Fil-A Dan Cathy. Like Eich, Cathy’s personal opinions and ideological commitments became fuel for public protests. But unlike Cathy, Eich’s career fell victim to the tsunami of negative public opinion.
This story is nearly the mirror image of the World Vision story that played out only two weeks ago. The uproar of socially-liberal internet users can be compared to the uproar of conservative, evangelical Christians over World Vision’s announcement that they would be hiring married gay employees. Both groups were willing to blacklist an entire organization over this ideological disagreement, threatening all of their employees and, in World Vision’s case, the benefactors of their charity work.
Having a CEO who personally doesn’t support gay marriage but is happy to practice inclusivity in the workplace would seem to impact an organization’s ethos less than altering a Christian organization’s employment policies to allow married, gay employees to be hired. However, this difference would only be relevant if the employees in question were actually participating in ministry like direct evangelism. World Vision’s decision to hire gay employees no more hinders their goal of alleviating poverty and suffering than Mozilla’s CEO’s past political donations hinder the company’s goal of promoting inclusivity in the workplace.
The two scandals have a great deal in common: a disagreement about what constitutes an inclusive workplace, a loud, unpleasant public uproar (based on lots of misinformation), and the prioritization of placating public opinion above the achievement of an organization’s goals. In both cases, a nasty public tantrum forced an organization’s hand.
Those on either side of the same-sex marriage debate have plenty to criticize one another for. Both since groups have now stooped to the same level, using threats and punitive measures to push their goals, it’s tough to say that either group holds any moral high ground. As explosive debates tend to do, the gay marriage debate has generated petty, polarized discourse and tactics from both parties.
For the sake of civil, constructive public discourse: please think about what you aim to achieve before blacklisting or boycotting a company for ideological reasons. Though important ideas are at stake, so are people.