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Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Web Of Beliefs... And The Ensuing Arachnophobia

Mozilla Firefox

We have spoken much of Belief Systems.

Sometimes they sleep Rip van Winkle for fifty years or more, and we do not recognize them when they reclaim the light of day, and sometimes they are the ruling dynamos of life, and snap to attention when our eyes blink open in the morning.

New York Times
On Thursday, Brendan Eich was forced to resign after two weeks as chief executive of the technology company Mozilla because he donated $1,000 to support a 2008 California ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage. Many supporters of gay rights, inside and outside the company, said his presence was a slap in the face, and threatened a boycott.
Should executives be held to account for unpopular or even offensive views, or does such a stand repress free speech?
There is a lot here.
We see a man being judged 6 years after he did something to support his belief system. We see "many supporters of gay rights" stating that this 5 year old expression of belief is a slap in the face that apparently stings with the nerves recently assaulted.

I no longer go deeply into such things.
I have learned "nothing in excess".
I have learned that when someone slaps your face, let your first response be the peaceful one. ("turn the other cheek"...  The Sermon on the Mount does not necessarily state that we constantly "turn the other cheek"... just that the first time we should have a peaceful response. In dealing with normal humans, that should be enough.)
Morality and Ethics are lived, not talked about. If you talk about them, you are avoiding them.

I was, however, fascinated by the response of the CEO of the online company responsible for the campaign against Mr. Eich.

When Ideas Hurt Others, Act
Christian Rudder
Christian Rudder is a founder, and now the president, of OkCupid, the online dating service whose campaign to shun Mozilla if they kept Brendan Eich as chief executive helped lead to his departure. His book "Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" will be published in September.

It is unfortunate that an individual should suffer for his private beliefs, but in the case of Brendan Eich those beliefs amount to little more than bald cruelty. Opposing gay marriage is selfish and wrong. It denies other people happiness to satisfy your opinion of how the world should be. Unlike, say, opposition to gun control, or to publicly funded health care, opposition to gay marriage isn’t politics, it’s just prejudice.

It is only by moving the popular understanding of right and wrong, however incrementally, that any meaningful moral change comes about. Because this issue was at the nexus of love and technology we believed it was completely within OkCupid's purview. We acknowledge the gray area here: How do you set one man's right to free speech against equal rights for millions of people? Our choice was to get involved in something, and get a little messy, or stay silent. We chose the former.

My co-founders and I were conflicted about making an example of any one person. But we wanted to show the many would-be Eichs out there that when you make life harder or worse for other people, when you give your money and your time to make others miserable, you will be called to account by your business partners.
This is as true for a chief executive as it should be for any person. It’s just that when you lead a popular company, the stakes and the stage are much larger.

I like the idea that opposing same sex marriage is selfish and wrong. It may indeed be wrong-headed or vastly unsympathetic, but I fail immediately to see how it is "wrong", and I fail always to see how it is "selfish"... unless Mr. Rudder means expression of beliefs is "selfish".... if they disagree with his views, they are also "wrong".
I particularly like the notion that a political contribution  five years ago to a political cause whose support has been very fluid and changing is made equivalent to "bald cruelty".
I think opposition to same sex marriage is not the equivalent of hatred.
The peaceful step was ignored, and any further dialogue between the parties will be poisoned by acrimony.

This embrace of irreconcilable opposition was an obvious step for Mr. Rudder to accomplish the transformation of Mr. Eich to Mr. Eichmann !

Addendum, personally I think same sex marriage is a fine idea.

I find Mr. Rudder's ideas as herein expressed to be rudimentary blather. The forthcoming book, Dataclysm, ought to be interesting.


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