Friday, April 04, 2014

Brendan Eich was not fired for his politics, he was fired for his morals

The difference between conservative hypocrisy and liberal hypocrisy is that conservatives employ hypocrisy in service of their goals, while liberals employ it to undermine theirs.  Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, in a classic fit of liberal moral relativism, argues that Brendan Eich being fired as CEO of Mozilla for having supported Proposition 8 is a violation of the liberal values of tolerance and acceptance of other people's views.  And it's not just Conor, other self-identified liberals are wringing their hands about this as well.

All of which badly misses the point.  Gay marriage is not like other political issues.  Reasonable people can disagree about economic policy, industrial regulation, campaign finance reform.  Reasonable people cannot disagree about gay marriage.  Every single non-relgious argument ever put forth against gay marriage has been definitively debunked.  Allowing gays to marry does not destroy the fabric of society.  It is not bad for kids.  It does not deter heterosexual people from marrying and forming stable families (or not, as they choose).  It does *none* of these things.  The *only* negative consequence of allowing gays to marry is that it makes bigots feel queasy.

Brendan Eich was not fired for taking a political position, he was fired because his actions provide evidence that in his heart of hearts he is a bigot, that he has a broken moral code.  And while having a broken moral code is not necessarily a show-stopper for being a CEO (alas), it is not an unreasonable qualification for a company to choose to adopt.  There is nothing illiberal or unreasonable about it.  The world would probably be a better place if more companies did it.

But again, this is not really about gay marriage.  This is about liberal self-doubt.  Why is it so hard for liberals to stand up for their convictions?  Even if gay marriage were not so morally cut-and-dried, privately discriminating against Brendan for his political views is at least as morally justified as the public discrimination against gays that he once tried to have enshrined in law.  No matter how you slice it, there is no injustice here.

1 comment:

Nathan Ryan said...

In addition to this fine example of otherwise thoughtful people falling for the tolerance paradox, Eich's doomed CEO stint should serve as a practical business lesson: If you hire an executive who is openly hostile toward a group of people based on a characteristic that is independent of their work performance, you should expect retention and hiring of employees in said group to suffer. You make the troops restless. With no reasonable expectation of being able to offset that kind of damage, you put yourself at a competitive disadvantage.

Finding quality employees is already hard enough without this kind of nonsense making it worse.