It appears that we’ve reached a point where it’s okay to fire someone or force their resignation if they “cause dissension,” “make colleagues uncomfortable,” “scare off customers,” “create a distraction” or “don’t fit.” Think Brendan Eich. It shows “how businesses respond to market signals.”
Or I guess I should say it’s okay to fire them if they bring about these results through thoughtcrime, because you can always force yourself to think different thoughts, to believe what you don’t believe, or at least to put on a smiley face and fake it. Right? Right? Right?
On the other hand, you couldn’t possibly shut up about anything really sacred like who you prefer dancing in the sheets with, and it would be horrible if you got fired for being so “Out” about this private matter that you “cause dissension,” “make colleagues uncomfortable,” “scare off customers,” “create a distraction” or “don’t fit.”
UPDATE: I have uninstalled Firefox from Mozilla. How’s that for a market signal?
You can tell a lot about society by noting what vice(s) pass without notice, or (a little lipstick on the pig) get recast as virtues. In my lifetime, one such vice has been greed. That seems to be changing to lust.
Some of what bugs me is that I note and lament the lust more than I ever noted and lamented the greed. Is it really worse, or is it just different? (Not a rhetorical question.)
Kyrie eleison! (Not a rhetorical petition.)
From what I consider the best traditionalist take yet on Brendan Eich:
Responses have been all over the map.
A writer at Slate actually tried to justify the termination as a good thing. Libertarian Nick Gillespie said he was “ambivalent” about Eich’s removal but that Eich’s resignation simply “shows how businesses respond to market signals.” And even conservatives weren’t rallying behind Eich on the grounds that marriage is an institution designed around sexual complementarity so much as by saying that even if he’s wrong, conscience should be protected.
At the end of the day, they’re all wrong. Or at least not even close to understanding the problem with Eich’s firing. Political differences with CEOs, even deep political differences, are something adults handle all the time. Most of us know that what happened held much more significance than anodyne market forces having their way. And Eich shouldn’t be protected on the grounds that one has the right to be wrong. See, Eich wasn’t hounded out of corporate life because he was wrong. He was hounded out of corporate life because he was right. His message strikes at the root of a popular but deeply flawed ideology that can not tolerate dissent.
And what we have in Eich is the powerful story of a dissident — one that forces those of us who are still capable of it to pause and think deeply on changing marriage laws and a free society.
[Pointed story from Vaclav Havel omitted]
We probably already understand relationships have value, right? Assuming we’re not sociopaths, we do. So what is the difference between marriage and other relationships? There’s no question marriage has been treated dramatically differently than other relationships by governments and society. Why? Is it that it features a more vibrant or emotional connection? Or is there some feature that is a difference in kind – that marks it out as something that ought to be socially structured? We usually don’t want government in our other relationships, right? So why is marriage singled out throughout all time and human history as a different type of recognized relationship?
Well, what singled it out was that sex was involved. Sex. Knocking boots. The bump and grind. Dancing in the sheets. Making the beast with two backs. Doing the cha-cha. And so on and so forth. And why does that matter? Well, there’s precisely one bodily system for which each of us only has half of the system. It’s the one that involves sex between one man and one woman. It’s with respect to that system that the unit is the mated pair. In that system, it’s not just a relationship that is the union of minds, wills or important friendships. It’s the literal union of bodies. In sexual congress, in intercourse between a man and a woman, you are literally coordinated to a single bodily end.
In every other respect we as humans act as individual organisms except when it comes to intercourse between men and women — then we work together as one flesh.
Eich’s most important political work was not making a paltry $1,000 donation in defense of natural marriage laws. It was in refusing to recant.
Consider first the response of one of the activist’s calling for Eich’s head. After he resigned, activist Michael Catlin wrote that he never thought his campaign against Eich would go “this far” and that he wanted “him to just apologize.” So he was “sad” that Eich didn’t say the magic words that would have allowed him to keep his job. Yeah, he really said that.
Memingway says “Eich wasn’t hounded out of corporate life because he was wrong. He was hounded out of corporate life because he was right. His message strikes at the root of a popular but deeply flawed ideology that can not tolerate dissent.“
I would suggest that no amount of outside affirmation will ever silence the interior voice of conscience – at least as long as there’re one dissenter still dissenting.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)