“Freedom of speech” does not equal “freedom to be free of the consequences”

Mozilla’s CEO Brendan Eich resigned after complaints that he was a supporter of the anti-gay marriage campaign, and now certain conservatives are in an uproar.

You see, when they boycott businesses and TV shows they believe have anti-Christian messages, they are exercising their free speech in a totally American and patriotic way.  But when others do it against issues they support, they are suppressing anti-Christian ideals and trying to silence people in the same way the Nazis did.   boycott

I mean, it’s only logical, right?

Look, this guy has every right to his opinion.  What he doesn’t have is the right to the job.

As the NY Times pointed out:

Mozilla competes in two markets. First, obviously, it wants people to use its products instead of its rivals’ stuff. But its second market is arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.  When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

This company has a policy that supports gay rights, and their guy in charge is working against that policy. It hurts the business’ image with the public, and therefore he has made himself unqualified for the position.

Suppose he had supported the KKK or some other group whose main purpose it was to deny rights to others?  Do you think the company should just look the other way, knowing it would hurt their business and their reputation?

Part of the problem too is that equality for gays and lesbian is indeed a new issue, and hard to understand for some people.  Most who are against it are not necessarily evil or mean, just ignorant or unwilling to take that step yet.  They don’t see themselves as bigots.

However, this was also what it was like at the start of the civil rights movement in the 60s.  Many whites just could not conceive of equality with blacks, and some churches even preached that equality was against God’s will — therefore to allow equality meant you were doing the Devil’s work.  Doesn’t that sound like what some who are against gay marriage are saying these days?

Bigotry is objective.  Are you in favor of denying rights to people over things they do not control?  You’re a bigot.  Sorry if that makes you angry, but that’s the definition, no matter how you may justify it to yourself.

A company has the right to say “We don’t hire bigots.”

I cannot deny that there is a “slippery slope” argument to be made here, where a company can fire you simply because you have a political position they don’t like.  I hold that there is a difference when (a) you are the CEO or someone who speaks for the company and represents its image;  and (b) when your position specifically says “I will be treating some of our employees as second-class citizens and advocating discriminating against them.”    In a sense, his position on that issue directly affects his job, in the same way a nun could be fired for saying “I don’t believe in God.”

This is not the same as an employee saying “I dislike Obama.”  Or even a low level employee who has no control over the company saying “I am against gay marriage.”  I agree that firing someone for those things would be absolutely wrong.