Discrimination Comes Full-Circle
Last week when I wrote Hedge Yourself Before They Wreck Yourself, I talked about the regrettable situation we have found ourselves in with regards to the discourse around issues like sexism. Rather than affecting meaningful change, this community has grown into a hodgepodge of pseudo-activists more concerned with the lexicon used in furthering their professed cause than actually making any meaningful progress. Unfortunately, this divergence has led to a great deal of hostility, confusion, and outright unwillingness for well-meaning and concerned individuals to participate whatsoever. Thankfully, this culture of misplaced priorities and general disrespect of their fellow human beings has yet to permeate the discussions surrounding another important social issue, ageism; however, we likely have little time before it, too, becomes infected in a similarly deplorable way. For all my condemnatory prose, though, I never talked about actually having an opinion one way or the other: I opined against a community that would discourage anyone from sharing their personal beliefs, but said nothing of a culture that actively discourages having a belief.
Over the past two or three weeks, time has seemingly moved in fits and spurts: first, Malaysian flight 370 disappeared somewhere in the vicinity of the Indian Ocean, and for a while it seemed as if news outlets — and especially CNN — covered nothing else. Then, within the last week or so, it came to light that Brendan Eich had made a donation in opposition of gay marriage in California some eight years ago. Again, time stopped and it seemed as if everyone had nothing else to cover. Although we still await a conclusion to the former, closure came to the latter in the form of Brendan Eich’s resignation as Mozilla’s CEO yesterday. Surprisingly — to me, anyway — not everyone has hailed this announcement as the win so many unfairly characterize it as.
I believe that everyone has a right to privacy, and thus we — the collective we that acted as judge, jury, and executioner in Brendan’s recent trial by mob — have no business intruding into anyone’s personal life. As the Chief Executive Officer of a large organization, we have the responsibility to hold Brendan accountable for his actions in that capacity; however, in his own life, so long as those views do not bleed into his decisions as Mozilla’s head, we have no right to criticize his choices, let alone crucify him for one made nearly a decade ago. Yet we — again, the collective we that devotes more attention to someone referring to a female as a “girl” than affecting measurable change — have chosen to make Brendan Eich’s personal business our business, and I can’t stand for that. To my surprise, this morning I found that I was not the only one who felt this way: in an article posted using Day One’s new Publish feature, Sam Bradford questions whether causing the fall of one man’s career can actually be thought of as progress in Is hounding a man out of a job for their views on gay marriage progress?.
In that short post, Sam also links to an article by Ed West at The Spectator titled The Mozilla controversy suggests that the sexual revolution is getting ugly. Both these articles are not only excellent pieces taking position rarely seen these days, but very prescient ones as well. To give you the gist without actually spoiling either, their argument boils down to this: the movement for equality up until now — whether with regards to sexual orientation, gender, or race — has been just that: one for equality — the recognition of more than heterosexual white males as important individuals in American society. Over the years though, that struggle has become so politically charged — and for good reason, for without the multitude of loud voices crying out time and time again no meaningful change would have ever been realized — that now, with the pendulum nearing the midpoint and on the verge of swinging towards the opposite side, we are at risk of going too far in the other direction in crucifying anyone with a divergent opinion. Whereas at one point falling in to the categories of homosexual, African-American, and/or woman was cause for discrimination, it has become the norm to discriminate against anyone not explicitly in support of one of those factions. The minority has transitioned into the majority if not in numbers, then in vocality, and then promptly proceeded to marginalize and do to the previous majority exactly what they suffered through and ultimately rose up against.
To paraphrase Sam Bradform, how is this progress?