Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tolerance, Firefox & Payback

Over the last several days, various folks have been getting all excited about the notion that members of the LGBT community - who usually call for tolerance in the workplace - were somehow being hypocritical in their expressed hostility towards Mr. Eich. That somehow, if you called for tolerance you gave up your ability to act against individuals who had at some level offended you.

This is a possibly willful misunderstanding of what makes up "tolerance." Tolerance does not mean that an individual somehow gets a pass for their actually harmful actions.

Put simply, intolerance can be described as when a member of the particular group you dislike/distrust/despise comes in the house or office door and you leap up onto the nearest piece of office furniture and scream "IT'S A (scary group identifier here )!! AIEEE!" before actually or metaphorically opening fire.

Tolerance is admitting that the critter that just walked through the door is human and an individual - and worthy of being judged on their own merits rather than being tarred with some one-size-fits-all brush dipped in a stereotype.

Nothing here prevents or deters the operation of a second life reality - "payback is a bitch" - when our example critter walks in the door, rushes up to you, and kicks you in the balls prior to trying to get his/her pet goat to rape everything semi-mobile in the room.

At that point (and several less vivid examples) tolerance stops being a relevant question. This critter has just grossly offended, their very own selves, by various and sundry physical assaults - and any little old bad thing that happens to them during the response to their misconduct belongs almost solely to the offender (brownie points can be lost, rather extensively, for over-enthusiasm in the response).

And so it is with Firefox and Eich.

Eich donated a $1,000 to the pro Prop 8 campaign - a campaign that in television, print media and radio strove to use every vile stereotype of LGBT folks as pedophiles, corrupters of children and neither capable nor worthy of meaningful relationships.

The proponents of Prop 8 gave us a campaign based in hatred, fear and bigotry. One that not only pushed through a constitutional amendment designed to ensure second class status for LGBT folks in California - and as a happy bonus push the cause of civil rights for LGBT folks back by decades.

And, to the best of my knowledge, he has never recanted or criticized the techniques of the Prop 8 promoters.

Dress it up in diplomacy if you want, but why yes - when somebody tries to marginalize an entire community (of which I am a member) and stimulate bigotry against said community - tolerance is no longer relevant to the discussion.

They've kicked down the door and brought the goat...and what follows is the kind of thing that both right then and for years to come will occupy a special and warm place in the hearts of those offended.

The "payback is a bitch" place.

Eich could have, at any point, issued a public mea culpa and likely driven off the fall-out. I don't even think that it would have had to have been for his donation, but for the vile manner in which the pro Prop 8 campaign was conducted.

Instead, I've heard naught but silence - and while I'm not particularly moved to action on this, all things considered, I am not moved to huge sympathy or support for Eichman. I'll keep using Mozilla, thank you.

And just because a community calls for tolerance doesn't mean they have to smile and say thank you when someone rushes up and kicks the right between the forks and gets out the goat.

(Note: Corrections have been made after coffee has been applied to writer. Further corrections may occur after additional caffeine.)

1 comment:

SordidPanda said...


You followed this post up with "Don't spike the ball." I like that one better. It's a reminder to "stay classy" even when every fiber of your being is telling you to fight dirty.

Proposition 8 was 5 years past. Instead of letting time heal wounds someone went looking for that donors list, kept dragging that into the present, and tried to force someone to say something against their conscience.

Simply chalking that up to "Payback is a bitch" and laying all the nastiness of Prop 8 on one man who donated a grand to it is petty.

Sometimes you have to forgive people who don't deserve it and move on. Otherwise they live rent free in your head. And if someone is rejoicing now that Eich resigned, why? Nothing changed legally, so any emotional satisfaction is just petty, not classy.

At some point someone HAS to say "it is over" or you end up with the endless cycle of "calls for reparation" and "calls for social justice" where perpetual victimhood becomes a lifestyle. You are strong, you have never chosen to be a victim, and supporting those who do things like this is encouraging an attitude of perpetual grievance.

If someday my political support for Republicans who support "Traditional Marriage" is called into question, I will not deny I supported them. Should I be punished for that? Should I lose my job for my political views?

Will you come after me? Will you come after the half of the country that votes Republican?

I could understand this if Eich were deeply involved in Prop 8 and trying to get a Constitutional amendment or something to make it the law of the land. I could understand if he discriminated against employees and coworkers.

How many names on that donor list will be enough? Is Eich alone enough? Will he serve as the sacrificial lamb to warn others not to stand in the way of LGBT politics? Or are more names required? Is more public pressure needed?

A lot of these are rhetorical questions, I don't expect a response, but I do want you to think about the chilling second order effect where someone will now think twice before engaging in political activities even as a donor.

We've met in meatspace, we've commented on each others blogs for years. I don't want you to stop blogging, but I want you to know my fears about the potential ramifications.

I even thought about leaving this comment anonymously, but I don't want to start being a coward now.