We’ve heard it for years now from gay activists. “You need to be tolerant and inclusive. You need to embrace diversity.”
The only problem is that in reality, tolerance, inclusivity, and diversity only go one way, and pity the person who dare challenges that narrow and exclusive way.
This is a lesson that Brendan Eich, the CEO of the internet giant Mozilla, just learned firsthand. Employees are calling for his resignation because, in 2008, he made a donation to support Proposition 8 in California, upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Of course, had he supported the redefinition of marriage in 2008, he would be hailed as a hero today.
Just think of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Together with his wife, Bezos donated $2.5 million to support the effort to redefine marriage in Washington State in 2012, and was celebrated by the media.
Or think of Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and also an avid supporter of homosexual “marriage.”
When a Starbucks shareholder noted at a public meeting in March, 2013 that profits were down after a boycott of Starbucks was called for by pro-family organizations, Schultz gave an unequivocal reply, which was widely praised: “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
Ah, the voice of tolerance and diversity!
Other top companies also raised their voices in 2012–13 in support of redefining marriage, including Microsoft (which released an ad for Outlook featuring two woman kissing on the courthouse steps after getting “married”); Expedia; Apple; Budweiser; HBO; Smirnoff; Kenneth Cole; Levi’s; Nordstrom; and Kraft, maker or Oreo Cookies (Kraft released a multi-stacked, rainbow Oreo cookie for gay pride month).
As reported by Laura Stampler in Business Insider on March 28, 2013, “While the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the legalization of gay marriage this week, some of the biggest companies in the world risked isolating its [sic] conservative consumer base to come out in loud support of marriage equality.”
Yes, all these companies were calling for tolerance and diversity, standing as champions of inclusivity, unless, of course, you happened to disagree with their position. In that case, you were quickly branded an intolerant bigot, a narrow-minded Bible-basher, a disciple of the late Fred Phelps.
Just ask Dan Cathy, now CEO of Chick-fil-A, who has deemed it prudent to withdraw entirely from the culture wars, not wanting his company to be associated with divisive social issues after the controversy that surrounded Chick-fil-A in 2012.
As reported in the Huffington Post, which mocked Cathy’s values with the headline, “Gay Marriage Still Wrong, But I’ll Shut Up About It And Sell Chicken,” Cathy now agrees “that the ‘lingering identity’ of Chick-fil-A with ‘anti-gay groups’ that jumped to its defense in 2012 has meant ‘alienating market segments.’”
And this, of course, underscores the irony of the upside world in which we live: If you, as a business leader, say, “I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, in keeping with the definition of marriage throughout our history,” you are now dragging your company into the culture wars, creating undue controversy, mixing business with politics, and alienating certain segments of the market.
But if you say, “I believe that we should radically redefine marriage, change our laws and our education system to reflect those changes, and create a new model previously unknown in history,” then you are not dragging your company into the culture wars or alienating certain segments of the market.
As for Brendan Eich, it is now being reported that, “Staff at tech company Mozilla are calling for CEO Brendan Eich to resign a week after he took the job, after it emerged that he gave donations to an anti-LGBT campaign.”
Oh, the horror!
And how much did he give? Did Eich’s donation match the extravagant giving towards LGBT causes by executives like Tim Gill, founder of Qwark, who gave $10 million in 2006 alone, or the aforementioned $2.5 million donation of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, or the $1.5 million of Yahoo investor Daniel Loeb, or the $500,000 and $100,000, respectively, from Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Steve Balmer, or even the $100,000 and $40,000, respectively, from Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in opposition to Proposition 8?
Not a chance. Eich donated $1,000 to support marriage in 2008 (yes, just one thousand dollars), and for this single, relatively tiny act, his employees are in an uproar, with tweets like this being commonplace: “I’m an employee of @mozilla and cannot reconcile having @BrendanEich as CEO.”
Or this one, which includes a classic example of gay activist doublespeak: “To me, @Mozilla is about openness & expression of freedom. I hope to see us have leadership that represents those values in their actions.”
What? Mozilla is “about openness & expression of freedom,” and so, to paraphrase, “I’m calling for the censure of the CEO of the company because his views differ from mine!”
Eich, for his part, was quick to repent of his transgressions, and, “In a post on his blog entitled Inclusiveness at Mozilla, Eich responded to the criticism and said: “I express my sorrow at having caused pain,” and promised an “active commitment to equality” at the firm.
Said Eich, “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.”
Perhaps after serving some time in a tolerance reeducation camp, he will be deemed fit to lead the company. And perhaps he can explain to us how, in keeping with his profession of “inclusiveness,” he is actually supporting those employees who, for religious or other reasons, supported Proposition 8, as he once did? Or does inclusion go only one way?
As I’ve said on a number of occasions in the last few years, Orwell would be proud.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.