The Devil’s Advocate

firefoxA question is not a question if there is only one answer. That’s all I have to say about the firing of Brendan Eich. Okay, some of you are bound to point out that he resigned rather than being fired, which is a little bit like saying that Richard Nixon resigned rather than being impeached. It’s technically true, but misses the point. I can’t reason with you here, people. If the knowledge that the CEO of a company whose product you like contributed to a cause you don’t support so offends you that you demand that he renounce his action and throw himself at your mercy, so be it. But you can support gay marriage and still eat at Chick Fil-A. I think you can oppose gay marriage and still make a decent chicken sandwich. The one thing you don’t have the right to do is drag politics into a realm where it is not relevant. Saying you oppose gay marriage when nobody asked for your opinion on the matter and they would rather just eat your sandwiches is fucking stupid. Last time I checked, Firefox is a web browser and not, I don’t know, a goddamn marriage service or something, so why Eich opposes gay marriage is completely irrelevant. Brendan Eich was not going to marry his gay employees. He apologized to those he hurt (and it wasn’t one of those “If anyone was offended…” bullshit non-apologies, but an actual apology) and pledged to honor his company’s anti-discrimination policy. That should have been enough.

It’s rare that I find myself taking my fellow liberals to task for something, but this is one instance where I think my people are guilty of a bunch of bullshit posturing. Yes, I hear all your arguments about how a CEO is not just an administrator, but the public face of a company and a symbolic leader blah blah blah. But—and I know I’m going to get shit for saying this—these arguments all seem eerily similar to the ones that homophobes use for firing gay teachers. “I don’t have a problem with gay people,” they always say. “I just don’t think that sets the right example for our children.” I hate the argument so many of them employ that we are being intolerant of their intolerance by telling them to shut up, but that’s what’s crazy: Brendan Eich did not state his opinion publicly. People asked about the donation, and while he apparently has a few beliefs that I find repellant (he donated to psychotic bigot Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign in 1992), I fail to understand what any of that has to do with his ability to run a fucking web browser. Being a homophobe (if indeed he is one) did not stop him from inventing JavaScript. So, you know, there’s that.

Refusing to support somebody’s work because you do not like them as a person or disapprove of their personal or religious beliefs is a dangerous road to go down. I have made this point before. Roman Polanski is a child molester. Orson Scott Card is a racist homophobe. Kanye West is just a pompous douchebag. I continue to consume their art because, whaddaya know, it’s still pretty fucking good. I’m not sure I see what Brendan Eich’s supporting Prop 8 has to do with anything, and I say that as somebody who was living in California when it passed, and remembers the feeling of waking up and realizing that his state had just made discrimination part of its constitution like it was yesterday. So don’t give me any of that “You don’t know what it’s like to have your rights taken away” horseshit, because I know it very fucking well. You don’t speak for me.

If we are going to move forward on this issue, we must accept the existence of moral ambiguity. We must accept the possibility that there might be otherwise good people who still haven’t thought this one all the way through. My close friends and immediate family all support gay marriage. But as for my acquaintances and extended family…I’m not so sure. I can’t write them all off just yet. Yes, on principle, opposing gay marriage is the same thing as opposing interracial marriage, but the world we live in still refuses to acknowledge it. You cannot strong-arm people into agreeing with you. You have to—I can’t believe I’m saying this—at least try to be diplomatic. Maybe that sounds hypocritical coming from a guy who is always talking about demanding respect and standing up to the folks who oppress you. But you know what? Fuck you.

It is shocking to me to see so many people I normally respect talking nonsense. But that’s exactly what it is. Spare me all your idiotic babble about how “I don’t see the problem, we didn’t force him to step down” because yes, you do, and yes, you did. Essentially, you’re trying to stall the conversation by saying, “Can’t we all just get along?” We can. But you have to change first.

I love it when people say things that others have been saying for ages as if it just occurred to them. If you think social media and the internet are driving us apart rather than bringing us together, I have a book for you that will blow your mind. Nobody has all the answers, so don’t act as if your revelation is something that applies to everyone else except you. Slightly over 50% of the country supports gay marriage, which also means that slightly less than 50% of the country opposes it. They can’t all be assholes. For that matter, don’t take somebody’s opinion on gay rights as sacrosanct just because they are gay. Gays can be assholes, too.


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