The Sacramento Bee reports:
“California is restricting publicly funded travel to four more states because of recent laws that leaders here view as discriminatory against gay and transgender people.
All totaled, California now bans most state-funded travel to eight states. The new additions to California’s restricted travel list are Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota. They join Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee as states already subjected to the ban.
California Attorney Xavier Becerra announced the new states at a Thursday press conference, where he was joined by representatives from ACLU Northern California and Equality California. ‘We will not spend taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,’ Becerra said.”
As is almost always necessary these days, let’s start with the understood definition of ‘discrimination’ as provided by Merriam-Webster:
- 1a : the act of making or perceiving a difference : the act of discriminating a bloodhound’s scent discriminationb psychology : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently
- 2: the quality or power of finely distinguishing the film viewed by those withdiscrimination
- 3a : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individuallyb : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment racial discrimination
Yes, California certainly qualifies as discriminating under the commonly understood definition of discrimination. In fact, we’re seeing a growing desire to discriminate by Progressive-leaning organizations, states, colleges, companies, and individuals.
While there are a variety of recent examples, a big one that comes to mind happened a few years back and made major waves, even setting the tone for today’s corporate governance attitudes and putting many a CEO and employee on notice that a very different set of cultural values now rule the day.
In 2008, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich made a $1,000 contribution to support Prop 8 in California, which enshrined that marriage could only be between a man and a woman in the state. The proposition actually passed with 52% of Californians supporting it.
On March 24, 2014, Brendan Eich was appointed CEO of the Mozilla Corporation. In response, numerous individuals resurrected the 2012 Los Angeles Times article revealing Eich’s contribution to support Prop 8. The wildfire of outrage quickly spread. OKCupid, the dating site, even urged a boycott of Mozilla’s web browser Firefox. In the end, Eich resigned his position at Mozilla on April 3, 2014, though Mozilla claims that he was not forced out.
Before Eich resigned, Mozilla’s executive chairwoman, Mitchell Baker, posted a public statement on Mozilla’s values. Below you will find some of the statement with “bolding” added by this article’s author:
“Monday’s announcement of Brendan Eich as the new CEO of Mozilla brought a lot of reactions. Many people were excited about what this meant for Mozilla, and our emphasis on protecting the open Web. In the next few days we’ll see more from Brendan and the leadership team on the opportunities in front of us. Before that, however, both Brendan and I want to address a particular concern that has been raised about Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for LGBT individuals and community, and whether Brendan’s role as CEO might diminish this commitment at Mozilla.
The short answer: Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for our LGBT community, and for all underrepresented groups, will not change. Acting for or on behalf of Mozilla, it is unacceptable to limit opportunity for *anyone* based on the nature of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is not only a commitment, it is our identity.
This commitment is a key requirement for all leadership within Mozilla, including for the CEO, and Brendan shares this commitment as the new Chief Executive Officer.
We expect everyone, regardless of role or title, to be committed to the breadth of inclusiveness described in the Guidelines. These Guidelines are in addition to our inclusive and non-discriminatory policies which apply particularly to employees. As a practical, concrete example we’ve also been pushing the boundaries to offer excellent health benefits across the board, to domestic partners and all married couples, same-sex and otherwise.
The CEO role is obviously a key role, with a large amount of authority. The CEO must have a commitment to the inclusive nature of Mozilla. This includes of course a commitment to the Community Participation Guidelines, inclusive HR practices and the spirit that underlies them. Brendan has made this commitment.”
After Eich resigned, Mitchell Baker posted an update on the affair to Mozilla’s website. Here’s a portion of it:
“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.
Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.”
It’s quite an interesting ethical dilemma Mozilla finds itself in. While claiming to ‘welcome contributions from everyone regardless of … culture … and religious views’, the CEO and employees are expected, “regardless of role or title, to be committed to the breadth of inclusiveness described in the Guidelines.” And the CEO “must have a commitment to the inclusive nature of Mozilla”.
Logically, Mozilla’s rules and commitments don’t actually work together. As Mitchell Baker admitted, “Figuring out how to stand for [equality and freedom of speech] can be hard”. Sometimes it’s impossible.
If the CEO is required to be committed to inclusiveness, but for religious reasons supports what are considered “un-inclusive” policies in private life, what is to be done? Again, Mozilla’s “culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness”. Including everyone means even religious people who privately aren’t for an “inclusive” or Progressive worldview must be included. Indeed, they may not even be religious as there are plenty of atheists and agnostics who are privately against gay marriage or other Progressive values for cultural reasons. Ultimately, including everyone, no matter their values, will lead to internal chaos. There will be times when Mozilla and its users will be forced to choose between values, it will be forced to discriminate. That’s what happened to Eich.
And I’m actually okay with that.
What I’m not okay with is the idea that companies can discriminate against people who might not be fully on board with inclusiveness or Progressive values while a company that wants to uphold a different set of values cannot do so without facing discrimination allegations and even government action against it.
In other words, if we believe in equality, then everyone and every business needs to be free to establish and live out their values whether they be Atheist, Islamic, Christian, Progressive, or something else. After all, through the lens of equality all values are equal are they not? And if all values are equal, then why shouldn’t people or even businesses be free to act based on whatever values they uphold, even to discriminate based on them? If Mozilla commits to one set of values and discriminates based on those values, then why shouldn’t a different company be allowed to do the same using an entirely different set of values? Saying one values is okay while another is not is itself an act of discrimination.
The ugly truth is that in an increasingly diverse America, we may need to allow for some form of discrimination to keep the peace. If some are allowed to discriminate while others are not, such a situation eventually will lead to unrest, particularly if the government backs the dominant set of values while suppressing others.
Cultural dominance today is arguably held by Progressives. Over the years, Progressive values have been enshrined by law, either through legislation or court decisions. These changes reflect the tremendous cultural changes taking place in our country. Remember, a democratic or republican form of government generally reflects the values of the people through its actions.
But that also means that laws can change. What happens if something like a 3rd Great Awakening sweeps the nation and the culture shifts to a set of values that would be considered more traditional? Would the new Progressive minorities be in favor of the majority changing the laws and being allowed to discriminate while Progressive businesses and people aren’t free to act upon their own values? Probably not.
The only just solution for a diverse society is most likely allowing for some forms of discrimination. If a company upholds a certain set of values, then it probably should be free to hire people who are willing to go along with the company’s values and not hire those who disagree with the company’s values. In response, many people may ask if I am, therefore, in favor of a KKK restaurant owner refusing service to African-Americans. My response has always been, “I’m okay with a Black restaurant owner refusing to serve the KKK.”
Again, it’s true that discrimination is a dirty word these days and that discrimination isn’t nice and can even be ugly, but it may be something that we have to turn to in some form to maintain a free, just, and diverse society. Ultimately, if you’re not free to live out your values, even in business, are you really free?