Monday, April 14, 2014

Why is the Christian right so confused over speech vs. conduct?

Brendan Eich - Mozilla
The confusion is a persistent theme; particularly when it comes to “victims” of marriage equality. That New Mexico photographer, whose case was denied cert by the Supreme Court, didn't refuse service. Rather, she was denied freedom of speech. At least that was how Alliance Defending Freedom framed the case. ADF is similarly claiming that the florists and bakers who have run afoul of anti-discrimination laws should be free to employ their "artistic" expression as they see fit.

Along comes Brendan Eich, now former head of Mozilla Corporation. The right claim that he was denied his right to express his views. That is false. The expression of what is undoubtedly a religious perspective is not constrained in any way whatsoever. However, when Mr. Eich donated funds to the very homophobic Proposition 8 campaign (one that relied on portraying gay people as predators and a threat to children) that goes beyond stating a point of view. That is conduct.

While the amount in question was relatively small (Eich earned $650,000 in 2012 as the organization's chief technology officer) it condoned not only opposition to marriage equality but the vicious and uncivil Proposition 8 campaign as well. Moreover, Mr. Eich would strip freedoms from some of his fellow citizens and co-workers when those freedoms affect him in no way whatsoever.

Ken Thompson and Dennis
Ritchie - developers of Unix
Bell Labs circa 1972
To fully understand why Eich stepped aside (he was not fired) one must understand the open source culture. Many of the people responsible for the development of Mozilla products, like Firefox, are neither employed nor compensated by Mozilla. The open source culture has shaped organizations like Google, Microsoft and Apple — all of whom are, not coincidentally, active supporters of marriage equality.  It is a very progressive organizational form. Apple runs on a a variant of an open source Unix-like platform, BSD. Google's Android OS is open source Linux and the Google applications are all open source. Microsoft's DOS has its origins in open source development after AT&T essentially donated Unix to the public domain. Even Oracle Corporation is heavily dependent on the open-source model for (among other things) software solutions like MySQL (database) and its two operating systems, Oracle Linux and Solaris.

Silicon Valley has its roots in dope-smoking counter-culture rebels in Berkeley California. It is not exactly Christian "country."

Conservative Christian confusion over behavior extends, in another form, to sexual orientation. They would have us believe that there is no such thing as sexual orientation. Rather, there are people who willingly practice homosexuality. The lines on this matter, between belief and talking, point are willingly blurred.
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