I don't want to go back through the three pages I've missed and pull a bunch of quotes out to respond to, so I'm making this post as a general response to the pro-Eich side of this discussion.
If I'm understanding you all correctly, your main hangups about this are:
- Eich has the right to say whatever he wants, no matter how offensive it is, and he must not be punished for this;
Which breaks down into
- Eich has the right to say whatever he wants, no matter how offensive it is; and
- He must not be punished for this.
- You're being arbitrary in singling out Eich, you should hold your position consistently, or not at all
To preface, if I'm not getting that right, please let me know - this post will be written as a response to my above-listed understanding of your (plural) position.
To respond to point 1, I will split it into two parts, as I have above, and address each separately:
As far as 1a is concerned, I agree with you completely. Of course, everybody should have the right to say whatever they want, and I would never argue this. Point 1b, however, seems to boil down to crying First Amendment; and, as always seems to be the case when I see that argument used on the internet, it's not being applied properly here. The right to free speech
refers to a legally-enshrined protection which prevents governments from silencing people. Refusing to do business with somebody on the grounds that you disagree with them is not a violation of somebody's right to free speech
, and to suggest that it is betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of what the right to free speech
actually is. To sum that up: If the government had Eich arrested for supporting Prop 8, or threatened him or his livelihood, etc. - that's a violation of his First Amendment rights and is, without dispute, a Bad Thing™. That's not what happened here. What happened here is that Eich supported Prop 8, and people who opposed Prop 8 subsequently decided not to do things which benefitted him anymore. That's okay. That's how a market economy works. That's how consumers exercise power within the system.
As for point 2, that's a valid criticism. People should act consistently on their beliefs. However, the only reason Eich has been singled out, in this case, is that somebody drew attention to the fact that he supported Prop 8. Moreover, they only pointed this out to people who were already contributing to Eich's success - namely, users of Mozilla Firefox (and potentially also people who were falsifying their user agent strings for whatever reason, I guess?). Aside from this, none of the examples that were provided are actually relevant here. None of the people in tech companies were the CEO of their company, and indeed, none of them seemed to have any sort of public-facing role, either. That is to say, none of their jobs require maintaining good PR with the user base the way Eich's job did
. As for the politicians, that example would make sense if the only political issue forever was non-hetero marriage. But it's not. It's almost as if people decide which candidate/party to vote for based on an entire political platform, covering a wide range of political issues and general matters of policy.
So, to sum up:
- A boycott does not violate anybody's right to free speech; and
- If we boycott one homophobic CEO's company, we should boycott them all. Except, that...actually does seem to happen, in general (cf. Mozilla, Chick-Fil-A...)