Monday, April 07, 2014

First They Came For The Internet CEOs -- UPDATE

In which Andrew Sullivan continues to fizz up his Pot-'n-Pope-'n-Stuff blog by equating Brendan Eich losing his job to...The Inquisition.


Think I'm kidding?
But none of this is ever enough for Inquisitions – and it wasn’t enough in this case. His mind and conscience were the problem. He had to change them or leave. 
-- Andrew Sullivan, 04/06/14
Well, if people losing their jobs for reason that are perfectly legal but do not meet Mr. Sullivan's moral approval is the same as being tortured and executed by the Catholic Church for heresy, then this is the unsanctified ground in which millions of them are buried:

I ought to know -- in my time I have not only helped many of the unfortunate souls who have been chopped up and cast out by America's free and unregulated labor market, but have also been buried alive in unemployment's grave of at the hands of some petty Torquemadas on several occasions.

The last time I faced that particular Inquisition was in 2009, and I'm still interred in the tomb into which they shoveled me.  It's an economic potter's field I share with lots of nice people.  Like Tara Dublin.

Working for the Forever Weekend

In March, of the 192,000 jobs created, 30,000 were in food services. Restaurants and bars have added 323,000 workers over the past year, but Dublin is earning a fraction of what she used to make.
"The first time I came home and saw a foreclosure notice taped to my front door and my sons saw it, that was a really bad day," Dublin says.
This is nothing to do with "hard work"; this is to do with a massive public policy failure. Our Rulers have rejected an America of opportunity, preferring instead an America of Scroogery...
Over at Slate, Jamelle Bouie visits the same material I covered a few days ago:
Role Reversal

If conservatives are upset about Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s resignation, why aren’t they concerned with protecting ordinary Americans? 
But let’s grant that Sullivan and the National Review are right. That Eich’s forced resignation is an attack on speech, and that this is an ugly bout of bullying against someone who hasn’t expressed his views in the context of his job. If that’s true, then Eich is just the highest profile victim of a status quo that threatens countless workers.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act might protect workers from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin, but almost everything else is fair game for private employers who want to get rid of workers. Not only can you be fired for your political views—for sporting the wrong bumper sticker on your car, for instance—or for being “sexually irresistible” to your boss, but in most states (29, to be precise), you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identification, no questions asked.

Overall, the large majority of Americans have at-will employment, which means that—outside of protected classes such as race or religion—they can be fired for any reason at all. For someone like Eich, this isn’t a huge deal: He will survive his brush with joblessness. The same can’t be said for millions of low-income workers who face termination lest they give their bosses their complete obedience.

For a taste of what this looks like, and if you’ve never worked a retail job, you should read former Politico reporter Joseph Williams on his time in a sporting goods store. For a pittance of a paycheck, he consented to constant searches, unpaid labor, and borderline wage theft. It’s a precarious existence, made worse by the fact that saying the wrong thing at the wrong time—either on the job or off it—could result in you losing your job, with no recourse.
As a final note, Mr. Sullivan would like you to know that he feels just awful for everyone who gets screwed over by a bad boss, it's just that he's never been moved to sling around words like "heretic" and "Inquisition" on behalf of shoe clerks and secretaries because, as Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the most privileged of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
It’s awful that individuals are fired for being gay with no legal recourse all over the country. But if we rightly feel this way about gays in the workplace, why do we not feel the same about our opponents? And on what grounds can we celebrate the resignation of someone for his off-workplace political beliefs? Payback? Revenge? Some liberal principles, in my view, are worth defending whether they are assailed by left or right.
Someone please tell Andrew that in our free and unregulated world of mandatory unpaid overtime, at-will employment, daily workplace stop-and-frisk, HR departments sifting the internet for anything incriminating, random drug testing, lie detectors, and "other duties as assigned", for millions of working stiff out there, there is no "off-workplace".  You are effectively on the job all the time, and if you don't like it, there are seven other hungry, desperate applicants lined up and ready to take your place.

Yowza!  Yowza!  Yowza!


For those unfamiliar with his work, Young Conor Friedersdorf was Mr. Sullivan's former protege and current keeper-of-the-sorta-Libertarian-flame at The Atlantic.  We have spoken of him here before.  Last week, Young Conor penned a long post about the horrors of the chilling effect which may be unleashed from "[judging a] CEO...not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen".

Young Conor worries that:
...whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo.
and that:
If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.
I think it demonstrates a great generosity of spirit that The Atlantic allows a 12-year-old who appears to have never held a real job in the real world to freely opine about his worries that if this CEO injustice is allowed to stand, someday it might lead to the spread of the pernicious idea that someone can be sacked for something that has shit all to do with their job!

Which could, in turn, cause entrenched power to grow even Moar Powerful!


Well should that dark day ever dawn, maybe someone will start a support group for those poor souls:


Anonymous said...

It's pretty damned rich that they complain about some anti_gay (probably libertarian type) CEO gets "hounded out of their job" considering the scores of people THEY have hounded out of jobs for saying something totally innocuous, like Joe Williams. "MSNBC Apologizes ... and fires staffer" has become a standing joke around here. Not a joke, of course, to the people who got fired, like the Cheerios person. CNN fires people left and right for getting the right's phony ire up.

In fact, it was Mozilla -- the employees and the board -- who "hounded" the guy out of the job, not "the left." We had nothing to do with it. I wish we DID have the ability to hound people out of their jobs. That would be great.

Kathleen said...

Where were all of these freedom loving libertarians when the Dixie Chicks were being demonized, their records destroyed, and their lives threatened?

Anonymous said...

@Kathleen, they were all slurping the codpiece back then.


Unsalted Sinner said...

This is the very same Andrew Sullivan who, just a week ago, was deeply offended when Neil DeGrasse Tyson dared to mention the fact that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for challenging Catholic doctrine. According to Sully, claiming that event had any significance was evidence of a "cartoonish view of history", because Bruno wasn't a real scientist and was wrong about theology, so clearly he had it coming.

But now it seems the inquisition is suddenly a bad thing again...

Kathleen said...

Vic78: I laughed out loud at your comment! Thanks! What a grand description.