It’s just getting hard to keep up.
So many people with so many different points of view is proving to be a real conundrum.
Brandeis University recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali,
a visiting fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute , a campaigner for women’s rights and a critic of intolerance, to receive an honorary degree at the school’s commencement on May 18.
Some of her comments allege a link between Islam and mistreatment of women. “The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored,” she said in a Wall Street Journal piece. “We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.”
An outcry of opposition to her appearance arose from some Brandeis students and The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group. “She is one of the worst of the worst of the Islam haters in America, not only in America, but worldwide,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council, told the New York Times.
Unwilling to face the heat, Brandeis cancelled its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university, that bastion of free speech and academic inquiry, said in a statement explaining its decision.
So, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes to Portland to speak, should I go and listen or publicly deplore her, start a social media campaign against her and urge that everybody boycott her appearance?
I’ve also been reading about how upset some people are with Chauncy Childs, the owner of a planned Moreland Farmers Pantry in Sellwood. When it was discovered that she’d posted comments on Facebook about her opposition to same-sex marriage, some folks went ballistic.
According to The Oregonian, the outrage even extended to people who came to Childs’ defense. “The idea of blacklisting and boycotting people for their thoughts and beliefs, as opposed to their actions leads to a world that is less tolerant, less caring and more segregated,” Nick Zukin, co-founder of Kenny and Zuke’s delis, told The Oregonian. Gay rights activist Byron Beck lambasted Zukin and urged people to boycott his businesses, too.
“They’re choosing to open a business in a very open-minded neighborhood,” Tom Brown, president of the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance, said without apparent irony to The Oregonian. “I think their personal views are going to hurt.”
Given this situation, should I stop by the Moreland Farmers Pantry if I’m in the neighborhood or deplore its owner’s views and pass it by?
And, by the way, I’m debating whether to install the Firefox browser on my laptop, but I’m conflicted.
Not long ago it was discovered that Brendan Eich, the newly appointed CEO of Mozilla, developer of the open source browser, Firefox, donated $1,000 in 2008 to support the campaign for Proposition 8, a California ballot proposition that aimed to ban gay marriage in California.
The donation was uncovered in 2012 when Eich was Mozilla’s Chief Technology Officer, but it didn’t become a huge controversial public issue until he was appointed CEO in late March 2014.
At that point Eich came under heavy fire from some Mozilla employees, gay-rights activists, executives of companies active in the Firefox marketplace and others.
Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, said Eich’s departure was a sign of the times.
“There was a time when supporting gay marriage made you a radical,” Oremus wrote. “Then there was a time when it made you a progressive. Now we’ve reached a point where not (emphasis in the original) supporting gay marriage makes you unfit to lead a major Silicon Valley organization.”
The National Organization for Marriage, initially created to support Proposition 8, has jumped into the fray, too. It has called for a boycott of Firefox “to protest the company forcing out its CEO over his support of Proposition 8.” A conservative website, TruthRevolt.org, has urged people to uninstall the Firefox browser in protest of “Mozilla’s decision to fire Eich.” (Note: Eich resigned)
Others took the anti-Eich crowd to task for attempting to quell free speech and silence those who hold dissenting views.
So, what do I do? Should I deplore Mozilla for giving in to the pressure of the crowd and intentionally get a Firefox browser or should I bond with the critics of Eich’s donation and boycott Mozilla products?
And while I’m thinking about it, what should I do about all the other companies whose employees, including some executives, made donations in support of Proposition 8?
FiveThirtyEight put together a table of thousands of dollars of Prop. 8 donations by major Silicon Valley companies that showed money coming from employees of firms such as Google, Apple, Intel, Oracle and Yahoo.
A further analysis of the data showed that 83 percent of the donations by Californians were in opposition to Proposition 8, but there was a lot of variation between companies. At one big tech company based in California 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8.
Should I deplore that company, maybe boycott its products?
Oh, I almost forgot Chick-fil-A. You may remember how, in 2012, the chain’s president, Dan Cathy, was reported to have said, “”We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit…We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.” His comments spawned outrage among some gay rights activists and politicians and calls for a boycott of Chick-fil-A.
I know there aren’t any Chik-fil-A’s in Oregon, but if I come across one out of state can I stop for a bite to support free speech or am I still supposed to be deploring them?