22 April 2005

Somehow I doubt it

That Microsoft is afraid, I mean.

The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for
decades, is coming under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and
its own employees for withdrawing its support for a state bill that
would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation….

State Representative Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat and a sponsor of
the bill, said that in a conversation last month with Bradford L.
Smith, Microsoft’s senior vice president and general counsel, Mr. Smith
made it clear to him that the company was under pressure from the
church and the pastor and that he was also concerned about the reaction
to company support of the bill among its Christian employees, the
lawmaker said.

Mr. Smith would not comment for this article.

Representative
Murray said that in a recent conversation with Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith
said that the minister had demanded the company fire Microsoft
employees who testified this year on behalf of the bill, but that Mr.
Smith had refused. According to Representative Murray, Mr. Smith said
“that while he did not do the many things that the minister had
requested, including firing employees who had testified for the bill,
he believed that Microsoft could not just respond to one group of
employees, when there were other groups of employees who felt much
different.

Dr. Hutcherson, who has become a leading national critic of same-sex
marriage, said he believed he could have organized a widespread boycott
of Microsoft. He said he told the Microsoft executives, “If you don’t
think the moral issue is not a big issue, just count the amount of
votes that were cast on moral issues in the last election.”

“A lot of Christians would have joined me,” he said, “But it would have been a lot more people, too.”

Um, no.

First off, this Christianist is a bully.  Like all bullies, he
has an overinflated sense of his own power, and he’s going around
making demands and issuing threats.  Let us repeat: only one in
five voters said that “moral issues” were important in the last
election.  Eighty percent said they were not.  And the poll that everyone’s making claims upon was significantly flawed, and so its results should not be trusted
So he also asked for those who testified in favor of the bill to be
fired.  Granted, that would capture a lot of the LGBT employees,
but it’s a request to fire someone from their job because of the opinions that they hold and the thoughts that they think.  Such seems the essence of theocracy and of totalitarianism.

Second, who does he think he’s threatening?  This is MICROSOFT,
the most powerful company in the world.  He probably wrote
everything pertaining to this case on Word in a Windows
environment.  They have 95 percent of the home market.  And
Apple tends to be similarly liberal, too, so defection is not an
option.  And few people want to deal with Linux, especially with
its anti-hierarchical structure (which probably concerns the
Christianist bully).  Even if people threaten Microsoft with
action, when it comes time to buy a computer, or a palm device, or a
home media center, and so forth, will the resolve really hold up? 
If the choice is consume or not to consume, people in our society
generally consume.  Sure, some won’t, but most will.

Something else is going on here.  Microsoft may have backed away a
bit because of this guy and his supporters, but even a bunch of
churches spread throughout the country won’t break Microsoft’s hold on
your (and my) desktop.

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3 Responses to “Somehow I doubt it”

  1. soekarno Says:

    so then what do you think is going on really?

  2. Nate Says:

    Not sure. An article came out in the Times today that documented Microsoft’s reasoning here. Gates and Ballmer have apparently been trying to figure out what they think should be the relationship of business and corporations to political issue stances, especially on the “social” issues. it strikes me as a particularly responsible engagement with their power, and whatever they decide will probably have a far-reaching influence.

    But it still strikes me that something else may be going on here, and I just can’t put my finger on it yet.

  3. andrew Says:

    well, here is what Ballmer said to employees:
    http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/stories/2005/04/23/steveBallmersEmailAboutAntidiscriminationBill.html