Should All Beliefs be the Basis of Protected Classes?

In 2016, a tow truck driver in South Carolina refused to do business with a stranded customer who had waited an hour for him to show up. Why? Because there was a Bernie Sanders sticker on her car, causing him to believe that she was a “socialist”. He also said he had experience with Bernie fans stiffing him on their bills, and he just didn’t want to do business with any more of them.

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave,” he said, “and when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

The day after Trump was elected, Matt Maloney, CEO of Grubhub / Seamless, sent an angry, ranting email to his employees:

“While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that his behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination.” he said. “If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.”.

This was met by an instant Twitter campaign / boycott of Grubhub / Seamless, and Maloney backtracked and claimed his statement had been “misconstrued”. Yeah, right.

We have the secret ballot in this country, and it’s important we maintain that. So Maloney had no way of knowing how his employees voted so long as they had the good sense to keep their mouths shut. But your party registration is a matter of public record — it would be very easy for Maloney to determine which of his employees were registered Republicans and start firing them.

In 2008, Brendan Eich, the inventor of Javascript and the founder of Mozilla, donated $1000 (which would have been a very small amount of money to him) to the campaign of California proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage initiative. At that time, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton agreed with his position.

In 2014, Eich became CEO of Mozilla, and news of the donation surfaced. A massive boycott of Mozilla ensued, forcing Eich to resign.

One wonders, suppose Eich had defended himself by announcing that he had converted to Islam in 2006, and his opposition to gay marriage was based on the Islamic religious doctrine that gay sex among men prior to the afterlife was a sin punishable by death? Then the pressure to force him to lose his job would have been religious persecution, wouldn’t it?

Let’s modify that, and suppose that Eich were a Fundamentalist Christian, and that he announced that his opposition to gay marriage was based on Christian scripture. Would this still put him in a protected class? With most liberals nowadays, Muslims are a protected class, but Evangelicals aren’t somehow.

Let’s modify that again, and suppose that Eich had just said he didn’t like gays marrying because of some non-religious, but very sophisticated, scientific theory of his. Legally, that wouldn’t put him in a protected class at all. So it seems your beliefs are only protected if your reasons for harboring them are stupid enough.

The lesson of the Mozilla boycott is “if you want to get ahead, you best say nothing about any controversial political issue, which could affect your career, whether now or years from now in a changed political environment.”.

This article lists 10 Right Wing Companies That Every Progressive Should Boycott. Liberals are very fond lately of boycotting companies they disagree with. Isn’t trying to drive a company bankrupt by refusing to do business with it the same as firing someone because you disagree with their opinions?

We can’t make any opinion the source of being in a protected class. If you express stupid opinions on a job interview, you won’t be hired, and rightly so. Similarly, saying stupid things on the job can cost you your livelihood, as it should be. But it gets gray. Biologists have been fired for expressing Creationist views, because their managers honestly believed that they were either stupid or intellectually dishonest, but then they sue for religious discrimination and sometimes win. Similarly, I would never hire a Marxist to teach economics, in light of the fact that countries run by them usually have extremely poorly performing economies and Marxist doctrine shows ignorance of even the most fundamental economic realities. To be considered a member of a protected class, a Marxist who had been fired as such would have to make the case that communism is a religious belief system, actually a pretty defensible claim, but not one they would enjoy making.

We seem to live in a world where you’re either in a protected class, in which case your protection from discrimination is formidable, or you’re not, in which case you have no protection from discrimination at all. Wouldn’t it be better for us to have an ethic that we should tolerate our differences of opinion and not make economic decisions based upon people’s beliefs unless those beliefs are relevant to the task at hand?