A Pepper Grinder Post


When I was young, Tom Lehrer was a big favorite in my family.  He was a mathematics professor who had a side career of writing, singing, and playing some very funny songs.  One that I remember was “National Brotherhood Week.”  My favorite part of the song was the introduction, where,  among other things, Mr. Lehrer said, “I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings — and I hate people like that!”1

Brendan EichI love this quote because it makes the point, in a humorous way, that intolerance can take many forms.  I thought about this during the past week when I read about Brendan Eich.  Never heard of the guy?  Don’t feel bad, neither had I until I stumbled across this story () on BBC News.  Apparently Mr. Eich was the new C.E.O. of Mozilla, the company that makes my favorite web browser—Firefox.  Unfortunately for Mr. Eich, someone discovered that he had donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8 in California.  Proposition 8 was the ballot measure to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman as legal in California, and was passed by a margin of about 4.5% before being nullified by the courts.  I could make some comments here about judicial activism, but that is not my point.

This all came to light because a dating website called OKCupid found out about Brendan Eich’s shocking action and modified their website so that when users connected to it using Mozilla Firefox, they would be met with a message stating that Brendan Eich was an opponent of equal rights for gay couples, and requesting that they not access the OKCupid website using Mozilla software.2, 3  Mozilla, of course, made vehement statements that OKCupid had never called them to verify the facts of their claim, and to proclaim, "Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples."

rainbow umbrellaI learned the sad, but unsurprising, ending to the story this morning, when I read that Mr. Eich had resigned from his position as C.E.O. of Mozilla.

First, a few disclaimers.  I’m not writing to express my opinion about gay marriage or homosexual behavior or orientation.  I am planning (gulp) to write a couple of posts about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, but this is not one of them.  I know pretty much nothing about Mr. Eich.  Perhaps I would be crazy about him; perhaps I wouldn’t be able to stand being in the same room with him.

What this really made me think about was the direction in which our society is going.  Remember how in the and the one , I talked about the idea of the two-story view of reality and how Christianity has been shoved into the second story?  What the story of OKCupid says to me is that even the second story isn’t sacred.  If you want to believe that the Keebler elves are real and use your kitchen every night, that is OK, as long as you don’t go on about it too much.  But if someone believes that the government shouldn’t recognize gay marriage and has the audacity to contribute some of his own money in support of an entirely legal campaign to further that view, it is enough to get a very smart man kicked out of his job.

stormI suppose you could say that when you are talking about political action, you are dealing with something that is more of a first-story affair.  However, I cannot escape the feeling that we are moving towards a world where some views are intolerable, even if we are fairly quiet about them.  Today, the view in the cross-hairs of the intolerance police is that which does not support complete and unquestioning acceptance of almost any type of sexual orientation.  Tomorrow, I believe more views will be added to the list of those that cannot be allowed.

When we get to the point (and we may already be there, depending on where you live and what your position is) where we cannot take the Bible seriously without becoming a target, we will be faced with a choice.  We can stand up straight and get shot at, or we can crawl on the floor and be safe.


1From That was the Year that Was by Tom Lehrer, released in 1965 by Reprise/Warner Bros. Records

2For the record, since reading about OKCupid’s request, I have not once gone to their website using Mozilla Firefox.

3In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably also point out that I have never gone to OKCupid’s website with ANY browser and probably never will.

*Photo Credits: rainbow umbrella by , storm by