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Proposition 8 should have been defeated.  It represents an unfortunate backslide away from full equality for gay couples, and California now sadly reverts to being one of 48 states in which equality remains a goal, not reality.

That said -- and I say this as someone who's been a fan of Marc Shaiman's since his cameo in Broadcast News and whose five year-old daughter has seen Hairspray double-digit times, including the sing-a-long screening with John Waters in P-Town this summer -- this is troubling:

Scott Eckern, artistic director for the California Musical Theatre, resigned Wednesday as a growing number of artists threatened to boycott the organization because of his $1,000 donation to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California.

"I understand my supporting of Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal," Eckern said in a written statement. "I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved."

... News of Eckern's campaign contribution, which popped up on Web sites following the passage of Proposition 8, quickly spread through an industry that has long advocated for gays on rights and health issues. It was met with shock, disbelief and ultimately anger....

Los Angeles-based and Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman ("Hairspray") wrote a blog saying he would never allow any of his shows to again be licensed or performed by California Musical Theatre while Eckern was employed there.

I can easily concede that it is monumentally stupid to contribute to anti-gay causes while working in a gay-dominated environment, but that can't be the end of the discussion.  Why? (PDF):

Lynne Gobbell worked for a housing-insulation company in Alabama. In the midst of the 2004 presidential campaign, she placed a John Kerry bumper sticker on the rear windshield of her car, which she then drove to work.

The owner of the company, a supporter of President George W. Bush, ordered Gobbell to remove the sticker. She objected and was fired.

Glen Hillier worked at a Maryland advertising and design company. At a political rally in West Virginia in 2004, he attempted to ask Bush challenging questions about the war in Iraq. A client who provided tickets to the event apparently was offended, and the company fired Hillier.

William Niess, a Democrat in Wisconsin, refused to make a political contribution to the party favored by his boss. As a result, he was fired in 1996.

None of these people brought suit. Absent a statute to the contrary (and no federal law protects private employees in this area), their terminations were legal.

Or take the case of Michael Italie, a sewing-machine operator who was fired by Goodwill because, as his supervisor told him, "Because of your views of the U.S. government, which are contrary to those of this agency, you are a disruptive force and cannot work here anymore."

Now, you might react, but this is different.  This person's political behavior really affected his company's bottom line, and that's not true in the other cases.  But it is easy to imagine an employer arguing as Italie's did, that one's political dissent disrupted the workplace, damaged company morale, and who wants to spend years litigating this sort of thing?

Disturbingly few states offer any protections for employees in their outside political conduct.  California, notably, is one of them:


1101.  No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy:
  (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.
  (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

1102.  No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.

Two more via Prof. Eugene Volokh:

La. Rev. Stat. § 23:961: [N]o employer having regularly in his employ twenty or more employees shall make ... or enforce any ... policy ... preventing any of his employees from ... participating in politics, or from becoming a candidate for public office ... [nor] adopt or enforce any ... policy which will ... tend to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of his employees, nor ... attempt to coerce or influence any of his employees by means of threats of ... loss of employment in case such employees should support or become affiliated with any particular political faction or organization, or participate in political activities of any nature or character....

S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-560: Whoever shall ... [discharge from employment] any citizen because of political opinions or the exercise of political rights and privileges guaranteed to every citizen of the United States by the Constitution ... thereof ... shall be guilty of a misdemeanor [and subject to civil liability]....

Eckern resigned (and presumably reached some financial settlement) rather than be fired, but he might have had a case had the latter occurred.  In most states, he would not have -- and you would not have had a claim of wrongful discharge.  

[Side note: under the Supreme Court's 1982 ruling in Brown v. Socialist Workers' 74 Campaign Committee, in an opinion authored by Justice Thurgood Marshall regarding the disclosure of campaign contributions, there's a balancing test even as to whether controversial contributions must be disclosed at all: "The First Amendment prohibits a State from compelling disclosures by a minor party that will subject those persons identified to the reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisals. Such disclosures would infringe the First Amendment rights of the party and its members and supporters."]

Indeed, the next time, it's not going to be a clear-cut case on the other political side, like the North Carolina yarn technician fired for having a 2" x 3" Confederate flag decal on his toolbox (about which no employee had complained).  It'll be a hotel clerk in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, a town in Elk County whose tourism is based on hunting, discovered to have given money to pro-gun control candidates or organizations.  Or it'll be a commenter here, fired by an employer for espousing views contrary to its business interests.  

People should be able to hold controversial political opinions and act upon them outside the workplace -- whether it's me, you or Scott Eckern -- and not be in fear of losing our jobs.  What happened to Eckern should not be cause for celebration, but cause for concern.

Originally posted to Adam B on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:26 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fair enough. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ogre, Catte Nappe, linkage, Indexer, LeanneB

    This goes both ways.

    It's easy to stand up for rights of people I like.

    Wouldn't you like to be a droogie too?

    by Moody Loner on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:33:59 PM PST

    •  Indeed (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ogre, Kaj, Moody Loner, linkage, LeanneB

      There's been such a level of giddiness about Eckern's resignation here over the past 24-48 hours, but his losing his job doesn't bring any gay couple any closer to marriage equality.

    •  Oh Moody, no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Eckern's rights weren't violated. CMT couldn't lift a finger against him. If he hadn't resigned they would have been powerless to watch the exodus of artistic staff and patrons.

      I don't know the details, but it's possible they did offer him an exit package in excess of his contractural guarantees. That's how the game is played. But legally they couldn't have forced him out.

      He may be a schmuck, but I doubt he's completely stupid. Had he not resigned he would have had to watch CMT suffer for his bigotry.

      I fail to see how his rights were violated. Until and unless you have some proof that that is the case, I'll pass.

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:21:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But there is a difference. (16+ / 0-)

    The people you mentioned were fired from their jobs. That's against the law. But on the other hand, I have every right to refuse to do business with someone for whatever reason.

    •  No, it wasn't against the law. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WillR, linkage, FishOutofWater, LeanneB

      And the point of the boycott was to get Eckern fired as well, wasn't it?  That he agreed to resign is beside the point -- folks would not have been satisfied had he remained there.

      W/r/t boycotts generally, I think my answer is to focus on what the entity does, and not what their employees do in their spare time.

      •  and if he had been fired (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MJB, homogenius, linkage, gloryous1

        for having an unpopular political opinion, he could have sued his employer.

        John McCain, 100 years in Iraq "fine with me"

        by taylormattd on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:39:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You assume alot (6+ / 0-)

        And the point of the boycott was to get Eckern fired as well, wasn't it?

        Personally, I don't patronize establishments if I feel they're spending the profits of my patronage on oh say, stripping my civils rights.

        Whatever happens AFTER I DON'T patronize them? Not my concern. Who knows, maybe the Fred Phelps family will fill the seat I've vacated.

        •  Really. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WillR, linkage

          Next time you go out the dinner, are you going to run FEC and state political contributions searches on the hostess, your server, the cooks and the busboy?

        •  So is the boycott still going on? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Now that Ekhart is gone, I mean.

        •  Employee != Business (0+ / 0-)

          Employee salaries are not "profits" of a business. It's ridiculous to fault a business just because one of their employees donates a portion of their salary to a cause you disagree with. I'm curious, would you vent your wrath in this way on a business which has just one employee who voted differently than you did -- or just if one of their employees contributes money or time (such as GOTV) to a campaign?

          If you buy anything (or even just pay taxes which are then used by government to buy products on your behalf), you are almost certainly patronizing businesses with many employees who contributed to and/or voted for Prop 8. This is true no matter where you live in the country as there's no way to ensure that a product has 0% "California content" (or, for that matter, "Utah content").

          Since (in California) an employer can't retaliate against an employee for their political actions, a successful boycott on such a basis just puts all the other employees out on the street. This just seems like a mean and cruel thing to do to people who have no control over the situation.

      •  Boycotts are to punish financially (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, linkage

        Marc Shaiman chose to boycott the company that Mr. Eckern was in charge of (that's what the Artistic Director usually is), they aren't just some "employee", but very much a part of the leadership of that company.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR

        by Vitarai on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:04:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tell me where the line is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bbgbbg, linkage

          Can they hire an actor who contributed to the Prop 8 campaign?  Use the same ad agency that promoted the campaign?  What about the ushers?

          •  don't tell me (5+ / 0-)

            you can't see the difference between an actor and the artistic director, with whom writers and composers have to work.

            John McCain, 100 years in Iraq "fine with me"

            by taylormattd on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:10:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course there's a difference. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              But once you concede that, then you concede that there is a line somewhere, and then it's just a question of when it's crossed.

              •  The line is if they fired him (4+ / 0-)

                Adam, your entire argument is based on shifting the lines.

                Your examples of other "employees" being fired for expressing political opinions and this one, where no one was fired for anything is a far bigger blurring of the lines. Mr Eckern chose to resign. That was his decision, and his alone. CMT didn't request that he leave, and if you have evidence that they did, then maybe I'd reconsider. Even then, this was simply a decision of someone (Shaiman) choosing to no longer do business with someone, and that did have a direct impact on the future financial viability of the organization. That Mr. Eckern felt remorse, or responsible for limiting that damage by resigning was still his decision, and not the actions that you equate them with from 2004. He was not denied his right to have his opinion by anyone.

                "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR

                by Vitarai on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:43:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you're being naive. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  the ghost of bad dad

                  They would have fired him had he not resigned.  How could they not?

                  •  I think you're being presumptuous (0+ / 0-)

                    By standing by their belief that they do not dictate to anyone working for them hold a specific political view. You keep jumping to a conclusion that didn't happen to make your point. I'm simply not going there.

                    Like you, I'd be decrying his firing, for his political views, even if I disagree with them. But he wasn't fired, and Shaiman and others had every right to no longer desire to work with him given those public views.

                    I'm curious Adam, what was your position on Don Imus being fired? For or against?

                    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR

                    by Vitarai on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 11:10:59 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I suppose... (0+ / 0-)

                    They MIGHT have.  You're asserting that they WOULD have.

                    The point for the board would be that it would become sane to do so at the point that the cost of firing him, illegally, became less than that of keeping him.

                    Time then to ask a lawyer what the hit would be to settle or go to court for firing him.

                    But you're ASSERTING that they would have.  We don't know that.

                    [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

                    by ogre on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 12:12:50 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  His losing his job is an effect (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, linkage, Lost and Found

        of people freely choosing with whom to do business.  He is free to work as he pleases, if he can find the business.

        People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does. -Michel Foucault

        by eamonsean on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:53:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  CMT couldn't fire him. (0+ / 0-)

        Not legally.

        They could invite him to leave, offering a carrot.

        He was faced with being a pariah and someone who was actively toxic to the organization he helped run--who might well have caused it to fail.  He's not unintelligent, and it would have been easy to lead him through the options:

        Leave with some grace, and maybe a sweetener.

        Leave as part of a major cut caused by the severely impaired economics of the organization that were coming because of the boycott--but just as part of the cut...

        Leave when the organization went under and everyone went.

        He took the option that did the least harm to CMT and probably to himself.

        [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

        by ogre on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 12:02:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is that we can't have it both ways. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bbgbbg, linkage

      We can't claim that it's wrong for someone to be pressured out of his job or fired because he holds opinions that are outside the mainstream of his workplace only when those opinions are ones we support.  Either it's wrong to require workers to follow "the party line," or it's not, regardless of what is meant by "the party line."  People either have the right to their own political views, or they don't.

      Proud to be an American, once more.

      by LeanneB on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:41:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What if next time the Prop 8 people (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, linkage, LeanneB

      decide to do the same thing? Boycott businesses that support gay rights or those that even employ gays? And if then the businesses feel compelled to fire those employees not because of their sexual orientation but because of the disruption their presence causes?

      •  They did. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, homogenius, jcitybone, linkage, m4gill4

        The pro-8 people tried to blackmail businesses that had donated to the No-On-8 campaign. The anti-Gay people will get as nasty as necessary to push their agenda of hatred and prejudice.

        We must all remember is that Eckern is a major contributor to hate speech. Imagine that his resignation letter had read as follows:

        "I understand my supporting of anti-miscegenation laws has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal," Eckern said in a written statement. "I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved."

        Nobody would be objecting to his resignation. A donation to the Pro-Prop 8 campaign is a donation to hate, pure and simple. What he did is no different than making a $1000 dollar donation to the Nazis or the KKK.

        Prop-8 is not some ordinary attempt to pass a law. It is a hate-filled, prejudiced, superstitious attempt to take away rights, and nobody can support it without being appropriately labelled a hater, and treated as such.


        "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." -- Ed Howdershelt

        by troutwaxer on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:15:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If the linked article is accurate... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B

 was businesses who were being targeted for business (not employee) donations.

          That's completely different than this case. Employers have no control (at least in California) over what their employees do outside of work with respect to political activities.

          I've got absolutely no problem with either side of an issue boycotting businesses who promote (through money or even signs) opposing views.

  •  I didn't get him fired (4+ / 0-)

    checking my pockets for my violin right now.

  •  I'm not sure I follow this. (7+ / 0-)

    So Shaiman should continue to work with an artistic director who supported Prop 8?  Isn't he allowed to make that decision?

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:42:53 PM PST

    •  If I can extend this a bit - (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, homogenius, linkage, Inventing Liz

      Adam, I actually agree with you in theory.  The idea that you'd push a boycott to get an employee fired should be considered problematic, and a threat to our freedom of political speech - at least, wherever our jobs are not political ones.

      This case is a bit different because of the nature of the job and the professional relationship involved: it's one thing to boycott an employee of a mercantile business, where the mechanisms of trade are fundamentally apolitical.  But the relationship between an artist and the artistic director of a venue is one of (often personal) collaboration.  Eckert isn't just an actor in one of the productions, after all.  

      It's hard to ask a writer/composer to develop that kind of relationship with someone who donated to an anti-gay amendment.  If it were possible to work with the theatre without going through Eckert, maybe - but it's not.  

      So ultimately this is about personal relationships, not protection of employee speech.

      I hope that makes sense.  Because I actually do agree with you in theory.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:22:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same can be said of many business relationships (0+ / 0-)

        But the relationship between an artist and the artistic director of a venue is one of (often personal) collaboration.

        For example, the same is true of a programmer and their coworkers/technical manager. Artistic skills and environments are just the tip of the iceberg of creative and collaborative environments.

  •  I have not seen (8+ / 0-)

    any information to the effect that he would have been fired if he had not chosen to resign. Therefore it seems reasonable to assume that his resignation was voluntary.

    In his position exercising his political rights in such a visible public manner can be considered to reflect poor judgment on his part. You attempt to equate this situation with political blacklisting seems to me to be stretching the definition by a good distance.

  •  Now I get it .. (12+ / 0-)

    The real victim of discrimination and prop 8 is Scott Eckern.

  •  I am not a proponant (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, Xanthippas, Indexer

    of penalizing individuals for their political contributions.  Perhaps I am naive, but I still believe in certain freedoms.  My family has contributed to wacko Republican causes -- I disagree with them, but am in no position to tell them where to spend their own money.

    I have more of a problem when outside interests interfere in an individual State's issues.

    Thank you for this cogent diary.

    •  Has your family contributed... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      To take away people's civil rights?

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:40:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Penalizing? (0+ / 0-)

      Donations are speech (Supremes asserted).

      Do I, as an customer, have the right to refuse to do business with someone? (Yes--there's no imaginable way to make a customer be a customer).

      The right to freely associate means that I can speak with others and jointly refuse to do business with that someone.

      The question isn't a legal one.

      It's an ethical one.  And ethics aren't a class of things that should all be legislated.

      [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

      by ogre on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 12:22:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  False equivalency. Sorry. (13+ / 0-)

    Those people were fired for expressing their political views.  This man resigned because of a threatened political boycott.

    If we don't have the right to boycott those who we feel are depriving us of our constitutional rights, then what options do we have?  A boycott is a fair political expression.  Firing is not.

    Piffle crack eat monkey snow. Really. Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald

    by Susan Grigsby on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:50:57 PM PST

  •  Not totally sure of the logic (7+ / 0-)

    your examples are all of employers clashing with views of their employees.  Eckern  became at odds with a large chunk of the progressive community, not his employer.

    Apples and oranges in my opinion.

  •  St Marys PA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of my best friends through college was born and raised there. I visited a couple of times, way back when. One of the last places I'd ever expect to see mentioned here in any context.

  •  I think the NLRA might be relevant here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, linkage

    The National Labor Relations Act gives all employees (that's a specific term here, it probably wouldn't apply to Eckern, who was probably a boss) the right to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection -- the SCOTUS has ruled that "concerted activity for mutual aid and protection" is broad enough to constitute political speech.

    If you're an employee under the Act, you can make a good case that federal law protects your right to advocate a political opinion in a way that is generally acceptable at your worksite -- so, if people are allowed to have bumperstickers on their cars, firing you for having a Kerry bumpersticker amounts to an attempt by your boss to punish you for engaging in concerted activity, and is an unfair labor practice.

    "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

    by Pesto on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:54:26 PM PST

  •  It is ugly out there right now (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homogenius, linkage, rf7777, eamonsean

    I live 5 blocks from ground zero (the Castro).  People are hurt, angry and reacting to everything.  

    Whenever a minority as powerful as this one is wounded, unfair and bad things will flow to those who betrayed them.

    I am not condoning the drumming out of Ecktern; but, unfortunately, we are likely to see more of this.  These types of high stakes results keeps the issue front and center.  No one wants the issue to go away. We all agree on that.

    Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. -Anonymous

    by gloryous1 on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:56:51 PM PST

    •  I am hard pressed to shed any tears... (10+ / 0-)

      for Eckhern.  His hypocrisy was exposed, and he was right to resign.

    •  'Powerful'? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yeah, I guess if you make a living in musical theater, gay men could have quite a bit of power over you.

      For the other 99.999% of Americans, though, your description of the power dynamic is...what's the word...insane? Stupid? Suffering from ghetto-itis? Seriously, get a bit further from the intersection of Market and 18th and you will see how ridiculous a suggestion you're making.

      Want more smartass? Read my blog.

      by PhoenixRising on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:54:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On the one hand, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it is, of course, silly to claim that we are 'powerful,' as Scalia did in one of the SCOTUS cases.  Socially, politically, many ways, we aren't powerful.

        But we are, often, powerful people, resilient, strong, and dare I use it: fierce.  We often work hard pretty damn hard to overcompensate and, at least for the population of out, self-identified gays, find ourselves in positions where we are able to flex some decision making muscle.  Especially in musical theater...

        So this guy's actions were just plain stupid.  He works among many gay people and then he makes a public contribution to an effort to write discrimination into the CA Constitution, making gays unequal...  

        Where we have power, we should flex it.

        Speaking of...some humor in this heat....

        People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does. -Michel Foucault

        by eamonsean on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:25:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  But Gloria, how was this unfair? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Read between the lines. Eckern was likely offered an exit package. We both know they couldn't fire him. The CMT Board cancelled their emergency meeting--I'm guessing counsel advised them to avoid even the appearance of trying to force him out.

      Eckern may have been stupid, but I don't think he was dumb enough to ignore the realities when they were presented to him. He couldn't stay. CMT faced loss of creative personnel, patrons, sponsors, and licensed properties. If he cared about CMT after 25 years, he had to bail. He screwed up and there was no "take-back".

      Boo hoo for Scott Eckern. He stabbbed his associates and patrons in the back in an unavoidably public way. What he did was a matter of public record. And people reacted negatively.

      He could have stayed and watched CMT suffer for his stupidity. But he did the right thing. Belatedly.

      I just have trouble seeing Eckard as a victim or a martyr.

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 04:50:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have first amendment rights, too... (15+ / 0-)

    which include the right to withhold my patronage of enterprises which promote or tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, or exploit their workers, and to encourage others to do likewise.

    If my efforts in that regard have a sufficient impact to inspire a response by such enterprises, and California limits their options in that response, they can bring that to the table and negotiate in good faith a means to resolve the issues.

    The issues are complex, and the competing legitimate claims of rights numerous.  Painting First Amendment claims as not only supreme but without limitation, replete with slippery slope argumentation, is as dangerous as hair-trigger boycotting.

    I do not think the GLBT community has been too quick to resort to coersion or intimidation.  Quite the contrary.  The same cannot be said of those who are intent in keeping them at the margins.

    Nor do I think a judicial system which is charged with balancing delicate first amendment considerations in such cases as hate crimes and incitement cannot make necessary distinctions when it comes to weighing blatant bigotry and hate speech as opposed to mere political speech.

  •  You raise interesting issues for discussion Adam (6+ / 0-)

    B.  I will need to think more about your points before making up my mind.

    A couple of intitial thoughts or questions.

    I agree that governement or employers should not fire people for expressing their free speech rights.

    But Eckern apparrently resigned due to the sensistive nature of the organization he was leading and it's relationships with others.  The same way Trent Lott resigned as majority leaders for his racial sensistive remarks.  

    Does Samantha Power have a case against Obama, because she felt compelled to resign for the benefit of the campaign?   What if Obama had asked to to leave?   Are there certain sensitive positions where other principles must be balanced against free speech or employment rights?

    What about a Doctor who wears an armband saying "Aborion is murder" as he works in an abortion clinic because it was his assigned internship position?

    Also, does the degree of nature of the offending comment or position matter?  Are your examples of bumber stickers supporting one candidate or another, really comparable to someone supporting the suppression of civil rights.  What about hate speech?   What if the bumber sticker were in support of the KKK?

    I will agree with you  if others are actually fired from regular jobs for no other reason than being on the contributors list.

    And you raise important privacy concerns about the public nature of these lists.  Will my child receive lower grades in red state schools because a teachers looks up my contributions to the Obama campaign?  But this goes beyond the prop 8.

    You are right to bring up the issue, but I'm not yet ready to agree that  supporters of equal rights for all Americans should not be more active in pressuring the system for change under the banner of "the fierce urgency of now."

    But certainly, you've made a compelling arguments that there are plenty of little grey lines in the sand that we must think carefully about before we make our own individual choices about how to act and speak out for much needed change.

    And I also support the idea of continuous self-reflection to hold ourselves up to the highest possible standards and ethical principles.

    Keep up the good work.  

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:59:59 PM PST

  •  Have you gotten a response from John Aravosis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on this?  He's been pushing stuff like this hard, such as boycotting Mariott for being Mormon-owned or something, even though it has a high Human Rights Campaign rating.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:02:19 PM PST

  •  Artistic Director (8+ / 0-)

    From a generic job description (emphesis mine):

    Larger theatres may also have an artistic director, who selects the plays to be produced in the theatre each season (and the director for each) and is responsible for managing the company and its finances.

    Claims here of "just an employee" seem to misstate the Eckhern situation in the extreme.

  •  The artists were within their rights (12+ / 0-)

    To state that they no longer wished to work with him. I don't work with developers who build strip malls because I think they are socially counterproductive. On the other hand I don't campaign to get them fired--I just won't support them or work with them as is my right. I also don't discuss my politics with clients because they would be within their rights not to do business with me if we don't agree.

    The question here seems to be whether he was fired or whether he left because he knew he had lost his relationship with those he needs to do business with. I see those as two different things. The first is clearly wrong and an infringement of freedom; the second is a consequence of alienating our peers, a consequence any of us can reasonably expect when we hold controversial opinions.

    Anyone can lose the respect of his peers who then will no longer do business with him or her--not at all the same as a power relationship where one person alone has the decision-making power over another as in an employer-employee relationship. These folks weren't his employer and he had no need to resign other than the perceived difficulty in no longer being able to find talented peers to work in his productions. Just my two cents.

    820 Illinois-427 Senate Sponsored-152 Senate authored. Obama record on Bills. Palin record 0-0-0. Palin Lies-1 big one and counting.

    by marketgeek on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:14:45 PM PST

  •  I resemble that (4+ / 0-)

    I thoroughly support the anti-8 faction here. I am in favor of this week-end's national demonstrations (see my sig line). However, I will not be at one of them. I suspect my boss does not agree with my view, but I'm solid that my boss would not object to my expressing my view in that way. HOWEVER, many of my boss' customers would strongly object. Too the point of taking their $$$ elsewhere. Short of putting a bag over my head it is highly likely that I would be recognized if the TV cameras scanned the crowd for the evening news. So I am not going to create such a situation. I will stay home, and root for the effort from afar.

  •  This is one of the reasons I'm very (4+ / 0-)

    uncomfortable with political donations being public information. Oh, I know all the good reasons for it and agree with them, but we have a right to secret vote to avoid such problems. A donation is, in some ways, even more of a political statement than a vote. Why isn't it afforded the same protection.

    A conundrum.

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      Disclosure is the conservative's answer to campaign finance reform. They think that it's okay for billions to spent on political campaigns, as long as everybody knows where everybody's money is going. That includes you and me, if we happen to donate over certain limits. And thanks to the internet, anybody who doesn't like you can make sure your co-workers, friends and family and everybody who knows you, knows exactly where you stand on an issue even if you've never uttered a word about it. I agree with you, and we need real campaign finance reform and less disclosure about who is making contributions, at least for us little people!

  •  Recc'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ogre, linkage

    because like some other commenters I agree with this diary in theory, but in practice the diary is illogical: He was not fired. And I don't blame prominent theater folk from refusing to work with an artistic director who made such a contribution. Anyway, Adam's points are good ones--terrific to help this community think through the relevant issues of political speech, contributions, and boycotts. As the excellently argued comments on both sides show.

  •  False Equivalencies 101 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homogenius, linkage

    Here I thought Dr. Maddow was teaching it, and I just wind up with a practitioner of it???

    People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does. -Michel Foucault

    by eamonsean on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:51:37 PM PST

  •  Hey Adam (4+ / 0-)

    I think you're being "Holier Than Thou." Your ideas only make sense if Eckern was engaging in some kind of sane, rational political behaviour, on either the right or left. For example, he shouldn't have had to leave his job because he supported McCain, or believed in massive deregulation. But that isn't what Eckern did. Eckern participated in a hate campaign that turned millions of California's people into second class citizens.

    Nobody in their right mind would ask an employer to make African Americans work with a man who'd donated $1000 to the KKK or Nazi party, and the African Americans in question would not be attacked or insulted - except by racists - for refusing to work with such a man.

    Your problem is not that you believe in fair employment laws. It's that you don't believe that Prop-8 was a vile and disgusting expression of hate and prejudice.


    "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." -- Ed Howdershelt

    by troutwaxer on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:36:16 PM PST

    •  I believe in democracy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Xanthippas, the ghost of bad dad

      And I believe the people have the right to advocate for stupid, hateful amendments to the constitutions as much as they can for sound ones.  I cannot imagine a rule one could use that would empower judges to deny the right of the people to amend their governing documents.

      So, yes, I agree that Prop 8 was a vile and disgusting expression of hate and prejudice.  But I place the right of the people to engage in political self-rule, and in advocacy on behalf of self-rule, above the specifics of any particular amendment folks might want to support.

    •  That's dumb... (0+ / 0-)

      ...Adam is clearly arguing that nobody should be afraid of losing their job and their livelihood because their political views are unpopular. You say Proposition 8 is a "vile and disgusting piece of hate and prejudice" and I agree, but proponents of 8 happen to think that gay marriage is a "vile and disgusting" practice. Let's say people who think that way and who like to visit a certain store, suddenly discover that the manager is a partner in a gay relationship, or a gay civil union or marriage? Should it be okay for the store owner to fire that person because it hurts his bottom line to keep him on? How's that all different from what you say is okay, except for the fact that you happen to think gay marriage is okay?

      Look, I understand this guy resigned-wasn't fired-because he didn't want this controversy to hurt the theater. But are you trying to say it would be okay if they fired him? Really??

      People like us need to stick up for the rights of others to say what they wish, and for the rights of those who they offend not to do business with them. But we should NEVER think it's okay for people to be fired, or asked to resigned, or pressured to quit, or in anyway have their livelihood threatened for their political speech or opinions. And it's really dumb for you to question what Adam B thinks of that bill because you don't agree with him.

  •  THANK YOU (5+ / 0-)

    gee, you guys is smart!

    I am glad I was directed to this blog.  I have gotten a lot out of these comments and hope that Adam B has not taken his daughter's HAIRSPRAY DVD or CD away!  But I am in NO position to argue if he has!

    I did what I feel was my right.  I spoke to him, man to man.  I made it clear I couldn't imagine financing discrimination being written into The Constitution.  And then I told a bunch of friends about it.

    HAIRSPRAY is my baby.  For it to be, in part, the conduit to the cash that helped YES on 8 get passed made me physically ill.

    I do NOT celebrate his resignation, but I believe "quiet" bigotry (religion based or not) is a terrible thing, possibly worse than the blowhards that we can see and hear on TV and radio.

    Anyway, I'll shut up.  I really just wanted to say thanks for a lot of interesting posts.

    -Marc Shaiman

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