I did two diaries here and here about Brendan Eich, now former CEO of Mozilla Corp. His resignation from the position was related to the response of opinion to his support for prop 8 and his continued defense of that position. There are a number of comments in both diaries from people at Daily Kos who are taking the position that Eich is a victim of liberal bullying simply because of a political opinion that he happens to hold. The notion seems to be that it is not all that different from some other possible political opinion.
This morning that rather infamous southern belle Paula Deen is back in the news.
A racial discrimination lawsuit against Butter Queen Paula Deen was dismissed last year, but not before the ensuing publicity cost Deen lost her lucrative Food Network television shows and endorsement deals.Both Eich and Deen have suffered economic harm because of the political opinions that they have publicly expressed. I have no doubt that the people at Free Republic and Red State see Ms. Deen as a victim of liberal bullying. I am also certain that my southern relatives with whom I am not on speaking terms have the same view of her situation.
Now Deen’s lost something else: the restaurant she co-owned with her brother — Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House.
Deen faced scrutiny last year when a former employee of Uncle Bubba’s, Lisa Jackson, filed a lawsuit claiming she had experienced sexual harassment and racial discrimination. In a deposition for the case, Deen admitted that she’d used the N-word — “of course,” she said — and told questioners she’d admired a plantation-style wedding reception outfitted with middle-aged black men in dinner jackets because it was reminiscent of the antebellum period.
What I am wondering about is whether the people at Daily Kos who are so disturbed over Eich's situation see it as being somehow fundamentally different from Deen's.
I grew up in the deep south in the last days of Jim Crow. That was a time and place where being blatantly racist was not only permitted, it was required. There has been real progress in the south, but Deen is concrete evidence that the racism is alive and well there. Happily that kind of blatant and overt racism is something that a majority of Americans are no longer willing to tolerate.
Progress for gay rights has come later, but it really looks like the society is now turning the corner in a rather fundamental way. The majority opinion has shifted to support gay rights in general and marriage equality in particular. The reaction to Eich demonstrates that fundamental shift.
Progress in changing public prejudice does not come easily nor painlessly. What makes people change their attitudes is because it becomes a path of least resistance. That means making it costly to hold onto prejudices. Those cost can be financial and/or social.