Think about what it means to the HN culture to have a subject that normally would have been flagged out of existence as overtly political suddenly be featured front and center in the apparent belief that ideological purity is now a litmus test for who can serve on a board of directors in the startup world.
In a free society, people can unite in their business ventures even though they might be far apart in how they view the world generally. Startup culture thirty years ago had a decidedly American flavor. Today, it does not because the world is big and diverse and because entrepreneurs today who do startups come from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds. Surely, those who come from such divergent backgrounds hold differing political and religious views. Some are conservative, others liberal, still others apolitical. Some are theists, others atheists. The variations are many but one thing is certain: not all people think alike on political, religious, or social topics. These are issues that inherently will divide.
What happens, then, when people attempt to set political, social, or religious tests as criteria for who can hold important positions in a business organization? Well, it gets about as ugly as it can get, just as such tests proved ugly when used historically by, say, Christians to exclude Jews from holding important positions in society or to punish atheists for not holding to some prescribed creed.
One might say, "this is different" because we are not holding to an arbitrary creed but rather to fundamental principles that ought to govern all humanity. Well, that is precisely how those who sought to impose thought control in other eras rationalized their conduct. "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party" is a question that destroyed many careers as the blacklists proliferated back in the 1950s. That was indeed a repulsive set of events by which many innocent persons were hurt and today our national conscience wishes it could take back the damage done to them.
So why is this any different? It is easy enough to whip oneself up into a lather over Ms. Rice’s policies if one disagrees with them but what about the half of America (or whatever significant percentage) that does not. And why should this be relevant to board service?
Politics, religion, and social worldviews divide people and have no place as limiting tests in a business environment. Scolding and finger-wagging was bad enough coming from a first-grade teacher trying to promote sanctimonious values back in the 1950s. Do we really want a counterpart agenda now setting rules for who can be a founder, who can be an investor, who can be a director, who can be a CEO, or who can otherwise take a prominent role in the startup world? The answer should be an emphatic no.
Principle is more important here than a particular outcome. What happens with Ms. Rice is not the issue here. What matters is upholding the abiding principle (precious in a free society) that people can hold divergent views on such topics as politics, religion, and society without being punished for their views in a business context. People can and ought to be able to unite to form great companies without having to compare notes on how they voted in the last election or some similar matter having nothing whatever to do with whether someone can add value to the venture. This is central to startup culture. Let us not lose sight of something so basic.
Starting an unnecessary war is a big deal. Denying due process and torturing detainees is a big deal. The Patriot Act was one of the most un-American acts of Congress. Rice had a significant role in destroying the values I once thought were vitally important in claiming American exceptionalism. We can never get that back. We are now a country that starts unnecessary wars, tortures detainees and denies due process and spends vast resources on surveilling every citizen and she had a role in that. We will never be the country we once were before Rice and the Bush administration. I am proud to have always been vocally against the war, torture and the Patriot Act. I will continue to oppose the people who led these efforts and oppose anything they are involved with, staying true to my own personal values requires this.
> I am proud to have always been vocally against the war, torture and the Patriot Act. I will continue to oppose the people who led these efforts and oppose anything they are involved with, staying true to my own personal values requires this.
I hope this extends to opposing the Obama administration, which has continued and extended war, torture, and the patriot act. If the tech community dumps anyone from any party who supports these policies, that's awesome.
Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Mark Benoiff at SalesForce, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt at Google all gave large contributions to Obama, who extended the patriot act, defended bush torture, and maintains a 'kill list' that took the life of an american citizen without trial. None of them are getting this kind of outrage.
I would love it if they were! I'd love it if we held these tech leaders accountable for the horrendous policies their supported leaders have put in place. You can't say you value your users' privacy and then give money to candidates who don't share that value, unless you say "but these other policies that he supports matter more to me" - and then fine, give us a list of what you value more than protecting my privacy. Show me where I fall on this list of yours. A president who decides he supports gave marriage when it's poitically convient is not as important to me as a president who insists on defending my privacy.
So far this looks to be partisan. I hope it isn't. To be honest, I miss having GWB as a president, because then the smart people were all outraged at the horrible stuff the president was doing. Now the president is still doing the same horrible stuff, plus some new stuff, but the smart people aren't as upset anymore.
I was fooled by Obama during his first campaign but learned quickly during his first term that he is no different. I might be a bit partisan in thinking if we had a democratic president during 9/11 we might not've gone to war with Iraq but we'll never really know.
I have simplified my life, reduced my consumption, don't own a car, grow my own food, try to avoid using Wall Street whenever possible when I do make purchases. I'm trying to create a very local life, this has allowed me to believe I'm being consistent with my core values. Oh yeah, I'm much less political than I was 10 years ago.
Removing clutter and unnecessary consumption gives you a lot more time to read and think. I am trying to minimize the waste in my life as well, and focus on local sustainable efforts. Reducing news consumption has freed up a lot of time for me. Keep voting with your money and time and hopefully we'll reach a tipping point. Good luck on your journey!
> I hope this extends to opposing the Obama administration, which has continued and extended war, torture, and the patriot act.
I agree people should oppose wrong-doing by both parties and not be partisan about it, but not all sins are the same and they do not all require the same response. I don't Obama and Bush are the same, unless the criteria is a binary has/not sinned (in which case all Presidents -- and you and I -- are the same).
> Obama has been worse than Bush as far as torture and war go
Please remind me how many wars did Obama start based on fake intelligence.
Obama may not be the president the world hoped he would be, but Bush is on a whole different league. If the US is much less secure today than it was before 9/11, you can thank Bush and his cronies (Rice included) for that. That situation also severely limits what your current president can do.
Bush started your country down a path that has led it towards unprecedented insecurity and cost countless lives, both Americans and foreigners, and he did it on a crucial moment when he had the option to act differently. Obama is left with little choice in a lot of regards - the world - and your country - is already the wreck Bush left us with. Just leaving Iraq on day one would lead the country to a certain civil war and most likely another yet theocracy that hates the US (and this one for reason I can completely understand). Just closing Guantanamo would unravel an insane chain of resentment that most probably should have been faced rather than postponed.
I hate neither. Bush was grossly incompetent. Spectacularly incompetent. Dangerously incompetent. Again, Obama is a huge disappointment, but I suspect he, under less grim circumstances, would have been a much better president than he is now. In so many ways, his hands are tied. A president - any president - is limited in his actions to what's legally and politically possible and that severely restricts his actions. Even with his hands tied, Obama is light years ahead of his predecessor.
Big deal as it may be, the parent comment was placing the discussion in a plane you totally missed in your response.
The type of blackballing practiced by this campaign is similar to the kind of blackballing that ousted Brendan Eich. It is also a slippery slope.
Slippery slopes are dangerous. At each step of the way, you can reason about your present decision and easily justify it. Add all the steps and the picture is suddenly not so pretty. That is where the parent comment author aimed its reasoning.
You can only reason about slippery slopes by taking the long view; seeing where the slope leads to. Your comment takes the short view.
We define the values we hold as a society through our actions and choices and that is the way it should be. I didn't necessarily agree with the Eich ousting but it shows a shift in values that I agree with.
The perpetrators of the Iraq war and the Patriot act have been able to avoid repercussions for their actions. I find this very distasteful because of my strong feelings about what these actions have done to my country. I believe it should've been obvious that the Iraq war and the Patriot act went very much against the core values of my country. I like to think I am taking the long view in that I'm hoping this reaction might influence similar decisions in the future and shape the values of this country in a way that is more consistent with where they were before the Bush administration. This can only happen if elected representatives believe there will be repercussions to making very disastrous, anti-American decisions.
Luckily we elected the polar opposite to Bush, who turned out to do things pretty much the same as Bush. Nothing that you are saying started or ended with Bush. We did similar things for a hundred years before Bush, and we are doing worse things now with Obama. The hatred of Bush and his administration is just bizarre. The Patriot act was voted for by Congress and continually extended by both R's and D's.
> Luckily we elected the polar opposite to Bush, who turned out to do things pretty much the same as Bush.
This has contributed to my belief that our current political system has failed we the people, even though it is operating exactly as intended. I was fooled by Obama's first campaign but quickly realized he's no different. I don't know what the answer is but inaction is too boring. I'm trying to reduce the amount of money I send to Wall St believing that they are behind many of the gov's ills. I'm also trying to reduce general consumption as much as possible believing that the taxes we send and lobbying by corporations pumped into the federal government are also at fault. My goal is to see a drastically reduced Wall St and federal gov without blaming R or D.
Coincidence or not, this is my first comment ever with a negative voting score. I guess downvoting is blackballing on a small scale: silence all those who have dissenting views.
I always upvote well written comments, regardless of my personal agreement with the view. I loathe this face of Hacker News I'm seeing today.
I'll upvote each and every 0 or -1 comment that is well written (as in: not a one liner, not a joke, presenting an opinion). It's my small effort towards the Hacker News I like, where quality of writing is valued instead of herd mentality.
You act like someone else in her position would have done something different. Everyone hated Bush. Spending too much money, unnecessary war, over reaching surveillance. Obama will be our hope and change! Yay! Hmm, spending significantly more money, continuing unnecessary wars, and reaching significantly further into surveillance. When the war started 64% of Americans were in favor of it. Sure it turns out they didn't have a nuke, but they had already used bio weapons. While it cost way more in terms of lives and money than anyone would have liked, the world is likely a better place without Saddam Hussein.
If you want to boycott any company that has politicians on their board, that's one thing. To boycott Dropbox because of Rice is absurd. She is an incredibly smart, talented, and connected person capable of doing a good job on their board.
Incredibly smart, talented, connected and absolutely unethical person.
I am boycotting Dropbox not because Rice is on the board, but because the board voted in favor of her joining. After this I simply don't trust any high ranking official at Dropbox to be the user of their products.
You should also boycott a lot of other companies then. Pretty much anyone who has a politician connected to them. All of the big tech company leaders gave a lot of money to Obama, and I'd consider the spying on US citizens to be fairly unethical. Please stop using Google, Yahoo, and Apple products.
Sounds like you just happen to be doing whats convenient for you. Down with Dropbox! But I still need Google so I'll keep using them but just a little. FWIW, Microsoft and IBM were also top donors for Obama.
Soooo If I can't commit fully to supporting only ethical tech companies I should either retreat to the cave or lose the right to boycott any tech products? Is that an argument that you are making? If yes, that's just ridiculous.
I'm just suggesting that the outrage in general over Condi and Dropbox is a bit hypocritical, and not really about her past actions but simply her connection to the Bush administration. You can boycott whatever you want, I just find it interesting that in most people here it is very selective. I'm boycotting this company for this reason, but not this other company that does VERY similar things.
To me it just shows that Dropbox isn't as important and has easier replacements than the other companies we are talking about. It would be impressive to convince people to stop using something that doesn't have a good alternative. It just feels a little hypocritical to be gung ho I'm boycotting this company (that I maybe didn't use that much and has 7 easy replacements) but I'm doing it because I'm all about ethics and Condi is terrible.
I am not an American and equally despise bush and obama administrations for iraq war and nsa+drone strikes, respectively. It is your partisanship bias that is showing.
And no, it's not hypocritical. The more boycotts and outrage at tech companies for ethical reasons, the better. Baby steps.
EDIT: Tbh, after thinking about it, I must clarify: No, not equally. Though I think nsa revelations will have some profound negative effects in the long term, starting a war on false premises is worse in my books.
Ok, I really hate so say this, but this has hardly been the first time the US has gone into an unnecessary war. While you have also entered necessary wars, for which we, the other western countries, are truly grateful, you simply cannot say that with the Bush administration this is the first time something like this happens.
For me, an anonymous person living in the Netherlands, it feels like these things happen whenever a republican president is elected. The world expects this, goes along with it, and personally I'm afraid of what will happen when the first republican president post-Obama is elected.
Giving dr Reece this much heat is unfair and missing Grellas' very important point: just like freedom of speech is very important to a free press, freedom of political beliefs are very important in a free market.
Making this a R vs D thing is silly. Vietnam was Democrat president. Obama has extended our current wars. Most of our wars have had public support at the beginning, and lost them over time. And as you noted, we've also been instrumental in necessary wars to everyone's benefit.
Hindsight is great and all, but sometimes whether or not a war is necessary can't be seen at the outset. If Saddam had a nuke (and believe me he was certainly trying to get one even if he didn't have one yet), everyone would have considered the Iraq war to be necessary and Bush wouldn't be universally hated. Also, I find it interesting how much sentiment has changed since 2001. After 9/11 everyone was scared, and everyone wanted to find the people responsible and anyone who helped them. 13 years later nobody seems to remember that. The Iraq war was overwhelmingly supported at the beginning. Apparently people just wanted it to be over in 2 weeks.
Whether we started them or not is mostly irrelevant. We've joined and extended plenty of wars, and given 9/11 I'd say we didn't "start" Iraq and Afghanistan out of the blue. We just didn't know exactly who we were supposed to be fighting.
According to this  the US has been in ~117 wars (if I counted right) in 238 years.
I disagree - it's a lot more powerful than that. If it becomes generally known that politicians unethical actions will limit their opportunities in the corporate world after they leave office, it produces a strong incentive to behave more ethically.
Clearly that hasn't been the case. All of the major tech companies leaders supported Obama (Google, Apple, Yahoo, etc). He extended the wars and significantly extended the spying on US citizens which is at least as bad if not worse than anything Rice did.
I think it provides incentive to not be a part of the bizarrely hated Bush administration. Since he's unlikely to be president again, it won't have any effect at all.
>Yes, it's clear that it hasn't been the case in the past. That's why it's news that it's starting to happen now.
It would only be news if was consistent and applied to everyone. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc all supported Obama, and the things he's done with the NSA are at least as bad as what Rice did. Dropbox and Rice are getting fallout because of some bizarre hatred for the Bush administration and not some newfound resolve to be ethical at all times. Yes Google would have fallout for appointing Clapper. They wouldn't have any from Hilary Clinton or Joe Biden or Obama himself, which would be the real equivalents to Dropbox appointing Rice. FWIW, Google also can't appoint Keith Alexander.
So until they day we can universally hold all politicians to account, we should hold none of them to account?
I agree with you that all of these people should have their political records examined when they join corporations. Supporting this action is a starting point to have this become a more widely used tool.
I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm just suggesting it's not news. I think this is coming from a bizarre hatred of the Bush administration in particular, and not some newfound resolve to hold individuals accountable to ethical actions. If it is simply a new action that coincidentally is starting with Condi, then great. I don't believe that to be true.
I support your opinion, but have to mention that pre-Bush US was not any better. US was starting unnecessary wars for more than 200 years now, nothing has changed. Note though, that the same is true for almost any other country.
I think you have misconceptions about what American policy has been in the past. Remember all the US backed coups in South and Central America, accompied by mass slaughter of political opposition (e.g. Contras in Nicaragua) often by groups trained in US military schools, the extensive bombing campaigns in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with 100k-1m lives lost, all the US backed dictators (Suharto, Irans Shah,...), to name just a few.
Thank you. You rightfully point out that her past actions remain relevant today, and that attempting to dismiss them by labeling them as "merely political viewpoints" does a great disservice to everybody.
This woman is directly and indirectly responsible for destroying hundreds of thousands of lives. That should somehow reflect on her resumé, shouldn't it?
Now she's being placed in charge of people's personal data. That's not just bad politics, it's bad ethics, and it's bad business.
Think about what it means to the HN culture to have a subject that normally would have been flagged out of existence as overtly political suddenly be featured front and center
It means that a bunch of people who once thought they were somehow above or apart from politics find that they are not, and that the things that happen in the world constitute news of real interest to hackers. That's growth.
It's also misleading to talk about this as an issue of ideological purity. People talk about purity when the politics of the public figure in question are not extreme enough. The problem is that she helped start a war that killed rather a lot of people, none of whom are now able to lend their voices to the discussion, and those who wish to remember those people are obliged to speak on their behalf. You don't mind her politics, and that's cool. But no one's forcing me to pay Dropbox anything. So I won't anymore.
> The HN community has always held strong beliefs about political issues, but what did we do about it?
The problem is that "the HN community" doesn't have unified beliefs about nearly anything. There are people who are violently for and against: higher taxes, lower taxes, affirmative action, race-neutrality, abortion choice, life, fracking, nuclear power, wind power, birds, etc. If we declared that we couldn't work together despite differing views we'd quickly find that we're each an island. There is no single "hacker news" political view. We are comprised of atheists, baptists, catholics, jews, muslims, sikhs, janes, buddhists, and nearly every other group you can think of. Some are rich, poor, and in the middle. Old young and retired. You are free to use your money however you want, but it is not the "HN community" view.
Then we'll democratically argue and fight about it, and people will cast votes for the news they want to see, which will determine what the general "mood" of the site is.
Its the bane and blessing of all social groups. As they get larger, people get exposed to / interact with lots of viewpoints that might not have originally been part of the core. To some level this is good, as it broadens horizons and enhances discussion. At the extreme, it all becomes bland, vaguely funny photos of animals (mostly cats).
Its why community generated sub-forums / sub-reddits are kind of genius / kind of crap, as they let folks go off and sub-fracture as far as they want until the discussion matches whatever their internal worldview is. Of course, then nothing challenges their internal worldview.
True arguments and debate on the internet are rather rare. Its generally a curbstomp in a single direction towards the predominant political opinion of the specific website.
For example, you've got Huffington Post vs Dredge Report. If you've ever visited the "conservative side" of the internet, you'd recognize it as totally night-and-day compared to the side that us (typically) liberal technocrats view.
HN really isn't the place for political discussions. It's even in the guidlines.
Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon
OK, yeah, they're fun in a way; and I've made the mistake of participating in a few myself (largely NSA stuff). But the thing is, there are plenty of other forums for discussing politics. There's no real reason for discussing politics here unless it has a specifically technical aspect to it.
Oh no, now you can build cool stuff and be an internet activist on HN.
Waaait a minute.. Now I get it. These sly HN activists are forcing you to go into political threads, read them and participate in the discussion and you don't have time left for reading about cool stuff. Damn these poisonous activists!
To be fair, you have a point. But, IMO, there actually is something almost "poisonous" in a sort of insidious way, about having an influx of political articles. It seems to contribute to a slow - but perceptible - overall drift in the tone/spirit of the site and the community.
Or maybe more to the point, those different front-pages attract a different category of people who stick around and become regulars. In either case, you get "scope drift".
Honestly, what this reminds me of is when Slashdot took a pronounced turn towards a more openly political "flavor" and developed a much stronger leftist bias and became what people were calling "SlashKos".
What we want to say is "the front page is a zero-sum game". Every political article forces out an article on hacking and startups, and attracts the kind of people to the site who want to talk politics, not startups.
Can't you folks that want to talk politics just go somewhere else? There are tons of sites on the internet for that kind of discussion. Don't wreck one of the few that's good for tech and startups.
I felt the same way about the constant barrage of NSA threads last summer, and I can't help recalling that you've submitted a good number of such stories yourself. It's a bit hard to take your complaints about scope creep seriously under such circumstances; if those submissions were relevant, then surely so is this one on the basis of Rice's empowerment of the NSA during her tenure as National Security Adviser.
I have mixed feelings about the NSA stories. I think some of them were somewhat relevant, but maybe they weren't all relevant. Or, maybe none of them were. Maybe I thought they were at the time, and now I think I was wrong in hindsight. Truth be told, I don't remember exactly what I did and didn't submit, versus what I simply commented on. I will allow that I let myself get drawn into that discussion pretty deeply at times, and now I doubt that was a wise thing to do, for exactly this reason.
Don't get me wrong... the NSA story is absolutely important and the overall issue is something I'm passionate about. My question now (and should have been before) is "is this a good topic for HN"?
Edit: you piqued my curiosity, so I went back through my submissions for the past year or so. And yes, I did submit a few Snowden/NSA stories (I count around 10-12 depending on what you include as "Snowden/NSA related"), and some of those I would look back and say "Nah, not worthy". But by the same token, I think most people who bothered to go through my history would say that a small percentage of my submission are political or clearly off-topic.
I do, and I like lobste.rs, but it's a little bit of a catch-22. Lobste.rs is more "ideologically pure" because the userbase is smaller, but that smaller userbase also means there is a lot less discussion going on at any given time. But I think we're clearly starting to see aspects of the "Eternal September" effect here, due to the user growth over the years. So what can ya do? sigh
It's way to easy to argue about politics on the net without any real effect--too fun, too easy, and too useless.
So, some of the problem--a good part, really--is that political discussion need not be furious debate and talking past each other.
An article on some sort of political theory, on some philosophy of governance, etc. can lead to useful discussion. Having more systems articles on politics is something I wouldn't mind seeing on HN at all.
But, most articles posted (I believe--haven't run a report on it) do not seem to lend themselves to that sort of thoughtful analysis.
> is that political discussion need not be furious debate and talking past each other.
No, but it's pretty much bound to wind up that way. The effort to put forth a well-considered, nuanced, reasoned point of view is an order of magnitude more than that required for a snarky one-liner about "dude, like, the US is, like, totally not a democracy and stuff". Which means that the latter out-competes the former.
The voting system should be at least a partial feedback loop against that effect, but it's obviously not perfect, especially if people view it as "agree/disagree" rather than "quality/not quality". I get the sense that reddit has historically been the former whereas HN was mostly the latter.
It's actually the opposite, historically rediquette was to upvote quality and not downvote just because you disagree. Where as HN policy is to downvote things you disagree with. The difference is just that reddit grew faster and had a broader focus. Without careful moderation HN will grow (both in users and topic types submitted) and will suffer from eternal september as well.
And Brendan Eich gave $1000 to an organization people don't approve of. A guy made a joke at a convention about dongles and got fired. A whole lot of Sci-Fi authors were prevented from publishing at Tor because they identify themselves as politically conservative.
This particular pattern has been growing over the last decade or two. The politics in question are growing more extreme and the required level of political correctness demanded is also getting more extreme. One exception does not disprove the pattern.
I won't disagree with you - more and more, people wear their politics on their sleeves and have their ears plugged to any view to which they don't agree. This isn't restricted to leftists going after conservatives, nor conservatives going after leftists. It's everywhere.
I think it's one of the side-effects of living in a society where so much information is available. In the past, we could know the politics of people in our immediate surroundings, but we also had to take our relationship into account. We might be acquainted with politics on a larger scale, but the people behind it were much more distant.
Now, we can be exposed to any and every political viewpoint out there, frequently whether we were looking for it or not. The kinds of politics we can be exposed to aren't just local and we're surrounded by a sea of strangers, all clamoring for our attention.
The natural reaction is to filter out the things we don't agree with and with so much political noise, we have to do it vehemently, just adding more noise. Or we can take another route, which is just to let someone else do the thinking for us, and there are people all too willing to step into that role.
Even though I lean left, I don't think Eich was the wrong choice for CEO. His religious beliefs didn't really have much to do with the job. I could probably work for the guy and disagree with him all the same, but it wouldn't matter - that would not be the nature of our work together.
Dr. Rice is another matter entirely. Her entire legacy under the Bush administration disgusts me. I would gladly chauffeur her to the doors of the World Court for her involvement in what I thoroughly believe are war crimes. Furthermore, her beliefs on privacy and security being subservient to the needs of the state are almost equally as disgusting to me.
I really hope Dropbox will reconsider adding her. I'm sure they can find someone else to fill their needs to work with foreign governments who is far less engaged with the state apparatus destroying our personal liberties.
This situation has nothing to do with technology. It's not some passive "I won't listen to this guy because he disagrees with me" stance. People are going out of their way to make sure people who have political opinions they disagree with can't work. All three of my examples show this. And there are many, many more examples. Academia and public education are two, just off the top of my head.
It started with conservative christians. Now that the most undesirable element is gone, the purges have expanded to anybody who isn't as extreme as the loudest member. As time goes on, the required politics have gotten more and more extreme. There's no evidence of this trend slowing down or stopping.
It means that a bunch of people who once thought they were somehow above or apart from politics find that they are not, and that the things that happen in the world constitute news of real interest to hackers. That's growth.
Unless the views that "unite" them are repulsive. If Rice's viewpoints were the polar opposite and we were all jumping on the bandwagon to boycott dropbox because they didn't support torture enough, would that be "growth"?
Of course not.
You don't like Rice's views on this issue, and want to convince people-- including the HN community-- that she was wrong on this issue, and that her views on other issues (warantless wiretaps, etc.) are dangerous for a business like dropbox. Moreover, you don't want to support dropbox now that Rice is a board member. Fine. But to claim that just because we all (or at least most of us) disagree with her views, that in and of itself means that we're "growing" as a community is genuinely dangerous-- because at some point, most of us are going to be wrong about something, and arguing on ideological merit is going to be the only thing that can "save" us. Simply saying that "we all agree, and that's growth" will just ensure that we're all wrong forever.
Your comment and the fact that it's the top-voted one are disturbing in what they imply about the moral attitudes of this community.
Everything you've so passionately stated with such deep concern can be summarized as, "Let's not persecute people in the startup world for their political beliefs."
I would agree with that statement, however it is entirely irrelevant in this case-- the first three items in that article were entirely non-political. Inciting a war on false pretenses, aiding the administration in violating the Geneva convention, and violating civil liberties via warrantless wiretap have nothing to do with Democrats vs. Republicans.
These things aren't controversial political stances, they are international crimes. People are outraged at her appointment to Dropbox because there's a large body of evidence suggesting that she's a war criminal, not because she's a Republican.
Domestically, we've somehow decided that the Iraq war is a moot point, something better left in the past. But internationally, where our former president has actually been convicted of war crimes in absentia, you can't just lamely pretend that this is just a matter of "different strokes for different folks."
It's comforting to frame this as a political issue rather than a criminal one, because the alternative is too exhausting and frightening to grapple with. Unfortunately, none of the perpetrators of these war crimes are ever likely to face charges and be tried in court. But at the very least, we can prevent these international suspects and convicted criminals from enjoying high-paying careers in the private sector.
For the record, even though I am staunchly in favor of marriage equality, I did not agree with the witch hunt surrounding Brendan Eich. That was a political issue; it should be easy for you to tell the difference.
> Your comment and the fact that it's the top-voted one are disturbing in what they imply about the moral attitudes of this community.
I can only presume a large chunk of the SV and HN commentariat would have considered the most important thing about the 50s and 60s black boycotts of segregated businesses in the US south was the "victimisation of business owners."
When does something turn from "political" into "criminal"? Crimes are defined by politics - thus war criminal and international law are completely political. Similar to how someone can say "Aaron Swartz's case is not political at all, he violated criminal hacking laws!" And yet at some point, politicians decided to enact the laws that criminalized his behavior.
Similarly, someone has to set the laws for war as well, to define what a "war crime" and "false pretenses" are.
Everyone believes his or her point of view, that one specific version of war crimes is correct and above the realm of politics. Ultimately though, everything is "different strokes for different folks". Abortion? Killing unborn children, or denying women's rights?
Who has convicted any of George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, etc. for war crimes?
And who ultimately gets to decide and enforce the actions of an international court? Whoever has the biggest army. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". No one has a big enough army to put Americans on trial for any war (bet it Vietnam, Korea, Kosovo, Iraq)
The one thing I agree most with is that Rice's actions are far more substantial and far-reaching than Eich's. On her imaginary resume somewhere is presumably "Secretary of State" and everyone's mental bullet point of "Iraq War" - that is part of her professional career and she should be judged upon that for job fitness. As offputting or not one may consider Eich's actions (what if it were not gay marriage but some other minority position in the tech world, say pro-life or anti-marijuana legalization he had donated to?), his were pretty much completely separated from his professional career.
This isn't about taking Rice to court or trying to prosecute her for anything. It is simply "she did things we don't like, so we won't use products of the businesses she is leading". Probably because we don't have faith in those products with people we so strongly disagree with for their actions in positions of power.
Same thing with Mozilla and Eich. This isn't about someones free speech - I don't care if you are a sexist racist zoophile, until you start using power (be it capital or influence) to further those views and hurt others in the name of those beliefs. I'll have all the debates you want and consider you just fine and just thinking from a different perspective until you start doing real damage.
Here is an example: I have racist relatives, but I don't disown them for their beliefs or prejudices. I'll have all the debates and conversations with them on the topic that they want, as long as we both understand we are just engaging in debate. But the day they started donating to the KKK (or more appropriately I find out they are doing it, I can't make rational choices without complete information) I would never speak to them again and disown them, unless they apologized and admitted their wrongs and the suffering they caused. And I'd tell all my other relatives my beliefs and why I do it, and ask them to do the same.
The corollary is also that Rice (and many other figures in recent, post-WWII American wars) remain highly controversial, but the moral condemnation is not universal the way it is for certain other wars. In the SF Bay Area tech scene, there does seem to be a seriously strong consensus - and Obama is also negatively regarded when it comes to issues of continuing wars, wiretapping, etc. but generally not as strongly
No one is proposing laws about who can hold given positions. There is no free speech angle here. What's happening on HN is exactly what our system wants to happen: answer speech you don't like with more speech!
There's a lot at stake here, which is why people are reacting so forcefully. What kind of values does the SV community have? What kind of values do Y Combinator and HN have? People are coming here because HN and Y Combinator very much helped make Dropbox what it is, and if that creation is now paying and giving prestige to a person who has gravely harmed the world, for bad reasons, a lot of people will object and are objecting to that.
A free society has the right to determine what it values. I hope our community decides to value ethics and humanitarianism. One way we can express those values is to speak out against companies that help criminals launder their reputations.
> No one is proposing laws about who can hold given positions. There is no free speech angle here.
This is a total straw man. The comment you are responding to does not mention "free speech" once.
The point is: you are part of a significant, vocal group that is enjoying using its clout to blackball public figures from the tech industry over certain political views that are only held by a minority in tech. Should any of your views ever put you distinctly in the minority, you will understand why the precedent you are setting is a dangerous one.
"In a free society, people can unite in their business ventures even though they might be far apart in how they view the world generally."
This is in contrast with what the author sees as the harrowing implications of user outrage about Rice: ie., an un-free society in which people cannot unite. He describes "rules" as if the mob is somehow enforcing a tyrannical reign over businesses like dropbox.
I'd say it differently: I'm part of a significant, vocal group that has strong opinions about the ethics of its members. This isn't "us against them," it's us holding ourselves to higher standards. The problem isn't that we disagree with Rice. The problem is that when given power she repeatedly took actions that harmed both the united states and the world that many other people knew at the time she shouldn't have taken.
Also "free speech" means something specific: It means the government can't make laws limiting your speech.
It does not say I have to do anything to support that "right". As long as I am not violating another law (ie racial prejudice) I can fight or limit your "free speech" as much as I want.
You are confusing free speech and the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects free speech against the U.S. government, but governmental control is not the only aspect of free speech. Free speech is a larger issue.
Edit: if what you are saying were true, there wouldn't be any free speech issues in any country besides the United States.
It sounds like you're saying that if there are any consequences for speech then it isn't free. This probably isn't what you really mean so please feel free to clarify your argument. I'd rather debate your real position than rip apart a strawman.
You're correct that all you said was that free speech and the first amendment aren't the same thing. The statement that you replied to indicated that a response to your speech was not limiting your freedom of speech. I read your response as disagreeing with this statement as well as pointing out the difference between the first amendment and the broader concept of free speech. Did I misinterpret what you wrote?
I believe this is different precisely because we aren't necessarily using "political, social, or religious tests as criteria". In this case it's pretty nearly the polar opposite: we're using her past public performance in past professional roles. No one is digging into her private history, quite the opposite; people are looking into past statements that she's made to the public (at hearings, in newspaper interviews, etc.)
Rice has clearly demonstrated that she favors sharing information with the government and law enforcement if they claim that they need that information, by any means necessary. It seems both reasonable and proper that those who would prefer Dropbox to hold a stronger position on the privacy of their customers would see this as an ominous sign.
Exactly, no one is saying "If you are a Republican you shouldn't be on the DB board" they are saying "If you support warrantless wiretapping and were an accomplice in lying to the American public in order to start a war then you shouldn't be on the DB board". This isn't because of her political affiliation but because of what she did.
Eich's documented actions, not his private views, are the primary thing that got him drummed out of Mozilla. While on a whole different level than being a participant in one of the greatest losses of life in human history, let's call it what it is.
Eich's defenders have been quick to spin this as an ideological thing, when at its core, it really isn't.
This is exactly what top parent comment was talking about.
If someone from ideological group A dislikes something from group B and calls that out, then it's "discrimination against private views", and wrong and evil and "an ideological thing".
But if someone from group B calls out group A, then it's "documented actions" which are the cause and suddenly it's absolutely okay to lock group A out of polite society on those grounds.
Lucky for group B they have this absolutely objective, unquestionable standard for discrimination and intolerance, be it "documented actions", or whatever else is convenient at the moment. Groups A' and B' over a different issue can disagree all they want, and both of those views are acceptable in polite society, but if you're in group A then, by god, that's just not okay; that's objectively wrong!
It starts simple. "Racism is objectively wrong, and holding racist views absolutely means you should be locked out of polite society." Ohkaaay.... I can't disagree with that per se (which just goes to show how deep this problem goes). Then "sexism is objectively wrong, and holding sexist views means no CEO position for you!" Well.... I suppose that's a good thing, right? "Believing in God is objectively unacceptable." Uh, guys? "Voting Republican just shouldn't be allowed." And there you go.
I'm not saying it's a slippery slope we should never step on, because I've been brainwashed by society to absolutely agree with the first step—I've been raised to think racism is objectively wrong. Society is wearing away at my views on the second position; eventually I'll have to agree with that or go the way of the dinosaurs, and I know I will go with society, because that's what people do, whether we want it or not. But this is exactly how things like "Jews just aren't human" get started. Sure, it doesn't look like that now; surely discrimination against LGBT is something we should get rid of any way we can, right?
No. Intolerance will never achieve tolerance; discrimination will never achieve non-discrimination; punishing thoughtcrime will never achieve freethinking. To think otherwise is just, well... objectively wrong.
During the Eich and Mozilla debacle, one comment that made sense to me was along the lines of "Eich may enjoy his free speech and donate his personal resource to whomever he likes. I dislike his speech and am free to immediately stop using Firefox, Thunderbird, etc."
In this case, I'm saying that "Rice may enjoy expressing her professional opinions to newspapers, etc. as part of her job function. I dislike her professional opinions and fear that she may actually believe them, thus degrading the privacy that I enjoy as provided by Dropbox. For that reason, I will stop using Dropbox, Mailbox, etc."
The only additional piece that I was trying to get across was that, with Eich, we had little insight into this thought process, motivations, etc. The only bit of information we had was the knowledge that he had donated the money and the amount (as far as I know). With Rice, on the other hand, we're talking about a position she publicly held as part of her job function; we have interviews, press releases, etc. To me, it seems a bit more reasonable to think that she may bring some of these opinions to bear in her role as a Dropbox board member.
The world as a general whole, and the United States in particular, has been moving in a more open, more inclusive direction both socially and legally for quite some time. First blacks, then women, now LGB's (and hopefully soon T's).
There is not only no evidence to suggest that ludicrous extremes like the one you posed are anywhere near happening, the evidence (at least if we're analyzing the existing pattern) points in the complete opposite direction.
But this is exactly how things like "Jews just aren't human" get started.
Stop it. This is not only unhelpful, it's pandering to a completely absurd fear.
The pattern is a bright, unmistakable line, and the massive majority of people I see complaining about it are attempting to make an excuse for bad behavior in one way or another - thinking that certain actions shouldn't have any consequences because of this irrational (or is it?) fear that they'll be next.
Sorry, we left that world behind the moment we entered the information age, and trying to haul it back is ludditism at its finest.
Actions have consequences whether or not anyone likes it.
The moment a movement to deny rights from Jews or whatever starts up with any seriousness and with any level of mainstream acceptance, I'll be right there with you asking "WTF?!" - but in the meantime, let's stop trying to compare intolerance of harmful actions to intolerance of someone based on what they are. Tolerating evil makes you at least a little complicit in it.
Not only are they not the same thing, but the motivations in play are lightyears apart.
I don't disagree with anything you said here; the only problem is it completely misses the point of my comment.
> let's stop trying to compare intolerance of harmful actions to intolerance of someone based on what they are
Again, this just subscribes to the view that when group A is intolerant, that's "intolerance of someone based on what they are", or whatever the big evil thing is now; but when group B is intolerant, that's okay, because they had a rational/moral/[other brand of objective correctness] basis for that intolerance. All this amounts to is "yeah, intolerance is evil, but when I do it then it's okay". That's just ignorant. The motivations are exactly the same: you believe B so strongly that anyone who believes/expresses/does A just shouldn't be allowed to exist.
Someone truly bigoted toward LGBT individuals could just as easily say, "it's their actions which are harmful" (and in fact that argument is used by various people and organizations); which just goes to show that your position is one of true bigotry, just one which happens to be supported by the outspoken minority at the moment.
See my last statement: intolerance will never lead to tolerance. It absolutely doesn't matter whether it's group A, B, C, or Z; whether they're claiming rational, moral, religious, or political justification; whether it's intolerance of actions or beliefs or existence; whether it's systematic or occasional; whatever. Repeat after me: intolerance will never achieve tolerance; discrimination will never achieve non-discrimination; punishing thoughtcrime will never achieve freethinking.
If you truly believe that the way to tolerance is through intolerance, feel free to explain to me how that works; but in the meantime, well, in the way that society has taught me so well, I demand that you take your objectively intolerable ideas elsewhere. (See how that works?)
[1 Up until "Tolerating evil makes you at least a little complicit in it" and what comes after; because at that point it just turned into incoherent drivel/propaganda.]
I don't particularly disagree with your moral relativism. But I will point out that there are obviously axioms we can base our beliefs on (be they "harming people is bad" or "gods are good so do what they say") and we build up from them to a point were the underlying reasoning is lost and actions can be viewed as both good or bad so obviously reasonable people can hold different views. However the issue with saying we shouldn't be intolerant of intolerance is that nearly everyone agrees that we don't have the perfect world. You're asking us to break the feedback loop when we know things aren't right. Perhaps you're just arguing caution before deciding to boycott and argue for a boycott, still I would argue the action is not unreasonable and it is derived from a basis on very sound axioms.
> I will point out that there are obviously axioms we can base our beliefs on
In fact I would strongly reject moral relativism as it relates to forming one's own views and beliefs and guiding one's own actions. However, the point is we cannot use those same axioms as ideological litmus tests. In order to achieve a free and tolerant society—and it's left to question whether this goal is laudable, but within this context we must act as if it is, since that's the framework we've decided to work within—we have to allow other members of our society to have different axioms, or indeed to be moral relativists or what-have-you.
>> Politics, religion, and social worldviews divide people and have no place as limiting tests in a business environment.
Of course they do.
Voting with our wallets is almost the only democratic right remaining to us lowly consumers these days. Choosing which companies to support directly impacts the sort of society we build.
>> Do we really want a counterpart agenda now setting rules for who can be a founder, who can be an investor, who can be a director, who can be a CEO, or who can otherwise take a prominent role in the startup world? The answer should be an emphatic no.
Who's setting rules? People are saying 'if you take on this person, whose views I disagree with so very fundamentally, I can no longer have any trust in your organisation meeting my needs'.
So you're invoking antisemitism and McCarthyism (but not quite getting to Nazism) in discussing people reacting badly to the appointment of someone widely considered a war criminal to a board position (type "condaleeza rice war" into Google and it will autocomplete for you -- handy).
"What matters is upholding the abiding principle (precious in a free society) that people can hold divergent views on such topics as politics, religion, and society without being punished for their views in a business context."
In a free society, is business the most important thing?
Ideological purity tests, references to communist witch hunts and a plea to unite? Interesting framing of this. Noticed another commenter mention you're mixing views & actions. It's like naming a fast food CEO to the Department of Health or someone who worked to undermine safety standards to OSHA. I really don't care whether it's a man or woman, black or white, republican or democrat, christian or atheist - it's about the product and the message this sends to users isn't good.
I find your line of reasoning very strange. It's also a red herring.
This is not about simply holding "different political views". In fact, the article doesn't mention political ideology (except to dismiss it as its rationale). This is about actual actions taken, some of which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, torture, and the destruction of fundamental American principles.
So, your comment, which frames it as some sort of thought-policing or ideological litmus-testing in the startup world, is entirely misleading. Instead, what you are effectively doing is taking exception to the idea that she should face any consequences for her actions.
In fact, there are many who feel that she is guilty of war crimes and should be tried as such. No matter where you come down on that issue, it is difficult to argue that it is completely unreasonable. So, as far as Ms. Rice is concerned, perhaps she should be grateful that the consequences of her actions are so thoroughly muted as to only potentially cost her a board seat.
At the end of the day, asking people to vote with their dollars as to whether they want to support a company that has a relationship with someone whose actions they find deplorable (and possibly illegal) seems completely reasonable.
Shunning is a healthy, grassroots, social expression of disapproval. It is right and fair that people should express their opinions via economic choices. It is not enough to vote only once every few years. You must tolerate grassroots action like this or you will help to entrench totalitarianism.
Nobody is saying there ought to be a law. They are exercising their freedom peacefully and lawfully. You should celebrate that even when you disagree.
Dropbox is free to hire Ms. Rice. Everyone else is free to shun them for it.
Dropbox news is HN fodder. The political nature of Ms. Rice's reputation does not make the topic any less relevant to HN.
The linked page talks nothing about Rice's views, it talks about the way that she has used her power in this world, and what the outcomes have been.
If you're advocating that the business context should be somehow special, a place where people should be free of the consequences of their actions in other realms, I'm going to have to disagree with you.
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has on numerous occasions gone on Sunday morning talk shows to assert that being a duck is the only way to preserve America's place as a leader in the free world...
Political connections create multiple conflict of interests in various domains, namely providing access to power and information as long as the person in question doesn't act against those connections. It is very improbable that Rice would be working against her past political allies for democracy ideals, taking into consideration her track record.
Do you really believe that that's what she'll do now that she works for Dropbox?
Let's try a similar but different example to see how this works in practice. The SEC enforces laws on Wall St. There's a revolving door between Wall St firms and the SEC. Do you believe this leads to better enforcement?
I think the most salient point in this comment is whether the story belongs on HN (or, that its presence says something about HN readers/mods).
As to the rest, people can, should, and do judge leaders in business and politics by their worldviews. That is how democracy and free speech operate. If your customers want to express their opinion about a CEO's views and the potential insecurity of their product or the immorality of things going on behind the scenes, they have every right to boycott and publicly protest. This is especially considering that HN users are a good representative sample of Dropbox users and the technically literate, while the "rest" of America are unlikely to be affected either way. In fact, protest and boycott are the ONLY powers Dropbox customers have to address the problems they see, so denying them this power by shame or nostalgia for an American Flavor is decidedly unAmerican.
To give a less politically-charged example: I refuse to eat at Jimmy-John's Sandwiches because the owner/creator is a known poacher of endangered animals. You're telling me that I should ignore that because his political view is that preserving endangered animals is less important than hunting sport, and that's irrelevant to the business. Well to me a sandwich is less important than making a statement.
On the other hand, no company should be legally prevented from willfully hiring or appointing whomever they can get. But to say that everyone should avert their eyes as long as the decisions appear ethical from the outside is ludicrous.
Corporations wield far more power today than they ever had in history. Where you spend your money likely influences the world (for better or worse) far more than who you vote for.
Some corporations care only for profit, others are concerned about the responsibilities implied by their success and influence. I want to support the later and not the former. I don't see anything unreasonable about that.
Who a company hires in a leadership role is inevitably a reflection of their values. It hints at what they will prioritize and how they will use the money I am paying them. Putting Rice on the board strongly suggests that they don't care what she believes, they only care about profit. Or, worse still, that they agree with her.
I don't want to support a corporation that is for profit alone, nor one whose values are at odds with basic human rights.
Companies are not benevolent or useful for society per se. The positive or negative externalities of their actions are defined by their business models, business strategies, top management and board of directors.
If Dropbox board of directors is fine to sit in the same room with the person who was connected with patriot act, iraq war, massive surveillance and torture, I, personally, don't want to have anything in common with such board and such top management and the products they make.
One might say "This is different" because trust in US products and services and tens to hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake.
As for the "politics" of it, "Are you, or have you ever been part of the surveillance state?" is not a question about one's political views. It is more like the question in Germany "Were you a Stasi officer or informant?"
IMHO actively helping launch an unnecessary war that killed tens of thousands (a very conservative estimate) of civilians while costing hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been spent in ways that benefit the American taxpayer is much worse than supporting PRISM or working for the NSA.
I'm kind of floored that anyone in our industry would appoint a former Bushevik at all.
To be fair, the Mozilla thing was much more the "Are you now, or have you ever supported a political issue we don't agree with?" in nature. I'm not saying I agree with it, but that's the same type of question...
Eich was in a much wobblier position from the beginning, with board members resigning over his appointment, public denials about that, and eventual confirmation. That alone might have doomed him and the rest is noise.
John Lilly publicly confirmed he resigned rather than appoint Eich, without elaboration. I did not say the board resignations had to do with Eich's material support for Prop 8. WSJ stated all three resigned because of Eich's appointment, and none contradicted that report.
so basically this move, in my opinion, just means that dropbox has been added to that very list and there is no point in using other providers shown as an alternative (e.g. google) or even just hope that dropbox will care more about privacy after she steps down eventually.
That's kind of my point. Rice is not getting a pushback from HN because she's Republican, or because she worked in the government under Bush or anything else. It's not about a single group.
It's what the move symbolizes. If there is someone on board who pushed for warrantless searches/taps/etc and someone who probably would be in favor of PRISM and was in favor of past other programs, then I don't want to be affiliated with that company. And Rice was a public figure who spoke about the Patriot Act, searches, doing things in the name of "national security", wars, blacklisting etc.
That makes me question the person's morals, and shakes my belief in how the company will be run if someone on the board has these kinds of morals and will be making decisions that may affect my data and my person.
Her track record is detestable, but there is a very salient issue that is relevant to her being a director of a data holding company: her previous authorisation of data invasion.
Whether or not you are for or against her other activities, they are irrelevant to her position as director. But taking data without warrants? That is something that is directly relevant to Dropbox's core product.
That's not a matter of 'free opinion', it's a serious warning for clients of the company, that there is a new director that is personally responsible for expanding surveillance and authorising the taking of private data without due process.
".. people can hold divergent views on such topics as politics, religion, and society without being punished for their views in a business context."
I think the problem here is that it is more than just holding divergent views. Rice was a major contributor in planning/executing the Iraq War which majority of Americans have opposed in the long run. Not to mention the number of civilian casualty just because we thought they had weapons of mass destruction.
Anyone is free to hold any views they want. But their actions based on those views have consequences.
This isn't the same issue as Mozilla's Brendan Eich stepping down because he held views against gay marriage. That is a free speech issue that has 0 consequence to his capacity to contribute to a better free and open web.
Your last paragraph rings true. But this is so far removed from simply allowing a business person to contribute to businesses, in spite of their political, religious, and societal beliefs. This is a person who was instrumental to the patriot act. More than that, Dropbox, which at its core, is a decentralized store of information, now has a member of the board who was instrumental in implementing the capacity for governments to peep into information without warrant.
This goes much further than simply allowing a person to hold different beliefs than ours. This is about a person, who has implemented legislation that has taken away fundamental rights of individuals, and who is now a member of the board of a go-to app for plenty of individuals and businesses.
If we allow people who we consider morally reprehensible to practice their business without question and profit off of us, perhaps there is something flawed with the business-as-usual approach.* It is only when you take a stand against these business-as-usual mindsets that pervade our culture do things change. We can't always expect perfection by people speaking out, but if we yell and scream at people who are angry and browbeat them into complacence, the problems (Rice's awful track record) are deemed acceptable by society and are likely to repeat themselves.
*By business-as-usual, I'm referring to your statement -- that someone can freely practice business no matter what acts they've committed, or wrongs they've perpetrated on humanity.
It's not about an opinion or belonging to a certain group such as Jews, Christians or communists here.
It's about preventing people to rise to power who are in favour of crimes against humanity such as hate and suppression against certain demographics (gays) or killings of hundreds of thousands thousands of people, just as if they were in favour of other crimes against humanity such as racism, slavery or freedom of speech.
Debates on Brendan Eich and Condoleezza Rice seem to boil down three separate questions:
1) Is there any belief or action not directly related to someone's job that should disqualify them from their position?
2) If the answer to #1 is yes, does this specific issue cross that threshold?
3) Does the answer to #1 change based on their position within a company, e.g. a regular employee vs a CEO?
I've seen well-reasoned arguments for many different combinations of those opinions, and I have a lot of respect for most of the combinations I've seen, e.g.
- Even if a white separatist contributed money to a campaign to revive "separate but equal" Jim Crow legislation, we shouldn't oppose their employment if they have a history of working well with all co-workers/employees in a diverse company.
- Some political beliefs/actions would disqualify someone, but gay marriage equality is not (yet) beyond the pale, especially given the high percentage of Americans who hold the same beliefs.
- Gay marriage is indeed an issue that should reasonably factor into employment positions, but only for a select few leadership positions such as CEO due to the disproportionate power within a company held by people in those few positions.
What makes these debates problematic is people talking past each other without realizing they're debating different questions. This gets worse because each of the 3 questions I listed have many sub-categories.
Since grellas' posted about question #1, I hope people recognize that and tailor their responses to the argument he is actually making, in the spirit of "colleagues trying to reason out the truth together". Because he argued for employment to be belief-neutral, I'll summarize the three arguments I'm seeing on these threads which are relevant to that specific question:
1) Past behavior is a signal for future action, and Rice's position on the Board of Directors sends an unacceptable signal about how seriously Dropbox takes privacy. Even a person against boycotts based on political or religious beliefs has strong reason to oppose Rice's appointment to the Board.
2) Rice is a war criminal who happens to have not been prosecuted. Refusing to do business with a company who appointed a criminal who'd committed equivalently-serious-but-non-political crimes and escaped prosecution wouldn't raise any eyebrows, so why should this?
3) All people have a responsibility to discourage behaviors which are provably detrimental to the functioning of a well-ordered society. General litmus-testing of beliefs (or even actions) causes more problems than it solves, but Rice's behavior was so far over the line that we are morally obligated to marginalize her and all of her colleagues who behaved similarly during the Bush administration.
I'm not sure whether I agree with any of the above arguments, but I respect each of them, and I hope that either Hacker News figures out how to debate them civilly or that the moderators pull all stories like this off the frontpage.
> Since grellas' post was an argument about question #1, I hope people are able to recognize that and tailor their responses to the argument he is actually making, in the spirit of "colleagues trying to reason out the truth together".
I think grellas comment was tactless. He used his karma to publish a largely meta argument, ignoring the debate as well as the link and not responding to anyone else afterwards. This isn't "colleagues trying to reason out the truth together" to me. It's also indistinguishable from the type of comment you would post if you wanted to derail the more specific discussion. Often because your viewpoint lacks good arguments.
It might sound tactless because it breaks down the illusion of moral superiority that most sides in a political battle believe they have. In general, people don't like being told they may in fact be wrong, they want to believe their side is unique, superior, and the other side is committing crimes against humanity/unborn children/whatever it may be. When a huge proportion of the broader population (not necessarily HN) disagrees, in order to function as a society we need to remove these litmus tests. (The most compelling Rice-specific argument is about internet privacy vs. government surveillance, which goes beyond this - he's speaking of the "personal becoming political" in general)
It's completely relevant to the debate though and not de-railing, when it directly addresses the point of boycotting Dropbox for something political. Our society is becoming more polarized on these issues and (internet) forums of self-selecting ideologies and subgroups contribute to this. Going boycott is one weapon in an arsenal of political expression - now how often should people use it? (The next level of course is street protest, institutionalized ideology, and the extreme is fighting a war over it).
If we used a boycott at every opportunity, at every disagreement, where would we be? Would Christians, Muslims, and atheists ever do business with each other? Would pro-lifers and pro-choicers be able to open their mouths without calling each other baby murderers/misogynists? He's basically saying, draw the line closer to where the overall population is, so society can function without imploding. And we generally go about this on an everyday basis. Geographical self-segregation also tends to help. It's a moral cognitive dissonance, but one that people draw various lines for. My theory is those who have a more logical/black and white and less socially influenced conception (which may be more common in geeks) have a harder time squaring with this cognitive dissonance.
> If we used a boycott at every opportunity, at every disagreement, where would we be?
If we used a slippery slope argument at every opportunity, at every disagreement, where would we be? Would we be able to buy milk for fear of the veritable avalanche of milk we may end up buying in the future? Could we stand the idea of going to work one day under the contemplation of spending the next thousand years, every day, going to work?
Boycotts are not new. They are not novel to Eich's situation and it working is not a sign of a Brave New World in which every person boycotts every other person.
If I'm wrong, and in ten years I can't talk to you because I have a beard and you don't, please feel free to say "I told you so," but in the meantime this kind of argument is just ridiculous.
The point is not the slippery slope of "all boycotts are bad" or "boycott everything!" but rather that we've become too trigger-happy and insular in boycotting non-tech political opinions that while mainstream outside of Silicon Valley, are not inside.
The entire debate is on when a boycott is appropriate and grellas is arguing to draw the line farther than the current one that's solidifying in tech. Cynically, it just has to do with fitting in with your group politically, be it SF tech or Southern Baptist (no Planned Parenthood donations there) and the point is - what happens when you're in the moral minority? Because Rice chose to enter an SF tech company rather than a random American one, there is way more backlash.
Ultimately, the Rice situation/backlash has a far stronger business case rather than a pure political boycott, due to objections of surveillance/digital security for cloud providers (hence the entire host outside of America movement). Here I mainly focused on the meta-debate about boycotts, and I suppose grellas decided to comment on the broad pattern given the original article's major headlines about the Iraq War.
Just like war is not universally wrong, neither are boycotts - it's just the degree to which we ask whether they are justified. Vietnam, Iraq, Gulf War, Korea, they were all controversial - and not in a "0.1% of the crazy population controversial", but rather "front page of TIME, Economist, BCC" controversial
I agree with you. I think grellas argument is so flawed that the only reason to make it and upvote is as distraction and current best defense while the dropbox team works on something more believable. The backlash against Rice is over her actions, not her beliefs, and has a tangible connection to matter of great concern with cloud hosting - which is government sanctioned data collection.
Having regularly read and appreciated grellas' comments here, I think he is responsible for some of the best and most interesting comments on this site. I have no reason to believe his reasoning is not sincere.
grellas' argument doesn't sit right with me either, but I disagree that his argument was tactless or intended to derail anything. When grellas writes:
> Principle is more important here than a particular outcome. What happens with Ms. Rice is not the issue here.
I get why you'd see that as trying to derail more specific discussion, and why you'd disagree with that statement in general. However, I see it as part of a good-faith argument that blocking employment based on political beliefs (or even actions) is generally harmful to society, even if we feel we have valid reasons in a specific case.
grellas makes two basic arguments in the post I replied to, which I will attempt to summarize:
1) Refusing employment based on beliefs has been historically bad, e.g. Christians refusing to hire or do business with Jews, and blacklists for suspected Communists. Such things are in fact SO bad that they outweigh any/all good that might be done by applying such filters in cases where we feel they're justified.
2) Startup culture specifically is about joining together diverse people to build great things. Even if we stipulate that filtering out business leaders with "bad" political beliefs had some benefit, there's disproportionate harm done by the startups that will not succeed because they handicapped themselves in this way.
I'm not sold on either of those arguments, though I think they both have merit.
Your first point is why I find grellas comment misleading and detracting from the real issues. Those two examples you name, as well as the examples grellas names, are not actually based on beliefs but are based on group membership (or suspected group membership). That would be wrong and I'd agree.
However, this argument is misleading because the featured article is very particular about specific actions by this person and dismissing them based on those grounds, not because Rice belongs to any particular group and attributing all properties and beliefs of that group to her. For instance, while she is responsible for war crimes and torture, we're not automatically assuming she holds the same beliefs as, say, Pol Pot.
Same goes for Brendan Eich, though donating $1k to anti-gay legislation is arguably somewhat less evil than actively supporting and authorizing the torture regime of the world's biggest military power. There's really not a lot of wiggle room there.
Rice did more than just have an opinion and participated in candid discussions. She acted on her opinion.
I can have a candid discussion with people who think that any immigrant should be shot at the border. I will disagree with the person, but everyone is allowed to have what ever political belief they want. However, once they start shooting people, a line is crossed and candid discussions is no longer an option. Those action would also cause repercussions, which has nothing to do with political, religious or other form of believes.
What about people that can separate their personal from their business? Eich never did anything at all at Mozilla to push his point of view on gay marriage. If #1 is true, then that plays to him not doing so as well as CEO.
Rice is a different story I guess. You have to decide if you think #2 is right or not. I don't happen to think she is but I can see why people are hesitant for her to be on the board.
> What about people that can separate their personal from their business? Eich never did anything at all at Mozilla to push his point of view on gay marriage. If #1 is true, then that plays to him not doing so as well as CEO.
Right, we definitely had (at least) two different signals about how Eich would behave as CEO with respect to LGBT employees. And how he behaved in practice is arguably a much stronger signal than his political donations, especially when coupled with his statements of support for Mozilla's inclusive culture and promise to maintain it.
The strongest counterarguments I've seen go something like this:
- Eich was never previously in an executive leadership role; being CTO is important but not in the same way as CEO. So his past behavior is less of a signal than his supporters would have us believe, especially since we don't know about every interaction he's ever had with his LGBT colleagues.
- It's easy to accept that Eich had no plans to e.g. try to roll back domestic partner benefits for LGBT couples; with Mozilla's current culture, that would have zero chance of happening anyway. But given his political donations, are we 100% sure that he wouldn't be in favor of it if the culture shifted? If not, then it's reasonable to oppose him as CEO.
- Even if we expect zero policy changes driven by Eich's beliefs, as CEO he would be making decisions about people's roles within the company. It's reasonable to be concerned about how fair-minded he would be, particularly if someone felt they were being marginalized.
I'm not sold on these arguments, but I think they're sincere and I cringe every time someone categorizes them as a "witch hunt".
I think there are three very different questions to consider here:
1) Should an employee be held accountable for his/her political beliefs. (Heck no.)
2) If someone with different political beliefs than I runs a company, will I boycott it? Ex - Owner of Whole Foods is against Universal Healthcare, so I'm boycotting, though I approve of him running the company. In such a case we support our ideologies through capitalism.
3) Should someone who runs a technology company - a multi-billion, multi-national that shapes our future and impacts our daily work lives & culture - should someone who actively holds and acts upon prejudice be allowed to run such a powerful company? No.
That third one is important - and somewhat scary - to consider. We've crossed a threshold. Large technology companies - and many startups - are literally creating the future. We are shaping the world in a way that goes way beyond the capacity of companies in decades past. There is a far greater responsibility to consider.
Don't agree. I like to see tech companies trying to become more than the old-fashion 9-to-5 grind without morals/ethic and only interested in the money. We have enough of those ruining the world already.
I'm happy to see mozilla rise above bigotry and get Eich out and I hope similar happens to Rice.
It's one thing to have your private opinion, I'm not calling for stormfront.org to be shut down(as extrememly disgusting as it is). It's another thing to put action to your opinions in the form of taking others' rights away(prop8) or wiretapping/murder/torturing people. It's time those of us in tech stop pretending we live in a vacuum without politics and make sure we send a clear message that we are(should be) very much against discrimination based on race/gender/orientation or gross human rights violations.
They didn't rise above it. Eich stepped down. He should not have had to do that. He was CTO for many years. He was at Mozilla for many years. During that time he never tried to codify his beliefs into Mozilla corporate policy and I have zero reason to believe that he would have done so as CEO.
Sure. Mozilla also needs revenue of some kind to stay afloat. But unless you are making the argument that only bigots are capable of running a successful business, I'm not really sure what your point is.
Are you unable to follow a simple discussion thread?
nerfhammer wrote "Mozilla wouldn't exist without a search bar that defaults to a search engines that pay them back a share of resulting ad revenue", responding to you in order to support what burntroots said (that Mozilla is also a corporation, a money making entity, etc).
So that was "his point" as well -- in support of burntroots' argument.
What's difficult to understand? And where did anybody said that "only bigots are capable of running a successful business"?
Rice is a war criminal who happens to have not been prosecuted.
That's a pretty serious claim, and more a matter of opinion. Depending on the situation, one could point such a charge at any person who was in a position of authority in a government of a nation that was fighting a war, if one were so inclined.
Shouldn't a person's status as a war criminal depend on whether they've actually been charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced?
Anyone with a shred of conscience would have resigned from the Bush administration sooner than later. The war against Iraq was against international law, since it was not sanctioned by an UN resolution, regardless of the war crimes commited. Unfortunately US officials are above international law, because the US has not ratified the ICC (international criminal court) treaty.
While some of the vitriolic response to Ms. Rice's appointment to the Dropbox board stems from her political affiliations, we should take a step back to explore her resource-management and business decisions.
Personally, I know I have a lot of political mis-givings about appointing Ms. Rice, but that's not the main reason I would feel uncomfortable working under her direction in a technology company. I would probably be more concerned about her lack of fore-thought and poor decision-making. I would be concerned about my ability to trust her.
I know that I, and quite a few others in the tech community have a political bias, but even looking past that, there are many business-related reasons to feel that this is a wrong choice.
You're making a deeply political claim here that individual morality should be secondary to business interests. Which unsurprisingly is a claim that will divide people. This attitude is a shining example of the consequences of the kind of liberalism that lets capitalism run amok, i.e. valuing individualism over any individual's actual values.
You seek to unite people, but for what purpose? I have yet to see business interests or _especially_ 'startup culture' tackle the real inequities and tragedies of our time. Startup culture is good at addressing the lifestyle issues of well off technophiles, not at preventing war, or justly distributing food or housing. (I am interested to see if Watsi can do anything better than Doctors Without Borders, or if it is just more focus on individuals rather than statistically significant outcomes). We ought to be looking for ways to transcend the limitations of business practices and reassert moral claims.
Note that people asking for Eich and Rice to get out of their lives aren't asking for government intervention or any formal rules set in place. If dropbox or mozilla want to lose their massive user base and keep profitable amoral corporate clients, that's fine, we'll leave them alone. If the economy eventually bifurcates and passionate progressive people replace large swaths of infrastructure with open, democratic organizations that seek to distance themselves from the corporate tradition I think it would be an enormous boon to the species.
Are we so adrift that we can't create a strong distinction between McCarthyism/Jewish persecution and asking our leaders to be cautious to war/pro-marriage? You actually see these positions as interchangeable and arbitrary? Should we simply abandon any moral or aesthetic position and let capitalism run its course?
> ideological purity is now a litmus test for who can serve on a board of directors in the startup world.
Most of the negative comments on this thread are about her actions, not her ideological purity. The criticisms focus on her role in the Iraq War, 9/11, Katrina, not her political affiliation. Critics are outraged that the candidate hired for her decision making ability has a record of making very poor decisions that had severe deleterious effects.
>It is easy enough to whip oneself up into a lather over Ms. Rice’s policies if one disagrees with them but what about the half of America (or whatever significant percentage) that does not. And why should this be relevant to board service?
Ms. Rice has expressed support for warrantless wiretapping and mass surveillance. Many users are concerned that these views are inappropriate for someone working at a company that hosts our data.
>Politics, religion, and social worldviews divide people and have no place as limiting tests in a business environment. Scolding and finger-wagging...
Her support for mass surveillance is very relevant to Dropbox's business.
I disagree strongly with your supercilious characterization of the outrage as an example of close mindedness and bigotry. I believe that you made your post in earnest but it is hard not to see it as malicious. Your fatuous attempts to classify the outrage about the hiring of a supporter of mass surveillance, torture, and the Iraq War as similar to the oppression of minorities and the blacklisting of suspected Communists in the 1950s is so outrageous that it is offensive.
Ms. Rice is not a founder, and she is not being persecuted for her political views. She is disliked because of her actions, not her views, and your failure to distinguish between the two is troubling.
We can disagree. But she was a participant in something that I find horrible. I was one of the people she and her group fooled at the time.
Yes, indeed, I will hold it against her. Her morality is abhorrent, and it, frankly, is wrong to think that it should not have broader consequences for her living in society.
I think that if we got rid of this idea that "it's only business" or "she did what she had to do" or any of these other little slogans that allow us to dismiss antisocial behavior outside of the context in which it occurred, then we would be revoking some sort of implicit permission that so many seem to be willing to grant to people who wish to do bad things.
You have to draw the line somewhere. Instructing your minions to torture a prisoner is way, way over the line for a lot of people, myself included.
Sure, the Iraq war was a trillion dollar mistake, but that's just money. Live by the sword die by the sword and all that. A lot of Americans have a Christian upbringing, whether or not they ultimately believe in God. Torture is what Satan does -- that's the Satan, the personification of evil. This is the rock bottom of the moral scale.
You state that the actions taken by Condoleeza Rice in the political sphere are not sufficient cause to blackball her. If contributing to launching a war of aggression and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians is not sufficient cause, what is?
Surely you don't believe Eichmann should have been judged solely on his organizational skills? My 'violation' of Godwin's here is entirely intentional. This woman commited crimes against humanity different in no way other than scale from those that were prosecuted at Nuremberg.
The economy is increasingly moving away from a market model and into a social model. This requires conformity and homogeneity since the economy is driven by morals and ethics instead of voluntary mutual benefit. This means that every world view you possess will be as important as the skills you offer.
Can you elaborate on this statement, "This means that every world view you possess will be as important as the skills you offer" Is this a trend you are citing from anecdotal information? Or is there data to show this as a trend in the macro-economy?
None of what you addresses what's really going on. This is not about politics; especially for us non-Americans. Rice is integral to warrant-less wiretapping. As such she should be kept as far away from my data as possible as she has proven she simply can't be trusted with it. This is an issue of trust, don't try to make it into a political issue.
I'm giving my data to a company to hold. They appoint someone who has no problem spying on my personal data and using it for their own _political_ ends, who has no strong concept of privacy? I dislike their ethical conduct. I'll be taking my data else where, thanks.
I don't inherently disagree with her politics, I disagree with the ethical clash. It's a social contract: I'll give Dropbox my data if you promise to be kind with it, and then they appoint someone who doesn't give a fuck about that concept.
I could see how you'd think this is purely political, but it isn't necessarily. Everything the post brought up is pretty antithetical to the ethics of most of Silicon Valley and startup culture in general. Sure, many Republicans might agree with her but many Republicans also think that gay people should be put to death.
Bad ethics should be called out as so, in this case I think hiding behind "politics" is a bit of a cop-out. It's not inherently liberal at all to make a case against Rice, in fact many conservatives would do the same.
The fact that the NSA simply ignored everybody finally triggered this. We now live in a different tech world.
Techies are trying to figure out how to have an actual impact that affects the people and institutions in power. And are discovering that with a bit of creativity they can upend some of this.
I, personally, think these boycotts are good things. People are voting with their money and that actually gets attention. And, it is also subject to vote; those who disagree can spend their money there and oppose the boycott.
> "... Politics, religion, and social worldviews divide people and have no place as limiting tests in a business environment."
Technology is not just "business". We are building the very fabric of future civil societies. There is, in my opinion, no other area of human endeavor today that requires greater care and reflection than "technology".
The 'HN party line' that this is just "business" is socially irresponsible.
Does this line of reasoning always work though? Would you mind using Dropbox if they hired a convicted child rapist, or a white supremacist, as a member of the board and a likely spokesperson for the company?
Or is it just that you personally consider that the past actions of Ms Rice weren't a big deal, and that you don't understand why anyone would feel differently?
But holding people responsible for their questionable political views happens all the time; in 2010 Rick Sánchez was fired for calling Jon Stewart "a bigot". Once. Outside of his regular show. Were you upset then? (Maybe you were, I don't know; but it seems you should have been.)
Your language is calculated to make it sound as if it's just a difference of views. She was directly involved in mass murder, the destruction of a society and the crime of international aggression. If the Nuremberg laws were applied she'd be hanged. If it's OK to refuse felons board seats then it's certainly just to refuse war criminals.
Deceit, torture, violation of civil rights, homophobia.
These things are not about politics or religion. This is about willfully and intentionally hurting others.
Please stop representing this as being merely about the personal political or religious views of the people involved. This is about people who either have, or had the intention of inflicting very real pain on others.
Others that include our friends, our families, our neighbors. People have every right and reason to protest putting these people in these position, and it has nothing to do with political intolerance.
This has everything to do with political (in)tolerance.
There is nothing to be gained from asking a person to step down over their past political beliefs and actions, other than engendering fear and heightening mistrust among people with different points of view. It also happens to be illegal to fire employees over their beliefs in many states.
Tolerating difference and changing minds can enact positive social change, destroying the heathens does little.
This isn't about a vague ideology (re: Eich). It's about ACTIONS that Condoleezza Rice, personally, has taken in the past, and using those actions to predict what she will probably do in the future. She has shown us, with her actions, that she cannot be trusted with sensitive data.
>Think about what it means to the HN culture to have a subject that normally would have been flagged out of existence as overtly political suddenly be featured front and center
We've all been learning that large technology companies cannot escape politics -- whether it's Edward Snowden's revelations or Turkey's ban on Twitter. Seeing this conversation here may have less to do with a changing Hacker News culture and more to do with a realization that technology & politics are intertwined.
That's the issue though. Libertarians often say things like "If you don't like Walmart, don't shop there," which is fine, but puts the responsibility on the consumer to know the various ideologies of the businesses they choose to support. If we want to live in a society in which this responsibility lies with the consumer, then the people who make up a company's board of directors are an important part of this decision making process.
This is different, because a person who has been caught lying to push an agenda (or be perceived to do so) is not suitable for important positions in a business organization, regardless of their political, religious, or social believes.
If this was the past CEO of Enron, no one would care about his political, religious, or social believes. He would be unsuitable because what he has done (or said as in the role of Enron CEO).
What matters is upholding the abiding principle (precious in a free society) that people can hold divergent views on such topics as politics, religion, and society
There is a wide gap of difference between holding a specific political view, and being a part of an administration that pushed and enacted a specific political agenda that did actual harm to our country/world.
"What matters is upholding the abiding principle (precious in a free society) that people can hold divergent views on such topics as politics, religion, and society without being punished for their views in a business context."
Board Member 1: Do we really want to business with Bob? Isn't he pro-slavery?
Board Member 2: Of course we do! His cotton production is the cheapest in the country!
People are increasingly incapable of living and working with people with whom they deeply disagree. Quite frankly I consider that behavior childish and immature. Unfortunately it appears that we are living in a world full of children.
I am not looking forward to the future where no one shares any opinion they may or may not have due to this type of blacklisting.
While I agree with your general sentiment, the case of Ms Rice is more substantial. She has a track record of relevant actions (not views), such as legal support of warrantless wiretapping, that have a direct relation to DropBox's core business of storing users' information.
OTOH I wonder why people are so upset about perspectives of snooping on their data stored in DropBox and its likes. If the data can be snooped on, it will be, should the powers that be decide so.
I suppose that you consider any data you store in a public cloud also public, and not expect much privacy. The only way to store data in a private way on machines you don't control is to store it encrypted, and never trust the encryption key to anyone. This is how SpiderOak works, for instance: they are incapable of disclosing any clients' data even if they badly wanted to.
Indeed, I have a large problem with giving my money to somebody with whom I hold partly responsible for the deaths and misery of hundreds of thousands.
I have a large problem with giving all my data to somebody with a track record of illegal wiretapping.
And I have the possibility to change this with little to no impact for myself.
Could you please elaborate on how that makes me childish? - Maybe I misread your comment.
Also I found your last sentence somewhat ironic, because yes, we live in a world were lots of people actually die from wars originated by disagreements. I'd say that's worse than tragically childish.
What I'm seeing is minorities and people who care about human rights finally getting fed up with the status quo and at least trying to get people to talk about it. I'm sorry that makes people like you feel threatened.
Right, because nothing encourages open discussion more than blacklisting everyone you disagree with.
I don't think people's hearts are in the wrong place. I think most people try to do good. I also think that the behaviors in question are trading small short term good for catastrophicly massive long term harm.
Edit: Yes, also downvote people you disagree with. This will also encourage more open discussion.
In my experience, this is because people who agree with whatever the status-quo currently is erroneously believe their views to be "apolitical" while everything else is "political." Having views or opinions that are "political" is branded as bad by those in power since it threatens their control.
Judge ideas and actions based on their merit rather than whether they line up with current trends.
Your predicted dystopian future is laughable to anyone who is outside the sphere of "straight, white, affluent, and male." That "blacklisting" already occurs all around us... Bigots and warmongers aren't the first people to have these problems.
Grellas I think your point of view is very well. I got some conclusions from your comment and are that “this is business”, “we have to be open-minded to respect others opinions/ideas/decisions” and “we have to be empathic” even if DH wants to hire Ms Rice. I agree.
However, it has to be the other way around from DH. He is going to modify the image and the charisma of his company… and it may have negative consequences in his company (as we can see in the article and in these posts) and he will have to accept them like some people will stop using his service. If you hire someone who is going to make you lose some clients and stain your image… you better hire another one… there are plenty of people able to work in that position with a record as good as Ms Rice without all that suppose cr*p beneath them.
I think big companies shouldn’t mix with politicians with controversial records… even though they do...
This seems like an "avoid the appearance of impropriety" situation. The HN mods don't want it to devolve into a political board, but killing a controversial story about the model YC company would certainly generate accusations of favoritism.
Why is it ok discuss the legality of Uber or Airbnb? Aren't those political issues? We all claim that HN is not a political forum, but in the end we have a subjective standard. That standard is probably just the gut feeling of the moderators. So... if the thread is still here then it's appropriate by definition.
Regardless of driving factors (you state religion, politics) the end result is someone that advocated for warrantless taps, torture and war. It does not come down to anything other than "should a person like this have access or even advice bearing responsibilities on my data?". You're way off point here bud.
I don't think anyone should drop Drop box because they hired Ms. Rice. I do think people should drop drop box if they think that will increase the odds of their dropbix account being hoovered up by government affiliated agencies unknown.
I'm not American, so this is a little removed for me. In truth I don't really see big enough (non cosmetic) differences between the parties or administrations to justify the partisanship you guys seem to have.
What bother me here is not Condoleezza Rice specifically. Every ranking official of any country (or company) owns a big share of that country's sins and there are no "clean" administrations. Complicity is the price of admission and they all pay.
What does bother me is what this is a symptom of. Lets be honest about why board members are selected. Ex politicians wield political and corporate influence and a board seat is a way of renting that influence. At best its an elite club, at worst it's outright corruption but its always on that scale.
I guess that if pressed they would say that they bring experience and competence. That's as nonsensical as a large corporation justifying their political donations as an innocent, democratic expression of political preference. It's hard to say with a straight face.
Having ex politicians on a board is such a public display of stink. It's like when a politician who spends his entire life as a "civil servant" is obviously and publicly living a billionaire lifestyle with yhahts, mansions & private jets. They don't even bother to launder that dirty money. It's just displayed filth and all.
Agreed and this begs the question where does Dropbox sits with surveillance thing because US govt. makes it clear that non-americans are fair game.
So as a non-american I am asking - will Ms. Rice work to protect data that we trust Dropbox with or when Dropbox is asked to turn over our data (of non-americans) will she advise Dropbox board to play along and not give a damn about our data.
Knowingly I will not support a company that works with politician who are known to support and subvert privacy of individuals.
If people want open-access to technology around the world, do you really think a 28 year old founder is going to get a fair deal from Vladimir Putin or the Chinese Government/? The US Potus has a hard enough time (with all his staffers) dealing with the complexities of internatinal relations. The same goes elsewhere... So, one can show up un-prepared or not show up...again no easy answeers.
IMO, it's a fools game trying to figure out what exactly Rice & dropbox are getting from eachother. In the absence of knowledge, it's easy to just jump to a conclusion that it has something to do with one's pet issues. On HN that's probably NSA/privacy DMCA/copyright stuff, etc. In reality it could be to do with anything. Think of all the powerful people she has access to. It could be nonspecific.
I think we can be pretty sure that she's not on the board to give engineering advice though.
I'm also not trying to figure out why Rice is on the board. I'd like to think she's on the board because she has intimate knowledge of how Washington works, and how privacy van be invxed. I seriously doubt she's been hired to promote a serious agenda.
On a more practical note, I've stopped using Dropbox (and any other cloud service) for storing the few things that I really want to be kept private.
What he is saying that ANY high level ex-politician will have the same issues. You can probably dig up similar dirt on Al Gore and boycott his seat on the apple board for example. In my foggy childhood memory, I remember a few wars, PGP & Clipper chip fiascos and so on when he was VP in the 90s.
While there is often little difference in foreign policy, their approach to social issues is vastly different. You probably don't pay any attention to this though. It does however ultimately affect you, since such a powerful but broken country could wield incredible damage abroad.
However even in foreign policy matters, there would have been different results with respect to the Iraq war. The invasion was a quick and massive pivot away from the more justifiable war in Afghanistan. Given that Saddam Hussein tried to have Bush jr.'s father killed, that leaving Hussein in power was possibly some unfinished business of that same father, that Cheney's pet company Haliburton made ridiculous profits on government war contracts, and that it was a Republican sub-faction of neo-cons who were so desperate to invade, I think there's a good case for there being a big difference between the parties. Not to mention the key personal opinions among top Republican admin officials seemed to drive the use of "enhanced interrogation".
>While there is often little difference in foreign policy, their approach to social issues is vastly different.
I think that this is a fiction put forth by the parties to inspire their more extreme members, but is false when you consider where the two parties fall on a full political spectrum. Take for example a couple of the most divisive social issues today:
Same Sex Marriage: Clinton signed DOMA 15 years ago, Obama was against SSM 3 years ago, and I would be surprised if the 2024 (or even 2020) republican presidential candidate wasn't OK with SSM. I would guess those numbers to be similar in opinion polls, meaning that Republican voters' opinions on SSM probably lag those of Democrats by about 10 years or so. It's hard for me to get behind the idea that one party is evil and worthy of divestment when the 'preferred' party only came around in the last 5 years.
Health care: One party wants a huge single payer system for the old and the poor, employer provided coverage for most others, and a highly privatized and mandatory system for the rest. The other party wants a huge single payer system for the old and the poor, employer provided coverage for most others, and a highly privatized and optional system for the rest. Who wants single payer for all? Who wants to abolish medicare?
You are looking at the end results only, not the goals, the efforts taken by both sides before the result. With regards to health care, the Democrats have been expending huge amounts of political capital over decades trying to move the health care system towards single-payer, while the Republicans have been resisting such change. The Democrats finally succeeded with Obama's reforms, and Republicans have been desperately hoping it will crash and burn, and repeatedly trying to or threatening to repeal it given the first chance they can; they even tried to get the Supreme Court to declare Obamacare unconstitutional. Your claim that both sides want the same thing makes no sense.
The direction the parties are pushing policy towards are what makes the party. Remember when Bush tried to dismantle Social Security, to the cheers of practically no-one?
And the current, Democratic, administration hasn't exactly rolled back many of these changes, right? My point isn't to criticize the Obama administration, but rather ask: if Hillary Clinton was asked to serve on the board of $your_favorite_service, would you consider dropping that service?
Hasn't exactly rolled back? In some cases they were expanded, including to the point of shoot first and ask questions later. As for your hypothetical, since she's apparently going to run for President and would have a decent shot at winning, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Compared to the Obama administration's assertion that it can kill any American it wants without trial? Here's are reports on this policy from two traditionally liberal news organizations (the conservative ones are equally damning):
I didn't view it through a partisan lens. I don't give a damn what party Bush or Obama belong to -- they've both been horrible presidents from an international relations and domestic privacy/constitutional rights perspective, regardless of what letter comes after their name.
I agree this was bad. I disagree that it was uniquely bad. I strongly feel that it's a red herring.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but Americans seem have become easier to whip into a tribal-political rage recently. That in itself is dangerous. It makes the country more susceptible to populism.
To me, this immediately registers as a visible hint at problems in the system which are never eliminated but need to be constantly challenged to keep them to a tolerable level.
It's a sign that there is a market where political capital and influence is being acquired, traded and sold. It implies crony capitalism, corruption, class entrenchment. If your reaction is 'Look a Republican! Charge!' then you bury the other stuff. The real, genuine, scary problems with the system, not a party and not an old administration.
I know right? It's like you have to have your head in the sand to not see the differences between the Bush and Obama administrations. I made a list a while back to give people an idea of the real differences between them.
-Likes beer and sports: both Obama and Bush
-Spends money the US doesn't have: both
-Directs Taxpayers' Money to Special Interests: both
The US's monetary base is $3.8T. Total outstanding public debt is $17.5T.
If the US government were to print $17.5T in cash to cover their liability, it's not even a question that it would hurt every American with exposure to the value of the dollar. Debt is debt, and it has to be paid in the future. Every trillion borrowed today is not only a trillion we will not be able to borrow in the future, but also a trillion*exp(rt) that we will have to put towards paying debt back, rather than spending on our future needs. Printing money may sound like it's some meaningless and magical action, but it's not. Printing takes the money from people who have cash exposure. Taxing takes money from people more directly. Stealing from other countries via war takes the money from another source. But it has to be paid back in some way, Debt is debt, despite how much politicians make you want to believe otherwise so they can spend your future now.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I absolutely agree with most of the opposition to Condi Rice wrt the illegal war, warrantless wiretaps, torture, etc. On the other hand, I threw a hissy fit over the opposition to Eich based on his beliefs. I'm not sure how I can oppose Rice while standing up for Eich without inconsistency.
Anybody else feel conflicted and have some insight? I'm still probably going to cancel my Dropbox membership simply because I have free 100gigs google drive that I got when I bought my chromebook  and this gives me a great excuse to transfer over and save some money. But I don't know that I can go on the same kind of crusade for which I faulted the Eich lynch mob.
 Free 100 gigs google drive when you buy a chromebook, which if you install crouton makes for a cheap, decently powerful linux machine (great deal!). I recommend the hp chromebook 14 with 4 gigs ram since it comes with free 200mb 4G tmobile internet every month for life.
Unlike Eich, Rice went far beyond simply holding beliefs and making donations. She held real power and used it in unconscionable ways.
Given the current climate, I find it incredible that a cloud storage company would be involved with someone who actually wiretapped members of the UN Security Council. It's almost like they're saying "thanks for all the data, oh and f* you".
Dropbox provides a space to explain why you're leaving. I said Rice's actions resulted in the unnecessary death and injury of many thousands of innocent people, and I will not entrust my data or my money to a company with such a person on the board.
I'm sure my small action won't make any difference, but maybe by making this visible we achieve collectively what we can't achieve individually.
This is the key point. The things she is being called out on are things that actually relate to her trustworthiness in the position she has entered, and as a cloud service provider trust should be very important to Dropbox.
Although I agree Rice's actions were much more direct, extensive, and much worse than Eich's by any measure, I don't agree that equal rights are necessarily less relevant to the leadership of Mozilla than neocon government overreach shenanigans is relevant to data privacy at Dropbox.
If you don't believe every country in the world doesn't try to bug any country they have an investment in, rather it be ally or enemy, you're naive. I can't believe it even came as surprise that US bugged its allies, you don't believe our allies do the same thing, or at least try to, to us?
You realize that is part of the reason we have the NSA, right? Only in a fantasy world do the other members not attempt to spy on the US. The reason why the NSA spying issue is wrong is because they were violating the consitutional rights of US Citizens. The German Chancellor is not a US Citizen and we have every reason to spy on her, the same goes for every other country in the world.
It's only right if you believe there's no cost to your spying being uncovered.
If you don't think there's any cost to being caught spying, I welcome you to try spying on someone, anyone. Then you can answer the question of "Is it worth it?" which leads directly into "Is it a good idea?"
No, today you learned it's only illegal for the US gov't to spy on US citizens. Spying isn't rape or murder. It's a thing that gov't does to know what's going on behind their backs. Do we have a problem with spying on Russia or China? No. Just France and Germany. Why?
I feel similarly, I'm just not sure where I draw the line because it makes me feel like a hypocrite. I see a lot of people on HN criticizing the Obama administration for drones, NSA, Guantanamo, etc., but how many of them have stopped using tech companies whose leadership contributed large amounts of money to Obama's campaigns? I can't help but feel like there is a something deeper resonating with people when it comes to this Condi issue. I'm guessing if Hilary Clinton quit tomorrow and joined DigitalOcean,the people up in arms about this wouldn't be outraged.
This is an overt support of someone that is highly controversial. The aftermath of the Iraq war isn't going way because the US isn't involved as much anymore. There is already a sense that accountability hasn't really been high with the Iraq war. Oops, we made a mistake doesn't cut it too much. With this appointment, it further amplifies the sentiment that there is absolutely no real accountability. I would say this is why a lot of people would feel strongly about this.
Well, it's actually quite simple some people want to turn Silicon Valley into an arm of their preferred political party. Oh, they don't want that outright, certainly, but they certainly want it and everyone in it to be aligned with the party's principles, especially at the leadership level.
Believing in legal tolerance (most people who are described as "tolerant"/socially liberal) is not the same as believing you cannot say anything negative about someone or make judgments based on their actions and beliefs.
I find it difficult to explain how it is permissible to fire someone for campaigning against gay marriage, but not permissible to fire them for being gay and married, or being from an opposing political party, or any other personal reason. Could you please explain the principled distinction for this dichotomy?
I fail to see how it's a black-list if the means of ejection is extremely public and based on pure market motivation? Conservatives with awful views tend to get "freedom of speech" and "freedom from social and business consequences" mixed up a lot.
I would contend that the Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and 1950s is comparable with what is we see here; then as now, a group of people with certain political and social views are being excluded and ejected from jobs solely because of their activities outside of the job being denied to them. Those blacklisted in the 1940s and 1950s had "freedom of speech", but not "freedom from social and business consequences". It is difficult to make a principled distinction between what we see happening now, and the 'McCarthy-ist' wave of the 20th century, which is oft described as ideological intolerance.
A big difference is that Eich is a well-respected contributor to his organization who independently has an unpopular political viewpoint, and his actions only became notable in the context of Mozilla. Whereas Rice is known generally for her actions, has not been involved in creating Dropbox, and was most likely hired precisely for the skills that people despise.
But I also think this backlash comes from people being reminded about the fundamental reality of Dropbox. It's always been a centralized technology with a controller that's free to do whatever it pleases with your data, either for their own gain or simply out of expediency - any sane hacker should have been recommending avoiding Dropbox and its ilk this whole time. Appointing someone who's directly associated with facilitating and justifying hostile acts reminds everyone of this inconvenient truth, which makes those in denial uncomfortable.
> I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I absolutely agree with most of the opposition to Condi Rice wrt the illegal war, warrantless wiretaps, torture, etc. On the other hand, I threw a hissy fit over the opposition to Eich based on his beliefs. I'm not sure how I can oppose Rice while standing up for Eich without inconsistency.
The issue here isn't just about someone's personal beliefs. Eich and Rice both operate at very high levels within their organizations and that means they both have a leadership role and are representatives of those companies to the larger public. When people have a problem with those people's actions and point of view, they most certainly have a right to voice that disagreement.
It is important to note that a personal belief which is discriminatory (Eich) does not make that belief legitimate. Why exactly should Eich be defended at all? Support of legalized discrimination against groups of people is morally reprehensible, even if you think marriage isn't that big of an issue. In the case of Rice, a track record of getting people tortured and killed is horrifying and this person should not be supported.
When a business selects someone to join a C-level position or its board of directors, they are endorsing that person completely, including the unseemly things they do or endorse that do not directly relate to the company. You can't separate the two, a company is empowering a person to a degree when they get that position and that is a form of direct support of that person.
Gay marriage really isn't such an obvious case. Marriage means subventions by the government. So I suppose you could argue that the subventions are really for promoting families with the ultimate goal of having children. Even though gay families can adopt, you could argue that promoting gay marriage does not bring more children into the world.
Not saying that is my opinion, or that marriage is currently perfectly designed for that goal (after all, childless couples can marry too and get some benefits). But I can understand if people feel "if I am paying for other people's marriage, I want to pay for more children being brought into the world in my country" - or something like that. Then I think it would be acceptable to oppose (gay) marriage on that ground.
Just an example - I am not big on the theory of gay marriage, just saying that there can be reasons to oppose it.
It's not a question of denying people the right to be together, but a question of what the community should pay for.
From my European perspective it seems much less ethical to deny people health care (talk about basic human rights), yet I am sure many who support gay marriage are opposed to public health care for a variety of reasons (they don't want to live in a socialist country or whatever).
Marriage is not a subvention. You are not granted a cash bonus for being married. You access differences in tax consideration, yes, but that is not the same as getting direct payment. Moreover, there are a variety of legal rights that are available to married couples vs. non-married couple and non straight couples deserve access to those rights just the same as anyone else.
> So I suppose you could argue that the subventions are really for promoting families with the ultimate goal of having children. Even though gay families can adopt, you could argue that promoting gay marriage does not bring more children into the world.
> Not saying that is my opinion, or that marriage is currently perfectly designed for that goal (after all, childless couples can marry too and get some benefits). But I can understand if people feel "if I am paying for other people's marriage, I want to pay for more children being brought into the world in my country" - or something like that. Then I think it would be acceptable to oppose (gay) marriage on that ground.
Marriage isn't granted or denied to straight people based on their ability to have or not have children, this argument does not hold water. Also, marriage is not strictly about reproducing anyway. Biology-based arguments of this kind is highly discriminatory in general and shouldn't be allowed as the basis for law.
> It's not a question of denying people the right to be together, but a question of what the community should pay for.
This is not a question of what the community should pay for, the community would pay less if more overall couples and families were stable, this is a question of discrimination of the most basic kind.
> From my European perspective it seems much less ethical to deny people health care (talk about basic human rights), yet I am sure many who support gay marriage are opposed to public health care for a variety of reasons (they don't want to live in a socialist country or whatever).
That there is a bigger problem compared to gay marriage doesn't negate the fact that some people are still being denied the ability to marry and access the rights that come with that status.
"You access differences in tax consideration, yes, but that is not the same as getting direct payment."
Of course it is. The public pays money for it.
"Moreover, there are a variety of legal rights that are available to married couples vs. non-married couple and non straight couples deserve access to those rights just the same as anyone else."
As I said, I am not against it. I would argue that those rights are also a subvention.
"Marriage isn't granted or denied to straight people based on their ability to have or not have children, this argument does not hold water"
I'm aware of that - my point is that I can understand if people think about it that way. Also I think there have throughout history been special rules for marriage if a couple can't get children. For example it might have been legal to get another wife, things like that. I don't think you can argue that children have no bearing on marriage whatsoever.
Especially since presumably the "right to adopt" is the main issue people have with gay marriage. Don't know about the US, but where I live, the only other significant right married people get is bringing their spouses into the country (giving them citizenship). Things like "visit your spouse in hospital" or "split your income for tax reductions" can be arranged in other ways.
"this is a question of discrimination of the most basic kind."
That is just hate speech, not an argument.
"That there is a bigger problem compared to gay marriage doesn't negate the fact that some people are still being denied the ability to marry and access the rights that come with that status."
Of course not - my point is that many who now feel like "good people" because they support gay marriage at the same time fight for denying people health care. I just wanted to illustrate that things are not always as obvious as people think.
Let me say up front, my politics and Rice's are at odds.
But specifically to this issue, my views and Rice's views on privacy are diametrically opposed. When it comes down to it I simply do not trust her with my data. So it's not so much that I dislike her politics, it's that I think her decisions could have a direct impact on me as a customer.
I know dropbox has terms and conditions on what they will do with my data, but once again, my take is that Rice has a history of weaseling out of those kind of things.
So my first thought looking at this was, "Companies in modern times are forced to pay dues of this type as a cost of doing business and not having the government randomly shut them down." In other words, that Dropbox doesn't have much of a choice in the modern business environment.
Does anyone in a position to know, by which I mean that they've actually been in politics at the national level, care to tell me whether I'm right?
I'm not in a position to know anything, but your question reminds me of the situation when I worked at Lucent in Asia years ago. There were various middle-manager/jr. exec types one would meet occasionally who were obviously useless and non-contributing, in that they had no direct reports and hadn't ever been on a project or sales effort. I was young and stupid so I would ask other people what was up. One time, I got an honest reply, from someone who looked over his shoulder first: "That guy? His uncle is the chair of some Senate committee. AT&T had him on the payroll so now we do. If you know what's good for you, don't ask about him again."
It seems to me that there is a big difference between making a modest financial contribution to a bad cause, versus being a primary actor in furtherance of bad causes. At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, it's like comparing a high ranking party member to someone who voted for the dictator and went to some rallies. Both are bad, but only one results in war crime tribunals.
I suppose everybody has to draw their own line. I feel differently about Eich because I think he just participated in a democratic process and he has an unpopular opinion. I can understand reasons to be against gay marriage (even though I am personally in favor of it). But it seems to me he always was honest and upfront. There is no reason for me to believe he would not accept a democratic vote pro gay marriage. I would have felt differently if I had seen any evidence of him being an actual homophobe.
Rice seems to have gone far far wider than that (beyond democracy). But of course you could argue that she nevertheless remained true to her beliefs or whatever. So at the end of the day, it's a personal decision...
Clearly being an actual war criminal probably outweighs donating to prop 8, so there's that.
In any event, I think your problem is you took the wrong position on Eich -- first, there was no "lynch mob" -- being denied a high profile, well-paid job as head of a non-profit is not the same as being lynched. Second, no-one forced Eich to donate to prop 8, and the outcome was quite foreseeable. Isn't a bit of judgment an important job skill for the CEO of a non-profit?
I'm not sure It's the same thing. Eich was forced out on the grounds of his beliefs, yes, but people are condemning Dropbox because Rice is a filthy politician that was a part of a war mongering administration. Not the same.
I'm definitely switching over from Dropbox. I was planning to do it anyway. I know this sounds bad but - the fact that I can't store illegal files just bugs me to no end.
MaidSafe is launching it's token sale (Safecoins) effort in 10 days and I will switch my business over to them completely. I know it's not as slick or developed as Dropbox but it's private, decentralized, anonymous and free(I know it sound ridiculous but that's what you get when you combine the concepts of a distributed systems network and Bitcoin)
Not to mention that I have the chance of participating in something great as the possible birth of a decentralized and anonymous internet with a built in payment network.
Eich's stance was (and is) personal, and I'm pretty sure it would have stayed that way. I would have kept using Firefox because of the Mozilla position on privacy and openness, and despite its CEO position.
On the other hand, Dropbox is a private company. They don't stand for you, they stand for themselves. They are their own first priority. Having someone as important as Mrs Rice on board is certainly not something that will be beneficial to the public. If she's not there for the public but for Dropbox, then yes, we must fear the worst.
Eich's stance was (and is) personal, and I'm pretty sure it would have stayed that way
I think that political contributions are (and should be) fundamentally public acts. You can think all the reprehensible things you want, but once you start materially supporting reprehensible campaigns, it's a different thing altogether.
Totally agree with you, I must have made myself unclear: Eich is gay-unfriendly, Mozilla is not, and having Eich as a CEO wouldn't have changed Mozilla on this particular topic. Mozilla would have stayed open to everyone without any distinction. This is all I care about.
(I also disagree with Eich's view on gays, but that's outside of the scope of this conversation)
>Role in authorizing use of controversial interrogation techniques
>A Senate Intelligence Committee reported that on July 17, 2002, Rice met with CIA director George Tenet to personally convey the Bush administration's approval of the proposed waterboarding of alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah. "Days after Dr Rice gave Mr Tenet her approval, the Justice Department approved the use of waterboarding in a top secret August 1 memo."
>Waterboarding is considered to be torture by a wide range of authorities, including legal experts, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, human rights organizations, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and many senior politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama.
>In 2003 Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft met with the CIA again and were briefed on the use of waterboarding and other methods including week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of stress positions. The Senate report says that the Bush administration officials "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy".
>The Senate report also "suggests Miss Rice played a more significant role than she acknowledged in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted in the autumn." At that time, she had acknowledged attending meetings to discuss the CIA interrogations, but she claimed that she could not recall the details, and she "omitted her direct role in approving the programme in her written statement to the committee."
Seems like a stretch to put the Secretary of State who "gave verbal approval to CIA Director George Tenet to continue using harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding and stress positions" and, say, the Special Assistant of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in the same bag.
"But I don't know that I can go on the same kind of crusade for which I faulted the Eich lynch mob."
This is so insanely hyperbolic I don't even know where to begin. We're now using the term "lynch mob" for a situation where people a) boycotted the product and b) wrote a lot of things about how what Brandon did was wrong and how he is the wrong choice for CEO. So, lynch mob, which means, "a mob that kills a person for some presumed offense without legal authority" is used for a situation where there was zero violence, zero murder and everyone was perfectly within their legal rights. Want to reconsider?
Furthermore, your use of "crusade" makes no sense either. The thing you described was you deleting your dropbox account. How is this anything other than a normal rational thing. I'm really worried that people now seem to view "people opposing an idea in a nonviolent way" as a lynch mob and deleting your account for a web service is a crusade. Isn't this just you exercising the same freedom of expression that you believe Brandon deserves but his opponents don't?
That is a really serious grasp at straws. Its ironic to accuse someone using hyperbole of being hyperbolic while point out that a lynch mob is something completely, 100% different than what they said? Bizarre.
The literal meaning of 'lynch mob' is a group of people out to hang an individual. The colloquial meaning of 'lynch mob' is a group of people out to destroy an individual, either socially, professionally, financially; in some way causing a significant downfall.
The shrill mob attacking Eich could be characterised as a lynch mob - they were out for his downfall. It's abundantly clear, given that there has been very little in the way of pro-Mozilla followup to counter the extremely negative points made against them before Eich stepped down. The mob was specifically out for Eich's downfall, not for strengthening Mozilla against unpleasant ethics.
That you demand that 'lynch mob' only be referred to as a mob about to hang an individual is definitely hyperbole on your part. If your significant other says "Sorry about the mess in the kitchen, it's a bit of a disaster area", do you chide them because it's nothing of the sort - no property damage, no maimed or dead people, where are the aid personnel, so on and so forth? If someone describes their new sweater as "itchy as Hell", do you berate them because Hell is not depicted as being an itchy place, referring to the relevant religious dogma about the actualities of Hell?
No, of course not. It's a turn of phrase, not a literal statement, just like 'lynch mob' above. Suggesting that the OP meant in any way a literal lynch mob is your hyperbole.
So because people have been constantly misusing a word in an attempt to exaggerate the wrongs of their opponents, someone is being hyperbolic to even ask that we stick somewhere remotely close to the actual definition of the word?
It doesn't really accomplish anything more than calling your opponents "literally hitler". It means nothing, its an insane, irrational exaggeration and the only reason you would say it is to make your opponents look bad in lieu of having an actual, rational argument to make your opponents look bad.
If you cancel your Dropbox membership now, you will affect their measurements as though you're doing it in response to this kerfuffle. I'm in exactly the same position you are — I've found a better service, so I'm backing up my Dropbox stuff to it and letting Dropbox idle until this blows over. I don't want to encourage political and moral witch-hunts in tech (or other) companies.
Others are reporting that there is a box to state your reason when you close your account. You may be able to do exactly what you want without having another item on your to-do list (and without paying, if that's what you're doing).
If you want to, that is. I'm not advocating anything.
Rice is much more evil then Eich, that's one reason for you. I just cant trust people running Dropbox anymore. Will they go in the board meeting, shake their hands with Rice and discuss business matters? That's not a kind of people I'd like to support. My 2c.
Do I want to drink a beer with Eich? Looking at his donation record - no.
Do I want to drink a beer with Rice? Looking at her career history - no.
Will her contribution improve Dropbox? Looking at her career history - can't imagine any positive effect, probably negative, especially in the privacy area.
Definitely going to try some Dropbox alternatives now.
They can keep her on their board but it's our duty to react in ways that are consistent with our own personal values. My wife was recruited this morning for an HR position with Dropbox. We briefly imagined how exciting the opportunity might be but I quickly recoiled at the thought of her being so closely affiliated with a war criminal. It's their decision to have whomever they want on their board, it's our duty to respond appropriately.
Of course you're being hypocritical. It's because you feel a lot stronger about the Iraq War than you do about gay marriage.
Now put the shoe on the other foot. Think about all those people that feel as strongly about gay marriage as you do about the Iraq War. Their belief that they should protest against Mozilla doesn't feel that much different than your own protest, does it?
I'd like like to redirect you back to adnam's comment.
> Unlike Eich, Rice went far beyond simply holding beliefs and making donations. She held real power and used it in unconscionable ways.
All I can say is that personally I find Eich and Condoleezza to be worlds apart. Nor do I think it is hypocritical to feel stronger about the Iraq War than about gay marriage. People will have different priorities.
The argument could be made that she was mislead by the CIA, just like Colin Powell was. I do agree that the Iraq War was a crime against humanity. Personally, I admire Rice, and don't think I would personally boycott Dropbox because of that choice. But I understand why some/many people would boycott Dropbox, and I don't think they're wrong to want to do so.
The hypocrisy isn't in that the OP feels stronger about the Iraq War than gay marriage. The hypocrisy is because he thinks it's okay to boycott Dropbox because they chose someone for the Board of Directors that he disagrees with, but he thought it was wrong that people boycott Mozilla because they chose a CEO that they disagreed with.
Opposing gay marriages and killing people aren't the same, and the magnitude at which both of these events took place is also important. Prop 8 was a legal process, you could've successfully opposed it (and it was). But going to war isn't something the public could vote on.
Also Eich's donation was $1000, Rice's War was several billions and massively haemorrhaged US Economy.
The magnitude is absolutely irrelevant. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy, and the core issue here is whether or not people have the right to boycott a product over the beliefs or actions of the people who are associated with the product.
If I believe that cars are causing global warming, I have the right to boycott the uses of cars and to publicize it. If I believe that eating meat is wrong, I have the right to boycott meat and to publicize it. If the CEO of a company supports a campaign that I believe infringes on human rights, I have the right to boycott that product and to publicize it. If the company of a product I use adds a person who was involved with what I believe was an unjust war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, the I have the right to boycott them and to publicize it.
Rice is a director. Sure, it's not a CxO, but directors wield significant influence over the path of a company. It's why they're called directors. As a director, she can use her influence to open channels for external surveillance (of course, using nicer terms than that). I don't mean "open a port on the firewall", I mean saying "hey, it's okay if org Foo gets this kind of data". This is the kind of strategic stuff that directors do. It doesn't matter how solid your sysadmins are if your directors hand over the keys to the castle.
And I guess we'll just have to disagree that her past experience has nothing to do with maintaining private data security.
There's a big difference between Eich, who comes from a technological background (he created JS, for crying out loud) and just happens to support policies I don't agree with, and Condoleezza Rice who comes from a majorly political background.
I don't know, there's something that feels just wrong about having a political figurehead mixed in with a company that is (arguably) one of the success examples of Silicon Valley. It just... difficult to describe with words.
If there's verifiable facts that prove Rice has acted in an unethical way in her job, then it would be a bad decision to give her more power and responsibility. If, on the other hand, it's found only that she made decisions in good faith based on the information given to her, you can't really fault her in terms of her occupational duties.
But there's a separate question to that, which is the moral ethics of a person who would do things (even in good faith) that they know will result in hurting others. Will Rice make decisions at Dropbox that she knows will hurt people, even if it's the right "business" decision?
With regard to the warrantless wiretaps, it's clear that if there was an actual terrorist that she was trying to put in jail, a warrantless wiretap may help accomplish that goal. She would in effect be acting in good faith while trying to accomplish the goals of her job. But at the same time, she's violating someone's privacy and potentially violating the law. If a similar situation came up at Dropbox, where violating someone's privacy could help the business, would you still want that person employed?
People should put more effort into holding their politicians accountable while they are in office- not for settling idealogical scores after they reenter private life.
We the people have no one to blame but ourselves for this. It is the voter's fault that these people are able to flourish. If we don't take our civic responsibilities seriously, then these kinds of campaigns are petty and destructive.
Americans that act in these kind of thought police exercises instead of actually investing in the system should be ASHAMED of themselves. Is what she did illegal? Nominate politicians that will instill FBI leaders who will prosecute crimes. WORK FOR IT. Don't just talk. You need to do more than vote.
>Americans that act in these kind of thought police exercises instead of actually investing in the system should be ASHAMED of themselves. Is what she did illegal? Nominate politicians that will instill FBI leaders who will prosecute crimes. WORK FOR IT. Don't just talk. You need to do more than vote.
Yeah, many of us did exactly that back in 2007/2008. We nominated and worked hard to promote and to get elected a politician we believed -- based on our candidate's deeply-persuasive statements -- who would be "different". We did much more than vote. We built amazing software systems for our candidate, went door-to-door in places that almost got us shot, worked 80 hour weeks at the grass roots level, and in some cases estranged ourselves from our families. And of course we voted for him.
And look how things turned out.
So don't go fucking blaming the victims here. Our political system is deeply flawed and heading toward a cliff -- with both parties at the helm.
> Yeah, many of us did exactly that back in 2007/2008. We nominated and worked hard to promote and to get elected a politician we believed -- based on our candidate's deeply-persuasive statements -- who would be "different". We did much more than vote. We built amazing software systems for our candidate, went door-to-door in places that almost got us shot, worked 80 hour weeks at the grass roots level, and in some cases estranged ourselves from our families. And of course we voted for him.
I think the "more than vote" really means "more than getting a candidate elected". (Or, to use Obama's own campaign catchphrase, "Be the Change".)
There may have been people who didn't understand that a bottom-to-top transformation of society with constant engagement was going to be required to realize the vision presented by the campaign evenif Obama was entirely truthful on every point (a point on which I do not wish to comment either way at the moment, since its irrelevant to the point I'm making), but anyone that wasn't aware of that wasn't paying much attention to the campaign itself.
Are you trying to imply that you are a victim, just because you naively believed that investing a great deal of power in another politician, who you thought was 'your man in Washington' would lead to better results? It is hard to be sympathetic to someone who pursued such poorly thought-out objectives. It is not the political system that was at fault; in fact, if anyone is to blame, it is all the conceited individuals who believed that the politician they picked would be 'better' than the 'opponents'.
Oh, I heartily agree that I was a total moron to fall for Obama's sweet talk. Glad you had the smarts and life experience to avoid that trap. To exculpate myself a tad, I didn't vote for him in 2012 (or anyone else).
But back to the question at hand: if we, the people, are somehow supposed to right out ship by doing more than just voting, how exactly do we choose our candidates? In Obama's case, we went on his statements, biography (community organizer, law professor) and (admittedly limited) past voting record. Do you have any recommendations for those us us who don't have your finely-attuned bullshit detector on how we can pick a good candidate?
I certainly don't trust my own political judgment anymore. So I no longer vote in national elections.
I'm not sure I agree with your characterization of victimhood, however. Am I understanding correctly your assertion, which is that if a target of a conman or aggressor is sufficiently naive, that person is no longer a victim?
I commend your intellectual rigor for examining your previous belief system in what I am certain was a painful lesson (as changing beliefs is always painful). My point was not that I was any sort of clairvoyant, or had a brilliant insight into the president's soul; it is only that all the politicians are acting under the same incentive system, and unless you have good reason to believe that one acts differently under the same incentives, real substantive change is unlikely. Even if you do believe that you can 'pick' better than most other people, investing large amounts of power in a system which will be run by your opponents/enemies about half the time is not a particularly good strategy.
I invest my energies in divesting the government of power, to reduce the impact of abuse and poor decisions; but you may find a different way to change the system for the better, and I hope you do.
>I commend your intellectual rigor for examining your previous belief system in what I am certain was a painful lesson (as changing beliefs is always painful).
Coincidentally, I read Koestler's essays when I was a teenager, along with some of Orwell's writings with the same theme (Homage to Catalonia for one). Wish I'd paid a bit more attention to the underlying message.
But I think some things you have to experience to learn.
>I invest my energies in divesting the government of power, to reduce the impact of abuse and poor decisions;
I do the same now. I'm a very different person politically than I was back in 2007. And lack of trust in my own political instincts is only one of the reasons why I no longer vote in national elections. As proof, I'd show you all my commits to open source projects that at least partially aim to reduce government power by promoting privacy and peer-to-peer interactions, but I wish to remain at least somewhat anonymous.
Unfortunately, back in 2007, I wrote off any libertarians as wacky, selfish geeks with very little political sophistication.
Since then, I've come to meet some of the least selfish and most politically sophisticated individuals I've ever met, who are also libertarians. And none of them are particularly fond of Ayn Rand (to name another one of my 2007 biases).
I like these philosophies, but I disagree that they're realistic. American history doesn't have a lot of examples of engagement for this kind of approach.
We basically only flip tables when we feel really oppressed.
People who live in cities seem to feel oppressed, but they also seem to really believe in bureacracy as a concept, so they instead blame the bad guys in the other party, rather than seeing the system as failed. If the bad guys are basically in both parties, you pick your team based on marketing.
Long story short- I don't see these options as viable alternatives to violence, unfortuntately. I'm glad you're practicing them over the alternative- but I'm going to hang on to engaging more instead.
Not to mention major wins in healthcare, Iraq, and avoiding the major impending economic collapse that was in place when he took office.
He's no saint, and I'm as pissed as anyone about the illegal wiretapping that happened under his administration. But keep in mind that no major politician will agree 100% with your views. And no president can or will keep 100% of his promises considering this shifting political climate and his limited powers in our government.
"...are you really implying that he's been an awful president?"
Every president in the modern context has been and will be awful, even if to somewhat varying degrees. The problem is not the people in office, it's the office itself. It's important that the media emphasize personalities and the infinitesimal differences between them, so the average citizen can make-believe that some presidents are better than others.
Could you be more specific? It doesn't help to berate me for not doing more without actually telling me what I can do. Because I feel pretty helpless here and I have no idea what I can do besides vote and talk to people.
I think we need to actively engage. So that means we actually do need to volunteer. We do need to donate. We even need to run for office. I don't know if my experience is a corner case- but every politician I've ever met has been weird. They don't seem like normal americans.
We need to recognize that the world runs on PACs and that if we don't have a PAC to advocate our position, we're not going to get the outcomes we want.
I think we've been raised to believe there's some holy power in our vote- but this is a distraction. Unless we fund our efforts & win in politics, this is all for naught.
I also think that we have to accept when we lose in politics. This campaign is absolutely the opposite of that value. I share many of the opinions about this woman, but I find the campaign to be shameful in light of my previous opinions.
If you claim to value democracy and then execute this kind of witch hunt when democracy doesn't deliver the outcome you hoped for, there is a problem.
Who do I volunteer with and donate to? There are no political parties I can stomach. Even if you go beyond the two big ones and posit that it's useful to contribute to a third party (and I'm already skeptical of that), they're all completely bonkers.
Run for office? That's too much of a sacrifice to ask. It's not a job I want, by far. If I ever managed to get nominated, I'd do my best to sabotage my own campaign so as not to get elected. No wonder politicians are all weird, no normal person could ever want to be one.
Is not "accept when we lose" completely contradictory to the rest of what you're saying? You say that we should get out and do things to fight for what we believe, and then you turn around and say we should just let it go. This isn't some pointless notion of vengeance, it's a real concern over what her involvement with Dropbox could mean for the company and our data in the future.
Personally, if you claim to value democracy and then call it anti-democratic when there's a completely non-violent grassroots campaign against a political figure, then you're completely off your rocker. Nothing could possibly be more democratic. Even if you disagree with the campaign, how can you call the very idea a bad thing? What could possibly be a better way to exercise your political views than to vote with your wallet and encourage others to do the same? Are we supposed to just shut up and ignore it all? Are we supposed to vote with our own wallet but never talk to other people about it? How does that fit in with "volunteer, donate, run for office, the world runs on PACs"?
"Is not "accept when we lose" completely contradictory to the rest of what you're saying?"
This is the price of democracy. Not everyone disagrees with you for malignant reasons. They can have legitimate, ethical reasons for disagreeing with you.
"You say that we should get out and do things to fight for what we believe, and then you turn around and say we should just let it go."
I appologize if that's what it sounded like. I'm saying we have to accept democracy's outcomes if the democracy is actually functioning (i.e. no ballot stuffing). If you don't like the outcome of a vote, continue to work within the democratic process. Lobby for an idea through Publicity. Lobby your congress critters. Keep working within the political system.
Keeping tallies of the thought-infractions of citizens in the private sector is not healthy though. I see no difference between that and the assassination of the jesuit priest in Syria last week.
A healthy society should be supportive of and accepting of diversity of opinions and lifestyle. That means more than just being nice to LGBT folks. Even people with religious beliefs you find abhorent have the right to prosper to the best of their ability, as long as they are not violating our laws.
"I see no difference between that and the assassination of the jesuit priest in Syria last week."
OK, seriously, what the fuck. You see no difference between a public campaign to switch away from Dropbox because of someone on their board of directors and an assassination?
This conversation started out bad and has now become complete shit. I'm not going to continue. I don't understand why, but something about this topic has turned half of the HN commenters into drooling morons.
(I know that this sort of language is not supposed to be used, but personally I think it's justified in the exceptional situation where someone declares a nonviolent internet campaign to an assassination. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.)
Ironically, the one tactic that might be more effective than the ballot in deterring bad leadership is hitting bad leaders in the pocket by.... making them into pariahs that corporations don't want to associated with.
Indeed, making it a common think that a company suffers when they donate to causes that their customers disagree with would be a great way to curb the huge increase in the influence of money in politics.
i usually don't jump into these debates, but your comment strikes me as at best impossibly naive and at worst inexcusably ignorant. take a look at the various laws being passed to disenfranchise minority/elderly voters. look at the misinformation being spread via special interest-controlled media. read up on Edward Snowden. "victim blaming" is 100% what you're doing here.
i agree with your stance that action needs to be taken, but completely disagree that we have "no one to blame but ourselves".
If the situation is as bad as my interpretation o your comment then I don't think there are any realistic alternatives to violence. I don't want to put my eggs in that basket, so I'm going to blame the victims.
This is because it's a matter of looking at whether there's a conflict between their stated beliefs and the way I'd like their companies to be run.
In Eich's case, he was opposed to marriage equality. While I disagree with him, this does not affect his work because (thankfully) private corporations don't issue marriage licenses.
In Rice's case, she supports warrantless wiretaps. This attitude (that government requests can and should be responded to even if they lack warrants) is directly applicable to the decisions and policies she'll guide for Dropbox. My privacy will be directly compromised.
It's a matter of applicability and impact, not politics.
I'm in the same boat. Other people have pointed out how she's done things far worse than Eich. But here is my reasoning.
If you disagree with the board of a company and you want to stop using them, thats fine. Doesn't matter if it's Eich or Rice. Don't like them, stop using their products/services.
What isn't right is personally attacking either of them. Don't like Rice, that fine, you can post a blog or say whatever you want. Crossing the line is harassing them and sending death threats.
If the whole Eich thing would have stayed with people talking about how they don't like him, I wouldn't have a problem. When people started harassing him and it became popular to harass him it crossed the line. So far I haven't heard of anyone harassing Rice. (Maybe people do and they "disappear", I don't know.)
It's one thing to express and/or support a political view that others may disagree with, within the accepted bounds of our democratic process. (You can disagree with the viewpoint, but the act of making the donatio itself isn't illegal or immoral.)
It's another thing to subvert our system of government via deception, surveillance and/or intimidation, either by taking action outside the bounds of legal limits, or working to redefine those limits to suit your own purposes. There's a fair argument that these two situations are not comparable, regardless of how you feel about Eich's donation.
> I'm not sure how I can oppose Rice while standing up for Eich without inconsistency
Politics vs Ethics. "I think marriage equality is politically correct" vs "I think someone who violated their own country's privacy law and had a hand invading a foreign country which resulted in the deaths of thousands shouldn't own my data".
One is inherently a political issue - state-issue marriage licenses. States can say "yes this marriage is valid." The other is non-political, a bigger question of human-kind and what is always correct.
Funny I feel the opposite way. I (barely) decided the opposition to Eich was okay because of the nature of Mozilla as a company, and the progressive culture around it. (I'm not a progressive myself, which is why I was iffy about it). But if it's any other organization, I decided, it actually starts to become bullying.
That's the perfect meme to consolidate power at the top. First we get the Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC rulings, making money "free expression" for the rich. And now we associate the Little Guy's "free expression" with their meager consumer dollars with "bullying", "witch hunts", etc...
If there's Machiavellian here it's not me. I'm just a dude trying to keep things in perspective in a sea of passion and fanaticism. I'm not a conservative either, in case that's what you inferred; I'm a libertarian. I don't care much for the Bush administration either. Perhaps I just didn't pay enough attention to what Condi had to do with the war to have the same negative passion about her.
I'm quite fond of boycotts. I'm just afraid that the passions will get to the point where boycotts are used to imply that a difference in opinion is unacceptable. I don't have a huge problem with boycotting Condi per se, that's just fine. I'm just afraid of the swell of power of the mob mentality over people's thinking.
If this is really about the big guy vs the little guy (or gal, here), are you ready to protest if Eric Holder joins the board of Dropbox? If you are, then I can get behind it.
EDIT: I would cite Jon Stewart, I suppose, at the big speech at the end of his rally a few years back. His point is that we all get things done outside of Washington. Sure, we may disagree a lot and our disagreements may be a fundamental threat to each other. However if we let that decide who we engage in commerce with, we lose out on a lot of the benefits of commerce, and it doesn't really solve our differences anyway. I rather prefer boycotts over actions. Chick Fil A was a boycott (iirc) over a policy of the company. Even if it was in response to something that the president said, he's an acting president as he's saying it, a boycott there makes some sense.
But it's not cut and dry. If Hitler joined the board of Dropbox I could probably get behind a boycott.
I hated the Eich thing and I hate this too. Even if she has been wrong about basically everything she was ever put in charge of, this is not how we settle political disputes in a civil society. If you want to stop using Dropbox, fine. If you're a stakeholder in Dropbox, then you have a legitimate interest here. But no one else does.
Excuse me? Not doing business with companies who do things we dislike is exactly how we settle political disputes in a civil society.
Seriously, what the hell is with all these idiots lately saying that we're not supposed to even vote with our wallets anymore? I apologize for my harsh language but I'm just so flabbergasted, and it's such a stupid thing to say that I think "idiots" is justified. Do you really think that we should limit the expression of our dissatisfaction to the ballot box and the internet comment box? Why shouldn't we change how we do business to make a point?
The way some people react to this stuff, you'd think we were talking about assassinating political opponents, rather than criticizing them and taking our business elsewhere.
They'd rather have you believe that voting with your wallet doesn't work. They would prefer that you think the only way to enact change is through coercive governmental power. It fits their world-view and pocket-book quite nicely.
To be clear, I'm not trying to say this sort of action should be illegal. Just that I think it's tasteless, shortsighted, and somewhat hypocritical to do anonymously, given that it specifically targets an individual. Which is the other element of this that I find so abhorrent: it's one thing to target an idea, or campaign against someone running for public office. It's another to follow a private citizen around for the rest of his or her life, making demands of anyone who attempts to hire that person. It seems, well, vindictive.
I think I mentioned above that I disagree with basically every decision Dr. Rice ever made while acting as a public official. The Iraq war was a huge disaster, and that was obvious before it even started. But there's a reason we have legal doctrines like qualified immunity: it's detrimental to a public official's ability to perform his or her duties if he or she has to view every decision as a question of personal liability.
Upon further reflection, this isn't nearly as bad as last week's Mozilla witch hunt. You could probably make a legitimate argument in the context of privacy and government surveillance. But given the "success" of that purge, I'm worried that we'll be seeing three more of these campaigns every week. The fact that I've taken a karma beating for (completely earnest) posts I've made in this thread just reinforces my fear that we're becoming a community that finds it harder and harder to brook dissent. And I really thought the kind of person that reads HN was smart enough to see the inherent dangers in that.
Thanks for not calling me an idiot this time. Really made my day.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to do it again, though. You're arguing that it's a bad thing to hold a public figure accountable for what they do, in a democracy, through purely nonviolent means. You are, in fact, arguing that in a democracy, it's detrimental to an official's ability to perform their job to be held accountable, even something minor like an internet boycott. Does that not imply that things like Congressional oversight and journalistic investigation while they're still in office is even worse? So I need to say it again: idiotic.
Is it tasteless? Maybe. Shortsighted? I don't see how, but I won't argue it strenuously. Hypocritical? Maybe, but I don't really find hypocrisy objectionable in general. Even if I grant all of those, that is a far far far cry from "this is not how we settle political disputes in a civil society." "Civil society" does not mean that we must go around being absolutely and completely polite to each other at all times. It means that we solve our disputes nonviolently. Far from being an abrogation of civil society, this action is a shining example of it.
I'm honestly puzzled at what you're saying because it just doesn't make sense to me. I assume you're not against things like public street protests against a sitting president, but the only difference I can see is purely quantitative. Is it that you think it should stop once they leave office, or what?
It's pretty smooth of you to call me an idiot, double down on that, and _then_ say you don't understand my position.
This sort of intimidation (of Dr. Rice and anyone who associates with her) may not be violent, but it _is_ coercive. That sort of climate is anathema to "civil society," no matter how narrowly you attempt to define the term. (You didn't need to provide a working definition, by the way; it's obvious you don't think it has anything to do with decorum.)
And yes, there is absolutely a distinction between Congressional, journalistic, judicial or even private oversight of a sitting public official, and public hounding of that person once he or she returns to private life. There's also a difference between airing one's grievances (i.e. protest) and making threats if your demands aren't met. Maybe if you disagree with something I've said, you should try to get me fired, too.
I don't understand your overall position. I understand that one aspect of it well enough to call it idiotic. I stand by that.
If refraining from doing business with a company and encouraging other people to do the same is "coercive" then you've redefined the word to the point where it has essentially no meaning.
Boycotts, strikes, protests, and other non-violent actions have long and proud histories as part of "civil society".
Given that the "threats" being made here are merely that of switching services, I see no difference between this and a peaceful protest, where the implied threat is "we will vote for somebody else".
Seriously, what do you think people should do here? I assume we can rule out violence. Stopping your use of Dropbox just because you disagree with them is apparently not allowed. Talking about it with other people doesn't seem to be OK with you. You seem to basically be saying that you can disagree as long as you shut up about it and don't do anything with your opinion. Is that not true?
> I don't understand your overall position. I understand that one aspect of it well enough to call it idiotic.
This assertion ('I admittedly don't understand the context, but I'll gladly render judgment on a single tenet of it!') may seriously have just given me an aneurysm.
Can you cite one boycott or strike that history looks fondly upon that centered around calling for a specific person's head? These tools have traditionally been used to advance policy changes and improve living conditions for whole groups of people, not exact revenge on someone you don't like.
There's nothing wrong with voicing dissatisfaction in, well, basically anything. There's also nothing wrong with terminating a business relationship with an entity who has done something you don't like. Or even tweeting form letters at a company's CEO. That's all beside the point.
I think sometimes, the appropriate recourse is to realize that you're overreacting to something, calm the hell down, and go on with your life.
My problems with this specific situation:
- Trying to organize a popular campaign targeting a specific person's reputation and/or livelihood while refusing to divulge your own identity is incredibly gutless. If you're sure enough of your convictions to take that kind of action, why are you not sure enough to sign your name to it?
- Social tools like boycotts and protests become less effective the more frequently they're used. In isolation, this doesn't really apply. In light of the Brendan Eich mess, it seems like the start of a dangerous (and frankly annoying) trend. Are we going to see boycotts every time an organization makes a decision that someone with basic HTML skills disagrees with?
- When waging any kind of social crusade, there's a line of conduct that you can't cross without abandoning any claim to the moral high ground. You seem to agree with me that violence is on the wrong side of that line. I'd argue that trying to get specific people fired from private industry for essentially unrelated conduct (during their time as a public official, no less) is, as well. Especially when the whole thing really seems to be more about punishment than effecting future change.
- You're still trying to equate declining to vote someone into public office with trying to organize a movement to get someone fired. Those things aren't even close to equivalent.
- You're missing something about the nature of boycotts. They're not designed to demonstrate your disagreement. They're designed to coerce their target to accede to your demands, lest they suffer financial harm. I'm not saying they're innately bad, but they are much more coercive in nature than protests, whose nature I also think you're mischaracterizing. By your definition, there would be no point in protesting any action carried out by any politician in the last term of a term-limited office, right?
- Editing to add one more. The reason we have qualified immunity is that, in theory, you want the best possible people occupying important public positions. (Obviously, things don't often work out this way, but I think it's still important for the incentives to align properly.) When it becomes clear that anyone who holds one of these offices may have to fend off angry mobs for the remainder of his or her professional life, you're making public office less attractive for anyone else who might ever be considering accepting an appointment to it. Which will probably, in the aggregate, make these positions less attractive to the people most qualified for them.
I think one thing you're missing is the extreme power imbalance in this situation: Rice is so successful and well-connected that it's inconceivable that this campaign could deprive her of her livelihood or materially change her historical reputation. At best, she'll lose a board position, which is just a lucrative side-gig, not a full-time job. I would argue that that well-known power imbalance makes it acceptable to "over-reach" slightly past your line (though still far short of violence) and call for things like removal from a specific position.
You're also mischaracterizing the nature of the boycott: the target whose behavior it's trying to change isn't Rice, it's Dropbox. And the goal is their policies around privacy, surveillance, and government cooperation. Rice is a seed that these issues can crystallize around, but anything that happens to her personally is sort of collateral damage.
At least that describes some principled support for this campaign. There may also be some that want her to personally suffer and don't care about Dropbox's policies.
You make some good points, but her contributions to the US's surveillance program are barely more than a footnote on the campaign page. Most are about past economic or geopolitical misdeeds. I think reading the page in toto makes it pretty clear that the authors object to her hiring mainly on the basis of her perceived character flaws.
I was still fairly outraged over the Eich lynching when I wrote all these posts. I still don't think it's a great precedent to set, boycotting a company over appointing someone to a mostly ceremonial position. (Something that I still think is terribly gutless to do anonymously, no matter who you're targeting.) But I do actually buy the privacy argument. And I have to admit, it's really disconcerting to be put in the position of defending the actions of Condoleezza Rice (or any other prominent Bush 43 official).
Also, there are calls for boycotts every time an organization makes a decision that someone with basic HTML skills disagrees with. We just don't hear about most of them, because they don't gain traction. We hear about the ones that strike a nerve in the community (whichever community we happen to be a part of: there are probably plenty of calls to boycott Mozilla for forcing Eich out). I wouldn't read very much into the fact that these two incidents happened close together. This sort of thing is self-regulating: people have limited capacity for outrage, that slowly recharges over time.
I'd love to stay and continue talking, but I can't take this thread in general anymore. In another reply the person I was talking to just compared this campaign to an assassination of a priest. Something about this topic is shutting down people's brains.
Do you even know who the stakeholders are?
Anyone who finished Entrepreneurship 101 will tell you the stakeholders include users, general public and various advocate groups. So yeah, stakeholders are making their voice heard.
Consider that when acting under uncertainty, intelligent, informed people of good will can examine the same set of facts and reach different conclusions.
It has become an article of faith that the Bush administration acted in bad faith about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, while all that really has ever been shown is that they were tragically, woefully and extraordinarily wrong.
How intelligent, well educated people be so wrong, unless they were secretly evil? Groupthink for one, and in particular a failure to consider alternatives because of assumption of bad faith on the part of those who disagree with them.
I really don't care one way or another whether Condi is on the board of Dropbox or not, and I applaud you for refusing to do business with a company you believe is immoral. But I would be surprised (pleasantly) if this was a standard you were applying consistently, thoughtfully and evenly.
One thing I can't stand is about our hyper-partisan culture is that attacking someone from one side is seen as 100% political and there are posts like these that are trying to be "even" when, in fact, it's you yourself that is being partisan here.
>It has become an article of faith that the Bush administration acted in bad faith about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, while all that really has ever been shown is that they were tragically, woefully and extraordinarily wrong.
It has been shown, conclusively, that they lied, that they lied knowingly, and that they lied a lot. Don't white wash history in an attempt to be "even" or see "both sides". There is objective truth here.
I read the article you're linking to, and I don't see any allegations that the 900+ false statements were known to be false by the administration at the time. This particular article certainly doesn't meet my standard for "[showing conclusively] that they lied, that they lied knowingly, and that that they lied a lot". Perhaps that evidence exists in another form, but I think you strengthen the GPs argument by presenting this as definitive evidence when it's not.
Addendum: The money quote from the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism run study is this: "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003". The use of the word erroneous here is problematic. It doesn't imply intention. If they had used a word that implied intention, then they would essentially be saying that the administration intentionally propagandized with information that they knew to be false toward the goal of leading the US into war with Iraq. But they don't go that far. They use the word erroneous. IF the administration was unaware of the eroneousness of the information, then there's no reason that "methodically propagating" it is immoral, I mean, this is called "consciousness raising" in other contexts. Perhaps the authors are just being cagey so as not to paint themselves into a corner, but this is not a clear statement that the administration lied.
 Perhaps my reading skills aren't up to par, and I missed it. If so, let me know.
Downing street memos, Rumsfeld memos, the Project for a New American Century Report, Hans Blix assertions that there were no WMDs, historical acts of aggression in other countries, subsequent acts of aggression in other countries, and post-hoc assertions that WMDs were not the main reason for invasion, among other evidence all show that the invasion of Iraq was geo-strategic and not primarily based on disarming Iraq of WMDs, though some senior officials were led to believe that.
Biases matter. My first impression reading your link was that this is a crazed rant, not a rational, methodical weighing of the available evidence. These sort of organizations exist to continually whip up a froth of partisan furor, and so are always suspect. This is not a good source if your goal is to do anything other than preach to your own choir. This is the type of "proof" that keeps ideological opponents talking past each other.
Honestly, I lean liberal, but I make a concerted effort not to get frothed up by liberal media. I think that on balance those sources cause more harm than good. And really, life just doesn't fit into nice little outrage inducing narratives, but you would never know it if you only consumed these sort of news sources.
[edit 3:27 CDT to add the commentary, i.e. everything other than the link]
You responded to a criticism of source usage with a much, much worse source. You also rattled off a bunch of assertions as if they were unquestionably true without providing citation. Whatever your intention, you didn't really address my criticism in a constructive way that was likely to bring anyone to your way of thinking that wasn't already there.
The Rumsfeld memo was reported by MSNBC but after review, prompted by your criticism, I am not satisfied with the credibility of the document.
The Downing Street Memo was widely reported in major newspapers and contained among other things the passage "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
The article you point to, to be clear, relies on reports from two non-profit (not not non-partisan) journalism watchdogs. And what they come up with is 'false statements'. They won't go so far as to call them lies, because to be a lie the statement has to be believed to be false by the speaker.
You seem to reach the conclusion that it is inconceivable that the Bush Administration believed their own arguments. I not only find conceivable, I think its probably likely. Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. There's certainly room for moral revulsion for the Bush Administration -- negligently acting to cause destruction and loss of life at such a scale makes one culpable nonetheless.
I am not interested in arguing the WMD in Iraq debate. I ask you to please assume good faith on the part of your ideological opponents. Try to understand their arguments on their terms, and see where you differ fundamentally.
>I am not interested in arguing the WMD in Iraq debate. I ask you to please assume good faith on the part of your ideological opponents. Try to understand their arguments on their terms, and see where you differ fundamentally.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. Why do you assume they are my ideological opponents? Are you assuming I'm a liberal in this case? This is the hyper-partisan culture I'm talking about. I do assume good faith from people who disagree with me, there comes a point when an intelligent person must look at the evidence provided and adapt their view. People hide behind the "both sides" argument in an attempt to be wise and fair, when in reality that can be the most partisan of all point of views. People are wrong sometimes. People lie sometimes. Not acknowledging this is not wise. Some arguments don't have "both sides", some have one side, some have two sides, some have fifty sides. Remember that.
It becomes difficult to draw that line when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of human lives.
When you're talking about preemptively invading an entire country then it is your moral imperative to do everything possible to 1) ensure your justification is correct and 2) ensure you carry out the decision in the best way possible.
For whatever reason, this did not happen. Decisions were rushed, conclusions were reached with insufficient evidence, alternative possibilities were not considered, dissenting voices were not listened to, etc.
Perhaps they still had good will throughout all of this. But does it even matter? The outcome was terrible and that is directly because they failed to do better when they most certainly could have.
You're also ignoring the other points made by the article. Are you going to make the same excuse about her approval of torture?
The question was not so much "do they have WMDs?" as the answer was clearly yes, they had chemical weapons we gave them. The question was, do they have any substantial quantities, do they have the ability to make more, and most importantly, do they have the ability to use them to attack us?
The answer to that last question was always clearly "no". Having a nuke does you no good if you can't get it to your target.
It's pretty firmly established that Bush lied and had been gunning for Iraq long before WMD became his casus belli and you have a wonderful resource called the world wide web if you have any interest at all in confirming that.
People at the CIA were telling the administration that they had it wrong. They just didn't want to hear it since it didn't fit with their narrative, and didn't align with their goal of war. The truth was irrelevant at that point.
I'm going to feel really bad if I've been wrong about this, but I thought Bush admitted in his autobiography that WMD's were a made-up reason to invade Iraq. He thought he had the moral high ground in invading to depose Saddam Hussein, but his advisors convinced him that no one would support that reason for invasion.
The problem we have with our society today is that we gravitate towards absolute positions on every contentious issue. When you are absolutely certain about something it is a small leap to then believe that those who disagree are doing so maliciously.
To fix this we have to find a way to reward tempered opinions. The absolutism in our society is becoming stronger over time and it's further dividing us.
If the action is destructive, and the person hasn't regretted it, does it become acceptable just because s/he has done it with the best of intentions?
On the contrary: "those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience". If anything, it's even more dangerous to trust in someone who believed and continues to believe in what they were doing, than in someone who did it maliciously but has since truly regretted it.
> while all that really has ever been shown is that they were tragically, woefully and extraordinarily wrong.
I find it very odd that, despite the fact they had access to allegedly better intel than everybody else, they were the only ones who were that substantially and, adding to the oddity, conveniently wrong.
I've been running ownCloud on my server. It has Windows/Linux/Mac/Android/iOS clients and has been working very well for me as a drop in Dropbox replacement. In addition to the clients, you can use webDAV to access your files.
I have a cheap hosting account into which I've extracted the ownCloud tarball. For security updates, I've subscribed to the announcements ownCloud mailing list  so I get an email each time there's a new version (either bugfix or major). The mailing list is very low traffic (only messages about new versions). I either follow the instructions on the site  for major upgrades or otherwise use the built in updater  for the minor bugfix releases.
If your pi is just running ownCloud and it's got access to a relatively fast connection, there shouldn't be any problem with doing that.
I'm thinking of getting a VPS to run my own server as the limitations of a hosted account are pretty important when it comes to running your own stuff (as opposed to 'just' hosting a blog or whatever).
I have done this. It's ok, but you have to tinker a bit to get big (GB+- is that even big anymore?) files to upload with the web interface. It might be worth your while to get something a bit more powerful (sheevaplug, etc.)
To be fair aw3c2 never said they use Dropbox and while uptown's question was most certainly in respect to "Dropbox alternatives" their question is only asking about "the security and privacy of BTSync" to which aw3c2 responded.
I could honestly care less about Dr. Rice being on the board of directors or not. Is she going to start a program to torture users of Dropbox? If that comes to pass, it may be a cause for concern. Other than that it appears that Dropbox is adding an accomplished and intelligent person to their board. Is who ever made this website, going to run around and try to get Dr. Rice fired from every job she gets? It really does appear that this is a personal vendetta of some sort.
However! I do welcome the thought of people looking for alternatives to Dropbox. I consider trusting your information with a propriety company based in the US, to be quite foolish these days. Personally I use Owncloud. It's open source. You can run it from your personal server. Owncloud has clients for Linux, Window, MAC, Android and IOS. You can also access your information through any web browser. To put the cherry on top, Owncloud has the capabilities to sync contacts, calendars and bookmarks across your all devices. It's a great piece of software and should suit those looking for an alternative.
It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for us to disclose your Personal Information, Non Personal Information, and Private Data Files. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.
There's political debate currently in Finland about giving police and intelligence the same kind of legal framework for access as the NSA has had in the US. But so far the proposals have been resisted. Mikko Hyppönen https://twitter.com/mikko and some others have been talking a lot publicly about making Finland a data haven with strong protections for privacy. Maybe they'll even succeed.
I do use Google Drive some, but the overall usability of it is a bit painful. They have a lot of nice features for sharing folders/files with others, but the organization of it's web UI is just painful to use at times.
Or even worse, backdoored. Considering how strong the government went down on the old mega, I'm surprised they would allow Kim Dotcom to create another service, especially one that was designed with encryption in mind.
If you have your own server, I'd recommend BTSync. Sync any folder on your computer easily, without having to move them into a specific folder. You could probably set something up to also sync everything to Google Drive with a script, for redundancy.
You know... you asking that question made me look at it and try to figure out why I don't like it. I think it actually my lack of organization with it. "My Drive" and "Shared with me" section has lots of docs/spreadsheets that I don't need anymore and they clutter the view, I just never thought to remove them to clean it up.
So really, it's my own lack of housekeeping that's bothering me. Time to clean up my Google Drive. Thanks.
What I like the most is the integration of OneDrive with Microsoft Office 2013. But Microsoft successfully "force" me to use OneDrive because I bought Surface RT, which the best Windows 8 application for syncing file so far is OneDrive.
Nowadays, I rarely use Dropbox anymore if it is not for group projects. I don't know why but OneDrive seems unpopular among my friends.
Adopting OneDrive would then prevent you from ever adopting Linux in the future without migrating all data to a different service. You may be confident you don't use Linux now, but are you confident you'll never need Linux support? How confident are you with adopting a tool that's not OS agnostic?
Its funny I was kind of looking for alternatives for our business, we use it as a poor mans shared NAS across two offices, but with the new Business features (personal and business folders in particular) finally reached a usability threshold for us.
Note that there are potential privacy concerns with Wuala and similar services, as they use de-duplication techniques, meaning if somebody makes a file public, and you have the same copy in storage, they can see these files in your account.
It's not a serious privacy violation, as it only identifies what are otherwise public files anyway - but if you want complete privacy, including being able to hide what you are uploading, not just the content - then you're better with something self-hosted perhaps.
I'm as anti-war as the next guy; we military veterans tend to be more so than most, and I've gotten even more so as I've gotten older. Still, there are those who appreciate that:
(A) political leaders aren't supermen and -women. Like all of us, they have to make the best decisions they can with the limited information available to them at the time;
(A1) [ADDED:] the signal-to-noise ratio can be problematic; the available bits of information are often of varying quality and sometimes are flatly contradictory --- a major part of the leadership challenge is figuring out what the hell is really going on;
(B) most political leaders genuinely want to do a good job, even if that's mixed in with a larger- or smaller dollop of self-interest (as is the case with most of us);
(C) in late 2002 and early 2003, memories of 9/11 were still raw;
(D) Saddam Hussein had irrefutably demonstrated that he was willing to use weapons of mass destruction in pursuit of his ambitions: he had used chemical weapons both on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians (and let's not forget his brutal conquest of Kuwait);
(E) it was unclear to what extent Hussein had made any progress on building -- or buying -- nuclear weapons;
(F) the downside of a false negative on that issue was considerable; and
(G) hindsight is 20-20, and there are always Monday-morning quarterbacks around who are certain they could have done better.
If you prefer something that you can sit and watch, see BBC Panorama's "The Spies who Fooled the World" - it is both interesting and frightening, especially the part where the single person who was the US source used in Powell's UN brief tells the interviewer he made everything up:
> Saddam Hussein had irrefutably demonstrated that he was willing to use weapons of mass destruction in pursuit of his ambitions: he had used chemical weapons both on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians
With -- lest it be forgotten -- the full support and backing of the US government while he was actually doing it. Heck, when it first became public knowledge and world outrage started, the US rushed Donald Rumsfeld out to (1) demonstrate to the rest of the world that they should shut up and that the US stood side-by-side with Iraq, and (2) reassure Iraq that US support for their actions would continue.
Without wading into the morass of litigating the Iraq war, which would be stupid, because we are converging on bipartisan consensus that it was a debacle: two wrongs don't make a right, and "the US government" over the course of two decades isn't a single coherent unified force.
> "the US government" over the course of two decades isn't a single coherent unified force.
That's significantly less true of the executive branch foreign-policy decision makers at the time of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and those at the time of the 2003 US-Iraq than it is either of the government as a whole at those two times or of the executive branch foreign policy apparatus over the whole intervening period.
Hindsight is always good, but this neglects that there was a strong point of view before the invasion of Iraq that it was a mistake. It simply wasn't a popular one in the US. But if you look internationally, there were a lot of people who stuck their necks out and said "don't do this, the evidence isn't very good." There were people in the US who did the same thing (notably Feingold).
The tragedy of US politics is that we don't seem to hold people who made the worst foreign policy call in several decades accountable. Unreconsidered support for the Iraq war should just categorically disqualify one for a position either within national politics or as a commentator on them. Yet it doesn't. These people are either cynical liars, easy-to-dupe rubes, cynical spinsters that can't be trusted to say what they think, or vacillating receptacles. Perhaps several categories apply to some. The point is, any of these characteristics should be disqualifying for national leadership.
There are some severe problems with your point. Specifically:
(A) We know what information was available at the time and they clearly did not make the best decision they could. There was a consistent focus on information that supported the desired outcome and away from information that didn't.
(B) Good intentions and $5 will buy you a coffee at Starbucks. Hitler genuinely wanted to do a good job.
(C) Irrelevant. If our national leaders cannot think rationally years after a tragedy then they are unfit to be leaders and should resign. It's especially irrelevant given that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
(D) No disagreement there.
(E) Nonsense. Nuclear weapons are hard to build. It was blindingly obvious to anyone who was paying the least bit attention that Iraq had made no real progress on obtaining nuclear weapons. There was an outside possibility that, if left unchecked, Iraq might be able to build nuclear weapons a decade or two down the line, but even that was unlikely. It certainly wasn't an urgent problem that required a massive rush to invade the country.
(F) The downside of a false positive on that issue was also considerable. You can't just look at the negatives of one side and say "better safe than sorry" when the negatives on the other side are equally large. The invasion killed a huge number of people and went a good way toward bankrupting this country. Compare that against... what? Even if Iraq had managed to obtain nuclear weapons, they had no way to deliver them anywhere.
(G) It was obvious to a lot of people before the invasion that it was a crock of shit and that it would cost a huge amount of money and lives for no good reason. Those people were all correct. The implication that this is pure hindsight is completely wrong.
> (and let's not forget his brutal conquest of Kuwait)
Oh! Fun with loaded words.
Between 300 and 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed during the invasion and occupation.
I'm not one fo defend Mr Hussein's record, but that's pretty gentle as invasions go. The Russian bombardments of Grozny killed around 30,000 civilians; in one barrage on one day in October 1999 alone 120 were killed. Now that is brutal.
Sorry, but tempered reasoning like this is not acceptable in the maximalist society we have today. You must be absolutely certain about every issue and realize that those who disagree are evil, intentionally so, full-stop.
(C) Saddam Hussein had irrefutably demonstrated that he was willing to use weapons of mass destruction in pursuit of his ambitions: he had used chemical weapons both on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians (and let's not forget his brutal conquest of Kuwait);
And who let him have those weapons and told him to go ahead and use them against the Iranians? He looks lovely in that photo embracing Donald Rumsfeld... So by this standard, many members of the US government had also shown willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. If this disqualified Hussein as a legitimate world leader, then why was Rumsfeld allowed in government?
You can't, in good faith, argue that Iraq was about WMD proliferation.
First, we didn't go to war with Pakistan or India to prevent them from getting nukes, despite the fact that the historical tension between those countries means that actual use of WMDs is terrifyingly likely.
Second, if people who have a history of using such weapons are inherently ill-suited to having them (a possible counter-argument for my first point, since Pakistan and India have never used them before), then why on earth did anyone let Bush's national security team (including Rumsfeld) so near the red button when they actively participated in Hussein's use of those weapons.
When you make an argument based on a point, and that point turns out to be invalid, the argument is weaker. That is what my point has to do with the original argument.
On one hand Rumsfeld et. al. implied / declared WMD were OK for Hussein to use on the Kurds, but later on removed him for allegedly hiding WMD.
Since DC made the argument that Hussein should have been removed because of his WMD use, you could make the same argument about the folks in the US govt who sponsored Hussein's original use of WMD against the Kurds.
> But if the things you cite don't make logical sense, then those things must not have been actual considerations, or those considerations were made in bad faith.
First, what some people regard as logical in 2014 didn't necessarily appear to be logical to the relevant decisionmakers in early 2003. Again, hindsight is 20-20.
Second, watch out for the fallacy that there's only one acceptable ranking of values, and that anyone with a different ranking must be either stupid or evil.
I take no position here on the merits of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, only that the level of self-righteous certitude among the people calling for C. Rice's head is faintly nauseating --- if unsurprising; I'm old enough to remember the similar certitude of some of the people who rioted against the Vietnam war.
(My dad used to describe people like that in (quasi) anapaestic tetrameter: "Often mistaken but never in doubt.")
Dropping Mozilla because Eich is anti-gay-marriage made sense to me because Mozilla is the beacon of open source. Mozilla belongs to us in a very personal way, many of us have contributed code to Firefox personally.
But Condi Rice joining a completely private Dropbox as a board member - this is a non-issue. I'm as strongly anti-Bush administration and anti-war in general (especially the Iraq War - good grief) as anyone you could hope to meet, but this is ridiculously naive and short sighted to think that Condi being involved with Dropbox is something to get excited about. There are SO many people involved with private companies that are so much more partisan and support with no hesitation so many terrible things that if you want to go down this rabbit hole, you're going to be down there for a while my friends.
Edit: that Condi Rice is a "privacy" concern - ok. Fine. I think that's ridiculous but you know what - nothing is particularly ridiculous when it comes to privacy anymore. So I will accept that argument.
You have to pick your battles unless you're prepared to live as a hermit beyond the edge of civilization. We have plenty of choices in cloud storage, browsers, and fast food. With some things, like voting in a two party system and buying gas, you're choosing the less awful of the viable choices. Choosing in most cases is a matter of triage, not preference.
No. For the same reason that being a white supremacist hasn't really ever been "okay."
Eich was not anti-gay, he was anti-civil rights. Legal marraige and religious marriage are unfortunately poorly named, but two very different things. If Eich doesn't understand that, he's got bigger issues than being dumped by Mozilla.
I have plenty of good friends who do not agree with the idea of homosexual religious marriage and yet support civil rights and the right of homosexuals to be legally married.
That said, cable news, groupthink and information overload have a nasty habit of making us fall back on baser instincts (gay=bad, Christian=bad, war=bad or any other black/white arguments).
Instead we should probably turn to our communities where we are able to have long-form and less-aggressive arguments about fundamental issues. If you perceive the person you're arguing with as a human and a friend, you're less inclined towards unmitigated anger and senseless aggression. But that would require us to put down our computers and walk into town hall and actually speak with humans, so I'm not holding my breath.
I hope so. We're moving into a phase where there you can grab information about anything, from nearly anywhere, at almost any time. There is little advantage to decision making based on cemented ideals anymore. This new era has exposed the good and bad in all facets of life. It's no longer about republicans, or communists, or this, or that, it's just about life.
I prefer to remain non-partisan and instead look at things as a complete outsider, just as a regular human being without any rooted loyalty in any one system or another.
If a company hires a shitty person, and people start dropping their service like flies, and that company reconsiders, then we're moving in a good direction, and I view my "vote" of not sticking with Dropbox more as a single ballot to living in a more informed and refined society.
I really hope somebody replies and lets me know why I'm wrong rather than just sitting here at -2. Please don't turn HN into Reddit :(
I would honestly prefer people to have a set standard, e.g., Should I drop a nuclear bomb? No. Never. Under any circumstances. Whether I agree with that standard is another matter altogether, but having a solid measuring line is significantly more reassuring than a flip-floppy wet noodle.
I agree that no two situations are alike, but principles by definition should still guide the decision making process.
I believe that people are far more invested in non-profits to which they donate money, as opposed to companies whose products they merely purchase. I do not find it at all surprising that a person who wrote a check to Mozilla (possibly one of a handful of donations to non-profits they made that year) would feel more invested in Mozilla's actions than, say, someone who eats a lot of Nabisco Graham Crackers. Even when the money spent on their consumption of graham crackers over the same year period may exceed the amount of the Mozilla donation.
Open Source, not non-profits. I'd have to think about the non-profit thing, but Open Source is a very particular thing - you're asking the public to work for you for FREE. People at Mozilla make good money, non-profit just means they don't have shareholders, and yet we work for them FOR FREE. And we like to! We have no problem doing it and we shouldn't - but yes, it does mean we get to hold them to our standard, whether that be higher or whatever.
>> "Dropping Mozilla because Eich is anti-gay-marriage made sense to me because Mozilla is the beacon of open source. Mozilla belongs to us in a very personal way, many of us have contributed code to Firefox personally."
I feel the opposite. Eich's opinion (which I don't agree with) was unlikely to impact his work. Rice was part of the administration that created PRISM. I don't want her anywhere near a company I'm supposed to trust with all my files.
You might have the opinion that universal health care is bad for this country. I would disagree with you, but that would be your personal opinion and I couldn't fault you for it, whatever I may think of you privately.
But if you believe all colored people should be enslaved and donate money towards making it happen, then we all should fault you because that's not an acceptable opinion, it's bigotry. Similarly, stripping gay men and women of their civil liberties is bigotry that should not be tolerated.
Rice's actions have also resulted in harming our civil liberties and I don't support her, but I can't fault Drew Houston for wanting her on their Board. Anybody who has the chance to add somebody as powerful and well-connected as Rice to their Board would be stupid not to. She is there to advise, not lead. I don't believe her presence on the Board will make Dropbox any more or less trustworthy with our data than before. If Dropbox is going to leak our private data now, then that's a company that would've done so without Rice as well.
Dropping Mozilla because Eich is anti-gay-marriage made sense to me because Mozilla is the beacon of open source.
The leap from open source to pro-gay sounds like a complete non sequitur to me. What is the reasoning there?
I like the way Torvalds put it.
For example, the GPLv2 in no way limits your use of the software. If you're a mad scientist, you can use GPLv2'd software for your evil plans to take over the world ("Sharks with lasers on their heads!!"), and the GPLv2 just says that you have to give source code back. And that's OK by me. I like sharks with lasers. I just want the mad scientists of the world to pay me back in kind. I made source code available to them, they have to make their changes to it available to me. After that, they can fry me with their shark-mounted lasers all they want.
> The leap from open source to pro-gay sounds like a complete non sequitur to me. What is the reasoning there?
Your characterization of it being a "leap to pro-gay" is a bit much. Supporters of Prop 8 are actively trying to deny other Americans rights, many people find this offensive, regardless of the grounds for denial. It echoes racial, gender and age discrimination of the past -- things that many find to be un-American. The fact that the people affected happen to be gay is secondary for many who opposed Prop 8. No American should be legislated as a second class citizen.
Open Source is about open access, both to contribute and use. Prop 8 was trying to deny people access to government, rights and benefits. These attitudes are in direct opposition.
Beyond the ideological friction, you are dividing the community of users and contributors -- people who support gay rights and marriage equality somehow feel like they are supporting somebody who is trying to change society by denying people rights.
Mozilla isn't driven by profit, it's driven by the goodwill of its users and contributors. Mr. Eich was well aware of the sensitive nature of people's attitudes towards his contribution -- he's tried for years to make it a non-issue, but it has kept following him.
It's not that Open Source is "pro-gay rights", it's that it is pro-open access and equality. Mr. Eich's contribution shows contempt for this ideal at some level. It appears that many had issue with this.
Additionally, Google, Mozilla's largest financial contributor, is a company that has actively taken a strongly anti-Prop 8 stance. Having the leader of the Mozilla Foundation be openly in opposition to Google's stance brings questions about if this will ultimately affect Mozilla's funding.
Mr. Eich's technical leadership and history with Mozilla probably qualifies him as a very competent leader for the organization, however the political realities of Mozilla's relationship with Google and the open source community's ideals creates doubt about the realities of his ability to manage these important relationships between Google, users and contributors.
It's not about partisanship, it's about whether your data is safe. Of course maybe data can never be safe in the hands of a US company, but I put significantly less trust in a company that hires someone who supported all the violations by various secret services, than in one that fights those violations.
Before this I could at least pretend they didn't play ball with the NSA, I knew it was self deception but I'm also very lazy. Now they might as well hang a "Friend of NSA" sign in front of their building.
I downgraded my Pro account.
Eich's politics weren't all that important. There was a minor issue of whether it would cause trouble for Mozilla's gay employees (or employees who just felt strongly about it) and a big public relations problem, but the technical functioning of the company wouldn't be affected.
With Dropbox and Rice, I think there's a decent chance (not huge, but decent) that she's sitting down and giving everybody pointers for how they can most efficiently and effectively cooperate with the NSA. She's out of the administration but people like this never truly leave.
I had precisely the opposite view. I felt that Eich's politics weren't aligned with my beliefs but were personal and legal. Condi is in a whole other league - having to help prosecute an illegal war and intentionally mislead our citizenry.
I'm not very passionate about either the Eich situation or this new Dropbox issue, but I have to say that this feels much more "political" and relevant than with Mozilla. Eich privately opposed gay marriage, but the public disclosure threatened to hurt the foundation's image and his effectiveness. Rice was a unabashed supporter and post 2006, an architect of the Iraq War.
It would be closer to Mozilla hiring Mike Huckabee or similar as CEO.
I think the Rice as a board member issue is a totally different concern, directly related to the delivery of the service.
Rice is a former National Security Advisor, and is looped into the political structure. So now, when the three letter agency of your choosing needs to have a frank conversation with someone at Dropbox, Condi will be a trusted conduit.
>>There are SO many people involved with private companies that are so much more partisan and support with no hesitation so many terrible things that if you want to go down this rabbit hole, you're going to be down there for a while my friends.
What do think we do then if we find that a decision-maker in a company is highly partisan and maybe bad for privacy?
From the side it looks like Dropping Mozilla because Eich, made sense to you because it was issue you cared about, and dead people in Iraq? well they are far away and probably didn't think like you anyway.
Same with contributing code to Firefox: of course my small patch for the bug affecting me personally looks like a big deal, but if i look at a big picture, my contribution isn't even comparable to what Brendan Eich did.
I don't say that dropping dropbox is a good thing, but i don't see how one can think logically that harassment of Eich was something for greater good, and this is a non-issue.
Unfortunately emotion is a strong thing, much stronger than logic.
Disclaimer: I'm pretty orthodox Catholic and thus firmly disagree with most software programmers on topics that are often discussed here. But I don't boycott emacs just because the authors are atheists (I actually use emacs full time for work now). And I don't boycott software whose maintainers are pro-choice or whatever else. Boycotting software because of political or religious differences isn't going to help software, it's only going to further unnecessary dissension instead of fostering understanding and personal change.
The personal attachment that comes with using a good brand in this field isn't trivial, and it should be expected that users project their sensibilities on the brand. Being politically neutral in the view of its users should have been a priority for DP, regardless of which powerful gatekeepers to world markets are on Rice's speed dial.
To my mind, the most relevant issue here is that someone asked Rice something along the lines of "Should we illegally wiretap these people" and Rice then said "Yes." It seems clear that she believes the government, law enforcement, etc. should have access to whatever data they feel that they need.
With her on the board of Dropbox, it seems reasonable to fear that she'll err on the side of providing data to government and law enforcement rather than fighting to keep Dropbox data private. This alone strikes me as a good reason to want her off the board and, consequently, to move to another product.
I don't see this as being a direct parallel to the issues around Eich and Mozilla. In that situation, many people didn't feel that his personal beliefs and personal behavior would materially effect the quality of Firefox or it's feature set. In this case, it seems we're talking about almost the opposite situation: wondering how a person's past professional behavior and views they publicly held while in their past professional roles might effect their decisions in their new business role.
I don't get this kind of stuff. I'm sure it's based on good intentions, but this will just lead to MORE nepotism and less transparency because the price of negative press is that much greater.
It feels similar to the hit on the Mozilla guy, which really rubbed me the wrong way. For all I know he clubs baby seals in his free time, but nobody bothered to investigate the truth until it was too late.
One individual or group, finally crawling out of being persecuted, deciding to persecute another is just plain disgusting.
To me, this feels totally different from the Eich case. His political beliefs has nothing to do with Mozilla's product. However, giving someone who approves of wiretaps an important position in a company that people trust with their data, seems like an unbelievably bad idea.
It's not just about whether someone in the company has an opinion I find despicable, it's about whether my own data is still safe.
She's an independent board member. She does not have the ability, in practice, to do anything other than vote on compensation and various other corporate policies.
And if all it takes to get dropbox execs to turn over data is fiscal threats from a board member who is a former government employee, then they were going to give up long before Condi shows up on the board.
EDIT: and I just want to be clear. If you just don't like the idea of having someone who was involved with the war in Iraq/Afghanistan on the board of a company, you're entitled to your opinion (though I think it's pretty hard to be secretary of state or any other position of power in the govenrment without being involved in something evil).
But I find the idea that somehow Condi's presence on the board an indicator that they'll disclose my data to the government borderline ludicrous.
But why is she a board member? Who hired her? You make it sound like she was forced on Dropbox by outside forces, and they completely disagree with her. In reality, Dropbox hired her, so they do not completely disagree with her.
It's not just about Rice, it's about what this says about Dropbox.
I did not mean to give the opinion that I thought Dropbox was forced to hire Condi. Nor did I intend to suggest that Dropbox agrees or disagrees with her.
Here's what I think. I think Dropbox said, "As we try to beef up our credibility with large enterprises and government agencies vs. Box.net and Google and other companies, it would be helpful if we had a board member with some street cred that we could use as a selling point with large CEOs, CIOs, and other senior tech people".
This is not an uncommon thing. At that point, you look out across the landscape of "famous people" you can put on your board. It can't be anyone who is affiliated with a competitor, and there's a lot of competitors. It has to be someone with name recognition who also is willing to be a board member and has some sort of leadership experience.
At some point, Condi's name cropped up with a few others, they met her, thought she was smart, she had the time and availability, and they brought her on.
I bet someone at some point said, "Hey, you know, are we concerned with the affiliation with GWB?" and they thought about it they said, "Hey, look, she was SECRETARY OF STATE, the first female african american one, she's a former stanford professor, she's a genius, surely people will recognize that this is different than her work with GWB"
Agreed. Usually the motivation to have someone like Rice on your board, is to have more government connections, for the purpose of not doing what the government wants. i.e. Influencing the government, as opposed to it influencing you.
Edit: Admittedly this can be a bargain with the devil, and backfire.
To me, this looks like it may have been directly inspired by the Eich case. The whole premise is a little nonsensical. How will kicking her off the board change anything, when the shareholders (or whoever) who appointed her will remain? No time to answer questions like that when there is demagogy to do. It is a personal vendetta in a very similar vein as the Mozilla incident, even if the justifications may be better this time around.
Wait .. are war-criminals now an oppressed minority? Not that i'm convinced she is a war-criminal, but it's not an easily refutable position, is it?.
On the other hand. It stands to reason Dropbox wants a well connected politician on their board, so they can lobby against the NSA style policies that are negatively affecting their international sales.
>One individual or group, finally crawling out of being persecuted, deciding to persecute another is just plain disgusting.
And this is just disingenious. This was not the case with the Mozilla guy, nor is this the case here. For starters: gays are still being persecuted in many US and international jurisdictions. That war, and it is a war for civil rights, is still ongoing. Secondly, it's not a group that is being targetted but specific individuals because of their complicity in what is essentially a hate-crime they just got away with. That's like arguing we shouldn't perscute/target nazi-collaborators in the middle of WWII. (although one can argue perscuting collaborators after the war, wasn't the moral high ground either)
But, on a more meta level. I think the tech sector is getting more into politics, because the politics are getting more into the tech sector. Consider the NSA, net-neutrality, DMCA or all the twitter powered revolutions. I mean, the internet is essentially fueling a proccess of globalisation and democratisation, that has a lot of political implications.
We can no longer pretend technology isn't a political weapon of change, because the powers that be, are getting more and more aware of this.
I feel this is different. With Mozilla I don't think the guys personal opinion (right or wrong) would affect his job. In this case it's different. You're trusting Dropbox with your data and on their board is a woman who was a senior member of an administration that created PRISM. This could effect the product is serious negative ways.
Unless a company is actively hurting people, I'm going to choose what I use based on the quality of the product, not on a board member's past. Maybe they determined that a hardened political voice would balance them out in the boardroom. Maybe they need someone there to play the devil's advocate in an industry that can be extraordinarily narcissistic.
It's as voluntary as taking a shower everyday. I don't consciously think about where the product comes from when I buy stuff, especially when it comes to commodities. If you start doing that you can't buy stuff anymore and you have to grow your own stuff yourself and stop trusting everyone else on the planet :)
> If you start doing that you can't buy stuff anymore and you have to grow your own stuff yourself and stop trusting everyone else on the planet :)
That's exactly my point. If you're assigning blame for something the US government did to someone because they paid taxes, then you can pretty much assign blame to everyone for everything. Oh, you went to Stanford during the '90s? Well Rice was provost then, so you helped pay her salary are therefore responsible for the deaths that occurred in the Iraq war. It's absurd.
"The ability to work alongside or for people with whom we have a deep political disagreement is not a minor issue in a liberal society. It is a core foundation of toleration. We either develop the ability to tolerate those with whom we deeply disagree, or liberal society is basically impossible. Civil conversation becomes culture war; arguments and reason cede to emotion and anger."
Also available at above link: select quotations from John Locke.
Postscript. Oh, of course I'm going to be modded down for this. Civil conversation has been replaced with culture war. Well, maybe not culture war, but a close analogue. :P
> Postscript. Oh, of course I'm going to be modded down for this. Civil conversation has been replaced with culture war. Well, maybe not culture war, but a close analogue. :P
Lets not get into that.
However, to your point: This is one of those areas where I'm forced to wonder just how strongly everyone felt. Did I like Eich representing me, as an open source contributor? No, certainly not. Did I feel that strongly about it? No, not really. I wasn't going to boycott anything, I wasn't going to speak out against Mozilla. I'd be mildly disappointed he was their choice, then I would move on.
I sincerely have to wonder how many others would have felt the same if not worked into a lather.
I didn't know they were on the board of directors of Dropbox. Very interesting.
Yes: a large percentage of the politicians in power today are responsible for the heinous crimes against humanity being committed, even yet daily, in the name of the American people - and YES, you SHOULD hold them accountable, since - as an American - you, yourself, are also responsible for the heinous actions of your nation state.
See, that doesn't work. There's no such thing as a recall for some positions, and it's pretty hard to be responsible for someone who says they're going to do one thing and then does a completely different thing once they're beyond accountability.
Biggest prison population, enslaved, of any western nation.
Largest perpetrator of crimes against humanity in the last 80 years.
Among the worst health care in the developed world, Atrocious statistics in welfare conditions, in general (been to Skid Row, lately, homie?), categorically the worst exporter of waste, of the so-called developed nations, never mind it considers itself a super-power.
Apartheid in America? You're just not watching it on your channels .. but its there.
Slavery? White slavery? America is the home of it.
So you also never eat ketchup as well, right? What about making sure that you never buy gasoline from a major, evil gas producer? Are all of your clothing options carefully selected and verified as to not benefit from child labor? And, of course, you didn't write that message on an Apple product, since they are assembled in what are essentially slave labor camps?
Easy. Voting to give someone the authority to go to war, and actually taking the country to war on faulty or fabricated evidence are in entirely different universes. Voting for war authority was likely necessary as a bargaining chip against Iraq to get them to comply with inspections. That Bush took that as a blank check and skipped further diplomatic processes is entirely on his (and his administration's) shoulders.
> Voting for war authority was likely necessary as a bargaining chip against Iraq to get them to comply with inspections.
No, authorization for war action is not a "bargaining chip," it's an authorization to go to war for an extended period of time. The president can already invade any country for 60 days without needing Congress's blessing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Powers_Resolution
Obama used that power with Lybia. Of course, you can argue that you can invade a country or attack it for a longer period of time without actually breaching the War Powers Resolution, as Obama did: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/us/politics/16powers.html?...
How do you recall or condemn that type of action from a sitting president?
What evidence do you have that there was fabricated evidence to justify the war? I'm not saying it wasn't faulty, but all the parties has closed door access to all the intelligence to make a decision. Just because we don't like the decision retroactively doesn't mean it was done on purpose, but rather due to mistakes being made. Not to say that's more comforting, just that they are different things.
1. Cheney strongly pressured the CIA to discover a smoking gun for Iraq WMDs
2. CIA produced a document that they themselves questioned the authenticity of (the "yellow cake" purchase document)
3. Bush/Cheney ran with that, ignoring the caveats of the intelligence and trumpeting it as the smoking gun
4. Later discovered that the document was fabricated
So while I haven't seen any evidence that they were personally involved in fabricating the evidence, they fabricated the narrative that justified the war by interfering with the intelligence gathering and vetting process and ignoring their recommendations.
Claims that senators that voted for war are just as responsible because "they saw the same evidence" does not account for reality. Senators are shown evidence, they are not involved in the process of gathering and vetting that evidence. If this process is interfered with then the conclusions are worthless.
> Senators are shown evidence, they are not involved in the process of gathering and vetting that evidence. If this process is interfered with then the conclusions are worthless.
Senators can request additional information on the processes that is shares in closed doors. There is also the intelligence oversight committee that can investigate those actions and bring all the parties involved to actually testify.
The fact that not many members of Congress questioned what was presented ultimately rests solely on their shoulders, since they can choose to request more information and open inquiries.
The Chevron example came out of left-field. While the other sections focused on actions or positions that Rice had taken, the Chevron anecdote would have us believe that Rice is an unethical person simply because she had a relationship with the company.
This is one of many unfair generalizations about energy companies. In reality, Chevron is one of the greatest contributors to alternative energy research. Without it and ExxonMobil, there wouldn't have been half as much progress toward sustainable power.
Well this is blatantly ignoring the anti-alternative energy contributions they've given. Although their own research may have contributed that much, the possible government funded research if they had not lobbied against it would have been that much more. They've deliberately stifled research that would directly contribute to non-oil based energies.
I mean, just imagine if the subsidies and tax cuts the oil companies get went instead to alternative energy research. We would be decades ahead of where we are now. Look at this 2008 article from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/347/oil-politics.html.
The fact is that the IC (Intelligence Community) has infiltrated most companies of strategic intelligence value. That's not really up for debate. However, it's also clandestine and presumably against the foreknowledge of the infiltrated companies. While as user, these actions are concerning, it's understandable that infiltrated companies may not be willing divulging their customer's data. While it's easy to point fingers, I'm willing to look beyond a certain amount of corporate ignorance stemming from a pre-Snowden world.
In a post-Snowden world, continued ignorance of embedded security assets in the corporate infrastructure is no longer acceptable. I say this with some hesitation, as I'm friends with several such assets and wish no ill will toward them as individuals. Yet, it cannot be ignored that companies should be expected to limit their trust of those whom have sworn oaths in conflict with their corporate interests, especially when their actions have spoken louder than their words.
Condolezza Rice has repeatedly shown that her interests lie too close to the agenda of the Intelligence Community and are at conflict with the expectations of security and privacy that I expect of a service such as Dropbox.
This is what I told Dropbox when I deleted my account.
Within the progressive community, and other activist communities from all sides (in and out of the US), there is a line of thinking that individuals should actively seek to do business with companies that share their values, use neutral companies when avoidable, and endure discomfort before using products of companies actively doing evil.
I think that before we can discuss the "hypocrisy" of this versus Mozilla, or of the merit of such protests, we should first ask ourselves whether we agree with the above statement as part of our core values.
After that, we can discuss what actions line up within the three categories, and if the actions of the company are equivalent to the actions of the leadership.
To me, the Iraq issue is important, but it is not as important to me as my right to be a first class citizen of this society. My friends who work on the issue would have a different perspective.
Thus, to me, this is a warning indicator that Dropbox may not align with my values, and is worth investigating, but isn't worth making a quick decision. That said, I felt the same way about Mozilla.
Many of the comments that I've seen here are indirectly addressing this issue, but I think this is a value proposition that we each have to make within ourselves first.
Why would a company that can store people's potentially most sensitive documents want to bring someone on board that directly or indirectly was a part of shaping the NSA programs?
That boggles my mind. How does the conversation go in this situation? "Hey, we don't leak your information but guess what, we just brought someone on our board that fully believes taking a peek at your documents is A OK and was involved with making sure the government could take a look."
A lot of people here seem to have absolutely no issue with saying "I have no problem with the ethical ramifications of a company's actions or choice of representatives or the beneficiaries of a company's wealth that my support helps grow". I can't tell if you're sociopathic or just utterly clueless. Not taking a 'moral stand' isn't business -- it's taking a moral stand of not caring. Culpability can stem from inaction as well.