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The Social Justice Mob Tries to Do to Tech What It Did to Academia

Debra Saunders on

The same tactics used to suppress dissent in academia -- with the goal of making colleges "safe spaces" that feel "welcoming" to snowflakes -- have graduated to the tech world.

Fortunately, rather than let activists do to their startups what they did to academia, some CEOs are fighting back.

This episode begins when a new employee at Basecamp, a Chicago-based software firm, formed a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI, as it is known) committee to improve workplace diversity.

In short order, the atmosphere at Basecamp became so toxic that management told staff to stop pushing their politics at work.

"No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account," CEO Jason Fried announced in a blog post. "It's a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialogue toward dark places."

The Verge's Casey Newton reported that a third of Basecamp's roughly 58 employees planned to quit.

 

The committee then went back in time -- to a list started more than a decade ago by customer service workers who found some client names funny. They were the kinds of names, like Mike Rotch, a Basecamper told Newton, which Bart Simpson might use to make prank calls.

Some names were American or European; others were Asian or African. "What once had felt like an innocent way to blow off steam, amid the ongoing cultural reckoning over speech and corporate responsibility, increasingly looked inappropriate, and often racist," Newton wrote.

The DEI crew demanded a reckoning. Two employees posted an apology for their contribution to the list -- it came with an image of the Anti-Defamation League "pyramid of hate" which illustrates how unchecked, biased behavior, including insensitive remarks, can lead to violence, even genocide.

I guess you had to be there, because in the real world a moldy list of names a 13-year-old would find funny does not belong on the same page as mass murder. Period.

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