April 22, 2005

Blogs buzzing about religion and Microsoft.

The NYT seems to be going out of its way to frame and feature stories about how the agents of religion are controlling things behind the scenes. This front page story, about how Microsoft withdrew its support for a state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, introduces a rumor this way:
Blogs and online chat rooms were buzzing on Thursday with accusations that the company, which has offered benefits to same-sex partners for years, had given in to the Christian right....

Microsoft officials denied any connection between their decision not to endorse the bill and the church's opposition, although they acknowledged meeting twice with the church minister, Ken Hutcherson.

Dr. Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, who has organized several rallies opposing same-sex marriage here and in Washington, D.C., said he threatened in those meetings to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products.

After that, "they backed off," the pastor said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about," he said.
It's no surprise that Hutcherson would be eager to provide a useful quote. Presumably, he likes to see himself as a power wielder. Microsoft itself has been long been a leader in recognizing gay rights on its own -- as the article notes -- and already offers more than the state law would require.

By the way, the paper copy is worded differently: "Blogs and online chat rooms were aflame on Thursday with accusations that the company, which has offered benefits to same-sex partners for years, had caved to the Christian right." Was some decision made to tone it down? Maybe "aflame" seemed to contain a slur against gays, but that doesn't explain replacing the strong verb "caved" with the weak "given in."


Nick said...

While "aflame" could have been a slur... it could also refer to the geek term "flame" which is when a person or company is bashed on a forum/blog/chatroom in a very harsh, mean way.

grrrbear said...

Isn't it a little silly to assume that Microsoft would be threatened by any boycott? Does anyone really think that the Christian right is going to rush out and buy Macs or re-load their PC's with Linux, Firefox, and Staroffice? Home users probably wouldn't do it because it's a pain, and business users wouldn't do it because it would be too expensive. It's one thing to threaten a boycott, but this one just doesn't seem like it would be credible.

Dave said...

This is much ado about nothing, as far as I can tell. Please see, for example, this and this.

I find it unlikely that a company like Microsoft would be threatened by a Jesse Jackson-style exploitation attempt.

in_the_middle said...

if the christian right did go do that, grrbear, they would spend a lot less time fighting viruses and security holes... but that's another story :)

i think what's curious is that MS DID support the legislation in years past, and their explanation of why they are no longer is specious at the very best.

TigerHawk said...

Great job catching the difference between the paper edition and the online version. I missed that one.

Frankly, the Times article was asinine on many levels.