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My Opinion is Excellent, Yours Costs You

October 8, 2012

A couple years ago, the company I work for, Intel, did a big push for encouraging volunteer hours by its employees in Intel’s name.  As a strong member of the communities in which we live, I could understand the desire to have the employees stand and be counted.  But I was somewhat bothered by the fact that my company wanted to claim credit for what I did independent of whether it convinced me to do it.  When I took that to my friend and mentor who was running our Corporate Affairs group at the time (as did others, I’m sure), he gave me some nice “do it for the team” speech.  Then he sweetened the pot by offering to provide matching dollars from our Intel Foundation to the organizations at which we volunteered.  Okay, if it was good for the organizations, then I could see the point.

Flash forward to late last week, when I got a curious e-mail concerning a “clarification” of our funding through the Intel Foundation.  Apparently, a couple weeks before, there had been some noise about different organizations that were benefitting from the payments.  Specifically, the Boy Scouts of America had been singled out for its “discriminatory” stance on gay members.  I’d encourage you to go read the article in its entirety.  It’s a thorough, if biased, read of the situation, and I can’t find something specific that summarizes things.

Anyway, the message from inside, was a mirror to what the company confirmed outside.  I found an official comment in a couple places, but here’s a representative sample:

Mulloy said that individual Boy Scout troops that participate in the volunteer matching program will be contacted to ensure that they follow Intel’s non-discrimination policy.

“We want them to acknowledge that they have read and will comply with the non-discrimination policy,” he said. “For example, let’s say Troop 222 is going to get funded. They will get a letter that says, ‘You understand — and your organization will comply with — the non-discrimination policy.’”

If the troop does not sign that letter, it will not get funded, said Mulloy.

Mulloy said that the new rules in the program will apply to every organization slated to receive funds, not just the Boy Scouts, and scout troops that sign the non-discrimination statement will still receive funding.

I should be clear here… The Intel Foundation has the right to give its money to anyone it wishes, and withhold it as well.  It’s a private foundation.  What I find ironic is that the statement of the foundation is that it fully supports a diversity of opinion, and it’s going to make sure that that diversity of opinion is the same for everyone.  Opinions like this, apparently:

No, the Boy Scouts is in it for the long haul, determined to exclude gay people forever. Membership is already down, but the BSA is not budging, staying true to its anti-gay mission. The only thing that may change that is if it becomes severely financially debilitated. But whether or not that is the case, companies, no matter their claims of good intentions, should not be funding bigotry.

Note that nowhere in this post am I expressing an opinion on the BSA, the people against the BSA, or the Intel Foundation.  I have an opinion, but it’s not relevant to the discussion.  I’ll note that the stance of BSA has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, and it was ruled as constitutionally protected in its opinion.  The people expressing opinions againt it are also constitutionally protected.  Yea, “protection” is a word that comes to mind, though.

…there’s a definite flair for a mafia style protection racket. “We’re not saying you HAVE to pay us protection $, we’re not saying to HAVE to sign a paper indicating you’re part of our thought club, we don’t FORCE you to take public transport, get rid of the SUV we hate, have smaller families to fit in SmartCars….- but if you don’t, well, it’d be a shame what happens to…_____” (insert whatever you happen to care about that can be used to “encourage” your support….

I wonder what types of organizations are going to react to the letter they’re about to get, and where money will talk… Either way, I’m concerned for a diversity of opinion, and what I think of that diversity is irrelevant.  Too bad I appear to be one of the few that believe that.

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