We Are Not The Hero In This Story…

“There are people in this world who deal only in extremes. It’s naive to think that anything less than extreme measures will stop them.” – Amanda Waller, Arrow

Call it a fitting coincidence, call it good timing, but the Arrow episode, “The Brave and the Bold,” provided an unintentional precursor to the debate the U.S. is currently having about torture after the CIA report summary from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released to the public on Tuesday.

Arrow does an excellent job with Amanda Waller’s character. She is not a hero in the traditional sense and often blurs the line between anti-hero and villain in the comics. However, in the New 52 version of Waller and in the show, she is a well-intentioned extremist who acts on her perception of the greater good.

Personally, this is my favorite version of Amanda Waller. There is more complexity to this character. Ultimately, she acts on what she believes is the greater good. She makes difficult choices that are, at times, morally shady; her character is even amoral. She cannot concern herself with what is and isn’t moral. For Waller, it is about the big picture — the greater good.

“The Brave and the Bold” explores the contrast between the type of hero Barry Allen/The Flash is and the type of hero (or anti-hero) Oliver Queen/The Arrow is. The question both men have to look inside themselves to answer is, what makes a true hero? And, what kind of hero does the world really need?

Allen is the archetypical hero. He believes there is a moral line that cannot, under any circumstances, be crossed or sacrificed even for the greater good. Arrow, as well as ARGUS agents and Waller, believe that to deal with the extreme, extreme measures are necessary — including torture to get information.

Arrow believes that by going to these extremes, he has sacrificed his humanity, but that is a necessary sacrifice to achieve the greatest good.

Is the United States not reflecting on a similar question right now? Instead of asking what hero we are going to be, we are asking what role we should be playing in the world and how much of who we are we are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of our enemies.

The U.S. was founded on the principles of due process and equal protection under the law. Due process applies to everyone — not just citizens. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, either in the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment, does it say that only citizens are entitled to due process.

The Fifth Amendment says, “no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment says, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Not just citizens… any person.

After reading some of the tactics used by the CIA to interrogate suspects, there are incidents of cruel and unusual punishment, which of course is in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

After September 11, 2001, we entered uncertain times. We were willing to go to war to fight terrorism. We were willing to go to extremes, and we adopted the very mentality that Amanda Waller has about fighting extremism. We were chasing people who only deal in extremes and we concluded that it was foolish to think anything, but extreme measures would produce results.

But in doing so, we forsook the very principles this nation was founded on. We violated our own laws and we turned our backs on any concept of right and wrong. Torture is wrong. There is no debate here. The only debate we can have is what role we want to have in the world — what image do we want to have?

Are we willing to sacrifice who we are — what makes us different from our enemies? Or, are we going to be the moral standard-bearer, the example that no matter how extreme the enemy is, we will not sacrifice who we are in our response to them?

If You Lose Your Head, You Lose The Debate

The moment a person allows someone to push them into an emotional response is the moment they lose the argument. It doesn’t matter if he or she is ultimately on the right side of the argument because if they get emotional they are no longer the levelheaded one.

In public debates, there are so many people who are not really interested in winning on facts, but pushing the other person to make an emotional outburst and invoking the emotions of those around them. By manipulating people’s emotions, they can win the debate without having to deal with the burdensome task of actually presenting facts.

There are people whose knee jerk reaction may be to disagree with this: facts are facts. Yes, that is true, but people are not as strongly moved by facts as they are by the emotions of others or their own emotions. If facts and evidence were so important to swaying public opinion, then we wouldn’t be having a debate on climate change and people would not be panicking over Ebola.

This is one of the major problems with public debates in American politics. The goal is to spur an emotional response, not to have a productive and informative discussion.

This is why we cannot have a real discussion on the topics of terrorism, defining war, anything involving the U.S.’s foreign policy in the Middle East, illegal immigration, climate change, creating jobs, wages, spurring economic growth, any social issue and really any topic that is at the forefront of public discourse.

Take, for instance, the debate between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on The Real Time with Bill Maher during the episode that aired on Friday, October 3. Unfortunately, the video of this specific segment is not available on YouTube — at least not yet, but there are other videos from that show, including the overtime, which talks about some interesting topics.

Now, Harris and Maher are in agreement that the religion of Islam instills hostility toward people who are not Muslims and anyone who tries to leave the Islamic faith. Before Harris could finish talking, however, he was interrupted by Affleck who fell into the trap of relying solely on an emotional response based on what he has seen with his own eyes from people in the Middle East and surrounding regions.

In the U.S., regardless of where one stands on the topic of Islam, they typically approach it from some preconceived notion because most people don’t have first-hand experience in North Africa or the Middle East.

Now, Affleck had an opportunity to present what he has seen from Muslims in this region as evidence that a majority of the over one billion people who practice the Islamic faith worldwide are not violent, they’re not terrorists, they’re peaceful people who just want to live and to be educated and to be happy.

If people read books like Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, they would be given a fresh, first-hand perspective on how many Muslims live in the Middle East, and most of them are not too concerned with Americans or Christians or anyone who is not of Islamic faith, because they just want to live.

They don’t want to be burdened by the troubles of the world, just like most people, but when radical militant groups form, they often manipulate people in this region by threatening then with violence. We often don’t think about many people in this region as being victims of these groups, but they are.

Affleck, along with Nicholas Kristof, had an opportunity to present this very valid point about life in the Middle East, but Affleck kept interrupting Harris. He was getting flustered and responding emotionally to what Harris was saying. While it is an emotional topic, from the viewer’s perspective, Affleck came off as unhinged and uninformed.

Affleck lost the debate. It doesn’t matter if he was on the right side of the debate. He lost it because he lost his cool. He was no longer the levelheaded one in the debate

Now, the reality is that when people discuss the most radical factions of Islam and compare it to the most radical factions of, say, Christianity, the radical factions of Islam are more extreme, they are more violent, and they are mostly terrorist organizations.

Typically, when we think of the most radical groups within Christianity, we think of churches like the Westboro Baptist Church, which at worst is just a public and social nuisance. Society views their behavior as unacceptable, but they never get violent. They hope to get a hostile reaction from opponents so they can sue them to keep their operations going, but that is about it.

When we see the Middle East portrayed on the news, all we see are the radical militant groups like ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and others like them. We don’t see the average Muslim, the man or woman who is just trying to provide for their family, the child who just wants to be educated, and the people who just want to live their lives in peace without bothering anyone or being bothered.

There is no better example of how Americans view the Middle East and the surrounding region than the U.S.’s drone policy. When we send a drone to take out a target, we don’t look at it as violating sovereign airspace, we don’t see the dozens of innocent people who may be killed in the strike, we only see the person or persons we are targeting. Innocent casualties far outnumber the terrorists we have taken out from these strikes.

The United States has killed someone in a drone strike just because they were a tall, Muslim male and therefore looked like Bin Laden, without even caring if the person was actually a terrorist or about the other people who were killed in the strike. While collateral damage has always been an unfortunate side effect of war, it has become an acceptable part of the nation’s foreign policy.

We don’t see what it does to communities in this region or how it has an adverse effect in preventing terrorist organizations from growing.

Many people only see what television news wants to report on and what television news usually wants to report on is whatever can spur the most emotion from their audience, because that is good for ratings. If it bleeds, it leads, and if it spurs outrage or fear, it is all the media wants to talk about, because people will tune in.

We ignore facts; we ignore reason. We are mostly swayed by emotion — one way or another. Because of this, we will never have a productive discussion on the subject of Islam and terrorism.

Capitalizing on Fear: Media, Politicians Gain Much from Keeping You Scared

Rand Paul said that the Obama administration is downplaying the Ebola threat for the sake of political correctness. True, Ebola is not to be taken lightly. It is a serious, life-threatening virus. However, what about the people who are trying to capitalize on other people’s fears, whether it be by money, ratings, or political points?

“Instead of inciting panic among the public, it is important to inform people of what we do know. What is Ebola? How does one catch the virus? What are the odds an individual will catch the virus? Are the identified cases isolated and properly quarantined? How are we better equipped to handle Ebola than countries in West Africa (because we are immensely so)? If people considered this rationally, the answers to these questions should calm some fears.

Most importantly, people who are not an expert on Ebola should (a) not pretend to be an expert on Ebola and (b) not dismiss experts because fear mongering is good for ratings or good for scoring political points.

Ebola is a serious, life-threatening virus. Rand Paul is right that we should not downplay the realities of diseases and viruses like Ebola for the sake of political correctness and we should have a rational, scientific discussion. However, we should not sacrifice a rational response for the sake of capitalizing on other people’s fears.”

Read the full article here.

‘Gotham’ May Do Well to Stay Away from the Joker

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If I was a gambling man, I would bet money that the standup comedian from the Pilot episode of Gotham was not the Joker, despite a number of websites posing that very question. While some say it was on the minds of everyone watching the episode, I didn’t even consider him a possibility.

However, without Batman, I didn’t think creators of the show would touch the Joker.

I think the idea that creators of the show may tease different people who could possibly end up being the Joker is brilliant from a marketing standpoint. The Joker is a villain everyone — whether they are avid comic readers or not — wants to see. However, the Joker is an established Gotham villain that shows up after Bruce Wayne puts on the cape and cowl.

Even if they incorporate the Joker at some point in the Gotham series, it is way too early to even introduce the person who will end up being the iconic villain. As creators of the show said, the Joker is the “crown jewel” of Gotham villains.

Not just Gotham villains either, but DC villains. Of all the DC villains that have shown up in the comics, none of them can really be considered ‘sacred’ in the way the Joker is. Any story involving him, especially dealing with his origins, needs to be handled with care. Even the tiniest screw up will mean severe backlash from the fans.

It is true that Gotham could go with Alan Moore’s origin story for the Joker from The Killing Joke, portraying him as a struggling standup comedian, but it may not make much sense when they are playing the gang wars up as much as they are. If they do bring in the Joker at some point, we may see him first emerge as a rival gang leader who works behind the scenes and threatens the balance of power — maybe as the Red Hood — but then again this is pure speculation.

Without Batman, it may be best for the creators of Gotham to stay away from the Joker period. It may not go over as well with the fans if James Gordon confronts the Joker and not Batman. This is one of those delicate balancing acts that creators of the show have to consider, because there are some villains that are accepted as almost Batman exclusive. Batman has to be the one to face them and no one else.

However, as previously mentioned, some critics have raised a legitimate point that the show may not last long if it turns out to be just another cop drama about a good cop in a corrupt department or city. The show has started off well, but they have to continue to offer more.

It will be interesting to see what creators of Gotham do in future episodes. Personally, I am excited about the future of the show. I was excited to see it finally premiere on Monday. I look forward to seeing the second episode, “Selina Kyle,” on September 29. I think creators of the show have plenty to work with to make this not only a great TV series, but a series with a long run.

Whether They Buy The New iPhone or Not, Consumers Like to Feel Special

Recently, I read a list of 21 reasons why the author of the post was not going to buy the iPhone 6 or the behemoth iPhone 6 Plus. My initial reaction was an eye roll because, quite frankly, such a list comes off a little pretentious. When a new iPhone comes out, so many people go out of their way to tell people that they are not going to buy it.

Still, I read on because it was late and I had a few moments of free time.

The first reason that caught my eye was “bendgate.”

Yes, the iPhone bends, a problem that is much more serious with the iPhone 6 Plus because neither a person’s pockets nor their anatomy are shaped for a phone with a 5.5 inch screen.

While phones made out of plastic do not have the same bending problems (they can bend, but they will go back into place), applying enough pressure by, say, sitting on the phone or sitting a certain way for too long has the potential of damaging any smartphone. Sitting on a phone wrong with enough pressure could, for instance, crack the screen.

The iPhone 6 Plus is unwieldy. From the moment I saw it, my response was a simple, “No.” Personally, I don’t want to feel like I am holding a tablet up to my ear when talk on the phone. Since I have an iPad Mini with Retina Display (which has the same tech specs as the iPad Air. It is just smaller and costs less), it seemed impractical to get the Plus.

I haven’t owned an iPhone in 5-6 years. I stuck with Android for a long time, switching from Motorola to Samsung to HTC — all phones I liked. Before buying the iPhone 6, I had an HTC One. It is a great phone. The Samsung Galaxy S III I owned before that was a great phone. I am pretty adaptable to iOS or Android.

I am not the person who doesn’t like Apple just because they want to say they are not an Apple conformist and makes it their mission to remind everyone that they are not one of the “sheeple.” I am not an iPhone elitist who thinks they are special for owning the latest Apple product — which is always expensive.

I wanted a change, so I bought an iPhone this time around. Truth be told, because I work mostly on Mac computers and tablets, practicality once again played a role in my decision. Everything just syncs seamlessly and as time progresses, the iCloud Drive will really come in handy.

I do have my issues with the iCloud Drive right now, though, since I cannot sync the iCloud Drive on my iPhone and iPad with my computer because the version of OS X needed to sync with iOS 8 mobile devices has not released yet. Apple is far from a perfect company and will likely never return to its previous glory under the leadership of Steve Jobs.

Now, the longer I read this list of reasons why the author was not buying an iPhone, the more I found his list reasonable.

He listed the problems with iOS 8.0.1, which seems a little silly because users buy the phone with iOS 8.0. Despite having some bugs with the HealthKit (which he mentions as a reason he is not buying the new iPhone), iOS 8 has not been problematic. Apple pulled iOS 8.0.1., will patch it, and will re-release it likely soon.

If people didn’t buy a smartphone for every little bug that is found in a new version of an operating system, the market would suffer.

But, then the author lists some sensible reasons for not buying the new iPhone, such as Android winning the market share battle, the broader choices with Android, the fact that his iPhone 4 works just fine and he will keep it until it dies, and because it really isn’t much of a leap from the iPhone 5s.

If someone has been an iPhone customer for a while, if there isn’t much difference between the last generation of the phone and the newest generation, then buying the new phone simply because it is new is not a practical use of money. Since I have not owned an iPhone in half a decade, I am not going to notice just how small the leap is nor do I care.

Then, I read one reason I respected for its honesty:

“I’m not buying an iPhone 6 because I kind of like feeling superior, standing on the outside and looking in at a party that I don’t really want to join anyway.”

Though many consumers will not admit this out loud, the author is not alone in this. Most consumers like to feel superior or special. Plenty of people don’t buy the iPhone because they want to say things like, “I’m not buying an iPhone 6 because I’m not one of the sheeple.” (Another reason on the list)

Essentially, some Android consumers are the goth kids from South Park. They are the epitome of nonconformism and if you don’t mold your consumer habits exactly like them, then you are just another Apple conformist, hypnotized by shiny products.

But again, Apple consumers can be the same way. I know people who have bought every new generation of iPhone as soon as it releases, which baffles me when the major wireless companies require customers to have a two-year plan and a new version of the iPhone comes out at least once a year.

So, some people spend a lot of money just so they can have the latest product from Apple. It makes them feel special.

One way or another, consumers like to feel superior. There is not necessarily anything wrong with this; it is just a fundamental truth about American consumers — about people in general. People either want to feel like they are ahead of the curve or above it all.

Why Everything Gotham Has Done So Far Is A Good Sign

There has only been one episode of Gotham, but already there are plenty of things the show is doing right and certain things creators of the show need to keep in mind as it progresses.

Gotham is dark, gritty, and everything a fan of the Batman franchise wants to see from a show that centers around James Gordon, Gotham City, and the vast corruption that festered in the city before the Zero Year. It also promises a new look at the origin stories for Commissioner Gordon and some of Gotham’s most notorious villains.

Some critics have questioned the longevity of a show based off the Batman franchise that does not actually have Batman in it. On the surface it seems like another cop drama — something the market has been severely diluted with — and the familiar story of a good cop trying to make it in a corrupt police department and city.

Well, that is the story of James Gordon. When he arrives in Gotham, the city is controlled by organized crime. There are very few cops who are actually on the level and Gordon makes a lot of enemies before he makes friends.

However, the creators of the show are also working with the creators of the comics — Geoff Johns in an executive producer on the show.

There are plenty of origin stories to work with along with Jim Gordon’s — Selina Kyle (who was the first to appear in the Pilot), Edward Nigma (The Riddler), the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Harvey Bullock’s transformation from being a cop who is just looking to survive in the Hobbesian state Gotham is in to being Gordon’s right-hand man, other villains that will emerge, and the early years of Bruce Wayne after his parents are murdered — which is not something that has been explored much.

There is a major villain that is not established in the comic book cannon — Fish Mooney (played by Jada Pinkett Smith). There is a gang war in Gotham coming. Gordon will still be investigating the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

Creators of the show have indicated that they will incorporate the Joker at some point, but they are going to treat his character with care since he is the crown jewel of Gotham villains. The Joker is sacred and one misstep in telling some form of an origin story for him will be met with severe backlash from fans.

Gotham has plenty to work with to keep the showing going for at least a few season. That is, as long as Fox doesn’t cancel it, which I wouldn’t put it past the network to do given its history.

Everything that the creators of the show are setting up so far promise a good show with a long run, but the concern that the show could just turn into another cop drama about a good cop in a corrupt town is valid. It is up to creators to follow through with what they have already set up in the Pilot.

So far, the only character I am not entirely sold on is Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred must become Batman’s tie to humanity, the one person who keeps him from going full dark side and keeps him in check. People have pointed out that Alfred came off mean in the Pilot, but I think meanness should not be confused with sternness since now he has the responsibility of being a father figure to Bruce Wayne.

Also, Alfred is ex-British special forces. They haven’t gotten into that in the show, and they may or may not do so, but since this is a younger version of Alfred than fans are accustomed to, they have some room to work with. These are all origin stories that creators of the show can take some liberty with — although not too much.

I always apply the three episode rule to new shows. It doesn’t matter if I loved the Pilot because I want to know that there is consistency, so we will see how the creators of the show do. So far, however, Gotham has met my expectations and I look forward to seeing where they go with it.

I Didn’t Type This Post

It is not Dragon Dictate or any kind of speech-to-text software. This post was written using the Livescribe smartpen 3. It wasn’t typed out on a computer; it was written in a notebook.

The smartpen translates written word into digital text and it is more accurate than Dragon Dictate. Speech-to-text or voice-to-text software requires the program to learn how a person speaks and pronounces words. It takes time to get it to operate the way the user wants.

The Livescribe smartpen 3 is incredibly accurate with great handwriting, and even does pretty well with handwriting as poor as mine. As long as the pen is connected to the Livescribe+ mobile app, it works like a charm. The paper used for the smartpen maps each stroke of the pen and then the app can convert the writing into plain text.

Smartpens are a tool I would recommend to any writer. It is ideal for note taking, but can certainly be used for longer posts (though the longer the post, the more editing it will likely require) and recording audio to sync with notes.

Writing stuff down pen-to-paper has several benefits. The first is focus. People focus a lot more when they write stuff down as opposed to typing on a computer. Computers are distracting.

Writers may know what it is like to type a sentence, read it back, and notice they didn’t type an “of” or an “on” or small words like that because they are really not as focused as they would be if they were writing pen-to-paper. Writers would be amazed what a little more focus would do for writer’s block.

The pen also allows people to be more mobile with their writing. It is frustrating to get a great idea, but have no access to a computer at the time, and it happens all the time.

For my own writing, I look forward to seeing how much it helps.

Author’s note: As mentioned above, the smartpen is accurate, but is not 100 percent perfect. Some editing was required.

When Writer’s Block Is At Its Worst

For the last month, I have had a severe case of writer’s block. It is likely a result of how I have felt mentally and physically.

In the last couple of weeks, I have woken up to a hollow feeling that typically passes as the day progresses, but it is the same feeling every morning. It feels like it eats away at your insides. It is not the first time I have felt like this and I know it will not be the last. It is just something I have to deal with and move forward.

I had plans for this website — plans I have not yet seen come to fruition. The desire to update it has just not come to me. Hopefully, things will turn around soon.

It is a hard feeling when you don’t feel like doing the thing you have been passionate about since you were a child. I try to work on my fiction and while scenes play out well enough in my head, scenes I think would be perfect for the story I am working on, they just haven’t translated as well into words.

I hadn’t considered doing a prologue for my story, but over the last couple of weeks I thought it would be good to introduce how two major characters meet and how the protagonist ends up where he does when the story begins.

The scene I have envisioned I think would work very well; the words, however, escape me when I put pen to paper. I feel I need more cognitive stimulation than I have been getting lately.

Getting over all of this just requires time…

Batman: Assault on Arkham — The Review

2014 has been a big year for DC Entertainment, specifically with its DC Universe Original Animated Movies. First, Justice League: War released, the follow up to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and the first Justice League movie to take place in the New 52 universe. This was followed by Son of Batman, an animated movie based off the graphic novel, Batman and Son.

On August 12, DC will release Batman: Assault on Arkham, which is the first movie to be based off the universe created in the Batman: Arkham video games.

Of course, Batman: Assault on Arkham is available on VOD through Amazon, Apple, Google Play, and VUD. If one is too gripped by anticipation to wait for it to release on DVD or Blu-ray (as I was), they can purchase it digitally now.

Too often do people mistakenly assume that because it is an animated movie, it must be for kids. Batman: Assault on Arkham is not for kids. In fact, most of the recent animated movies released by DC are rated PG-13 for a reason.

The language is not for kids. The partial nudity and sexual innuendo is not for kids. Even the graphic nature of the violence is not for kids. These movies are targeted at a more mature audience and seldom do they disappoint.

Whether one buys the movie through VOD now or waits until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, Batman: Assault on Arkham is a must see, especially for fans of the Batman: Arkham video games or the Batman franchise as a whole.

The movie stars the legendary voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, who is considered by many fans to be the true voice of the Caped Crusader. Unfortunately, Conroy was not joined by Mark Hamill, who is equally respected for his voice work as the Joker. Instead, the Joker is voiced by Troy Baker, who has done voice work for both DC and Marvel, and first replaced Mark Hamill in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Baker maintains the voice of the Joker that fans have come to know and love so well that it nearly sounds like Hamill’s Joker, but at the same time there are certain qualities to his performance that make the character his. If anyone is going to replace the great Mark Hamill, Baker certainly sounds like he is more than capable of filling his shoes.

Similarly, after voicing Batman for over two decades, it is reasonable to assume that Conroy may soon retire, leaving the cape and cowl to someone else. Jason O’Mara, who voiced Batman in Justice League: War and Son of Batman, and will star in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, is proving to be a worthy successor.

Batman: Assault on Arkham also stars CCH Pounder, who has been a go-to voice for Amanda Waller since the Justice League animated TV series that ran from 2001 to 2006, Neal McDonough (Justified, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Deadshot, Hayden Walch (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Teen Titans) as Harley Quinn, John DiMaggio (Futurama, Batman: Under The Red Hood) as King Shark, Jennifer Hale (Justice League, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) as Killer Frost, and well-known voice actor Nolan North as the Penguin.

In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Amanda Waller, who is in charge of Task Force X (more commonly known as the Suicide Squad), sends the team of imprisoned villains into Gotham to sneak into Arkham Asylum and retrieve top-secret information from the Riddler. The team is composed of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, King Shark, Black Spider, and Captain Boomerang.

As it is often the case with Waller, nothing is ever 100 percent what it seems. There are a handful of people in the DC Universe whose role as hero or villain is never completely clear. Waller is the Iron Lady of the DC Universe, a well-intentioned extremist who is often portrayed as working toward the greater good (in the end), but can incorporate villainous means to achieve this end. She isn’t past getting revenge through any means either.

While the Suicide Squad is breaking into Arkham, Batman is hunting down a bomb the Joker planted somewhere in the city, a bomb that could kill half of Gotham’s population. With Harley Quinn on the team, it is not long before Batman suspects that she may have alternative motives as well and heads to Arkham.

Much like the Arkham video games, this movie has a full lineup of Gotham villains and an assault on Arkham eventually escalates into a war at Arkham. Don’t get too attached to any of the Suicide Squad members, either, because not everyone makes it out alive. You never know who is going to get the axe next — especially when Waller holds their lives in her hands.

Watching Batman take on all members of the Suicide Squad at once is action-packed in and of itself, but when things really get out of hand, that’s when the fun begins. In the end, you may be surprised by who ends up fighting whom.

Like It or Not, The Market of Ideas is a Part of the Commercial Market

While some people have used words like “fascism” and “gay gestapo” to describe what happened with former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, and say that intolerance forced Eich to resign, these people are mostly mistaken. However, a form of intolerance did pressure Eich to leave his position. It was the intolerance the free market has to any ideas that will threaten commerce.

Some of the same people who say they support the free market fail to see that the resignation of Eich was the free market at work.

The issues of gay rights, the morality of homosexuality, and the definition of marriage offer the biggest examples of why the free market is dependent on the market of ideas:

During the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said the now infamous SB 1062 in Arizona, which would have protected businesses from legal challenges for denying goods and services based on strong religious convictions, failed because the gay community “have so bullied the American people.”

There was certainly vocal opposition to the bill from gay rights activists, because while the LGBT community was not explicitly mentioned in the legislation, as Bachmann pointed out, it was certainly not created to protect a Muslim or Jewish deli owner who refuses to sell pork products. The timing of the bill didn’t help disguise the true motives of some lawmakers, either.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) likely wasn’t concerned about the vocal opposition of gay rights activists as much as she was concerned about pressure coming from local, national, and international businesses. Companies threatened to move their operation(s) out of the state or threatened to not bring their business into Arizona. The state’s tourism industry was in jeopardy. The NFL could have very well moved the 2015 Super Bowl if SB 1062 was signed into law.

The gay community didn’t “bully” Brewer — the free market did.

It is a mistake to say that the free market of ideas and the free market of commerce are separate and cannot be conflated. Of course they can, because both often influence each other. The market responds to mainstream ideas and as societal attitudes shift, so will the priorities of the commercial market. It will embrace new ideas to meet consumer demand while rejecting old ideas that have also been rejected by the public. It is just good business.

In an article I published on IVN on April 17, I used a few examples of how the commercial market has responded to mainstream public opinion and shifted its business practices accordingly.

The first example was the mid-90s sitcom, Ellen. The show, which premiered in 1994, got consistently high ratings until one episode changed everything in 1997. In an episode called the “Puppy Episode,” Ellen DeGeneres’ character came out as gay in the middle of an airport. DeGeneres also came out in real life concurrent with the episode on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The controversy that erupted from it pressured ABC to put a parental advisory before a show that had never needed it before.

As the show focused more on gay rights issues, the ratings declined and ABC was forced to pull the plug in May 1998.

This was the 90s, though. An overwhelming majority of Americans not only believed same-sex marriage should not be legal, but that homosexuality was immoral.

Mainstream public opinion pressured the market to act a certain way. If a show gets too low of ratings it is just good business to cancel it, but could you imagine ABC putting a parental advisory before each episode of Modern Family? No, they wouldn’t. But times have changed; society has changed.

As the market of ideas has evolved, so has the commercial market.

Today, we see major corporations representing a broad spectrum of industries — from Oreo to Amazon — creating pro-gay rights marketing campaigns because unlike the mid- to late 90s, a majority of Americans now believe gay marriage should be legal and an even larger majority believe there is nothing immoral about homosexuality.

In 2012, not only did voter-approved ballot initiatives to legalize gay marriage pass for the first time in U.S. history, but marriage equality went 4-for-4 with voters. This represents a dramatic shift in public opinion as gay marriage didn’t have a single victory at the ballot box in the previous decade.

Someone cue Bob Dylan’s “Times They are a-Changin.”

Evolution teaches us that it is not the strongest who survive, nor the smartest, but the most adaptable. The commercial market is no different. In order to survive, the market has to evolve to meet consumer demand, and naturally it will seek out and eliminate ideas it perceives as backward and a threat to commerce. If a business does not adapt, it risks extinction by market forces or just naturally through time.

The biggest pressure to veto SB 1062 in Arizona was not from the gay community or from gay rights activists. Likely, Governor Jan Brewer could have cared less what the majority of the general public thought. She was done with campaigning and elections. The biggest pressure was coming from businesses and large corporations telling her to veto the bill because there were many businesses that did not want to operate in Arizona if they felt a law would tarnish their own reputation or threaten their business in any way.

The bill was a threat to the market and so the market responded.

Now, back to Brendan Eich.

While there were likely some gay rights activists who would have liked him to step down from his position as CEO of Mozilla, there was not as much pressure coming from the LGBT community or gay rights groups as there was from within the Mozilla community. There were employees who were uncomfortable working for him and businesses that threatened to cut ties with Mozilla after it was revealed that Eich donated to an anti-gay marriage campaign in 2008.

Despite what some people mistakenly say, Eich was not fired. He was pressured by forces within the market — within the industry — to resign. Eich was a CEO in an industry that is all about the mainstream and being ahead of the curve. It is an industry that focuses on looking forward and any notion of backward thinking is considered a threat in Silicon Valley. There are several industries where this would not have played out the same way, but the tech industry is a progressive market.

This is the free market at work.

Some of the same people who say a “gay gestapo” is forcing people out of their jobs just because they have different opinions also support lawmakers who vote against bills to ban discrimination against workers based on race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, etc. at the workplace, because the free market must be able to work without big government interfering. Yet, when the market acts on its own to do what it perceives as best for business, these people cry foul.

In this way of thinking, Eich is the victim, and that is ultimately what it comes down to. Modern American politics has become as much about who can claim victim status as it is about pointing fingers.