MSNBC Panel Members Find 'Disturbing Level' of Gay Rights Interest in 'Targeting People'

On the Friday, April 18, All In show, during a discussion of the firing of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for simply donating to a political campaign opposing same-sex marriage, guest Richard Kim of the far left The Nation magazine intoned that he found it "disturbing" that gay activist friends of his have expressed interest in "targeting" more people who have made similar donations, and who have declared they should "find out where they live." Kim:

Here's a disturbing thing. I did ask some of my gay activist friends, I was like, "Look, here's a list; 6,500 people gave the same amount that he did or more in California. Should we go down the list and sort of start targeting all these people?" And I asked this facetiously, and people were like, "Let's do it. Let's find out where those people live. It's all-" To me, that's a disturbing level of targeting people.

Hayes, who had earlier expressed reservations about Eich's firing, exclaimed, "Yes," to Kim's view that such talk was "disturbing."

As he brought up the discussion, the MSNBC host seemed skeptical of the former Mozilla CEO's firing: "And there was part of me that did not know how to feel about how this whole thing unfolded."

A bit later, as panel member and MSNBC host Karen Finney defended the practice of pressuring company heads about their political views, Hayes brought up President Obama's previous history of opposing same-sex marriage. Hayes: "Barack Obama in 2008 was opposed to marriage equality."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, April 18, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, with critical portions in bold:

CHRIS HAYES: So here's the other interesting part of this, and I want to use this to segue to the Brendan Eich story because what you hear and see here are changing social norms, right? It is legal in South Carolina to fire someone because they're gay. Increasingly, that is not viewed as socially acceptable, right? And rightly so. We agree everyone at the table agrees that is wrong.

But, now, there's also social norms about whether it is socially acceptable to have the belief that gay folks can't get married or to oppose gay equality. And this came to a head in the tale of Brendan Eich, who was the CEO of the firm, Mozilla, which makes a very popular Web browser. People found out that he had given a contribution to the wrong side in Prop 8, which was the anti-equality side. It was in a public record.

And there was a campaign that basically got rid of him, basically saying this is an unacceptable view for the CEO of a major firm to have. And there was part of me that did not know how to feel about how this whole thing unfolded. What was your thinking?

RICHARD KIM, THE NATION: Yeah, so I, first of all, say I don't think anybody's rights were violated.

HAYES: Nobody has a right to be a CEO.

KIM: Right, exactly, exactly. I do, on the level of proportion, question this. So this guy gave one $1,000 donation six years ago to a campaign that 7 million Californians voted for, that 6,500 people gave a donation at his level or higher. Mozilla has an anti-gay discrimination policy. He had no intent to change that. Marriage in California is settled law.

So there's a question of whether or not all the sort of fury targeted at him and this one sort of, you know, attempt to oust him is in proportion to any threat that he represents to gay people in the future.

CATHY HENNA, LGBT ACTIVIST: It's somehow, it's how the culture works, too. This is a major tech company in Northern California, and, you know, as we were talking about before, you know, this is not just about gay people anymore. This is about allies. I mean, the second this went on social media, on Facebook, on Twitter, people just find this unacceptable. It's no longer acceptable to be anti-gay.

HAYES: But did they find it unacceptable, there was a weird kind of advertising of one's own enlightenment that this was part of. You know what I mean? It felt to me a little bit like, "I can like this, I can get behind this because this is a kind of, it's no skin off my back, you know? Like, I don't care who the CEO of Mozilla is." And this shows -- that's what conservatives were saying, right? Conservatives were saying that this is basically hounding people, this is totally "il-liberal."

HENNA: (INAUDIBLE) -to say that when it works for them because what their big thing is, "Oh, it's about the free market." Well, in this case it was the free market. People are making decisions about what they do and what they buy and what the organizations and the companies they support and the decisions they make as consumers voting with their wallets based on the leadership of those companies.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST: It's the little bit of power that we have as consumers. And you hear Karl Rove and the right wing. What do they always say about the companies that give to right-wing causes. We don't want to have to publish our names. They're afraid of a backlash. Well, guess what: I can decide I don't want to spend my money at, with your company if I don't approve how you spend that money. I can decide-

HAYES: Barack Obama in 2008 was opposed to marriage equality.

FINNEY: And he still got elected, you know, that's the process.

HAYES: The point, but this guy gave them-

KIM: Here's a disturbing thing. I did ask some of my gay activist friends, I was like, "Look, here's a list; 6,500 people gave the same amount that he did or more in California. Should we go down the list and sort of start targeting all these people?" And I asked this facetiously, and people were like, "Let's do it. Let's find out where those people live. It's all-" To me, that's a disturbing level-

HAYES: Yes.

KIM: -of targeting people.

FINNEY:  But is part of it because Prop 18 is so, it became such a heated issue in this country, and it sort of became, I think, and it is a sort of either you're on the right side or the wrong side, and, ironically, even the lawyer in the case has been evolving as he's planning his daughter's wedding.