Companies Making Laws

The problem with having principles is then they get tested and you have to do things that you don’t want to. For example, Robert Scoble‘s gathered up a lot of the conversation around Microsoft’s decision to drop support for an antidiscrimination bill in Washington. Microsoft claims they’re just not in the business of supporting legislation at all anymore, anti-civil-rights groups are claiming a victory in getting Microsoft to drop their support, and most other people are lamenting that Microsoft caved in.
So, Steve Ballmer did the CEO thing and explained the party line to Microsoft’s employees, and then Robert gathered up the message along with some commentary and now everyone’s in the midst of another one of those go-nowhere blog debates.
I’m struck, though, by how few liberals are supporting the idea that gigantic corporations shouldn’t be involved in legal advocacy. I think my credentials on supporting human rights are pretty solid, but I think Microsoft (or any large company) has a pretty shoddy record of supporting socially responsible legislation. That they might be right in this case doesn’t mean I don’t want them to butt out of the legislative process entirely.
So, let’s celebrate Microsoft getting out of the law-making business. The civil rights struggle will progress without them, and we’ll be better off than if they keep pushing the other 99% of their legal agenda that isn’t very humane or socially responsible.