The following account is my response to the initial disclosure and apology made by the person leading the team that had maintained the list over the years. That initial disclosure had some inconsistencies and omissions which led to an exhaustive investigation. It also included the arguments and graphics that, as Casey reported, positioned the existence of the list on a pyramid of escalations that can lead to genocide.

DHH’s recent series of posts addressing the Basecamp drama is worth a read, along with Casey Newton’s newsletter on the topic.

I’m probably in the minority, at least the vocal minority, but I think Basecamp’s move to discourage political discussions on internal company channels is completely reasonable.

Employees are paid to work on tasks defined by the company, and the work is 100% contractual. As companies grow and change in response to both internal and external influences, workplace rules may change. In this case, Basecamp has decided that it’s no longer appropriate to engage in sensitive political discussions at work. It’s probably a response to the current political climate, and I don’t blame them for this decision.

Unsurprisingly, most people on Twitter think Basecamp has done something wrong. To me, it’s ridiculous that the idea of a business asking employees to focus on work at work has somehow turned into a controversial s***storm that requires a PhD in wokeness to fully understand. Again, Basecamp is a for-profit business, and they have every right to take steps to ensure that employees are distracted as little as possible during work hours.

Stuff like this is exhausting to write about, so here are a few random thoughts.

  • People who view this situation as “white men oppressing employees’ rights to free speech” should take a long, hard look in the mirror. There’s no oppression going on here. Woke folks choose to view the world in a binary lens without nuance and situational context. Situational context is very important in the real world. A high school teacher asking students to be quiet and pay attention is not oppression. Basecamp asking paid employees to refrain from engaging in political discussions on company time and in company channels is not oppression. It’s only oppression (maybe) if you take the situational context out of the equation. Basecamp’s actions here are not concerning in the least. What is concerning is people’s collective inability to recognize situational nuance and think critically before jumping on the bandwagon to score wokeness points.
  • I got rid of my HEY account last year, but I’m thinking of re-subscribing. I have enormous respect for Jason and DHH’s decision to double down on business, and I think it’ll act as a catalyst for other founders and executive teams to do the same. The current political climate is overheated, and it makes complete sense to de-risk by reducing political talk in company channels. Employees are still free to talk about whatever they want on non-company channels. There is no oppression going on here.
  • I have to wonder how all these Basecamp critics would run a multi-million dollar business. As founders, Jason and DHH have the most to lose out of anyone at Basecamp. To think that they made such a decision with ease, especially at a time like this, shows a distinct lack of empathy. Oh wait, Jason and DHH are both well-to-do white men, so I guess they don’t need any empathy. But really though, what would you do as a founder of a successful company in this political climate? Would you choose to ignore political discussions that trigger employees, causing them to be less productive, or would you stop political discussions from happening so people can focus on the work they’re being paid to do?

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