News & Politics

The Hypocrisy of PayPal's 'Mission and Culture'

PayPal, the online payments company, has canceled plans to build an office facility in Charlotte, NC, because of the controversial LGBT law recently passed by the legislature.

The Washington Post reports on a statement given about the matter from a PayPal executive:

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Dan Schulman, PayPayl’s president and chief executive, wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

How pious. How noble. How hypocritical.

The hysteria ginned up over a law that keeps men from using the women’s restroom is to be expected. It’s what social justice warriors do best.

But where’s the outrage over PayPal’s decision to locate offices in some of the most anti-gay countries in the world?

PayPal partnered with a Middle East payment company, Network International, to open an office in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates employs the penalty of death to those convicted of being gay or performing gay sex.  So PayPal punishes North Carolina for keeping men out of the ladies’ room while sucking up to a government that executes people just because they’re gay. Because, justice.

How about PayPal’s offices in Moscow?  A June 2013 law outlawed the incredibly broad notion of “gay propaganda.” What happened next was not pretty:

Following the ruling, The Guardian reported on a frightening upsurge in attacks on gays and lesbians. LGBT teens have been ambushed by vigilante mobs and humiliated or threatened with axes while supporters of gay charities have been blinded or beaten with baseball bats. In October, the country came within a hair’s breadth of passing a law that would require local police forces to kidnap the children of gay parents. Luckily, this last proposal was eventually dropped, but the fact that it was ever seriously debated shows just how deeply homophobia is now permeating every sector of Russian society.

So North Carolina thinks it’s protecting its citizens by passing a law and Russia deliberately threatens its citizens by passing another.

As for the rest of corporate America thinking of following in PayPal’s footsteps, perhaps you should recall the billions tossed by American corporations at Vladimir Putin for the Sochi Olympics. What does that say about your “corporate values”?

It gets worse. PayPal has a regional headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey. While North Carolina is ostensibly shaming and embarrassing transgendered people, Turkey takes the issue to a shocking level:

If you’re a transgender woman in Turkey, you’re liable to be arbitrarily arrested, blackmailed by police officers, and violently assaulted while in custody. A report for Pink News found that 89 percent of trans women who had been detained had been assaulted. Trans women are frequently murdered by strangers and the mutilation of their corpses is not uncommon. The murder of homosexuals in honor killings has reached epidemic proportions, and all too often, police officers and the judiciary are reluctant to press charges in the aftermath. LGBT organizations and websites are frequently shut down and Amnesty International has reported that homophobia is prevalent at all levels of society.

Yeah, but let’s stick it to North Carolina because they won’t let men use the women’s bathroom.

PayPal has an office in Chennai, India — a country where being caught kissing a member of the same sex could get you 10 years in prison.

PayPal has an office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where a report by Human Rights Watch states “that transgender persons face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, discriminatory denial of health care and employment, and other abuses.”

And North Carolina denying the use of the women’s room to men is as bad as that?

The bottom line is…well, the bottom line. PayPal ignores its “values and principles” in its quests for profits. The same holds true for the rest of corporate America, which undoubtedly will get in line to trash North Carolina while bragging about how tolerant and holy they are.

It’s nauseating. Companies have a perfect right to expand wherever they wish. They can even use social justice yardsticks to justify their positions — just as long as they are consistent across the board when it comes to locating offices overseas. What justification is there for punishing an American state for passing a law inconsistent with what PayPal sees as its values regarding LGBT issues, when the company opens an office in Dubai where gay people are executed?

It would be interesting to hear what PayPal’s response to that question would be.