The ‘Pyramid of Hate’ that Brought Down Basecamp

Basecamp bosses banned politics at work over a social justice diagram

Emily Pothast
Marker
Published in
6 min readApr 29, 2021

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The ADL’s “Pyramid of Hate.” Image via adl.org.

Earlier this week, I wrote a response to tech company Basecamp’s decision to ban political speech in the workplace. That same evening, Casey Newton published an article for The Verge that shed some light on the events that apparently prompted this announcement. As Newton’s article explains, the political discussions taking place at Basecamp largely focused on the internal culture of the company itself — not conversations about the outside world brought into work, as many were led to believe by the company’s original statement. Newton writes,

Interviews with a half-dozen Basecamp employees over the past day paint a portrait of a company where workers sought to advance Basecamp’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by having sensitive discussions about the company’s own failures. After months of fraught conversations, Fried and his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson moved to shut those conversations down.

Among the sensitive topics of discussion was a list called “Best Names Ever” that had been compiled and maintained by Basecamp workers over the past decade. This was a list of customer names that various workers had found funny for some reason or another. According to Newton, many of…

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Emily Pothast
Marker

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. emilypothast.com