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Eich's Mozilla departure induces bilateral criticism, Firefox bans

updated 11:17 am EDT, Sat April 5, 2014

Both conservative and liberal advocates speak out about week's events

Following the departure of Brendan Eich from Mozilla, an assortment of high-profile journalists and authors have taken to the Internet to slam Mozilla, Silicon Valley culture, and OKCupid for the handling of the incident. Both conservative and liberal activists are seeking a similar boycott of Mozilla products -- the Firefox browser in particular -- and some have blocked the browser from accessing sites entirely.

Mozilla's statement addresses the impossibility of placating everyone. The post announcing Eich's departure said that "equality is necessary for meaningful speech, and you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard."

Eich, a co-founder of Mozilla and the inventor of JavaScript, came under fire shortly after being appointed to the CEO post when he was shown to have donated to and supported California's overturned "Prop 8" amendment, which would have discriminated against gay couples that wished to marry and gain the same privileges (and tax benefits) as heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court eventually agreed with a lower court that the amendment violated the "equal protection" clause of the Constitution, and allowed a lower court's overturning order to stand.

Gay advocacy site Box Turtle Bulletin notes the disparity in the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, behavior of Internet users, and the departure of Eich. While Eich left voluntarily, the advocacy site noted that "a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act so that companies can't just up and fire LGBT employees because they don't agree with them -- as they can now in about two-thirds of our states -- we need to think very long and hard about whether we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election."

Conor Friedersdorf, a proponent of marriage equality, wrote in The Atlantic that "calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen." Friedersdorf added that "If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society."

Daily Dish blogger Andrew Sullivan, a gay conservative but long-time advocate of marriage equality, noted that "what we're talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor." Sullivan believes that the event was "unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement," but his views have rarely aligned with the more common philosophy of the gay community.

Strongly conservative TruthRevolt has blocked Firefox from accessing its website. Users accessing the website will see a message saying in part that Eich's departure "followed a vicious smear campaign against Eich by dating website OKCupid" and that they "would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access TruthRevolt, given Mozilla's crackdown on political and religious positions held by millions of Americans."

Before his departure, Eich did apologize for the donation, which made no difference to the activists and Mozilla employees calling for his exile from the open-source foundation because he did not recant his support of the proposition. He wrote in his apology that his donation, and personal stance (which he declined to detail) wouldn't prevent him from supporting the values of the company, and he would work with "LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn't make Mozilla supportive and welcoming."

He also promised to "work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded, or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult." Reuters notes that "when Eich made his $1,000 donation in opposition to same-sex marriage, the political landscape for gay rights was different than it is today." When the bill was up for consideration, "presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton were five years away from embracing legalization of same-sex marriage," though both had voiced support for civil unions and changes in the laws that discriminate against gay couples.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. climacs

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 09-06-01

    *shrug* conservatives had no problem with Martin Bashir being compelled to resign from CNN (read: "quit or we will fire you") because of something inflammatory he said in response to something inflammatory and profoundly stupid that Sarah Palin said (comparing ACA to slavery). Who stood up for his 'free speech rights'? Not Sarah Palin. Not conservatives.

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-10-00

    These days you can't express your opinion anymore in public or even in private without potentially risking your career.

  1. aviamquepasa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-11

    I wonder what most CEOs will be saying in private. In public they can only act as saying the minimum things, at risk of any hard-opinion movement acting histerically like a child.

  1. aviamquepasa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-11

    and, by the way, we NEED firefox

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    1984 is here people. It even has its own version of Doublethink. I think this witch hunt will eventually backfire on the LGBT activists. Making people afraid to express their opinion only drives that opinion underground. It does not change the opinion. Only open discussion and dialogue changes opinions.

  1. lodo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-05-14

    I reached out to Mozilla and received a "get over it" response and quote "that is a small section of IT support", I asked if his donation had matching funds, since mozilla is one of the tech companies that never answered that question. BTW- Apple did answer and once they answered the question they admitted they had not known since it is a automatic procedure at that time. I was angry at Mozilla's response to me so I asked everyone I know to uninstall from their computers and phones. Also to tell mozilla why they where leaving.

    This was wrong on my part. Companies should be given time to deal with backlashes, especially when it is a private action and not a corporate one. But the people that answer emails at Mozilla should be fired for being such idiots to people like me.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by rtamesisView Post

    These days you can't express your opinion anymore in public or even in private without potentially risking your career.



    I don't think there has ever been a time where people DIDN'T have to fear business consequences for public idiocy.

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-10-00

    A lot of young people these days do or say immature things online, which becomes part of the permanent record. Twenty years later, what they did in their youth will come back to haunt them, especially if they become public figures. The Internet has actually made it easier for individualls and organizations to go after people for doing or saying things that they do not agree with.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Spheric: as usual I think you are right. Indeed, in decades previous, civic and political leaders were *often* forced to resign over faux pas far smaller than someone foolishly donating to a hate group. While I'm sure it doesn't seem so to some people, the bar on what you can get away with saying and doing and not lose your leadership position in industry or politics has in fact gone way UP rather than way down ...

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by rtamesisView Post

    A lot of young people these days do or say immature things online, which becomes part of the permanent record. Twenty years later, what they did in their youth will come back to haunt them, especially if they become public figures. The Internet has actually made it easier for individualls and organizations to go after people for doing or saying things that they do not agree with.



    McCarthy and his henchmen seemed to do fairly well without it.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-13-09

    He did NOT apologize for his donation to support Proposition 8. He only said when he acts as Mozilla's CEO, he would not discriminate against LGBT's.

  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 02-27-09

    An interesting angle on the controversy, but the author misrepresents things when he/she refers to this as a "political cause" that Eich is supporting as a "private citizen" which implies that it's just a personal opinion of his similar to whether taxes should be higher or lower.

    What we are actually talking about here is bigotry. It's a bit of an old trope at this point but substitute racial equality for sexual equality and it all looks a lot darker. The man wasn't just expressing a political opinion, he was supporting a bigoted cause. It's also quite legal to belong to the KKK but I am certain if an executive of a major company was found to do so, they would be fired on the spot.

    Gay rights and gay marriage is a human rights issue of great importance, not just a political thing about which one has "opinions."

  1. EstaNightshift

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Originally Posted by GazoobeeView Post

    An interesting angle on the controversy, but the author misrepresents things when he/she refers to this as a "political cause" that Eich is supporting as a "private citizen" which implies that it's just a personal opinion of his similar to whether taxes should be higher or lower.



    I believe you're referring to The Atlantic's writer.

    Conor Friedersdorf, proponent of gay marriage wrote in The Atlantic that "Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen." Friedersdorf added that "If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society."

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-10-00

    McCarthy and like minded people went after the most prominent people based on their positions in society and government whom he thought were communist sympathizers. He would have had a field day with his witch hunts going after ordinary citizens if Facebook and Google were available back then. It wasn't right to dos so back then and it isn't right today either no matter which side in the political spectrum does the witch hunting.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by rtamesisView Post

    McCarthy and like minded people went after the most prominent people based on their positions in society and government whom he thought were communist sympathizers. He would have had a field day with his witch hunts going after ordinary citizens if Facebook and Google were available back then. It wasn't right to dos so back then and it isn't right today either no matter which side in the political spectrum does the witch hunting.



    Nobody's doing "witch-hunting".

    People have the right to say "Hey, this company just hired a CEO who's a complete asshole. Don't support them." I reserve the right to not support assholes.

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-10-00

    And that's fine to do so. This is supposed to be a free country with freedom of speech, but to use what political organization you donated to on your own free time and as a private citizen as a basis of forcing a termination of your employment is wrong. What if some group decided to try to make your employer fire you on the basis of who you voted for in the last election?

  1. tindrum

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-30-04

    At the time of the Prop. 8 vote in California, Obama was against same-sex marriage, too.

    http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/will-obamas-support-of-gay-marriage-help-him-politically

    I, a voter in California, voted for Prop. 8, and the bill passed with 52% support of voters. Should more than half of Californians be fired? Or just the "important" people who dare to speak their minds or actively support a position with money?

    Those who think sacking this guy is a great thing really need to examine their priorities. Do people really want a society where discussion is quashed, where free speech is tolerated only if one agrees with a vocal (and vindictive) minority?

    If an individual cannot accept that heterosexual marriage represents a norm that should be reenforced by society, that individual should try to respect that other people _do_ believe that. In California, same-sex couples had the exact same legal rights and standing as heterosexual couples, but were not entitled to use the legal term of being "married".

    The fact that the pro gay marriage side has been more vindictive and has selectively excoriated people who differ from them doesn't make their case well, it just makes their view the less costly one for normal, quiet people to acquiesce to.
    --
    Daniel Henderson
    (name included intentionally so the _real_ haters can hate)

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No, not half of Californians should be fired. By the tiny minority who was driven to vote in favor needs to be watched closely, and the huge majority who didn't see the threat to freedom and DIDN'T VOTE needs to be slapped hard and long against the head.

    Originally Posted by rtamesisView Post

    And that's fine to do so. This is supposed to be a free country with freedom of speech, but to use what political organization you donated to on your own free time and as a private citizen as a basis of forcing a termination of your employment is wrong. What if some group decided to try to make your employer fire you on the basis of who you voted for in the last election?



    This happens all the time when people assume positions of power and responsibility. I would expect just this. When people are raised to leadership status, they themselves become in some ways representative of the company they work for. A company needs to consider whether they want somebody with controversial or questionable views to represent them in the public eye. How is this not completely obvious and utterly banal?

    I'm self-employed, btw, and I don't work for racists and bigots.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Originally Posted by tindrumView Post

    At the time of the Prop. 8 vote in California, Obama was against same-sex marriage, too.



    This is half-true. Obama was already on the record as being in favor of civil unions, and changing the law to provide exactly the same rights and privileges as heterosexual married couples -- but once he saw that it was still going to be treated as second-class by people like, well, you ... he decided to support marriage equality. Or, if you prefer, he correctly bet that the public's position on this issue would evolve as it has, savvy cynical politician that he is. Either way, he was not against marriage equality per se at the time.

    I, a voter in California, voted for Prop. 8, and the bill passed with 52% support of voters.

    And was overturned because it was unconstitutional. Hardly the first time Americans (or even Californians) ignorant of the Constitution have voted for something that violated it, and its not the first nor the last time a court overturned such decisions. You might want to ask your mom or grandmother who gave her the right to vote, for example. ISTR a lot of white voters trying to make segregation the law of the land not all that long ago ... in fact, voters very often vote against their own self-interests and against American values and the Constitution -- see Arizona among other places for plenty of examples.

    Those who think sacking this guy is a great thing really need to examine their priorities.

    I think they did -- and decided that someone who is anti-equality and anti-human rights is not a good fit for the CEO of a publicly-traded company. To me, that's a fantastic message to send. The free market at its finest.

    Do people really want a society where discussion is quashed, where free speech is tolerated only if one agrees with a vocal (and vindictive) minority?

    I have seen no "quashing" of discussion or free speech, even in this forum far less in the United States. Here you are, proclaiming yourself a homophobe who doesn't mind violating the equal-protection clause and other parts of the US Constitution to discriminate against people you don't like, and is anyone oppressing you or banning you or firing you from your job? Nope. As long as you keep it civil (as you have done, thank you), you're more than welcome to express that view here and indeed anywhere. But with free speech comes accountability for your words and deeds, or did you not know that?

    Challenging or questioning your views and actions is not the same thing as "quashing" your "rights." It's a reminder that free speech is free for everyone, including those who don't agree with you.

    If an individual cannot accept that heterosexual marriage represents a norm that should be reenforced by society, that individual should try to respect that other people _do_ believe that.

    "Norm." Interesting word choice. A few decades ago, it was the "norm" for whites and blacks to be segregated (and not allowed to marry, heaven forbid) in the US. Do I take it that whatever is the "norm" at a given point in time is okay with you because its "traditional?" Like slavery was? Lynching? Gay-bashing? Should Jews "keep it to themselves" because Christians are the "norm?" Should handicapped people just learn to drag themselves up and down stairs because able-bodied people are the "norm?"

    Or has society evolved over time -- and the "norm" changes so that those things are no longer considered (publicly, at least) acceptable for, say, a CEO of a publicly-traded company to believe? Looking back even just the past century, wouldn't you agree that a LOT of things that used to be fine to do or espouse are no longer acceptable? And wouldn't you agree that when those things were socially accepted, that the justification of said behaviour was that it was "traditional?"

    And speaking of heterosexual marriage, do you refer to arranged marriages? Fathers bartering for economic gain by marrying their daughters off to higher-class members of society? Multiple wives? These were all "norms" at one point or another, some are still practiced *today* in some places. Your Prop H8 concept of "heterosexual marriage" is actually, historically speaking, about as new an idea as the concept that children should not work in factories. Things have changed, and they keep changing.

    In California, same-sex couples had the exact same legal rights and standing as heterosexual couples

    This is flat-out not true. Even in parts of the state where same-sex marriages were allowed, the marriage was not recognized outside of those places, and the rights and privileges that married couples have over single people or unmarried couples (over 1,100 such rights and privileges) did not apply:

    https://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/an-overview-of-federal-rights-and-protections-granted-to-married-couples

    30+ Examples of Heterosexual Privilege

    The fact that anti-gay bigots have vindictively fired, harassed with impunity, beaten and killed gay people for the sole "crime" of being gay, and selectively excoriated people who differ from them for centuries in this country

    There, fixed your statement for you. Hint: challenging you to rationalize your beliefs and why they should be imposed on others is not "oppression." It's the very opposite. You're just not used to it.

    just makes their view the less costly one for normal, quiet people to acquiesce to.

    Who, in your definition (apart from heterosexuals) is "normal?" Are left-handed people "normal?" Democrats? Left-handed Democrats? How about atheists? People who eat shellfish? Heterosexual racists, are they okay? Can you clarify this, and upon what authority you claim to know what "normal" is?

    As for "quiet," isn't that the description the neighbours always give on the TV news?

  1. EstaNightshift

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 07-19-12

    While the Eich thing can be viewed a number of different ways, it does point out the -isms in silicon valley. I'm 44. Famously, Zuckerberg called younger people smarter than old ones. There are entire staffing agencies who want people who's best work is ahead of them (not behind, and they call this specifically out). I don't see a big hue and cry about this? Why not? How is this NOT a human rights issue, but gay marriage is?

    (to be clear, I don't care who marries who. Dig humping trees? Go ahead and marry it.)

    It can be argued that Silicon Valley doesn't care for poor people also. If you have a popular -ism, like ageism, than you're fine. If not so much, then you're driven out of town, Eich-style. While I understand that Eich did make this donation, even six years ago was a different climate.

    Eich DID take corrective actions, he DID say that he'd lead the company with the values it has in mind, but STILL got hammered for it. Did anybody ask him WHY he made the donation? Nope.

    Politicians have survived more, and they "lead" WAY more people.

    Why didn't Eich?

  1. tindrum

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-30-04

    ""At the time of the Prop. 8 vote in California, Obama was against same-sex marriage, too.""

    "This is half-true. Obama was already on the record as being in favor of civil unions..."

    Your response is a whole lie. The vote was about same-sex marriage. Obama's stated opinion at that time was in agreement with Prop. 8's purpose. California had, at that time, civil unions. The vote did not change civil unions in any way. What Eich's money went to was to support a view Obama held. That Obama's position later changed is not relevant to the point made, and it is false so call my claim a half-truth.

    ""And was overturned because it was unconstitutional.""
    I understand the argument for why Prop. 8 was struck down; the equal protection clause. Another judge, and the decision might have gone a different way. Other states have similar laws and statutes which stand. Still, in California, citizens are allowed to add laws to the state constitution.

    The court reviews them. The court has the final say, but should a person be forced out of his job because he did not properly guess the direction of a court decision to come?

    ""I have seen no "quashing" of discussion or free speech""
    Obviously, the protest is about this man's speech, not his work for Mozilla. The message is clear: pick a position we (activists) don't like and you will lose your livelihood. Clearly, a message about speech is being sent, namely, don't engage in the wrong kind of "free speech" or you will be destroyed. This is, indirectly, quashing, plain and simple. Take down a few big targets and few, if any, others, will stick their necks out.

    I did not declare myself a "homophobe." You put that label on me. I believe that unions between gay couples should not use a word that has had a simple and obvious meaning for all time previous, and has only recently been applied to same-sex couples.

    A norm is a preferred behavior. While I don't care if most people smoke weed, I certainly don't encourage it. I don't want the pilot or the surgeon getting high often or on the job. Likewise, I believe that opposite sex couples, ceteris paribus, are the best type of couple for rearing children of either sex. I believe that the word 'marriage' should be reserved, as it has through antiquity, for this arrangement of sex only: a man and a woman. Let other terms apply. What's in a name, right?

    I know you will bring up that not all marriages are for children. Still, my belief in a normative situation still applies.

    I know you will say that there are abusive hetero parents and wonderful gay parents. That is true. I stipulated "ceteris paribus", all else being equal. As such, I believe that a hetero couple should be allowed exclusive use of the word "married" when they enter into such a union, and that society will be harmed by a muddying and confusion about what is normal.

    No, your shopping list of odd exceptions doesn't need to be answered point by point. I think most readers will be able to distinguish the difference, even if they think my difference is as trivial as left-handedness.

    As far as the rest of your straw-man arguments, where you inaccurately restate my arguments to make them look absurd, I don't have time to respond to each.

    I think it's unfortunate that a view that is commonly held can get a man good at his job fired. I think he was chosen to make an example to others: keep your mouth shut or the sharks will feed on you too.

    Eventually, perhaps, one of your opinions will be on the other side of mob popularity. Before that day, please read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_...

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    He who quotes Niemeyer should be DAMN sure he's not on the side discriminating against a minority.

    That's just disgraceful.

    Thankfully, the majority of Americans (and Californians) agree. Why the majority didn't actually vote on Prop. 8 is anybody's guess, but it's usually activists who get motivated by fear to vote on sensitive issues. Nobody sane expected the proposition to go through.

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