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March 27, 2014 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Brendan Eich, creator of Javascript and co-founder of Mozilla, has been named Mozilla's new CEO. In light of revelations about Eich's 2008 donation of $1,000 supporting California's Prop 8 gay marriage ban, pop and pop indie app company Rarebit is protesting Eich's promotion to the top position by withdrawing its Color Puzzle game from the Firefox Marketplace and halting development for Firefox OS. Rarebit owes its existence to the Supreme Court's reversal of Prop 8 and DOMA—before its cofounders were married, founder Michael Catlin was in the US on a temporary work visa. Eich made a statement of support for LGBT people in Mozilla, but did not address the donation.

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posted by domnit (553 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Alongside this, there's been a spate of Mozilla employees asking Eich to step down.

I think the pushback is fair, but I think Eich has done as well as he could, given what he did, in reassuring the tech community that he supports Mozilla's very inclusive employment policies, and in recognizing how this is difficult for a lot LBGT Mozillians and that he needs to step up and be the one who reassures. I hope he gets a chance to demonstrate it. It says something about the organization he now helms, and for which he was CTO for many years, that LBGT employees feel safe calling on him to step down.
posted by fatbird at 8:03 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


@shanley made a point well worth repeating about this today. The revelations did not "come to light" after the CEO announcement.
1. You can't throw a fucking stone in this city without hitting some incompetent straight white male asshole considered worthy of being a CEO. … YOU CAN'T FIND ONE THAT DIDN'T DONATE TO PROP 8?!?!?!



2. ain, i cannot emphasize enough that Mozilla leadership was COMPLETELY AWARE of the reaction this news would cause. … The pain, tumult, debate, controversy, alienation happening in the community was a calculated risk they took. They were OK with it.
Which does seem pretty weird when you wonder if a high-profile organization like Mozilla wouldn't ask around and see if the choice might be really upsetting to a sizable number of their own employees.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:05 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


Yeah...so for Web browsers, we now have to choose between an awesome browser whose company's CEO is a bigot and inflexible crap from evil empires.
posted by limeonaire at 8:05 PM on March 27 [26 favorites]


I challenge anyone to cite an incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.


It's sad that he cannot see that giving money to deny the equal rights of other people shows clear lack of respect and bigotry (bigot: [someone who] refuses to accept the members of a particular group, according to the dictionary Eich linked to). As for whether "no" is a reasoned argument, that much is pretty obvious.
posted by ersatz at 8:06 PM on March 27 [24 favorites]


I think the particularly uncomfortable thing is that unless he's changed his tune significantly since then, he does not seem to see how a gay marriage ban honestly harms LGBT people and how advocating for one is a serious statement that you want ordinary rights and privileges taken away from people.
posted by Sequence at 8:07 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Eich's lucky Prop 8 was struck down. Can you imagine the gay Mozilla employee blogging about how the new CEO personally helped fund the involuntary annulment of their marriage? How do you spin that?
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:10 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


he needs to step up and be the one who reassures. I hope he gets a chance to demonstrate it.

A good start would have been a statement of regret for actually making the donation, rather than "sorrow at having caused pain", which seems a little over dramatic to hide the fact that he doesn't regret it.

That people like him don't see gay marriage bans as bigoted is a short step from fundie florists saying that gay marriage oppresses them and their religious freedom.
posted by supercres at 8:10 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


Also worth reading: Christie Koehler's blog post on her experience as a queer woman at Mozilla.
posted by SemiSophos at 8:10 PM on March 27 [16 favorites]


I'm still mad at Eich for JavaScript.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:12 PM on March 27 [57 favorites]


I'm torn on this one. Homophobic or not, I do not like the tendency to drag people personal lives into their professional capacities. I don't want to get all slippery slope but it cuts both ways, not just with causes we believe in. He didn't make the donation as a representative of the foundation, there seems to be no evidence he has ever agreed in an illegal or discriminatory manner art the foundation; I feel it is none of our business what he does with his own money in his private time.
posted by smoke at 8:15 PM on March 27 [55 favorites]


actually, I really like Chrome - more stable than Firefox on my computer. Yeah, I know that I'm basically Google's data slave at this point, what with using Chrome and gmail and the search engine. I think that Google could do a more accurate job writing my diary than me.
posted by jb at 8:16 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


I was just about to post the link to Christie Koehler's blog post on this. It's a good read.

A good start would have been a statement of regret for actually making the donation

I suspect that any apology for or defense of the donation now would make the debate about the donation and prop 8, which is really in no one's interest (besides looking opportunistic). Eich either steps up sufficiently to allay the fears of Mozilla employees, or he doesn't and can't be effective as CEO because he can't really lead the organization.

And deep down, I suspect he's got a really stupid techno-libertarian rationale for it, and bringing it into the conversation just makes the whole issue more shitty and distracted. He can go the extra yard or ten or a hundred to demonstrate the inclusivity that Mozilla as a whole has, or not, and that's what it really comes down to.

Koehler makes a good point that there really aren't that many people who could be Mozilla CEO, given how unique an organization it is. An external hire would be extremely risky.
posted by fatbird at 8:16 PM on March 27


I'm still mad at Eich for JavaScript.

Really? Because despite the compromises that were made in its early years, it has become one of the key systems driving the internet (along with PHP, another "language people love to hate").

And there's been a remarkable amount of innovation in Javascript over the past year or two. (And I'll mention that this innovation is, in no small part, due to Brendan's continued involvement in Javascript's development.)
posted by sutt at 8:17 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


It's a shame he can't see that his donation is indeed an expression of hatred and bigotry, especially in the 2012 post.

However I find this, although it's from a writer I like and usually agree with, to be a bit much:

You can't throw a fucking stone in this city without hitting some incompetent straight white male asshole considered worthy of being a CEO. … YOU CAN'T FIND ONE THAT DIDN'T DONATE TO PROP 8?!?!?!

I realize she's being somewhat facetious, but obviously Mozilla would not be a better place if they installed a random "incompetent straight white male asshole" off the street as CEO. And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.

I totally understand the strong feelings, and I gave money to anti-Prop 8 groups and participated in protests myself, but I do hope he's given the chance to put his money where his mouth is re: diversity, rather than simply shown the door. Whoever the CEO is, people are going to have to work for him. If he ever shows less than 100% commitment to diversity, by all means show out. But don't make people work for some other raging, power-mad asshole you find somewhere just because he happens to have not made any offensive political donations.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:18 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


Eich: "I challenge anyone to cite an incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity."

You donated money to the specific, explicit cause of preventing gay people from being granted equal rights, you homophobic hypocrite.

"Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity."


It 100% does. Specific, explicit cause of preventing gay people from being granted equal rights.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:18 PM on March 27 [73 favorites]


And there's been a remarkable amount of innovation in Javascript over the past year or two.

Also, Backbone was invented.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:18 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Yeah...so for Web browsers, we now have to choose between an awesome browser whose company's CEO is a bigot and inflexible crap from evil empires.

Or Trident browsers, which I can't get reliably working on Windows 7.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:19 PM on March 27


And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.

Where can I kickstarter this experiment?
posted by Space Coyote at 8:21 PM on March 27 [85 favorites]


Thanks for linking to that blog, good read, captures how I generally geek about the issue as well.
posted by smoke at 8:21 PM on March 27


Also, Backbone was invented.

I've wanted to try out Backbone, but I've not yet had a project where libraries I'm more familiar with (jQuery, for example) weren't adequate...
posted by sutt at 8:22 PM on March 27


And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.

Which you can then fill with forward-thinking people who are equally qualified and, as a bonus, less likely to actively seek to deny people basic human rights! I bet we could even get them to do things like support, I dunno, health care and birth control. Maybe even a living wage!

So I'm not really seeing a downside, there.
posted by MeghanC at 8:25 PM on March 27 [46 favorites]


I'm torn on this one. Homophobic or not, I do not like the tendency to drag people personal lives into their professional capacities.

Serious question: How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:26 PM on March 27 [34 favorites]


I think the pushback is fair, but I think Eich has done as well as he could, given what he did, in reassuring the tech community that he supports Mozilla's very inclusive employment policies, and in recognizing how this is difficult for a lot LBGT Mozillians and that he needs to step up and be the one who reassures.
Reassures of what? That he'll only start discriminating against them the instant they leave work? He can't reassure. He believes that some of his employees should be second-class citizens. There's nothing reassuring about that.

In other news, I'm in the market for a new browser. Is there really no way to format Chrome so that it opens a new tab to your homepage, rather than to their stupid "new tab" page?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:26 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


I suspect that any apology for or defense of the donation now would make the debate about the donation and prop 8, which is really in no one's interest (besides looking opportunistic).
But this is precisely about the donation and prop 8, and the side-stepping statement did nothing to alleviate fears because it did not address his actions on prop 8. I can't imagine many people feel more comfortable about the issue with his statement. The best thing to feel comfortable about is that Mozilla's policies of non-exclusion are written down.
I suspect he's got a really stupid techno-libertarian rationale for it
The quintessential stupid techno-libertarian view is:
Hackerdom easily tolerates a much wider range of sexual and lifestyle variation than the mainstream culture. It includes a relatively large gay and bisexual contingent. Hackers are somewhat more likely to live in polygynous or polyandrous relationships, practice open marriage, or live in communes or group houses. In this, as in general appearance, hackerdom semi-consciously maintains ‘counterculture’ values.
Eich has been around since a time when the Jargon File was relevant, and though I have a feeling that as the hacker community has become larger it has become more mainstream, Mozilla more directly reflects this older contingent. His views are completely counter to the techno-libertarian and techno-liberal crowd, making him particularly ill-suited to be setting policies at Mozilla, even if Mozilla does get a lot of its direction from its community.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:29 PM on March 27 [5 favorites]


I'm still mad at Eich for JavaScript.

"Mozilla Announces Javascript For Heterosexuals"
posted by gwint at 8:29 PM on March 27 [32 favorites]


Nobody should switch browsers because I can't imagine the upper ranks of Google, Apple or Microsoft aren't brimming with sociopathic assholes who's wallets, we know for sure, are benefiting from near slave labour conditions in their overseas factories. But I'm all for shaming people who voted and donated in favour of breaking apart families.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:31 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


From Eich's blog: "To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”."

Uh, dude, way to attempt debunking an flat assertion: with another flat assertion. Man, that's some compelling logic.
posted by notsnot at 8:33 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Serious question: How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then

The decision to boycott a product is completely different from the decision to forbid hiring someone because you disagree their views.

I would not want someone to refuse hiring me for a non political job because i donate to the greens.

Given that a presumably progressive board supported his hiring, and a gay employee at the company supports it -and they both know way more about it than me, that's good enough for me.
posted by smoke at 8:36 PM on March 27 [13 favorites]


Is there really no way to format Chrome so that it opens a new tab to your homepage, rather than to their stupid "new tab" page?

I know this one! Go to settings, and then under appearance, toggle show home button. Once you've clicked that, a little New Tab Page option appears. Click change, and enter whatever URL you want as your homepage. Should be fixed.
posted by MeghanC at 8:36 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Nobody should switch browsers because I can't imagine the upper ranks of Google, Apple or Microsoft

Poor Opera.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:40 PM on March 27 [20 favorites]


I was actually more sympathetic to Eich's situation before I saw the most recent statement on his blog... which I perused only long enough to CTRL+F for any mention of things like Marriage, Proposition 8, or Donation. Y'know, the relevant keywords that an apology might include.

Addressing the subject at this juncture without mentioning the root issue suggests there has been no Obama-style "evolution" of his underlying views, real or feigned.

I'd admire his constancy in the face of the possible consequences, but that'd be kind of like applauding Bob Jones University circa 1999, wouldn't it?
posted by The Confessor at 8:41 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I should add, I don't think his views should be immune from criticism, far from it. And when it can demonstrated his views are hitting his ability to do the job, he has engaged in discrimination etc he should absolutely be called on it.

I just think there are more productive ways of engaging with disagreement than this really with or against us stuff. I'm surprised, dint you guys work with any fundamentalist Christians (or fundamentalist anything, really). I've worked with people whose views on gay marriage, immigrants, drug use, abortion are horrifying. They are still good at their jobs and some are even good people I would argue.
posted by smoke at 8:42 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


He went to a Jesuit university - anyone know if he's a Catholic?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:45 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.
This "conservative cause" misconception is disturbingly common; that's not the problem with anyone.

What has been clearly stated is the lobbying to have some employees treated as unequal under law. This is a rather remarkable political act, a very personal attack on families and lives. Sweeping this away as if it were normal politics misses the true issue.

It seems that Eich is talking about this a lot more internally than externally, and it sounds like he's assuaged some people's fears. But as the head of a largely public facing, volunteer- and donation-seeking organization, he's kind of dropping the ball. This was a predictable first issue that he and everyone else at Mozilla should have known would come up immediately. It does not speak well of him that he did not have something prepared for it.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:46 PM on March 27 [13 favorites]


I think that apology was pretty lame, and that he has a pretty big hill to climb to gain trust.
The issue that it was an individual making the donation and not on behalf of a corporation is worthy of thought. We work with people all the time with whom we disagree, hell, I HIRE people who I disagree with sometimes, but as long as it remains outside of work I can accept it.
IT IS dangerous to be too pure when hiring or judging individuals. And I say that as someone who falls pretty heavy on the responsible socialism side of things.
I hope he gets a chance to make a go at it, and I also hope he is closely watched.
posted by edgeways at 8:48 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


I should add, I don't think his views should be immune from criticism, far from it. And when it can demonstrated his views are hitting his ability to do the job, he has engaged in discrimination etc he should absolutely be called on it.

His views are hitting his ability to do his job. They present a reputational risk for the company, as this entire affair amply demonstrates.

CEOs are the public face of a company. His public behaviour (including public funding bigoted causes) will be taken to reflect on the company, whether he intends for it to or not. For Mozilla, this is a relevant consideration in hiring him for the role.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:48 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Smoke, I've totally worked with people who have told me to my face that I'm going to hell, etc. And I'd even work with some of them again. But there's a big difference, to me, between working with someone who believes that and working for someone who believes that.

At the very least, the person I'm working for should think that I'm a human being with civil rights and bodily autonomy and etc. Someone who actively supports causes that seek to deny me and people like me those things is someone who feels from the get go that I as a person am not worth as much as the person who's a straight white guy and tells me that I'm going to hell.

If you're walking in with the mindset that some of your employees are inherently worth less and are less deserving of the others, I don't see a way that you can be an effective manager, let alone an effective CEO.
posted by MeghanC at 8:48 PM on March 27 [25 favorites]


But as the head of a largely public facing, volunteer- and donation-seeking organization, he's kind of dropping the ball. This was a predictable first issue that he and everyone else at Mozilla should have known would come up immediately. It does not speak well of him that he did not have something prepared for it.

Honestly, this is the thing that's made my eyebrows go up the most. A shitload of people donated to Prop 8, many of them wealthy/important/in charge of things, so he's not that special in that respect. But I think you're kind of dumb if you don't anticipate a Reaction to your CEOship announcement and prep something.
posted by rtha at 8:53 PM on March 27 [7 favorites]


CEOs are the public face of a company.

On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, I have no idea who the CEO of Mozilla was a year ago, but I definitely could tell you the name of the CTO. At least for techies, he's arguably been the most public face of Mozilla management for some time; the role change doesn't make much of a difference in that regard.
posted by Slothrup at 8:56 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Those pro-prop 8 donations went to buy some really vile anti-gay TV and other advertizing. This money wasn't just some ethereal measure of liberal vs. conservative views. Pro-prop 8 donations went to put up a billboard somewhere or film and air a TV ad spreading fear and hate for gay Californians. Smart people who donate large amounts of money to political campaigns know exactly what their money is paying for.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:59 PM on March 27 [24 favorites]


Two things this debacle showed me:
1) Opera still exists.
2) Opera runs way the hell better on my laptop than either Chrome or Firefox.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:09 PM on March 27 [18 favorites]


If that was a non-apology, he's in good company -- how many still-sitting members of Congress have apologized for voting for DOMA the first time around?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:18 PM on March 27


I do not like the tendency to drag people personal lives into their professional capacities.
Campaigning for a gay marriage ban is not really about Brendan's personal life. It's about a lot of other people's personal lives, however, including people who work with him.

I'm a Mozilla employee, and I'm torn about this. I'm not torn about whether it's okay for the Mozilla Corporation to have a leader and representative who opposes gay rights; that definitely sucks. I'm more torn about how to express that in a way that might help make things better. I've been trying to take my time and listen carefully to LGBTQ members of the Mozilla community first and foremost, since they are the ones with "skin in the game" (to use one of Brendan's favorite phrases). But I also worry that remaining silent makes me part of the problem. So I guess here is as good a place as any to say something, if I can figure out what to say.

My own marriage is interracial, and so is my parents' marriage. Because of this, I only need to go back 40-some years to imagine what it's like for US states to be debating whether I should be allowed to marry my wife. I can't imagine having to accept leadership from someone I knew was working to take away my family's basic rights. I have great respect for my friends and colleagues who choose to work on despite that exact situation, and also those who have left (in part) because of it. I wish they didn't have to make that choice.

Making Brendan CEO has made this a public issue, but for Mozilla employees, especially ones directly affected by Prop. 8, it actually changes very little. Brendan has been one of the primary leaders of the technical side of the Mozilla organization at least since it split from Netscape over a decade ago. Before taking the CEO role, he was CTO of Mozilla Corp. for over nine years, and also the "module owner" for the technical side of the Mozilla open source project. He's built and led the organization from its inception; without Brendan there might be no Mozilla today. But Mozilla is also a global community united by a common mission, and it's far bigger than any one man (and also bigger than just the Mozilla Foundation and its paid staff).

So if Brendan were to step down as CEO and back into the (currently vacant) CTO role, it might send a positive message to the community and the public, but it wouldn't change much for those employees. If he were to leave the organization completely it might resolve the issue more clearly but also be a huge blow the project. (No, I'm not saying that the fate of an open-source project could possibly outweigh human rights and the well being of my colleagues in oppressed groups. I guess I'm just saying that it seems like the damage is already done, and now we're only left with finding the least-bad path forward.) I guess if he gave a real apology and affirmation of support for the rights of same-sex couples, that would be a really good start... but at this late point it would undoubtedly seem coerced and fake.

The situation is certainly improved by the fact that last year we formalized our community participation guidelines, declaring officially that Mozilla is inclusive, and that discriminatory speech or activities are 100% unwelcome (and a process for reporting and resolving them). Without this written code of conduct, things would be even worse. But there's a tricky bit in there:
Some Mozillians may identify with activities or organizations that do not support the same inclusion and diversity standards as Mozilla. When this is the case:
Does (c) actually protect people like Brendan from internal criticism? Am I not allowed to bring up his actions to oppress my gay colleagues in Mozilla forums, because I have to treat it "as a private matter"? I'm really not sure.

I personally have worked under Brendan for over four years. I've had drinks with him. I've backed out one of his patches that broke the build. He's provided some of the best technical leadership I've known. He can be blunt in technical discussions, but he's also kind in personal situations, and as a manager he is smart and fair. I even think he made the right choice to kill my project earlier this month. I do trust him when he says he wants to be held accountable to Mozilla's standards of inclusion and non-discrimination. But I don't think it's reasonable to ask the oppressed groups that his political activity targets to trust him like I do.
Which does seem pretty weird when you wonder if a high-profile organization like Mozilla wouldn't ask around and see if the choice might be really upsetting to a sizable number of their own employees.
Anticipating PR fiascos has never been a strong point at Mozilla. This comes right on the heels of us trying to patch things up after a bungled announcement of the new "Directory Tiles" project led to a bunch of somewhat misinformed "Mozilla to put advertisements in Firefox" stories.

If nothing else, I am glad to be in a community where our leadership accepts open discussion, dissent, and criticism. Maybe we'll find a way through this that leaves us in a better place.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:20 PM on March 27 [108 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then?"

It's interesting to me that there is such a spectrum of things people will boycott companies over. This came up at work last week because someone bought an new Beetle and someone else called them out for buying a "Nazi" car. I mean on one hand Volkswagen directly benefited from a situation much worse than Prop 8 but on the other hand that was 70+ years ago. And considering all the appalling things that happen in the countries producing so much of what we consume few of us can take an untainted high ground when it comes to using products that are associated with oppression.
posted by Mitheral at 9:22 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


This is the Ender's Game movie discussion all over again.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:23 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Thanks for sharing, mbrubeck, very good to hear another insider perspective.
posted by smoke at 9:25 PM on March 27


I use Opera on my Android tablet because it's the only browser that freakin' works on that thing.
posted by telstar at 9:28 PM on March 27


The Jargon File reference above also reminded me of Meredith L Patterson's recent post When Nerds Collide, which includes this relevant bit:
Cattle die, kindred die; all are mortal, but the good name never dies of one who has done well. Or the bad name of those who have done evil, but if their code was good, we keep using it until something better comes along. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who condones Hans Reiser’s murder of his wife, but a hell of a lot of people still use his filesystem.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:33 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


Some people doing great work on diversity and inclusion at Mozilla are kind of upset that anything they do in the future will be seen as reactionary damage-control, even if it was planned long before this change. So here's a link to some of their activity earlier this month before any of us knew that Brendan was even a candidate for CEO.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:47 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


Is there really no way to format Chrome so that it opens a new tab to your homepage, rather than to their stupid "new tab" page?

I know this one! Go to settings, and then under appearance, toggle show home button. Once you've clicked that, a little New Tab Page option appears. Click change, and enter whatever URL you want as your homepage. Should be fixed.

That doesn't work; I changed it to a number of different things, and it always still opens to the annoying new page.
posted by tavella at 9:48 PM on March 27


We sure did love him when, for one brief post, he was Metafilter's own Brendan Eich.

For the record, I'm pissed about his Prop 8 support and think he should be forced out of this position as a result. This is clearly a human rights issue, and he's against it. Mozilla should be the last tech company to elevate someone to CEO with those values.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:51 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


Which does seem pretty weird when you wonder if a high-profile organization like Mozilla wouldn't ask around and see if the choice might be really upsetting to a sizable number of their own employees.

I have a lot of complicated thoughts on this issue as someone with a long past history of involvement with the Mozilla project, although none in recent years beyond social interactions, and someone who is/was strongly anti-prop 8 (and helped out that campaign in some very small ways in 2008). What I can say for certain is that Mozilla is a particularly unique place where employees are comfortable enough in speaking up about issues that are way above their pay grade, so to speak, that workers can publicly call for the new CEO to go because they don't fear repercussions. I can't imagine that happening at most any other company, and that kind of discussion is, to me, a good sign for Mozilla going forward.
posted by zachlipton at 9:57 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


I really hope that this CEO guy sucks it up and donates 2 grand to an LGBT organization so I can go on using Firefox without feeling exactly like I'm eating at Chic-fil-a.

(Is there a greasemonkey plugin for Opera?)
posted by oceanjesse at 10:10 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]


Uninstalled. Buh-bye.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:39 PM on March 27


[Photo of computer user with Opera visible on the screen]
Caption: I am doing activism
posted by Space Coyote at 10:40 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


I feel it is none of our business what he does with his own money in his private time.

I'd categorically reject the notion that it is okay that a private citizen can throw lots of money into a cause that interferes with my private life, and the private lives of those I love, without having to face consequences.

It's a free country and Eich can spend money to stick his nose into my business, but freedom of speech isn't a one-way street and that makes his donation activities my business, in turn.

It's a shame that Mozilla put a bigot in charge, and Eich and they need to understand there are consequences for putting bigots in leadership roles.

So long, Firefox.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 PM on March 27 [28 favorites]


Caption: I am doing activism

The activism can be quantified via user agent strings!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:58 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


My favorite part of this whole debate is the thread of people going "So you would DISCRIMINATE against someone because of their beliefs?"

Somehow the hacker in me just sees that strange loophole of "my terribly anti-social actions are valid and none of your business, because they are beliefs" and just starts turning the gears on all the amazing way that can be exploited.

Now, if you excuse me, it's nearly Friday and the midnight mass of us members of the Church Of Punching You In The Face is about to begin, and I can't find my brass knuckles. Praise be to his name.
posted by jscott at 11:05 PM on March 27 [20 favorites]


It must be awkward to work at a place where you know your boss not only hates you, but actively goes out of his way to get laws enacted to take away your rights, so that you really know he hates you, like hatred at a deep level — that has to be a weird feeling, right? How do you sit in meetings with someone like that and not feel even more uncomfortable in your own skin?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


California letting you propose motions and vote to take your neighbour's rights away is downright fucked now that I'm thinking about it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:30 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


It's an entirely too common phenomenon. Courts are fixing the bug, but they're slow.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:52 PM on March 27


Praise be to his name.

Amen
posted by oceanjesse at 11:52 PM on March 27


the Koehler blog post linked above is very good.
posted by Bwithh at 11:56 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I do not like the tendency to drag people personal lives into their professional capacities.

Gods forbid an asshole be held accountable. He chose to meddle in others' personal lives; now he can reap the reward. Don't want your douchebag opinions to bite you in the ass? Then don't express them.

We over here in modern civilized society are done with accommodating bigots. He crossed the privacy line the moment he acted to publicly express his bigotry. Not only should Mozilla rescind his CEO-ship, they should can his publicly-expressed bigoted ass from the company.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:20 AM on March 28 [12 favorites]


And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.

Good riddance.

I appreciate the insider perspectives, but to me this is a tone deaf choice that absolutely will influence which browser I will open tomorrow morning. The personal is political, including in situations like this.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:28 AM on March 28 [6 favorites]


I have some feels on this issue. On the one hand, like many others, I think that personal and professional lives should be separate. On the other hand, like many others, I think upper management should be held to a higher standard, since they represent the company. On the gripping hand, it's easy for me to say "give the guy a chance" as a hetero WASP who doesn't work for him. Maybe not so easy for people directly impacted by his choosing to donate to the cause of imposing his morality on others.
posted by wierdo at 12:33 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


In principle, I don't think people should lose their jobs for expressing their views. However, $1000 buys a lot of free speech. It's as if he spent a week working phones or driving around with a megaphone. The impact to his reputation should reflect that.
posted by topynate at 12:51 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Is there really no way to format Chrome so that it opens a new tab to your homepage, rather than to their stupid "new tab" page?

Startup Chrome, open your homepage or pages, click on whatever right link you have on there that goes back to your homepage, the choose "open in new tab". Shut down the original tab(s), keep the new ones and choose in options to always start Chrome with these tabs.

Voila, problem solved.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:56 AM on March 28


Two things this debacle showed me:
1) Opera still exists.
2) Opera runs way the hell better on my laptop than either Chrome or Firefox


Opera however now runs on an open source of Chrome, so if you dislike Chrome's annoying habits, you are out of luck with Opera. That's the reason I only recently switched to Firefox.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:03 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Here's an important section of Koehler's blog post, for those who haven't clicked through (really the whole thing is required reading, IMO):

Mozilla is a very unique organization in that it operates in a strange hybrid space between tech company and non-profit. There simply aren’t a lot of models for what we do. Wikimedia Foundation is always the one that comes closest to mind for me, but remains a very different thing. As such, people with experience relevant Mozilla, relevant enough to lead Mozilla well, are in very short supply. An organization can always choose to make an external hire and hope the person comes to understand the culture, but that is a risky bet. Internal candidates who have demonstrated they get the culture, the big picture of where we need to go and have demonstrated they can effectively lead large business units, on the other hand, present as very strong options.

And, from my limited vantage point, that’s what I see in Brendan.

posted by JHarris at 1:09 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, like many others, I think that personal and professional lives should be separate.

That ends when you engage in political activism aimed at keeping some of your employees second class citizens.

There's always a tendency to generalise from this sort of case, where a bigot does something activily bigoted and we can't call them on it because it may mean that we in turn are called upon our own political opinions, neatly eliding the difference between actions and opinions as well as omitting the hard fact that this already happens if you are on the left, cf. various wingnut crusades against lefty professors.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:12 AM on March 28 [9 favorites]


really the whole thing is required reading, IMO

To be honest, I don't think the Mozilla insider's view of this actually matters. You still got a company which says it's serious about equal rights and diversity being led by somebody who a) donated money to a cause dedicated to keeping queer people second class citizens and b) who still doesn't understand his motivations don't matter, it was still a bigoted act to do so. That he's a nice bloke in his daily life, that he can work with queer people doesn't matter, that's about the lowest standard you can hold anybody to.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:22 AM on March 28 [14 favorites]


This isn't like giving $1000 to the RNC. If he did that, I'd think he had blinkered politics. But that money can go to all sorts of issues. This is much closer to giving $1000 to the Klan. That was money used to run despicable ads in my state, the result of which denied civil rights to gays in California. That's money to take away visiting rights, adoption rights, parental responsibility when the husband/wife is sick. It's money to take away dignity and equality.

That was 2008, and this is now 2014. This is way past the time for giving people a pass for disagreeing on a putatively morally ambiguous issue. This is bigotry plain and simple. Anyone who contributed to that cause that isn't now daily parading around with a sandwich board apologizing for their moral bankruptcy deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Period.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:48 AM on March 28 [21 favorites]


As a techie myself, I'd actually consider the CEO less problematic than the CTO. After all, the latter is probably more involved with the actual creation of the product I'm using, as opposed to managing and marketing it. It might be a bit different in this specific case, but a lot of programmers I know tend to regard CEOs as something between a non-entity and a nuisance, certainly not a figurehead or representative.

Generally, I'm not proud to say that I'm taking the coward's position here. The slope is just too slippery for me. Yeah, I could get by with using Firefox less. But as a programmer, does this mean that I'm also supposed to ditch JavaScript now? Okay, that might have taken a life of its own, so maybe it's divorced enough from its inventors. But Mozilla is making lots of libraries and APIs. Ditch those, too? What about basic algorithms I'm using? I just hope that Donald Knuth never says anything wrong in his dotage...
posted by pseudocode at 1:54 AM on March 28


I'm gay and have less than zero interest in going after this guy.

It's vindictive. The guy gave some money to what in 2008 was a mainstream political campaign. (The comparisons to the Nazis and the Klan are hugely disingenuous, IMO.) Our progress has been so swift that the cultural winds have shifted even in the six years since, which is amazing and awesome. But there are millions like him, and I think it is a counterproductive waste of time to demonize these people retroactively for their personal choices. Let him stand on his record as a business leader. If he had supported discriminatory policies in his workplace or invited anti-gay speakers to address his employees, I would wholeheartedly sign on to the pushback. But as it stands I don't think it's particularly any of my business.

People's minds and hearts and behaviors are changing on this issue, maybe more rapidly than in any civil rights movement in history. I don't see the need to draw blood from those who supported the losing side. There are a lot of fights left to be won, but to suit up for a battle against a unique, inclusive company that's doing important work in one of the most progressive industries in the world, because someone made a $1K donation? Spare me. There are better things to do.
posted by eugenen at 2:27 AM on March 28 [53 favorites]


And if you empty out every person who has ever made a donation to a conservative cause you're going to have some mighty empty boardrooms.

There is a difference between supporting conservative causes and supporting a move to strip rights from people of a given sexuality. A big difference. A donation to a campaign to lower taxes would not have seen the same outrage, I can assure you, and for good reason.
posted by Dysk at 2:28 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


> The activism can be quantified via user agent strings!

"Shit! Everybody is using Mozilla!"
posted by ardgedee at 3:43 AM on March 28 [6 favorites]


> Nobody should switch browsers because I can't imagine the upper ranks of Google, Apple or Microsoft aren't brimming with sociopathic assholes...

Google, Apple Openly Support Fight Against 'Proposition 8', and donated $140k and $100k, respectively, to No On 8. Microsoft publicly supported passage of marriage equality laws in Washington

That said, Brendan has been an executive officer at Mozilla for most of its existence. His role as CEO is a change of responsibilities but the effect on employee culture and policy that he could exert within the Foundation is probably not more than he had while CTO.

Shopping by ethos is complicated.
posted by ardgedee at 3:56 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


This isn't like giving $1000 to the RNC. If he did that, I'd think he had blinkered politics. But that money can go to all sorts of issues. This is much closer to giving $1000 to the Klan.

If I give $1000 to the Guttmacher Institute, it would be shitty if I were fired because my employer's CEO happened to be a devout Catholic. I can't help but see some parallels to what's going on here, laying aside the fact that most of us here (including me) find Eich's particular cause to be abhorrent.
posted by indubitable at 4:35 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


...despite the compromises that were made in its early years, it has become one of the key systems driving the internet (along with PHP, another "language people love to hate").

JavaScript is a pretty terrible language, with one major thing going for it: browsers use it. It's like a weird, half-lisp thing that only sort of works (seriously guys). Please, though, don't give PHP any credit. That horror-show of a language has led to more security problems than it's even possible to enumerate. "Just put your source code in the document root of the web server" is the worst idea to ever make a newbie programmer's eyes gleam.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:47 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


If I give $1000 to the Guttmacher Institute, it would be shitty if I were fired because my employer's CEO happened to be a devout Catholic. I can't help but see some parallels to what's going on here, laying aside the fact that most of us here (including me) find Eich's particular cause to be abhorrent.

No. The Guttmacher institute fights for peoples' rights. Being fired for fighting for peoples' rights is one thing; not being hired because you actively attempt to remove peoples' rights is different. Don't fall into the moral equivalency trap.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:48 AM on March 28 [15 favorites]


Please, though, don't give PHP any credit.

No, I won't give PHP any credit.
posted by sutt at 5:05 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Is there a list somewhere of all the people that donated to Prop 8 causes and where they work so I can boycott those businesses too? Let send tweets and post on message boards and get them all fired. Why, we can't have people with opinions out there we don't like making a living, they will just use their discretionary income to support more causes we take issue with!
posted by FreezBoy at 5:07 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if ex post facto shaming and ostracization is not the answer to this problem.
posted by sutt at 5:09 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Is there a list somewhere of all the people that donated to Prop 8 causes and where they work so I can boycott those businesses too? Let send tweets and post on message boards and get them all fired. Why, we can't have people with opinions out there we don't like making a living, they will just use their discretionary income to support more causes we take issue with!

This, but unironically.
posted by Benjy at 5:14 AM on March 28 [9 favorites]


The LA Times has a nice way to look up people who donated for or against prop 8. More than one map mashup is available by googling as well.
posted by rtha at 5:35 AM on March 28 [6 favorites]


I use Firefox because it's the least likely (in my mind, anyway - educate me if I'm wrong) to be actively siphoning off my personal information and selling it to commercial enterprises or the U.S. government. That's not likely to change with Eich's promotion.

That said, I think this situation will be a net positive, as it forces Mozilla's new CEO to (perhaps) re-examine his prejudices and (certainly) eat a bit of crow for writing a check for the explicit purpose of Othering.
posted by Mooski at 5:45 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


Opera however now runs on an open source of Chrome, so if you dislike Chrome's annoying habits, you are out of luck with Opera. That's the reason I only recently switched to Firefox.

They're still updating the old Presto based Opera for now: Opera 12.16 for Windows is the latest version. (Click "show other versions" to get other platforms.)
posted by kmz at 5:51 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


It must be awkward to work at a place where you know your boss not only hates you, but actively goes out of his way to get laws enacted to take away your rights, so that you really know he hates you, like hatred at a deep level

Without in any way defending Eich's decision, that seems like a long leap.
posted by yerfatma at 5:53 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Don't want your douchebag opinions to bite you in the ass? Then don't express them.

In the absence of an objective standard for "douchebag beliefs", this statement is no different than "shut up if you know what's good for you"".
posted by DWRoelands at 6:00 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Seriously? Everyone who is analogizing Prop 8 to the Klan (absurd in my mind) should keep in mind that 'pro-life' groups regularly analogize pro-choice positions to being a mass murderer, and call the hundreds of thousands of annual abortions in this country an ongoing 'holocaust' of innocent babies. So why should they ever tolerate someone who has donated to Planned Parenthood -- a donation that from their perspective DIRECTLY FUNDS the murder of innocent babies -- being appointed to any position of authority over anyone ever?

Maybe you, like me, see the pro-life analogy to the Holocaust as wrong, because you don't buy the argument that an early-term fetus is a human life. Great. But people who disagree live in the same society as you do, and you have to work with them and cooperate with them in all kinds of settings. Same deal here. You might feel really strongly about gay marriage. But some people disagree with you, and even while you work against them in the political space you need to deal with them in civil society without trying to destroy their careers and drive them out of settings that have nothing to do with the political issue in question.

You know who else didn't support gay marriage in 2008? Barack Obama. Hilary Clinton. Bill Clinton. Most of the entire political establishment of both parties.

Despite some claims made above, we really are not far from saying people shouldn't get a job for contributing to the wrong political party. Certainly it is uncomfortably close to efforts by right-wingers to drive people out of academic posts and the like for e.g. questioning U.S. imperialism. Whatever happens here, think of it in terms of your own unpopular views and how others who disagree might react to them.
posted by zipadee at 6:01 AM on March 28 [28 favorites]


It's really looking to me like he's trying to be a "good"/doctrinaire Catholic. (Many Catholics don't try very hard...) Can't find any confirmation beyond the Jesuit schooling.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:02 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Just as Brendan Eich has every right to be a bigot and support bigoted causes, so too does the Mozilla Foundation have every right and responsibility to fire him as CEO from a non-profit corporation with a mission of openness and equality.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:32 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Also, to be explicit on what is so ridiculous about the Prop 8/KKK comparison...the Ku Klux Klan was a *violent terrorist organization*, people. They used intimidation, violence, and all kinds of extralegal means to systematically exclude an entire class of people from any kind of equal participation in society. The correct analogy to the KKK would be if Eich had contributed to an organization that encouraged its members to go to public parks and engage in violent gay-bashing, to assault same-sex couples who walked hand in hand on the street, to fire-bomb gay pride parades, and to beat or kill people who worked for the Human Rights Campaign.

It really belittles the kind of everyday violent terrorism that black people were subjected to in this country to compare Prop 8 to the KKK.
posted by zipadee at 6:37 AM on March 28 [19 favorites]


No, I won't give PHP any credit.

Popularity does not equal quality. How many of those sites have gross security flaws because of PHP?
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:45 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Why yes, zipadee, the Klan wasn't just racist, they didn't just have opinions, they took active actions to strip black people of their rights and harm them. Eich isn't just homophobic, he didn't just have opinions, he took active action to strip gay people of their rights and harm them. The comparison is extremely apt.
posted by tavella at 6:46 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Some consolation: the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales are taking place tonight.
posted by tomcooke at 6:50 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that most of us are aware of the existence of anti-choice people and right-wingers, zipidee, but thanks for the education!

So you know what's not going to happen? It's not going to happen that decent people will roll over, play dead, declare that it's ok to believe that some of your employees should be second-class citizens because fundamental human equality is really just a matter of opinion, and once we do that the right-wingers will also agree to play nice. They won't. They will not look at our docile surrender and say "oh, ok, we'll stop attacking pro-choice people and those who support gay rights." I couldn't get hired for an executive position at Hobby Lobby because my politics are a matter of public record, and that's not going to change if we pretend that it's a-ok that Eich thinks some of his employees should be denied the right to marry. I really don't understand the idea that we should pretend there's some sort of moral equivalence between being a bigot and not being a bigot because we don't want bigots to be mean to us. The bigots will never play along. Playing nice doesn't convince them of anything, and it doesn't change their behavior. It just compromises us morally and makes us less effective.

And yes, many Democratic politicians have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into support for gay equality. But they were not dragged into that position by other people saying that it's ok to treat gay people like second-class citizens because everyone's entitled to their opinion. They've been dragged into that stance by people forcefully making both a logical and personal case for how structural homophobia is unjust and hurtful, and they've been dragged into it by constituents making it clear that they will not tolerate active or tacit support of structural homophobia. I don't really see how that argues for giving Eich a free pass.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:58 AM on March 28 [27 favorites]


I don't really see how that argues for giving Eich a free pass.

And there's the rub, for me. What would constitute not giving Eich a free pass? Is it making him eat crow, is it undoing his promotion, is it boycotting Firefox?

The cultural attitude in the U.S. toward LGBTQ people is changing rapidly, and that's a good thing. But, as with any situation where cultural attitudes undergo a revolution, there are going to be people who are/were on the wrong side. My take is that if they can recognize that they are/were on the wrong side of history, welcome aboard.
posted by Mooski at 7:13 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


Nobody's arguing to give Eich a free pass.

However, I think that some of us are wary of a witch hunt over an issue that the majority of Californians (and Americans) supported 6 years ago.

Eich (and the then-majority of Americans) were wrong, but I don't think that we are going to be better off by pillorying the ones who were on the wrong side.
posted by schmod at 7:16 AM on March 28 [11 favorites]


A few more queer voices from within the Mozilla community; lots of differences in opinion here: posted by mbrubeck at 7:22 AM on March 28 [7 favorites]


What would constitute not giving Eich a free pass? Is it making him eat crow

A public acknowledgement, apology, and complimentary donation to an org supporting equal rights would close out this issue for me.
posted by mikelieman at 7:26 AM on March 28 [19 favorites]


I use Firefox mainly for using Maryland's still non-functional ACA website, where it is less non-functional than it is in Chrome, and for DownThemAll! mass downloads from cool archives of public domain music, but I won't be deleting Firefox or doing much more than making a note about the man, mentioning it where it's relevant, and just getting on with things.

The trouble with trying to apply a moral compass to every corporation with a rich white conservative CEO is the US is that you're pretty much going to have to go live feral in a wilderness park, because, even when they start out liberalish, making some money and enjoying some success in the world of business tends to make one start believing that maybe, just maybe, those things happened because one is great and wise and properly of the ruling class, and people drift into that conservative mindset, embracing all the sorts of hang-ups and illogic that come with that world view.

Back when some news skittered around the facebooksphere about Target donating to some idiot right wing organization, I started getting lectured by several friends for not immediately "boycotting" Target (and I sarcastiquote "boycotting" because so few people understand that, if you don't write/call/email the organization you're boycotting, it's not a boycott—it's just a drop in sales without explanation and/or an opportunity to tout one's moral purity). I had to laugh, because these were people who smoke (Philip Morris has a long history of giving mountains of money to the likes of Jesse Helms) and who have no qualms about getting gas at Exxon & Mobil (first corporation ever to take away same sex benefits for employees) and who shopped at freaking Walmart instead.

I wasn't committed to Target, beyond that they're the only place that sells the drawers that fit me properly and life is less satisfying when I've got scrotum sweatglued to my thigh, but the notion of proportion seems to get lost in these things.

I get being angry, I get being frustrated, and I definitely get writing to Mozilla and Eich to point out what I think is wrong, but there's a big difference between dropping a thousand bucks on a stupid cause that stupid people find momentarily worthy and being the architects of actual destructive campaigns, and this sort of witch-hunty puritanical torch campaign just makes us progressive-minded folks look just like the hypersensitive overreacting outrage junkies that the far right want to make us out to be, and we put ourselves at a disadvantage in the public arena (see also #cancelcolbert).

History is on our side. We're winning this war. In the end, is it going to be reëducation camps for the other side, or can we just use these things as an opportunity to teach?
posted by sonascope at 7:28 AM on March 28 [16 favorites]


Serious question: How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then?

Pretty much yeah. I have failed to go through the staff, senior or otherwise, of all the companies whose products I use to see where they stand on any number of issues. I suspect that if I did, I'd be in a mental institution, jailed for starving myself and refusing to wear clothing and paying taxes.
posted by juiceCake at 7:30 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Indeed, JuiceCake.

I agree with that, and with Zipadee and a few others in this thread, and I think those points are well stated. The flip side (for me) is that I have a tough time getting worked up when I see this kind of outrage happen on the Internet, because mostly I think it's exceptional and somewhat hypocritical bluster. It's easy to rail on Twitter against some upper-class stranger you'll never meet. It feels venting, I'm sure. But it's the exception, and in their daily lives most of these people are perfectly able to coexist in workplaces and at soccer games with neighbors, employees, and bosses who disagree about gay marriage, abortion, capital punishment, and all kinds of other human rights issues.
posted by cribcage at 7:32 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Staff at Mozilla call for new CEO Brendan Eich to ‘step down’, another summary of the coördinated tweet campaign by Mozilla employees. They were pretty brave.

I'm really torn about Eich. I definitely think people with different political views should be allowed to be CEOs of companies I love. OTOH this issue is personal for me. Also gay marriage is now rightly seen as a core civil rights issue, not some fringe topic reasonable people disagree on.

His 2012 defense of his donation is just weak and stupid. I'd have more respect for him if he forcefully articulated why he thought it was important and just to undo a bunch of people's marriages, at least he'd have some conviction. Or better to say is Prop 8 support was a mistake he now regrets, that'd be fine too. Instead I get the impression he's a guy who's happy to throw the queers under a bus when someone asks him but didn't really think much about it. Not CEO material.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of interested in how this goes because I have a Catholic boss who has heard me express support for Planned Parenthood. We were walking down the street on the way back from lunch and were approached by someone from PP asking for signatures/donations. I told him "I'm already a member" before my brain freaked out because my boss was. right. there.
posted by domo at 7:37 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


> The trouble with trying to apply a moral compass to every corporation with a rich white conservative CEO

The thing many people don't seem to understand is that for those of us with a professional stake in, or simple passion for, the Internet and its ability to improve the world, Mozilla is not just any corporation. It is the non-profit most explicitly devoted to and, importantly, capable of and very effectively engaging in promoting a free, open, and equal Internet.

I think Mozillians in particular, and Internet citizens in general, are actively proud of Mozilla as an entity in a way entirely unlike other Internet companies. They are every bit the equal of, say, the EFF. I would argue more effective than the EFF, because Mozilla actively provides the tools people need to support and engage in a free Internet. If there were just one organization on the Internet that many of us would really, really want to be far more sensitive and progressive on this issue than we would ever expect of any other organization, it's Mozilla.

That's why this is disappointing and why it may seem to less engaged people that we're holding Mozilla to some unreasonable standard. To some of us, and maybe we're foolish, Mozilla is special.
posted by gilrain at 7:45 AM on March 28 [12 favorites]


Asking for an apology is not a "witch hunt"
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:53 AM on March 28 [7 favorites]


Eich (and the then-majority of Americans) were wrong, but I don't think that we are going to be better off by pillorying the ones who were on the wrong side.

The thing is, though, is that he wasn't on the wrong side. He is on the wrong side. He continues to be on the wrong side. Many public figures were on the wrong side, and have since said that they've evolved or they've come to realise blah blah blah.

Eich is saying...sorry if your feelings were hurt. I mean, that's basically it.
posted by MeghanC at 7:59 AM on March 28 [9 favorites]


The thing many people don't seem to understand, is that for those of us with a professional stake in, or simple passion for, the Internet and its ability to improve the world, Mozilla is not just any corporation. It is the non-profit most explicitly devoted to and, importantly, capable of and very effectively engaged in promoting a free, open, and equal Internet.

This is, of course, what set me up for life-altering disappointment when I jumped ship after twenty years of being a minor cog for a government subcontractor to go work in the arts. Museums and arts organizations are not like icky old corporations, right? Boy, did I learn that lesson the hard way. A corporation is a corporation, no matter how moral and optimistic and vaunted its supposed "values" are (and it's worth a reminder that, despite the 1886 ruling on Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a corporation is not a person and cannot, therefore, have morals and values), and they're all sausage factories.

That said, does Mozilla discriminate against gay employees? Do they ban same sex benefits, or trans benefits, or campaign, as a corporation, against gay rights? If not, who cares what their officers do? Can a corporation be judged by its actions and not by the moral purity of its staff? If Mozilla really is special, then such things will be self-policing. If not, well, boycott away.

Thing is, the best progressive values of all include understanding, forgiveness, and a willingness to take in people who don't agree with us so we can make a case and show the evidence for how they were wrong. The litmus test is a tool of conservatism, not liberalism.
posted by sonascope at 8:02 AM on March 28 [14 favorites]


The litmus test is a tool of conservatism, not liberalism.

Hear, hear!
posted by sutt at 8:04 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


The litmus test is a tool of conservatism, not liberalism.

New bumper sticker.
posted by Mooski at 8:11 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Somehow this makes the Mozilla enforced rebranding of Debian's modified Firefox as Iceweasel all the more apt.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:19 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


It looks to me like you're going to boycott how many actual LGBT employees to get at this guy?

This is also hubris btw. I am reminded of nothing more than the R base in the Bush years when they thought the pendulum's swing in their direction gave them a lot more power than it actually did and that the party bosses care about the ideology of the base.

Win graciously, or risk backlash, though I think it's too late...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:19 AM on March 28


On a tangent: is Eich known to be particularly religious? I ask not because of the gay thing but because he came up with JavaScript, a language whose aesthetics have been widely criticised, possibly adding a data point to the Larry Wall thesis that theological thinking makes for messy programming language design.
posted by acb at 8:22 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


> a language whose aesthetics have been widely criticised

To my knowledge, he's not religious. Whatever aesthetic and design-related warts are in JavaScript are there because, by Eich's telling, (a) he had to make the language look like Java, which means C-style syntax; (b) he had to design the whole thing in ten days.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:25 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Metafilter on:

employees at a religious university being asked to comply with a personal lifestyle policy (or they'll be fired)

Goodwill firing an employee for being communist

whether or not pharmacists can electively refuse to dispense certain medications and keep their jobs

NPR firing someone for a statement made about Muslim fright on Bill O'Reilly

NPR firing someone for being a leader in Occupy DC

an employee being fired for creating an online game

a university firing profs who weren't bringing in grant money

a critic being fired for making pornographic pics that lived behind a paywall

Wolverine getting fired.

There have been a lot of threads on MeFi about firing people for stuff that isn't related to their job. I remember quite a few that aren't linked above and are even more relevant to this thread.
posted by jsturgill at 8:30 AM on March 28 [9 favorites]


Do they ban same sex benefits, or trans benefits, or campaign, as a corporation, against gay rights? If not, who cares what their officers do?
Well, the people who are managed by those officers may care, for reasons I mentioned above. Which is why I'm especially interested in the opinions of my LGBTQ co-workers (and other people whose families were targeted by Prop. 8), even though I personally am fine putting aside differences and working with Brendan.

From my former teammate who is now happily employed at Google (a company which for all its other flaws has been truly heroic in fighting for gay rights):
It bothers me. I feel triggered sometimes knowing that there are leaders there who take me as less than [1].

All I know is I can't keep pretending like I'm cool with it. I'm not cool and it's a big part of why I moved away from Mozilla personally [2].
The messages we send to people in oppressed minority groups aren't just about comfort (for example, look at the research about depression and suicide in LGBT populations), and expecting all of them to just get over it, even if some of them are willing to do so, is not cool.

The software industry in general and Silicon Valley in particular have problems with sexism, ageism, and diversity. If this promotion makes Mozilla a poorer environment for LGBTQ employees and volunteers, that's part of the problem. We need to make make things more welcoming for minorities in technology, not less.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:46 AM on March 28 [11 favorites]


The big problem is that Eich continues to be a bigot, and unapologetically so. He needs to have a come to Jesus moment.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 AM on March 28


There have been a lot of threads on MeFi about firing people for stuff that isn't related to their job.

Arguably at least five of those are job related firings
posted by edgeways at 8:54 AM on March 28


Yeah, the Wolverine one was totally with cause.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:03 AM on March 28


Excepting Wolverine (totally for cause), I'd go with the pharmacist one and the prof one, if you define the profs' jobs as "bring in grant money" rather than "teach students." Still interesting to read through.
posted by jsturgill at 9:08 AM on March 28


Popularity does not equal quality. How many of those sites have gross security flaws because of PHP?

Probably the same relative percentage that have security flaws due to Node.js, or due to Python. Just more of them because there are more PHP installs out there.

How many have flaws due to poor coding practices in those languages? Probably the same.
posted by sutt at 9:45 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


A public acknowledgement, apology, and complimentary donation to an org supporting equal rights would close out this issue for me.

This is a pretty good answer, and it makes me wonder if anyone with a Twitter account that Eich's likely to read would put that to him as a request. Just, you know, to see if he'd be willing to put the whole thing to bed with a gesture of goodwill.
posted by Mooski at 10:32 AM on March 28


Probably the same relative percentage that have security flaws due to Node.js, or due to Python. Just more of them because there are more PHP installs out there.

How many have flaws due to poor coding practices in those languages? Probably the same.


Doubtful. Have you read "The PHP Singularity" or "PHP: A Fractal of Bad Design"? There are bad coding practices, and then there are languages whose very design inspires and encourages bad coding practices.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:03 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


It seems reasonable to me to be disappointed that a company which has so far been a leader in the community would make such a tone deaf move without that disappointment turning into a reductio ad absurdum. I don't understand the backlash to holding people and organizations to the high standards of their self-professed ideals. Mozilla has been about freedom since day one, questioning the merits of an appointment of someone who's on the record with an anti-freedom position seems entirely in line with that ethos.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:15 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Serious question: How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then?

Yeah.
posted by SollosQ at 11:21 AM on March 28


[Folks, please take your programming language holy war elsewhere. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 11:46 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


The older I get, the more time I've had to consider things and I can honestly say that this year's AC is a more ethical and considerate Mefite than say 20 or 30 years ago. But I'm still ignorant or uneducated in some areas, and probably flat-out wrong in many.

Morality is a journey not a single destination. The problem with attacking prominent people for perceived ethical impurity (or for not being "politically correct" as the right jeeringly refer to it) is that it's a moving target. The approved version of "correct" is changing (evolving, we like to say)... and just about everyone beneath Gandhi is imperfect (and therefore attackable) in some way. Are those leather shoes you're wearing?

I know some Catholics and other sincere Christians that are not homophobes, but have reservations about the appropriateness of same-sex parenting, and since their understanding of marriage is mostly in the family realm... they apply these reservations to the issue of same-sex marriage.

If someone can show that Eich opposes gay marriage with the amoral zeal of the hard-core right wing (who are more seeking a wedge issue than any genuinely ethical stance), I'd call down thunder and lightning on him. If he has a sincere reservation on the issue that stems from a religious belief, and if it's clear that this belief hasn't coloured any of his management decisions... then I don't think he should be pilloried or have to step aside.

Also, has it been established that Eich knew beforehand how hateful the Prop-8 support campaign was going to be?
posted by Artful Codger at 11:46 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Also, has it been established that Eich knew beforehand how hateful the Prop-8 support campaign was going to be?

He may not have known about it at the time, but he certainly knew how hateful it had been in 2012, when he issued his "I'm sorry you were offended" apology.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:54 AM on March 28 [5 favorites]


Also, has it been established that Eich knew beforehand how hateful the Prop-8 support campaign was going to be?

If that's going to be a defense for his bigotry, the reasonable question to follow up with is to ask why Eich has still made no attempt to publicly explain and apologize for the consequences of his participation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 AM on March 28 [5 favorites]


I am curious if there might be some other explanation for his donation.

I am in no way saying that this is what is happening in this particular case, and I am only offering a hypothetical.

It is one thing to donate money towards a particular cause. The most straight-forward interpretation is that you support the message or cause.

The OTHER, sneakier, and much more convoluted reason to donate money (and just money. Not time, or actual advocacy, etc) is to push that cause into the open and expose it to more people, even to the point of enacting a really horrible piece of legislation. Then, once the legislation is enacted, have it run through the courts and determined to be unconstitutional, and thus, any legislation that in any way shares any of the same features or the struck-down legislation can never be enacted again. DOMA and other anti-gay-marriage laws are on the books in most of the United States, and in each and every state, those laws are being challenged in the courts, and being overturned. This does, however, present many opportunities for things to go very wrong if you do not follow through with fighting the laws once they are enacted.

This animated map shows the current state of the laws in the U.S., and the rub of the whole thing is that in order to solidify making same-sex marriage fully legal, almost every state had to make it illegal first, and then have those laws challenged on the ground of the constitutional equal protections clause (or other arguments, I don't have a detailed breakdown readily available). Now, in some states, the electorate was nice enough to just go straight to making same-sex marriage legal (Vermont and Washington, I believe, though I might be wrong on the actual chain of events that led to those laws being enacted). But in places like California and elsewhere, with much higher populations and a much wider electoral field to deal with, many of those states NEEDED to have the unconstitutional law in place first, before enough of a critical mass of political activity and groups organizing to challenge the laws in court pushed the subject into the public view.

Though, given everyone's arguments about this guy, especially from people who know him personally, I somehow doubt that this was his motivation for donating to the Prop 8 lobbying efforts. It would also have been trivially easy for him to state that this was his objective in donating, rather than trying to defend his actions by name calling and not responding to people criticizing his actions.
posted by daq at 11:57 AM on March 28


Since somebody asked (in a deleted comment): Chipotle was founded by a man who lives with his boyfriend in Manhattan, the company refuses to sponsor Boy Scout troops and regularly provide floats at Gay Pride parades. And to relate that back to Mozilla here: there is in fact a sizeable amount of 'boycott Chipotle' material on the Christian web. Is a boycott justifiable there because the company itself officially supports gay marriage, but not in this case because Mozilla is not officially being used to support Eich's views?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:59 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


>> Also, has it been established that Eich knew beforehand how hateful the Prop-8 support campaign was going to be?

> He may not have known about it at the time, but he certainly knew how hateful it had been in 2012, when he issued his "I'm sorry you were offended" apology.

> If that's going to be a defense for his bigotry, the reasonable question to follow up with is to ask why Eich has still made no attempt to publicly explain and apologize for the consequences of his participation.

All I can say to these is... the 2012 "apology" was certainly lackluster... perhaps due to a combination of embarrassment and defensiveness?

If everyone who has a genuine disagreement with X because of sincere religious or ethical beliefs (that differ from mine) is a bigot, then we're all bigots. No-one wins.

I'm convinced that the battle for same-sex marriage is mostly won, and that the corner has been turned. The issue will soon lose potency for the right, and opponents (real or opportunistic) will come to terms with it and move on. If Eich is not currently leading or aiding opposition to same-sex marriage, we should move on too.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:21 PM on March 28


If he has a sincere reservation on the issue that stems from a religious belief, and if it's clear that this belief hasn't coloured any of his management decisions... then I don't think he should be pilloried or have to step aside

"I shat on people and tried to destroy their civil rights because of religion!" does not fly with me. You are responsible for your own ethical choices, not your religion or party or any other voluntary association.
posted by tavella at 12:23 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


I feel it is none of our business what he does with his own money in his private time.

This isn't a quibble over someone donating to a ballot initiative to fix potholes or something. This is, as many people are noting, a little more serious than that, a little more personally intrusive into areas outside of his own money and his private time.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:27 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


$1000 isn't a whole lot of "shat", as a self-described gay commenter noted well upstream, and there's no proof that Eich has implemented any anti-gay or anti-same-sex marriage policies at Mozilla, or that their company policies are in any way less than inclusive.

Has Eich committed a crime, or just a misdemeanor, then?
posted by Artful Codger at 12:29 PM on March 28


All I can say to these is... the 2012 "apology" was certainly lackluster... perhaps due to a combination of embarrassment and defensiveness?

If he really had any moral reservations about his financial support for a hate group, he's had plenty of opportunities since then to say something positive to address those reservations.

A non-apology is not an apology.

If everyone who has a genuine disagreement with X because of sincere religious or ethical beliefs (that differ from mine) is a bigot, then we're all bigots.

It is disturbing to again see the goalposts moved of what defines bigotry, which seems to happen in every discussion about civil liberties for GLBT people.

This isn't about Eich's "genuine disagreement" or about a simple difference of opinion — language which makes hate sound innocuous — but about spending money to actively take away legal rights and set up a second class of citizenry. That's a form of bigotry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on March 28 [11 favorites]


I don't know why people keep calling the 2012 blog post an apology. It's not even framed as an apology. It's an affirmation and defense of his anti-gay stance and an attack on pro-gay-marriage supporters.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:35 PM on March 28 [7 favorites]


I know some Catholics and other sincere Christians that are not homophobes, but have reservations about the appropriateness of same-sex parenting, and since their understanding of marriage is mostly in the family realm... they apply these reservations to the issue of same-sex marriage.

The thing is, that is homophobia. It's most likely a very soft form born of culture and upbringing, but it is homophobia all the same. Your culture and your religion are no excuse for how you treat and view others.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:40 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]


This isn't about Eich's "genuine disagreement" or about a simple difference of opinion — language which makes hate sound innocuous — but about spending money to actively take away legal rights and set up a second class of citizenry. That's a form of bigotry.

I still think it's important to know whether Eich had foreknowledge of the hateful campaign the Prop-8 supporters were going to mount. I don't think there's evidence of Eich being a full-on gay-hater.

There's a time for revenge, and a time for forgiveness. Is one $1000 donation in 2008 really a capital offense?

Yes he could clear things up alot and help us move on with a "mea culpa" and profession of attitude change, but we also need to recognise what's past and what's present, and whether his promotion to CEO materially affects the issue one way or another.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:41 PM on March 28


However, I think that some of us are wary of a witch hunt over an issue that the majority of Californians (and Americans) supported 6 years ago.

Eich (and the then-majority of Americans) were wrong, but I don't think that we are going to be better off by pillorying the ones who were on the wrong side.


The analogy is not quite apt. The majority of Americans were wrong. That's still quite a long way from what Eich did. There were many who expressed the opinion that they personally disagree or disapprove of gay marriage, but will not vote to take away someone's civil rights. They are still wrong, but at least they didn't vote to disenfranchise their fellow Americans.

The Americans who actually voted for the likes of prop 8, were of course even more wrong. Just as were those who would've voted against interracial marriage, or the disenfranchisement of some already oppressed group of people.

And then there's a piece of work like Eich, who took one giant step beyond all that - which is why I'm quite unwilling to see him smuggled in with the rest of "the then-majority of Americans". He - unlike the majority of those who even voted for prop 8, actually went out of his way, and personally paid out of his pocket to write hate into the law. No, he belongs in a special circle of hell. Sorry, he's not just another of the "then-majority of Americans".

Finally, the majority of Americans - according to the latest polls - have changed their minds since that time. But that piece of work Eich, has not - see his "apology". In this too, he is not just another "majority American". He's a hard-core bigot, full stop.

What's to be done about it, is a separate matter, but let's not try to whitewash what this man did and what he represents.
posted by VikingSword at 12:42 PM on March 28 [10 favorites]


whether his promotion to CEO materially affects the issue one way or another

At the very least, if Mozilla leadership isn't lying through its teeth about what the company stands for, there will hopefully be intense, wearying scrutiny over every decision that bigot makes that relates to hiring, employment, employee benefits and other human resources issues that every CEO of every company is responsible for deciding on. I hope there is so much scrutiny and second-guessing that Eich gets frustrated and leaves of his own volition, if he doesn't get himself kicked out. It's clear he is unapologetic about what he did, so his worldview will inadvertently color every decision he makes. He'll probably trip up, eventually.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:54 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


I still think it's important to know whether Eich had foreknowledge of the hateful campaign the Prop-8 supporters were going to mount.

Considering that they were working from the same playbook in use since the Knight Initiative, you would have had to been absolutely unaware of the politics involved to not know how the campaign was going to go down. In which case you would not likely be donating in the first place.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:56 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


you would have had to been absolutely unaware of the politics involved to not know how the campaign was going to go down.

So that would put him solidly in the vast overwhelming majority of the electorate.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:12 PM on March 28


The Overton window on the subject of same sex marriage has been shifting quite a bit over the past decade, but Prop 8 is its own thing somewhat separate from the rest of the country due to the set of advertisements and political action that was going in California. Trying to get a very rough spread of the views on Prop 8, Eich's donation could perhaps be a: These are all views that have been actively espoused by people with regard to Prop 8. Now, if you look at that bottom one and think its outside an acceptable range of plausible belief, please go back and watch some of those advertisements. I contend that it's the most accurate possible view, and that anything at the top or middle of the list is completely untenable by a reasonable person.

My connection to Prop 8 is the anguish it caused my family and friends, from couples in their 20s to couples in their 60s. My rights weren't being affected. But I heard the fears and pain of my loved ones as odious ads raised ridiculous bigoted fears, many of them long ago abandoned. Willful deceit to harm LGBT people is merely a factual statement of what aired on TV.

Unless he directly refutes his public actions, the only logical conclusion is that Eich is a bigot that despises LGBT people and is willing to subvert the ethical principle of honesty to hurt them. The particulars of California's political history are hard to ignore for those here in California, and though it may seem like a leap to say that Eich hates the gay people that he works with, it is the most parsimonious explanation for his actions and statements since 2008.

So please keep in mind that for many of us who lived through Prop 8, the only explanation for Eich's thoughts are hate hate hate and bigotry. We saw what he funded. He saw what his dollars bought. He doesn't see anything wrong with it.

I think Eich has a lot left to give to the world, but no reasonable organization should place him in a position of power over others. At least until he gives those he governs a good reason to trust him.
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:12 PM on March 28 [8 favorites]


Let's be clear. This wasn't a bog standard "Defence of Marriage" Act. This was Prop 8. An out and out attempt to destroy already existing marriages and remove existing rights. And the apology ... wasn't.
posted by Francis at 1:20 PM on March 28 [7 favorites]


the only logical conclusion

This is meaningless in terms of determining real motivations. People are not logically consistent in their beliefs. Parsimony of explanation works for science, not psychology.

the only explanation for Eich's thoughts are hate hate hate and bigotry.

Obviously not. I get how much pain support for prop 8 causes. It says little about what's actually going on inside Eich's heart.
posted by fatbird at 1:45 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Given that so many people have told him how it makes them feel, and he's said nothing, what are we to conclude?
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:49 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]


what are we to conclude?

Not much, given how quiet he's been about why he did it (and that no one, to my knowledge, has spoken out about telling him how much his support hurt them and how he responded).

He's met with many interested parties since his appointment as CEO, he's directly stated his support for Mozilla's inclusiveness and its official community standards, and pledged to extend that. What do you conclude from that?
posted by fatbird at 1:54 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


> Given that so many people have told him how it makes them feel, and he's said nothing, what are we to conclude?

We don't know what he's said privately. We probably don't know the entirety of what he's said to Mozilla employees. We do know that Mozilla as a company seems to toe all the lines for inclusiveness.

(on review, what Fatbird said)

We're in a rut here. My main points, the punishment must fit the crime, and both the victors and the vanquished need to move forward. Ok, done.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:56 PM on March 28


He's met with many interested parties since his appointment as CEO, he's directly stated his support for Mozilla's inclusiveness and its official community standards, and pledged to extend that. What do you conclude from that?

That he knows the steps to the modern corporate kabuki dance, nothing more. A true apology shows contrition - the cognizance of the error of one's ways, and the desire to set things right. Which has been in short supply with Mr. Eich.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:34 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but I'd feel the same way as you if he released a public apology and a token donation to an LBGT organization. The burden is now on Eich to prove by his actions that he CEOs by Mozilla's standards, rather than his in 2008.
posted by fatbird at 2:50 PM on March 28


Three Mozilla board members resign over choice of CEO:
Three Mozilla board members resigned over the choice of Brendan Eich, a Mozilla co-founder, as the new CEO. Gary Kovacs, a former Mozilla CEO who runs online security company AVG Technologies; John Lilly, another former Mozilla CEO now a partner at venture-capital firm Greylock Partners; and Ellen Siminoff, CEO of online education startup Shmoop, left the board last week.

The departures leave three people on the Mozilla board: co-founder Mitchell Baker; Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Katharina Borchert, chief executive of German news site Spiegel Online.
posted by zippy at 3:22 PM on March 28 [6 favorites]


...which leaves me wondering, if three of six board members opposed Eich's appointment, who actually chose him and what was the process?
posted by mbrubeck at 4:08 PM on March 28 [8 favorites]


Ties are decided by Math.random();
posted by zippy at 4:39 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Is one $1000 donation in 2008 really a capital offense?

Pretty sure nobody in this thread has advocated the government-sanctioned punitive killing of Brendan Eich.
posted by Zozo at 5:12 PM on March 28 [9 favorites]


Ties are decided by Math.random();

Which, as we all know, is just a wrapper over
new Date();

posted by yerfatma at 5:20 PM on March 28


if three of six board members opposed Eich's appointment, who actually chose him and what was the process?

Tie broken by Mitchell Baker, I'd guess.
posted by domnit at 5:40 PM on March 28


That board resignation is big news. I'm surprised that they straight out resigned rather than issue some public statement of no confidence. No one's on the Mozilla board because they think they're going to get rich; it's a service for open source. And the CEO just drove three of them away. That's a crisis.
posted by Nelson at 5:42 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]


Don't know if they're leaving because of Eich becoming CEO, or because Eich becoming CEO became a mark on the board; They're not going to get rich, but they may not want their reputations harmed – getting a good rep is most of the compensation for being on a board, I'd guess.
posted by zippy at 5:54 PM on March 28


Keep in mind that the resignations were not because of the Prop 8 stuff, but because those board members wanted an outsider for CEO. It was a philosophical difference.
posted by savetheclocktower at 5:55 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


even when they start out liberalish, making some money and enjoying some success in the world of business tends to make one start believing that maybe, just maybe, those things happened because one is great and wise and properly of the ruling class

I am great and wise and properly of the ruling class (for argument's sake). This means I am smart enough to know that when everyone is better off, I will rake it in. Serious, every dime I pay in taxes will go toward funding a civilization that will produce awesome and cool stuff I couldn't even buy before. If even the poorest have some folding money to spend, as a member of the great and wise and properly ruling class, I get a slice of it every time it leaves their pocket and hits the till!

The biggest problem with the ultra-wealthy at the moment is the cult of conservatism. I don't mean society's problem, I mean their problem. They are robbing themselves of riches, comforts and prosperity because of their neo-feudalist belief system, which runs at odds to reality. Like all matters of religion, it will be tough to reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:27 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]


Slap*Happy: That's not how they see things, though. The way they see it, they are our betters, and we should know our place. They are quite alright with leaving money on the table, as long as it allows them to establish exactly who is in charge. And when we deign to criticize their choices, well...that's the ultimate offense.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:20 PM on March 28


This piece explains quite well why people are upset with Eich's donation and why the statements he's made have done little to defuse the matter. (It also points out that in addition to the 2008 donation, he's made 22 donations between 2003 and 2010 to Teaper Representative Thomas McClintock, who is openly opposed to same sex marriage.) I find this part to be the most illuminating:

Apologizing for past wrongs doesn't undo the past, but it does help rebuild trust and provide assurance that further abuse (or at least not the same kind!) won't occur in the future. We've seen none of that -- only tone policing and attempts at creating diversions. The message I take away from reading Brendan's blog posts is "I'lll still try to destroy your family, but I won't be rude to you to your face. Keep writing code for me!"

When someone attacks your family and wants forgiveness, you can't just hug it out. It is the responsibility of people who have abused their power to rectify the harm they've done and show that they've learned. It's not our responsibility as oppressed people to understand their motivations (beyond what we already have to do to survive in the world they run!) or to have a nice talk with them where we politely ask for the dignity they've stolen from us. Sometimes people change and stop doing hurtful things, but when they do not, it's because they stand to benefit from hurting people (or at least think they stand to benefit) -- not because we as oppressed people have failed to provide a clear enough explanation of our pain.

posted by NoxAeternum at 11:57 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Maybe there is no option, then, for Eich to stay. I guess what's plain from Tim Chevalier's piece is that Eich really did, and still does, have strong socially conservative views that go all the way to materially harming LGBT people. There's no needle available to thread by actively supporting Mozilla's inclusiveness. No matter how in line Eich's CEOship is with Mozilla values, it would be absurd to trust him to steward those values. Any mea culpa at this point is opportunistic.

My wife tells me this is my 2,000th comment on the blue. Someone get me a key to the washroom for bis millensimii.
posted by fatbird at 8:17 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


I still think it's important to know whether Eich had foreknowledge of the hateful campaign the Prop-8 supporters were going to mount. I don't think there's evidence of Eich being a full-on gay-hater.

Anyone who has had even passing acquaintance with people opposed to gay rights would have known what kind of campaign they were going to adopt.
posted by winna at 8:59 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Mozilla says:
"The three board members ended their terms last week for a variety of reasons. Two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected."
(via ars technica)
posted by mbrubeck at 5:58 PM on March 29


fatbird, I've gained a ton of respect for you based on your comments over the years, so your interpretation definitely makes me soul search a bit more. Why Eich's current statements don't thread the needle for me is that Eich has not acknowledged what a contribution to Prop 8 means to many people, other than in obtuse terms of being offended by the implications that others are drawing, and refusing to engage any more. This refusal to acknowledge the concerns of others makes the acceptance of Mozilla's policies wring hollow. He doesn't seem believable while he stays silent on his contribution, because it's so inconsistent. I don't even want him to donate to a different cause, I'd just like him to acknowledge that his contribution went to the things that it did, and hear his opinion on those things.

As long as the community accepts him and the community stays inclusive, that's all that matters. I don't plan on contributing code to Mozilla any time soon, so my opinion doesn't matter very much. But the people voicing their concern from within Mozilla definitely do.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:51 PM on March 29


Brendan Eich: Just Apologize For Supporting Proposition 8
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


"He needs to have a come to Jesus moment."
Companies should not be in the business of coercing people into these moments by dangling their livelihoods and vocations in front of them and demanding they dance for those who've found Jesus in a different way. His feelings about gay marriage are wrong, and damaging to his country and neighbors, but they're his feelings to have - not his company's when they do not affect his job. I am amazed and humbled that my sexuality has become so accepted that people will go to such lengths to protect my expression of it, and by the massive change in that over my short lifetime, but I have no desire for it to be used as a weapon for rooting out the thoughtcrimes of others.

I'm just glad there is a way I can support Mozilla in this circular firing squad for all the value I've gotten out of their browser.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:43 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


"Thoughtcrime"? Donating $1000 is not a "thought", it's an action. Taking concrete action to have other peoples marriages annulled is not a fucking difference of opinion.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 4:51 AM on March 30 [18 favorites]


And not apologizing is salt in the wound. He's welcome to never get gay married. Where he crosses the line is in trying to prevent consenting adults from doing it. He needs to apologize not for his belief, but for his gross behaviour.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Don't think we'd be calling it as ambiguous if he had donated $1000 to a Brown People Ride at the Back of the Bus proposition.

He may have sincere, heartfelt beliefs that some must ride at the back of the bus, but the sincerity of his belief does not diminish his action.
posted by zippy at 10:40 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


""Thoughtcrime"? Donating $1000 is not a "thought", it's an action. Taking concrete action to have other peoples marriages annulled is not a fucking difference of opinion."
It is an action in all the ways that being a member of or donating to the American Communist Party in the late 40s and early 50s was an action, and a hell of a lot more benign. We generally think here that it was wrong to blacklist people from employment, even if on a political level they loyally answered to one of the greatest mass murderers mankind has ever known and sought to do to American Democracy what communists had already successfully done to the nascent Spanish Republic, and that is absolutely right. Purging people with views you don't like from an industry is inherently wrong. Politics is personal, but employment and vocation are and must be sacred. If he had done something, anything, actually relevant to his employment or his ability to conduct himself professionally then this would be a different conversation, but a neo-McCarthyist witch hunt through the rolls of political contributions should never produce something intrinsically worth firing or demoting someone over - even if you don't like them.

Questions about whether a supervisor can maintain a safe and welcoming environment in the work place or enforce non-discrimination policies are important, and this donation can certainly make those questions worth asking more carefully, but it does not provide an answer. Mozilla has absolutely no business asking its employees if they are now or ever have been a homophobe, period. Its just not something an employer has any business doing, even if you want them to.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:55 PM on March 30 [7 favorites]


I do believe that interracial marriage is the most relevant precedent here.

One of Eich's partisans on Twitter accused me of using "fascist methods," however, when I raised the comparison by asking him if he would stand with Eich if he was notorious as a racist, rather than as an anti-gay bigot.

In fact, if we view interracial marriage and same sex marriage as parallel social movements (I'm aware that comparing the two so directly is problematic), I believe polling data shows greater acceptance for same sex marriage in 2008 (~30%, with an additional ~30% favoring civil unions) than interracial marriage enjoyed in 1968 (~20%), when the U.S. Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia ruling invalidated the remaining state impediments to those unions.

In that context (which, again, is problematic) Eich's 2008 donation is more of an outlier (and thus less defensible) than a hypothetical person's donation to an anti-interracial marriage cause in 1967 would have been.
posted by The Confessor at 1:58 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


It is an action in all the ways that being a member of or donating to the American Communist Party in the late 40s and early 50s was an action, and a hell of a lot more benign.

Which are still actions and not simply thoughts. Donating money to something and becoming a member of something are both actions, and to characterize them as "thoughtcrimes" as some sort of defensive diminishing of them is unworthy of you.
posted by rtha at 2:34 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Blasdeb, would you support Eich if he were unabashedly racist? "Sorry it bothers you, but blacks should go back to Africa!" What if he attended neo-nazi rallies, screaming "kill all the jews" on the weekends — and when caught out, didn't apologize? "Sorry that it bothers you, but jews should die." What if he contributed to a pro-female circumcision group: "Sorry that it bothers you, but I really feel women should be mutilated."

"Sorry it bothers you, but gay couples shouldn't marry. In fact, I support and encourage annulment of any existing marriages and a ban on further marriages. Gay couples shouldn't even get to make decisions for one another during a health crisis. Gays just aren't equal people and I pay cash money to ensure they can't have the full protection of law. But, hey, I'm real sad that this bothers you."

I just can not see how he can be allowed a CEO-ship in an organization that otherwise claims to be fair. His beliefs must inform his decisions and behaviours. He can not be fair.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:35 PM on March 30


I'm not seeing the close comparison between a CEO getting called out by individuals for advocating that some citizens be denied the right to marry, with a bunch of state-oppressed political believers wanting everyone to share in the economy.

Because, equating the current PR mess with, if I'm reading that comment correctly, gulags and Stalinism? I don't even.
posted by zippy at 2:36 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


""Which are still actions and not simply thoughts. Donating money to something and becoming a member of something are both actions, and to characterize them as "thoughtcrimes" as some sort of defensive diminishing of them is unworthy of you."
The general consensus in this thread doesn't seem so much that he should be fired for his donation, but that he should be fired for being insufficiently apologetic or, more realistically, insufficiently dishonest.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:39 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


"Because, equating the current PR mess with, if I'm reading that comment correctly, gulags and Stalinism? I don't even."
I'm doing the mirror opposite, suggesting that if we can defend the right of people who believe in "gulags and Stalinism" in their heart of hearts to the opportunity of gainful employment when supporting dozens of genocides and the eradication of self-determination in politics doesn't interfere with their ability to perform their job, we can certainly tolerate this doofus.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:46 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


I get that you don't think he should be pilloried the way he's being pilloried, here or elsewhere. But acknowedge that he still did a thing, not merely think it. You're still allowed to defend him and to think what he did is not as bad as what other people have done without diminishing it by calling it something it's not.
posted by rtha at 2:48 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


It's a pretty weird turn of language to equate the act of questioning someone actively involved in taking away our rights with 1950s Communism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


"Thoughtcrime"? Donating $1000 is not a "thought", it's an action.

And this is why the notion that money = speech is asinine. Talk is cheap. Paying someone to do something is active contribution and sacrifice.

His feelings about gay marriage are wrong, and damaging to his country and neighbors, but they're his feelings to have - not his company's when they do not affect his job.

But they do affect his job. As CEO of Mozilla, he has a major role in shaping the diversity policies and in the overall mood of the company wrt sexual orientation. If he were some random programmer, then firing him for his donations would probably be over-the-top.* He claims he supports Mozilla's sexual orientation policies, but again, talk is cheap.


*but then plenty of ordinary people are fired for supporting the wrong political position and on the rare instance that it makes the news, the general consensus is "the boss is always right."
posted by dirigibleman at 3:00 PM on March 30


There must be some fascinating conversations going on behind closed doors right now.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 3:06 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


reprise the theme song and roll out the barrel

My thoughts exactly.

You have to wonder if the board even considered that Eich's promotion might provoke this kind of response, or if they were caught as flat-footed as Komen for the Cure was by the response to their decision to discontinue sponsorship of Planned Parenthood.
posted by The Confessor at 3:18 PM on March 30


"I get that you don't think he should be pilloried the way he's being pilloried, here or elsewhere. But acknowedge that he still did a thing, not merely think it. You're still allowed to defend him and to think what he did is not as bad as what other people have done without diminishing it by calling it something it's not."
On the contrary, while I think its kind of absurd that an action so trivially small on the scale of what supported Prop 8 is getting so much attention from the internet anger machine, I do think that at least the people who know him should be judging the fuck out of him for this shitty thing he did, it is in fact pretty fucking shitty. The thoughtcrime of being the kind of person who would donate to anti-prop-8 efforts is, however, the only way this action could possibly relate to his job - just ask yourself, would it make a difference to this conversation if it were $100 or $10,000? Even then, if this were him supporting discrimination in employment there might even be a case here for firing him but Mozilla is not in the marriage business and its kind of absurd to suggest that he would be willing to lie about his inner feelings about employment discrimination but not his inner feelings about marriage discrimination.
"It's a pretty weird turn of language to equate the act of questioning someone actively involved in taking away our rights with 1950s Communism."
There are an awful lot of things that left-wing hagiographies of Comintern and then Cominform conveniently leave out of the narrative, but their complete lack of interest in either human or civil rights except as tools for subverting the systems they justified is a pretty big one. As is actually my central thesis here, it didn't justify removing their rights then, but lets not be naive here.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:25 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


You have to wonder if the board even considered that Eich's promotion might provoke this kind of response

Brendan and Mozilla have both become uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter — to me this implies that they at least weren't prescient enough about this to plan their response.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 3:28 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's fair to equate his donation to prop 8 with a donation to a political party, including the Communist party. It's not about contributing to a political party - he did contribute, repeatedly to a GOP guy whose positions on gay rights are extremely regressive, but that's not what people are focused on. You might conceivably contribute to the Communist Party, but have a Marxist view of an idealized Communist future, and not be at all in agreement with the direction Stalin took the party - and in fact, many people dropped their membership and support of the party upon the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

NO. Prop 8 was a very specific, action designed exclusively for one purpose: to take away gay people's full civil rights. There was no other purpose. There could be no misunderstanding or broader goals within a platform as it would be in supporting a party like the GOP or Communist party.

Supporting prop 8 with money is an hate act. There is no gainsaying that. It is NOT the equivalent of giving money to the Communist party.

The man is a bigot, full stop.

People are not asking to take away his right to marry anybody he wishes - which would be an equivalent action taken against him. People are asking for him not to be in charge of work conditions for gay people, when he has not only proven to work for the taking away of their rights, but has expressed no change of views in that respect. That's a big difference from asking for to fire some worker who has no control over anyone else, merely for some wrong views. World of a difference.
posted by VikingSword at 3:32 PM on March 30 [7 favorites]


There are an awful lot of things that left-wing hagiographies of Comintern and then Cominform conveniently leave out of the narrative, but their complete lack of interest in either human or civil rights except as tools for subverting the systems they justified is a pretty big one. As is actually my central thesis here, it didn't justify removing their rights then, but lets not be naive here.

Questioning Eich's installation as CEO of Mozilla is not about purging American technology companies of the ideologically impure. It's about asking why a company that professes ideals of liberty and respect for human dignity ended up putting someone in charge who viscerally hates the gays to the extent that he spent a large sum of money (yes, $1000 is a large enough sum of money to communicate the donor's intentions, sorry) to take away their legal rights. This false equivalence stuff is really bizarre, doesn't help move the conversation forward, at all, and verges on concern trolling.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


There is both a symbolic and a practical issue. People were not up in arms that he's working at Mozilla. He is welcome to work there, hate and all. But when he is the face of the company, a company with a certain standing and ethos, it is simply wrong to put the face of hate on it. That's the symbolic part. And the practical part is that he's going to be in charge of people he has demonstrated taking hatred driven action against - that's very troubling, and in fact, unsustainable; it has already caused turmoil and negative consequences for the work environment at the company. That is something that must be taken into account. Nobody is asking for him to lose his job at Mozilla - he's been working there unobstructed all these years. But this action is new, and it has both symbolic and practical consequences. It's not about punishing someone for their thoughts or views, and having them lose their work and ability to make a living. A comparison to the black list is risible.
posted by VikingSword at 3:56 PM on March 30


Yeah, I don't think Brendan Eich should be fired or blacklisted, but I do think that his actions (and their effects on people within the Mozilla community and on their friends, families, etc.) should have weighed against the decision to promote him into a position where these actions will certainly interfere (worse than before) with Mozilla's efforts to welcome and reach out to a diverse population of contributors and supporters.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:38 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Well I'm torn.. part of me wants to uninstall Firefox in light of learning about all this..
The other part wants to just continue using it to look at gay porn..

Thanks, Mr. Eich, for the unfettered access to gay porn, I guess.
posted by wats at 4:52 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


On the contrary, while I think its kind of absurd that an action so trivially small on the scale of what supported Prop 8

Jumpin jebus "on the contrary" to what??!! I guess I'm just glad you've at least decided to call it an action rather than a thoughtcrime.
posted by rtha at 4:57 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Moreover, the thoughts and thought process of a CEO are very germane to their ability to perform their job. He is not a working man, a programmer, or a low-level employee. He's the one who's running everything, attempting to attract people to the project, and setting the directions. Being demoted from CEO would leave him a world of opportunity working in all sorts of ways either at Mozilla or elsewhere, Eich is at no risk of being blacklisted or put out of work.

Proper appearances and proper politics are extremely important job qualifications of a CEO, whether at a non-profit corporation like Mozilla or at a for-profit corporation, because this is not just some ordinary job. Refusal to acknowledge that seems somewhat dishonest. This is a leadership position! It's the same with board positions; appearances are important and political positioning is important, whether it's partisan governmental politics or open-source politics. There may not be Mozilla shareholders, but there are Mozilla volunteers. The 'private' life of these leaders is only private if they actually keep it private; public actions like donations or blog posts are important parts of being a CEO, and CEOs are evaluated on the image they project, as that's a key component of the job.

When Reed Harris broke apart the disc and streaming sides of Netflix, there was just as much discussion about his blog posts and his thoughts as there was of the actions, and the appearances that were projected by those blog posts and the thoughts he shared. Call it thoughtcrime if you must, but be prepared to back that up with why we should have to tolerate Eich's intolerance in leadership positions. He may say that he's willing to back Mozilla's policies, but his actions have spoken louder than his words, and he's not willing to address his actions at all.

Finally, don't feel sorry for Eich. Eich is more powerful and influential than likely anyone in this forum. There's no result from this controversy that could leave him in an inopportune position, very worst case he goes back to productively creating new languages. Worry about the future of Mozilla and the families that were put on hold in part because of his actions.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:28 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


Caught between two movements
posted by mbrubeck at 5:44 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


just about everyone beneath Gandhi is imperfect

Gandhi might not necessarily be viewed as perfect.

I believe polling data shows greater acceptance for same sex marriage in 2008 (~30%, with an additional ~30% favoring civil unions) than interracial marriage enjoyed in 1968 (~20%), when the U.S. Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia ruling invalidated the remaining state impediments to those unions... in that context, Eich's 2008 donation is more of an outlier

Would favoring civil unions over gay marriage also be indicative of bigotry and hate (assuming separate is never equal)?

If so, then a 10% difference isn't a lot of daylight in terms of judging whether someone in the bigot majority is an outliner.

If not... Eich may have been in good company with a number of prop 8 supporters (the majority I'm acquainted with) who also supported civil unions.

People are asking for him not to be in charge of work conditions for gay people, when he has not only proven to work for the taking away of their rights, but has expressed no change of views in that respect.

Here's Eich's recently stated views:

"A number of Mozillians, including LGBT individuals and allies, have stepped forward to offer guidance and assistance in this. I cannot thank you enough, and I ask for your ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all. Here are my commitments, and here’s what you can expect:
That's a pretty clear statement of how he'd plan to wield CEO power at Mozilla and a standard to hold him to. I'm really not sure how anyone who expects more could argue that they're not using prop 8 as a litmus test.
posted by weston at 12:11 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


It's a little hard to swallow that he's actually committed to these ideals, when he has evidently given material support to a movement for the removal of existing civil rights, and has made no indication that he regrets that decision, nor that he would not do it again if given the chance. He's just sorry it upset people, is all.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 2:06 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I've been following along for a couple days for a couple of reasons. First, Mozilla used to be my next door neighbor (for a few years) at Friendster, so I saw it really engage in its mission, and back then that was very important, because it was the IE6 days, and it was the only really relevant alternative. Back then they were all that stood in the way of Microsoft defining what the web was.

Second, I was married during the California "window" in 2008, and I got to experience the difficulties firsthand that Prop 8 caused. I was, in fact, a member of one of the couples at whom Prop 8 was directed, and I can tell you that, absolutely, those of us who went through that were harmed in ways both mundane and profound. A vote for Prop 8, much less a contribution to it, was not a victimless crime. And there's no one in California who didn't know that. Shame on anyone who says otherwise.

Having said that, it seems to me that nobody has broken out the key issues at hand. To me, the whole argument seems muddied by failing to look at whether Mozilla, as a missional organization, is still relevant and viable. When say this, I'm really talking about the viability of Mozilla, the Foundation, and its product line. Will it continue to live a healthy life in the market? Will it survive technically? Will developers continue to target it as a platform? Most significantly, the whole thing was born from the ashes of a dead predecessor. And the new CEO's first major strategic initiative is targeting mobile, because they're taking serious fire over there. So we should question whether the thing is dead and Eich is already a dead man walking.

And in terms of relevance, I'm really looking at Mozilla as a movement. Is an open alternative still important? If so, is it important technologically as an exemplar or spawning source? Does it represent a good way to create standards (remember when the w3c used to publish its own standards-compliant browser)? Does it represent a substantial competitor to the other two major vendors? And, most of all, is it important from a philosophical, sociological, or cultural perspective as a movement of people committed to an open web? Has it been fully supplanted? Is it still the leader?

(Apologies for the ASCII art, but it helps me think)
 Mozilla is viable  ^-------+-------+
                    |   B   |   D   |
                    |       |       |
                    +-------+-------+
                    |   A   |   C   |
                    |       |       |
Mozilla is terminal o-------+------->
                    |               Mozilla is relevant
                    Mozilla is irrelevant
Let's take A - it's terminal and irrelevant. I think it's fair to say that it doesn't matter what happens next. It's dead, or it's dead enough not to care. He got appointed captain of the Titanic. Good riddance.

How about B - irrelevant but viable? Well, okay, this is more realistic. Perhaps the mission is over. Anyone can fork the code and move on, either for Firefox or the two major children of Webkit. And honestly, the children of Webkit are more relevant in the long run since they constitute nearly all of the mobile web. So in this scenario, he's Gary Kildall in the last days of CP/M. You know what? That's its own punishment. Let him have it.

Then there's C - relevant but terminal. Gosh. This is kind of the outlier for me. The one where I think I'd have to say that, if the mission is still valid, it's the duty of the employees and community to stand up, pick up the tent stakes, and form anew. It's not like it's never been done. In fact, Mozilla was the product of just such a thing happening. If it's going to die, and Eich is the new captain, let him go down with the ship, but by all means, let's go off and keep the mission alive. If this is indeed the case, Eich is perfect for the job. It's the employees and continued supporters in the community who I question here.

The darkest of all possibilities is that it's D - both relevant and viable. If this is the case, then the organization still remains missional. I can't see how he can remain CEO in this case. Because if the mission is an open, standards-based web that democratizes the future of the Internet for everyone, I can't see how anyone could reasonably let someone who clearly believes that it should be everyone-except-those-people. He is inconsistent with the mission (NB: Stallman once accused me of being inconsistent with the mission of Free Software, because I was insufficiently liberal - so there's RMS's view of the spectrum if you need a reference point). And clearly even his own employees know it. I assume they're all terribly resigned and cynical about the whole thing, or they themselves would resign. It's not like they'd be wanting for a job in Silicon Valley for more than a week. That's why I don't think it's D: in SV, engineers can afford to live by moral outrage. So either they don't believe it's all that outrageous, because the mission is long dead, or there's no there there to care about anymore.

I think it's either B or C - it's either just another browser company that occasionally remembers when it was also full of hope, or else it's an also-ran organization with a critical mission that needs a jumpstart. Either way, the appointment to CEO would turn out to be a diabolical, brutal punishment for Eich who has not, to my knowledge, ever been a CEO. So I'm good with it. And I'll keep using Chrome.

A couple more things... I noticed people throwing around the word "bigot." I don't think he's a bigot. There's not a good term to describe it in relation to gays, but bigot used to refer to someone who was ignorantly opposed or phobic. Being called a bigot was an insult, because it just meant you were a hateful person. In race, the term for someone who has a theory of racial superiority is called a "racist." Unfortunately, there's no similar term for someone who has a theory of superiority of sexual orientation, which I believe he does. Quoth:

"Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.

"If we are acquainted, have good-faith assumptions, and circumstances allow it, we can discuss 1:1 in person. Online communication doesn’t seem to work very well for potentially divisive issues. Getting to know each other works better in my experience."


It seems to me that he has some sort of reasoned explanation for his position. This is not bigotry. This is something much darker, because this person clearly has a theory of superiority. He's asking people to give him fair time to explain his reasoned position - why it was right for him to act as he did. Donating a material sum to someone who did what the Prop 8 supporters did is not the act of a mere dissenter. He clearly has a theory on why his sexual orientation is superior and is owed superior rights to mine, and he's willing to put his money where his mouth is.

The other thing... on Christie Koehler's statement, she said, "...[People] with experience relevant Mozilla, relevant enough to lead Mozilla well, are in very short supply." I find that troubling, and I think she does too. She's wrestling with that there's not someone she thinks is as qualified to deal with the complexities of this particular organization. Yet, it doesn't sound like she believes Eich represents the values of Mozilla either. Just knows how to make the trains run on time.

To that I say: hogwash. Nonprofits have a tremendous amount of turnover at the upper end. If you think shipping software is hard as a nonprofit, try AIDS relief in African war zones with volunteers. Nonprofits are losing key executives all the time and still fulfilling their mission. In this case, I'd point to EQCA which was one of the leading voices against Prop 8 in California and lost all its executive staff. In the end, Prop 8 was still overturned - they still won. If the Mozilla Foundation has become unmanageable, you should blame Eich, not promote him. He was, after all, one of the founders.

What I got from her blog posting was that her tl;dr should read, "I should probably quit."

Before I started typing this, I didn't think I had a firm opinion. I guess I do.
posted by kochbeck at 2:14 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


"Does it represent a substantial competitor to the other two major vendors?"

I'm a little curious which of Apple, Google, or Microsoft is not a "major vendor." :)

posted by mbrubeck at 8:30 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


mbrubeck

I'd cast my vote for Apple.

They no longer maintain a Safari build for Windows, which means they've withdrawn from the cross-platform browser space, and while they're still huge in mobile, that's only because theirs is the default browser on their iDevices, and the existence of other browsers is non-obvious. Google, on the other hand, maintains a Chrome build for iOS, and it blows Mobile Safari away in nearly every respect... even though Apple (last I heard) disadvantages Chrome and other third-party browsers by requiring them to use aspects of Safari rendering technology, but forbidding them access to certain device and/or OS resources it reserves for itself.
posted by The Confessor at 9:36 AM on March 31


(In retrospect, that probably should have been small or memailed. Apologies.)
posted by The Confessor at 9:43 AM on March 31


I'm a little curious which of Apple, Google, or Microsoft is not a "major vendor." :)

Perhaps Microsoft. IE is a Windows-only product that languished for lack of support for modern web standards, and they are just not relevant in mobile. Apple and Google are the two drivers behind improvements to web browser functionality, at the moment. That could change if Microsoft and Mozilla offer a compelling alternative with mass appeal, of course, but they are definitely swimming upstream.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 AM on March 31


Thinking about Mozilla
posted by mbrubeck at 10:09 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


It's a little hard to swallow that he's actually committed to these ideals, when he has evidently given material support to a movement for the removal of existing civil rights, and has made no indication that he regrets that decision, nor that he would not do it again if given the chance.

Well, let's think about possible explanations for that. One, as you noted, is that he's trying to undercut criticism without changing his views, that's possible. Another possibility, just spitballing, is that rich people have social circles as well as we do, and there might be a case where there's a Kappa Beta Phi-style secret club where behind closed doors they all act considerably more regressive than they would dare in public, and while he might not be himself, in order to move around in those circles he had to make some token gesture.

Not that that's definite, or even likely. Not trying to absolve the man at all, just thinking about possible explanations for the evidence.
posted by JHarris at 11:48 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Given the pattern of continuing donations described in Tim Chevalier's piece, Eich just genuinely supports the socially conservative position, likely due to his Catholic background. There's not much mystery to this now.
posted by fatbird at 1:54 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Wow -- when you access OK Cupid right now via Firefox, you get a strong anti-Mozilla message, urging you to use a different browser. Impressive.
Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
posted by inigo2 at 3:42 PM on March 31 [8 favorites]


K Lars John on the Mozilla CEO.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:08 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Yeah, inigo2, that was just pasted on my FB timeline. Kudos to OKC.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:37 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I really appreciate OKC doing that.
posted by jsturgill at 5:02 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


As mentioned above, that's a stellar post by Erin Kissane about what it's like to be a Mozilla Foundation employee at the moment.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:28 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Whoa. Props to OKC for being one company brave enough to stand up and say what needs saying.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Sorry OKC, I have to use Firefox because it's part of my job in the web development space. I have to pay taxes that fund violence because otherwise I'll end up in jail. I have to wear clothes that may have come from exploited workers because I don't have enough cash to buy everything vetted and local, etc. I'm not entirely sure the computer I'm using is without any blood in the trail of manufacturing and software. Are you sure the computers you're using for servers are clean?

Is the subway I take clean? The bus? Cars? Planes?

How is using an alternative free browser any different? Chrome is from Google which used to be based on the same WebKit Apple is largely involved in and both companies are in trouble for actively conspiring to keep the salaries of their workers down among other things.

Opera gives me no end of trouble with a number of Ajax driven administrative systems over the web.
posted by juiceCake at 6:42 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


juiceCake

Brilliant insight.

Unless you are willing to seek social justice in every facet of your life, you have no cause to seek justice in any one.

Along those lines, I have a small confession to make:

Yesterday I passed a panhandler on the street. He asked if I had any change. I had a bag-full of quarters jangling around in my fanny-pack, but I lied and said I had none. Later, I used it to buy scads of junk food at a convenience store.

It's good to get that off my chest.

Liberating, really.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go bang a hooker and rob a bank.
posted by The Confessor at 7:54 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]


I have no objection to pointing out bigoted behaviour but encouraging me or anyone else to stop using a product like a web browser by a company that relies on a web technology, which is, of course, a massive mix of different technologies from a number of individuals and companies, is ludicrously high handed.

What if a bigot contributed to some open source code that runs their servers? Are they going to ditch say Apache for IIS or some other alternative? I doubt it very much.
posted by juiceCake at 2:21 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I have no objection to pointing out bigoted behaviour but encouraging me or anyone else to stop using a product like a web browser by a company that relies on a web technology, which is, of course, a massive mix of different technologies from a number of individuals and companies, is ludicrously high handed.

What if a bigot contributed to some open source code that runs their servers? Are they going to ditch say Apache for IIS or some other alternative? I doubt it very much.


I guess you could look at it as a competition to see who has benefitted their brand the most:

OKC for exploiting this opportunity to position themselves as defenders of love

or

Mozilla for selecting Eich to be the public face of their company (rather than continuing in his previous role as the technical lead)

When you look at it like that, the question of "what technology is ethically clean enough to use?" seems not particularly relevant. I suggest you not lose too much sleep over it at this particular moment in time.
posted by jsturgill at 2:40 PM on April 1


One problem here I've not seen brought up, and I think the reason a lot of people are defending Mozilla (not many are defending Eich, especially in light of the continuing donations thing) beyond what you might think, is that Firefox is sole major independent browser out there. Safari's Apple's baby, Chrome is Google's. Opera uses Chromium under the hood now. Don't even bring up IE.

Mozilla, unique among browser manufacturers, is a non-profit, and further their major product is that browser. They're always searching for revenue just to keep afloat. If a million people stop using Safari, Apple makes a sound like FU FU FU because the only alternatives on their mobile systems are explicitly crippled. If Chrome loses a million users, a Google project manager will scramble for a bit, maybe get replaced, but ultimately that's a very small part of the company. But if it happens to Firefox, it's a serious blow.

And the people who selected Mozilla's CEO I would guess probably didn't know about the Prop 8 thing ahead of time. I doubt he puts it on his business cards. And for all the reasons given in Christie Koehler's article, there's probably still no one good to replace him with.

(On the plus side, while I'm worried about what this might do to Mozilla, it's nice to see the internet banding together to make Prop 8 supporters into pariahs. Take on the Mormons next!)
posted by JHarris at 2:40 PM on April 1


JHarris

We know that the last time this blew up, back in 2012, it was enough of an issue that Eich responded to it on his blog. The tone of that response, however, suggests that it was not directed or choreographed by Mozilla... most notably in the wording of his denial that support for Prop. 8 evidenced animosity, and his curt ("No.") refusal to entertain arguments to the contrary.

(Related: Was the bracketed disclaimer at the top of that post a recent addition?)

On the other hand, a blog post written about a month before that about an unrelated controversy described Eich's donation as "an open secret" within the Mozilla Foundation.

(The unrelated controversy, so far as I can tell, is that a British employee's anti-gay marriage post on his personal blog had been automatically syndicated to Planet Mozilla, a site associated with the corporation/foundation.)
posted by The Confessor at 4:06 PM on April 1


The Waldorf Statement:
"Members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers deplore the action of the 10 Hollywood men who have been cited for contempt by the House of Representatives. We do not desire to prejudge their legal rights, but their actions have been a disservice to their employers and have impaired their usefulness to the industry.

"We will forthwith discharge or suspend without compensation those in our employ, and we will not re-employ any of the 10 until such time as he is acquitted or has purged himself of contempt and declares under oath that he is not a Communist....
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:30 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Some careful analysis might reveal a slight but measurable difference between denying someone all employment in their field, and denying someone the CEO position of an important nonprofit.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 5:20 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Stephen Shankland interviews Brendan Eich for CNet.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:39 PM on April 1


Stephen Shankland interviews Brendan Eich for CNet.

Bit disappointing that Brendan either isn't aware that it's his actions he's being judged on, or he thinks that a donation counts as expression or something. Probably the latter.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 6:07 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


From mbrubeck's last link:
I've read plenty of opinions that say you're entitled to your own opinions and political beliefs. But there are other folks who say your stance is the equivalent of overt racism or sexism. That's a firing offense and gets politicians thrown out of office. What's your response to that?

Eich: I don't believe that's true, on the basis of what's permissible to support or vote on in 2008. It's still permissible. Beliefs that are protected, that include political and religious speech, are generally not something that can be held against even a CEO. I understand there are people who disagree with me on this one.
And that's the rub, isn't it? Because in my mind Eich can hang the receipt for his donation up right next to his white hood, if he has one.

If he could recognize and repent of his bigoted actions my response would be different. The Bible isn't wrong when it says that "there is none righteous." Hell, I was raised fundamentalist, and I shudder to think of the judgments and discomfort that I inflicted on gay people, transsexuals, and women who had an abortion.

The community at Metafilter, in fact, has stood witness to some lingering judgments, along with the reevaluations and apologies that followed, though I joined the site years after my apostasy.

In November 2008 my elation at Barack Obama's victory over John McCain quickly soured when I learned that Proposition 8 had passed, and I directed strong words, obscenities, slurs toward the group whom early media reports suggested were chiefly responsible. I won't repeat the language nor even name the target, but you can probably guess.

If I can forgive my own failings, then I can certainly forgive Brendan Eich's.

But contrition must come first, and there has been little evidence of that in his responses.
posted by The Confessor at 6:21 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


And the people who selected Mozilla's CEO I would guess probably didn't know about the Prop 8 thing ahead of time.

If I heard about it in jolly old England back in 2012, if the board members hadn't heard of it now frankly they had no business sitting on the board. This is something that was widely known.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:22 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


From the CNET interview:

If you had the opportunity to donate to a Proposition 8 cause today, would you do so?
Eich: I hadn't thought about that. It seems that's a dead issue. I don't want to answer hypotheticals. Separating personal beliefs here is the real key here. The threat we're facing isn't to me or my reputation, it's to Mozilla.


So, yes. He still holds the same beliefs and would donate to a similar cause today.
posted by jsturgill at 7:10 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


The threat we're facing isn't to me or my reputation, it's to Mozilla.

The way that's phrased makes it sound like he thinks the threat is external.

You know what? Fuck this guy. I've been agonizing for days about wanting to respect a diversity of political opinions, separating the CEO's personal beliefs from the company etc. I think tech boycotts are kind of silly. But fuck all that. He chose to donate $1000 to an organization whose sole purpose was to deny me my civil rights. And that's just not OK. And he's decided not to apologize, tacitly (but not quite explicitly) standing behind his trying to keep me a second class citizen. Fuck him.

As long as an asshole is in charge of Mozilla I'm not inclined to support them in any particular way. Which makes me sad because I think Firefox is important. But it's not OK he's the CEO, not without an apology and acknowledgement he backed the wrong, hateful cause.

I don't think anyone else will carry the user-first agenda above all other considerations.

Who know who would carry on a user-first agenda Brendan? Another Mozilla CEO. Someone with more decency than you.
posted by Nelson at 8:23 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


Ever since my wife and I travelled to New Zealand this past September, I've been joking-but-not-really-joking about relocating, and my big sales pitch was "There's a Mozilla office in Auckland, I could apply for a job there!"

I would be genuinely heartbroken if I worked there right now, watching this bullshit envelop my world because one dude made a donation to some hateful people, based on his probably-less-hateful-but-still-hateful beliefs, while my organization (which had been a beacon of progressive workplace policies) was being led by people who didn't realize that that would be a problem if they named him CEO.

Honestly, it would probably drive me to tears to watch viral-marketing-savvy organizations like OkCupid profit off the controversy (not that I think they're acting in bad faith, but you know they did a cost/benefit analysis about it). Really, there are such bigger fish to fry out there, CEO or not. There are undoubtedly people with hateful beliefs in positions within Google, Microsoft, and Apple who have less visibility, but more actual influence than the head of Mozilla.

And that honestly sucks. When it comes down to it, I am more critical of people on my "side" of the spectrum when they're obviously doing something wrong, for the same reason I'm more critical of a person than a dog: "they're driven by base instinct, but I know you know better". It's not fair or balanced, I just hold my friends to a higher standard.

I can believe that there's no one more appropriate for the role of CTO at Mozilla than Brendan Eich. There are few other people in the world with a better feather in their cap when it comes to making the technological best of a commercialized, short-sighted world.

In an abstract sense, he shows the ability to use side channels to effect changes in a system that superficially opposes them. And that's where that "T" in the title becomes critical: when applied to technology, it's great. When applied to corporate policy, by someone with regressive beliefs, it's disastrous.

In ten days, Brendan Eich designed a language that wouldn't go away no matter how much people complained about it, and that was eventually accepted as having a sort of "practical purity". Can you imagine how much he could accomplish doing that as the head of an organization with as much progressive capital as Mozilla? Honestly, he could shift the "tech culture" Overton window so far to the right that it would require a horizontal scrollbar.

I can barely express how strongly I want people to hang in there with Mozilla, as I have hung in there. I run Firefox on Android, not because it's superior to Chrome, but because these are the people who made a pathetic but noble stand against the inclusion of DRM in the HTML5 standards. Zero point zero zero zero zero zero one percent of the world cared, but they were arguing for what's right against the media conglomerates' shills on the W3C mailing lists and committees (and that includes several @microsoft.com and @google.com folks).

In the end, as usual, I think executives are just deeply overrated. Brendan Eich will be one person among many: CEO by title, but leader of a punk anarchist communist collective that need only ignore him in aggregate to negate his influence entirely.

He could only poison Mozilla's culture with great subtlety. But sadly, he could do exactly that.

MeFi's own Brendan Eich has been unlinked as my "muse". I'm sure he's a good guy in aggregate. I have genuine fears of witch-hunt mentalities that cost people (whether liberal or conservative) their livelihoods. I know 2008 was a different era for this issue, as ridiculous as that sounds. And I truly know the conflict of growing up in a conservative religious culture, and the struggle to integrate it with my adult beliefs.

But I've never donated money to a cause I later opposed, and if I had I would apologize about it until I was hoarse and not readily accept a job leading an organization with conflicting beliefs.

And just as a side note, this situation explains so much about JavaScript's crazy and self-contradictory rules about equality!
posted by Riki tiki at 8:32 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]


I suggest you not lose too much sleep over it at this particular moment in time.

Thanks for the suggestion but I'm not losing any sleep over it at this particular moment in time nor in the future I suspect. I'm certain that many of the products many of us use have blood on them and some bigots, misogynists, sociopaths, etc. may well have been involved in their creation or production.

I can only act within my own influence as best as I can. The current Mozilla CEO is deplorable in his bigoted viewpoint, even if he thinks otherwise. So to are many others in many industries, from what I've seen of the world presently and in the past. I certainly have never looked to any software companies as models for progressing humanity, despite their slogans, PR, or marketing campaigns.
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 PM on April 1


You know, my memory for exactly when what happened in my life isn't the best, but I definitely supported gay marriage by '99, maybe even '98, when such a position was morally and socially unpopular and politically irrelevant. I figure on that basis I'm a start burning to the ground anyone who helped install an outspoken bigot who held back gay marriage as CEO of America in 2008.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:44 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


'Mozilla Is Messy': How Employees Are Blogging the Company's LGBT Debate
posted by homunculus at 9:05 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I know I felt glee when Prop 8 was overturned, and shadenfreude at my in-laws who campaigned for Prop 8 vigorously for 2 months while they were my wife's and my roommates. At one time on the house we were renting had two signs on the lawn: one for Prop 8, one for no on prop 8. It was comedic and terrible. In the end, their side won. And a few years later: history and the courts and public opinion has crushed their effort like a bug. I don't feel any ill will toward them. The world did not end because gay people can marry.

I've read this thread with interest, I see the outrage (Klan equivalence sure does indicate outrage!). I'm sure glad I don't see my in-laws as Klansmen. Boycotts I get. And yet, I have a very hard time seeing how Eich as CEO of Mozilla makes the world worse for gay marriage. I can't see how his donation then; how his lack of a "proper" apology now; how his recalcitrance on explaining his personal beliefs now; -- none of these strike me as germane to responsibilities as CEO of Mozilla. I've seen posts by at least a dozen people who worked with the man (supporting him as CEO/anti-Eich as CEO/mixed) who indicate by all accounts he's an inclusive person and did not put his Prop 8 support or anything smacking of bigotry into the role as CTO and technical leader.

Seems like California needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Prop 8.
posted by artlung at 8:29 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I read the Cnet interview again and what strikes me most is Eich's intellectual dishonesty. He's taking the position he won't defend his donation because he wants to keep his beliefs separate from Mozilla. But it's far too late for that. I suspect really he's not explaining his beliefs and actions because he realizes they are indefensible.

Between the Eich controversy and the board of directors decimation, I'm worried about the future of the Mozilla Foundation. This kind of chaos destroys organizations. Eich acknowledges that risk in his interview, but blames it on outsiders. He doesn't realize he is the cause.
posted by Nelson at 8:46 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Two other interesting things that struck me from the interview: first, that he constantly calls for inclusiveness and diversity, in the sense that attacking him is an attack on those qualities. It's an interesting double-speak (poverty is wealth! violence is peace!) refrain that I think he was coached on. You can't trust the media to be accurate or pay much attention, so it's a good idea to repeat the things you want to communicate as often as possible. He slips it in to most every answer.

He also calls out to the Indonesian developer community a few times as a bastion of support. Is this a way to reward those supporters and encourage them to be more vocal? Is it a veilled threat, hinting that if you push him and the board on this, and he is replaced, then conservative programmers in developing countries will be less likely to continue working on the project because of their religious beliefs? Or is it an unverifiable bit of flim-flam that he puts up in the hopes that it will be taken at face value, seeing as how those mystery supporters don't have, as he put it, a megaphone?
posted by jsturgill at 9:00 AM on April 2


One aspect of this controversy that I haven't seen raised yet is whether there's an alternative to Eich. Without the prop 8 mess, you have an underlying tension where half the board wanted an outsider to be brought in as CEO, and at the first hint of a problem with Eich, resigned in protest. Against that, there's an "it's Brendan's turn" feeling to his appointment and a sense of keeping it inside the family, because Baker and then Lilly and then Eich and unique culture reasons... none of which are necessarily wrong, but it feels like a separate and more fundamental issue is being masked.

If Eich resigns or is fired, who's next? Does the board then headhunt outside of Mozilla? Is there a lineup of people for the position, or is it actually difficult to recruit for because the pay and stature is comparatively low for Silicon Valley? I'm sure they can find someone, it's a question of whether that someone is a real prestige hire who actually leads rather than filling the role.
posted by fatbird at 9:10 AM on April 2


One aspect of this controversy that I haven't seen raised yet is whether there's an alternative to Eich.

In a well-run operation, anyone should be replaceable. The company may take a different path under different leadership, but the company shouldn't go under. The extent to which the notion, perhaps orchestrated, is put forth that Eich is indispensable and his ascension was a foregone and necessary conclusion might indeed suggest a cultural, if not hiring problem at Mozilla.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


The public trial of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. Eich gave another interview to a gay journalist who comes out sympathetic, mostly on the basis of Eich's technical leadership capability. Eich still doesn't defend or recant his funding Prop 8 but does emphasize Mozilla's commitment to equality.
posted by Nelson at 9:40 AM on April 2


Nelson

I was about to post that link myself.

I found it less an interview than a heavily editorialized hagiography, with a surprising lack of curiosity about its putative subject. If O'Dell truly is a journalist as she claims, there's very little indication of it in that article.
posted by The Confessor at 9:47 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I think the cultural issue at Mozilla is twofold:

One, they see themselves internally as The Great White Hope of the Free Internet (most likely originating from their start as a reborn offshoot of Netscape trying to prevent a browser monoculture), so they don't really get that a lot of people on the outside just see them as yet another application developer who says lots of pretty things. Or that elevating a man who supported the legal codification of second class citizen status for gay Californians makes all those pretty words seem like a load of self-aggrandizing hypocritical fertilizer.

Two, there's an argument that keeps popping up in a lot of the Mozilla defenses (like Eich's softball interview in ValleyBeat) that their defense of the free Internet has to "stand outside ideology", so that you can sign on no matter where you stand. To me, that smacks of "trying to stand for everything, and ultimately standing for nothing." Furthermore, the fact that Eich has yet to even consider resigning shows that this argument is purely window dressing - after all, if the free internet is more important than any one ideology, it's clearly more important than any one man.

I'd bet that the half of the board that wanted an outsider saw that Mozilla was developing an unhealthy internal culture that was myopic and disconnected from the outside world, and thus needed some outside perspective. And I think that this whole incident illustrates that such a belief was well founded.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:20 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


Controversial Mozilla CEO made donations to right-wing candidates, records show. Brendan Eich donated thousands of dollars to Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan in the 1990s, according to public data.
posted by artlung at 12:29 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


At this point my curiosity in having Eich discuss his earlier donations, now stems from a desire to understand how he was able to work at Mozilla every day, supporting it's inclusiveness and community standards, while going home and donating thousands of dollars to right wing candidates who would happily tear down every Mozilla stands for. It's like an evangelical preacher working as a bartender at a strip club and acting surprised that anyone sees an apparent tension there.
posted by fatbird at 1:03 PM on April 2 [9 favorites]


fatbird: It comes back to the belief in Mozilla that somehow, their issue somehow transcends ideology. I think that the Foundation is getting a rude wakeup call about that now.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:22 PM on April 2


At this point my curiosity in having Eich discuss his earlier donations, now stems from a desire to understand how he was able to work at Mozilla every day, supporting it's inclusiveness and community standards, while going home and donating thousands of dollars to right wing candidates who would happily tear down every Mozilla stands for.

Are you sure you know what Mozilla "stands for"? I'm not sure what makes you think that people like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan would happily tear down everything Mozilla stands for, at least assuming that what "Mozilla stands for" is defined here.

The "Mozilla Manifesto" certainly reads as non partisan to me.
posted by JeffL at 2:01 PM on April 2


Seems like California needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Prop 8.

Hear, hear. Was going to suggest that, as well.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:30 PM on April 2


It comes back to the belief in Mozilla that somehow, their issue somehow transcends ideology.

I'm talking more about Eich's perspective. How does he not feel seem to feel any tension between Mozilla's extending benefits to same sex partners while pushing prop 8 and donating to candidates? It's one thing to support a group with a core mission you support, whose culture you otherwise have trouble with, but Mozilla is Eich's whole life, basically, and from what we keep hearing, Eich was very inclusive and welcoming on a personal level. And then he'd write cheques to other people to strip rights from the first group.

Are you sure you know what Mozilla "stands for"?

Supporting Ron Paul doesn't obviously conflict with Mozilla standards, but donating to Pat Buchanan and prop 8 sure does, as does supporting candiates like Thomas McClintlock, who is a strong social conservative who was very vocal about pushing prop 8. Libertarianism isn't the issue, it's Catholicism, evangelicism, and their policy prescriptions that seem at odds with Mozilla's community participation guidelines linked above.
posted by fatbird at 2:47 PM on April 2


I'm still concentrating on the Prop 8 donation. There are … plausible reasons one could give for supporting someone like Pat Buchanan. Prop 8 had only one purpose.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 3:24 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


The other donations are relevant in that they dispel the somewhat bizarre scenarios people were constructing earlier where Eich was donating to Prop 8 to destroy it or something, but otherwise they aren't a disqualifier in my view, even if they give me a poor opinion of Eich. Prop 8, however, had only one purpose: to destroy the civil rights and marriages of gay people, including people working for Mozilla. That _is_ a disqualifier in my opinion, exactly as it would be if he had donated to a campaign to amend the constitution to remove civil rights from racial minorities and didn't disavow and apologize. I don't think we'd be arguing or giving him the benefit of the doubt if he was pro-Jim Crow.
posted by tavella at 4:15 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


NYT Bits Blog: Mozilla Chief Tries to Separate Views on Gay Marriage and Business.

My rant last night was a sort of epiphany, working through the understanding that gay marriage is a true civil rights issue. It's not just some political debate like gun control or tax rates or Obamacare. It's a civil right, as important as integrated schools or freedom of religion. That's really quite a shift in American thinking and even I, a gay man, am still catching up to it a bit. I think Eich hasn't.
posted by Nelson at 5:02 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


You'e right Nelson, and the more I think about this, the more firm my beliefs become. And the more press Eich does, the more ridiculous his position becomes. If I knew my mechanic thought that interracial marriages were wrong and had been politically active to stop interracial marriages, say by funding ads that said that interracial couple couldn't be trusted with children, I would stop going to that mechanic. Especially so if it was a fervently held personal belief, founded in religion, which is a common enough historical reason for being against interracial marriage. Such reasons for belief don't make odious beliefs better, they make odious beliefs worse.

It's pure cowardice on my part to think that this is any different. It is far more socially acceptable to be against same-sex marriage, so that only makes it all the more important to fight this bigotry and call it out for exactly what it is. I've got some conservative relatives, and none of them have ever voiced the types of things that were said in Prop 8 ads, but if they did I would give them an earful in response. I wouldn't long tolerate a person in my life that was that degree of bigot, it's either talk it through, or move on, life is too short to be associated with that hate.

So in summary, I really need Firefox about once every two weeks, but I've just deleted it. I'll figure out some other way to run that java applet if I really have to.
posted by Llama-Lime at 7:37 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Any word on when OKC is going to drop JavaScript from their site? Will they use Dart or something? Dart is still converted to JS as far as I know for all the browsers they recommend. Will they soon be recommending Chromium with the Dart VM?

Will they be providing helpful suggestions to those who no longer want to use products associated with Eich how to get by without JavaScript on the web, including logging into the OKC site itself?

Will they be providing helpful suggestions to those in the Internet industry how to continue working without testing sites in Firefox?

What about Thunderbird? What are great open source and commercial alternatives? Will they be providing helpful suggestions on how to migrate email to another client?

Will they participate in resources that clearly identify what other software uses the Gecko rendering engine and JavaScript?

What happens when it's discovered a high level manager in another company that develops web browser and related technologies is an active, money contributing jackass? Is this the start of the ethical only people making all our web products movement?
posted by juiceCake at 8:32 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I don't quite follow the equivalency that you're trying to make. There's a difference between code/technology and leadership.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:45 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Is this the start of the ethical only people making all our web products movement?

Treating the idea that the ethical implications of the products you use is a binary issue, where 'acceptable' only means 'perfectly acceptable', is useful for sarcasm, but unhelpful in daily living unless you're trying to rationalize not giving a shit at all about any of it. Do you wear fur? Would you buy an engagement ring for your fiance adorned with blood diamonds? How's your portfolio doing since you moved it into weapons manufacturing and third world resource extraction?

OKCupid contributed meaningfully to a wave of public pressure that's going in the right direction. They need no further justification than that for their actions, whether their actions are intended to have literal results or not.
posted by fatbird at 8:50 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


Treating the idea that the ethical implications of the products you use is a binary issue, where 'acceptable' only means 'perfectly acceptable', is useful for sarcasm, but unhelpful in daily living unless you're trying to rationalize not giving a shit at all about any of it.

Completely agree.

Do you wear fur? Would you buy an engagement ring for your fiance adorned with blood diamonds? How's your portfolio doing since you moved it into weapons manufacturing and third world resource extraction?

Don't wear fur. Don't buy jewelry at all presently but would probably not opt for blood diamonds. Having said that, I'm not to confident in believing in blood free diamonds anyway. Haven't moved my portfolio into weapons manufacturing and third world resource extraction. Don't have much of a portfolio frankly. The entire system is a horrible game that I'm not good at.

OKCupid contributed meaningfully to a wave of public pressure that's going in the right direction. They need no further justification than that for their actions, whether their actions are intended to have literal results or not.


Completely disagree. They did not contribute at all meaningfully to the wave of public pressure that's going in the right direction with the ludicrous suggestion that people stop using Firefox. That's not the right direction at all as far as I'm concerned. It condemns an entire company and all if it's employees and the people who contribute and contributed, freely, to Firefox.

Taking a stand on bad CEOs is fine and I love that, but the suggestion to drop Firefox is absolute bullshit and heavy handed and two faced. Call out the guy, but the stop using just this one product is a big middle finger to a lot of people. I could do without that finger up my ass and a friendly smile.

I don't give a shit about justifications, further or otherwise, for their actions and wasn't looking for such. I just find their whole approach to this issue to be absolute nonsense and hypocritical. They are more than happy to suggest people drop Firefox while still using another technology developed by same CEO. I don't care for that. Others are fine with it and are free to express their opinion in kind. I'm perfectly fine with that.
posted by juiceCake at 9:25 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


No one can be perfectly moral in every purchasing or usage decision ever. Absolutely everyone is inevitably going to compromise their ideal behaviour, because in our infinitely complex global networks there will always be something bad involved in every and all such decisions.

That does not mean one should not try to make decisions to the best of their ability.

Eich is an unrepentant asshole who fights to prevent loving gay couples from having the rights of straight couples. That some people have decided to no longer support his company's product while at the same time continuing to use other tainted products is okay.

It is, in a word, fucking stupid to criticize people for abandoning Firefox while continuing to use JavaScript.

You can only do the best that you can. If you intend to send a message to Eich and his enablers, and denying Javascript is impossible by any practical measure, while abandoning Firefox is do-able, then you do the best you can and more power to ya.

Do what you can and to hell with the naysayers.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:48 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


At this point my curiosity in having Eich discuss his earlier donations, now stems from a desire to understand how he was able to work at Mozilla every day, supporting it's inclusiveness and community standards, while going home and donating thousands of dollars to right wing candidates who would happily tear down every Mozilla stands for. It's like an evangelical preacher working as a bartender at a strip club and acting surprised that anyone sees an apparent tension there.

Do you mean it's difficult to imagine how it's possible -- how it's *not* like the evangelical at the strip club? Or do you mean it's difficult to tell which of the ways in which it is possible are Eich's?
posted by weston at 12:03 AM on April 3


It's difficult to see how one can firewall one's personal views while at work. More and more, it looks like there was a conflict on the board over Eich's promotion, between insiders who saw him as carrying on the company philosophy; and the outside board members, who knew of his donation and how it would play out.

It amazes me how absolutely tone deaf Mozilla has been in all this, and how they keep on demonstrating why the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result." It indicates a corporate culture that is dangerously disconnected and myopic.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:02 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


John Lilly (former Mozilla CEO, board member) tweeted an endorsement of Lauren Bacon's blog post It’s Different for Leaders: Lessons from Mozilla’s CEO Appointment.
posted by Nelson at 8:16 AM on April 3 [6 favorites]


It is, in a word, fucking stupid to criticize people for abandoning Firefox while continuing to use JavaScript.

Whose criticizing people? I see criticizing a company.

Even so, I don't believe it's "fucking stupid" to be critical in this manner. I think OKC is going about it the wrong way. It would be very inconvenient for many to drop Firefox, it would be even more inconvenient for OKC to drop JavaScript, so convenience is great for them but not considered in the suggestion for others.

Again, I have no issue with criticizing Eich for his bigotry, I just find the suggestion to boycott Firefox to be heavy handed and absurd.

You can only do the best that you can.

Agreed. I don't believe OKC is doing that all. You do. We differ in our viewpoint. You're own is intelligent, mine is fucking stupid. So be it.

Do what you can and to hell with the naysayers.


Agreed. To hell with OKC for their ridiculous suggestion. Very poor way to be critical of Eich.
posted by juiceCake at 8:31 AM on April 3


Supporting Ron Paul doesn't obviously conflict with Mozilla standards

Ron Paul is no supporter of civil rights. Voting against a landmark piece of legislation to protect minorities from discrimination is pretty much the definition of something antithetical to the stated ideals of Mozilla.

Eich's financial support of racists like Paul is not surprising in the context of his general pattern of financing the wheels of bigotry, but it does raise the interesting question, again, of why someone who is as filled with hate as Eich would work for a company that claims to have an agenda that is so clearly orthogonal to his own.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:40 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


The cynic in me thinks that the whole "we leave our personal baggage at the door" policy at Mozilla was brought about by Eich and people like him so they wouldn't have to confront (or be confronted about) their cognitive dissonance.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:44 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


It's an interesting contradiction, if only because Mozilla's existence and operations are at their core about defending personal liberty in the face of powerful and corrupt interests. Financial support for people and groups who embody those kinds of interests (like Paul, Buchanan and NOM) is an act that lives entirely in a bizarro dimension, one which is at a complete right angle to that ideal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 AM on April 3 [3 favorites]


A lot of people supported Ron Paul. Edward Snowden supported Ron Paul. Ron Paul's biggest draw is the libertarian shtick, not as moral crusader. To a certain minority, he is seen as a defender of personal liberty in the face of powerful and corrupt interests.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:34 AM on April 3


Unless, of course, you are a woman. But yes, donating to Paul doesn't necessarily mean you are a racist, though he is a racist himself. Even for Buchanan -- if a person is donating to Buchanan you can be sure they hate *someone*, but not who specifically. Donating to a specific cause means, however, that you are in favor of that cause, and when that cause is taking away rights and destroying the families of some of your own employees... yeah, it should be a disqualifier.
posted by tavella at 10:57 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Agreed. To hell with OKC for their ridiculous suggestion. Very poor way to be critical of Eich.

OKC is signalling a stance, they're not fixing the world's problems. You're engaging with their statement in a manner that is very, very distant from the reasons why they made it.
posted by jsturgill at 11:33 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Mozilla Co-Founder Brendan Eich Resigns as CEO, Leaves Foundation Board.

I feel a little bad for him.
posted by Nelson at 12:07 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


Was just coming in to post that link. Nelson, surprised to see you say that, given your earlier posts.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:11 PM on April 3


Yeah, I'm surprised to feel some sympathy, but then I was surprised at how angry I got after his prevaricating interview too. Eich's a very skilled technologist and has given many years of his life to Mozilla. It's sad to see that all squandered because of a pigheaded political stance he couldn't reconcile. I guess I was holding out a quiet hope he'd come to his senses, maybe learn something in the process and we'd all end up holding free software hands.

I've seen a lot of people I know become more gay friendly over the years. It's a process.
posted by Nelson at 12:16 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Well, it seems like Mozilla still wants to lie to itself:
“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”
That really was not the issue, needless to say.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:22 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


This was a better line from Mitchell Baker's blog post announcing this:
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. 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.
Yes, it can be hard, and mistakes are possible.
posted by fatbird at 12:23 PM on April 3


Hopefully, whoever is picked to fill the role will be able to undo the damage done. I still don't get the sense they really understand the mistake they made.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Baker — who became emotional at one point during the interview — noted that she was “doing a fair amount of self-reflection and I am wondering how did I miss it that this would matter more when he was the CEO.”
This seems significant.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:30 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


And I think they don't understand because of cultural blindness. A good first step for the Foundation would be a wholesale rejection of the myth of compartmentalization.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:38 PM on April 3


But each of their departures seems to have been only tangentially related to Eich’s appointment — though none of them supported his selection as CEO, according to numerous sources, for other reasons — and not to the controversy over Prop 8.
Who broke this story of his donation? That other board members didn't support his appointment makes me wonder if there's a bureaucratic infighting back story to how this ended up in the press.
posted by Jahaza at 12:39 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


A good first step for the Foundation would be a wholesale rejection of the myth of compartmentalization.

Totally agreed.

Mozilla Blog Post: Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views.

Well unless those religious views include opposition to same-sex marriage. They can't have it both ways. It's OK for them not to, but the current position is contradictory.
posted by Jahaza at 12:43 PM on April 3


People of any political opinions are welcome to contribute to Mozilla. It's just that you can't run the company if you are dedicated to stripping some of your employees of their human rights and destroying their families. It's not that complicated, Jahaza.
posted by tavella at 12:53 PM on April 3 [24 favorites]


Well unless those religious views include opposition to same-sex marriage

Stop conflating.

What has never been said: Eich shouldn't be CEO because of his religious beliefs.
What has been said: Eich shouldn't be CEO because he actively worked to dismantle the marriages of community members he claimed to have equal respect for, and sees no problem with that.

How far would you let your logic go? If Eich donated to a lawsuit that tried to ban women from driving because that was his religious belief, would you say that women should just accept that his interpretation of religion involves actively taking away their driver's licenses? That his manifest belief of inequality wasn't germane to his ability to lead those people? What's the difference here?

"That's my religious belief" has never been an adequate defense for the intentional pursuit of stripping others of their rights.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:55 PM on April 3 [12 favorites]


Well unless those religious views include opposition to same-sex marriage.

Eich wasn't having problems functioning as CTO when those views were widely (internally) known. It was in the role of CEO that they became sufficiently problematic to start a groundswell of opposition. Given the rarity of that role within the organization, it's silly to claim that the view itself precludes one from participating in the community.
posted by fatbird at 12:57 PM on April 3


"That's my religious belief" has never been an adequate defense for the intentional pursuit of stripping others of their rights.

Or...

"Religious ( indeed, all ) freedom begins and ends with your own self. The moment you try to apply your own cognitive framing to other people, YOU ARE WRONG."
posted by mikelieman at 12:57 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


The moment you try to apply your own cognitive framing to other people, YOU ARE WRONG

Or, at least, not an appropriate choice to lead a company which claims to support ideals of personal liberty and diversity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


I really don't take any pleasure in seeing Eich forced to resign. I feel more sad that we lost a good contributor to Mozilla. I think his resignation was necessary and in retrospect his appointment was a mistake. But it's a shitty sort of victory.

Who broke this story of his donation?

I don't know for certain but the news well predates Eich's being made CEO. Here's an April 2012 story about it when it became a controversy. IIRC a lot of people noticed the donation because his employer Mozilla was listed in the political contribution list. I'd be grateful if someone found the specific beginning of the story, it may be as old as 2010.
posted by Nelson at 1:03 PM on April 3


Jahaza

...and with regard to your question, the fact of his donation was publicly revealed online about two years ago, and was described as an "open secret" in Mozilla before that. I cite sources in this previous comment.

And for those inclined to feel sympathy for Eich now that he has fallen, as I myself am, I'm reminded of Cicero's words, and their reflection: while it can be argued whether moderation in pursuit of justice truly is no virtue, as Cicero claimed, it is a plain fact that distinction in the pursuit of injustice is a vice.
posted by The Confessor at 1:03 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


"moderation in pursuit of justice truly is no virtue, as Cicero claimed, it is a plain fact that distinction in the pursuit of injustice is a vice."

And yet, it does require us to be cruel to fellow human beings. Calling him hateful, bigoted, a Klansman, supporter of Jim Crow -- that is some distinctly horrifying shit, reductive as hell. We are reduced by such language and I feel sad about the whole thing.
posted by artlung at 1:09 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Eich wasn't having problems functioning as CTO when those views were widely (internally) known.

And known externally since 2012. Presumably since he managed to be CTO for over a year after that was known with no major uproar internally or externally Mozilla as an organization (or much of it) thought it would be a nonissue.

What I see here and on twitter is people expressing that if only he properly apologized or explained his position (perhaps as part of a question of faith or conscience) he might have managed to retain the confidence and staff and the (many) Mozilla watchers out on the web. But given the virtiol I saw I have a hard time believing even a moving apology could have changed this outcome.
posted by artlung at 1:17 PM on April 3


Maybe a moving apology would work, maybe not. From Eich's interviews, I get the impression he didn't want to discuss it because his beliefs haven't changed at all, and he was trying to avoid saying "Yes, in 2014 I'm still against gay marriage, but I've promised to be a good CEO of a pro-gay-marriage company, and I can do that." That would be the most forthright thing to say, but it strains credulity. Good on him for not simply lying, but it doesn't change the fact that he was trying to helm an organization with many people who felt like he would strip a civil right from them, given the right circumstances.
posted by fatbird at 1:22 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


What I see here and on twitter is people expressing that if only he properly apologized or explained his position (perhaps as part of a question of faith or conscience) he might have managed to retain the confidence and staff and the (many) Mozilla watchers out on the web. But given the virtiol I saw I have a hard time believing even a moving apology could have changed this outcome.
  1. There are always going to be unreasonable responses.
  2. Each disingenuous, sticking-to-his-guns, tolerance-of-my-intolerance statement he made, made for that much more ground a hypothetical apology would've had to cover.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:25 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


A good first step for the Foundation would be a wholesale rejection of the myth of compartmentalization.

I await the grand unified theory of an unquestionably righteous whole with baited breath.
posted by weston at 1:25 PM on April 3


It is, as they say, problematic to equate the race civil rights movement and LGBT civil rights movement, but the biggest difference between banning interracial marriage and banning same sex marriage is how recently it was socially acceptable to be against it. I remember learning about the civil rights movement in the 80s when I was in grade school and thinking, "wow that's a horrifying way to treat people, I'm glad that we don't treat people as less than human any more." And then a few days later realizing that no, we still treated gay people that way, and that it was perfectly acceptable to use gay slurs but not racial slurs. Our children will look back at our insanity with just as much disdain as we look back on the insanity of Jim Crow laws. These are different bigotries, with different implications, but they are both bigotries that affect the freedoms of individuals nonetheless.

I don't hate Eich, I hate his actions, and I would have been far happier if he had just said, "Sorry, that Prop 8 thing was a huge mistake" along with "Those Prop 8 ads do not reflect my current beliefs," because then IMO he'd be just fine as CEO, and Mozilla would have a positive story to tell rather than a sad one. And reading Mozilla employees objections, I hope I'm not projecting too much to say that I think most of them would have been fine an apology on Prop 8 too. I'm sorry that he lost his job and I'm far more sorry that Mozilla got bruised in this kerfluffle, but this is a far better outcome than an unrepentant Prop 8 donator being at the helm. (Which has been an ongoing issue since 2012, btw, not something that has disappeared).
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:26 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


It is, as they say, problematic to equate the race civil rights movement and LGBT civil rights movement

Yes and no. It's interesting to compare and contrast. One difference is that in the 60s and 70s civil rights struggle people of faith generally did not have Church on their side if they were against those rights. (My father, basically atheist, nonetheless liked pointing out to me when watching documentaries about civil rights to watch for clergy - pastors, priests, nuns marching hand in hand - on that basis he had a hard time broad brushing church folk as universally narrow-minded.) Meanwhile, Prop 8 had a very broad coalition of churches and faiths fighting against gay marriage rights. A faithful churchgoing person, hundreds of thousands of them in fact, took those authorities at their word. 8: The Mormon Proposition illustrates some of this. When your religious authorities push you into such regressive ideas I think it's a big blow. There were exceptions, but not many.
posted by artlung at 1:53 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


I think that the CNet interview where he said that forcing him out would destroy Mozilla was the straw that broke the board's back. As I said before, if the corporate mission is more important than one ideology, it's more important than one man, and that statement undermined the board's authority. I'm reminded of Paterno's statement about retiring at the end of the season when the Sandusky story came to a head - he tried to call the shots for the board, and forced them to react (by dismissing him immediately).
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:58 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


I think that the CNet interview where he said that forcing him out would destroy Mozilla was the straw that broke the board's back.

Whoever runs the Mozilla Twitter feed is strongly insisting (as people criticize Mozilla for forcing Eich out) that Eich was not forced out by the board, but decided to quit on his own.
posted by Jahaza at 2:08 PM on April 3


Yes, just like Nixon decided to resign on his own - Goldwater informing him that he had no longer had the support of the Senate Republicans had nothing to do with it.

While I doubt we will know for sure, I'm willing to bet that the board informed him that he no longer had their support in private.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:13 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


It looks to me like Mozilla went to Kara Swisher with an exclusive to announce Eich's resignation. Her article is posted exactly at 12:00 PDT and it references "an interview this morning [with] Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker". Also it's a thoughful piece, not rushed. Swisher's a common channel for the tech industry to feed stories to; she's a great reporter, she respects embargoes, and she'll publish the story any time of day or night. Swisher is also lesbian and maybe that symbolism played a part in her getting the story, but my guess is her tech reporting credentials were primary.

I think in this conversation people tend to forget just how big an organization Mozilla is. Their 2012 revenues were $311 million. And they had over 600 employees then. It's not some little non-profit, it's a large company doing important work. I sure hope they find their way out of these weeds quickly.
posted by Nelson at 2:16 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]


I think that the CNet interview where he said that forcing him out would destroy Mozilla was the straw that broke the board's back.

I suspect that anything said in that interview was screened and scripted twenty different ways. This is not to put down anyone in the interview, but it is common (and smart) practice when you've got a PR disaster to do this.
posted by zippy at 2:22 PM on April 3


And known externally since 2012. Presumably since he managed to be CTO for over a year after that was known with no major uproar internally or externally Mozilla as an organization (or much of it) thought it would be a nonissue.

CTO is a very different position than CEO. The technical buck stops with the CTO, but all bucks stop with the CEO. There's far less leeway when you're the head of a company to have personal views at direct odds with your company's.
posted by zippy at 2:26 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


If that CNet interview was scripted and vetted, whichever PR flack that did so should be fired for gross incompetence. Either that, or they decided to just hand Eich the rope.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:56 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Absolutely agree, NoxAeternum. I mean, Indonesia?
posted by The Confessor at 4:09 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Rarebit: A Sad 'Victory'. The company that boycotted Firefox early on reflects on Eich's stepping down.
we were so hopeful that when he was asked the question about if he’d vote for Prop 8 again that he’d say, “You know, my personal beliefs are very strongly held, so those haven’t changed. But I have realized after talking to so many people affected by the law in ways I didn’t intend, that the law itself should treat us all equally.”

That would have been victory. And that’s why we are so sad.
posted by Nelson at 4:16 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


I guess that realizing your own dumb "personal beliefs" shouldn't be imposed on others is good, but obviously an actual victory would have been more along the lines of not holding blatantly bigoted "personal beliefs."
posted by Corinth at 4:24 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


His twitter account is currently MIA. name change? deletion? hack?
posted by artlung at 4:39 PM on April 3


The Next Mission a blog post. It's about what the net needs and the problems netizens are faced with. It's what's interesting to him.
I may get to it, but not working at Mozilla. I’ve resigned as CEO and I’m leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at problems from other angles, and see if the “network problem” has a solution that doesn’t require scaling up to hundreds of millions of users and winning their trust while somehow covering costs. That’s a rare, hard thing, which I’m proud to have done with Firefox at Mozilla.

I encourage all Mozillians to keep going. Firefox OS is even more daunting, and more important. Thanks indeed to all who have supported me, and to all my colleagues over the years, at Mozilla, in standards bodies, and at conferences around the world. I will be less visible online, but still around.
We're not going to know his heart. I take no joy in this man feeling forced to retreat from the inernet. Maybe you take joy it. But the internet is worse off without Brendan Eich being active in it. The way he was vilified was a moral wrong. I'm reminded of Jay Smooth's How to tell someone they sound racist -- "The what they did coversation" vs. the "what they are conversation."
posted by artlung at 4:51 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


I don't think that "did" vs. "are" distinction is particularly relevant here, as the complaints have already focused on his actions, and nobody has accused him of being an irredeemable bigot. As I've already said I think Eich has a lot to give to the world still, and nobody has expressed joy at his firing. Quite the contrary, in fact.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:56 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


and nobody has accused him of being an irredeemable bigot
...he's a guy who's happy to throw the queers under a bus...
...He's a hard-core bigot, full stop....
...we now have to choose between an awesome browser whose company's CEO is a bigot and...
Those are from this thread.
posted by artlung at 5:02 PM on April 3


Yes, but that is not the same as irredeemable, at least in my book. And there's plenty more on how he could redeem himself enough for to maintain his CEO stature.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:11 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


I am sad that Eich is leaving Mozilla, though I think it was inevitable once the board promoted him to CEO, and the dissonance between his personal-but-public views and those of his organization became known. I think he could have continued for many years making valuable contributions as CTO.
posted by zippy at 5:45 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


The way he was vilified was a moral wrong.

His payment of $1000 to take away the civil rights of millions of people was a moral wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:59 PM on April 3 [17 favorites]


I'll go ahead and raise my hand to say that I take joy (of a kind) from it because it means the US is now a place where in some few and far between corners it is unacceptable to be actively working against my human rights. Every time this happens my heart lifts a little higher. You're welcome to paint me as being in the moral wrong, here, but good luck making me feel like that's the case. I'll be laughing all the way to the courthouse, someday.
posted by Corinth at 6:06 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Meg Whitman: The Other Tech CEO That Wanted to Ban Gay Marriage

tl;dr: she was at eBay at the time; she issued her corrective statement in 2013 and also that year signed a document in support of gay marriage with Republicans; she is currently CEO of Hewlett Packard.
posted by artlung at 6:34 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Ironically, there's less need for Whitman to issue a mea culpa because her corporation puts no particular emphasis on community and inclusiveness, above and beyond the products and services they offer.
posted by fatbird at 6:43 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


[Meg Whitman] issued her corrective statement in 2013 and also that year signed a document in support of gay marriage with Republicans; she is currently CEO of Hewlett Packard.

This is one of the more interesting points. Eich was thrown rope after rope after rope, and all he did was hang himself with it. He could have offered any of the conciliatory or at least more detailed explanations people have offered here and elsewhere. He didn't. He could have full-on recanted, dropped some money on GLAAD and been done with it. He didn't. He didn't quite double-down (though that Indonesia comment is weird), but he also didn't back off. If he really wanted the job, there were many, many outs where he got to keep it. But his principle (which I think is wrong, to be clear) was more important.

tl;dr: Tech guy doesn't know when to back down on firmly held, if wrongheaded, belief. News at 11.
posted by aureliobuendia at 6:52 PM on April 3 [13 favorites]


Eich's hypocrisy in whining about intolerance and lack in inclusivity makes me angrier than his donation. I think it's fine if the world is not tolerant of bigotry.

And I'm continually surprised that people try to defend their bigotry behind the idea of religious freedom because it really makes religion look bad.
posted by sineater at 6:57 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Anyone who isn't an executive and is caught being a bigot in public puts their job at risk, freedom of speech or not. It is some weird distortion field we are in if Eich is expected to be given a consequence-free pass to say and do whatever he wants, and to get martyred in the end as if he is a victim. Weird.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:31 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Lest we feel too melancholy at the outcome, here are a few facts:

In 2008, Proposition 8 passed with 52.24 percent of the vote, or 7,001,084 votes of 13,402,566 cast.

The L.A. Times Proposition 8 database records 31,934 donations1 from Californians in favor of Proposition 8. That's a bit less than 0.5% of votes cast in favor, and a bit less than 0.25% of the total votes cast.

Of these, only 5,752 matched or exceeded Eich's donation. That's 0.08% of the votes cast in favor, and 0.04% of the total votes cast.

Brendan Eich insisted in his 2012 blog post (linked above) that there was no hatred, no bigotry, no animosity behind his support for Proposition 8. I personally find that absurd, and beside the point as well. You don't earn "brownie points" for smiling and shaking my hand as you kick me in the shins.

But regardless of what Eich felt, the data suggests that he felt it more than 99.95% percent of the people who voted that day.

That is an incredible distinction in the pursuit of injustice.

---
  1. By California law, only donations greater than $100 must be reported.

posted by The Confessor at 8:10 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Now we prepare for the boycotts from the anti-gay groups, and from those who think finding someone unsuitable to represent an organization is the same thing as denying them their right to speech. This has not been an easy week to be a Mozillian. (Even before today, we had groups on both sides of the same-sex marriage divide calling for Firefox boycotts. Oh well, at least I know which side I'd rather have protesting against me.)

MetaFilter has been a blessing through all this. We may not all agree on anything, but at least people here are talking to rather than at (or past) each other. Thanks, everyone.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:40 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


In discussing this with some Catholic friends who are naturally incensed at what they view as an anti-Catholic ouster, I've had some success asking "how long would a vocally atheist charity administrator last as head of the Salvation Army?"
posted by fatbird at 9:31 PM on April 3


The Salvation Army is an Evangelical Church. Mozilla on the other hand espouses religious tolerance and freedom of speech as core values.
posted by Jahaza at 11:01 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Honey Maid trolls bigots for corporate fun and sales.

It's a test, designed to provoke a homophobic response... Shall we continue? — from the other Social Justice thread, about talking to kids about same-sex parents.

Unrepentant bigotry is out. So out that HM, OKC, MOZ corporations tell bigots to FO .

Bigots gotta feel what bigots gotta feel, and they better feel it privately. Our public & corporate culture ain't putting up with that shit.

Love will win.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


But regardless of what Eich felt, the data suggests that he felt it more than 99.95% percent of the people who voted that day.

There are many things ridiculous about that statement, but the veneer of science ("data") particularly so. You've not accounted for who had the money to be able to give that much, making your "analysis" pointless. (See "widow's mite".)
posted by Jahaza at 11:05 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Mozilla on the other hand espouses religious tolerance and freedom of speech as core values.

Mozilla also espouses inclusion of diversity as a core value, something to which Eich's particular political activism was clearly antagonistic, just as an activist atheist would be antagonist to the SA's evangelical mores.

C'mon... even Eich recognized it and tried to address it. Unsuccessfully, but he at least passed the first test, which was recognizing a real problem.
posted by fatbird at 11:16 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


You can't preach inclusion when you practice exclusion.

The irony of is that both sides can claim this statement as their own.

No one has said that Brendan Eich discriminated in the workplace, and Eich is not blackballed from the industry. He may well wind up as CTO at some decent place. He's not on some McCarthy-like banned from industry list, and as the creator of JavaScript and a talented and smart architect and engineer, he'll have his pick of work. Just maybe not CEO gigs.

And I don't think the focus on him is because he is religious or that he did anything inappropriate at work.

But, he gave money to a movement that sought to undermine the lives of his employees, and that movement kept loving families – in his company and at companies that might partner with Mozilla – from having the same civil rights that he enjoyed at home.

He did this, and then he said "but here, we practice inclusion."

And I think he would have. I mean, I don't know the man, but I bet he could have done what he promised.

And yet, you have all those employees, of Mozilla and other organizations, who were deeply hurt by an act he supported, and he was now supposed to lead them.

Being CEO isn't like being an engineer. It's not enough to be able to do something well, you also have to convince people that they should trust you. And they need to believe you can do something before you start.

It's that that was I think the problem. You have to lead by example, and maintain trust. And when you do one thing with your left hand, and another with your right, and everyone sees that, and you don't address it except to say "hey, that thing I did over there, that thing that actually contributed to your suffering? I'm sorry you suffered, but I'm not going to talk about it, it's private."

Well, the problem is, it affected many people in a public way, and it takes all parties involved in a matter to agree to make it actually private.

In this case, employees of Mozilla didn't agree. Organizations that work with Mozilla didn't agree. A lot of people affected said "we don't agree that you, as our leader, can do something over there that hurts us, and not own up to it." So it remained public, and Mozilla hurt as a result.

Maybe we do need a truth and reconciliation committee, but what we have right now is people trying to do the right thing, amidst a lot of hurt. And maybe people who participated in causing a lot of hurt are going to have an uphill battle becoming CEO at companies where goodwill, one of the most elusive qualities, matters.
posted by zippy at 1:33 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


Brendan Eich Steps Down as Mozilla CEO
posted by Blasdelb at 5:41 AM on April 4


Purge the Bigots: Brendan Eich is just the beginning. Let’s oust everyone who donated to the campaign against gay marriage.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:52 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Brendan Eich, The Next Mission
posted by Blasdelb at 6:08 AM on April 4


Jesus Christ, BobbyVan, that article is terrifying. Now that 'Goody Proctor is an orthodox Catholic who participates in the democratic process!' is not only an acceptable but effective way to get someone fired, where does the hunt go next? Properly indexed, there are names on that list that I recognize and I'm not even in the tech industry, how many of them must have people who would find some unrelated benefit from their firing? How did news of the donation with Brendan Eich specifically get out to begin with anyway?
posted by Blasdelb at 6:35 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


See, I think there was a marked difference between him being CTO and being named CEO. Because the difference between that T and that E is a meaningful one. The CTO is hired to make technology work. The CEO is hired to make people work.

If leadership at that level means something, then it has to mean different sets of standards than for people who aren't expected to lead. It really ought to be a higher standard of behavior than is expected of your project managers and your accountants and whoever else. Just like I don't expect anybody to lose their jobs over infidelity, but I would have second thoughts about voting for a politician who'd been known to have cheated on a spouse. It wouldn't be the only part of the decision, but it would be a part. Eich proved quite well that while he had good qualifications, he did not have such phenomenal leadership skills that people could have faith in him despite this, and that faith is what you hire a CEO for. Impressive as it might be, you don't hire a CEO for inventing Javascript.
posted by Sequence at 7:07 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Purge the Bigots: Brendan Eich is just the beginning. Let’s oust everyone who donated to the campaign against gay marriage.

If the people who they intend to LEAD are part of the group that they've identified as their ideological enemies, what else would you suggest?

It is simply unacceptable to express discrimination against gays and lesbians in a PROFESSIONAL context, and if your goal is "executive leadership" you need to understand this -- and that your PROFESSIONAL life is 24/7, not ending when you take your id badge off..
posted by mikelieman at 7:14 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


It's funny because I thought Slate had already been renamed Concern Troll.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:24 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Ah, Will Saletan, this story couldn't have been more enticing to you unless Eich had been sodomizing someone with a racially-influenced lower IQ.
posted by fatbird at 7:33 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Purge the Bigots: Brendan Eich is just the beginning.

For anyone who agrees with this thesis or keeps putting it forward as a reasoned point of view: Is it moral for Eich to spend $1000 to take away civil rights from a group of people you don't like? Is that moral characteristic something we should expect from business leaders?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:44 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I guess that Slate "Purge the Bigots" article is intended as satire. But it's pure sophistry, a false equivalence. The concern with Eich is he's the CEO of a non-profit whose community expects it to be progressive and inclusive. His political actions are at odds with the image of that company, and the revolt among its users and employees made his position as CEO untenable.

How did news of the donation with Brendan Eich specifically get out to begin with anyway?

I can tell you haven't done us the courtesy of reading the discussion here before asking your question, since right before you asked this question you did a drive-by dump of two links the rest of us here have been discussing for most of a day now. So maybe you missed my comment where I talk about how the story crested back in 2012.

It's offensive to suggest there's some shadowy conspiracy of people benefitting by taking down Eich. It ignores the basic civil rights issue, a matter of conscience, that is the expressed reason everyone I've seen discuss Eich had for objecting to his being CEO.
posted by Nelson at 8:07 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Now that 'Goody Proctor is an orthodox Catholic who participates in the democratic process!' is not only an acceptable but effective way to get someone fired, where does the hunt go next?

Christians have gotta go underground! What next, will we find out that every single US president in history was a Christian? How deep does this rabbithole GO?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:18 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Christians have gotta go underground!

That's how they're trying to pivot away from it, but the reality is that BIGOTS have to 'go underground'. And if your religion is predicated on bigotry, I would suggest you have some serious thoughts to think about.
posted by mikelieman at 8:26 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


artlung: "And known externally since 2012. Presumably since he managed to be CTO for over a year after that was known with no major uproar internally or externally Mozilla as an organization (or much of it) thought it would be a nonissue."

aureliobuendia: "Eich was thrown rope after rope after rope, and all he did was hang himself with it. He could have offered any of the conciliatory or at least more detailed explanations people have offered here and elsewhere. He didn't."

Yeah, my initial response (as a non-gay, non-Californian, so Prop 8 is not a hugely emotional issue for me) was, "This is a mountain out of a molehill: It was 6 years ago and 'only' a thousand dollars, I'm sure he's moved on in the intervening six years, this issue has been moving fast." I was very active (on the pro side) in my state's fight for gay marriage, and I have neighbors who were quite anti-gay-marriage six years ago, but now that it's the law, they'd say something like, "Not thrilled about it, but my side lost fair and square, and gay marriage has not in fact destroyed the state so far, so my attitude is, live and let live." Not ideal, but fair enough. So this was probably not a very big deal, I thought.

Then Eich started talking. And talking. And talking. And DUDE. He came across as weaselly, self-important, tone-deaf, smarmy, and -- yeah -- bigoted. Even if you completely left aside this point where employees took issue with him campaigning against their civil rights (which I don't think you should, but even if you did), he has been an absolute catastrophe at speaking to the press and being the public face of a large corporation. To me, as someone unconnected to the tech world, just reading business news, he has been entirely and completely offputting-bordering-on-gross. He's been a disaster. It's hard to picture him speaking effectively to small business owners at a regional Chamber of Commerce event, let alone to the California state legislature or investors or venture capitalists or whatever. Even if you totally leave aside the content of the situation, his handling of it has been such a ham-handed train wreck that it seems clear he doesn't have half the skills necessary to serve as CEO.

Also, regarding the idea that people who have unpopular political positions shouldn't have to take any heat for them -- fuck that noise. To jump to some high-profile examples -- people who fought for rights to unionize in the U.S., and for black civil rights, and for gay civil rights, and against the Vietnam War, they faced community censure, loss of jobs, even physical violence. While maybe we should all be a polite and pleasant debating society, the reality is that it doesn't work that way, and unpopular political causes have always required their supporters to take heat for those beliefs. Freedom of political speech doesn't mean there are no consequences to political speech. Either stand up and accept the consequences while you try to change hearts and minds, or STFU. You have a right to be heard, not a right to be popular.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:36 AM on April 4 [14 favorites]


That's how they're trying to pivot away from it, but the reality is that BIGOTS have to 'go underground'. And if your religion is predicated on bigotry, I would suggest you have some serious thoughts to think about.

So does a committed Catholic who follows the teachings of the Pope now have to take an affirmative, public position in support of gay marriage in order to be deemed CEO material? Just trying to figure out where the line gets drawn.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:41 AM on April 4


...you do know that religion was a common defense of anti-miscegenation stances, right?
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:46 AM on April 4


So does a committed Catholic who follows the teachings of the Pope now have to take an affirmative, public position in support of gay marriage in order to be deemed CEO material?
Oh come on. Surely you see some middle ground between "taking an affirmative, public position in support" and donating money to invalidate people's already-performed marriages. Are you married? If so, how would you feel about someone who had spent a lot of effort and money trying to convince your neighbors to force the government to give you an involuntary divorce?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:49 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


The more I read about everything, the more Eich came off as a "missing step" in Mozilla. The problem was that once he wound up as CEO, all the little things that were "ignored" previously could no longer be.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:50 AM on April 4


Then Eich started talking. And talking. And talking. And DUDE. He came across as weaselly, self-important, tone-deaf, smarmy

People say things like this and then wonder why the primary skill of so many politicians and business leaders is persuasive speech and are basically lying hucksters with the gift if gab.
posted by rr at 8:53 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]




It was linked to earlier:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:5-6
posted by mikelieman at 8:54 AM on April 4


Just trying to figure out where the line gets drawn.

Probably the line on the check where Eich put his signature.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:54 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


So does a committed Catholic who follows the teachings of the Pope now have to take an affirmative, public position in support of gay marriage in order to be deemed CEO material?

She has to do two things:
  1. Avoid doing something activist that is grossly antagonistic to the constituency you would be expected to lead if you were to become CEO
  2. Don't become CEO
This doesn't seem like an onerous burden to me, especially when either alone is fine.
posted by fatbird at 8:55 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Surely you see some middle ground between "taking an affirmative, public position in support" and donating money to invalidate people's already-performed marriages.

There probably is, somewhere, but it's murky. What if we found out that instead of donating $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign, we simply learned that Eich voted for the proposition. Would he need to explain that vote in order to keep his job?

And will members of religious orders that oppose same sex marriage (Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, most Muslims and many Hindus) need to publicly distance themselves from those teachings to be considered for high-ranking corporate positions?
posted by BobbyVan at 8:56 AM on April 4


Would he need to explain that vote in order to keep his job?

If he's working for a company that claims to support the civil rights of its employees, yes.

If he's working for a company that claims to support the civil rights and liberties of its customers, yes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


So does a committed Catholic who follows the teachings of the Pope now have to take an affirmative, public position in support of gay marriage in order to be deemed CEO material? Just trying to figure out where the line gets drawn.

As a non-recovering former-Catholic-now-atheist who's no big fan of churches in general, this has been the one aspect I've been reticent about. But I realized that the issue of gay marriage is ultimately quite cut-and-dried. And that's the thing that the argument of "witch hunt" doesn't comprehend. This isn't economic policy, it's not about the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets, it's about people's fundamental rights. When that's the case, we may have to agree, as a society that there _isn't_ middle ground. There is only A or B, and the consequences thereof.

There might be room for a slightly weak middle ground of "I get that this offends people and I don't want this to be an issue. I've counter-donated similar or double the amount to an appropriate organization. I plan to fully support and encourage our policies of diversity henceforth. Thank you." But that's quite the rhetorical tightrope to walk and I don't know if I'd be comfortable with my supposed leader wanting to have it both ways.

I think you want a "men of good conscience can disagree" moment. And, initially, I did as well. But on thinking about it and talking with friends, gay marriage, like other issues of fundamental rights, is not an area over which we can disagree.

Also, on preview, what fatbird said: "Avoid doing something activist that is grossly antagonistic to the constituency you would be expected to lead if you were to become CEO".
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:01 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Mozilla on the other hand espouses religious tolerance and freedom of speech as core values.

Would you still be outraged if it came out he gave tons of money to an anti-interracial marriage campaign, and to candidates who espoused the view that black people are cursed with the sin of Ham, thus should be shunned by society? What if it came out he was an observant Muslim who didn't believe women should be in the workplace?

The conservative hypocrisy is palpable. Freedom of speech, unless your speech is used to criticize conservatives. Freedom of religion, as long as that religion is conservative Christianity. Freedom of association, unless you choose not to associate with people who want to take your civil rights away for conservative reasons. Free markets, unless free market methods are used against conservatives.

Dixie Chicks blacklisted from country music for saying something bad about a Republican president: good. Anti-gay CEO ousted from a pro-gay organization via op-eds and boycotts: McCarthyism.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:03 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Let me turn that on you, Bobby - would you be okay with a CEO espousing opposition to mixed race marriage, if they said it was based on their religious beliefs?
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:05 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


What if we found out that instead of donating $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign, we simply learned that Eich voted for the proposition.
Last time I checked, the US still had the secret ballot, so I'm not sure how we would find that out unless he told us. And then I would judge him on the basis of the statement he made, not his vote.
And will members of religious orders that oppose same sex marriage (Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, most Muslims and many Hindus) need to publicly distance themselves from those teachings to be considered for high-ranking corporate positions?
I know a fair number of Orthodox Jews, including members of my extended family. They're not big on gay marriage, but their real hangup is intermarriage. They think that the Jewish community is being destroyed by Jews marrying non-Jews. This is a sincere, religiously-based belief. If they donated money to try to get Jewish/ non-Jewish intermarriages declared invalid, would I also be required to say that was ok because it was a religious belief? And what does it say that, even though many Jews really and truly have problems with intermarriage, the idea of expecting the government to impose that religious belief on other people seems utterly ridiculous?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:09 AM on April 4


BobbyVan: "What if we found out that instead of donating $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign, we simply learned that Eich voted for the proposition. Would he need to explain that vote in order to keep his job?"

How would we discover his vote if he didn't reveal the information himself? Or doesn't the US have a secret ballot?
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 9:09 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


What if we found out that instead of donating $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign, we simply learned that Eich voted for the proposition.

At the moment, votes are secret and donations are not. This is on purpose. To release that information would raise problematic issues. Personally, I do not think that the vote would have been enough for me to ask for his removal, but I (straight, cis, white) have no dog in this fight, so it's not so much about me. You should see what other people might have to say about that. Regardless, it's not what happened. His support in the anti-marriage cause was considerably more passionate.

And will members of religious orders that oppose same sex marriage (Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, most Muslims and many Hindus) need to publicly distance themselves from those teachings to be considered for high-ranking corporate positions?

Politicians already do this (Obama, Kerry, and Como pere et fil have all been hassled about the distance between their positions and their religions). Otherwise, I think you'll have to let it be a case-by-case basis. With my feelings on faith, I don't expect to be offered a position with the Salvation Army anytime soon. On the other hand, with my feelings on gay marriage, not to mention my speaking skills, I'm definitely qualified to be CEO of Mozilla. I should send them a resume....
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:09 AM on April 4


I'm sure BobbyVan will have my back when I, an atheist whose sincerely held religious beliefs include easy access to contraception, am gunning for that high level executive position at Hobby Lobby.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:19 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Let me turn that on you, Bobby - would you be okay with a CEO espousing opposition to mixed race marriage, if they said it was based on their religious beliefs?

No, I wouldn't.

But here's the difference. The right to marry outside one's "race" is overwhelmingly supported across the political spectrum, and has been for decades.

On the other hand, five and a half years ago this country elected a man president who -- sincerely or not -- publicly opposed same-sex marriage. Decades from now we'll probably look back on those who held that position as bigots. And we'll probably see most religious opposition to SSM as a veneer similar to the one used to justify anti-miscegenation laws. The idea that every single person needs to "evolve" on the issue of gay marriage at exactly the same pace lest they face excommunication from our institutions seems too radical for me.

This instinct to "de-Baathify" our institutions of anyone who may have opposed SSM is perhaps understandable from those who have been subject to discrimination or oppression, but I don't think it's healthy in the long term.

Dismiss me as a concern troll if you must, but you asked what I thought.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:20 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


"I'm sure BobbyVan will have my back when I, an atheist whose sincerely held religious beliefs include easy access to contraception, am gunning for that high level executive position at Hobby Lobby."
Are you really going to use the Hobby Lobby as your benchmark in ethical business practices and sensible social policy?
posted by Blasdelb at 9:22 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


The idea that every single person needs to "evolve" on the issue of gay marriage at exactly the same pace lest they face excommunication from our institutions seems too radical for me.

Me, too. Good thing that's not happening here.
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:23 AM on April 4


BobbyVan, the Gallup poll series did not exceed 50 percent approval of interracial marriage until 1997. You might want to learn just a little bit before you go commenting on this subject.
posted by tavella at 9:25 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, five and a half years ago this country elected a man president who -- sincerely or not -- publicly opposed same-sex marriage

I wasn't aware Obama donated $1000 to get legal rights eliminated. I knew he didn't support same-sex marriage at the time, but he did support domestic partnerships. So it does seem obvious that Obama's and Eich's actions and beliefs are not really comparable, and to draw that comparison is a falsehood.

Bigoted actions can have negative consequences in the workplace — even for CEOs. Let's welcome Eich and his supporters to the real world that the rest of us live in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:25 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Jahaza

I blame lack of sleep for making me think that italics were an adequate shorthand for "I know this analysis is facile and the language of my 'conclusion' problematic, but I still think it makes a good point about Eich's uncommon engagement in this cause compared to that of the general voting populace."

More Generally

Contributions in support of or opposed to Proposition 8 in excess of $100 were recorded, and are public record. The LA Times maintains a convenient database of contributions that can be filtered by support or opposition, by amount, by name... and by company, which I assume is how Eich's contribution was discovered at some point before the first "blow up" in 2012. It was also where I sourced the raw data for my analysis.

(Side note: From the editorial positions I've seen the Los Angeles Times take, I've always considered them a conservative-leaning paper. I'm surprised they haven't made an editorial decision to take their database down in light of how it has been used. Eich might now be the person most affected by public disclosure of his contribution, but he was not the first.)

As a further study of just how much of an outlier Eich was among his peers, I studied Proposition 8 contributions made by employees of another California technology company: Google. I might have chosen Apple, except that their Apple Stores would defeat the purpose of examining a socially progressive, close-knit corporate culture. My analysis was hampered, unfortunately, by the fact that filtering by support or opposition in the LA Times' web app appears to be broken (intentionally?) at the moment.

I found that of 394 contributions made by Google employees, only twenty or so (or ~5%) were in support of Proposition 8. I Googled (ironic, no?) those twenty using a search query of the form "firstname lastname" "proposition 8" and discovered that, of that set, none were subject to blog posts, twitter storms, newspaper articles, or any discernible agitation resulting from their contribution.

Not coincidentally, it also appears that none of them were remotely as notable within Google as Brendan Eich was within Mozilla, let alone the wider tech community.

BobbyVan

If you really want to make the interracial marriage comparison, my analysis suggests that it is not especially favorable to Eich.
posted by The Confessor at 9:31 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan, the Gallup poll series did not exceed 50 percent approval of interracial marriage until 1997. You might want to learn just a little bit before you go commenting on this subject.

Approve of interracial marriage and believe interracial should be illegal are two different things.
posted by Jahaza at 9:32 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Thank you for illustrating my point, Bobby - homophobia is more socially acceptable than racism. In fact, the reason that there is all this outcry is because homophobia is entering its twilight period, shifting from acceptable to not.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:33 AM on April 4


The idea that every single person needs to "evolve" on the issue of gay marriage at exactly the same pace lest they face excommunication from our institutions seems too radical for me.

That's the epiphany I had a few days ago. This is it. Right now, this is the time when decent people realize opposing gay marriage is an unacceptable denial of civil rights. Standing up to someone like Eich and demanding he reconcile his opposition to gay marriage is how our culture evolves its views on these things. The pendulum just swung, at least in the world of free software non-profits, and Eich is on the wrong side. This moment, now, this is the advance.

I still feel crummy that Eich's out of the job. By all accounts he's a good technical leader and Firefox is in big part his own baby. But it's his own fault. I don't believe in ousting people just for different political views; if Eich had been an NRA gun nut, for instance, I don't think that'd disqualify him for CEO. But gay marriage is a fundamental civil right, one he paid his own money to deny me, and that requires accountability.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


This instinct to "de-Baathify" our institutions of anyone who may have opposed SSM is perhaps understandable from those who have been subject to discrimination or oppression, but I don't think it's healthy in the long term.

'May have opposed same-sex marriage' is not the same as 'donated $1000 to an unconstitutional ballot measure specifically designed to overturn legally sanctioned marriages.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


In addition, Obama's "opposition" to same sex marriage has since been renounced (in contrast to Eich's stonewalling), and was never considered genuine by people who looked at his career.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:38 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


"That's the epiphany I had a few days ago. This is it. Right now, this is the time when decent people realize opposing gay marriage is an unacceptable denial of civil rights. Standing up to someone like Eich and demanding he reconcile his opposition to gay marriage is how our culture evolves its views on these things. The pendulum just swung, at least in the world of free software non-profits, and Eich is on the wrong side. This moment, now, this is the advance."
Throwing Eich under this bus is not going to make it go any faster. Opinions don't change when the rpm of liberal finger wagging picks up, they change in spite of that when when bigots realize that the people they respect aren't also bigots, when they realize their bigotry requires hating people they love, and when they realize that intolerance is pettier and less noble than love - all of which unfortunately requires a lot more courage and dedication to pull off than a witch hunt conducted through the safe distance provided by the internet does.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:46 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


liberal finger wagging ... a witch hunt

Your characterizations are neither charitable nor accurate.

The real change that's happening is that being a material supporter of anti-gay laws (e.g. Prop 8) is in the process of becoming socially unacceptable. Lots of people continued to think miscegenation was immoral for decades after it was legalized (and a minority still hold to those views), but long before those attitudes began to seriously decline it became unacceptable to materially and publicly support segregation.

Eich had any of a dozen ways to handle this situation with grace, and instead it became clear that he was, in fact, an unrepentant bigot. As such he's not a good fit as CEO of that organization. He'd no doubt be a fine fit at another organization, one that doesn't incorporate those core values, or in a technical role where he isn't representing those values.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:55 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


a witch hunt

You can keep calling the act of asking for accountability for hateful acts a "witch hunt", but repeating it doesn't make it so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on April 4 [11 favorites]


...a witch hunt conducted through the safe distance provided by the internet does.

This isn't a witch hunt. Who is accusing Eich of doing something we don't have hard evidence he did? What is Eich denying about the accusations of what he did?

Personally, I think a CEO stepping down from outrage over his bigoted actions could be a powerful wakeup call to people who share his opinion on this and suddenly realize of what sort of consequences will rain down upon them when they actively work to deny people their civil rights.
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


There's not much point in debating someone who doesn't do us the courtesy of reading the discussion.
posted by Nelson at 10:02 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


The Crucible, where the term in modern parlance comes from, was not a play about witches.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:03 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Nor is that fictional play about Eich being asked to account for his actions and falling short.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


I suggest you read that play again. It was Eich who was attempting to force his religious views on all of society, and restrict the actions of others. Eich however can continue to associate with whoever wants to associate with him, continue to believe whatever he wants. He doesn't have the right to force other's actions, and he doesn't have a right to force himself into leadership positions.

If you're going to make a witchhunt analogy, Eich was the one on the witchhunt.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:07 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Blasdelb has a point: McCarthyism has a lot of parallels to Eich attemting to use the propagandistic lies to influence the power of the California government to force a more narrow and conservative world on people he considers less-than.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:09 AM on April 4 [8 favorites]


The most moving part of the Crucible is when Eich only says "MORE GAYS" as he is crushed to death by people piling gays on his chest.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:13 AM on April 4 [17 favorites]


"I can tell you haven't done us the courtesy of reading the discussion here before asking your question, since right before you asked this question you did a drive-by dump of two links the rest of us here have been discussing for most of a day now. So maybe you missed my comment where I talk about how the story crested back in 2012."
You mean the one where you echo the general consensus about how this is a fundamentally unanswerable question, this whole mess having emerged out of the depths of the 'twitterverse'?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:13 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


None of the young women in The Crucible were actually witches and were accused of it.

On the other hand, we have Eich's financial records magic spellbook that shows how he used monetary donations to a campaign dark magics to influence an election's outcome weave a spell across California the kingdom.
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


So, what's the argument here? That Eich had a fundamental right to the position of CEO, regardless of how many people his bigoted actions bothered? That people should have the right to not only publicly espouse bigotry but also support it with cold hard cash without suffering any kind of public consequences?

I say fuck that. Nobody called the power of law down on him, nobody arrested him, nobody threw him in jail. Nobody called him before the Senate to answer for his beliefs. They merely suggested that he was not a good fit for this job, largely because he is a public and unrepentant bigot. Which, I will note, nobody is contesting -- not even him. And for those suggesting that since we would all be upset if someone donated to the Guttmacher Institute or whatever, we should also be fine with this? Nope, that's a non-starter. "Being a bigoted shitstain" and "not being a bigoted shitstain" are not equivalents, moral or otherwise.
posted by KathrynT at 10:33 AM on April 4 [17 favorites]


Standing up to someone like Eich and demanding he reconcile his opposition to gay marriage is how our culture evolves its views on these things. The pendulum just swung, at least in the world of free software non-profits, and Eich is on the wrong side. This moment, now, this is the advance.

I think here's the key. MARRIAGE is, and always has been a Civil Contract. Overloading it with religious views isn't my problem. It's the problem of the person confusing their religious belief with Civil Law in contemporary society. It's HIS responsibility. Not mine.

Either their views evolve, they learn to keep their mouth shut in polite company, or they leave through attrition.
posted by mikelieman at 10:36 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


BobbyVan: And will members of religious orders that oppose same sex marriage (Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, most Muslims and many Hindus) need to publicly distance themselves from those teachings to be considered for high-ranking corporate positions?

Probably, eventually. Especially if their corporatation has made pubilc stances against those religious teachings. There are a lot of people who are members of the Catholic church who disagree with the church's stance on many issues already it would probably be handled the same way. If churches don't change their tune they'll probably become less relevant or their members will just ignore the church, as is the tradition.

Anyway. I think in general, the more into Issue X Organization Y is, the more people are going to wonder why Person Z was put in charge of Organization Y when Person Z is against Issue Y. Simultaneously, the more people become to see Issue X as a fundamental right, the less tolerance they will have when someone is against Issue X. It's clear that gay rights were an important issue to Mozilla, their employees, board members, and users. As long as there was that discrepancy between their stance and who they hired, there was going to be some friction.

Additionally, support for gay rights is eventually going to be wide spread and common enough that future Brendan Eichs will be under fire for past support of things like Prop 8 regardless of the institution. The stance of any institute will be assumed to be pro-gay marriage, because being anti-gay marriage is just Not Done, except for fringe groups. Any mention that you were ever against it will require some explanation, the bare minimum being "I was an idiot back then. I'm heartily pro-gay marriage today." The more against it they were, the more of an explanation they'd need to explain it away.
posted by Green With You at 10:48 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


"McCarthyism has a lot of parallels to Eich attemting to use the propagandistic lies to influence the power of the California government to force a more narrow and conservative world on people he considers less-than."
I get that this is satire, but, ...yes it does.

It may not fit neatly into the hagiographies of the ultra-left, but a Stalinist was a really fucked up thing to be in the late 40s and early 50s and neither civil rights nor intellectual honesty were among their primary concerns as they worked to force their model for running the world on everyone else. The play is about how, in the nations rush to 'hold them accountable,' we collectively lowered ourselves towards their moral standards and shades of grey disappeared in the excitement of moral judgement. Discrimination in employment on a political basis is not really ok and it demeans us all to engage in it, even if the target seems to really deserve it.

Maybe he thinks marriage should be a solely religious phenomenon and that the State of California should instead be handing out civil unions to consenting adults who want one, maybe he really is a shit stain deep down, but that was all his own damn business and not Mozilla's so long as he was committed to maintaining Mozilla's commitment to corporately "honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community," which he consistently maintained he was.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:52 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


The most moving part of the Crucible is when Eich only says "MORE GAYS" as he is crushed to death by people piling gays on his chest.

Waiting for Gaydot.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 AM on April 4


but that was all his own damn business and not Mozilla's so long as he was committed to maintaining Mozilla's commitment to corporately "honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community," which he consistently maintained he was.

Nope. Nobody is under any obligation to ignore someone's odious beliefs or actions. The minute he made his support of that bigotry a matter of public record, it became a matter of public comment.
posted by KathrynT at 10:54 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


so long as he was committed to maintaining Mozilla's commitment to corporately "honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community,"

Fundamentally, I don't think you can be a material supporter of bigotry and also an effective honorer of diversity. I vote shitstain on this one.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:58 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Dipflash: The real change that's happening is that being a material supporter of anti-gay laws (e.g. Prop 8) is in the process of becoming socially unacceptable. Lots of people continued to think miscegenation was immoral for decades after it was legalized (and a minority still hold to those views), but long before those attitudes began to seriously decline it became unacceptable to materially and publicly support segregation.

I commented on a friend's Facebook post during the big wave of Dem senators coming out for gay marriage that it was fascinating watching a social movement hit that tipping point where being against it is coming to be seen as the mark of a barbarian. That's what has happened. There are still institutions and Republican candidates for which it is still profitable to sell barbarianism, and there will be for years yet, but it will become more and more unacceptable for any mainstream institution.

Mozilla decided it wasn't okay to be led by a barbarian, and that's a good thing.
posted by tavella at 10:59 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Maybe he thinks marriage should be a solely religious phenomenon and that the State of California should instead be handing out civil unions to consenting adults who want one

It'd be... more palatable if that was his view, which sounds pretty similar to Mormon author/Wheel of Time-finisher Brandon Sanderson's views on the matter. I think given the public perception and the media narrative, Eich should've came forward and clarified his views. Regardless of what they were, he should have at least tried to explain how he can simultaneously have them (whatever they are) and lead an organization with LGBT members. And if he really did have views there would not be appropriate, he simply should have be honest and open about it before stepping down.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:01 AM on April 4


Mozilla decided it wasn't okay to be led by a barbarian, and that's a good thing.

The bad guys lost, for once. In a free marketplace of ideas, too, which is even more rare. A normal, healthy society would celebrate this as progress.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Discrimination in employment on a political basis is not really ok and it demeans us all to engage in it, even if the target seems to really deserve it.

How is this an example of discrimination in employment, keeping in mind the specific responsibilities and duties of the CEO of an institution of this magnitude and with their very clear policy of honoring diversity?
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


The minute he made his support of that bigotry a matter of public record, it became a matter of public comment.

SuperPACs have gotten popular because there's less likelihood of public record. The smart bigots keep things private.

I've always been a believer that in my job, my private home like, my political beliefs, my political donations, should not have an impact on my work life. I still do. Doubly so my religious beliefs and donations.

CEO is a different beast, it turns out. And Mozilla in particular, being composed of highly net-vocal people is particularly different.

To me a $1000 donation is not the affront to civil rights many clearly interpret it as. To a person making $50k a year (close to median income for CA), their religious tithe of 10% amounts to $5000 every year. And it was churches actively working for Prop 8. But I suppose since nominally it's to a Church and not *specifically* about the one issue it's different.
posted by artlung at 11:04 AM on April 4


He seems to have resigned on his own, so maybe it's not the same thing "discrimination in employment on a political basis"? I also take issue with the whitewashing of working actively against human rights as simple shades-of-gray "politics," but hey.
posted by Corinth at 11:07 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


And it was churches actively working for Prop 8. But I suppose since nominally it's to a Church and not *specifically* about the one issue it's different.

IMHO? Yeah, it is. The Mormon church spends their money on a lot of things, some awful (Prop 8 and similar), some annoying-but-ok-I-guess (sending missionaries to knock on my door), some perfectly neutral to me (maintaining their physical buildings &c), and some awesome (they do a lot of hunger relief work in disaster-afflicted areas, for example). A person could be donating money to their church for the latter reasons, not the former. But Prop 8? Donating money to Prop 8 has literally only one reason, which is to remove one of the essential civil rights of humanity from a specific group of people on the basis of their sexuality.
posted by KathrynT at 11:09 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Maybe he thinks marriage should be a solely religious phenomenon and that the State of California should instead be handing out civil unions to consenting adults who want one, maybe he really is a shit stain deep down, but that was all his own damn business and not Mozilla's so long as he was committed to maintaining Mozilla's commitment to corporately "honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community," which he consistently maintained he was.

McCarthyism relied on governmental power (the hearings) to fire people from their jobs for their presumed views.

What is happening here is something completely different. This is pressure from public opinion, both external and internal to the company that is definitionally questioning the ability of someone to do a job as CEO.

It's like someone asked about a Catholic being able to be a CEO. It has nothing to do with religion, only with the trust the community has for that person. An open racist is welcome to be a racist and no government power a la McCarthy is going to prevent him from holding a job, but he may not be an effective leader of a company that has POC as employees. He may not be an effective face for of a company that wants to do business in a society that abhors racists. An anti-Semite will not be prevented from holding a job a la McCarthy, but he may not be an effective leader of Jewish employees and a face of a company that does business in a society that abhors anti-Semitism.

Brendan Eich was not pressured by government power (McCarthy) to have his employment terminated. But he was not going to be an effective leader of employees who are gay and being the face of a company that does business in a society that's majority for equality.

The screenwriters and actors and others who were denied employment by McCarthy would have been delighted to merely face questions about their ability to sell tickets to movies they wrote, directed and acted in. Because their ability to do their jobs was demonstrably not impaired - the collaborators on their films were not turning away. In fact, they were some of the most effective workers and creators of their time.

The comparison on both ends - of what victims of McCarthyism faced, and what Eich is facing are amazingly mismatched along pretty much every axis.

Brendan Eichs could NOT be an effective CEO. He failed for purely business reasons of not being able to lead or be a face of a company. The victims of McCarthyism did not fail in their jobs, they were indeed extremely effective - their job was taken away through government power.

It is idiotic to compare the two.
posted by VikingSword at 11:15 AM on April 4 [17 favorites]


Discrimination in employment on a political basis is not really ok and it demeans us all to engage in it, even if the target seems to really deserve it.

No one discriminated in employment on a political basis. The public said 'Dude is fucked up and we don't like it' and he was like 'Whoops sorry I quit' and then you were like 'HDU public outcry is the same as witch trials and public speech should have no consequences'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:16 AM on April 4 [7 favorites]


Decades from now we'll probably look back on those who held that position as bigots.

Actually, a fair few of us already see them as bigots and shitstains.

This is because equality is such an obvious fundamental right that we absolutely refuse to compromise our position.

In very short words: Fuck. The. Bigots.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


A historical footnote to the Eich case; just after Proposition 8 passed, the "Protect Marriage" group sued in California court trying to keep the donor list secret. The judge decided at the time that there was no basis to keep the list private and so it was released on schedule a few days later in February 2009. The case kept going though and in November 2011 a US District court also found there was no basis for keeping the donor list secret. Then in October 2013 Protect Marriage argued an appeal in the Ninth Circuit. I'm not sure if there's been a ruling on that appeal, it's a bit hard to search Google for it because the results are dominated by the Ninth Circuit overturning Prop 8.

A similar case from a Washington anti-gay marriage referendum went to the Supreme Court, which upheld disclosing the names of petition signators. Interestingly Scalia argued in favor of publishing the names, saying "Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed."
posted by Nelson at 11:24 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


"McCarthyism relied on governmental power (the hearings) to fire people from their jobs for their presumed views."
The only government power either McCarthy or his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations wielded was the ability to compel US citizens to sit in front of them to either answer questions or refuse to answer questions. That was it, McCarthy couldn't and didn't fire anyone, people were fired because it was good business sense to do so to avoid being the next target of public ire. Twitter, it seems, for better or worse holds the same power and is now willing to use it to force companies to select for ideological purity in their employees.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:29 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Blasdelb, man, I love you, but did you really just say that Twitter and the US Senate have the same amount of power?
posted by KathrynT at 11:31 AM on April 4 [9 favorites]


willing to use it to force companies to select for ideological purity in their employees.

Dude, how many times does it need to be said here: No one is talking about ideological purity. People are talking about specific concrete actions which were designed to strip rights from actual people-- not only rights, but to overturn marriages which had already been performed.

The problem is not 'I think Eich thinks bad things!' The problem is 'Eich gave money to a cause specifically focused on destroying marriages.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you know, I hate it when Twitter cites me for contempt of Congress and I get indicted and sentenced to a year in jail. It sucks when that happens.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:36 AM on April 4 [13 favorites]


Twitter's been overthrowing more regimes in the developing world than Congressional action has, though. But that's a digression for another thread.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:39 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


"Hey boss, @TxdoMsk92 and @xBongzilla69x just lambasted me on Twitter because I mentioned some dumb shit about gay rights. They got a lot of retweets and tons of favorites."
"What? What's Twitter? Whatzilla? Retweets? Why are you telling me this? Go back to work."

"Hey boss, I'm being brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities by Senator Joseph McCarthy for being a suspected communist."
"Look, I'm not sure I can keep you around here, not with that kind of exposure."
posted by griphus at 11:40 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Twitter's been overthrowing more regimes in the developing world than Congressional action has, though.

Twitter has overthrown no regimes. Twitter has not gotten anyone fired over their ideology, nor even their actions. Twitter is not a state and has no government power.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


You know what I mean. (And yes, that wasn't actually Twitter- I should've just added that link to my original comment and ended the digression there.)
posted by Apocryphon at 11:57 AM on April 4


The only government power either McCarthy or his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations wielded was the ability to compel US citizens to sit in front of them to either answer questions or refuse to answer questions.

Contempt of Congress is a crime and can result in jail time.
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on April 4


Oh, waa, waa, waa! Won't someone please think of the poor bigots, so unfairly discriminated against!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:23 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Alright: People with Twitter accounts have no state power. Eich's decision to leave was entirely between Eich and the Mozilla board, even if there are people on the Internet who are voicing opinions on both sides.

It would help if we're clear about language, so that when people use phrases like "McCarthyism" and "witch hunt" we know which parties those terms are being ascribed to, and why those phrases, as emotionally loaded and catchy as they are, are completely inappropriate.

We now seem to have someone upthread giving god-like powers of state to Twitter — or to Twitter users — to be able to compel private companies to remove people from their jobs at some amorphous whim. That's silliness on the scale of saying Ma Bell acted alone to save the world from nuclear war, just because Kennedy and Khrushchev had a telephone-based hotline available between them during the Cuban missile crisis. That's just silly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on April 4


We now seem to have someone upthread giving god-like powers of state to Twitter — or to Twitter users — to be able to compel private companies to remove people from their jobs at some amorphous whim. That's silliness on the scale of saying Ma Bell acted alone to save the world from nuclear war, just because Kennedy and Khrushchev had a telephone-based hotline available between them during the Cuban missile crisis. That's just silly.

This is not a good faith effort to read and understand what people are saying.
posted by Jahaza at 12:56 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


This is not a good faith effort to read and understand what people are saying.

What is a good faith effort to read and understand this comment you favorited?

The only government power either McCarthy or his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations wielded was the ability to compel US citizens to sit in front of them to either answer questions or refuse to answer questions. That was it, McCarthy couldn't and didn't fire anyone, people were fired because it was good business sense to do so to avoid being the next target of public ire. Twitter, it seems, for better or worse holds the same power and is now willing to use it to force companies to select for ideological purity in their employees.

What would a good faith reading of this require? Would it require assuming that the poor poster has literally zero knowledge of the history of McCarthyism to claim that the hearings had no power other than have people appear and "either answer or not" when the consequences of not answering was that people were sent to prison?

Is it good faith to assume that the poster has not only no knowledge of McCarthyism when claiming that McCarthyism=Twitter in power, but no ability to educate himself before jumping in with ridiculous comparisons when even the most rudimentary facts are available no further away than the first link to wikipedia, yet the poster doesn't bother:

During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned,[2] laws that would be declared unconstitutional,[3] dismissals for reasons later declared illegal[4] or actionable,[5] or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute. [emph. mine VS]

Does a good faith reading require us to simply dismiss as utterly ignorant anyone who would posit that the power of Twitter in this or any other case is anything close to the power of consequences of McCarthyism, or do we acknowledge that it is in fact the poster who is engaged in a bad faith argument when making such an utterly preposterous comparison?
posted by VikingSword at 1:13 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


This is such a weird derail.

Arguably, no scandal since Watergate deserves to be compared to Watergate. It was and continues to be a singular event in American politics, a concrete example of wrongdoing by the President of the United States that resulted in his probable removal from office if he hadn't resigned himself.

So really, no one should ever compare anything to Watergate, by say coming up with some random word and attaching -gate to it, because it's incomparable. And even if one used it as hyperbole, it should be restricted to usages having to do with Presidents, or at least governments surely.

Of course, we can count on the legions of reporters and random other people to use the term correctly, and not sully the importance of this tragic moment in American politics by using it to describe hundreds of minor scandals.

(Upshot: things get compared inappropriately and hyperbolically all the time. I see the point here, and it's not a bad one, but it's basically arguing against the way the whole world describes things.)
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


And by the way, when a right winger - or someone using this for the purpose of arguing for a conservative/rightwing perspective - uses McCarthyism as an argument against social justice or a progressive cause, it is a significant tell. It has the immediate noxious whiff of the same kind of "reverse racism" arguments trotted out by rightwingers who loudly claim MLK as being in their corner, because "character not skin color". The same conservatives whose energies were engaged wholly for McCarthyism, now attempting to jiu-jitsu the richly earned opprobrium onto the progressives who were the victims of this evil. The same conservatives, who fought MLK tooth and nail, now trying to claim his richly deserved legacy for themselves and in opposition to everything that MLK actually stood for. It reminds me of the moronic meme you see on the right these days when they shout out to progressives and POC that when it comes to slavery, it was "the Democratic Party" that fought for slavery and Republicans who were against... which means I guess that the Democrats of today are the bad guys in the race debates and the GOP the good guys - this, while they can't help themselves making racist comments at the very same time.

Talk about bad faith. As soon as I see a conservative use McCarthyism in an argument (always in ludicrous comparisons) against a progressive cause, or use MLK in support of racially regressive policies, I know exactly who it is who argues in bad faith - and when s/he does so, I know his cause is bad, because he can't openly argue for it, but must engage in bad faith arguments devoid of all historical knowledge.
posted by VikingSword at 1:44 PM on April 4 [11 favorites]


You're moving the goal posts VikingSword. Blasdeb was responding to your comment that referred to McCarthyism in a limited sense, specifically McCarthy and his hearings:

McCarthyism relied on governmental power (the hearings) to fire people from their jobs for their presumed views.

You are quoting a Wikipedia article that is about a lot of other things that get labeled McCarthyism in a broader sense (e.g. loyalty oaths in California, firings of schoolteachers).

Blasdeb correctly noted that the Congressional hearings (which was the context of the discussion at your instigation) had only the power to make people appear and answer questions and that they could choose to answer them or not (by taking the fifth amendment) without being imprisoned. That people were blacklisted if they took the fifth was not, in fact, governmental power.

Blazecock Pileon's comment is not a good faith reading of the thread, because people aren't saying that Twitter has the ability to force companies to change their leadership. Rather, the opposite. Companies, faced by the storm of bad publicity, are choosing to change their leadership rather than to suffer the public opinion consequences. This is similar to one of the effects of blacklisting in the entertainment industry where people who took the fifth amendment were blacklisted not by government action per se but by private employers based on public outrage at their positions.

I know his cause is bad, because he can't openly argue for it, but must engage in bad faith arguments devoid of all historical knowledge.

So, just to be clear, you're saying that Blasdeb is "arguing for a conservative/rightwing perspective" and "engag[ing] in bad faith arguments devoid of all historical knowledge"?
posted by Jahaza at 1:50 PM on April 4


This is such a weird derail.

JHarris, there's only one minor mention of Nixon in the thread. I'm not even sure if your comment is in the right thread? Did you mean Watergate or McCarthyism?

posted by Jahaza at 1:53 PM on April 4


It isn't obvious? Sigh. Never mind, comparison fail.
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on April 4


You're moving the goal posts VikingSword. Blasdeb was responding to your comment that referred to McCarthyism in a limited sense, specifically McCarthy and his hearings:

Nope. My comment did not refer to McCarthyism in a limited sense, 'specifically McCarthy and his hearings'. My comment referred to all such hearings which are commonly referred to when we speak of McCarthyist tactics (and many indeed pre-date McCarthy, going all the way back to the 30's). Which is why I used the word McCarthyist, not McCarthy when I referred to 'hearings':

McCarthyism relied on governmental power (the hearings) to fire people from their jobs for their presumed views.

McCarthyism, not McCarthy. It was Blasdelb who narrowed this to McCarthy specifically, and to those hearings (PSOI) rather than the hearings I referred to (HUAC). As to who was goal-shifting, it was Blasdelb who originally referenced The Crucible, which is about McCarthyist style hearings not narrowly McCarthy's committee - therefore it is he who set the broader term reference.

And in keeping with that broader reference to HUAC hearings, legally, as the Hollywood Ten showed, you could be sent to prison for not naming names in hearings, as Congress voted to cite them for contempt. USSC upheld. They served time.

We could argue as to whether they were right to rely on the First amendment for protection, but it is quite clear, that the comparison to the power of Twitter is ridiculous when it was made to be exactly equivalent as Blasdelb did. Twitter cannot compel you to appear anywhere by force of law, for one, as even McCarthy in the most narrow sense could. Is that comparison a good faith comparison? And by citing The Crucible as a good analogy of Eich being the victim, Blasdelb does himself no favors.

re: 'arguing for a conservative/rightwing perspective', I was referring to the practice of using accusations of McCarthyism against the causes of social justice that is popular with the right at the moment - it was a general observation, not to anyone specifically (which is why I did not name anyone here), just as nobody here used the name of MLK to fight affirmative action or used the Democratic party=slavery argument also popular on the right.
posted by VikingSword at 2:26 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


So, just to be clear, you're saying that Blasdeb is "arguing for a conservative/rightwing perspective" and "engag[ing] in bad faith arguments devoid of all historical knowledge"?

I'm not the person in question, but I'd say yes, absolutely Blasdeb is making a right wing argument on this issue, and while he is almost certainly not devoid of historical knowledge, his arguments are presented in ways that elide or distort historical context.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:53 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon's comment is not a good faith reading of the thread

My "reading" or understanding of the content of that person's comment seem to be understood to be just fine, your accusations of bad faith notwithstanding.

Though, again, I will point out that the McCarthyism/Communism comparisons are concern trolling, in that those comparisons are intended to distract attention from deciding rationally whether Eich is capable of leading a company, given his past and present actions.

Your goal here, very simply and disingenuously, is to make an emotional plea that the people being critical are not being nice and they are therefore somehow like McCarthy, simply because we raise rational objections to the idea that an admitted and unapologetic bigot is a good fit for a company like Mozilla. A company, it should be said, which exists primarily to offer alternative technical products for political reasons that seem quite arguably incongruent with Eich's own morality.

Your attempts to derail the thread with accusatory distractions are duly noted, but they don't change many of the facts at hand:

 • None of us have any power over Mozilla, regardless of what we feel about their original decision and its follow-up. All we can do is state our opinions on public forums.
• Neither McCarthyism nor Twitter have anything to do with with why your man got himself fired.
• Mozilla is a private organization. They fucked up putting a bigot in charge, admitted making a mistake, tried to rectify that mistake within their organization by reaching an agreement with Eich for him to leave, and they sort-of apologized for that mistake.

And let's be clear: He got himself fired the moment he wrote a check while working for a company with a public and political profile that exists at a 90-degree angle to the purpose of that check. No one here or on any other site or web-based or networked entity or company got him fired. He got himself chopped.

If you want to talk about what's at the root of bad faith commenting, let's first stop blaming other people — here, or on Twitter — for the consequences of Eich's own behavior.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:03 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


LATimes Michael Hiltzik weighs in [use privacy settings in browser]:

Gay marriage, Mozilla's Brandon Eich, and the role of a CEO
posted by VikingSword at 4:06 PM on April 4


Brendan Eich's coming-out party ended the Mozilla way: free, open – and shut
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Here's a fun one - besides the warmongering, you probably shouldn't be voting Hillary Clinton 2016 on account of this issue.

In addition, Obama's "opposition" to same sex marriage has since been renounced (in contrast to Eich's stonewalling), and was never considered genuine by people who looked at his career.

This is hilarious. If I may explicitly paraphrase "It's OK, he was just lying about the bigotry!" I don't think Obama HAS such a thing as a "real view on gay marriage" or if he does it's not at all relevant.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:04 PM on April 4


So, just to be clear, you're saying that Blasdeb is "arguing for a conservative/rightwing perspective"

Rush Limbaugh: Leftist Fascists Force Out Mozilla CEO for Holding Same Opinion Obama Held in 2008
He is being described now as a bigot and "filled with hatred" because he believes that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. He tried to hang on when the controversy hit. He said, "Look, my personal political views have nothing to do with the way I plan on running Mozilla." That didn't fly. They had to get the scalp. They had to take him out. They had to send a message to anybody else that your view must comply.

If you are in the tech industry, and if you work anywhere in the tech business, and you're gonna become a powerful executive anywhere, you had better toe the line. You had better be in favor of everything the militant gay activists are in favor of or we're gonna claim your scalp. We're going to destroy your career. And everybody is afraid of them. So Brendan Eich is gone, for the identical position that President Barack Obama held at the exact same time, in 2008.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:25 PM on April 4


Really, save alive? Care to show me Hillary Clinton's Prop 8 donation? Care to show me where she is unrepentantly still against gay marriage? The pro-Eich side is being embarrassingly intellectually dishonest in this thread. To repeat: Eich did not express a personal opinion. He took action to try to destroy the rights and marriages of people, _including people that would be working for him_. He is not sorry for this, which suggests he still would if he had the power.
posted by tavella at 5:25 PM on April 4


After Eich resigns, conservatives slam Mozilla—and call for boycott

(If conservatives boycott Firefox, which browser will they use? Google, Apple, and Microsoft publicly supported same-sex marriage in CA and WA. Even Opera is now based on Google's Blink browser engine...)
posted by mbrubeck at 6:05 PM on April 4


All this business about Hillary Clinton and Obama are not nearly the same. Politics is a field where sometimes people make compromises to get some things they want at the cost of others. We (that is to say, I) may not be happy about it, but at least we get some things, even if others, to put it uncharitably, are thrown under the bus.

Eich is not a politician, so that doesn't matter. He had opportunity to apologize and take his back his support and he didn't. And Prop 8 had as its only purpose the elimination of same-sex marriage. There really is no defense for it, other than we thought differently back then, which might work if Prop 8 were 50 years ago. Instead, it's been six.
posted by JHarris at 6:33 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Btw. Obama, even as he expressed the belief that 'marriage is between a man and a woman', was explicitly opposed to any notion of a constitutional amendment enshrining marriage as between a man and a woman.

That is the opposite of Eich, who materially contributed to the passage of an amendment to a state constitution which actively took away the right for gay people to marry. He helped pay for a campaign that ran advertisements filled with hateful propaganda and lies.

He succeeded. The vicious law passed. Thousands of gay people were prevented from marrying. Yes, it was eventually overturned as unconstitutional, but we will never know how many elderly gay couples were forever denied their rights, when they wanted to make their union official, and one partner died before the law was overturned. This is not a matter of theory or simply "views". This is direct, harmful action, with harmful outcomes.

To claim that Obama's stance was equivalent to Eich is disingenuous. And probably not done in good faith - oh snap!
posted by VikingSword at 6:44 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Folks, let's disagree without "shove it up your ass". Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:50 PM on April 4


More to the point about Obama, he continually got a ton of shit from progressives over not endorsing gay marriage, even up to and past the point of his "evolution". No one gave him a free pass. If you want to hold him up as an example of hypocracy by liberals, you can't, because they were never mute on the subject.
posted by fatbird at 7:20 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


It's so weird to me that boycotts are apparently this terrible fascistic thing that mean we are engaging in McCarthy-type tactics. I guess no one is going to see the Cesar Chavez movie?
posted by rtha at 7:24 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I guess no one is going to see the Cesar Chavez movie?

They are boycotting everything Venezuelan.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:35 PM on April 4


This New York Times article has some good reporting, including quotes from Mozilla board members.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:05 PM on April 4


ArbitraryAndCapricious: "Are you married? If so, how would you feel about someone who had spent a lot of effort and money trying to convince your neighbors to force the government to give you an involuntary divorce?"

Can someone clarify this for me; I thought Prop 8 annulled marriages rather than dissolving them via divorce.
posted by Mitheral at 10:59 PM on April 4


The Baffler: Mozilla, Mountain View, and the Mean Ol’ Gays
The early refrain about what’s happened here—that the evil, intolerant, nationally-organized, left-gay-liberal mobilization machine took another scalp, for bloodsport!—doesn’t quite add up. The real story is much more interesting: that a confluence of factors very specific to the Mozilla Corporation, by the nature of its product, its industry, and its geographical location, make what happened to Eich almost non-transferable to what could happen to companies on a wider spectrum.

“Liberals,” writ-large, did not force Eich’s resignation. Most “liberals” probably hadn’t, and still haven’t, heard of the guy. Rather, there appear to have been two specific factors that led to his ouster: internal dissent within Mozilla, and, well, the OkCupid dating website.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:14 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


This link from the arstechnica article kinda puts this issue into perspective for me.
"And that was the two-day cost of their decision, a decision to hire married gay folk, a decision that was decided on last fall and leaked to Christianity Today last week. That was the cost.

Last Monday, the day of the announcement, World Vision’s call center received 7000 calls and a loss of 2000 child sponsorships. That’s just in 12 hours on Monday! The following day those numbers swelled. And then on Wednesday, within minutes of World Vision announcing that it was reversing its decision, the calls stopped and, according to Stearns, “the bleeding stopped.”"
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:22 AM on April 5 [8 favorites]


Bet you won't hear conservatives calling those people fascists.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:42 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


The blatant hypocrisy is pretty funny. Conservatives found it wrong for OKC and end users to boycott Mozilla when their bigot was in charge, and now that their bigot was removed, it's suddenly okay to boycott Mozilla again. Talk about bad faith.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:45 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


Kentucky Baptists forced 17-year leader of Sunrise Children's Services to resign over proposal to allow gay employees and volunteers.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:01 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with some people?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:18 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


I thought Prop 8 annulled marriages rather than dissolving them via divorce.

Oh, that's all right then. What were we talking about before? Let's get back to that, because this whole issue has been sorted out.
posted by chimaera at 10:51 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


OKC is signalling a stance, they're not fixing the world's problems. You're engaging with their statement in a manner that is very, very distant from the reasons why they made it.

I understand they're "signally" a stance. I understand they're not fixing the world problems, that's unfathomably obvious and never implied. I am not engaging with their statement in a way that is "very, very" distaned from the reason why they made it. I understand the reason why they made it. I don't agree with the approach. I think it's heavy handed, hypocritical, inconsiderate, irresponsible, and absurd.

Is that moral characteristic something we should expect from business leaders?

Unfortunately so. He is like many others in the business world. When we have top "business leaders" from IT companies that touch many of our lives actively conspiring to fuck over the wages of their employees, moral characteristics are sadly lacking when all that matters, for the most part, is increasing the billions they have.

I can only hope that the tide turns in the States in attitudes toward capitalism, business, and politics. This is a small victory. Is it a significant one? I have no idea. I hope so, but given the state of things, I doubt it. The raw and open hatred for any type of "social" programs is not encouraging.

Right now, this is the time when decent people realize opposing gay marriage is an unacceptable denial of civil rights.

Indeed, and it's increasingly the case. That some people can't seem to see this is truly astounding and lot of people on the far Right are making horrible statements every day but still managed to get elected. It's disturbing. Outright hateful statements with a smile.

It is idiotic to compare the two.

The comparison to McCarthyism is to one aspect of it, which people are not idiotic to fear as a possibility. The fear of righteousness I suppose

Oh, waa, waa, waa! Won't someone please think of the poor bigots, so unfairly discriminated against!

Fortunately not a single person is saying that in this thread. Did you post to the wrong one by mistake?

This is not a good faith effort to read and understand what people are saying.

Agreed. The way these things go these days unfortunately.

What the hell is wrong with some people?

Some people love to be righteous and accuse others of bad faith while all along not holding themselves to the same standard.
posted by juiceCake at 10:58 AM on April 5


In Gay Rights Fights, Bullies Love to Play the Victim

"Perhaps those conservatives bemoaning the fate of Eich will take a moment to consider the gay men and women, and those who are transgendered, who have lost jobs or been discriminated against because of their sexuality and sexual identity in the workplace. There is an almost laughable irony observing their defense of Eich’s homophobia, set against the inability of our policymakers to pass ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, into law.

After years of discriminating against gay people, after turning a blind eye to the violence inflicted upon them, to the inequality foisted upon them; after doing all they could to ensure all those bulwarks of prejudice remained firmly in place, the conservative right wing has decided the only remaining course of action is to play the victim."
posted by VikingSword at 11:29 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


chimaera: "Oh, that's all right then. What were we talking about before? Let's get back to that, because this whole issue has been sorted out."

I get the feeling you are mocking my question as a derail or something but I can't figure out exactly how. At any rate my question was just a question in search of enlightenment not a snarky attempt to defend, dismiss, minimise or impugn either side.

Maybe restatement will help: Was the initial effect of Prop 8 passing on legally married couples to annul existing marriages or to create forced divorces? IE: were the marriages dissolved via divorce or did they legally never exist?
posted by Mitheral at 11:43 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


To the couple involved, _it doesn't fucking matter_. Their marriage has been obliterated by the malice of other people. What is wrong with you that you think it would make a difference?
posted by tavella at 11:49 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


The two—divorce and annulment—are separate legal concepts. He simply asked which was at play in Prop 8. If the distinction offends you, then maybe take a walk and count to ten.

I'd answer, but I don't know. Knowing what I do about family law, my guess would be that if existing marriages weren't grandfathered, then they must have been annulled. But I'm not licensed in California and didn't follow that issue very closely.
posted by cribcage at 12:02 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


According to the wikipedia page on prop 8, the 1,800 existing marriages were recognized as legitimate post facto--grandfathered, basically.
posted by fatbird at 12:09 PM on April 5


Divorce and Annulment are indeed separate legal concepts. However, forgive me of my uncharitable interpretation of your comment, Mitheral. The sense I got was that you were splitting hairs, as though an annulment, being different from divorce, was somehow less damaging to any couple whose marriage is dissolved involuntarily -- whether via annulment or via divorce, my contention in snarky tones, is absolutely irrelevant to the couples in question.

I did not get a sense that it was a good faith question about the distinction between them, I read it as a "but oh-ho! you're wrong, we're talking about annulment, which is totally different." I reacted from that angle. As I say, it was uncharitable, but I also would encourage Mitheral in the future to disclaim questions that skirt distinction-without-a-difference questions as purely that rather than allowing others to misconstrue it as a cheap attempt at a rhetorical gotcha.
posted by chimaera at 12:59 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


As someone whose 2004 San Francisco gay marriage was annulled (because the courts said that SF's mayor did not have the legal authority to declare same-sex marriage legal), I can attest that it felt really shitty to get a letter from the state saying nope, sorry, you're not married and never were, legally speaking. In case anyone was wondering if it did actually feel shitty.
posted by rtha at 2:13 PM on April 5 [8 favorites]


Glenn Beck: gay activists groups "are becoming nothing but a terrorist organization". (Beck is also wearing a baseball cap indoors and is confused about the words "gay", "homosexual", and "queer".)
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on April 5


I've been following Josh Marshall on his website Talking Points Memo for years now, and I'm glad to see that he is damned near pitch-perfect on this subject, though he came to it rather late.

When I add a commentator to my usual rotation of blogs it's because I want my own opinions bolstered or tested by the analysis of someone wiser and more learned than myself; by someone, in other words, who represents the better angels of my nature. If I ever suspect otherwise, I am quick to remove the offender from the rotation.

Kos and his website, for example, lost his place after a disgusting (and completely unnecessary) post in 2008 in which he picked a fight with John McCain's teeth.

Although I was long impressed with Andrew Sullivan, and particularly the "It's So Personal" series he ran on abortion a few years ago, I dropped him from my blog roll for his melodramatic reaction to the first presidential debate of 2012 (which Obama memorably whiffed), even though my own reaction had been similar. In that circumstance I needed someone to talk me down from the ledge, rather than give me company on it.

I was still disappointed, however, by his reaction to the Eich matter.
posted by The Confessor at 4:01 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


chimaera: "The sense I got was that you were splitting hairs, as though an annulment, being different from divorce, was somehow less damaging to any couple whose marriage is dissolved involuntarily -- whether via annulment or via divorce, my contention in snarky tones, is absolutely irrelevant to the couples in question. "

Ah, I see what you were getting at. Same sex marriage has been legal for a while in my country (Canada - my very first Metafilter post was cheering the official legalization here Holy crap that post phrasing was in chatfiltery GTOBFW territory) and sometimes I miss the undercurrents of meaning and implication. It wasn't my intention to minimize the effect by implying annulment was a lesser evil. IMO opinion there are a lot of ways annulment in this situation is worse than divorce. It's like a orwellian unpersonning rewrite of history.

At the root of it I guess I was just wondering how the legal entanglements fell out. IE: if it was divorce how were issues like spousal support hashed out? If annulment how was joint property handled and what was the effect on back taxes now that the marriage never happened and presumably joint filings were now officially incorrect? If annulled and one or both parties changed their names was the name change still in force or did that get rolled back too? If prop 8 resulted in annulments but a couple had previously been divorced what was the effect of that on the divorce agreement? And then when Prop 8 was reversed would those people move directly from being single to being divorced. Usually an annulment requires both parties to at least acquiesce to the annulment and one or both to actively seek it. I can't think of another time when it was forced on happily married folks. I mean $Deity on a rubber crutch it must have been a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
posted by Mitheral at 5:14 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


It looks to me that Eich's action (donating) affected many thousands of people, whereas the public reaction (chewing his ass out/calling for dismissal) affected just one person.

It looks to me that when it comes to consequences suffered by Eich vs. gays who expect equal marriage rights, it's thousands to one in terms of harm, with Eich still getting off easy, compared to, for just one of many examples, a gay partner being emotionally and bigotedly destroyed by disgusting deathbed discrimination.

I think it was inappropriate for the board to promote Eich, and inappropriate for Eich to agree. It's the year twenty-fourteen, in what we would like to call a mature civilized and modern society. We don't take to leaders who disrespect personal autonomy, especially at such a fundamental level of self-identity and coupling love.

It shocks the hell out of me, age fiftyish, how much progress we (my Euro/American society) have made over my lifetime. I am thrilled that we see it happening at corporate scale. I like that Mozilla is better than that, ditto Honey Maid graham crackers, and OKC and others. Hefty-sized economic units of business, through the hefty-sized stockholders (employees, owners/executives, shareholders, and consumers) decisions, are standing up for progressive values.

It gives me hope. We can and have shifted toward the better.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Mozilla's Gay-Marriage Litmus Test Violates Liberal Values, from The Atlantic
posted by Blasdelb at 1:31 AM on April 6


Somehow I don't think people would be making that garbage argument if, instead of donating to forbid gay marriage, he had donated to the KKK or a neo-nazi group. The "this will harm discourse!" crap is predicated on the assumption that donating money to forbid basic civil rights to gay people is no big deal and is akin to disagreeing about whether the top marginal tax rate should be 34% or 39% rather than being rank bigotry.

You know what? Some political discourse should be chilled. If you hate Jews? Fuck off. If you think black people are inferior? Go away. If you think gay people should be denied civil rights? I no longer have time for you and you should be hounded out of any sort of position of authority.

What I think really chills the political landscape is the constant need to pretend that bigotry is not bigotry, that being stupidly anti-science is not being stupidly anti-science, and that being racist is not being racist. So I don't think I will do that any more. If you oppose gay marriage you may be a perfectly nice person. You're also a bigot and if that hurts your feelings, well, cry me a river.
posted by Justinian at 3:22 AM on April 6 [17 favorites]


Once again writing op-eds and refusing to use a product are conflated with helping pass a law forcing the unequal treatment of gay people by the government. What an anti-libertarian stance.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:36 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Frank Bruni: The New Gay Orthodoxy
posted by BobbyVan at 7:50 AM on April 6


Don't forget.. terrorism. We're terrorists. Why, just today I had a lazy terrorist morning with my terrorist partner in our terrorist house.
posted by Nelson at 7:55 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


It's pretty fucked up that gay people are being blamed for Eich's behavior. And it's pretty fucked up that certain people link to that garbage as if that viewpoint is legitimate. Next up in the media: Jews To Blame For Holocaust! Local Woman Shouldn't Have Worn That Dress!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:03 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


[Maybe we can do this without the rape and Holocaust analogies?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:27 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Discussions on deciding on people's status as human beings as just differences of a harmless opinion has some important historical context, but I am hoping we can also do this topic without blaming Eich's victims.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I guess when Business Insider made Pax Dickinson resign after a lot of people got angry that they hired this guy as their CTO who seemed to like being publicly and obnoxiously misogynist, those angry people were...terrorists? Bad liberals? Or was that different for reasons?
posted by rtha at 9:04 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Mozilla's FAQ on CEO resignation.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:10 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Wow that FAQ sounds pretty defensive, like they're worried about all the "omg you liberal fascists" criticism. I can't exactly blame the organization, they really don't need this kind of attention. But they make it sound like Eich just resigned of his own accord and it was all kind of sad and confusing and let's just move on now.
posted by Nelson at 11:58 AM on April 6


“…and it was all kind of sad and confusing and let's just move on now.”

Yeah, that's pretty much what we're feeling now. It's been a long two weeks. On Friday I went out drinking with some of the other remote Mozilla employees from around the Seattle area (including one new colleague whose first day at Mozilla was the same day Brendan was named CEO). Everyone was a bit shell-shocked. And it's not over.

There are important issues here (both marriage equality itself, and the question of how much ideology or morality should qualify one for leadership positions), but we're not sure how long we can survive at the flashpoint. In this climate, no matter what we do next, half the world is going to project their worst fears onto our actions, making us out as betrayers of civil rights or freedom of association or both. We may have brought this fate on ourselves, but eventually these issues needs to move back to a bigger playing field than who is promoted from one c-suite position to another in one tech organization. And we'll need to select a new CEO again somehow and work on our core mission; the fight for marriage equality will continue regardless.

David Flanagan (Mozilla staff): The Tragedy of Mozilla
So, in the Tragedy of Mozilla, Brendan is our larger-than-life protagonist, Inventor of JavaScript, Hero of the Open Web. As in all tragedies, though, he has a tragic flaw that will be his undoing...
Mark Surman (Mozilla Foundation Executive Director): Mozilla is Human
Brendan’s biggest flaw, IMHO, was his inability to connect and empathize with people. I’ve seen and felt that over the years, finding Bredan brilliant, but distant. And you certainly saw it this past week, as many calm and reasonable people said “Brendan, I want you to lead Mozilla. But I also want you to feel my pain.” Brendan didn’t need to change his mind on Proposition 8 to get out of the crisis of the past week. He simply needed to project and communicate empathy.
Gerv Markham (Mozilla staff): Your ire is misdirected
If you jump to paint Mozilla in the colours of ‘the opposition’, that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the world will be poorer for it.
Michael Arrington: The Hypocrisy Of Sam Yagan & OkCupid
Sam Yagan is the co-founder of OkCupid and CEO of Match.com, OkCupid’s parent company... Sam Yagan made a $500 donation to U.S. Congressman Chris Cannon in 2004. Cannon has a special kind of hate for gays. The Human Rights Campaign gave him a 0% rating on supporting gay rights. He voted no on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for a ban on gay adoptions. And he supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as man/woman only.
MeFi's own John Scalzi: Brandon Eich and Mozilla
My understanding (which may be incorrect) was that he was initially reluctant to be considered as a CEO candidate. If that’s the case he probably wishes that he had followed that first impulse, as then he would still be CTO of Mozilla and any controversy about his 2008 donation regarding that position (as there was, by all indication) already baked in and dealt with.
On a different note: I know that Brendan truly loved and believed in Mozilla. It was his life work. Stepping down was a personal sacrifice he chose in order to leave Mozilla better equipped to continue. Whatever else I feel, I am incredibly moved by that choice.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:22 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]


Gerv Markham (Mozilla staff): Your ire is misdirected

[Y]our anger is best directed at those outside Mozilla who made his position untenable. The press that twist and sensationalize without investigation, social media which magnifies and over-simplifies without consideration, and those who rush to judgement without understanding. I’m not going to name names or organizations.

Mozilla staff will not fix this problem by going on the Internet and using the media to blame and shame Eich's victims.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


From the Tragedy of Mozilla link:

Mozilla would have sorted this out satisfactorily if it hadn’t been sensationalized by the media and turned into an internet witch hunt.

I'm curious about that. What does he suppose that satisfactory resolution would have been?

I mean, the tone of the article kind of implies a wish for Eich to have stuck around as a CEO, and for those silly easily-offended whining-about-removal-of-civil-rights gays to suck it up and be quiet.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 9:47 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes, we get it, tech pundits. The fault is with everyone who calls out the oppressors, not with the the ones who oppress.

I remember much the same bullshit back when a woman spoke out about some creepy fuck who propositioned her in an elevator at 2AM. Ooh, it was all her fault, the frigid bitch! because guys in the tech industry are never at fault.

Jackasses.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


While I think it's good that this has ended in a way that sees Mozilla free to move on, I am unsure they will find another CEO as suited as Eich. It may well be that people's drive for ideological purity in one area will directly harm the company in ways more directly related to their purpose.

There are axes of justice apart from sexual politics, and nearly all of us are, or will someday be, found wanting in some way or other. Things we find obvious may not be universally so, and a visible failure to recognize this will be seized upon by our enemies, the right-wingers who claim we're intolerant ourselves.

In any event, mbrubeck's link to the post on Sam Yagan is interesting.
posted by JHarris at 12:49 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


There are axes of justice apart from sexual politics, and nearly all of us are, or will someday be, found wanting in some way or other.

That's nice and comforting, but the reality is and will remain that Eich actively worked to attempt to deny LGBT people equal rights, through his sponsorship of prop 8, which is a far cry from, you know, making the odd bigoted remark.

As Lawyers, Guns and Money put it:
Material support for an initiative may be construed as speech, but it’s much much more than that: it’s a direct attempt to use the coercive power of the state to remove other people’s rights. This distinction matters, it seems to me, when determining how we think about the speech/action boundary.

Second, he gave material support to a campaign whose central strategy was to dishonestly and maliciously promote the idea that LGBT people living their lives openly and as full citizens constituted nothing less than a clear and present danger to the welfare of children.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:00 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


it’s a direct attempt to use the coercive power of the state to remove other people’s rights.

Isn't, you know, voting an even more "direct attempt to use the coercive power of the state"?
posted by BobbyVan at 5:03 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


No?
posted by MartinWisse at 5:18 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


One person can only cast one vote, regardless of their wealth. How many congressional races and TV ads can someone with a lot of money buy? A lot. Especially these days.

Still wondering if anyone who thinks that Eich shouldn't have had to resign think Dickinson shouldn't have had to, either.
posted by rtha at 5:40 AM on April 7


You know what I think, mbrubek? I think that people at Mozilla should stop complaining about how other people don't realize that their mission is more important than people's fundamental civil rights, back off, and instead spend some time trying to get word out about exactly what your mission is. Because if anything has become clear from this episode, it's that people at Mozilla are very righteous about their important mission, and 99.9% of the general browser-using public has no clue what your mission is. And saying "our mission is bigger than any one stupid human rights issue" is probably going to ring hollow to a lot of people anyway, but it rings a lot more hollow when people aren't invested in (or don't even know about) the cause that you think is so important. So maybe quit it with the whining and focus on doing a better job educating the public about what you do and why it matters? It seems like it would be less divisive and a better use of your time and resources than harping about how the mean people won't shut up about Prop 8.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:18 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


I agree.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:53 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


Isn't, you know, voting an even more "direct attempt to use the coercive power of the state"?

Depends how you vote.
posted by Dysk at 8:00 AM on April 7


Indeed.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:01 AM on April 7


When you're being out-tolerated by the frickin' Catholics, you need to reconsider some of your life choices., a sort of "protest" OKCupid profile.
posted by artlung at 9:05 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Yes, the gays are always to blame! First, they have the gall to want legal rights, then complain when someone takes them away! When will the gay cabal just leave those poor, oppressed Catholics alone!?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Do you think they'd hire him to run the hospital?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:12 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Given the recent, well-publicized episodes of gay employees being fired from Catholic institutions when the institutions found out they'd married their partners, I think it's a bit over-the-top to claim that anyone is being out-tolerated by the Catholics. Tell that to Mark Zmuda.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:45 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


"Given the recent, well-publicized episodes of gay employees being fired from Catholic institutions when the institutions found out they'd married their partners, I think it's a bit over-the-top to claim that anyone is being out-tolerated by the Catholics. Tell that to Mark Zmuda."
I'm going to gently suggest that if you're taking you're moral cues from bigots, and specifically them being bigoted, you're probably doing it wrong. Its almost as if political and religious discrimination in employment is wrong and these are battles we should be fighting somewhere other than in the livelihoods of people selected at random by the internet.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:28 AM on April 7


I'm going to gently suggest that if you're taking you're moral cues from bigots, and specifically them being bigoted, you're probably doing it wrong.
I'm going to gently suggest that not all of us live in a moral universe where being a homophobe is morally equivalent to being gay. We are trying to converse across a very large moral chasm, and I don't think it's bridgeable.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:33 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Of course having nebulously undefined homophobic ideas is not equivalent to being gay but its also not a condition that should bar someone with a clear stated commitment to honoring and supporting diversity in sexual orientation in their workplace from employment. There are better ways to fight these battles than this bloodsport.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:52 AM on April 7


He wasn't "barred" from employment. He was "barred" from running the organization. He'd been a high-level employee there for almost two years after revelation of his anti-gay sentiments.

("Barred" here meaning voluntarily resigned after an outcry)
posted by dirigibleman at 11:00 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


nebulously undefined homophobic ideas

In contrast, Eich had very well defined homophobic ideas - at the very least, he didn't think gay people should have as fundamental a civil right as marriage, and if they somehow got one after decades and decades and decades of vicious discrimination, well, he'll do anything to take that right away. And did. He helped finance a massive campaign of lies so shameful, and so injurious to gay people, that their rights were indeed taken away, with terrible consequences.

This unrepentant homophobe can state whatever it is that he states, but having directly injured gay people in California, and still thinking he was in the right, is incompatible with being a leader of gay employees for the simple reason it that they manifestly don't trust him. Many resigned and protested. It was simply not possible for him to proceed as CEO. Nor could he be the face of Mozilla in the community a significant part of which sees him for the bigot that he is, and is not shy about boycotting.

This made his position as CEO untenable. It doesn't bar him from employment, it prevents him from leading many of his gay employees effectively. Just as an open anti-Semite who directly injured Jews would not be a leader Jewish employees would accept.

It is not bloodsport to protest the appointment of this person to such a position. Unless a gay person - who has perhaps been personally affected by prop 8 - daring to protest this travesty, now counts as someone who engages in bloodsport for the mere fact of voicing his/her dismay.
posted by VikingSword at 11:08 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


Its almost as if political and religious discrimination in employment is wrong

Of course having nebulously undefined homophobic ideas is not equivalent to being gay but its also not a condition that should bar someone with a clear stated commitment to honoring and supporting diversity in sexual orientation in their workplace from employment.

He was not subject to employment discrimination, and he did not have nebulously undefined homophobic ideas. He publicly supported a campaign that sought to remove one of the fundamental civil rights of humanity from a segment of the population, and when he became CEO of an organization that includes many, many people FROM that segment, it caused enough of an outcry that he voluntarily chose to resign. No blood has been shed.

What would have been "fair" in this case, Blasdelb? All the people who were bothered just keep their mouths shut? Because literally that is the only action that's been taken, is people saying out loud "This bugs me."
posted by KathrynT at 11:22 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


There are better ways to fight these battles than this bloodsport.

Like what. Exactly. What should people not have done? Should they not have gone on twitter or fb or wherever else to say that they disagreed? What should they not have said. I am asking you for specifics, and I hope you will offer them, and I also hope you will stop minimizing what it was he did (nebulously defined? COME ON). You keep doing that. It's dishonest and you are someone from whom I really do not expect that kind of thing, so it really weirds me out. You talk like he didn't really do anything, you talk like everyone who was angry at his appointment was literally out with pitchforks, and you talk like he was *entitled* to the job. I don't get it.
posted by rtha at 11:32 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


I'm going to gently suggest that if you're taking you're moral cues from bigots, and specifically them being bigoted, you're probably doing it wrong.

If you're going to quote people who suggest there is a gay conspiracy to take people's jobs away, despite all the evidence that suggests Eich lost himself his job, you need to ask yourself if you are basically putting yourself in the same camp of people who believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Even if that crap gets published in a legitimate news outlet, that doesn't make that kind of conspiracy-based bigotry any less odious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


He didn't even lose himself his job. He didn't lose it at all -- he gave it up voluntarily.
posted by KathrynT at 11:35 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I think the openly gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni (linked above) had a fair-minded take on this.
Increasingly, opposition to gay marriage is being equated with racism — as indefensible, un-American. “What was once a wedge issue became wrapped in the American flag,” said Jo Becker, a Times writer whose sweeping history of the marriage-equality movement, “Forcing the Spring,” will be published this month. Becker mentioned what she called a rebranding of the movement over the last five years, with two important components. First, gay marriage was framed in terms of family values. Second, advocates didn’t shame opponents and instead made sympathetic public acknowledgment of the journey that many Americans needed to complete in order to be comfortable with marriage equality.

There was no such acknowledgment from Mozilla employees and others who took to Twitter to condemn Eich and call for his head. Writing about that wrath in his blog, The Dish, Andrew Sullivan said that it disgusted him, “as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society.” A leading supporter of gay marriage, Sullivan warned other supporters not to practice “a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else.”

I can’t get quite as worked up as he did. For one thing, prominent gay rights groups weren’t part of the Mozilla fray. For another, Mozilla isn’t the first company to make leadership decisions (or reconsiderations) with an eye toward the boss’s cultural mind-meld with the people below him or her. And if you believe that to deny a class of people the right to marry is to deem them less worthy, it’s indeed difficult to chalk up opposition to marriage equality as just another difference of opinion.

But it’s vital to remember how very recently so many of equality’s promoters, like Obama and Clinton, have come around and how relatively new this conversation remains. It’s crucial not to lose sight of how well the movement has been served by the less judgmental posture that Becker pointed out.

Sullivan is right to raise concerns about the public flogging of someone like Eich. Such vilification won’t accelerate the timetable of victory, which is certain. And it doesn’t reflect well on the victors.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:37 AM on April 7


Of course having nebulously undefined homophobic ideas is not equivalent to being gay but its also not a condition that should bar someone with a clear stated commitment to honoring and supporting diversity in sexual orientation in their workplace from employment.

Bullshit talks, money walks. You can't have a commitment to "honoring and supporting diversity in sexual orientation" if you've spent your money attempting to deny gay people civil rights.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:41 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I don't give it a shit if it reflects well on me (I guess I'm the victor in this scenario?) or not. Eich has had years in which to change his mind, something other people have managed to do, and he has not. That is his prerogative, and it is not without consequences. He doesn't get cookies for having had a bigoted opinion in 2008 like lots of other people did AND STILL continuing to hold it. Tough shit for him.

I read Bruni's column yesterday and it's still making me roll my eyes. Good for him for not getting as worked up as Sullivan, I guess, but that's not a very high bar in this instance.
posted by rtha at 11:41 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan is probably not a good source to quote on matters of civil liberties.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Andrew "all liberals are traitors" Sullivan? Gee.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:46 AM on April 7


Bruni perpetuates the false equivalence between Obama's positions and Eich. I already wrote a comment about it, so I won't repeat it, but it's disappointing to see a columnist of national prominence resort to such shabby and lazy comparisons.

And really, he has no other argument than to say "Obama". No acknowledgment, that rather than being a man who sadly did not rise above the prejudices of his time, Eich in fact is a reactionary radical, fighting to remove civil rights already won, as prop. 8 took away rights that already existed. Taking Obama at his word, he "evolved" at roughly the speed of the general population, and certainly never took any measures to actually impeded the progress for gay people, let alone drag back the cause.

And speaking of how this reflects on the "victors". So, ENDA has been passed? I had no idea! Time to celebrate for all the "victors"! Oh, it hasn't? Well in that case, I'm certain that all the right wingers who are so concerned about Eich's non-existent right to a CEO position regardless of qualifications (like, being an effective leader of his employees and a face of the company), right wingers who are so concerned about people's right to not be discriminated against in the workplace, they'll pass ENDA lickety split, right? Right?
posted by VikingSword at 11:53 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


The same conservatives whose energies were engaged wholly for McCarthyism

I think those conservatives are dead or dying. Modern conservatives are rarely enamored of McCarthy.
posted by corb at 12:42 PM on April 7


Modern conservatives are rarely enamored of McCarthy.

How rarely? Super popular conservative best selling author Ann Coulter rare?

MCCARTHYISM: THE ROSETTA STONE OF LIBERAL LIES

Not from my reading. They rarely talk about him, but when I see conservatives engaged in a historical analysis of McCarthy, it's to defend him:

Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies - M. Stanton Evans

I'd invert it. Modern conservatives are rarely critical of McCarthy - and when they are, it's done for rhetorical reasons, to attack liberals as the 'real' McCarthyites.
posted by VikingSword at 12:57 PM on April 7 [6 favorites]


The only one to blame for Eich's downfall is Eich himself. Eich "lost" his job because he did something regrettable in the eyes of his constituents, yet conspicuously refused to show genuine regret for that action.

And he didn't really have to do much. It would have been enough if he had decoupled his comprehension of the civil institution of marriage from the Catholic sacrament of the same name, and merely apologized for the pain he caused by trying to impose his beliefs on the civil institution. That is a strategy many, many people of both faith and conscience have employed, and it's a durable one.

Do you know that a pastor can legally refuse to marry a couple for any reason? Yes, even today, fifty years after the heyday of the civil rights movement, a pastor can refuse to marry an interracial couple with legal penalty -- although there would surely be a societal penalty. The point is that nobody (at least nobody with any influence) is saying that ministers or churches should be forced to perform same sex marriages.

Brendan Eich had plenty of room to maneuver but for some reason he refused to do so, and in so (not) doing he sabotaged himself. Whether you're in favor or opposed to the firestorm that followed his appointment, I think it's clear that in light of how he handled it, his first crisis as CEO, it was probably for the best that it was also his last.

---

I'm curious about a few specifics of the Eich selection, not for any activist reason but merely to satisfy my own curiosity.

This New York Times article is the most detailed telling I've seen, but even it doesn't delve sufficiently into the details.

The impression that I got was that the CEO was appointed by the board.

1. Was it the product of a majority vote? What were the procedures in event of a tie?

2. How many board members participated in the critical vote?

If it was only two, as one might interpret from the article, then the selection of a CEO at that time seems like an exceedingly rash act, bordering on illegitimate. Shouldn't the rules of governance mandate a quorum for such decisions? If Eich was truly chosen by a board of two, then it's almost fitting that a board so broken would produce a broken CEO.
posted by The Confessor at 1:32 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


I believe there were five people on the board at the time, and only one (John Lilly) has stated any opposition to Eich's appointment. The three directors who left (including Lilly) did so right after the decision was made (and immediately before it was announced). Official Mozilla statement:
Gary Kovacs and Ellen Siminoff had previously stated they had plans to leave as soon as Mozilla chose the next CEO. John Lilly did not resign over Proposition 8 or any concerns about Brendan’s personal beliefs.
The Wall Street Journal cited an anonymous source as saying Kovacs and Siminoff also left due to opposition to Eich, but Mozilla denied this and as far as I know the WSJ's source was simply incorrect.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:55 PM on April 7


That's nice and comforting,

No, it's not. The fact that we're all ethnically questionable, to some view, should drive us all to do better.

which is a far cry from, you know, making the odd bigoted remark.

It's bad, but giving $1K to prop 8 is a different kind of act from saying something aloud about gays. They're both bad, but have different consequences, they don't fit on the same continuum. And anyway, my sole interest about it has to do with the damage this might do to Mozilla's continued survival.

In contrast, Eich had very well defined homophobic ideas - at the very least, he didn't think gay people should have as fundamental a civil right as marriage

Well, people do things for various reasons, and sometimes the thing that pushes one to act isn't really that certain to them anyway. To a rich man, after all, $1K probably doesn't even seem like that much money.

I think those conservatives are dead or dying. Modern conservatives are rarely enamored of McCarthy.

VikingSword took this down very well, but it wasn't that many years ago (seven, according to Amazon) that P.J. O'Rourke wrote a book that argued we need a new Red Scare.
posted by JHarris at 2:05 PM on April 7


BobbyVan: I think the openly gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni (linked above) had a fair-minded take on this.

Bruni's comments are indeed fair-minded, but neither he nor Sully has a monopoly on the truth about what tactics work best to move public policy toward disadvantaged groups in the right direction. They may prefer the "rebranding" approach where the gay community calls in Bizarro Frank Luntz to frame the issue in ways that appeal to persuadable voters, but unless they can cite data showing that a social justice movement has ever been set back by more direct and forceful action, they have no right to dismiss the movement to oust Eich as counterproductive.

There are times to be nice and sit down at the table with your opponents and talk about the issue in utilitarian terms, and there are times to flip the table over and demand justice using much stronger language. Bruni and Sullivan both deserve to have their voices heard loudly in this debate, and they have, but others have the right to believe that a company headquartered in California would be better represented by someone who didn't vote to deny California residents equal treatment under the law.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:11 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


VikingSword took this down very well, but it wasn't that many years ago (seven, according to Amazon) that P.J. O'Rourke wrote a book that argued we need a new Red Scare.

That'd be the Kindle date for a book that came out in 1996 that is based on an article that came out in 1989. (And the book is not actually arguing for a new Red Scare.)
posted by Jahaza at 2:17 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


How do you know they're losing? Because their arguments are so very poorly made and poorly reasoned. It's like when gay marriage opponents in a legal setting had to come up with arguments in front of judges, proving the harm that would come from gay marriage - the arguments were so few, and so bad, the untenable nature of their position was exposed for the whole world to see, in excruciating detail.

And so it is now. Those who are incensed that Eich resigned and gay people dared to speak out, make their arguments in op ed pieces all over the press. I like to read them, because I think you should always listen to your opponents, so you can provide your own position with more context. Now, I don't mean just random blithering by illiterates on random blogs, but op eds in major media outlets. Such, as f.ex. The Los Angeles Times and this op ed [use privacy settings in your browser]:

Gay rights 'anti-bullying' activists: The biggest bullies of them all

This is your opposition (don't avoid the thrilling comments!). Isn't it heartening? I suppose the enemies of America felt the same way when G.W.Bush was re-elected - "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake" - how incredibly delighted must our enemies have felt that we re-elected a leader who marched us into such an economic, foreign policy and societal disaster.

This is the best they got. Far from shouting them down, I think we should highlight their views and arguments for all to see. When their arguments are so bad, that we don't feel the least need to meet them, and instead can defeat them by the mere act of quoting their words verbatim, changing nothing, well, digging your own grave never looked so picaresque: at this point, you don't see the digger, you just see dirt flying furiously from inside a deep hole. Let us hear more - they've brought their own shovels, all we need to do is watch.
posted by VikingSword at 3:52 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Michael Hiltzik again, with a few reminders [LATimes link, use privacy settings in browser]:

A reminder that the Prop 8 campaign Brendan Eich supported was odious

"It's proper to revisit that campaign, which established a new standard for odious political advertising. That's a real achievement, given the deceitful nature of most of the TV campaigns for and against California ballot propositions."

"As Stern observes, "The campaign’s strategy was to debase gay families as deviant and unhealthy while insinuating that gay people are engaged in a full-scale campaign to convert children to their cause."
This is the campaign to which Eich contributed. It's proper to note that his two donations of $500 each came on Oct. 25 and 28, days before the Nov. 4 vote and well after the style of the TV campaign was established.
" [emph. mine, VS]

Eich knew exactly what he was doing, he saw the ads, and he decided to reach into his pocket after seeing those ads - nothing "nebulous" about that.
posted by VikingSword at 4:59 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]


Mother Jones: OkCupid's CEO Donated to an Anti-Gay Campaign Once, Too
posted by BobbyVan at 7:14 PM on April 7


The MoJo headline is misleading; he donated to an anti-gay candidate's campaign, not an anti-gay proposition campaign. The candidate in question may be a shitstain for other reasons, but the issue is more muddled than Prop 8. (Speaking of shitstain, the source for that article is Mike Arrington, who apparently doesn't like OkCupid.)
posted by Nelson at 7:38 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


That's a misleading headline. OkCupid's CEO Sam Yagan donated to a candidate in 2004. That candidate had a poor record when it comes to gay rights. I don't know how heavily that candidate campaigned on anti-gay legislation and how much Sam Yagan based his decision on that, if at all. Of course, now that the information is out there I would like to hear him comment on it.
posted by Green With You at 7:42 PM on April 7


Mother Jones: OkCupid's CEO Donated to an Anti-Gay Campaign Once, Too

Not just the headline - everything is misleading about this. First and foremost, contributing to a politician or political party is not proof of agreeing with all the views and the entire platform. It's the same argument as was attempted upthread to equate contributing to the Communist Party to being a revolution-fomenting Stalinist.

How do we know contributing to a politician or party that's among other things also homophobic is not the same as advocating a very specific homophobic policy?

Well, because even gay people have a range of political allegiances - today most support Democrats, but that's based on the palpable and open homophobia of the GOP. Otherwise, gay people are exactly like straight people in the range of their political views.

Exhibit A: Log Cabin Republicans. These are gay people who vote for the GOP, homophobic as that party is, because they agree with other aspects of the GOP platform. Yet they too, are opposed to the homophobic attempt to ban gay marriage - quite the opposite, they have laudably fought the legal fight and been at the forefront of it.

You can conclude nothing from support of a politician or party even a homophobic party - a gay person might support them at the same time opposing homophobia. You can only conclude one thing when someone supports and pays for a campaign to pass a law with only one objective: depriving people of their civil rights. Not the same thing at all, at all.

So this comparison is simply wrong. That dog won't hunt.

Next!
posted by VikingSword at 8:34 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


So the key thing to remember if you are a bigot is to maintain plausible deniability.
posted by Mitheral at 9:35 PM on April 7


Or to put it in short words: if you're a bigot, stfu.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 PM on April 7


So this comparison is simply wrong. That dog won't hunt.

Mic drop.

(╯°□°)╯ ==O
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:46 PM on April 7


There are times to be nice and sit down at the table with your opponents and talk about the issue in utilitarian terms, and there are times to flip the table over and demand justice using much stronger language.

And the point that both Sullivan and Bruni miss is that for the most part, the lgbt movement has been doing the latter in the struggle for equal marriage rights, by pursuing this in court where possible, by not keeping quiet about the issue, by linking funding of Democratic politicians with their support or opposition of equal marriage rights, by not just depending on the moral argument but getting down, dirty and political as the Sullivans of the world, profiting but never participating in these civil right struggles, stand on the sidelines and tut.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:57 PM on April 7


It's been amusing to watch libertarians tie themselves into rhetorical pretzels trying to explain why they're uncomfortable with the public pressure campaign against Eich:
First, the idea that “Americans are generous and good-hearted people who give every indication of being well-disposed toward letting their gay neighbors go about their private affairs with liberty and dignity” is a bizarre one. When cultural conservatives could summon the political power to do so, they legally forbade gay acts with anti-sodomy laws. These laws only came off the book because the Supreme Court eventually struck them down, much to the great and continued horror of cultural conservatives. From that loss, cultural conservatives — including Mozilla’s Brendan Eich — have basically used every tool in their toolbox to fight against gays, whether by defining the laws so as to prevent their marriages or using civil and market power to ostracize them. Americans are becoming more willing to allow gays to “go about their private affairs with liberty and dignity,” but that’s only because cultural conservatives who have never been willing to do that are losing.

Second, and more importantly, I suspected that those who parroted Williamson’s remarks here, and perhaps Williamson himself, didn’t actually believe what he was writing. When the question is whether we should pass laws to sanction anti-gay animus, it’s all well and good to say that we shouldn’t because market coercion (boycotts) and civil coercion (shunning) are much better instruments. This allows you to oppose the legal reforms while still maintaining that you are against anti-gay actions and that you have alternative mechanisms to deal with them.

But will you actually hold consistent in that view when people turn to using the market and civil channels that you said were better suited to the task? Should someone take you up on your suggestion that they use the surgical precision offered by the battlefield of civil society to make these reforms, will you actually be cool with that? It struck me at the time that the answer was almost certainly no: if you are a cultural conservative, you don’t think anybody should be sanctioned for their anti-gay attitudes and actions no matter where that sanction comes from.
So when it comes to taking away peoples' rights, coercive use of the state is A-OK, but anyone wanting to reclaim those rights using public shaming is a fascist.

(BTW, I would urge anyone clicking through to read Williamson's "Liberal Gulag" post to drink heavily before doing so.)
posted by tonycpsu at 7:49 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]


I find myself somewhat conflicted about all of this. On the one hand, I do support people being able to make their feelings heard about issues that matter to them, and vote with their purse. I don't blame people for publishing articles or letters or tweeting about the situation calling for the CEO's head. I also can't blame a business for acting in its best interests and encouraging the resignation of someone who was, all other matters aside, damaging their brand. In the end of things, I'm sure he received a generous severance package, and probably isn't hurting.

At the same time, though, I'm troubled by what I can only describe as the vitriolic glee that it seems some people are expressing. This is definitively not a witch-hunt - but I feel like some of the players in this issue would not be out of place there. It feels - and again, this may not be the intent, but it's how it reads to me - like the desire is there to hound all supporters of Prop 8 out of their jobs. Anyone who donated money - not just CEOs of major companies, whose appointment is somewhat political, but Joe Manager. All of the arguments stated here about the CEO would apply equally to Joe Manager - that he couldn't effectively lead people if, in his private life, he had donated money against them getting married. And that feels ugly, and wrong, and a very dangerous road to go down.

It also feels like a complete violation of the privacy of the ballot box. The very reason we have that privacy is because of fear of things like this - that someone's private political actions would lead to retaliation of some type. And yes, it can be argued that campaign donations aren't private, and they're certainly not - but the public access to campaign donations was never intended for scrutiny on the donator, but on the donatee - to ensure transparent campaign financing, to make sure that Susie Congresswoman wasn't performing favors to Bob Company President in exchange for the money he provided. Not to be used as a political litmus test for Bob.

I'll also point out, for those who aren't moved by those concerns, that this sort of thing never ends where you think it will end. If our Overton Window shifts such that hounding people out of their jobs based on political actions becomes considered reasonable, you might well see people being fired for donating to Planned Parenthood - or, as some pro-lifers might say, 'donating to murder babies'. We have no monopoly on righteous fervor, and whenever you're in a position where saying "Yeah, but I'm right and you're wrong, so it's different" is your only counter-argument, that's a bad place.
posted by corb at 7:59 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


corb: It feels - and again, this may not be the intent, but it's how it reads to me - like the desire is there to hound all supporters of Prop 8 out of their jobs.

Can we please deal with what people have actually done instead of what you feel they are intending to do?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:07 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Not to be used as a political litmus test for Bob.

Litmus Tests for anti-diversity bias for prospective leaders of diverse organizations in diverse communities are bad for exactly what reason? Because the feedback comes from their public political activities?
posted by mikelieman at 8:08 AM on April 8


To respond to tonycpsu's point* (since I failed to preview as I was typing): I think the seeming contradictions lie in the difference between the business and the individual. There is a difference between punishing with the power of the purse "a business exhibiting authentic malice toward homosexuals" and punishing with the power of the purse a business willing to hire people who exhibit personal malice in their private life. In the first case, it is the business itself that is at fault, and needs to be punished. In the second case, you're punishing a business for the political opinions and thoughts of its employees.

And when you're doing so, you're not doing so because you hope the business will change its business practices. You're doing so because you're hoping the business will fire the person in question. Now, this may not apply when it comes to high-up political employees like CEOs, but when it comes to smaller, mid-level employees, what you're actually suggesting is that they be hounded out of all employment on the basis of their political opinion. That your political enemies should starve and be subject to homelessness as a result of their feelings and principles. And that is nakedly ugly.

*That said, after reading Williamson's Liberal Gulag piece, I'm going to say he sounds like he's less principled and more just a dick.
posted by corb at 8:11 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


corb: In the second case, you're punishing a business for the political opinions and thoughts of its employees. .. Now, this may not apply when it comes to high-up political employees like CEOs, but when it comes to smaller, mid-level employees, what you're actually suggesting is that they be hounded out of all employment on the basis of their political opinion. That your political enemies should starve and be subject to homelessness as a result of their feelings and principles. And that is nakedly ugly.

In the only case that's happened outside of your vivid imagination, the "employee" in question was the CEO. Nobody has suggested using public pressure against "smaller, mid-level employees" and there is no reason to believe it will be.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:15 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


All of the arguments stated here about the CEO would apply equally to Joe Manager

Factually not the case at Mozilla, as Eich was a CTO before becoming CEO. The donations did not lead to him being removed or forced to resign from that earlier, and quite functionally different, role.

It also feels like a complete violation of the privacy of the ballot box.

Ballot boxes need privacy. The flow of money needs transparency and plenty of sunshine.

If our Overton Window shifts such that hounding people out of their jobs based on political actions becomes considered reasonable, you might well see people being fired for donating to Planned Parenthood - or, as some pro-lifers might say, 'donating to murder babies'.

If you're worried about it, then fight to make it a protected class. Otherwise you're not really solving the problem, if there is one.

CEOs, people at non-profits and small-team startups, the education world, everywhere, really, are vetted for cultural fit. And as has been stated before many times, CEOs have special duties that require different vetting than, say, CTOs.

For example, imagine you run a Christian, right-wing think tank. It's already the case that you won't be hired to even answer the freaking phones, much less to a leadership position, if you have made public your support of planned parenthood. Like, seriously and for real: your academic credentials could be perfect, your ideology could otherwise line up with the group's ideology, your experience and connections could be just what they need, but it wouldn't happen. Not in a million, billion years.

Your instincts are good, but they're being misapplied here.

Now, this may not apply when it comes to high-up political employees like CEOs, but when it comes to smaller, mid-level employees, what you're actually suggesting is that they be hounded out of all employment on the basis of their political opinion. That your political enemies should starve and be subject to homelessness as a result of their feelings and principles. And that is nakedly ugly.

Hasn't happend here, and I'd argue it isn't likely to happen. As was noted earlier in the thread by The Confessor:

I found that of 394 contributions made by Google employees, only twenty or so (or ~5%) were in support of Proposition 8. I Googled (ironic, no?) those twenty using a search query of the form "firstname lastname" "proposition 8" and discovered that, of that set, none were subject to blog posts, twitter storms, newspaper articles, or any discernible agitation resulting from their contribution.

Not coincidentally, it also appears that none of them were remotely as notable within Google as Brendan Eich was within Mozilla, let alone the wider tech community.

posted by jsturgill at 8:18 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


And when you're doing so, you're not doing so because you hope the business will change its business practices. You're doing so because you're hoping the business will fire the person in question.

Changing hiring decisions falls under changing business practices. It's not simply about firing the employee in question - this wasn't about Eich personally. Ff they replace him with another candidate with a big Prop 8 donation to his name, the issue won't exactly go away.

that he couldn't effectively lead people if, in his private life, he had donated money against them getting married.

It takes a pretty stretched definition of 'private life' to argue that actions to directly - and publicly - influence public policy fall within it. It's Eich's participation in public life that's at issue here.
posted by Dysk at 8:38 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Ff they replace him with another candidate with a big Prop 8 donation to his name, the issue won't exactly go away.

I think wholesale rejection of bigots as leaders is a good thing, and too long coming.
posted by mikelieman at 8:40 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


corb: I think the seeming contradictions lie in the difference between the business and the individual

I would be remiss if I didn't note the hypocrisy of so many conservatarians on this -- maybe not you, but many of the conservative pundits talking about Eich over the last week or so. So many of these same people want to blur this distinction by imbuing corporations with human rights such as having a religious conscience that they can force on their employees, but now suddenly want bright lines drawn between when a CEO is acting as an individual and when they're acting as the head of a corporation. Corporate personhood becomes not only a weapon that can be used to diminish the rights of others, but also a shield that can be used to deflect criticism, and taken off when it's too heavy.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:55 AM on April 8 [7 favorites]


My apologies: I saw some stuff upthread about how everyone at every level should be fired, but on second read, they were mostly from Blazecock Pileon and may not have been indicative of other views. VikingSword's comment seemed a bit ambiguous on whether low-level managers would also fall under this criteria, but he may not have intended it to apply to them.
posted by corb at 9:02 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


All of the arguments stated here about the CEO would apply equally to Joe Manager
Factually not the case at Mozilla, as Eich was a CTO before becoming CEO. The donations did not lead to him being removed or forced to resign from that earlier, and quite functionally different, role.


He's not saying that it was done before he's saying that the arguments for removing a CEO largely also apply to lower level leaders. If, as mikelieman writes above, you think "wholesale rejection of bigots as leaders is a good thing, and too long coming." It's hard to argue that leaders who aren't CEO's should be exempted.

In the only case that's happened outside of your vivid imagination, the "employee" in question was the CEO. Nobody has suggested using public pressure against "smaller, mid-level employees" and there is no reason to believe it will be.

First of all, this is not the only case.

Angela McCaskill was demoted at Gallaudet.

Public pressure leading to resignations was also brought against Richard Raddon at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Scott Eckern at California Musical Theater (where he was artistic director... I'm not sure if it was also the case back then, but currently their corporate structure has both a President/CEO and a COO above the artistic director).

Using public pressure against lower level employees is a logical consequence of the position of some in this thread, even if they haven't made it explicit.
posted by Jahaza at 9:03 AM on April 8


corb: "what you're actually suggesting is that they be hounded out of all employment on the basis of their political opinion. That your political enemies should starve and be subject to homelessness as a result of their feelings and principles"

This is so absurd that presumably you don't mean it, but bizarre hyperbole aside I want to point out that what's happening in these sentences is the whitewashing of explicit bigotry and explicit human and civil rights violations to be nothing more than "political opinion."

Justinian, above: "[This] crap is predicated on the assumption that donating money to forbid basic civil rights to gay people is no big deal and is akin to disagreeing about whether the top marginal tax rate should be 34% or 39% rather than being rank bigotry."

Trying to force a slippery slope construction solely on the basis of treating bigotry as a "political opinion" doesn't work, because bigotry and political opinions are not even on the same continent.

First, they came for my anti-gay animus and attempts to rob people of their rights, and I did not speak out!
Next, they came for my reasonable opinions about tying Social Security COLAs to the chained CPI, and I did not speak out!


That's not forboding, just nonsensical.

If instead you're trying to say that more anti-gay people stand to be ostracized, you're probably right. As it slowly became less and less okay to be a loud and politically active racist, loud and politically active racists were slowly ostracized. As it slowly becomes less and less okay to be a loud and politically active homophobe, loud and politically active homophobes will be ostracized. This includes having to be less overt with their bigotry in order to make themselves more employable. This is part of the process of society improving itself.
posted by Corinth at 9:12 AM on April 8 [5 favorites]


He's not saying that it was done before he's saying

(FYI, corb is female.)
posted by KathrynT at 9:47 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


He's not saying that it was done before he's saying that the arguments for removing a CEO largely also apply to lower level leaders. If, as mikelieman writes above, you think "wholesale rejection of bigots as leaders is a good thing, and too long coming." It's hard to argue that leaders who aren't CEO's should be exempted.

When Eich had a different leadership position, the ramifications of his donations were different. Many of the posts linked to here specify that CEO is special (the face of the company, etc.), and/or Mozilla is special (a non-profit with a focus on openness and inclusivity, etc.), and therefore this kind of scrutiny and reaction is warranted.

The vast majority of people who have commented on this have actually disclaimed their opinion with those or similar hedges. It's incorrect to say that "the arguments" apply to Joe Schmoe engineer, burger flipper, or data entry clerk. Perhaps some arguments put forward about Eich do. Most that I have read explicitly do not.
posted by jsturgill at 10:01 AM on April 8


My apologies: I saw some stuff upthread about how everyone at every level should be fired, but on second read, they were mostly from Blazecock Pileon

No. Would really appreciate it if you do not "quote" me saying "some stuff" I didn't say. Thank you, corb.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:08 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


[Folks, it's easy enough to link to the actual words that people are saying, please be careful with your paraphrasing.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:13 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


When Eich had a different leadership position, the ramifications of his donations were different. Many of the posts linked to here specify that CEO is special (the face of the company, etc.), and/or Mozilla is special (a non-profit with a focus on openness and inclusivity, etc.), and therefore this kind of scrutiny and reaction is warranted.

And many posts here and elsewhere don't specify that CEO is special (or that it is only special by degree and not by difference) or don't specify that Mozilla is special.

For instance, see MeghanC's post here (my emphasis):

If you're walking in with the mindset that some of your employees are inherently worth less and are less deserving of the others, I don't see a way that you can be an effective manager, let alone an effective CEO.
posted by Jahaza at 10:41 AM on April 8


Jahaza, do you think that unrepentant bigots can be effective managers?
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I look forward to the day when, for example, Catholic-run organizations like schools, orphanages and hospitals stop firing gay people for being gay. It would make the rank, stinking, right-wing hypocrisy about this subject much easier to swallow.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 AM on April 8 [6 favorites]


> At the same time, though, I'm troubled by what I can only describe as the vitriolic glee that it seems some people are expressing.

In case anyone wonders what a tone argument is, it's that right there.

> Jahaza, do you think that unrepentant bigots can be effective managers?

Yeah, that. As I mentioned above, Business Insider fired (or encouraged to resign? I forget) Pax Dickinson from being their CTO because of the misogynistic bullshit he gleefully spouted on twitter. Was that a terrible slippery slope that will inevitably lead to ... handwavey bad things? Or is misogynist bullshit not okay but homophobic bullshit is?
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]


I'll also point out, for those who aren't moved by those concerns, that this sort of thing never ends where you think it will end. If our Overton Window shifts such that hounding people out of their jobs based on political actions becomes considered reasonable, you might well see people being fired for donating to Planned Parenthood - or, as some pro-lifers might say, 'donating to murder babies'.

This of course already happens; people have been fired for having Obama bumper stickers. And that happened to people who didn't have the opportunity to resign or the money in the bank not to have to worry about doing so.

So if you're worried about the slippery slope, getting a CEO to resign is actually further up that slope.

We have no monopoly on righteous fervor, and whenever you're in a position where saying "Yeah, but I'm right and you're wrong, so it's different" is your only counter-argument, that's a bad place.

Yeah, this is always the last argument of those against any form of activism, the idea that you can actually decouple the means from the aims, that any method is bad or good no matter what cause it's used for. Of course there are always extreme cases you can point at, but the simple act of boycotting or refusing to work for somebody who has been actively bigoted towards gay people who now wants to run as the face of a company that prides itself on its diversity?

Not one of them.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:47 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]


Trying to force a slippery slope construction solely on the basis of treating bigotry as a "political opinion" doesn't work, because bigotry and political opinions are not even on the same continent.

The weird thing is you quoted me before this and I honestly can't tell if you're strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing with me.
posted by Justinian at 3:34 PM on April 8


Ironically, William Saletan has previously voiced his support for allowing religious business owners to discriminate against gay people. Oops! Beyond that, he's also written a defense of Mark Regnerus's infamous parenting study, and has even written an apologia for ex-gay "reparative" therapy.

Anyway, I don't know or care what his personal opinions about LGBT people actually are, but as far as I'm concerned he's been doing heavy lifting for bigots for years via his column. I'd be very happy if we could avoid giving him any more free publicity here.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:49 PM on April 8 [8 favorites]


Serious question: How would you feel about it if it was a different kind of bigotry? Say, if Eich publicly donated to the Klan? Would you be OK with using Mozilla products then?

I wouldn't be ok with using Mozilla products if the CEO had donated to the Klan, but I would be ok with doing so if the CEO had donated to anti-gay causes. This is because I have an arbitrary level of "bad" that marks a threshold where I wouldn't give any business to someone who supports something, and some things like the Klan are above that threshold and others like being against gay marriage are below it. If I can't have that arbitrary threshold then how do I avoid having to boycott everyone who disagrees with me about anything of substance?

If I'm going to boycott a company because the CEO is against gay marriage, then you have to ask what contrary opinions would I find acceptable in a CEO? What is an "agree to disagree" issue? Donating to global warming skeptic causes? That means they are supporting policies that could potentially kill millions of people. Being pro-war? Wrong opinion on gun control? Tax breaks for the rich and cutting social services (i.e. run of the mill conservatism)? That means they support policies that cause suffering and hardship for millions of working poor. Isn't that "hateful"? The idea of "free speech and tolerance of different opinion, but not if someone is opposing someone's basic human rights" is impractical because basic human rights are relevant to almost all serious political disagreements.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:55 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Justinian, I strongly agree with you. I'm sorry if my post was worded poorly enough to make you feel weird about my quoting you, that was not my intent at all.
posted by Corinth at 8:04 PM on April 8


I wouldn't be ok with using Mozilla products if the CEO had donated to the Klan, but I would be ok with doing so if the CEO had donated to anti-gay causes.

It's more honesty than we've gotten from Eich and the rest of his ilk, that's for sure, so megokudos to you for that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:43 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Jahaza, I really don't think that it's all that contentious to say, for instance, that if Joe Manager shows up to Klan rallies, he's not a great person to put in charge of a diverse team of workers. As stated previously, I've worked with some people who were unrepentant bigots (of various stripes), and I'd quite gladly work with some of them again, because they were good at what they did.

Putting those people in charge, though, seems like a recipe for disaster. If you're a manager and you think that one group of people is a threat to society, and you feel that so strongly that you're going to give money to a cause that specifically seeks to prevent those people from doing the same things that you as a Normal Person do, I don't believe that you can be a good manager. If Visibly Queer Employee and Cishet Guy are in conflict, are you really going to be able to set aside your personal beliefs to ensure that they're both treated fairly? Are you going to be extra super careful to make sure that your personal biases don't influence who gets a raise, or who gets promoted? Who the first person to go is if you have to make layoffs?

Even if we assume that you're superhuman and can, in fact, ignore your own biases, you also somehow have to convince your employees of that. If you fire Gay Tom, is he going to point out that you have a history of animosity towards gay causes, and he feels that you've fired him at least in part because he's gay? Maybe that doesn't matter if you're in Pennsylvania or Florida, but if you're in California, congratulations, you have a potential lawsuit.

Managers who have a proven bias against a group of people are a risk for a company, especially if that company has any interest in a diverse workforce, or includes diversity as one of its core values. And, frankly, I don't feel that it's a bad thing for society to say that if you are openly biased against a demographic--any demographic--you shouldn't be in a managerial position. If you're openly misogynistic, or homophobic, or Islamophobic, or you hate black people--I'm ok with the idea that we as a society should be saying that these things are not ok, and we don't trust you to be in a position of power because of your views on these things. There's a big difference, to me, between a political opinion and an opinion on various stripes of people having things like basic human rights and respect for their personhood.
posted by MeghanC at 10:08 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


What is an "agree to disagree" issue?
Basically, if you make me uncomfortable, you should be OK without having the rights that everybody else has. We can "agree to disagree" that you can't get married, can't visit your life partner in the hospital, and can't have reasonable estate processes when you die. Because your having those things goes against my morals, and that's on you, buddy. Deal with it, because my opinions about how you live your life have actual precedence over your rights to live your life. And that's democratic society!
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:43 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry if my post was worded poorly enough to make you feel weird about my quoting you, that was not my intent at all.

Don't feel bad, I just didn't quite follow. It was probably a reading comprehension fail.
posted by Justinian at 11:20 PM on April 8


There's a big difference, to me, between a political opinion and an opinion on various stripes of people having things like basic human rights and respect for their personhood.

Well what are these political opinions that aren't opinions on the rights of different stripes of people?

If you were an immigrant, how would you feel about being managed by someone who had given money to a group opposing amnesty or reducing H1B quotas? Would you expect to be treated fairly when being considered for a raise or a promotion compared to a "native born" worker? If you were a woman being managed by a man who gave money to a pro-life group, would you worry that this reflected attitudes towards women that might influence his treatment of them in the workplace? If you came from a poor background and had family members who could not afford health insurance, how would you feel about being managed by someone who didn't think you should be entitled to health care? If you were a member of an identifiable group disproportionately affected by gun violence or unequal application of the death penalty, how would you like to be managed by a paid up member of the NRA or someone who signed a petition in support of the death penalty? Would you feel confident that they were free of bias against you? If you were a refugee from a war torn country, how would you like to be managed by someone who supported the bombing of your relatives? Or conversely someone who opposed any intervention while they were being massacred?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:29 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Ross Douthat: The Case of Brendan Eich
[P]luralism is not a one-way street: If you want (as I do) a culture where Catholic schools and hospitals and charities are free to be Catholic, where evangelical-owned businesses don’t have to pay for sterilizations and the days-after pill, where churches and synagogues and mosques don’t have to worry about their tax-exempt status if they criticize “sexual modernity,” you also have to acknowledge the rights of non-religious institutions of all sorts to define their own missions in ways that might make an outspoken social conservative the wrong choice for an important position within their hierarchies.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:59 AM on April 9


If you were an immigrant, how would you feel about being managed by someone who had given money to a group opposing amnesty or reducing H1B quotas? Would you expect to be treated fairly when being considered for a raise or a promotion compared to a "native born" worker? If you were a woman being managed by a man who gave money to a pro-life group, would you worry that this reflected attitudes towards women that might influence his treatment of them in the workplace? If you came from a poor background and had family members who could not afford health insurance, how would you feel about being managed by someone who didn't think you should be entitled to health care? If you were a member of an identifiable group disproportionately affected by gun violence or unequal application of the death penalty, how would you like to be managed by a paid up member of the NRA or someone who signed a petition in support of the death penalty? Would you feel confident that they were free of bias against you? If you were a refugee from a war torn country, how would you like to be managed by someone who supported the bombing of your relatives? Or conversely someone who opposed any intervention while they were being massacred?

Thing is, if you're in the NRA, it means you like guns, not that you hate people who don't. I mean, you might well do the latter, but that isn't really what the NRA stands for. The Klan stands for an active dislike of a group of people, and so does Prop 8. Someone who doesn't think you're entitled to health insurance if you can't pay doesn't necessarily hate you - they just think that you should pay for your health insurance. Not all odious political opinions are equivalent.
posted by Dysk at 7:39 AM on April 9


If you're a manager and you think that one group of people is a threat to society, and you feel that so strongly that you're going to give money to a cause that specifically seeks to prevent those people from doing the same things that you as a Normal Person do, I don't believe that you can be a good manager. If Visibly Queer Employee and Cishet Guy are in conflict, are you really going to be able to set aside your personal beliefs to ensure that they're both treated fairly?

So after some talking and thinking on this, I think it really depends on how much institutional power and will a company really has to punish wrongdoing and enforce compliance.

My own experience with this sort of thing was in the US military - honestly, in many ways, a hotbed of reactionary social beliefs. When I got there, I was flat-out shocked by the amount of bigotry some of my fellow servicemembers expressed. I had never encountered that kind of naked bigotry and I didn't know what to do with it at all.

After some time though, I realized that in fact, the non-commissioned officers (kind of like the managers) actually were doing a really great job at treating everyone fairly - even the bigots. (Not the commissioned officers, but that's a separate subject and gets super complex) Even against the people they strongly disagreed with. And in part, it was because the orders had come down from on high: you will not, by God, discriminate against these people, and we will bring his wrath upon you if you do. So people would say things like "There is no color but Army Green" and the same people who were talking about, say, nuking the Middle East to glass would be fiercely defensive of the Persian squadmate. People that got up in arms and wrote letters to the editor against gay pride parades would be willing to fight with their heart and soul to defend the gay guy in their squad. Christian dominionists would wage full out holy war on people mistreating the women under their command. The people would, in fact, hate everyone outside, but believe that the people under them - the people they knew and were responsible for the hopes and dreams of - were deserving and righteous.

But I'm not sure you really have that in many civilian jobs. I'm not sure you have that association of us vs them that allows the kind of embrace of the different as long as you're the same in one factor. Maybe in some really cohesive industries - EMS workers, maybe - but in many industries they may simply not identify enough with their employment to be able to bridge the gap - and their higherups may have no intention of punishing discrimination so harshly.

So it's possible, essentially - but maybe not likely given how people currently utilize power and identity in corporations today.
posted by corb at 7:46 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft, I'm not sure what point you're trying to communicate with that list. They are environments where maybe there's potential for hostility. But they're not on the same level. Fortunately there are much better Prop 8 comparisons available:

Your boss donated to a constitutional amendment to prevent recognition of marriages where one or both members are immigants. Or your boss donated to a constitutional amendment that prevented pro-choice women from being married. Or your boss donated to a constitutional amendment that would prevent those not paying for health insurance from being married. And to top it all off, the donations mainly funded bigoted television advertisements that raised ridiculous fears about children.

And if you don't see marriage as a right (which the government does, and has for decades), then how about if your boss donated to a campaign to strip those without guns of voting rights? (And felons can have their voting rights removed)

Do you see the difference there? Prop 8 was not normal politics. It was the biggest threat to democratic society in my lifetime. It was a majority voting to strip away the rights of a minority via advertising campaigns designed to gin up fear of the minority through lies.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:10 AM on April 9


BobbyVan: Ross Douthat: The Case of Brendan Eich

A typically duplicitous post from Douthat. In the pull quote, he talks as if he's supportive of Mozilla's decision (or at least the general principle that corporations should be able to decide who represents them at the highest levels) but then closes with:
Or to bring it to a still-blunter point: In the name of pluralism, and the liberty of groups as well as individuals, I would gladly trade the career prospects of some religious conservatives in some situations — not exempting myself from that list — if doing so would protect my own church’s liberty (and the liberties of other, similarly-situated groups) to run its schools and hospitals and charities as it sees fit. But the specifics of the way that Eich was treated, the demands made and the tests imposed, makes me a little more worried that such a deal, and such a pluralism, may not ultimately be on offer.
Missing in his post is any evidence that any members of the "similarly-situated groups" he speaks of are having any of their liberties taken away, and given that he links to Emily Bazelon's rejoinder to his argument in defense of religious conservatives denying service to gay couples, I can only conclude that for Douthat, religious freedom means "the legal right to discriminate against protected groups" rather protection from such discrimination, which is what the law actually provides.

"Pluralism" does not mean we protect the bigots and the marginalized equally -- it means we protect everyone from bigotry. Douthat's attempt to define bigotry down to "refusing to allow my tribe to be bigots" is shameful.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:10 AM on April 9 [7 favorites]


Sam Yagan (the OkCupid co-founder) issued a statement that is basically apologizing for his donation to Rep. Cannon.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:10 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Well what are these political opinions that aren't opinions on the rights of different stripes of people?

Indeed. It's why I'm befuddled by people who slap the label "Civil/Human Rights Issue" on something and then fold their arms as if that characterization seals the discussion. They're all civil rights issues.
posted by cribcage at 9:15 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Sam Yagan (the OkCupid co-founder) issued a statement that is basically apologizing for his donation to Rep. Cannon.

Still no apology from Eich, though something something Indonesia.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on April 9


L.P. Hatecraft, I think you're eliding some important specifics of this situation, one of which is how aggressively homophobic the actual Prop 8 ad campaign was (there are videos linked above). To take one of your examples, I can imagine a campaign for reducing H1B quotas that was not racist at all; I can also imagine a campaign for reducing H1B quotas that used virulently racist stereotypes about foreign workers in order to play on white nativism. I would have a very big problem with the CEO of a major tech company having donated to the second type of campaign without ever expressing any concern or regret for how their money was used.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:13 AM on April 9


Some folks (well, at least Maciej Ceglowski) are pointing to Dropbox's appointment of Condoleezza Rice to the Board of Directors as a similar sort of problem as Eich and Mozilla. I'm not quite sure the comparison works, but it's interesting. I think Rice's support and use of torture is as significant a human rights issue as gay marriage, probably an even bigger one. But she's simply on the board, not the full time CEO. Sure is disappointing though.
posted by Nelson at 1:12 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Wiretap Proponent Condoleezza Rice Joins Dropbox’s Board
posted by homunculus at 11:02 AM on April 10


Sullivan and Colbert talking about Eich, for anyone who's ready for some comic relief. (Starts about 4.5 minutes in, right after the initial bit on Heartbleed.)
posted by mbrubeck at 11:34 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


While I'm not going to protest, I might quietly switch to a different storage service. Not that I'm a paying Dropbox customer at the moment anyway.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:42 PM on April 10


As it happens, I am a paying customer of Dropbox. The situation there doesn't seem to be blowing up very much, as near as I can tell — I don't know if there's going to be any sort of large-scale boycott, but it did get me to take a look around. Turns out, Google Drive is far cheaper.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 7:15 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Crooked Timber: The Stale Catnip Of Contemptmanship, in which the whole contretemps is likened to genre fiction and junk food.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:49 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Mozilla names insider Chris Beard as interim CEO
posted by artlung at 12:19 PM on April 14


Sullivan and Colbert talking about Eich, for anyone who's ready for some comic relief.

Andrew Sullivan opposes ENDA, much like all paranoid, hypocritical conservatives who railed against the "gay conspiracy" or — to use his words — "Gay Inc." that compelled Eich to resign.

I'll take the paranoid conspiracy theories seriously when I see people here and elsewhere who support Eich also put as much energy into supporting the passage of ENDA.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:20 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: "Pluralism" does not mean we protect the bigots and the marginalized equally -- it means we protect everyone from bigotry. Douthat's attempt to define bigotry down to "refusing to allow my tribe to be bigots" is shameful.

And boy howdy, Douthat has really outdone himself on the "religious freedom for me, but not for thee" beat lately. (Background on the underlying controversy.)
posted by tonycpsu at 12:16 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


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