Eich Out

A few days ago, OKCupid’s website tried to persuade people to stop using Firefox. Contrary to reports, the site did not “block” Firefox. If you browsed there, you got a message saying they did not want people to use Firefox because Firefox’s CEO — Brendan Eich — had given $1000 to the Proposition 8 campaign. But you could still click through. Today, he resigned under intense pressure.

You guys know that I support gay marriage and opposed Proposition 8. But this action makes me deeply uncomfortable.

It’s odd. In isolation, none of the elements in this particularly bother me. Mozilla is a private company and can fire their CEO for whatever reason they want. I seem to have to repeat this every time someone is fired for a dumb remark, editorial or tweet, but Eich’s first amendment rights have not been violated. If Mozilla wanted to stay away from the controversy, that’s their right and, one might argue, their duty. OKCupid can refuse to do business with a company they don’t like and can call out people who advocate views they disagree with.

But the combination of events here is bothersome. The more I think about it, the more I dislike hounding out political opponents like this and dislike a company caving in so fast. Eich was not spearheading the Prop 8 campaign. He wasn’t a politician opposing gay marriage and supporting DOMA (as the President did until relatively recently). He’s just someone who doesn’t think gays should be allowed to marry and gave some of his own money to the cause. There are probably millions in the country who have given money, time and effort to advance views I disagree with or even find repugnant. I don’t think they should be publicly shunned for it.

It’s not like Eich was advocating rounding up gays or sending them to pray-away-the-gay camps. He was supporting a cause that the majority of the people, the entirety of the Republican Party, the vast majority of the Democratic Party and the future President of the United States agreed with. He wasn’t even remotely outside the mainstream. He’s still not outside of it as opposition to gay marriage is still the majority view in parts of the country and a very strong minority in the rest.

Sullivan:

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Mataconis:

The trends on same-sex marriage are quite obvious to everyone. In the polls, at the ballot box, and in the Courts, the argument for marriage equality is winning the day and it is only a matter of time at this point before same-sex marriage is recognized in every state in the nation. Given that, one does have to wonder just how much of a victory dance those of us on the winning side need to do. Is it really necessary to make everyone who disagreed with us pay the price for that disagreement?

I understand that the Prop 8 fight was demoralizing and hurtful to many gay people and their supporters. I understand that they might want to hold responsible those who pushed it forward. Fine. But going after a man who gave $1000 to the cause seems an odd place to start holding people responsible.

Look, in an open society, people can be held responsible for their political views. I get that. But where does this end? Tens of millions of people opposed and oppose gay marriage. Thousands, perhaps millions, donated time and money to support laws and amendments against it. Are they all to be called out like this? Are we to check all the CEO’s to make sure they are ideologically pure?

I’ve never liked boycotts even when the company involved is doing something I don’t like. But now we’re supposed to boycott companies because of the political beliefs of their employees? I seem to keep saying this but must we politicize everything? Must we dig through every company and make sure they didn’t give a donation to Slay the Whales or something? Must we, like Mother Jones laughably did, pore through a company’s 401k options to see if there are companies there we don’t like or that disagree with their views? (I’ll pause a moment for you to stomach the hypocrisy of Mother Jones — recently called out for paying their interns sub-minimum wage — complaining about someone else’s labor practices).

Screw this. No one should live their life in fear that their political views will fall out of favor and they’ll be hounded out of public life. And no one should spend their life checking every app to make sure it wasn’t written by Obamacare supporters. If you want to do some good in the political world, concentrate on what is going on right now. Concentrate on those who hold power right now. Gay marriage is still illegal in most of the country. I think gay rights activists would be far better off focusing their energy on that than on shaming those who have already been defeated.

  1. [quote]I hope I speak for everyone here when I say – what the hell is “OKCupid”?[/quote]

    I actually had to visit the site when I heard this story. Of course I visited with Firefox, but I digress.

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  2. Great points from Conor here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/mozillas-gay-marriage-litmus-test-violates-liberal-values/360156/

    Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

    Is abortion next? If you’ve donated to a pro-life cause, do you have to step down?

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  3. To block quote:  <blockquote>Block-quoted text goes here</blockquote>

    To emphasize:  <em>Emphasized text goes here</em>

    Boldface:  <strong>Boldfaced text goes here</strong>

    Strike:  <strike>Stricken text goes here</strike>

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  4. I’m amused that my first post — highly informative and decidedly uncontroversial (one would think) — got a down vote.

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  5. I’m amused that my first post — highly informative and decidedly uncontroversial (one would think) — got a down vote.

    That was me, you bastard. How dare you understand something I don’t. ;-)

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  6. Yeah, I guess I can be somewhat humor-impaired at times. Might have something to do with that being a complete ass thingy…

    :-)

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  7. I’ve never liked boycotts even when the company involved is doing something I don’t like.

    I personally like the idea of a boycott, even ones I don’t agree with. I think it’s better than encouraging a law to shape society be sure. But basically this company did a knee jerk reaction and got rid of him. I won’t use their browser, and i’ll have to find out what other products and apps they have and I’ll avoid those, and hopefully others won’t use them either.

    The broader issue here is the Facebook age is relatively new. Shit you did and forgot about years ago can come back to haunt you. People take a piece of a story, create their own narrative and then run with it. It’s not the technology I’m worried about, it’s society’s inability to handle it. We’re in the learning stages of how to deal with news about individuals (and that could be anyone from your closest relative to some guy half way around the world) we’d never otherwise know about, and so far it’s not looking good. There is no real push back from the public to protest stupid knee jerk reactions like this, and not just at high profile CEO levels, but I mean it can happen to anyone. It reminds me of companies that would just pay off anyone who would file a lawsuit for any reason because they didn’t want to bother with it. That behavior just encourages more. This type of reaction will do the same. Had this guy been running around saying gays have no place in society, then I could see some reason for action. Fact is marriage has for a long time been a tradition of man and woman, and it’s not hateful, it’s tradition, and people don’t like their traditions changed. No one does. So at the end of the day Mozilla had decided to market politics instead of promoting good products. Well good luck to them. People’s political views can turn on a dime, good products stand the test of time.

    There are probably millions in the country who have given money, time and effort to advance views I disagree with or even find repugnant. I don’t think they should be publicly shunned for it.

    A lot of people took the time to vote for it, in California, while going to vote for Obama.

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  8. Can a private company fire their CEO for whatever reason they like? Is Mozilla allowed to fire someone because they donated to a political cause? What if it was someone lower down the food chain? You sure as shit can’t fire a burger flipper for being a member of Greenpeace, or donating to save the Whales.

    At the end of the day the product wins out. Hippies still buy iPhones because they’re awesome, but giving up a Chick Fil A burger isn’t quite so bothersome. I include myself in that.

    This isn’t a boycott anyway. Mozilla didn’t do anything ‘wrong’. They weren’t protesting anything the company had done. Mozilla doesn’t hasn’t been discriminatory or hasn’t given any of their profits to causes OKCupid disagree with. I can see it being a boycott if a percentage of Mozilla profits go to anti-gay causes. But this is a corporate using it’s power and influence to harass a private citizen and get him fired.

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  9. Can a private company fire their CEO for whatever reason they like? Is Mozilla allowed to fire someone because they donated to a political cause?

    Cress, I would agree with you if there was a level playing field, but the thing is that this fight is one sided. The left is absolutely awesome at pretending to care for rights and liberty, as long as those things favor the causes the left is pushing. But for the things they don’t care about they are not just willing but outright militant about throwing those freedoms and rights right under the bus. Did you miss the recent declaration by members of the Church of AGW proclaiming anyone that didn’t comply be taken out? There are countless other examples. The Second Amendment and all the unconstitutional shit around Obamacare comes to mind.

    Piss off the left and they will bury you. But, if anyone on the other side tried to use this tactic, the left would crucify them for trying it. This is not speculation. Look at how they are handling the contraceptive demands in Obamacare and those that are claiming they should not be forced due to their right to religious exemption. The left is downright ruthless to those it perceives as an opponent. They play dirty. And no entity on the left is more blatantly obvious about how dirty and downright evil they can get than the special interests. The gay lobby, or as many now are admitting it should be called, the gay mafia, are amongst one of the most effective and downright abusive entities.

    So knowing this, if only one side is allowed to use these tactics, no matter how galling it is for me to give up what I see as a freedom and right, then I would prefer the option not be available. I am not willing to cut my nose off just to spite my face. Thanks for playing.

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  10. Alex, I could have read Cress’ post wrong, but I think he was agreeing this is ridiculous, and not implying through his questions that Mozilla actually has the right to do what it did. I think he was truly asking if they can get away with this. Technically, yes they can as a company can fire anyone for just about any reason since most states are at will employment. Most don’t fire their employees for stupid reasons because there would be a backlash (hopefully), and then you have to invest in retraining, etc.

    As for this Eich, I believe he quit the company under pressure, rather than getting fired, but it was probably one of those situations where it was either quit or be fired. It is interesting to see Mozilla now running around apologizing with their now found “morality” even though they apparently knew Eich’s views for two years prior and promoted him anyhow. So I wonder if the Board of Directors, and others who promoted him anyhow will show their true remorse, and do the right thing and retire as well. This is simply a sacrificial lamb situation. This is similar to that guy at MSNBC who made a stupid comment on Twitter about right leaning people, even though the comment wasn’t all that far off of the over all theme of MSNBC. This sacrificial lamb knee jerk reaction crap scares the hell out of me, and basically will result in people self censoring themselves to the point where there will be no dialogue period.

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  11. Yeah S8, that was kind of my take on it. This wasn’t a boycott. It wasn’t a group of people deciding not to do business with a company. It was a company deciding to go after a private American citizen by making things difficult for their employer. Who the employer was and what the employer did was irrelevant.

    If only Eich was a member of a union, eh?

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  12. If only Eich was a member of a union, eh?

    Actually I don’t have issues with unions existing. I believe they are part and parcel to the market system and I’ve held that view for quite some time. At the end of the day people are selling their labor. If they choose to do it as a group I’m fine with that.

    That said, I don’t support the idea that one should have to join a union, nor do I believe in unions in government, nor should government policy be on the side of the union any more than it should be on the side of the corporation (of course these days it has its hands in everything). Government should be a party to resolve disputes, not an active participant in disputes. I also believe unions can and have become and corrupted, just like any other entity. I think corrupt businesses and corrupt unions alike should be allowed to fail. I don’t think unions should get a pass when they become corrupted under the guise of representing the worker. As for Eich, I don’t think a union would have helped given they generally aren’t fighting for the CEO. To me, the public can respond to this and tell Mozilla to stick it, or for those who support this they can buy more of their products I guess.

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  13. I was joking about the union… although a CEO’s union isn’t such a bad idea… if only to watch people wrestle with whether or not they support it… :-)

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  14. The thing that annoys me is people are saying, “Well, would you support a CEO who supported racial discrimination?” Ignoring that racial discrimination isn’t in the same class as banning gay marriage, it’s an absurd argument. Yeah, if a CEO supported discrimination TODAY, I’d oppose him. But if we was racist fifty years ago? Why, we might even elect him Senator from West Virginia.

    That’s the thing. The tide on gay marriage just turned last year. And the Left is already looking for a purge. I mean, can’t they give people a few years’ time to “evolve” before they open the re-education camps?

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  15. Yeah that is crazy. No way should he have been forced to resign. The company should not have allowed that to happen. Why could they just not point out that he was acting on his own as an individual. They don’t even have to say ‘his actions don’t reflect the company stance’ because that’s suggested they need to have one.

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  16. “Why could they just not point out that he was acting on his own as an individual. They don’t even have to say ‘his actions don’t reflect the company stance’ because that’s suggested they need to have one.”

    Because a bunch of people said mean things about Eich on Twitter and Facebook and I heard that there was going to be a change.org petition started. Who can withstand that sort of onslaught?

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  17. Many of my gay brothers and sisters are totally power-mad and out of control as their perceived victories mount. The younger ones especially seem to believe that gay marriage has been an crucial goal of the “movement” for generations instead of a few recent years.

    Look for it to get worse as the full fury of Political Correctness, Inc. is drafted.

    They are completely oblivious to the inevitable backlash coming.

    I have this (simplified) theory about the whole issue. Women who like and support gays do so because they each have one true gay confidante who shops, lunches, carries packages and clues them in on what their man is up to. Their men “like and support gays” because they want pussy. Not complicated.

    Rick (member #1)

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  18. “Can a private company fire their CEO for whatever reason they like? Is Mozilla allowed to fire someone because they donated to a political cause? What if it was someone lower down the food chain? You sure as shit can’t fire a burger flipper for being a member of Greenpeace, or donating to save the Whales.”

    If you are asking about the law, then yes they can. And they should be able to as well.

    The thing I find amazing is that Prop 8 passed-52% to 47% if Wikipedia has it right. Does this mean that Mozilla is now excluding about half the population of California from its hiring pool?

    Obama was against same sex marriage at the same time Eich made the donation-would Mozilla hire a post-presidency Obama for its board?

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