Mozilla vs the open society

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So Mozilla’s CEO has, in effect, been forced to resign. He was forced to resign because he believes that marriage ought to be regarded as the union of a man and a woman, and he has in the past donated money ($1,000) to a campaign to have the law in California reflect that belief. He didn’t want to go, but he was pushed, and pushed very hard.

Obviously this is a case of bullying. Obviously this is a case of free speech being stifled,1 and equally obvious (or it should be) is the fact that Mr Eich’s view on what constitutes a marriage is not, in any way at all, an attack on the equality of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation.

But what is perhaps worst of all (perhaps, I’m not sure – this sort of bullying is despicable enough) is that the people who have been hollering for him to go are, in all likelihood, the ones who think that they are supporting a more tolerant society. This is now what open-minded acceptance looks like. It means tolerating those who think exactly as you do. And of course, everyone has the right to believe, speak and act as you do. The year is 1984.

EDIT: Let Mozilla know that they make you sad. (Thanks for the link Dee Dee!)

Today I am uninstalling all my Mozilla software. “But, but,” you might say, “other companies like Google and Apple support the revised concept of marriage too!” Maybe they do, but they aren’t the ones caving into the pressure of letting people lose their job because of what they believe about marriage.

This isn’t tolerance. Tolerance is where you have the ability to hurt people or disadvantage them because of their race, colour, creed etc but you choose not to do so. You tolerate them instead. This isn’t open minded, freedom loving behaviour. This is bullying. This is controlling. This is the thought police. This is blind rage that cannot allow other people to be themselves. This is sinister taken to a new level. And if this is Mozilla, then Mozilla’s not for me.

If you’re bothered by this – and especially if you’re a gay, bisexual or transgender person who is opposed to hate, intolerance, bigotry and thuggery (I absolutely do not assume that most gay people are OK with this), please speak and act. This is not OK.

Glenn Peoples

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  1. Yes, I realise this isn’t an issue for freedom of speech as concerns the US constitutional right to freedom from interference with free speech on the part of the government. No, I am not confusing the two different concepts. []
{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Alabaster Livingston April 4, 2014, 5:33 pm

    I was disappointed to hear about the whole thing. Firefox has been a favorite of mine for some years now, and now I will have to find a new browser. Perhaps I’ll return to the IE fold.

  • Piers April 4, 2014, 6:04 pm

    Hi Glenn. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this possible comeback. Let us say that Mr Eich was a white supremacist and he had donated money to the KKK. Or let’s say he donated to groups that advocated women to stay home whilst men worked. Wouldn’t it be right in this instance to question why he was the CEO of Mozilla – maybe to even have him stood down?

    Therefore, if Mozilla’s board honestly believes that denying marriage to gay couples is similar to racism or sexism – then don’t they have the right to act in accordance with these principles (even if they are wrong in those beliefs)?

    By uninstalling Mozilla and protesting on Twitter – isn’t this trying to control Mozilla and thereby prevent Mozilla’s free speech? (or the board that represent Mozilla)

    Have you heard such an objection and do you think such an objection has any merit.

    Cheers

  • Glenn April 4, 2014, 6:11 pm

    Piers, I think the comparison to the KKK is equivalent to this: “What if Mozilla thinks that this guy is a Martian who wants to blow up the world to make way for an intergalactic highway? Can they not get rid of him if they think he is so dangerous?”

    In other words, I am not at all constrained by the obligation to find reasonable what they find reasonable. If anyone at all thinks that this view: A marriage is a man and a woman and it is not OK to express hate or enact violence against anyone – is somehow on par with the KKK, who actively expresses hate towards a group of people and is associated with violence and crime, then that person is being unreasonable. In fact there is something deeply wrong with anyone who thinks that is a sensible comparison.

    And yes, I would love to put pressure on Mozilla to do what I want. The difference, however, is that I would want to put pressure on them to accept reasonable diversity, which is the opposite of what they are doing here.

  • RossN April 4, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I would have been using Firefox for exactly 10 years next month, since version 0.6. But I am switching to Opera on all my computers. I will also be replacing Mozilla Thunderbird, not sure with what yet.

    I’m not OK with vicious hate campaigns by queers and their sycophants.

  • Glenn April 4, 2014, 8:23 pm

    Just to be clear: My own contempt for what Mozilla has done – and for those malicious organisations and individuals who bellowed for this to happen, is contempt for “vicious hate campaigns,” whether carried out by “queers” or anybody else. This isn’t “queer hate” and “queer bullying.” It’s just hate and bullying.

  • Jon April 4, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Funny how people only worry about free speach when their view gets attacked. If you are really worried about free speach then blog about free speach violations of opinions you don’t hold. Then you have credible free speach position.

  • Glenn April 4, 2014, 9:23 pm

    Jon, this appears to be a form of ad hominem fallacy. Either I am right to criticise what Mozilla has done here or I am not. If I am, then I could be the most selective, unreasonable person on the planet, and this would still be an appropriate concern to raise.

    Of course it’s not just free speech that’s at issue here though. But to dismiss this concern because I’m not going after some other case too seems unreasonable.

  • Piers April 4, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Those damn martians and intergalactic highways!!!

    Thanks Glenn. Just so that I am clear in what you are saying – are you suggesting there are degrees of “acceptable beliefs”? If someone believes that supporting KKK is a good thing, then that really shows they are part of the loony fringe – it is completely unacceptable. However, if someone thought the colour “Red” was better than the colour “Green” – then that is quite an acceptable belief.

    Now for the belief, “Traditional marriage is best” – it might upset some people, but in nobodies world should “traditional marriage is best” belief be equated with KKK belief. In fact, when we put them side by side, if you do equate them, then that says there is something pretty skewed in your thinking.

    Now, because Mozilla have equated “Traditional marriage is best” belief with something so heinous that the person holding it deserves to be “fired” – then it shows that something is amiss in their thinking – and pressure needs to be put on them to correct it.

    Is that somewhat right?

    (By the way – KKK may be a bit of extreme example – not sure if it’s the best example, but I have heard people claim opponents of gay marriage are guilty of hate speech and that’s what made me think of it)

  • Piers April 4, 2014, 10:14 pm

    In my personal opinion (which is not above where I was thinking of possible comebacks) – Eich is guilty of a mind-crime. In no way did Eich’s personal thoughts or action impact upon Mozilla’s policies. If he limited opportunities available to homosexuals, if he said, “Right, if you are married to a same sex partner, you will have nothing more to do with Mozilla!” then I would be there calling for his resignation. But of course, he didn’t do this did he? All that he is guilty of are his thoughts about marriage.

    It’s laughable, depressing, disgusting and worrying all at the same time. It’s madness!

  • Glenn April 4, 2014, 10:25 pm

    Piers, close, but in this case it’s not even “traditional marriage is best.” It’s only “Marriage is a man and a woman.” There isn’t even a “best” or “better” about it, as though people or relationships are being compared.

    But yes – the idea that a person’s lovingly expressed stance of what marriage amounts to should be viewed as so intolerable that they should lose their job is just incredible. Their thinking was fine – they hired him knowing full well what he had done. But then the mob called for his head because they couldn’t tolerate a person different from them being successful, and then the despicable Mozilla caved in. A thought crime plain and simple.

  • Jon April 5, 2014, 12:56 am

    Glenn, you missed the point. You call free speech for your ideas. Maybe you should advocate free speech for ideas you don’t agree with. why is Mr. Eich not bullying LGBTs. Don’t LGBTs have free speech to speak against Mr Eich?

    Why should “tolerant” people support intolerance?

    Your Firefox logo has Nazi sign. Do you support free speech for Nazis or do you call that bullying?

  • Chris April 5, 2014, 1:38 am

    Jon, are you defending your own view, or someone else’s? Credibility check.

  • Robert O'Callahan April 5, 2014, 1:40 am

    Hi Glenn. Robert O’Callahan here, long-time Mozilla developer in NZ, Christian, been to one or two Thinking Matters events, and Brendan Eich is a good friend of mine.

    Your reaction here feels very unfair. Mozilla didn’t create this situation, various pro-gay-marriage lobby groups did, assisted by a social media firestorm. As far as I know, Mozilla’s board supported Brendan under tremendous pressure — at least, I have no evidence so far that they forced him to resign. Most Mozilla staff, including most of the LGBT staff I know, supported him, many openly. As far as I know, Brendan resigned because of the toll the situation was taking on himself personally and on Mozilla.

    Basically Mozilla and Brendan were bullied into submission by the gay marriage lobby. Your response is to put the boot into us while we’re down. I’m hurting all over.

  • ratamacue0 April 5, 2014, 3:00 am

    Wow. If true, I think Robert O’Callahan’s comment merits an article update, or a new post.

  • Giles April 5, 2014, 7:03 am

    I have always supported gay equality. I think the case stands even if you think homosexuality is wrong. The state is not the church and it’s no more problematic that the state should recognise gay marriage than remarriage of the divorced. But, (!) there’s no right no to be criticised. I’m against hate speech laws and campaigns to get people sacked for their views, unless it clearly impacts on their jobs. Glenn has made clear it’s not a 1st amendment issue and people are free to campaign for a person to be sacked. But it is a free speech issue. The McCarthy blacklists didn’t violate the First amendment, they did constrain free speech.
    So whether Glenn happens to agree with Eich’s views is neither here nor there. He’s right to stand against bullying. And similar witch hunts against racists and sexists are also misguided IMO. But Robert O Callahan’s point is well made. It’s not the company at fault in this case.

  • Glenn April 5, 2014, 8:06 am

    Jon: You’re trolling.

    Robert: “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

    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.”

    This is what Mozilla had to say about it. I realise that the Mozilla board didn’t start this. But this is how they responded. By grovelling, apologising, saying that they had failed, and effectively sacrificing a lamb. So yes, the company is at fault, and yes, they are supporting a culture of bullying and silencing. How can any of us be moved by the response that they were under pressure?

  • Giles April 5, 2014, 10:13 am

    Fair enough. Also weasel words about balancing equality and free speech, which is nonsense. There’s nothing to balance. They have non overlapping magisteria unless you concede a right to social approval. It appeals to the pernicious notion of discriminatory speech acts. So boo, shame on them, I’ve changed my mind. But probably nice people at bottom, muddle headed by post modernism.

  • Terry April 5, 2014, 11:20 am

    Robert O’Callahan:

    I agree that this was not a fault of Mozilla. Brendan Eich and Mozilla were placed in a completely untenable position where it was made impossible for Eich to be CEO because the donation to Prop 8 was always going to loom larger than anything else. The people that wanted Eich gone were never going to let the issue quieten down. Brendan Eich did the only thing available to him, resign.

    What concerns me is that Brendan Eich has been tried and found guilty in the court of the Internet. He was guilty of “wrongthink”, as a person who defines marriage as between a man and a woman, I too am guilty of “wrongthink”. Many of my friends were pleased when Eich resigned and I have to wonder would they also like me to be forced out of my job because I hold to a traditional definition of marriage?

    I also wonder if they happily continue to use JavaScript.

    If you talk to Brendan, please extend my support, sympathy and best wishes. I think there is a lot of quiet support for him, but people are afraid to say so publicly because they don’t want to get attacked. Those of who believe in traditional marriage know we have to keep quiet about our views now or suffer professional consequences.

  • Nick Peters April 5, 2014, 1:46 pm

    Tolerance is a one-way street.

    And personally, I would think that in the success of Chick-Fil-A Day, that if Mozilla had stood its ground and said that they were going to stand by the CEO and his opinion whether they agreed or disagreed, their stock would have shot up over this. Chick-Fil-A should have shown this. The Duck Dynasty situation should have shown this. The narrative is not the way the left wants us to think it is.

  • Robert O'Callahan April 6, 2014, 5:27 pm

    By the way Glenn, if you’re switching to Chrome, you might want to consider that Google officially objected to Proposition 8 back in 2008:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.co.nz/2008/09/our-position-on-californias-no-on-8.html
    And that wasn’t under anything like the kind of pressure Mozilla faced; it was an unforced move. Given that position, it’s easy to presume that any potential Google CEO candidate would be quietly eliminated before it became a PR issue.

  • Glenn April 6, 2014, 5:45 pm

    Robert, as I said – I know that many of the companies we all interact with hold to beliefs that I do not. But that wasn’t the issue here.

    All sorts of things go on in the world that I do not know about.

    But when people are calling for the job of a man whose thoughts are not their own, apologising to them for failing to meet their standards is revolting. Mozilla should have publicly replied, yes. But that’s not what they should have said. They need to hear loudly and clearly that this was not OK.

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