La La How The Life Goes On

Crazy Like a Firefox

Posted on: April 4, 2014

By now you have probably seen and heard that Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla. just stepped down in light of the controversy generated by his $1000 donation to California’s Prop 8 ballot measure.  I am one of the people who immediately uninstalled Firefox when I learned about it. The notion that this guy was receiving a salary supported in any way by my use of their browser was just not something I could live with. The CEO gave an ill-advised interview in which he did the “sorry if you were offended” thing, defended his right to hold any belief he chose and to support that belief (fair enough), and then deplored a state of affairs in which a diversity of political views would not be welcome at a place of employment. He said he checks his personal views at the door of the office, and that of course gay people at Mozilla have nothing to worry about. Blah blah blah. To my mind, “political views” involve things like being a supply-sider or opposing ethanol subsidies. Opposing the right of gay people to marry (and offering up a thousand bucks to ensure they can’t) is more than a political view. It’s a world view. It’s a moral judgment. It goes to character. It goes to whether a person can effectively fulfill the role of CEO at an organization supposedly dedicated to openness, innovation and opportunity for all. What if he just, you know, just thinks that black people should be happy to have the back of the bus? I mean, why do they need the WHOLE bus?! That back half is where the cool kids sit anyway. But not to worry, he checks that view at the door of the office. Or, you know, women. Chicks, man. Why employ them if they’re just going to get pregnant? That’s why it’s okay that they make 83 cents on the dollar or whatever. But, listen lady coders, he checks that view at the door of the office.

There are, to be sure, many varied and differing opinions on the  matter. But here’s the bottom line, to my way of thinking:


You can finesse your bigotry (because it is bigotry, I’m sorry to tell you) with “free speech!” and “civil unions” and “The Bible says…” But the hard, unforgiving, unavoidable truth is that you either believe that every single other human on this planet is entitled to all of the dignity and rights you take for granted, or you do not. And I do mean Every. Single. Human. Not just the ones you find appealing or worthy. Not just the ones you think God approves of. Not just the ones who don’t make you uncomfortable. Every. Single. Human.

If you do not believe this, then you do not believe in Equality. You just don’t. Which is your right because…America! But you don’t then get to pretend that your ability to compartmentalize your bigotry somehow equates to your right to keep a job that relies on you to represent it with excellence and inclusion.

Free Speech is a fundamental cornerstone of our beautiful democracy. Unfortunately, just as we went a little off the rails toward “political correctness” when people felt that they had a right to not be offended by speech, we have now gone to the other extreme, where people define Free Speech as “my right to say anything without incurring consequences.” Quick civics lesson: Freedom of Speech entitles you to say whatever the hell you want without government intrusion. You cannot be arrested and locked up for speaking your mind. Your family cannot be tortured for speaking their mind. Get it? That’s freedom of speech. You saying something hateful and having people call you an asshole as a result is not a breach of your freedoms. You said what you wanted to. And then the community answered. That is the VERY DEFINITION of Freedom of Speech. If TLC cancels your crappy TV show because you said something nasty about gays or Jews or whomever, they haven’t violated your right to free speech. They have made a business decision based on feedback from people who don’t want to support your opinion. You weren’t rounded up and put in a hole for saying bigoted shit. You weren’t tortured or killed. Hell, you weren’t even off Twitter for but two minutes. Your freedom of speech was in no way breached. You just got called on your ignorance and you don’t like it. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion of gay people and you are entitled to your right to speak it and support it. But you are not entitled to a TV show and you sure as hell are not entitled to a job as CEO. In real life if I say stupid shit, someone calls me out. If you think this blog is crap, you stop reading. If two internet browsers are available and one has a CEO who espouses views I find abhorrent, I just pick the other browser. He can still say and pay for whatever he wants to, but I’m not supporting it. You all can eat Chick Fil-A and Dominos Pizza until you bust if you swing that way, but I won’t. In those cases, the company’s base either doesn’t care or actually supports the CEO’s views. So go ‘head y’all. This is America and that is business. In Mozilla’s case, where the base is all about community and collaboration across a very diverse aisle, Brendan Eich had to go. Freedom of speech intact.



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