Forbes – It’s a Free Country for Brendan Eich


If you hadn’t already heard? Brendan Eich stepped down as the CEO of Mozilla, developer of the Firefox Browser after suddenly realising that people who make up both the tech industry and it’s major consumers loathe to deal with a homophobe.

Shocking, I know. Bigots not being tolerated, but there are defenders. And they come from the usual place of libertarians and the supporters of such bigotry. Where what is more important are not the real world repercussions of bigotry but the ethos.

And Forbes’s Tony Bradley weighs in to defend Eich.

Simply put? Tony Bradley doesn’t quite understand why people are pissed off. And no, the campaign to tell Mozilla that we do not wish to buy from a company with a bigot in charge of things is not bullying, harassment, intolerant or discrimination. It is basically telling a company that we as a consumer wish for an ethic of equality within products where possible and that Eich’s stance voids a hard line that we find unacceptable. Had Eich signed documentation reducing the rights of women or people of colour, the only real defenders would have been the braying imbeciles from the Stormfront or the misogyny movement.

But no, Eich picked GLBT and a lot of people hate, fear or just plain think they are icky. And was banking on that until he found out that more people simply just didn’t care about the GLBT being different and instead cared about  the GLBT being denied equality.

Brendan Eich recently stepped down as CEO of Mozilla, developer of the Firefox Web browser. It may be more accurate to say he was forced out in the wake of a rising boycott against him. The backlash against Eich is related to his position on gay rights, but many feel that the campaign against him is its own form of discrimination and intolerance. Simply put, there are no winners here, and the whole debacle shows a lack of compassion and common sense from all sides.

One finds it hard not to weep that a man who is a millionaire CEO of a major Tech Company has had to step down because he openly supported bigotry and discriminatory legislature. And we must also understand that traditionally? Being White, Male, Straight and Rich has had absolutely no benefits in society.

To claim there are no winners here is to completely ignore the fact that the GLBT are winning.

You wouldn’t hire a CEO who said “The Jews are ruining Europe” or “Indians smell bad”. Then why would you hire an idiot who actively sponsored a legal threat to equality?

It’s a Free Market

After it became public that Eich is (or at least was) opposed to same-sex marriage, and had supported the anti-gay Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California, a coordinated effort was mounted to boycott Mozilla and the Firefox Web browser. Online dating site OK Cupid implemented a filter that automatically detected if visitors were using Firefox, and urged users to “consider using different software for accessing OK Cupid.”

Those that claim that the furor over Eich’s support of Proposition 8 and the backlash against Mozilla are themselves a form of bigotry and intolerance, however, are just wrong. Mostly.

It is not discrimination or intolerance to choose not to do business with a company or individual regardless of the reason. It’s just free market capitalism.

My issue is that if the free market determines that the GLBT rights are not monetarily profitable then “saynora Gay Rights”.

There is no moral code to the Free Market, only profit. And profit historically has always come through the oppression of the weakest.

Boycott Them All

That said, I think the backlash against Eich and boycott of Mozilla were misguided and completely unwarranted. There is a case to be made for calling it intolerance when a coordinated campaign is mounted against an entire company because a group of people disagrees with the personal beliefs of one employee.

Of THE employee. It’s not some guy down in the mailroom, it’s the CEO. It is the man in charge of decisions the company makes and who represents the company at it’s highest executive level and who is in charge of the total management of a corporation. In short?

You may wish to portray the humble millionaire as a put upon individual striving for his daily bread

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? ‘No,’ says the man in Washington, ‘it belongs to the poor.’ ‘No,’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘it belongs to God.’ ‘No,’ says the man in Moscow, ‘it belongs to everyone.’

It’s not a group of people. it’s all people, it is all people standing up and saying “We find your hiring policy disturbing. What guarantees can you offer that the CEO of Mozilla can offer an unbiased work environment when he himself actively believes that the GLBT do not deserve equality and actively and politically campaigns for the denial of Gay Rights. Sure, Mozilla may say that it is equal, but so did the Soviet Union and there was anything but Equality. The USA claims to be Free but it is a place where you can easily be jailed for life. Just because an organisation says it is something doesn’t mean it is.

We hold the Red Cross and Medicin Sans Frontier to high standards not because they say so in their mission statement but because independent people have said so. Time and time again, have they proven to uphold the values they claim to do.

With the hiring of Eich, Mozilla scuppered it’s own veracity as an equal opportunity employer in the same way that it would if it hired David Duke as its lawyer.

Turn that scenario around for a second. What if a conservative organization mounted a campaign to boycott an entire company because the CEO is gay? I’m fairly sure most of those who took up torches and pitch forks against Mozilla would find such behavior inexcusable, bordering on criminal.

Which they have. Conservative Christian Groups have repeatedly  called for boycotts of many pro-equality companies including such hilarious ones as Microsoft, Google, Intel, Apple and Linux. In fact it’s quite clear that large corporations are benefited by taking a pro-equality stance. We don’t see these companies as pro-gay, but the Christians do.

Hell I recently wrote to World Vision. Christians were willing to hold the children of developing nations hostage rather than provide money to a charity that hires and treats the GLBT with equality.

The funny thing is that World Vision UK responded to it’s parent charity (I assume the US one is the parent) with a guarantee that it is an equal opportunities employer.

And no they have gotten away with it. And my example is frankly “Criminal”. World Vision USA recapitulated and had to change a move towards equality to one restoring the discrimination.

And there is one important thing here.

Even if being homosexual is a choice, it is not a bad choice. Some men like Vanilla, some men like Chocolate and some like Tutti Frutti. If you held the men who liked Vanilla as inferior and legislated against them you would be considered daft. Yet if being gay is a choice then discrimination against it is just as pointless.

But it isn’t a choice. Being gay is what you are. I cannot change the colour of my skin any more than Elton John can stop liking men. And we accept that.

Being a bigot is a choice. It is not Tutti Frutti, but an Ice Cream made from a plant that is watered with the blood of harmless people. Some of them children.

You are not born a homophobe, there is no congenital homophobia. It is a learned bigotry. One form of discrimination occurs against someone for what they are and the other is a form of discrimination that occurs for their choice of discrimination and for supporting a view point that has caused incalculable pain and suffering.

Brendan Eich and Mozilla are two separate things, though. It makes no sense to choose the companies you do business with—or don’t do business with as the case may be—based on the personal beliefs and ideologies of individual employees. It’s unlikely that Eich’s personal political, religious, or philosophical identity would have any impact on Mozilla as a company, and without the public campaign to oust him most people would have continued happily using Firefox without knowing or caring what Eich thought about Proposition 8.

Except that he can make decisions as the CEO to not ratify certain things that would promote the status quo which supports discriminatory practices and does not support progressive ideas which include equality.

Just look at Chik-Fil-A whose discriminatory practices have lead it to become the Chicken of Choice for the homophobe.

Besides, why stop at the CEO? If we’re going to demonize entire corporations based on the personal beliefs and ideologies of individual employees why not also boycott BoeingBA -1.09%, or Walgreens, or IntelINTC -0.93%, or GoogleGOOG -4.59%, or the State of California itself—all of which had employees who donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8 just as Brendan Eich did? If you think $1,000 of support is heinous, you definitely shouldn’t support the Los Angeles Dodgers, or Merrill Lynch, or AllstateALL -0.32%—each of which had at least one employee who donated $10,000 or more to the effort to pass Proposition 8.

There is a difference between an employee on the floor of a corporation and in it’s boardroom.

Let us say there are three racists out there, all working for the government.

The first is a stenographer, the second a policeman and the third a doctor. Let us say they hate Dutch people (Damn Stroopwafflers! They come over here and take our Vans)

The stenographer may have an important and vital job but the racism there has little to no effect.

The police’s racism may harm the Dutch who do come across him in his daily work.

The doctor’s racism is codified against by the rules of medicine and fair treatment of patients.

Each of these have different levels of pay and different effects. The racism of a doctor MAY affect his care of a patient in that he is ruder and unconsciously makes decisions that lead to improper care but he will still care for the patient to the letter of the law. The policeman may make decisions that doom an innocent Dutchman.

So we are more likely to prosecute the cop and the doc for their bigotry.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do, however, apply to every individual citizen of the United States. That means that Brendan Eich is entitled to his beliefs, whether we agree with him or not. He is entitled to support the causes that are important to him, no matter how objectionable they may be to you.

He is entitled to his beliefs, we are entitled to how we spend our money and Mozilla is entitled to hire people who fit their corporate ethos. He is entitled to his beliefs but as a public  figure in an industry that is booming? He is going to get criticised.

Would you hire a man who hates all the “pakis” in the Tech Industry?

No.

Because Indians produce a large number of workers. As minorities go we are heavily represented in the Tech, To hire a CEO who was biased and hates “Indians” would be idiotic. It would be denying a major minority in tech a fair working experience due to the CEO.

He is entitled to those causes, but we must realise that these causes would also require Mozilla to tell the world that they don’t really think their CEO’s beliefs are healthy and that they do not officially believe in the same things their CEO does. Which is great! A CEO that isn’t trusted is a pointless hire.

The reality is that you shouldn’t necessarily know what his beliefs are or what causes he supports. At the very least, Brendan Eich should have the liberty to believe and support causes as he wishes without being persecuted.

Except if his beliefs create an environment of persecution.

Let’s get this clear, homophobes are not being bullied as children.

Homophobes aren’t committing suicide because they just hate gay people so very much.

Homophobes can get married.

I repeat. In what planet, on what world and in what reality is Brendan Eich rich, millionaire homophobe being persecuted more than the people he has fucked over with his homophobia?

My wife is constantly warning me to keep my political and religious views to myself. She is generally concerned that the same type of judgment and persecution that has occurred with Brendan Eich could come back to bite me. I could potentially lose important relationships or clients if I alienate people with my political and religious views.

Yes, that is something we all live with. If your friends stop talking to you simply because you vote Democrat and are a Satanist then they were never really your friends.

Except the problem is Eich’s viewpoint was not just a political viewpoint but a viewpoint excused by religion that entitles people to bigotry.

It’s simple. You don’t like gay people  then don’t have sex with them. I don’t like gay sex either but I don’t go around utilising 2000 year old books to harass those who do, nor do I give money to causes that support their harassment.

Eich did and for that is being held to task.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Yes, yes we can. I however do not wish to get along with the racist. Your complaint is that Gay People shouldn’t fight back against the jackass who tried to fuck them over. The problem is not me, the problem is the bigot.

I get it. Brendan Eich is a bad man. So, don’t play golf with him, and don’t have a beer with him. You can even leave him off the invitation list for your birthday party. But, don’t hold all of Mozilla, and all of its employees, and the entire ecosystem of third-party developers who rely on the Firefox Web browser accountable just because you disagree with the views of one person who works at the company—even if he is the CEO.

And how many of them are gay? How many of their lives are at risk due to a man who denies them basic rights and fights to oppress them?

Better yet—do invite Brendan Eich for a round of golf and a beer. Sit down and get to know the man and try to understand his position and why he holds the beliefs he does.

Must I invite every bigot around to find out the rationale behind them? Why must I understand the bigot who portrays me as a stereotype? What possible lesson am I going to learn from Ann “Brown people are terrorists” Coulter? She was bitten by a radioactive douchebag?

This is the real world, not Glee. Your complex back story doesn’t excuse your bigotry. One doesn’t sit with David Duke and go “Oh! This particular event you had in your life has turned you into a racist, I am so sorry!”.

Or, just check your politics and beliefs at the door, and enjoy each other’s company. Talk about family, the last movie you saw, and what you like on your pizza. Despite what seems to be very vitriolic polarity in this country recently, it is actually OK to disagree with someone, and still get along.

And if your family happens to be a person of the same gender. Don’t talk about it. We wouldn’t want to offend the bigot.

I repeat this is a disagreement that is killing children and you want us to be civil about it? Do you even have any idea how idiotic and indeed privileged this sounds? He doesn’t hate you. He doesn’t despise you. He can get along with you because YOU are not personally affected by his dickery.

However if you are then you are being civil to the man who makes your life worse. You are being civil to the man who is not civil to you.

I’ll give Brendan Eich a standing invitation: If you’re ever in the Houston area, or I am ever on the west coast, I would be more than happy to play a round of golf with you and grab a beer.

I would not be happy to play a round of golf and grab a beer. I have standards and try to spend my life with nice people. We simply cannot be friends.

Comments

  1. Menyambal says

    A round of golf? That’s fairly discriminatory right there. I don’t have clubs, a membership or any interest in the game. Golf is traditionally the sport of the richer, whiter, straighter and more male segment of the population.

    Beer? Again, a manly white man’s drink.

    Giving get-acquainted advice to men who date other men is kinda silly.

  2. Al Dente says

    But I thought libertarians were all about how the Free Market™ was supposed to fix all problems. A bunch of people had a problem with the CEO of Mozilla and threatened to take their custom elsewhere. Nobody threatened Eich with bodily harm or anything other than “either he goes or my money goes to another company.” It is exactly the sort of solution the libertarians tell us the Free Market™ provides.

    Apparently Bradley doesn’t like this solution because homophobia is not a problem for him.

  3. smrnda says

    What utter bullshit, especially coming from libertarians keen on reminding everyone that nobody owes them a job and such. Apparently one is ENTITLED to be a CEO, and nobody is allowed to choose not to do business with a company because of the opinions of the CEO, the fucking captain of the shit.

    Libertarians always bust out the whining once the market decides against one of their home-boys.

    Also, if your viewpoints lose you friends, either your viewpoints are wrong or your friends are wrong. Opinions have consequences.

  4. imnotspecial says

    Don’t quite agree. “Love, Truth, Beauty – these are my Guides! In that order. Insisting on one’s truth generally leads to bashing our opponents heads, given strength and opportunity. There is this saying: We listen only to those we love. So I would want to play golf with him and perhaps get him to change his mind over time and have gained a friend.

  5. Bob says

    It’s ironic that you write this kind of self-centric nonsense on a site called “Free Thought Blogs.”

  6. says

    I work for charity throughout the day.

    A little self-centricism is needed. It is a divine self-centeredness. A chance to make things about me in my little private slice of the Internet.

    If you don’t like it?

    Google will help find somewhere where people blog in a completely un-self centred way.

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