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Anyone want to talk about this Mozilla guy?

edited April 2014
I just wanted to get it off Facebook where all sorts of conservative people-I-knew-in-HS-but-don't-know-now are debating with people I currently know/respect. Not that there's anything wrong with different types of people debating, but it just seemed like a recipe for disaster.

No need to continue the convo, but several URHO folks replied to my perhaps misguided FB post that I feel uncomfortable about what happened to Eich and I wanted to open/hold space for continued dialogue if it feels fruitful.

I guess it's also pretty obvious that all URHO people who responded feel a certain way about this matter, so maybe it's wouldn't feel fruitful...


  • edited April 2014
    I initially felt the same way, but these two points got stuck in my craw;

    He refused to explain anything. Basically he wanted people to accept that business-is-business and personal-is-personal with no explanation. Good article on this:

    Mozilla has a unique image in the tech industry as a pioneer, an upstart, open-source and transparent. This image is very useful in competing for tech talent with giants like Google and Facebook who are settling into the "Microsoft zone" where working for them isn't as cool as it used to be. This incident had the potential to eliminate that distinct business advantage.

    Interesting aside, some data on pro/anti gay marriage donations by tech company. HP and Intel are in a league of their own;
  • Was very tempted to troll the person who said "close-minded" but decided against it.

    My perspective is pretty much summed up by Erin's post, which I'll repost here:

    I'm glad he stepped down, and yes, especially because he refused to explain anything.

    I do have to say that I'm not very tolerant of conservative religious viewpoints, having grown up in a relatively conservative evangelical household, all members of which are now secular/humanist/liberal. If we were to be "accepting" of conservative religious viewpoints, human rights would be set back hundreds of years.

    Rather than sitting back and saying "well, you have your opinion, I'll have mine", I think it's totally legitimate to fight against people and belief systems who want to withhold rights from other people based on gender/race/sexual orientation/whatever other arbitrary thing that they think their "god" opposes.
  • We just have to define what "accepting" means. I feel like we don't have the right words for this kind of nuanced issue. "Accepting" in terms of policy? In terms of politeness? In terms of how our actions influence the personal/professional lives of others?
  • Yeah, I guess there's a lot of contexts!

    So, let's say my co-worker is a conservative Christian who believes that all gays are going to hell. I'm not going to bring that up in the work environment, but if they start bringing it up at work, I'm definitely going to disagree verbally.

    I would never consciously accept a job working for somebody who believed that, and if I found out after the fact that my boss believed that, I would probably quit my job.

    If I was in a hiring position…I'm not sure what the law is, but I'm sure it prevents employers from asking those type of questions, right?

    In terms of policy, always going to oppose. In terms of politeness outside of a work environment? I'm probably pretty rude.

    In terms of my grandma? Going to hide my secular pagan beliefs until she dies so that she thinks she'll see me in heaven.
  • edited April 2014
    Here's another good write-up from from a Mozillean:
  • Boy, I've been avoiding this topic everywhere because it seems like a no-win situation. I fully back gay marriage and every time someone I know marries a person of the same sex, it still feels like a huge victory for progress. Like, the more that it happens, the more it's impossible for them to roll it back on us.

    However, it seems scary to me to imagine a society where we are all required to have the "right" opinions on things and if you differ in opinion, you could lose your job. It's easy for me to imagine what it must be like to be one of these people who really don't see themselves as anti-gay, because they see "marriage" as specifically describing Man + Woman. They're WRONG obviously, but I don't think they see themselves as being malicious or hateful. So then they probably feel really resentful when their belief is used against them to ruin their career? I mean, maybe that's just what they get, but it seems like it could just cause bitterness or something.
  • edited April 2014
    On this note. I now work in Sellwood where a fancy pants grocery store is under construction. Turns out the owner (or the owner's wife?) has been posting lots of homophobic stuff on FB:

    I won't be buying groceries there, because aligning homosexuality and pedophilia is icky to me, but at the same time, she does have a right to be a bigot, and doesn't deserve to be broke and homeless right? I dunno - I'm confused myself. It seems like this business will fail before it opens purely because of their hatred, that seems to be against free speech to me... but then at the same time, I don't want to support that crap.
  • Sounds like they're libertarians, so if their business fails based on the market they've chosen to open their business in, then they should be totally fine with it.
  • In that specific case, I think it's OK for her to be "outed," because you should be able to make an informed decision about shopping there. She's not going to get fired from her own store.

    Likewise, I think it's OK that it was made public that Eich made those donations, so that people could make the decision of whether they want to use Firefox... or whether they wanted to apply to work at Mozilla.
  • One of the "no-win" aspects of this to me is either you allow a bigot to be the CEO, which sucks and would definitely affect my morale if I was an employee of that company, or, bigots learn to be more secretive and then you're living in a weird world of secret bigots where you think your boss is totally ok with gay rights but he's secretly sabotaging your career or something.
  • I keep typing things and then deleting them... I guess I don't have much to say.

    If you are a bigot and you want to be an elected leader you better keep your mouth shut. (CEOs are elected by the board)
  • I totally just realized: I'm tolerant of anti-gay poor people, but not anti-gay rich people.

    With poor people, anti-gay animus is usually just misdirected economic anxiety projected onto a convenient "other". Ostracizing them for their shitty social politics is a barrier to creating the kinds of broad social/economic reforms that would ultimately cause those shitty social politics to evaporate.

    With rich people, it's something else.
  • bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    bigot: 1.intolerant person: somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views

    1. To my knowledge, Eich did not refuse to accept different views. He just supported the view that makes sense to him.

    2. I have read nothing about him expressing "hatred" toward any group.

    3. "Intolerance" is stickier. I think you could argue either way on this one. I, of course, believe it is intolerant to deny the LGBTQ community the right to marry. But, as MZ points out, I think some people don't see that as being intolerant. It's just a belief they hold about what "marriage" means.

  • edited April 2014
    So if people hold beliefs about something, we should just let them believe it without questioning it no matter how much it might harm others?

    Beliefs can totally be intolerant. People still believe that certain races are inferior to other races or that gay people are sinful or that the world is 6000 years old. Ain't gonna let that shit fly.
  • I'm feeling a little irrational right now and not going to post any more and I'm also getting distracted from work I need to be doing. I just need to chill! Respect and peace.
  • edited April 2014
    "Questioning" something and "forcing someone to resign" are two very different things.

    I fully support your need to chill and get centered.
  • I think my point is only that it makes it trickier to persuade them.
  • ie, people turn beliefs into a huge part of their identity and then it becomes an attack on their "existence" when you try to get them to change that belief. That's when they get super defensive and it becomes harder to change their mind. Then they see "liberals" taking down a CEO and they buy more AR-15 rifles?
  • MZ: Yes, yes, yes.
  • A job is not a right. If you do something to hurt the bottom line of the company you get dumped on your ass. This is not just the case for CEOs either. It applies to ANYONE with a job.

    I would not support the company if i found out the CEO was giving money to limiting the rights of people if it was gays or women or minorities.

    Executives should be savvy. This dude was working in a field where being a leader and supporting a cause to limit gay rights is something that would alienate a huge portion of your work force and customer base. There are other fields where he could be a CEO and support those causes without problem (firearms, agribusiness).

  • edited April 2014
    I think part of the issue is that Mozilla brands itself as progressive, and thus is more obligated to live up to that. It's supposed to be accountable to a community at a more intense standard than your average corporation.

    OTOH I think it's fair to say that most tech CEOs are likely to have beliefs that I ultimately find repulsive.
  • Hah, I definitely think most people here would feel befuddled and possibly disgusted after attending one super-deep tech event in the Bay Area :) It's another universe for sure.
  • I totally agree re: he should have been more saavy.

    A job is a right insofar as we have laws to protect people from losing them on the basis of discrimination! You can't fire someone for being black. Should you be able to fire someone for supporting a cause you don't believe in?

    I know, I know, moot point. He didn't get fired. So this is a different argument.

    I guess I'm more interested in: would I join a call to get the new CEO of KP to step down if he/she supported an anti-women's-rights group? That's a question I'm pondering - would that be right or wrong for me on a personal level?
  • I guess I feel like there's a difference in rights protecting race/gender/sexual orientation (things you can't do anything about) and the protection of actions you take that would stop others for being equal.

    What if the KP CEO said women shouldn't have the right to vote or that men make better doctors than women or that the races should be segregated and participated in campaigns monetarily to take away the right to vote for women or to segregate races? You would probably not want to work for that person.

  • This is what happens when there are public votes on people's human rights.

    The idea that gay people are lesser people than everyone else, who deserve fewer rights, is legitimized by the question's very appearance on the ballot. "He has an opinion! He's free to vote however he wants!"

    His is a ludicrous and offensive viewpoint, and Mozilla employees are right to be uncomfortable having him as their leader.

    And the campaign itself, the hurtful things they were saying (paraphrasing: the public schools will turn your kids gay!) — that is what he was supporting with his dollars.

    He can't be effective in this role as a monetary supporter of the prop 8 campaign. Just like the KP CEO couldn't, if he wanted to roll back women's rights.

    Yes, your political views can be a barrier to being effective in certain high profile jobs as a leader of people. There are millions of other jobs available to a man like Eich, and he should have realized on his own that he'd do better in one of those.

    There's not a witch hunt, a litmus test, a slippery slope… there's just a small class of incredibly privileged jobs that it's impractical to hold if you're a bigot, and your employees are not.
  • edited April 2014
    "intolerance" toward someone's OPINIONS is very different from intolerance toward someone's INNATE HUMANITY.

    Whenever conservative people like your FB commenters say that liberals are "just as intolerant" as bigots because they're intolerant of bigots, it is NONSENSE. Where does that argument even lead?

    Being bigoted toward black people DOES NOT EQUAL being bigoted toward racists.

    Being black is an innate quality. Being gay is an innate quality. Being a woman is an innate quality. Being racist is an OPINION. Discriminating against an innate quality is illegal; discriminating against an opinion is not, nor should it be.

    A bible college is allowed to not hire you because you're an atheist. They are NOT allowed to not hire you because you're black. This is right and good. Atheism is a belief; black is an innate biological quality. If you want to work at a bible college you shouldn't be atheist; if you want to be CEO of a progressive company you shouldn't be a hateful bigot. These would be beliefs that don't make sense with their respective environments/brands. I see ZERO problem with this.

    If a politician expresses a belief you don't agree with, you vote against them. If a CEO expresses a belief you don't agree with, you boycott his company in the hopes that the shareholders will ask him to step down.

    Society progresses because people are held accountable for their shitty opinions. public pressure against certain opinions held by the power structure is how change is made.

    People always face consequences for the things they say and do, and this seems right to me. This is a classic case of someone having to put his money where his mouth is.

  • My sense is that in positions of power and representation at companies, it's not discrimination to vote a bigot out of said company. If you aren't controlled by a board, I see no reason why you wouldn't be protected on the basis of discrimination. CEO's are supposed to be the voice of their respective companies, and if that voice is off-message then they'll get the axe. I'm sure plenty of other CEO's share Eich's views and keep it totally under wraps, but once you begin making public statements about contentious issues it becomes about associating those viewpoints with the companies they supposedly lead.
  • Woah - Andrew Sullivan's got a strong opinion on the matter.
  • I mean, it's a comfortable role for Sullivan, as it's basically a return to the role he played all through the 90s.
  • edited April 2014
    I think Sullivan, like most people, is misunderstanding what Free Speech actually covers/is for. Free Speech is legal protection against prosecution--it doesn't mean we all get to say and do whatever we want without facing any social consequence.

    CEOs have to resign all the time, for lots of reasons, whenever their boards determine they're bad for business.

    When racists and homophobes claim discriminatory status it is shitty and wrong. He's part of the power structure, he's not outside of it. He can't be "discriminated against" in the same sense as gay people are discriminated against, because gay people are discriminated against COLLECTIVELY, as a type. He's just a dude whose employees don't like him. A fucking world of difference.

  • edited April 2014
  • P.s. just generally, it's hard for me to imagine a scenario in which I'd take a powerful corporate employer's side against the workers whose labor made him a millionaire.
  • Several of my colleagues have called for Brendan’s resignation. I have not done so, despite my strong feelings on the issue, in large part because of my conviction that the open internet is not and cannot be a progressive movement or a liberal movement or even a libertarian movement. In the climate-change fiasco here in the US, we’ve seen what happens with a globally important issue becomes identified with a single political point of view. We can’t let that happen here: the open internet is not more important than gay rights or any number of other progressive causes, but it should and must be a broader movement. The moment we let “open internet” become synonymous with progressive causes—inside or outside Mozilla—its many conservative supporters will be forced into an impossible position.
    — From Erin’s post Alex mentioned earlier.
  • I really like her post, especially this, which says more eloquently what I've been trying to say:

    "The first rule is to speak against the tactics of false equivalence that inevitably follow accusations of bigotry. When people who are actively working to suppress the rights of others assume the costume of victimhood, it is wrong and it rests on a lie that requires constant vigilance to fight. Calling someone a bigot because their actions are bigoted is not “the real bigotry.” Identifying racist actions and structures is not “the real racism.” It is not worse to be accused of prejudice than to experience it."

    However, I'm confused--can one of you computer dweebuses explain to me the equivalence she's drawing between this CEO and the fight for an open internet? Is that, like, the main thing in his job description, is fighting that fight? She seems to be saying that because one of the things Mozilla stands for is open internet, then asking this dude to resign because he's a bigot compromises the all-inclusiveness of the open internet issue. I think this is really interesting, but I'm just unclear as to what this dude's actually connection is to the open internet cause? Why does ousting him mean that the whole idea of an open internet will be associated with liberalism? I agree with her that it shouldn't be--just confused as to how much this one man stands as a symbol for that particular issue. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • edited April 2014
    It doesn't make a lot of sense, for a couple of reasons. For example, the most important "open internet" fight (net neutrality) is already identified with progressivism despite all the best efforts that people have made in DC to build a big tent coalition that includes Pat Fucking Robertson alongside Al Franken. That's why we can't get a bill through congress and have to rely on the FCC to take care of it for us. And the second biggest open internet fight right now is about stopping the Comcast-Time Warner merger. Which is inherently a progressive issue, because, again, it's about regulation of big business. The idea that by turning a blind eye to homophobia we're going to bring a bunch of conservatives into the fold on these regulatory issues seems pretty starry-eyed to me.

    But then I also think "Open Internet" as it functions right in the discourse now is so vague as to be completely meaningless...
  • Eich has been involved with Mozilla (and Netscape) for a long time. He created JavaScript.
  • I mean, is she basically worried that all the conservatives are going to abandon their cool open source web browser? And all go use the proprietary Internet Explorer or Chrome?
  • this open internet thing is way more interesting to me than the "omg you can't be bigoted against bigots" arguments that I have mostly seen on FB or whatever. But I'm still not sure I see the connection with Eich. Are conservatives going to see him being ousted for being a homophobe as being innately connected to the fight for open internet?
  • I think it gets to what MZ was saying about "us vs. them" stuff. If Mozilla, as a symbol for the "open source web movement" says "we are against conservatives" (which is how conservatives may interpret the events surrounding Eich's departure), then the open source movement becomes a liberal movement as opposed to a global, bi-partisan movement.

  • Right, I get that, but I was just not aware that Mozilla was a symbol for that. Is this a commonly accepted idea--that Mozilla (and thus, its CEO) "stands for" open internet, thus any action taken against the CEO automatically is read as saying something about the open source movement?

    Also, I just want to point out that this new argument is VERY different from the one on your facebook, which was more about how we should all be tolerant of all opinions, and no one should ever lose their job because of their politics, and liberals are "just as bigoted" as bigots. This is a whole different conversation. That first set of opinions is deeply flawed; this second set might be less so, I'm not sure. I just really don't want us to conflate them---like, if his ousting IS bad for open internet, that doesn't mean "reverse bigotry" is a thing. Unrelated.
  • Yeah, it's hard to convey just how deeply some techies are into "open" principles. I can't even attempt to describe it properly. If you look into things like GNU and Linux, you'll start to get an idea of where it's coming from. Marcus is actually a good person to talk to about that stuff.

    So they see this as a core struggle and understandably (given their worldview) are anxious about anything that could "distract" from it, like if it gets sucked into the "liberal vs conservative" professional wrestling match of FOXNEWS conversation.

    I agree more with you folks who, I think correctly, are more concerned with securing non-computer-based human rights first, but to some people, computers are everything, so they think that if they can win their computer battle, everything else will fall into place.
  • edited April 2014
    hmm ok. Thanks MZ, this helps clarify. Very interesting!
    Seems like the techno libertarianism one is always hearing so much about. Makes sense. And they're probably right, that this Mozilla CEO thing might help open web get branded a liberal issue.

    Nonetheless, I still think it is appropriate for CEOs to step down if they lose the trust and respect of their employees and customers. I understand why this is felt to be a distraction from the Real Issue of open internet stuff though.

  • edited April 2014
    FOx News

  • I'm glad he voluntarily stepped down so that it didn't become a worse issue, because it's pretty obvious it was going to cause problems.
  • "We need to learn to live with the noise and tolerate the noise even when the noise is stupid, even when the noise is offensive, even when the noise is at times dangerous. Because no matter how noble the intent, it’s a demand for conformity that encourages people on all sides of a debate to police each other instead of argue and convince each other. And, ultimately, the cycle of attack and apology, of disagreement and boycott, will leave us with fewer and fewer people talking more and more about less and less."

    "The bottom line is, you don’t beat an idea by beating a person. You beat an idea by beating an idea."

    AGREED. (Can we please stop calling the guy a "bigot?" How is that productive???)
  • edited April 2014
    I like Jon Lovett but he's sloppily conflating a bunch of very different phenomena in service of warm fuzzy free speech platitudes while ignoring the underlying economic changes that elevate these kinds of episodes in the media. Lovett's argument does not meaningfully challenge the ways symbolic politics have displaced material politics but instead serves up a litany of false equivalencies that further obscure power differences.

    He should not shut up, but he should certainly refine his thinking.
  • edited April 2014
    I wonder if Dropbox will get as much shit from nerds for appointing Condoleezza Rice to their board: Probably not, but they should - Rice was/is way more of a threat to human rights than Eich could ever be. She authorized water boarding and invaded a country under false pretenses.
  • edited April 2014
    What Kevin said.

    "The bottom line is, you don’t beat an idea by beating a person. You beat an idea by beating an idea."

    Boycotting is one major way the American people HAVE "beat ideas." What do you think the Civil Rights protests of the 50s and 60s were? BOYCOTTS. Do you think Exxon stops destroying the earth because people write them polite letters? In a capitalist society, the beliefs of the power structure don't change until capital is threatened. This is the fact that makes boycotts one of the only recourses we have against power, both corporate and political.

    Should unions not go on strike? Then we wouldn't have a weekend. We'd all still be serfs. Ideas at the top don't change without massive, unified struggle from below. To end slavery we had to have a CIVIL WAR. To get women the vote, women had to go to jail and do hunger strikes. People FUCKING DIE to get ideas to change, and even so they change so slowly that it makes you crazy.

    What would this actually look like--beating ideas without beating the people who hold the ideas? And, if we extrapolate the outrage about Eich (and I'm talking about the fuzzy free speech outrage, not the other issue about open internet) out historically, does this mean that the Civil Rights protesters, and the unions who got us the weekend, and the boycott that got massive tuna fisheries to stop killing dolphins, etc., all went about things in the wrong way, because it's mean to call out people in power positions?

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