Following 10 days of outrage towards Mozilla’s appointing Brendan Eich, a supporter of California’s Prop 8, as CEO of the company, Mozilla announced Eich’s decision to step down. What followed is what was to be expected, calls of LGBT and Liberal intolerances by the right. One wingnut even went as far as to complain about the boycott of Firefox by calling for a boycott of Firefox. And just like the Duck Dynasty fiasco of last Winter, the calls of free speech are also becoming deafening.
But let’s stop and think about this for a moment. Sure the Constitution gives us the First Amendment, which also gives us freedom of religion. But the Constitution bars government from creating any law to infringe upon these. Mozilla is not the government, but rather a private company, so that point is moot. But what about our elected officials?
The right has made religion a defining litmus test on those running for public office. If President Obama doesn’t go to church, the right instantly gets fired up. They go as far as calling President Obama a “Muslim”, as though it’s an insult, when being Muslim isn’t being a terrorist, but rather a religion. If we use their same justification then every Christian is a terrorist because groups like the KKK invoke terror in the name of a Christian God.
Hypocrisy doesn’t even begin to describe what is going on here. If we demand our political leaders to be Christians, then they will carry that demand onto the people they hire as their aides, cabinet members, etc. That right there is a pure violation of our first amendment, as we are now talking about government, not a private company.
This also goes beyond the LGBT community, as I discussed the other day. This decision by Mozilla was seen as a slap in the face to the larger open source community. Now that might sound all union thug like, but the Open Source community is anything but an organized group of individuals. It describes people who believe in providing the software they develop to the public, including the code behind the product. It has become a huge growth in the tech industry, providing the software and source code free of charge in hopes that other will help make the product better for free, then make money by providing support for that product. It’s also the very model that my company, HollyIT, operates under.
I personally know of a few developers that were outraged over the appointment of Eich that also really didn’t care about Prop 8. Why were they outraged? Because the proponents of Prop 8 in the open source community voiced huge concern in 2012 about Eich, then exactly 2 years later Mozilla ignores those outcries by promoting him. That changed the narrative from someone who opposes equality to something much larger – a company opposing the people that help the plugin ecosystem of Firefox excel at no cost to Firefox and no compensation to the developers writing the plugins. Basically Mozilla was saying “hey, keep making our product better through all your hard work for no pay, and we’ll treat you however we want”. It’s also something that Mozilla might not be able to recover from now.
So should the private views of the leader of a private company not matter? Sure. The company is private and that is their prerogative. But the people also have the freedom to decide they don’t want to use that product, or support it through development, volunteering, whatever. The people also have a right to publicly express their concerns of a company and the decisions it makes. It’s that companies decision to listen to those complaints and take action, or not. They must weigh what is best for them as a company. Mozilla did just that and Eich made a decision on what he felt was best for the company he helped start. Him and Mozilla should be commended for that. Everyone makes mistakes, but admitting them is always harder.
And if the right wants to talk about intolerance and complain about people airing their concerns, which results in people losing jobs, then I suggest Googling Martin Bashir, Keith Olbermann, David Shuster, The Dixie Chicks and a slew of others that have had their careers hurt by the right wing voicing opposition. They play this game every bit as much, if not more than the left, and they have been even better at getting results. If they want to consider this intolerance, then they are the kings of it.