Brendan Eich and Mozilla

Getting lots of requests in e-mail to share my thoughts about now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigning from the position after less than two weeks, in large part because of stakeholders being upset that Eich, in 2008, donated money to a successful initiative to ban same-sex marriages in California, which at the time were already legal.

All right. Some thoughts:

First, I think a lot of people are not entirely clear what the story is. One of the e-mails I got asked what I thought about Mr. Eich being fired for statements he made about same sex marriage in 2008. In fact, Mr. Eich was not fired, he resigned; the fomenting issue was not about statements he made, but a donation he gave for a political purpose.

Now, I recognize that the counter here is the suggestion that if Mr. Eich had not resigned he would have been fired, and that (if you’re the Supreme Court, at least) it’s looking more and more like donations are statements, etc. Nevertheless, for now, let’s say that when we have actual facts, we go with the actual facts. The actual facts are: Mr. Eich resigned, and it was his donation to support California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 that got this particular ball rolling.

Second, let’s recognize that Mozilla is in itself an unusual place, and the specific characteristics of that organization, of the things it creates, and of the community of developers it works with, has quite a lot to do with events as they unfolded (see this useful NY Times piece for further if brief elucidation). We should acknowledge this, and recognize that because of this, Mozilla may or may not be a good candidate for a wider prognostication of “what it all means.” In other words, no matter what your position, don’t freak out yet.

With those out of the way:

So, the board of a private company appoints someone as CEO, many of the stakeholders of the company (employees, outside developers, companies whose products are accessed by the other company’s products) object and decide to act in their own personal or private capacity to complain and/or boycott, and ultimately as a result — and without governmental intervention at any level — the CEO decides his presence in the position is not in the interest of the success and welfare of the private company and chooses to resign.

What’s the problem here?

I mean, isn’t this supposed to be how things work? Decisions made, a frank exchange of viewpoints by legitimately interested parties, choices selected with an eye toward the bottom line good of the company, and actions voluntarily taken by the person and people affected? With no governmental interference in any way? Is this not the very soul of laissez-faire capitalism?

But, but… Mr. Eich should be free to believe what he wants, and to contribute to any political cause he so chooses! Well, and so he is, and I would, as they say, defend to the death his right to do so. What he is not free from — and this is the thing which people seem to fall down on again and again — are the consequences of his actions. When you’re the CEO of a corporation where a large number of your stakeholders support same sex marriage, either for personal or professional reasons, your choice in the past to offer support to make such (at the time legal) marriages illegal is a legitimate issue for discussion. Additionally, your further choice not to speak on your current personal thoughts on the topic (whether or not you pledge your company to openness and diversity) is also a legitimate issue for discussion. If a CEO is not willing to accept that there are consequences to his or her past and current actions, they should not be a CEO. Being a CEO is fundamentally about there being consequences to your actions.

Let us posit another company. This company features stakeholders — employees, board members, vendors, users of the company’s product — who fervently believe the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights means that one should be able to buy and own any particular type of firearm one would choose to possess. Let’s say the board of this company hires a new CEO, even thought they know that CEO at one point in the not terribly distant past contributed money to make handgun ownership illegal in the city or state the company resides.

This doesn’t sit well with the stakeholders and they complain and some announce they will no longer support the company. The CEO responds by saying that his own personal beliefs will not keep the company from acting in a way consistent to the law as regards handguns, but refuses to comment on how — or indeed if — his beliefs regarding handgun ownership have changed.

Are stakeholders not right to be concerned that the CEO’s refusal to further elucidate their personal opinion will not directly affect the company and the company stakeholders? Would it not be reasonable thing to worry that the CEO’s past and present action might make it difficult to recruit new employees and vendors, most of whom in the relevant business sector having a clear and certain view regarding handguns and the Second Amendment — and one that opposes the CEO’s known actions? And if the CEO ultimately decides to depart from the position rather than to threaten his company’s standing in the field, would not this be seen as the correct thing for him to decide to do?

And also: Would it not be, again, the very soul of laissez-faire capitalism? That the issue was raised, discussed, taken action upon and dealt with, all within the scope of the company and its stakeholders, quickly and without intervention in any way by the government?

I think you may guess my answers to these all questions.

Regarding Brendan Eich himself: My understanding (which may be incorrect) was that he was initially reluctant to be considered as a CEO candidate. If that’s the case he probably wishes that he had followed that first impulse, as then he would still be CTO of Mozilla and any controversy about his 2008 donation regarding that position (as there was, by all indication) already baked in and dealt with. I think it’s clear that both he and the board underestimated the pushback from stakeholders about the donation and how it would affect Eich as CEO. I don’t know that it’s something they could have known until he was in the position. It’s something they know now, with regard to whom the next CEO may be.

430 thoughts on “Brendan Eich and Mozilla

  1. The best comment I saw on the matter came from a friend on the RPG Net forums:

    “If he got his marriage (if any) annulled, his parental rights stripped, his ability to remarry removed, his ability to adopt removed, and constantly bombarded with messages of hatred and threats of violence…then he’d just be getting what he paid $1000 to inflict on his gay co-workers.”

    Of course, nobody was trying to do anything like that to Eich. Nobody who wanted him to stop being CEO at Mozilla, so nearly as I know, would be in favor of doing that to any group of people, and certainly there’s no organized effort to do it to straight people, or opposite-sex couples, whereas he put real money into trying to make it happen for same-sex couples.

    The second best comment I’ve seen turned up several places independently. Mozilla is a fairly large enterprise in a place and sector where LGBT people are relatively visible. It’s hard to believe that someone willing to throw a thousand dollars at the cause of marriage inequality would be very good at considering the rights and needs of same-sex couples or other LGBT people within the enterprise and among the other firms it deals with. Not impossible, because people are complex and do all kinds of things, but hard, and hard in a way many other equally qualified candidates wouldn’t be burdened.

  2. What I have not heard is if he expressed any anti-gay remarks or supported anti-gay policies as an employer. I do believe that people should be allowed to have purely private opinions which are “off limits” as long as they treat their workers fairly and legally.

  3. I agree with your analysis. One thing struck me from the end of the NYT article; “Mr. Eich, he added, is a very analytical person who got into a situation he did not have the social skills to navigate”.

    To me, this signals another, more salient, reason that Eich was a poor choice for the position of CEO. To be a successful CEO of an enterprise like Mozilla, it is crucial to have good social skills or at least a close relationship with an advisor who can handhold you through difficult situations. Because there’s no way a CEO isn’t going to have to deal with situations that require political/social acumen.

  4. Christopher Brown:

    His choice not to address his current thinking on same-sex marriage, however, appears to be relevant to a number of stakeholders, who are perhaps unconvinced a man who put money behind a successful initiative to take away rights Californians already enjoyed can be trusted to, indeed, treat workers fairly.

  5. “What he is not free from — and this is the thing which people seem to fall down on again and again — are the consequences of his actions”

    That’s a sentiment I’ve read a lot. From you, and from a lot of other people. I don’t disagree exactly, but there’s something about the tone of it that just doesn’t sit right with me. It seems like you think that the concepts of freedom of speech and toleation for others are legal concepts *only*. That as long as the government wasn’t involved, that nobodies rights were violated, then all is fair. He’s just living with the “consequences”.

    I think we ought to think of freedom of speec more broadly than just as legal right gauranteed by the first ammendment. Freedom of speech means we tolerate people with whom we disagree. We try to persuade them, not to silence them. These Mozilla stakeholders were within their rights, but they were a lot less tolerant than they could have been. Personally, I would think better of them if they had chosen to act differently.

    I wish you’d added one more detail to you hypothetical company: are they a gun company, or do they sell floor wax? I’d say it would just as blameworth for a floorwax company to throw out a CEO for his opinions on guns as it is for a browser company to throw out a CEO for his opinion on marriage equality. If it was a gun compnay, I would not.

  6. My disappointment on the handling of this affair is not that Brendan Eich was criticized. I would have several things to criticize about him myself.

    What totally baffled me was the lack of any kind of temperance. The thing he had done (donating to prop 8) and what was publicly done to him was (fromy my PoV) totally unbalanced.It was at if his critics where inspiring each other to escalate the level of criticism again and again.

    His resignation is not a really win for equal treatment for LGBT couples, ask Pyrrhus of Epirus.

  7. You know, there are dozens of other bigoted things that for 100% certain would have had the Mozilla corporation not even *glance* at Eich.

    Antisemitism, public misogyny, general all purpose racism, and so on. All of these things would essentially have disqualified him from even being considered. Having an opinion that, within his own church or whatever, non-heterosexual marriages should be forbidden is even more acceptable than being in a church that bans interracial marriage. If that was it, if Eich was simply a devout Catholic or Baptist, no one would have even blinked. It was donating a substantial sum to one of the most bigoted things attempted in CA in the last 30 years that got him noticed.

    If there’s a double standard, it’s that he’s been treated essentially with kid gloves in a way someone with a different bigotry would not have been, and finally found out what it’d have been like if he’d been a different sort of bigot. Donating a thousand bucks to a bigoted political campaign is VASTLY different than being a devout Catholic.

    I don’t care what you do in your church. But when you start publicly finding a political campaign to step outside your church and create second class citizens, you cross a line where I will actually refuse to do business with a company you’re at the helm of. Be employed by them, fine, I don’t care. But become the CEO, and yes, I care.

    People flipping out over this also want a world where it’s legal to fire someone for being LGBTQ, or for any other reason if they’re libertarians and not garden variety bigots. This is why I can’t care about people on the “moderate right” like Andrew Sullivan crying over how terrible this was. Sullivan spends more time on things like this than he spends on countering actual bigotry. One bigot decides he can’t handle the pressure and resigns when there’s criticism, and all of a sudden it’s the worst thing ever? Sorry, but no. This is not the worst thing ever, or even something all that terrible.

  8. Lawrence D’Anna:

    “I don’t disagree exactly, but there’s something about the tone of it that just doesn’t sit right with me.”

    Which is your right, but I’m not sure why, for example, someone whose already-established rights were taken away by Proposition 8, i.e., the proposition Mr. Eich financially supported, should be convinced by an argument of “tolerance.” Mr. Eich did not appear to tolerate the right of people to marry someone of the same sex and actively used the apparatus of government to compel those rights to be taken away; I could argue very cogently that the stakeholders who chose merely to state that they didn’t believe Mr. Eich was the right choice for Mozilla, or that they were choosing to boycott its products and platforms, without resorting to the government to compel such activity, were being substantially more tolerant than he.

  9. Martin, see the quote in my comment about what it was he donated money to do to others. Having your marriage annulled, losing parenting and adoption rights, having your chosen partner’s ability to make decisions about your health care subordinated to relatives who may hate your guts, an all the rest – this is very stressful stuff. Lethally so; stress kills, as does depression. Proposition 8 wasn’t about saying “we don’t approve of your relationship”, it was about saying “we want to push you back into a second-class status and don’t give a damn what this does to you, your partners, your children, or anyone else”.

    Mom and Dad taught us that there are some things you can’t actually say nicely, because they’re just plain not nice things. “I want you to live with a level of risk, uncertainty, and fear that others will be spared” is one of them. No matter how calmly or politely you say it, it’s still a raging, rude, hateful thing to say, and I agree with those saying that it makes one unfit to lead a company like Mozilla.

  10. Martin seems to be of the opinion that Prop 8 was essentially no big whoop, and that it’s not to dissimilar from just voting Republican or being a Catholic, or any sort of other group that’s traditionally anti-LGBTQ.

    Let me re-iterate: That opinion is fallacious. Enshrining bigotry into the state constitution is in fact a horrible thing. It affects me, it affects people I know, it affects CHILDREN I know, who were being raised by same sex parents in CA when this monstrosity was attempted.

    Eich decided that it was worth $1000 of his money to remove and prohibit legal protections of the parents of children. If he’d started denying the holocaust in public, he’d have had less actual impact on the lives of people, but paid a far greater price.

    So if you want to be seen possessed of an opinion I can respect WRT LGBTQ rights, drop the idea that the response to his being selected as a CEO of Mozilla was an overreaction. Donating to Prop 8 is NOT the same as just being a member of a church that disapproves of homosexuality inside it’s own walls.

  11. ” “This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations,” Justice John Harlan noted. “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.””

    NAACP v Alabama 1958

    “These instances of retaliation sufficiently demonstrate why this Court should invalidate mandatory disclosure and reporting requirements. But amici [friends of the court] present evidence of yet another reason to do so–the threat of retaliation from elected officials. As amici’s submissions make clear, this threat extends far beyond a single ballot proposition in California. For example, a candidate challenging an incumbent state attorney general [in West Virginia] reported that some members of the State’s business community feared donating to his campaign because they did not want to cross the incumbent; in his words, ” ‘I go to so many people and hear the same thing: “I sure hope you beat [the incumbent], but I can’t afford to have my name on your records. He might come after me next.” ‘ ” [Kim Strassel, The Wall Street Journal]”

    Clarence Thomas in Citizens United

  12. So we Catholics can start lobbying to remove all CEOs who advocate pro-Homosexual behavior or in anyway supported attacks on traditional marriage and religious freedom, following the same reason as Mr. Scalzi?

  13. @baughblog I don’t disagree here. My opinion is only that the “penalty” did not fit the “offense”. By the disproportional criticism the good cause (equal treatment for gay couples) was damaged as well.

    Brendan Eich did say something, millions of people are thinking. They are wrong with that, but the fact (that they are) is undeniable. If they notice what happened (i doubt most of them do) it will probably rather stiffen than soften their resistance.

    But a revolution is always about changing the mind and not cutting off the heads of which are holding them. On that account, this battle is a loss.

  14. The issue here is not his position on a particular subject because he was not being an evangelical with regards to Gay rights. In fact had there not been a disclosure of his donation, no one would have known how he felt. So it is improper to argue that he was somehow advocating against the corporate image.

    He was being ostracized for a privately held opinion.

  15. Patrick Mullane:

    Leaving aside my belief that you’re using the term “religious freedom” here in a manner that I find deeply ironic, Mr. Mullane, I’d say: “Begin?” Clearly you’ve not been keeping track of Bill Donohue.

    Coo1blue:

    “The issue here is not his position on a particular subject”

    You’ll need to present your bona fides as regarding your authority to determine what the real issue here is, Coo1blue, as it appears many many people would disagree with you, nor do they (apparently) seem to be convinced of your ability to set the agenda as to what the issue is.

    As for it being a “privately held” opinion: Not so private, it appears. Let’s not pretend it is.

  16. @Josh Jasper I did not think it wasn’t a “big whoop”. My opinion is that the amount of criticism was disproportionate to whatever it was. As a result it was (from my PoV) not helping the cause (which i support) but rather damaging it.

  17. Eich’s bud Pat Buchanan on Putin’s Russia and anti-gay sentiment there:

    With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.

    In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah.

    Western leaders who compare Putin’s annexation of Crimea to Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria, who dismiss him as a “KGB thug,” who call him “the alleged thief, liar and murderer who rules Russia,” as the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins did, believe Putin’s claim to stand on higher moral ground is beyond blasphemous.

    But Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing, and his new claim has a venerable lineage. The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers who exposed Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, was, at the time of his death in 1964, writing a book on “The Third Rome.”

    The first Rome was the Holy City and seat of Christianity that fell to Odoacer and his barbarians in 476 A.D. The second Rome was Constantinople, Byzantium, (today’s Istanbul), which fell to the Turks in 1453. The successor city to Byzantium, the Third Rome, the last Rome to the old believers, was — Moscow.

    Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.

    Putin is plugging into some of the modern world’s most powerful currents. Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America’s arrogant drive for global hegemony. Not only in his tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated.

    He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.

    In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a “culture of death.”
    What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes?

    But by all means tell me more about how I need to be tolerant of someone who funds politicians who’d like to see me in jail for being queer. Remind me how just protesting his appointment to a public position of power is the same as what he’s doing.

    Really, what it comes down to is that I’m not supposed to have any power here. Not that I don’t have a right to a voice, but my voice should have no power. And now that it does that’s somehow just as bad as someone using ACTUAL government power to hurt me?

    Nope.

  18. @Patrick Mullane:

    “We Catholics”? I’m a Catholic, and I’m not going to boycott companies because their CEOs “advocate pro-Homsexual behavior” (whatever that is), or “supported attacks on traditional marriage” (which doesn’t seem to happen very much, except in the form of “not being abusive to people who don’t choose ‘em”). I might very well not support companies whose attacks on marriage and family life include insisting on shift patterns that make it difficult for parents to care for their children, making it difficult for workers to obtain health insurance, and paying so little money that the financial stresses on the family make holding the marriage together more difficult.

    I might very well choose to spend my money elsewhere if a company chooses a CEO who “attacks[...]religious freedom”, but I suspect my defintion of the phrase might vary so much from yours that we cancel one another out. I know people whose religious beliefs include marriage equality, for instance, and I fully support their freedom to express those beliefs.

    In other words, dude, don’t assume you have all Catholics behind you.

  19. Coo1blue wrote:
    He was being ostracized for a privately held opinion

    A campaign contribution is not privately held opinion, it’s an activist intervention.

  20. If it came out that a CEO had donated to a ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment to limit the civil rights of people based on their race, sex, religion, or national origin, this would have been a no-brainer. I think it should be a no-brainer for someone who wanted to take civil rights away from LGBT people, too. I’m pleased by the end result for Mozilla. M. Fay’s point above about the particular importance for Mozilla in being inclusive is a good one.

    If one of the results of this event is that people with anti-gay opinions feel that they should keep them private, to avoid consequences, I think that’s just fine. I believe there are plenty of people with racist, sexist, —-ist views that don’t air them in public because they know there will be social and/or career fallout if they do. That silence is making the world a better place!

  21. Georgewilliamherbet:

    I think you should probably be aware that coo1blue is probably want to use this as a way to back into an assertion that political contributions should be anonymous, i.e., a second bit at a conversational apple that I’ve already noted is aside the point.

    Everyone else:

    I note with interest the discussion in the comments are less about my proposition that what happened here was perfect laissez-faire capitalism at work and more about same-sex marriage, etc. Isn’t that interesting.

  22. Well, Martin, I’d say actual families being discriminated against by a state constitution is pretty damn big. Bigger than some dude’s CEO job, in fact.

    As for “not helping the cause”, please do refer yourself to The Tone Argument Fallacy which you’re doing here. You’re policing a movement you claim to support because they’re not playing the way you want them to.

    What people did was protest his being given a very public facing job. They didn’t try to say he had no right to work anywhere. Clearly he’d been working there for years, and no one cared. But once you step into the limelight, you get public scrutiny. That includes scrutiny for horrible anti-LGBT actions (not just views).

    No one even called him an unfit parent and tried to take his kids away and throw him in jail. Our restraint (in comparison to the poiticians he supports) knows no bounds.

  23. Martin wrote:
    @Josh Jasper I did not think it wasn’t a “big whoop”. My opinion is that the amount of criticism was disproportionate to whatever it was. As a result it was (from my PoV) not helping the cause (which i support) but rather damaging it.

    I am personally separating the internal and external issues.

    The vast bulk of the external reactions and responses to reactions ultimately were immaterial but good blogfodder.

    The internal reaction demonstrated a lack of leadership and personal skills which caused the employee base to turn against him, which was fatal. It was not the donation that doomed him, it was his inability to understand it would be an issue, had become an issue (until too late), and his lack of leadership and openness in addressing it at that point.

    CEOs are not just figureheads or glorified managers; social and political and leadership skills are necessary. Eich and the board failed to realize that.

  24. The CEO sets the tone for the company, lays out certain policies, and what’s the word I want, the company environment….I recall what Michael Eisner did as CEO of Disney. Yes, there were lots of acquisitions that Disney made, such as ABC, the QEII, etc., and Eisner’s policies were not met with open arms by many of the people in those companies Disney acquired. For example, the QEII crew wore beards and mustaches, Eisner’s policies required that they shave those off, even though Walt Disney himself sported a mustache. Eisner also surrounded himself with sycophants who, if they disagreed with him, were gone the next day. This is NOT the way to run a successful company. In short, Eisner ran himself out of a job when he failed to consistently meet goals that were set, and so he was terminated. Unfortunately, in my opinion, his successor was somewhat of the same mold as Eisner, although since I no longer hold stock in Disney, I’m not aware of the company’s financial standings right now.
    A CEO needs to garner the support of the people within his company, as well as every other stakeholder, or else he’s just spitting into the wind. I cannot give an opinion on Mr. Eich’s resignation, since I’m not involved with Mozilla, nor do I own any stake in Mozilla.
    I would ask this, why are people concerned about your feelings toward this? Do they expect that if you say you feel one way, you’re making a pronouncement “ex cathedra”, and that if it’s not in agreement with them, then you’re out of touch? No offense to you, John, but I think if you wanted us to know about your feelings, you would do so without a bunch of people asking you and then flaming you if you disagree with them.

  25. Patrick Mullane – Are you so seriously uninformed that you’re not aware that The Catholic League does this (and worse) already?

    The Catholic League are pro-sodomy laws. Catholic Churchgoers have been in favor of jail time for LGBTQ people, and have campaigned for it and raised money for it.

    Outside of going full Scott Lively on us and agitating for executions, what else have you got that’s going be worse than what they’re already doing within the body of conservatives Catholics?

  26. Fuzznose:

    “I would ask this, why are people concerned about your feelings toward this?”

    I don’t know if “concerned” is the word I would use. I think mostly “curious.” Because I do talk a lot about various subjects and am generally open to people asking me what I think about things. And, you know, I’m fine with people disagreeing with me on things. It happens all the time.

  27. “I could argue very cogently that the stakeholders who chose merely to state that they didn’t believe Mr. Eich was the right choice for Mozilla, or that they were choosing to boycott its products and platforms, without resorting to the government to compel such activity, were being substantially more tolerant than he.”

    That’s completly true. I guess if your standard is “more tolerant than bigots”, that’s good enough then?

  28. John Scalzi:
    I think you should probably be aware that coo1blue is probably want to use this as a way to back into an assertion that political contributions should be anonymous, i.e., a second bit at a conversational apple that I’ve already noted is aside the point.

    Right. I noticed that. But there were two false assertions packed in there; the “private as in should be ananymous” that you put off table for here, and “private as in personal and not activist or interventionistic”, which was my point.

    Donations are by definition activist interventionistic acts, anonymous or not.

    And allowing anonymity in donations is bad for so many varied reasons, which you don’t want us diverting the conversation over so I’ll shut up now.

  29. @Josh Jasper: It is not about how i want the movement to behave. It is about what is required to win.

    I want marriage for gay couples. I want things like prop 8 defeated; not just by court verdicts but by majorities and common acceptance of LGBT people.

    So i ask myself: Did this help toward that goal. The answer is (again as i see it): No. It will stiffen resistance, it will make the opposite side close ranks and create dissent among supporters of the cause.

    The most despicable thing the neo-conservatives have done to the U.S. is the divisiveness they caused. By painting everything black and white, they eliminate middle ground and make it harder to change and adapt views. What i here see is the “good” side falling for this trap :-(.

    There were 7 million people in California voting for prop 8. It is necessary to convince them they were wrong. This was a step away from that path.

  30. John, to be right on your topic, I note that people who ordinary support laissez-faire capitalism (whose side I am emphatically not on) sure don’t like it when it doesn’t come out their way.

    But you haven’t ruled the Marriage Equality topic out of bounds, so I also have some things to say there.

    I believe that a statement made years ago should not be hung around someone’s neck for life (else who should ‘scape whipping?). I am committed to the idea that people can learn and change, and denying them credit for such changes discourages making them, and so is counterproductive. BUT Eich never said he’d changed his views. He said he would support inclusive policies at Mozilla, that’s all. Gay employees at Mozilla didn’t trust him, and they were right not to. If a significant portion of your staff fear that you’ll discriminate against them (and remember, discrimination in promotion is difficult to prove, or even be sure is happening), it’s harder to be an effective leader (in a company with the reputed corporate culture of Mozilla). Imagine a male CEO who has publicly stated that women shouldn’t be in upper management, and who then says he’s fully committed to gender-neutral policies. The reaction would be “yeah, right.”

    I’d like to ask the heterosexuals (especially but not only the married ones) to imagine how you’d feel if someone tried to outlaw your marriage, or prevent it from being recognized in your state. Also, imagine that Loving v. Virginia hadn’t happened, and a CEO had contributed to a campaign to outlaw interracial marriage. Would you feel differently? Why or why not? And would your feelings about that change your attitude toward the free-speech issue?

  31. Lawrence D’Anna:

    “I guess if your standard is ‘more tolerant than bigots’, that’s good enough then?”

    It leaves quite a lot of latitude, I would note.

    That said, most of the major needle-moving I’ve seen have come from people and organizations who largely politely and succinctly stated their positions in public. If the standard here is “just shut up” then obviously that’s going to look like too much. Otherwise, meh. I’m finding it difficult to suggest that people and companies should not respond as they have.

  32. A majority of Americans, and most likely a majority of the Mozilla stakeholders we’re talking about support arbitrary restrictions on immigration. To my eyes that is bigotry on a far larger and more consequential scale than Propasition 8. I guess they’re pertty lucky that they’re the ones that get to do the judging of who’s opinions are sackworthy aren’t they.

  33. Lawrence D’Anna:

    I think you’re wandering a bit off topic to attempt to make a point. Let’s stick to the actual conversation at hand, please.

    Also and independently: you may want to engage spellcheck a bit more frequently.

  34. Scalzi:

    “I think you should probably be aware that coo1blue is probably want to use this as a way to back into an assertion that political contributions should be anonymous…”

    Hahaha. Elephant in your room.

  35. Martin, ask yourself if you’d be willing to have your fundamental rights (and protection for your children, and your spouse’s rights to your home, etc.) subjected to a majority vote (not just to grant them, but to take them away when you already have them), with people putting up millions of dollars to spread lies about you and your spouse and everyone like you.

    Because that would be the RIGHT way to get protection for you, right? And you wouldn’t want to have fundamental rights unless you convinced a majority of voters you ought to, right?

  36. Coo1blue:

    It’s actually the elephant outside the room, way over the hill, in the zoo. Interesting for what it is; not relevant to the discussion. Just because you think it is doesn’t make it so. Now move on, please.

  37. Well, it’s all over, the guy resigned.

    Not sure how much of an asshole he is, but I suspect he’s just a sort of stuck-in-his-ways type of homophobe. Not a hatemonger bilespewer type. So as long as he’s nowhere important we can ignore him.

    Doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s a bit of a jerk, but he’s better than some.

    /rambling thoughts

    Now back to rereading Redshirts again.

  38. Scalzi, the point I’m trying to make that is relevant to the topic is that it’s not the causes that are most virtuous that get to silence people like this. Marriage equality was no less virtuous a cause 20 years ago, but something like this could not have happened then. The causes that get to silence people who disagree with them are the causes that have already won.

    They used their influence to punish and exclude somebody for disagreeing with them. They did so in a context where that disagreement was irrelevant. That is not virtuous, it is intolerant and blameworthy. The fact that the person being excluded did something worse does not excuse it.

    Also and independently, unfortunately Mozilla changed the way spell checker works. You used to be able to turn it on by default, but now you have to right click every time and select “English (United States)” to enable it. I always forget :)

  39. Mr. Mullane: The only people attacking traditional marriage are the people supporting things like Prop 8. Marriage is the institution for creating new family relationships. The key insight is that “marriage” has many attributes, not just one. People who have been loudly and actively campaigning to reject any consideration of attributes other than “one man, one woman” are attempting to remove all but one of the underlying definitions. People who have been campaigning to remove that attribute, while preserving many others, are attempting to preserve all but one of the underlying definitions.

    A life-long committed relationship which makes two people into family, and makes their respective families into extended families, and is durable even if the people sometimes have trouble getting along or get sick or anything else, is a lot more like a traditional marriage than a twenty-four-hour or less relationship between a man and a woman which never has any effect on anyone’s sense of who is or isn’t their family.

    … And yes, this is capitalism doing its thing. Boycotts are a part of the process, and people make their own calls on them. Me, I didn’t join the boycott, because I don’t actually think it necessarily matters that much who’s the CEO at Mozilla, but I don’t think it was a particularly unreasonable one.

  40. [Deleted because coo1blue is showing himself to have a genuinely difficult time actually sticking to the topic at hand. Dude, it's not actually that difficult -- JS]

  41. Lawrence D’Anna:

    “Scalzi, the point I’m trying to make that is relevant to the topic is that it’s not the causes that are most virtuous that get to silence people like this.”

    Silence? No one has in fact silenced Mr. Eich in the least. He was, is and will remain free to express any opinion that he chooses. He could do so right now, in fact, and be assured of a much larger audience than he would have had before all of this happened. Mr. Eich being silenced is not the issue.

    Likewise, accusing others of “silencing” him is especially ironic since in fact many of the people who were concerned were asking him to speak, and to articulate his current personal positions re: same sex marriage — a not unreasonable request given that as CEO he would be directly responsible for his company’s positions. Mr. Eich in fact chose silence, and stake holders moved forward from there.

    “They used their influence to punish and exclude somebody for disagreeing with them.”

    Well, no, that’s not what happened. What happened was Mr. Eich resigned because he decided that he was not the best person to lead the company. As noted in the entry itself, when we have facts, we should stick to the facts. Did the responses of others give him additional information useful to his decision to resign? It certainly did, but unless you can show me otherwise, it appears the decision to resign was Mr. Eich’s alone.

    If you’re suggesting that stakeholders who opposed Mr. Eich made it clear to him there would be consequences to his company if he remained in his position, my response to you would be as it was in the entry: Why, yes, they did. And? That’s capitalism for you.

    I’m not at all sure what your point is, Mr. D’Anna, other than “I don’t like this.” Which, you know, fine. That’s your right. Lots of people didn’t like Mr. Eich personally financing an initiative to take away rights other people already had. They decided to make their displeasure known, which was their right. I’m genuinely confused as to why you think any of this is objectionable.

  42. Wait, who punished and excluded someone? Many many many individuals expressed opinions. Some stated that they would boycott Mozilla products. Mr. Eich chose to resign. His reasoning seems to have been that it would be better for the company for him to resign. Members of the board (according to the NY Times story linked in the original post) tried to persuade him to stay in another position. He declined. He wasn’t fired. He wasn’t forced out. For either the reason attributed to him or some other reason, he decided to resign and decided he would not speak about his political contribution. People made choices to express opinions and perhaps boycott Mozilla products. He made the choice to resign. He wasn’t punished, unless by “punished” you mean “was informed that a whole lot of people, including many employees of the company of which he was CEO, were unhappy with his political advocacy.” He wasn’t excluded, unless by “excluded” you mean took it upon himself to leave the company entirely.

  43. Johnny Carruthers, yeah, crazy right-wing gay-hating bozos love to call bullying when their bullying is no longer tolerated. Who cares what Allen West says about anything? He’s apparently not too good at fact-checking his quotes, either, but then the right wing of the Republican Party has largely abandoned truthfulness as a virtue, so probably he doesn’t care.

    [This bit deleted for commenting on a deleted comment -- JS]

  44. @Lawrence “The causes that get to silence people who disagree with them are the causes that have already won.”

    Did you REALLY just go there?

    May I remind you of a few things?

    -Same-sex sex acts were only fully legalized in this country in 2003
    -Being openly gay in the military was only allowed in 2011
    -30+ states still don’t have anti-discrimination laws, and more don’t cover trans* people
    -Only 14 states allow same-sex marriage, and a significant portion of those have done so only by judicial decisions, based on the SCOTUS ruling. Most of the other states actually have *bans* in place.

    My family is restricted in where we could live in this country because we’d risk *legally* losing our jobs or housing or having our adopted son taken away, and you think we’ve WON? Hardly.

  45. Johnny Carruthers:

    Not that I doubt Mr. West’s sincerity, but I do wonder what he would have to say in the scenario I propose involving the company where the Second Amendment was the concern of the stakeholders.

  46. If the essential test here is that the actions are in the private sphere versus the government sphere, how is this case intrinsically different from the Hollywood Blacklisting? Private corporations, film studios, decided that it was in their best interest to exclude from employment persons based upon their political beliefs, or in too many cases, their inferred political beliefs.
    Eich certainly had a right to his activities. Those who protested and boycotted certainly had a right theirs. The board had a right, and even a duty, to their actions to protect the corporation. Did all of these actors exercise their rights wisely or justly? I am far from convinced of that conclusion.

  47. “Likewise, accusing others of “silencing” him is especially ironic since in fact many of the people who were concerned were asking him to speak, and to articulate his current personal positions re: same sex marriage — a not unreasonable request given that as CEO he would be directly responsible for his company’s positions”

    I have to say I really disagree with you there. He wasn’t encouraged to speak his mind, he was encouraged to recant, to declare he’d changed it, and to apologize. If he had come back and said he still supported prop 8, what would have happened next? I don’t think it would have ended in him keeping the job, that’s for sure. Given that he has in fact declined to speak, I’d say the silencing tactics have been rather effective.

    I also think its just silly to claim it was his decision alone to resign. I think its pretty clear he resigned as a direct result of this controversy, which was about a donation he made to a political cause that has nothing to do with Mozilla or his job performance. I think that’s a shame. I think this incident and all the other ones like it send a message that having unpopular opinions is hazardous to your career. So you’re right, my point is “I don’t like it”. I’m not saying anybody did anything they didn’t have a right to do. I’m not saying he had a right to work there. I’m not saying nobody should have commented. I’m just saying “I don’t like it”.

    I think you should be able to work and cooperate with people you have fundamental, important disagreements with. I think you should even be able to be friends with them. On this occasion, Mozilla demonstrated the opposite, and I think thats a shame.

  48. Regarding being “bullied by the gays”: why do opponents of LGBT equality fear that they are going to be treated by gay people the same way those people were treated by them? As it slowly becomes less acceptable to bully gays, bullying becomes the main accusation hurled at gay activists, no matter how ridiculous it seems upon examination.

    Is there a homeostatic state for bullying? Do people believe that there always HAS to be a certain amount of bullying in the world, and if they’re not dishing it out, then they’ll necessarily be taking it? Same thing for discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, etc.

  49. I’m going to paraphrase a comment I left on Mr. Eich’s blog, the post he made explaining about how he plans Be A Good Leader for Mozilla regardless of personal opinions. (It never showed up in the comment stream, not unsurprisingly.)

    The issue for me is not whether or not Mr. Eich will “be a good leader regardless.” It’s not even, really, about whether Mr. Eich is still a bigot– an issue he dances around like RuPaul on Red Bull, which leaves the observer to draw the obvious inference.

    The issue is about how clearly Mr. Eich is able to communicate about this issue, which is an important one to the “Mozilla Community” he will be leading. He has failed to say either of the two clear, unambiguous, obvious things that would be relevant to the community. Either:

    1) I still hold these bigoted opinions, but I recognize that they are out of alignment with the Mozilla Community’s commitment to equal rights, therefore I pledge to put my personal bigotry aside and lead from the community’s values, regardless of their conflict with my personal values; OR

    2) I no longer hold those bigoted opinions. In the past five years I have changed. Here is how I have changed (examples) and here is how I have acted on that change (examples) and I give you this information in the hope that it will inspire trust in my ability to lead from this community’s values.

    But no. Mr. Eich did neither. He treated us to a classic obscurantist “trust me” shuffle.

    This is unlikely to end well for Mozilla, with him as leader.

    And as others have pointed out, given the nature of Mozilla as an entity, it make sound business sense (in the laissez-faire capitalist alternate reality) for Mozilla –and Mr. Eich– to reconsider the decision.

    After all, there’s only one thing stupider than making a mistake, and walking it back.

  50. Lawrence, I very much doubt you’d be friends with people who think you’re not human enough to have the same rights they have, and who contribute money to taking those rights away from you. And I doubt you’ve ever had to make that decision.

    Work with, maybe. But I really think you’re way out in La-la land on being FRIENDS with them.

    I have friends who probably oppose Marriage Equality. They haven’t said so, and if they did our friendship would end abruptly. I also could be wronging them; they may just not vocally support it. It’s too risky to talk about it.

    The point is: if you’re friends with people who think you’re not entitled to full human rights, you’re not “tolerant.” You’re a fool.

  51. I think you should be able to work and cooperate with people you have fundamental, important disagreements with. I think you should even be able to be friends with them.

    This is the ‘your intolerance of my intolerance is offensive’ argument. I suspect that if it was your parental rights that were being taken away, you might not be so quick to ‘be friends with them’.

  52. “how is this case intrinsically different from the Hollywood Blacklisting?”

    Because Mr Eich has not been barred from taking another job in the tech industry. There is a substantial difference between “We don’t want you to be the public head of our company.” and “You’ll never work in this town again.”

  53. Really? ALL your friends think you shouldn’t have fundamental human rights? Remember, we’re not talking about just disagreeing here.

    Unless you’re an artificial intelligence, it seems unlikely. Even then, I’d think you’d have made SOME friends who believe in full AI rights.

  54. The problem is, of course, that he was bullied into it by self-righteous and fascistic leftists. Heck, even Sullivan thought the Gay movement had gone too far.

    And yes, leftism lately has been letting the mask slip now that they are the Establishment and are returning to their fascistic roots with these kind of McCarthyite witch hunts. And yes, Fascism grew out of leftism (Mussolini said “Fascism is Socialism in one country”). But this isn’t surprising since even leftists have noted this behavior by their fellow leftists. Orwell wrote “1984″ to comment on what the left had become in his time (which is appropriate here because he gave us “ThoughtCrime” which Eich is “guilty” of).

    I really hate being proven true. The left *has* become a bunch of bullying, intolerant, self-righteous, McCarthyite fascists. I’m sorry, John, but it’s true.

  55. Lawrence D’Anna:

    “I have to say I really disagree with you there. He wasn’t encouraged to speak his mind, he was encouraged to recant.”

    And your proof of this is, what, exactly? It’s all very fine to make assertions regarding what you believe, but to be clear, that’s simply what you believe. Unless you are claiming special knowledge here, in which case, again, proof, please.

    I think you’re confusing the right to speak with the preference not to have some of your speech counted against you when it’s inconvenient to you. This is, however, not how the right to speak works. Moreover, what you really seem to be saying is that you really do want freedom of speech to come with freedom from consequence. It doesn’t. Mr. Eich is responsible for his choices; people may respond to them how they will.

    “I also think its just silly to claim it was his decision alone to resign.”

    And again, if you can prove otherwise, I am delighted to hear about it. Until then, it’s prudent to stick with the actual facts, which at this point are well known.

    You do seem to be confusing pressure to resign with the ability to force someone to resign. Certainly Mr. Eich was being pressured to resign; that was the point for many of the people who were complaining. That’s why they applied that pressure. Again, that’s how the free market works. Now, this may lead you to conclude that the free market is not very nice. In which case I certainly encourage you to argue for the value of “nice” to the proponents of the free market. I will be happy to hear their responses.

    “So you’re right, my point is ‘I don’t like it’.”

    Totally your right. The people who didn’t like Mr. Eich choosing to fund an effort to strip their rights from them through the force of law will probably sympathize with you not liking how a concerted effort to change something has an impact on someone’s life. They might point out the difference between working to strip vast numbers of people of their already-existing legal rights, and persuading one person that they might not be the best person to lead a single company, however.

    Scorpius:

    As with Mr. West, I would be delighted to hear your thoughts if the same scenario played out with the Second Amendment as the focus. NB, per examples given in this thread, that something similar to the example I offered has already played out.

  56. I notice no-one mentioning a similar recent case, regarding a charitable organization, where essentially the opposite thing was done.

    World Vision announced that they would allow openly gay folks to be hired. An outcry ensued, with many sponsors Actually withdrawing their sponsorship of some 2,000 children. As a result, World Vision reversed their policy change.

    Capitalism in action, same as at Mozilla. Do those folks decrying the hoorah about Eich feel the same way about the hoorah at World Vision?

  57. @Lawrence D’Anna:

    I think this incident and all the other ones like it send a message that having unpopular opinions is hazardous to your career. So you’re right, my point is “I don’t like it”. I’m not saying anybody did anything they didn’t have a right to do. I’m not saying he had a right to work there. I’m not saying nobody should have commented. I’m just saying “I don’t like it”.

    I think you should be able to work and cooperate with people you have fundamental, important disagreements with.

    So do you boycott or withhold support from World Vision, Hobby Lobby, and other organizations who refuse to hire, promote, and/or fire employees who are atheist, or support abortion rights, or marriage equality? The people who support the right of these types of organizations to actively discriminate against employees, and to enshrine discrimination into law via Congress, the Supreme Court, state constitutions, etc., seem to be the same people who are up in arms about Mozilla’s CEO *choosing* to resign.

    I think it’s excellent that Mr Eich’s efforts to make discrimination against a minority group spurred a public conversation about those efforts. That the conversation may be uncomfortable for Mr Eich, and others like him, who promote discrimination, is part and parcel of living in a democratic republic with a tradition of free and open speech.

    The hubbub of democracy and public debate isn’t always comfortable. For the better part of America’s history, speaking up on behalf of women, POCs, and homosexuality could get one fired, evicted, beaten, and killed. I’ve no sympathy for the discomfort of people who promote and support public policy that leads to the firing, eviction, or criminalization of oppressed peoples when confronted with the disapproval by the public or their peers. That’s how a free country rolls.

  58. er.., well I fear we may be a little too off topic with this, but I’ll respond. I think humans have a fundamental right to peacefully migrate anywhere they want. I don’t think I’ve managed to convince all my friends of this, but I’m not going to hold that against them. I think people have a fundamental right to participate in a free economy. On of my favorite peeps is a Marxist. So yea. I disagree with my friends on fundamental human rights.

  59. Lawrence, you’re clearly not going to listen, but I’ll try one more time.

    The fact that you disagree with your friends on what constitutes fundamental human rights is NOT THE POINT.

    Do you have friends who believe YOU (Lawrence D’Anna) should have fewer fundamental human rights than THEY (your friends) do because of some feature of yours that they do not share?

    You have friends who don’t believe people have a fundamental right to migrate anywhere they want, but they don’t think THEY DO and YOU DON’T. And if they do, you shouldn’t be friends with them.

  60. @Lawrence: “I think you should be able to work and cooperate with people you have fundamental, important disagreements with. I think you should even be able to be friends with them.”

    It’s easy to be neutral on an issue when it’s not your own personal rights and well-being at stake.

    What’s the quote about how wolves and sheep can’t equally disagree on what’s for dinner?

  61. Argh. Is the above OK? Can Lawrence answer? I’d really like to see what he has to say.

  62. Johnny Carruthers if by “said it best” you mean play the victim card for the poor sad people who are being denied their right to discriminate against others, I’ll agree.

    Otherwise I’ll say that if that’s the best, then the other arguments must be really pitiful.

  63. John, thanks. Lawrence, do you have an answer? (You don’t have to, of course, but I’d like to know what you have to say.)

    Shawna, thank you for that. I’ll be deploying that metaphor a lot in the next few days, I expect.

  64. “I note with interest the discussion in the comments are less about my proposition that what happened here was perfect laissez-faire capitalism at work and more about same-sex marriage, etc. Isn’t that interesting.”:

    Indeed. [said in my Teal'c voice]

  65. Xopher, Let me preface this by saying I completely disagree with what I’m about to say. I’m trying to speak for people whose opinion I do not in any way share.

    They do not see it the way you see it, as gays having fewer rights. They do not see gayness as an identity, but an immoral choice. They don’t think anybody should have the right to have their gay relationship recognized by the state in the same way as a straight one, because they do not believe it *is* the same. They believe one is moral and constructive, while the other is immoral and corrosive to society. They think gay people should choose to stop being gay, and look for moral, straight relationships. And then they have the same right to get married as anyone else.

    Could I be friends with such a person? I don’t know, but if someone could hold such opinions as those and still want to befriend an atheist like me, I’d say that person is unusually open minded and probably deserves a chance.

  66. We try to persuade them, not to silence them.

    And that is precisely what happened here. People who disagreed with the Mozilla board’s decision to appoint Eich CEO tried to persuade Mozilla that this was a very bad decision, and at odds with the organization’s stated ethos. This is not “anti free speech” or “silencing” unless you are a proponent of the Preferred First Speaker Doctrine. In which case, you are not so much in favor of free speech per se as, charitably, someone who doesn’t like conflict and wishes people could all just sit down and disagree with lots of niceness and pretty-pleasing.

    Also, eduguessing that there were in all likelihood a couple of other concerns at Mozilla other than sadfeels about people criticizing them on the Internet:

    1) Mozilla’s ability to attract and retain talent in an extremely competitive market. If you’re a talented tech person, would you want to work for an organization knowing that the CEO might decide that your marriage shouldn’t be treated like other employees’? Or that the ‘inclusive progressive’ mantra of your company is manifestly bullshit, and will be followed only to the extent that it doesn’t make them look bad?

    2) Putting on the lawyer hat for a minute, Eich’s appointment as CEO is a gift to anyone concerned about whether Mozilla was actually following California’s rather stern employment laws prohibiting discrimination. Oh, you say that Mr. Smith was fired for performance issues and not because he’s gay? Would you care to explain why your oh-so-tolerant company’s board elected a CEO who contributed a thousand smackeroos to erasing Mr. Smith’s marriage? Could you please tell us why your supposed commitment to equal treatment of all employees led to you appoint a CEO who not only holds anti-gay views, but has attempted to have those views codified in the state constitution?

  67. OK, Lawrence, so you’re NOT going to answer my question. I post this only so you know I don’t think you have.

  68. Lawrence, is it really your position that there is no opinion Mozilla’s CEO could espouse, no cause he could publicly support, that is not directly relevant to the development of browser software but would nevertheless justify calling for his removal? No matter how universally abhorrent, or no matter the ridicule it would bring upon Mozilla’s brand?

  69. Chris A, no, that is not my position. If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. It would demonstrate unusually poor moral reasoning and almost comically bad judgment. Definitely not the kind of person who you want as a CEO. But marriage equality is still a live political issue, even if it won’t be for long. He didn’t have the benefit of growing up in a culture that had already figured this one out. Being wrong about marriage equality in this time and place is a lot more excusable than being wrong about racism or religious toleration. Knowing he’s wrong about this tells you very little about his character, except that he was probably raised religious.

  70. @uleaguehub: I suspect the statement didn’t come from Eich, but from Mozilla’s legal and PR folks. The statement is not, as you note, one of “however I feel about Proposition 8, I respect the community’s principles and pledge to follow them”. It was “this is a disclaimer that our CEO’s demonstrated views should not be imparted to the organization in ways that will get us in trouble.”

    @Scalzi, I suspect the Second Amendment question is going to turn into that thing lawyers do in cross-examination with a hostile witness, where the eventual goal is not to get an honest answer out of the witness, but to demonstrate that they won’t give one.

  71. “how is this case intrinsically different from the Hollywood Blacklisting?”

    Because Mr Eich has not been barred from taking another job in the tech industry. There is a substantial difference between “We don’t want you to be the public head of our company.” and “You’ll never work in this town again.”

    The Hollywood blacklist was not film industry wide, it was an agreement among the Big 5 studios about who ti not hire, small independent film studios were not a party to the agreement. Further more I cannot think of major tech company which would hire Eich now as CEO that is. Sure he can work for smaller companies and at lower levels as long as it is not a pr disaster, so I still think the blacklist analogy is a fairly strong one.

  72. If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. It would demonstrate unusually poor moral reasoning and almost comically bad judgment.

    What happened to “We try to persuade them, not to silence them”? Since Mozilla is a tech company, not an organization devoted to ending racism or promoting religious tolerance, this is like floor wax and guns in your prior example, isn’t it? What if he grew up in a very sheltered culture that hadn’t “figured out” racism and religious tolerance (pretending, for sake of example, that the US has indeed ‘figured out’ those issues)?

  73. Mythago-

    Probably. But I have to assume that the legal/PR folks stated it that way more because that’s all they had to work with, than because they were intentionally weaseling.

    His “personal” blog on the topic (which may, indeed have been penned by the flaks,) was even weaselier: https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/mozilla-news/

    Again, the point being that the statement was aimed at butt-covering rather than soul-baring. In a community where soul is the binding force, that made it clear they’d horked it up.

  74. Martin:

    So i ask myself: Did this help toward that goal.

    Yes, it helped beautifully towards the goal.

    Mozilla is a non-profit tech company that is losing market share due to changes in the tech industry, mainly the shift from desktop browsing and software use to mobile devices browsing and software use. So it’s a critical time for the company. And in the tech industry, there has been considerably more progressiveness towards gay inclusive and friendly policies such as spousal and gay partner benefits, etc., in order to gain the best talent, both gay and gay supportive, which includes most specifically younger people who also happen to be the ones leading the mobile devices wave that Mozilla needs to ride. As a non-profit, co-op company, Mozilla is also under legal obligation to present a socially conscious image, supportive of civil rights, and fully listening to employees and stakeholders, who are often one and the same.

    Therefore, the appointing of an executive to CEO, to be the public figurehead who speaks for the company, who is a deep conservative to the extent that he donates to an anti-rights political campaign to change the law to jail gays and to political campaigns of politicians who work to change laws to jail gays, is incredibly damaging to the corporate non-profit brand. It deeply effects the value of Mozilla’s stock, its ability to work with vendors, to recruit talent, attract new, young customers and so on down the line. Appointing him CEO dropped the value of the company by as much as twenty percent, with a ton of bad publicity, at a time when it could ill afford that.

    As little as twenty, thirty years ago, having openly gay employees was “bad for business” for corporations. Others wouldn’t do business with them if they were considered tolerant of homosexuality. Gay employees had to hide what they were, or risk going to jail and being fired. Discrimination on a massive scale was necessary to maintain stock value, no matter what damage it did to society or individuals. Now, having anti-gay and anti-civil rights positions publicly expressed, and anti-gay policies or lack of benefits, is for some companies and industries “bad for business” and it is becoming more and more widely bad for business.

    So those invested in Mozilla protested the appointment which was destroying the value of their investment (capitalism.) They told the guy to clean up his act to repair the damage he’d done to their corporate culture, public presence, etc. He refused, which continued to damage their brand. They protested further and rather than make the effort to do what was needed for doing the job, he resigned. The damage has still been done, but Mozilla has a chance to recover. And the message going out from it is clear: gay bigotry is bad for business in the tech industry (and also other corporate and non-profit realms.) And that change in how business is conducted is a normal development of capitalism and helps build corporate cultures that are egalitarian and civil rights supportive, which improves productivity and profits. Whether white male executives come to it willingly for profit or are dragged to it kicking and screaming and lying about their personal views for profit is immaterial, since capitalism does this all the time.

    And it has wonderful ripple effects, just like the uproar over companies like Target and Chick-Fil-A. The let’s fire and bar gays from services law in Arizona went down in flames because corporate businesses in Arizona didn’t want it — it’s bad for business. The similar law in Mississippi did pass, but only after it had been watered down and made vague with amendments and changes to try to satisfy corporations who didn’t want it — it’s bad for business. Court cases challenging let’s send the gays to jail laws are bad for business so business is increasingly going from supporting such laws to trying to stop them. And when that’s the case, the anti marriage equality laws go with it — they are bad for business. That marriage equality has come so far in so many states in the U.S. and in other countries has been at least half-caused by corporate business pushing for it as helping their profits.

    The business climate has changed. Eich was apparently not a very savvy businessperson.

  75. The free speech question isn’t really germane here, but it’s being brought up in a number of items about this. The First Amendment prohibits governmental actors (local, state, national) from “abridging the freedom of speech”. Neither Mozilla nor it’s stakeholders and Board of Directors are governmental actors.

    I have in the past, and probably will at some point again, chosen not to be around or do business with some people because of their views on some subjects. I would be very surprised if someone claims that they don’t do that at some point. Some of my concerns are equal marriage rights and other humanist issues, but others can differ (as in John’s Second Amendment argument).

    That groups of people acting as companies can make similar choices isn’t very surprising to me.

    That Eich actually resigned from Mozilla is more surprising, to me at least. I know people there so I’m glad he decided to support Mozilla’s mission and not make himself the story. He did the right thing on that. (Others are making him the story.)

    I’m also glad that he’s getting called out for his support of Prop 8, I don’t think people should get away with such freedom-limiting decisions with no consequences. And when he was CTO he was getting away with it.

  76. Lawrence:

    “If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. It would demonstrate unusually poor moral reasoning and almost comically bad judgment. Definitely not the kind of person who you want as a CEO.”

    And why, exactly, are these things not to be tolerated but supporting treating LGBTQ citizens as less than is something we should tolerate? How is supporting the continuing legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people NOT demonstrating “poor moral reasoning” or “comically bad judgment”? You clearly have a problem with racism, and “religious discrimination” but treating gay people like 2nd class citizens gets a pass?

    “But marriage equality is still a live political issue, even if it won’t be for long.”

    So you’re saying LGBTQ people should just sit back and be patient and suffer people like Eich donating to causes that will continue to make their lives difficult because “hey, it’ll be over soon”? Really??

    “He didn’t have the benefit of growing up in a culture that had already figured this one out. Being wrong about marriage equality in this time and place is a lot more excusable than being wrong about racism or religious toleration.”

    It does not make it right, nor should LGBTQ people be expected or admonished to just cut the guy slack, because *it’s their lives, rights and protections that are being damaged by the monetary and political support people like Eich are donating to initiatives that are aimed at harming LGBTQ people.*

    “Knowing he’s wrong about this tells you very little about his character, except that he was probably raised religious.”

    That’s a poor not to mention fallacious excuse given that being raised religious != being bigoted against LGBTQ people. Plenty of religious people have cited their religious principles as reasons for supporting equal rights for LGBTQ people.

  77. Chris A, no, that is not my position. If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. [...] But marriage equality is still a live political issue

    Okay, thank you. However, I’m still having trouble squaring that with your previous statement (which is what I was responding to), that

    it’s not the causes that are most virtuous that get to silence people like this. Marriage equality was no less virtuous a cause 20 years ago, but something like this could not have happened then. The causes that get to silence people who disagree with them are the causes that have already won.

    Are these not diametrically opposite arguments? The earlier comment seems to say that Eich is being “silenced” (I would say criticized) because the gay rights issue has already been decided against him, and this is intolerant. The later comment seems to say the opposite, that what distinguishes acceptable silencing (of white supremacy or religious intolerance) from intolerant silencing (of opposition to gay marriage) is the currency of the marriage issue.

    Or am I misunderstanding you?

  78. Kat Goodwin says:

    “Whether white male executives come to it willingly for profit or are dragged to it kicking and screaming and lying about their personal views for profit is immaterial, since capitalism does this all the time.”

    There’s another case, some while male execs already want to do the right thing separate from profit or capitalistic pressure, but from their own internal moral beliefs.

  79. With apologies for the double post, I actually think I understand now:

    It is possible to silence a dissenting point of view on a civil rights issue if the issue has already been decided, but acceptable to do so only if the issue in question was decided one or more generations ago.

    Is that it?

  80. @uleaguehub: I think we’re in vigorous agreement there. I’m just seeing the public statement as butt-covering from a specific angle, i.e. the “please don’t go work for a competitor or sue us” angle.

  81. I for one have deleted firefox from all my devices. To each their own. Move along.

  82. Chris A. You’re mixing up right and wrong with public opinion about right and wrong. The first is a decision we make inside ourselves (for those that do think things through, not all do). The second is the public society-wide public face of what people think. Separate things.

  83. @Tangozulu, I believe Chris A. is trying to find a logically consistent explanation as to why Lawrence thinks the sort of reaction Mozilla and Eich got was inappropriate, but would have been appropriate if, instead, Eich’s views had pertained to a racial or religious minority group.

  84. I don’t know man. I agree with your conclusion, but the Second Amendment analogy isn’t really working for me. How about one from the NFL? What if the Vikings really did dump Kluwe for speaking out on gay rights because they thought it was bad for business? Would you be preaching that was “the very soul of laissez-faire capitalism”?

  85. @Billy Quiets: did I miss where Kluwe was CEO of the team, and the team’s mission statement included ‘traditional conservative values’? If so, then their letting him go was totally analogous.

  86. I think some of the difficulty lies in how different people view the issue at hand. Some regard LGBT rights as nothing more than a political issue like, say, the specifics of the tax code. Others regard it as a civil rights issue and feel that trying to deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples is akin to passing laws against interracial marriage.

    I happen to agree with the latter group of people. To me, donating money to a campaign that stripped a right from a group of people felt like an act of hate and oppression, not simply the expression of a political opinion. Would people be rallying to his support if he’d donated money to a group that was seeking to make interracial marriage illegal? But so far I’ve been unable to convince people with the former position (that it’s simply a political position that doesn’t really hurt anyone) that I’m not being bigoted and intolerant in turn for not wanting to do business with people who are using the quirks of our political system (aka the referendum/proposition system, where any measure, no matter how discriminatory, can be passed into law by popular vote) to oppress others.

    I think boycotts and petition campaigns are as legitimate forms of free speech as donating money to political causes, but not everyone agrees.

  87. Lawrence, it’s interesting that your view on racism etc. is “sack him,” but on homophobia his wrong views are “much more excusable.”

    It’s a current fight. Boycotts and the like are tools in that fight! What you’re essentially saying is “don’t do anything that’s actually effective to win this fight. Wait until it’s won, and then you can pile on with everyone else once there’s general agreement.”

    What we’re trying to establish is that anti-gay discrimination is no better than racial discrimination—specifically, that laws forbidding same-sex marriage are not morally more defensible than laws forbidding interracial marriage. You seem to be saying that we shouldn’t fight that fight until it’s already won.

    TimeToGetOverIt, that’s your right of course. I for one will remember which side you were on (not that I necessarily expect you to use the same name in other conversations).

  88. @Chris A and @Lawrence D’Anna – Kindly clarify?

    Lawrence, you state: “If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. It would demonstrate unusually poor moral reasoning and almost comically bad judgment. Definitely not the kind of person who you want as a CEO. But marriage equality is still a live political issue, even if it won’t be for long.”

    …and Chris, you parse this out as: “It is possible to silence a dissenting point of view on a civil rights issue if the issue has already been decided, but acceptable to do so only if the issue in question was decided one or more generations ago.”

    To BOTH of you, then, I address the question:

    When did racial discrimination and religious intolerance become, uh, “dead” or “decided” issues?

    Because here in America, they’re both alive, well, controversial, and viciously divisive.

    Did I miss something?

    Because, seriously, while there may be less body of law and adjudicated precedent on the subject of assuring equal rights for LGBTQ folk, I don’t see any less emotional investment in the denial of or assurance of equal rights for brown folk and atheists and other non-mainstream Judeo-Christian established religious believers.

    Point being, if Mozilla wants to wade into the water of tolerating intolerance, it all looks equally muddy and polluted to me.

    I’m glad they got out when they were only ankle-deep in the Big Muddy.

  89. And I swear wagnerel and I are not colluding in the back and coordinating our assault! GMTA, wagnerel.

  90. The free speech question isn’t really germane here, but it’s being brought up in a number of items about this. The First Amendment prohibits governmental actors (local, state, national) from “abridging the freedom of speech”. Neither Mozilla nor it’s stakeholders and Board of Directors are governmental actors.

    Sigh. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, so forgive the rant, but the First Amendment does not equal the entirety of the free speech issue. Free speech as a human right existed before the first amendment (why do you think the founders put it in the Bill of Rights?) and exists in a non-American context. It is perfectly possible to make a free speech argument that is not a First Amendment issue.

  91. Mr Scalzi,

    I very much like the tone your post takes, and especially making the point that freedom of expression is not freedom from consequences.

    I do think there is a point that needs emphasizing; before doing so, let me set up a hypothetical situation closely related to the one you bring up. Let us say that this company with a strong 2nd Amendment position discovers that a stock-room employee believes in strong licensing requirements for handguns, and that this employee has donated money to causes which promote such restrictions. Then the company decides to pressure the employee to leave the company (without any action that is plainly illegal; just lots of pressure), until he does. One could argue that’s also laissez-faire capitalism. But I think that would sit badly with a lot of people, and I think that it is attempting to make an analogy to *this* situation that some (elsewhere, not necessarily here) are trying to make.

    I would make the point (which is implicit in a lot of what you wrote) that one important fact here is that in my hypothetical, the personal opinions and past political actions of the employee have no bearing whatsoever in that employee’s ability to do his stick-room duties, and moreover that nobody in his right mind will attempt to transfer the lowly employee’s beliefs and actions to the company or to the company’s general public/political activity. Mr Eich, by contrast, was in a position to influence the direction of the company’s activities (both related and un-related to the issue at hand); he is in a position of authority that makes it easy to conflate his personal views with what might be called the “company philosophy”; and that to a large extent, the ability of Mr Eich to do his job was compromised because of the attention his actions brought. It is the direct impact on his ability to do the job and the direct impact on the public perception of the company that makes his resignation (and the pressure he felt to resign) make sense to me.

  92. Indeed, DAVID. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone claim that Eich suffered any legal wrongs from a First Amendment standpoint.

    There’s another way that statement is wrong (or at least incomplete). IANAL, but I’m pretty sure non-governmental actors can commit civil rights violations in the US. Mythago, am I confused?

  93. @Xopher, sure, in certain circumstances, given that we have civil rights laws separate and apart from the Constitution. If I threaten to fire every Mormon employee from my large private business, whether or not that violates the Establishment Clause (since I’m not the government) I would certainly be running afoul of federal and state civil rights laws.

    This is not just about Eich, also, but about the Mozilla board which chose to appoint him. It’s not like Eich seized power in a coup.

  94. Uleaguehub, I wasn’t actually saying that issues of race or religious tolerance are no longer active and divisive; I was paraphrasing an argument using the two examples I was given.

    However, now that you ask, I think that if Lawrence’s argument hinges on how “settled” an issue is, he could certainly find relevant issues of a more limited scope (e.g. miscegenation specifically rather than racism construed broadly) on which bigoted views are no longer admitted to the mainstream US political discourse, and haven’t been for a few decades.

  95. Mythago, Let me make sure I’ve got your point. If the CEO (gotta be the CEO) of Chick-Fil-A (got to have a conservative philosophy) gives a thousand bucks to a gay rights group, then you and Scalzi will be lined up to defend the company’s right to can them? Got it.

  96. GeekMelang, I didn’t say any of the words you put in my mouth and I disagree with all of them.

    Chris A, yes I think the distinction between “live political issue” and “decided a generation ago” is quite relevant. I think people are quite bad at moral reasoning in general, and cited an off-topic example to that effect. Even the best people are pretty bad at it, and inclined to hypocrisy, self-serving rationalization, and all kinds of bias. It is an error to draw strong conclusions about a person for holding an opinion that is still widespread in their own culture and was near-ubiquitous a few decades ago. Even if that opinion is egregiously wrong. I suspect you hold culturally acceptable moral opinions that are egregiously wrong, but I don’t think that makes you a bad person. I suspect the same of myself.

    On the other hand, if somebody is going to declare themselves to be a racist in America, in 2014, they are not simply going along with cultural assumptions. They’ve decided, based on their own reasoning, to go against the nearly universal judgment of their culture. Since the reasoning is their own, and not just the repetition of cultural assumptions, it would tell us a lot more about them as a person. It says a lot more than donating to Prop 8. Supporting Prop 8 demonstrates moral reasoning that is maybe slightly below average. I would compare it to supporting segregation in 1945. Supporting segregation in 2014 is a lot worse.

    I’m not saying it’s appropriate to silence somebody for being a racist, per se. I’m saying that being a racist in this time and place is such powerful evidence against someone’s character that trusting them to be a CEO would be insane. Support for Prop 8 is not powerful evidence against his character, it’s very weak evidence at best. That’s why I say the pressure on him to resign was a silencing tactic rather than a pragmatic decision about what’s best for Mozilla.

    As for whether I’m contradicting myself on if gay civil rights is a live issue or not, I don’t think I am. It is live in the sense that the fight is continuing to go on, and that justice has not yet been done. There is not yet anything like the kind of consensus that we have on racism. But it is “over”, in the sense that it’s almost certain that justice will be done, and consensus will be achieved, within a generation. In the meantime, I wish we could stick to arguing which ideas are good or bad, rather than which people are.

  97. “When did racial discrimination and religious intolerance become, uh, “dead” or “decided” issues?”

    I’m going to say, very roughly, 1964 and 1689-1791 respectively.

  98. @Billy Quiets: Dude, you are awful at analogies. That said, speaking only for myself, of course I support the right of Chick-Fil-A to ask a CEO to step down if his views and behavior clash with the company’s stated mission and suggested that he would treat its employees unfairly, just as I would be vocally against Mozilla having fired a rank-and-file tech dude if he had given money to the Prop 8 campaign. I’m glad this was already evident to you.

  99. mythago, I agree with you there. If this happened to a rank-and-file employee, it would be *outrageous*. I think its unfortunate that it happened to the CEO, but that’s a lot more reasonable in my opinion. Him being the public face of the company and all.

  100. then you and Scalzi will be lined up to defend the company’s right to can them?

    Oh, ye Gods, man. Your cunning hypotheticals have lured us into admitting our hypocrisy.

    Or, alternatively, we might say that Chick Fil-A certainly has the right to fire someone for that reason, but that it’s an appalling reason and they’re horrible for taking that position. See how that works? I may support your right to fire a CEO while still finding the reason you did appalling.

  101. xopher halftongue – yes it is my right of course. what you choose to remember about or not matters to no one. As for Firefox, it lost its’ edge some time ago. It will not be missed.

  102. Let’s start by disclosing that I am gay. I do not live in California, but in Utah, where prop 8 did not directly impact me. I think I should have the right to marry another man, if there was a man I was interested in marrying.

    However, this contribution was 6 years ago. We won. I am disturbed by the prospect of a future in which nobody dares to make any political contribution or statement for fear that activists for or against some cause may hold against him in the future. How far does this go? One day will people who had a sign for the wrong presidential candidate be puhisned for it? Not by government action, but by angry customers or stakeholders?

    I used firefox before this, and I still do. Partly because as I said above, we won. The issue is moot. I like firefox, do not like chrome, and will not allow MS internet explorer to run on my computer. I am not interested in hurting myself to make an empty but very angry gesture against someone for the sin of disagreeing with me. I would quite possibly feel differently if he had been on the committee that worked to get prop 8 passed, rather than just a fairly small contributor. The campaign was full of lies and distortions. For all I know, he only contributed because he was misled by the lies, but is now embarassed to admit it.

    I expect everyone to honor my freedom to choose. In order to be fair about it, I must honor the freedom of others in the same way.

  103. “Do those folks decrying the hoorah about Eich feel the same way about the hoorah at World Vision?”

    Personally, I’m uneasy about both, yes. I’m still trying to sift through why, but I think one common thing that rests uneasy with me in both cases is the pressure put on by parties outside the organization that seemed unconcerned about collateral damage.

    In the World Vision case, the third parties were groups like the SBC who were urging boycotts and withdrawing sponsorship of children in the process, as you noted. In the Mozilla case, as I understand it, we had OkCupid obscuring its site if it detected a Firefox user, telling them to come back using a different browser.

    I’m having a hard time seeing Mozilla coming out of this stronger as a result of these types of third-party actions. The pushing people away from Firefox by OkCupid (and later by sentiment among some that Mozilla and Eich had buckled under to pressure from one side of the political spectrum instead of reconsidering on their own), seems to me likely to further erode the share of the only major browser that’s not the product of a company that would love to remake the Web in its own proprietary or intrusive vision.

    As Erin Kissane, a self-described queer employee of the Mozilla Foundation, put it in her blog at http://incisive.nu/2014/thinking-about-mozilla/

    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.

    As things stand now, Mozilla is the de facto standard-bearer of the open Internet in the browser world. I’m not saying that third parties should be quiet about the CEO issue– I’m one of those third parties myself, after all– but I’m personally more interested in upholding the open Internet than in punishing Eich and Mozilla. I don’t think most of the people who wanted Eich out were interested in punishing Mozilla, but I worry that some of the activism may have had that effect.

  104. Oh, great, thanks, @Lawrence D’Anna! Apparently it’s just large swathes of the American justice system who haven’t gotten the word that the racism thing is “settled.” Do ya think if we tell them, they’ll re-adjust the prison population to reflect the percentage of the population who are actually brown? And maybe, if we remind the GOP that it’s “settled,” they’ll stop trying to pass voter suppression laws aimed at brown folk?

    Ya think?

    Also, I’ll be sure and tell my atheist friends that they’re just imagining all the State Constitutions that institutionalize denial of their rights, since it’s been “settled.” I bet Tennessee, Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina will rush right out to acknowledge that “settlement” with state Constitutional amendments, yep.

    Thanks for cluing me in about that “settled” thing.

    Waitaminnit… which Multiverse are you commenting from, again?

  105. Dear folks,

    I’m catching a persistent logical (and legal) fallacy popping up here.

    It’s the “all opinions are created equal” fallacy.

    Discrimination does not operate on an equal footing with civil rights. Bigotry does not operate on an equal footing with tolerance. The playing field is not symmetric. Anyone who invokes a “but if the situation were reversed” argument (Hi, Kate… among others) as if they were equivalent is engaging in a philosophical and moral fallacy.

    It is also, in the US, a legal fallacy. That was explicitly called out in the US Supreme Court 1995 decision that struck down Colorado’s anti-gay law. I’m paraphrasing here (I don’t feel like looking up the decision, but you can) but here’s the jist: what the Supreme Court said was that the U.S. Constitution is not symmetric in these matters. It allows for giving people additional rights, it does not allow for taking rights away.

    That has been the Court’s position ever since 1954′s Brown vs. the Board of Education (before that, the court was close to inactive on social concerns). It’s been consistent for the past 60 years, so we might as well get used to it. All the 1995 decision did was was state it outright.

    Where the fight comes in these matters is over what is considered an appropriate societal right. But once you think that right exists, the law is not on your side if you try to remove it from people.

    As for heartfelt religious beliefs, they are irrelevant. Heartfelt religious beliefs have been used to justify the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Brotherhood, any number of explicitly racist and anti-Semitic organizations. And, frequently, with the support of religious organizations (at least the local ones). That doesn’t get you off the hook. We do not live in a theocracy. The Constitution was written to ensure we did not –– that whole “establishment of religion” thing? Look to the Church of England for the reason behind that. You do not get to base civil law on your religious beliefs.

    So, let us cease the “if the shoe were on the other foot” business, because the left foot is not close to being the mirror image of the right.

    World Vision and Mozilla are NOT comparable cases.

    And, while I have my moment on the soapbox… Martin, you’re just plain wrong about what persuades people. I don’t mean theoretically, I mean actually, proven by much sociological investigation. What changes people’s minds about homophobia and gay marriage is being around gay folk and having gay marriages around them (more correctly, QUILTBAG, but “Gay” has been studied the longest). There’s 30+ years of research on this, on what changes people’s minds on this issue.

    Exposure is what changes people’s minds, not polite argumentation, not taking the high road. Not even, for that matter, taking the low road. They are all irrelevant. What changes their minds faster than anything is being there.

    The Mozilla thing is neither a particular setback nor a particular advance. On the path to QUILTBAG acceptance and equality, it is an irrelevant blip.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    – Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
    – Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  106. @JJS, you’re contradicting yourself. If it’s a terrible thing to “punish” someone for expressing contrary political views, then you should not feel any differently about Eich if he served on the Prop 8 committee, or if his contribution was a million dollars instead of a thousand. Otherwise all you’re saying is that it’s OK to “punish” people for political views, but only if you personally deem them sufficiently vile.

    As for your fears about “one day”, I freely admit I’m a bit baffled, because boycotts and choosing to direct economic activity in line with one’s beliefs were not invented when Prop 8 appeared.

    @John Mark Ockerbloom, I think it is unfortunate also, but let’s be clear that this is not a natural disaster that fell on the Mozilla board through no fault of its own and without warning.

  107. uleaguehub, as an atheist, and a Marylander, I’m not at *all* happy about that idiotic clause in our state constitution. But if that’s all the religious persecution I have to deal with I’ll count myself lucky and thank the brave people that pioneered religious toleration when not being a member of the right church could get you killed. I’m not happy any more happy about the state of the justice system than you are either. Unfortunately, I think that the progressive tendency to focus on the demographic aspect of the issue makes conservatives think of it as a progressive issue and dismiss it. We aren’t going to see reform on mandatory minimums, the drug war, plea bargaining and the rest of it as long as it’s viewed as a partisan democratic issue. So maybe focus on the arbitrariness, the unfairness, and the brutality with which the justice system treats individuals, and focus less on the demography of those individuals, and the problem will actually get solved.

  108. Lawrence, I think you’re actually pretty naïve about how social justice is achieved. Being nice and polite gets you NOTHING. And pretending the problem is something other than what it is makes it hard even for well-intentioned individuals to find a solution.

    The “Justice” system needs reform in all those areas, yes, but the primary problem with it is that it’s RACIST. Whites get the benefit of the doubt; POC get the book thrown at them. And RICH whites almost never go to prison unless they’ve bilked a lot of other rich whites.

    Next you’ll tell us that we should just focus on how marriage licenses are being denied in states without ME arbitrarily and brutally, and we just shouldn’t MENTION the fact that funny thing, it happens when both people are the same sex.

  109. Lawrence, your answer citing 1964 and 1689-1791 was amusing; however, it wouldn’t be hard to find a Muslim that could tell you about open intolerance of them practicing their religion here in the US. Heck, it’s not even uncommon to hear Christians downright say they are being persecuted for their beliefs. While, perhaps, calling racial discrimination “decided” might be true, IN PRACTICE it’s clearly not a dead issue.

  110. Xopher I once thought much like you do, and it was then that I was naive, not now.

    The justice system is plenty brutal to poor whites. Its can be plenty forgiving to rich blacks too. I’ll even stipulate all else being equal, the justice system treats blacks worse, but that’s not the primary problem. The primary problem is arbitrariness, unfairness, and brutality. I will not tell you that the primary problem with marriage equality is not homophobia. It clearly is. The two problems are not the same. Nobody is intentionally making the justice system racist. It just winds up that way for a lot of reasons, in part because blacks are on, average poorer and more urban. People are deliberately trying to make marriage laws discriminate against gays.

    I think you’ll find being nice and polite has a lot more advantages then you think. The world is full of a lot more folly than evil. By treating people with understanding and respect, you give yourself a chance to find common cause with them. If you assume that the only reason anyone could disagree with you is because they are evil, they will dismiss you and you will achieve nothing.

    Racism *is* settled. It is precisely because we have such a strong consensus against it that progressives find it so convenient to wield it as an accusation. But its not nearly as effective of a rhetorical device as you seem to think. Every time a conservative hears a progressive cry racism, they stop listening. Even on issues like justice reform where you should be able to make common cause with them.

  111. Yanno, @Lawrence, I’m going to call myself out, before our gracious host does it for me, for getting enticed into wandering off-topic in a garden of bright distractions, here.

    Let’s get back to your assertion that “If he were to declare himself a white supremacist or against religious toleration or something like that I’d say sack him. It would demonstrate unusually poor moral reasoning and almost comically bad judgment. Definitely not the kind of person who you want as a CEO. But marriage equality is still a live political issue, even if it won’t be for long.”

    I’m not even going to get sidetracked by pointing out that the most recent time “not being a member of the right church could get you killed” was fifteen months ago when Sunando Sen was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train because (in the words of the push-er):
    “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims… Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up.”

    Ooops. I just did. My bad.

    Back on track, though, let’s parse out a little further why it’s “okay to sack someone” for declaring themselves a white supremacist, or declaring themselves against religious tolerance, yet somehow reprehensible for someone to get criticized into voluntarily resigning because they’ve supported denying civil and human rights to LGBTQ folks to the tune of a thousand bucks, then followed it up by doing their possible to get some serious homophobes elected to office.

    Because, presumably (according to you,) civil rights for brown folks have been sufficiently enshrined into law and precedent, ditto establishment of religious freedom, for a sufficiently long period, to render opposing them viable sacking offenses?

    Did I get that correct? I’m seriously not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to understand the point you’re trying to make, and how it refutes John’s contention that The Justice of the Invisible Hand has been appropriately rendered, in this case.

    So, the reason it’s bad for a company that relies heavily on the values of its employee and user/customer community to allow, maybe even encourage, a guy to resign when it’s been made clear that a) he has in the past acted on a set of personal values odious to that employee and user/customer community and b) has no apparent intention of either repudiating those past actions, or providing sufficient reassurance that those odious personal values will not influence him in the leadership of the company, is…. what?

    Because law and precedent still permit discrimination against LGBTQ folks, and denial of their civil and human rights, in enough jurisdictions to make it… still okay to admit to supporting the denial of those rights?

    Okay enough, that a company that relies on the good will of a community substantially supporting civil and human rights for LGBTQ folks, should double down on the error of appointing this person CEO, by then… what? Defending his odious views and past actions so repugnant to that community?

    Adam Smith weeps.

  112. I’m going to go back to John’s original point. (Disclaimer: I’m gay, and think that donating $1000 to the pro-Prop-8 side was reprehensible; when I became aware of this, Chrome became my default browser. But I’m going in a different direction here.)

    We actually don’t know why Eich was asked to resign. Clearly the Prop 8 and Buchanan donations were part of it, but they may or may not have been the whole issue. It is also clear that many Mozillans did not have confidence in him as CEO, and that may have had a significant impact on the outcome. Eich has very strong technical skills (he essentially invented and has been responsible for much of the development of JavaScript), but it’s entirely possible that he was not a good fit as CEO, which requires an entirely different skill set than a CTO needs. Look at the problems Mozilla is facing: as has been pointed out, they are having difficulty maintaining browser share, their new Firefox OS for phones is struggling in the marketplace, and now they find a vocal group of users is switching away from Firefox because of their choice of CEO. (They hadn’t been able to fill that position for a year or so, so it’s clear that the pool of available candidates is very small.) Is it not possible that Mozillans doubted that Eich could lead them in the direction in which they need to go?

    Not only that. Firefox is free software, and anyone can `fork’ it and distribute their own version. (The Debian system does exactly that, they call their version IceWeasel because they disagree with Mozilla’s trademark practices.) Mozilla gets a huge fraction of their revenue from Google, because Firefox defaults to Google search. Forked versions may or may not generate that revenue, and certainly it would not accrue to Mozilla.

    So. If Eich’s appointment was a lightning rod, it’s entirely reasonable, and a common business practice, to ask him to leave the position. No element of punishment here: he’s not being fired for cause, he simply wasn’t a good fit. I don’t know the reason(s) why he subsequently severed his connection with Mozilla, but I do hope he will resurface somewhere else in the tech industry, perhaps having learned something about how actions have consequences.

  113. Hey Xopher, Congrats! You have managed to turn this into a race thing. Way to go! That’s some dedication.

  114. Is this not the very soul of laissez-faire capitalism?

    That sounds like the old joke about the difference between a liberal and a conservative:
    A conservative is a liberal who just got mugged and a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested.

    It seems that those who favor laissaz-faire capitalism (I don’t; I prefer Smith’s version) don’t like the taste when the market doesn’t favor them.

  115. If conservatives (presumably including TimeToGetOverIt) are going to boycott Mozilla for Eich resigning after a LGTB campaign asking the board to reconsider the appointment, what do they want for an outcome? Since it is unlikely that Eich will be returning to Mozilla, are they proposing that Mozilla hire someone else who contributed to pro-Proposition 8 organizations?

  116. @Ctein

    We do not live in a theocracy. The Constitution was written to ensure we did not –– that whole “establishment of religion” thing? Look to the Church of England for the reason behind that. You do not get to base civil law on your religious beliefs.

    And yet, and yet- the CofE in the UK is essentially an irrelevance; it has much less power and influence than religion does in the USA, and a much smaller percentage of adherents.

    Isn’t that interesting?

  117. uleaguehub, It’s not “reprehensible”. But it is intolerant and illiberal. Eich did not suffer the natural “consequences” of his actions. He suffered the consequences that a community of people deliberately chose to impose on him. They did so not out of concern for his job performance, but out of spite over an unrelated disagreement. I simply see nothing praiseworthy in that action, even if I agree with those people on the substance of that disagreement.

    As to the hypotheticals about racist CEOs, the point I’m trying to make isn’t a moral one, its a logical one. P(Bad CEO | Racist) >> P(Bad CEO | Prop 8). That’s all I’m saying.

  118. In response to your question, “What’s the problem here?” Well, if we’re talking legally, absolutely nothing of course. Or even from Mozilla’s perspective, I think edging Eich out was their only way forward, PR-wise.

    But you don’t address the most important question: does this push forward the cause of gay rights? Because that’s what the point of all the outrage was, right? To show solidarity to the gay rights cause? But instead they’ve handed their opponents a way to feel like persecuted martyrs. The tide of public opinion has clearly turned in favor of gay rights. Had these activists possessed the tiniest inclination to be magnanimous and forgiving now that they’re on history’s winning side, it could have proven wrong the paranoid fantasies of the anti-gay crowd. That opportunity is, sadly, long gone–that’s what the problem is.

  119. As to the hypotheticals about racist CEOs, the point I’m trying to make isn’t a moral one, its a logical one. P(Bad CEO | Racist) >> P(Bad CEO | Prop 8). That’s all I’m saying.

    No, it’s a moral one. A logical point would be consistent: that freedom of speech, persuasion and tolerance, mean that we don’t push to fire a CEO when that CEO’s political views have nothing to do with their job performance, because that would be spiteful and pointless. That logic holds regardless of the exact percentage of unpopularity the person’s views have. Hasn’t it been pointed out again and again that it’s precisely the people with minority, reprehensible viewpoints are the ones most in need of the protection of free speech? “Free speech and job security, except for racists and anti-Semites” is not a principle. It’s a moral argument.

  120. Dave Anderson: the anti-marriage-equality campaign, like pretty much all homophobic campaigning, was founded on lies from day 1. Their leaders haven’t any qualms at all about presenting bogus claims, refuted data, and outright manufactured claims, and their followers have shown no interest in punishing advocates for their cause shown to be making claims they knew in advance were wrong. Literally, the truth is not in them.

    So the question is whether there’s any significant quantity of people who were both not already committed to homophobia and so appalled by this incident that it’ll break any interest they have in justice and equal treatment under the law. Experience gives us lots of good reason to say “no”, and to add that it’s almost never the case that someone who claims they would have supported X wholeheartedly but because of Y must now oppose it is being honest with themselves. People who aren’t willing to support something will find a reason, and can console themselves by saying that it’s that reason’s fault, but there’s always something they can point out, real or imagined.

  121. (As Atrios (I think) used to put it about people who went war-crazy after 9/11 and their self-congratulatory tales, “I used to be a liberal, but thanks to 9/11 I’m outraged about Chappaquiddick.”)

  122. I’m getting a little tired of the people who are saying that it’s more acceptable, or at least understandable, for someone who is older to discriminate against people who are LGBT, because that was the socially acceptable norm back then.

    I’m 50, only a year or so younger than Brendan Eich. I don’t think of myself as decrepit, and my attitudes about social issues have been evolving all my life and continue to do so. But I’ve never been a supporter of anti-gay legislation. I opposed Amendment 2 when I lived in Colorado in the 1990s. I opposed proposition 8 in 2008. In any case, LGBT rights were very much on the radar when I was in college in the 1980s (which really weren’t the dark ages). They had programs and presentations about these issues at my university (which was not exactly a hotbed of social liberalism–it actually had the highest percentage of Christian undergrads in the UC system at that time).

    But Brendan Eich went to a Jesuit university, some might say. He’s probably religious. Well, I know plenty of religious people, some of them my own age and older, who aren’t homophobic bigots too.

    I really think people use their generation and their religion to justify the prejudices they already have in many cases, rather than gaining their prejudices from their generation and religion.

  123. @baughblog:

    “the question is whether there’s any significant quantity of people who were both not already committed to homophobia and so appalled by this incident that it’ll break any interest they have in justice and equal treatment under the law. Experience gives us lots of good reason to say “no”…”

    I think you write people off too quickly. The assertion that people are unconvincible is demonstrably untrue: in 1996 only 26% of americans supported gay marriage; today that number is 53%. Clearly a great number of people have changed their minds in the last 20 years. What makes you think 53% is the ceiling for support? Were you among that 26% in 1996? What changed your mind? It’s too easy and too uncharitable to assume the worst of people who disagree with us, and it’s certainly not any way to change minds.

  124. Yowzadave, you misread me…or, like as not, I wrote badly. Sorry about that! Let me clarify.

    Dave Anderson thinks that the Eich protest will end up hurting, by alienating people who would otherwise be sympathetic to the cause of marriage equality but will find it so distasteful they’ll side with the bigots ever after. I don’t think that’s true. I think that there are people who like not to think of themselves as bigots but who act in bigoted ways, wherever there’s an issue of fair play and equal treatment, and that they’ll always find a way to convince themselves that it’s all those other mean people’s fault. But as you say, in practice, lots of us change our minds over time; no one thing is likely to be decisive, and particularly not something like this.

    I think that the right thing is the right thing, pretty much. :) I found the objections to Eich clearly put, and think that they contribute to the overall good. (I liked the comment I read to the effect of “Eich put a thousand dollars into the cause of making George Takei single and isolated from the guy he loves. Mr. Rogers would not approve.”)

    Really sorry for giving any other impression. Thanks for bringing it up so I could try again.

  125. mythago, “logical” in the sense of “pertaining to reasoning”, not as i think you took it, meaning “consistent and correctly reasoned”.

    Since the base rate P(Racist) is so much lower than P(Prop 8), knowing somebody is a racist tells you a lot more about them as a person than knowing they support Prop 8. Add to that people’s natural tendency to uncritically adopt the opinions of their culture, and the argument only gets stronger.

  126. This is a thread that will very likely sprout trolls overnight, so I’m going to close it down until I’m up and moving again tomorrow morning. Note that as I am going to be late (past 2am here), I will probably also reopen it later than usual tomorrow (I suspect possibly after 10am). Because, you know. Sleep.

    See you all tomorrow! Or more accurately later today.

    Update: Comments back on.

  127. @Lawrence, knowing somebody is a racist tells you that they’re racist. It doesn’t tell you that they have terrible business-management skills, or can’t code. It might tell you that they grew up in a country where racism is not widely stigmatized, or in a part of the US where cultural and religious beliefs support those views, or at a time when racism was more widely accepted. You are, again, making a moral argument; you’re just providing footnotes. “Free speech and job security, except for racists, because they’re probably doofuses”.

    I should note that we’re all getting a little sloppy with the terminology here – mixing up beliefs with donations to particular causes – and it’s skewing the arguments. The LGBT equivalent of “racist” is not “donor to Prop 8″, it’s “homophobe.” So we should be positing not a hypothetical CEO is racist or anti-Semitic or hates atheists, but one who gave a thousand dollars to a group fighting to stop interracial marriage, or to posthumously baptizing Jews to ‘save them from their perfidy’, or to make it legal to force atheist kids to pray in public schools.

    I think it’s interesting that nobody wants to touch Scalzi’s Second Amendment example, other than Billy Quiets’ dismissal that it doesn’t work for him.

  128. I was thinking about posting about the Second Amendment example. :) My take can be summarized as “foolish and wrong but well within their rights”.

  129. Racism *is* settled. It is precisely because we have such a strong consensus against it that progressives find it so convenient to wield it as an accusation.

    How…privileged of you.

    Actually, it is QUITE convenient for you to state that it’s settled. Because people of color KNOW it’s not settled, every single day of their lives, every moment of their day. I would not call it settled when millions of people have to struggle to just claim what everyone else is so freely given.

    It’s rather insulting for you to keep insisting that it’s a settled issue when people from their own personal experience and published research say differently.

    You’re entitled to your opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts.

  130. @baughblog: I don’t see that it’s foolish and wrong, particularly if the example more closely matches real life here – for example, if the company’s stated values were strongly in favor of “the entire Bill of Rights, not just part of it”, and respect for responsible firearms ownership, and if the group the CEO had donated to actually got a gun ban put into the state constitution (which was later overturned). That is, we’re not simply talking about a remote intellectual debate, but concrete action taken by the CEO which contradicts the company’s stated values, may have directly impacted the stakeholders’ rights, and which raises concerns as to the CEO’s actions going forward.

  131. “private opinions”: Since the Supreme Court has ruled that money IS speech, the concept of private anonymous donations is kaput: what would that be? “Muttering”?

    If money is speech, it is CRITICAL that all donations be made public.

    Eich’s money made a statement: “I support stripping away people’s rights.”

    And btw, being forced from a CEO gig is not comparable to beheading, in case you were confused.

  132. Lawrence:

    I didn’t put any words in your mouth that you didn’t type up yourself.

    I don’t think your *intent* is that LGBTQ bigotry (and that’s what supporting Prop 8 is, bigotry in action, not just a difference of political opinion, which funny enough, is how people cast disagreeing about civil rights for people of color and not just “back then” either) is something we should tolerate, but that is the impact your words have when you try to justify and make excuses for why people shouldn’t be so “strident” or “angry” about Eich’s support for Prop 8 and should just “be patient” because LGBTQ bigotry is “on the way out.” If that’s not your intent, you might want to rethink the impact your words are having so your intent matches your impact.

    Whether it is on the way out is immaterial because it is happening NOW and deeply hurting people. That alone should be a reason for anger.

    “I think you’ll find being nice and polite has a lot more advantages then you think. The world is full of a lot more folly than evil. By treating people with understanding and respect, you give yourself a chance to find common cause with them. If you assume that the only reason anyone could disagree with you is because they are evil, they will dismiss you and you will achieve nothing.”

    As others have pointed out, this is nothing more than a variation of the tone argument and respectability politics. It’s putting the onus on people whose rights are being oppressed and who have been systematically marginalized to not be angry and upset the people with power, people whose societal power is in fact allowing them to dictate and decide what is and is not in fact “polite or nice enough” for them to listen to, regardless of how right criticisms are. Further, it’s laughable when you exhort people who are already being disrespected by having their rights and very humanity questioned simply due to their sexual orientation and gender identity to “treat people with understanding and respect” if they want others to listen to them in the first place.

    “Racism *is* settled. It is precisely because we have such a strong consensus against it that progressives find it so convenient to wield it as an accusation.”

    Because casual and institutionalized racism isn’t a thing that even progressives have a hard time processing, much less admitting as a problem, and people aren’t still tossing around fallacious ideas like “reverse racism” being a real thing. The idea that “racism is settled” in the US is one of the greatest and most harmful lies we’ve told ourselves, because it only looks settled to those who haven’t been systematic targets of racism their whole lives. It’s not something people “wield as an accusation” because it’s “convenient” either – “accusations” about bigotry and discrimination aren’t things people pull out so casually, and characterizing it as such it actually part of the problem. Doing so posits that the sincerity of such “accusations” is suspect and based on “convenience” rather than the actual existence of a problem.

  133. Mythago, that’s as sensible a response as I’ve come to expect from you. :) I’m willing to take that criticism aboard and adjust my comment.

  134. There is an important point that I haven’t seen made.

    Mozilla.com is the for-profit arm of a nonprofit organization: mozilla.org, the Mozilla Foundation. Quoting a friend of mine. “mozilla.org is the foundation; mozilla.com is the Mozilla Corporation, which is 100% owned by Mozilla Foundation and which, in its bylaws, explicitly says “The primary purpose of M.F. Technologies (the “Corporation”) is to advance the Mozilla Foundation’s objectives of promoting choice and innovation on the Internet.” ” Most of the Mozilla Foundation’s work is done by volunteers. Some of those volunteers, including entire software projects, withdrew their support after Eich was appointed CEO.

    That is also freedom of speech in its rawest form. People said “I’m not going to voluntarily donate my labor to this organization because I disapprove of the CEO.” And, as other people have pointed out, a CEO for mozilla.com who drives away volunteers from mozilla.org is not advancing mozilla.org’s goals.

    This isn’t Molly Hypothetical of Bluesky Corp being fired for promoting [insert worthy cause unrelated to Bluesky Corp]. It is a concrete, actual case, with a detailed context, where a CEO’s political speech drove away the volunteers the company depends on.

  135. “Intolerance” is not in and of itself a bad thing, although I can see why it’s easier to make a shallow point against ones opponent by pretending it is and trumpeting the supposed hypocracy.

    Intolerant of bigotry? Intolerant of active efforts against equal treatment under the law? You bet your ass I’m intolerant of that shit, fuck yeah.

  136. Catching up:

    Tangozulu:

    There’s another case, some white male execs already want to do the right thing separate from profit or capitalistic pressure, but from their own internal moral beliefs.

    Yes, they may. And if the board of directors and major stockholders think that those beliefs are harming the company and bad for business of their investment, they then may pressure those execs, protest those execs and fire those execs. The decisions of corporations are neither for or against civil rights necessarily; they are centered on the success of the company (or their own goals for the company more realistically.) And those decisions they make, whether they end up supporting civil rights or eliminating civil rights for the benefit of the company and their investments, can then be criticized, protested, boycotted and ostracized by everyone, including those in and involved in the company, for or against civil rights.

    Once, those execs who tried to support gay employees and gay rights were fired in all cases. But the business climate is changing because there was protest and economic consequences and problems in business caused by those policies. Some of that change was caused by slow and internal persuasion and some of it was outright screaming protest.

    David:

    It is perfectly possible to make a free speech argument that is not a First Amendment issue.

    It is, but usually the argument being made isn’t an actual free speech argument. It’s usually a protected speech argument. We have the right to free speech. We don’t have the right to declare others can’t speak out freely in protest, criticism, boycott and ostracization of us and must tolerate everything we say. Eich had every right to do what he did. And others had every right to criticize his being the CEO of Mozilla because of it. Eich doesn’t have more free speech than other people do.

    Bruce:

    If conservatives (presumably including TimeToGetOverIt) are going to boycott Mozilla for Eich resigning after a LGTB campaign asking the board to reconsider the appointment, what do they want for an outcome?

    They don’t care about Mozilla; hey, it’s a non-profit company. They just use the uproar to fundraise and build revenue. They are trying to create the picture that gay people are dangerous, (the dangerous Other,) that they aren’t simply trying to get their civil rights but will punish anyone they feel like if they have civil rights, because that’s power and it’s better to continue the oppression. And those who are fearful about this should give them money to help gay people from getting their civil rights. Rather than reform Mozilla, they’re trying to fund and get votes for politicians who will work to implement unconstitutional laws removing gay civil rights and criminalizing gay people who protest, and prevent laws protecting gay civil rights from persecution. In doing so, that allows them to also get other laws across for deregulating businesses, and political and media fundraising that bring them revenue, consolidating a power or at least a financial base. It doesn’t matter if gays are slowly reclaiming their civil rights legally and if the business climate is changing in regards to gay employees and customers. They can make money all the way down the fight. And when gays do make some progress, such as the right to marry in the U.S., they can simply switch and say that they were for it all along and the matter is “settled,” as has frequently been attempted with racial issues, or that the U.S. has now plunged into armegeddon and gay marriage becomes a continued financial boon.

    J.D. Locke: If you think that it is right to argue that people’s civil rights are complicated issues that have to be argued and settled and, as D’Anna here argues, granted only by the majority consensus views of others rather than are the inalienable rights of all human beings, then I can understand why you thought that was a good article. But for me, there is no discussion as to whether gay people have or should have the same rights as myself. They do, and that they legally don’t have those rights is because they have been and are being persecuted through the law and society. They don’t only have the rights if I give them to them — which was the argument Proposition 8 made and why Proposition 8 was both unconstitutional and persecution. So the Daily Beast article was bigoted shit, as far as I’m concerned. Gay people are not going to chill when they are dying, being beaten up, losing their children, losing money, and going to jail. Their allies are not going to chill. Chilling is not on the menu.

    Dave Anderson:

    does this push forward the cause of gay rights?

    Again, yes, it does. OKCupid is a large business. They said, we don’t want to be in business with bigots. That makes a big impression with all the companies that want to do business with OKCupid and like companies. The stakeholders, programmers and some directors said we don’t want someone who persecutes gay people as the public face of the company, it’s going to be bad for business and is not our brand. And that sends a very powerful message that the business climate has changed from persecution to greater equality — a factor that businesses now must digest and decide what they will do about it.

    The opposition to gays having their civil rights do what the opposition to civil rights always do — argue that they are the victims, martyrs and persecuted and the demands for civil rights and equality are unjustified, even evil. They will do this under any circumstances. It’s how they make money, for one thing. And if no one challenges their view; if silence greets their claim, then the society remains in support of their view and public opinion does not turn in favor of the civil rights. The only reason the tide of public opinion has turned towards gay civil rights is because of incidents like with Mozilla — because the notion that it is okay to deprive gays of their civil rights and outright persecute them was challenged, again and again, at the risk of death, jail and the loss of their families. Being accused of being intolerant power mad bullies is the very least of what gay people and others have been threatened with in their efforts to get their civil rights and end persecution against them. It means nothing; it’s just a dodge because their protests have had some success.

  137. Thank you again, Kat Goodwin, for a clear and cogent essay. Off to a party with people who have been discussing this online, but who stopped when I posted about it; not planning to bring it up, but if it does come up I’ll employ some of the reasoning you use here.

  138. Dear Marc W.,

    Yeah, ain’t it!

    I think the two of us would have a lovely and erudite conversation on the relative roles of religion and religious institutions in the US and England/Europe, past and present.

    And if we do, John will Mallet the bejeezus out of us for Felony Thread Drift. (Lovingly, of course.)

    So, I am going to jump in my time-machine and fast-forward to the end where I thank you for the mutually delightful and informative discussion we just had.

    pax / Ctein

  139. This whole thing was mishandled. Unfortunately, the perception should have been-”As an employee/volunteer/whatever I have concerns about his commitment to our company culture” to “He donated money to something that he shouldn’t have so he must be brought down. Down, do you hear!” Ideally, he should have said if he regretted the donation or still supported traditional marriage and then resigned because he didn’t feel he could lead the company.given the situation. I agree with Dave Anderson-all this did was hand the persecuted christian cadre more things to foam about,
    Of course, in reality I don’t really care and I think that’s the position of most people in this country. I’ll bet if you asked around for folks’ take on the Mozilla fuss; they’d think it was some monster movie thing.

  140. @mythago, “@Lawrence, knowing somebody is a racist tells you that they’re racist. It doesn’t tell you that they have terrible business-management skills, or can’t code. It might tell you that they grew up in a country where racism is not widely stigmatized, or in a part of the US where cultural and religious beliefs support those views, or at a time when racism was more widely accepted”

    I’m pretty sure we’re in agreement here. That’s why said “Being wrong about marriage equality in this *time* and *place* is a lot more excusable than being wrong about racism or religious toleration”.

  141. @GeekMelang, *again* you are putting words in my mouth, and again I disagree with them.

    LGBT activists should indeed be strident, they should be angry, and they should not be patient.

    It is possible to stridently, angrily disagree with somebody about one thing such as LGBT civil rights, and yet still cooperate with them constructively on something else which is entirely unrelated, such as open source web browsers.

    Do you really think this debacle has helped the LGBT cause? You think this kind of behavior has changed anybodies mind in *favor*? It has not. It is seen by conservatives as spiteful and intolerant, because that’s exactly what it was. It has hampered the cause, and it has alienated people that could have become allies.

    Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Andrew Sullivan has to say http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/03/the-hounding-of-a-heretic-ctd/

  142. Reiterating a point Kat made in that delicious comment:

    Speech criticizing the speech of others is also free speech. Freedom of speech is for everyone, not just those who have the luxury of a bully pulpit. Both the law and principle of free speech do not guarantee a rapt audience, a soapbox, and the silence of those in opposition. (And that’s all even aside from the principle that not all speech is protected–libel, for instance.)

    I suspect that the motivation behind this line of argument is the idea that groups with disproportionate power should not be allowed to drown out or silence, via direct action or the threat thereof, the speech of others. This makes sense of course–it’s part of why the first amendment prevents government power from being used to silence speech. However, the notion that individuals and groups supporting LGBT rights have some sort of disproportionate power compared to the massive establishment of the opposition is ludicrous. Public opinion is only barely on the side of justice and has been for only a very short time. That’s absolutely nothing compared to decades of well-organized, well-funded and well-politically-empowered opposition to that justice. Public opinion may be slightly on our side, but political power most definitely is not. The only power we have is the same basic power everyone has: to vote and to speak out in favor of our interests and hope we sway opinions. Organized boycotts and such are only an extension of that; they are not a weapon of speech destruction. They are not a power that others don’t have; we are equally powered on that count. People are, for instance, free to boycott OK Cupid for their actions in this case just as people are free to boycott Mozilla. Equal power, yo.

    What’s likely happening here is the same thing happening on a lot of other issues, as the tide is turning: People who have, their entire lives, enjoyed disproportionate power are seeing that being chipped away, and because their sense of the real balance is so skewed, they believe this amounts to their oppression. A spoiled little kid who is used to having All The Toys is going to pitch a fit when he’s in a doctor’s office waiting room and asked to share even one of the toys there with someone else. “MINE,” he screams as he starts beating the other kid over the head with a Nerf bat. The people pitching a fit here don’t understand that the toys they’re trying to claim don’t belong to them, and never have. Justice is not a limited commodity, and it’s not owned by any one person or group. Fair economic opportunity is not owned only by those who inherited wealth or made a lucky-guess investment that paid off. Marriage is not owned by heterosexuals, much less Christians. Just because these things have been held for so long by one group doesn’t mean that group actually owns them (especially considering that in many cases, they stole them to begin with.)

    So, no: free speech is not owned by any one individual or group, even the people who have had a bullhorn for so long they think they earned it. When the people fighting for justice for the oppressed have actual disproportionate power, then complaining is reasonable. Until then: shut up and share the toys with the other kids.

  143. @Shawna, “Speech criticizing the speech of others is also free speech. Freedom of speech is for everyone, not just those who have the luxury of a bully pulpit”

    Indeed it is. And if they exercise that freedom in a illiberal, intolerant way, for instance by calling for boycotts of a good company based on the unrelated political activities of its CEO, then other people might use their own freedom of speech to criticize that.

  144. I have mostly seen the Eich incident as very similar to the incident in the 2012 presidential campaign where GOP candidate Mitt Romney broke with many years of election tradition by refusing to publicly share/release his recent tax returns.

    In each case, Romney and Eich seemed to be caught completely flat-footed and off-guard by the controversy. It struck me as a sign of unsuitability for their respective positions that they were so blindsided by events, since these controversies were foreseeable.

    Much MORE problematic, though, was their inability to recover from being blindsided and to take a strong–or even remotely credible, competent, poised, or even semi-articulate–position once that controversy began. In each instance, their deer-caught-in-the-headlights behavior and “if I just keep refusing to discuss it, surely this will GO AWAY” attitude came across to me like a 14 year old kid just caught by his parents in a major infraction: refusing to make eye contact and declining to say anything other than a resentfully muttered, “I didn’t do anything.”

    THAT sort of response is =completely 100% inadequate= for a corporate CEO (let alone a US President). S

    Someone who cannot regroup and do a LOT BETTER than THAT when caught flatfooted in a foreseeable controversy he didn’t expect… is completely unsuited to that sort of professional public/leadership position, particularly in this day and age of 24/7 connectivity and media scrutiny.

    Once the controversy is on top of you, you need to be able to deal with it effectively, capably, and credibly… or you’re not suited to be a high-profile CEO (or a statesman). All other aspects of Eich’s situation aside, he was right to step down, because his performance in the very first challenge he faced as CEO was so inadequate, he was clearly not equal to the various demands of that position.

  145. Dear Lawrence, et al.,

    Uh, Guys? GUYS! You’ve all fallen into the “let’s compare pain” trap. You-all are arguing endlessly, repeatedly, and circularly, about analogies that you cannot mutually agree are appropriate. And then you-all are trumping it by arguing about whether the analogies-you-all-can’t-agree-upon are more important or more significant than the subject at hand.

    There is a reason why this is considered a dead-end trap in progressive and transformational politics. You are demonstrating it!

    Come on, just stop it. Please? You don’t agree on whether or not the analogies are even appropriate, or on their social import; it’s a failed gambit. Because it is NOT the topic, it’s an aside.

    I’m not fingering you, specifically, Lawrence; anyone who’s participating in this sub-debate is executing the same fail.

    But make no mistake; it is a well-known fail.

    ~~~~

    Dear Shawna,

    What you said, and even more so…

    The law gives people the right to dissenting opinions. It does not enshrine all dissenting opinions as equal. Both the law and modern society have firmly declared that positions advocating bigotry and discrimination do NOT have equal status with those supporting civil rights and tolerance.

    That is right and that is appropriate.

    Sullivan, et al., fall into the fallacy of declaring that all dissident opinions are equal, so they must all be protected equally. They are not. People who cast this as an argument about supporting all minority opinions are as firmly in error as folks who declare that the fights against slavery and segregation in the South were really ones about states rights.

    Bzzzt, wrong. Thanks for playing. Next contestant!

    Or, to put it succinctly: is not a self-contradiction to be bigoted against bigots.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    – Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
    – Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  146. @Lawrence “Indeed it is. And if they exercise that freedom in a illiberal, intolerant way, for instance by calling for boycotts of a good company based on the unrelated political activities of its CEO, then other people might use their own freedom of speech to criticize that.”

    You must have missed the part where I pointed out that calling for boycotts is a right everyone has. It’s not disproportionate to either side. And of course people are welcome to criticize that, just as they are welcome to complain that they’re being oppressed despite having disproportionate power.

    What they are not welcome to do, and what the initial criticism and calls for boycotts are intended to do, is use disproportionate power to ACT in a way that deprives others of rights. A rich man using his wealth to support political actions designed to enshrine discrimination against a given group is ACTING in a way that cannot be expected not to earn critical reactions. Complaining about those reactions is of course a right, but it’s also a pointless and laughable use of that right, and people are (again!) free to openly mock someone making those complaints.

    What’s happening here is that a schoolyard bully paid someone else to punch another kid. Said kid and his friends complained and suggested other kids refuse to sit with this dude at lunch. Friends of the bully (not even the bully himself!) are now whining that people refusing to sit with him at lunch are being evil meanies, AND they’re whining about people pointing out that their original whine is ridiculous.

    The original bad act here was paying someone to hurt someone else. Losing sight of that and trying to shift the blame onto the people refusing to sit with a bully at lunch is a derail, and people are well within their rights to call it out as such.

  147. @Ctein, I don’t believe “comparing pain” is what I’m doing. I’m calling out bad behavior, without regard to who started it, or who’s the more aggrieved party, or who hurts worse. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and a prior wrong does not make it right. I will happily stipulate that LGBT folks have been harmed a whole heck of a lot more by conservatives than the other way around. That doesn’t mean doesn’t mean I’m going to stand by and cheer when some LGBT activists decide to fight dirty.

  148. Refusing to associate with someone who’s paying someone to hit you or people you love is not “fighting dirty.” It’s self-preservation and the preservation of others, particularly those who can’t easily fight back themselves.

    You may as well be arguing that no one has the right to self-defense of any kind.

  149. I was an Army Officer, when we were evaluated, one of the biggest items was, did we support EEOC. This is just an extension of that system.
    Anyone who works for the United States Government should be evaluated on this issue. If you work for the Federal Government you should sign on to supporting Gay Marriage.
    As for Corporate America, we are turning the tide, you will support Same Sex Marriage or be fired.
    We are not Russia. This is the 2014, America is no longer run by right wing rednecks.

  150. @Shawna

    “You must have missed the part where I pointed out that calling for boycotts is a right everyone has” …. I don’t believe I did.

    “It’s not disproportionate to either side” I’m not talking about whether or not boycotts are “disproportionate”. I’m talking about how *this* boycott was spiteful and intolerant.

    It seems to me like your argument is nothing more than “he started it”. Well that excuse didn’t fly in kindergarten, and it it’s no good now either.

  151. @Blackaddr, Wow when you put it like that, i have to admit the error of my ways. I was wrong! Government employees *should* be vigorously evaluated for idealogical purity. After all, we wouldn’t want to be anything like Russia, would we.

  152. “Spiteful” is emotive language for “angry”. Spite is unjustified and petty anger. When somebody says “I am going to help take away a civil right that you already have”, I think that anger is a proportionate and reasonable response. “You just spilled a glass of wine on my dress, therefore you can’t be CEO” is spiteful.

    Everybody went along tickety-boo with Eich being the CTO. He knows his stuff technically, and as a technical dude he was widely respected. The problem was making him CEO, a position that requires you to take charge of the goals of the corporation. A board member resigned in protest. Volunteers — this is the crux of it — disagreed. Some of them said “I’m fine with Brandon.” Others said “I won’t contribute to the Mozilla codebase any more if somebody who acts to thwart marriage equality is its figurehead.” You call that spiteful. I call it “is this the best use of my coding hours?” Eich fell flat as the leader of an organization owned by a nonprofit. His lack of response to the initial problem (the Prop. 8 donation) caused harm to that nonprofit. A competent CEO might have handled the PR problem; he didn’t.

    This isn’t about the priorities of the LGBTQ… community. There is no one head of that community. There is no unified body that sets priorities for that community. There are a lot of LGBTQ (and allied) people in the software community, and no one person speaks for them. It’s not like “Well, the Democratic National Committee” said X. A disparate body of people who were actually contributing code to Mozilla walked away.

  153. @Madame Hardy

    “A disparate body of people who were actually contributing code to Mozilla walked away.”

    Yes, and it’s those disparate people that I’m criticizing. They decided to walk away from a mutually beneficial collaboration because of an unrelated disagreement. I can’t think of a better word than “spite” for that.

    I think you’re right about the board, they did what they had to do.

  154. @Lawrence: Free speech and laissez-faire capitalism are “fighting dirty”? Or are they only “fighting dirty” when directed to people you personally have deemed not sufficiently awful in their behavior (yes to supporters of Prop 8, no to supporters of the Sons of the Confederacy)? Is there really anything to your argument other than special pleading?

    As to the claim that this alienates potential allies, I’ll let a different gay blogger* take apart Sullivan’s hypocrisy and bias, but otherwise observe that this claim seems rather carefully one-sided. It assumes that the protest against Eich’s appointment came solely from LGBT activists, and that nobody outside of the LGBT activism community thought the complaints were a good idea. [citation needed], as the kids say.

    And we’re right back to the point that this was ultimately an economic decision, such that the Great American Consensus you adore is irrelevant. Mozilla isn’t doing business with everyone; as somebody already noted, most people don’t know or care about this controversy.But in the community that matters to Mozilla, anti-LGBT activism IS a big deal, especially when that activism is opposed to the company’s alleged mission.

    *Signorile also makes the point that the kerfluffle was not, in fact, limited to Eich’s Prop 8 support, but also turned up his contributions to Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. So much for “yes, but at least it’s not racist/religious issues”.

  155. Kate April 5, 2014 at 4:51 pm: Do those folks decrying the hoorah about Eich feel the same way about the hoorah at World Vision?

    Every case warrants consideration on the specifics and I speak only for myself. My top-level answer is Yes.

  156. @Lawrence: ” They decided to walk away from a mutually beneficial collaboration because of an unrelated disagreement.”

    Who decides whether the collaboration is mutually beneficial? Volunteering is an emotional commitment as well as a skills commitment. You volunteer for an organization because it’s fun, because you believe in what it’s doing, because you like hanging out with the people in the organization. Volunteers get paid in happiness, in self-esteem. If the organization is no longer making you proud of yourself, why bother? People walk away from volunteer organizations every damn day because they aren’t having fun any more.

    Part of managing a volunteer organization is wrangling the volunteers. If you cannot keep the volunteers happy, you can’t do the job. Period. Eich was CEO of a corporation owned by a volunteer organization. Same thing applies.

  157. @mythago, “Free speech and laissez-faire capitalism are “fighting dirty””

    No, free speech and capitalism are social institutions that help us to get along with each other and cooperate peacefully. Certain behavior, while being well within the confines of those institutions may still be worthy of criticism.

    I don’t want to get back into the racism thing. It’s off topic, and the only reason I brought it up was to counter Chris A’s absurd hypothetical. Let me only say this: spite is never admirable. Even against people whose opinions are “sufficiently awful”.

  158. This is what @lawrence is calling ‘spite’:

    A software developer found that the organization he was donating his valuable work to had named a CEO who actively worked toward making his marriage invalid and deporting his husband and business partner. The developer decided to stop donating his work to that organization. This is not spite by any definition of that term.

    Calling his serious, carefully thought-out political and business action ‘spite’ is a sneering denigration of a reasonable position that you disagree with. Apparently the invalidation of that developer’s marriage and the deportation of his husband is so extremely trivial that serious people shouldn’t object to it and should continue to donate their work to organizations with CEOs who take action to harm their families.

    There seems to be some spitefulness going on here, but it’s coming from @lawrence.

  159. “Who decides whether the collaboration is mutually beneficial?”

    The participants, obviously.

    ” If the organization is no longer making you proud of yourself, why bother? ”

    You shouldn’t, though I’d say making a great great browser is something to be proud of regardless of what political propositions other participants in the project might have contributed to.

    “Part of managing a volunteer organization is wrangling the volunteers. If you cannot keep the volunteers happy, you can’t do the job. Period.”

    Sure. And if those volunteers have intolerant, spiteful criteria for their happiness, nobody should criticize that?

    It seems to me that your argument, and our host’s, is that because everything was voluntary, then it’s all above reproach. I don’t agree with that. Especially since we are not talking about a mere aggregate of unrelated individual decisions, we are talking about an organized effort to coordinate those decisions. I’m going to reproach it.

  160. Lawrence, may I ask whether your objection on this matter is less about defending Eich’s rights and more about defending a company/cause in which you have a strong emotional stake? Because it sounds to me like you may believe the boycotts were unfair to Mozilla, rather than Eich.

  161. Spite seems like it would only apply when causing harm is the goal. And, I suppose, there may well be people for whom the boycott was spiteful in that sense. But in general, the point of boycotts is not to cause harm, but to modify behavior (mostly through public uproar rather than actual financial damage) and if you’re calling that spiteful, then you’re stretch the word to meaninglessness.

    Don’t do that, we’ve already lost ‘literally’.

    And indeed, the point of this was to show a company that hiring someone who is perceived as doing some of your customer base actual harm is a bad idea. Mission accomplished. It also further sends the message that if you’re going to provide support to political campaigns, you ought to be prepared for consequences to ensue.

    The only way to have perfect free speech, which people seem to think ought to mean free of the consequences, is perfect oppression or a change in general human nature.

    Good luck.

  162. @Nutella, You make it sound like we’re talking about a single individual’s private decision. We are not. We are talking about a very public controversy with calls for boycott. We are talking about a whole bunch of people calling for a very valuable and productive collaboration to be harmed or disbanded because of of an entirely unrelated political controversy.

  163. @Shawna. Its defiantly not about Eich’s rights. I think he was treated unfairly, and I don’t like that, but honestly meh to that. Nobody has a right to be a CEO and no CEO should expect to be treated fairly. You’re right, I am much more bothered by the unfairness to Mozilla than the unfairness to Eich.

  164. @Lawrence: Chris A. did not pose a hypothetical, absurd or otherwise, but simply asked you a question based on what you claimed to have been asserting so far. You’re now complaining that question was “absurd” because your answer revealed that you’re not really arguing principles (free speech, tolerance, dissent) so much as you are expressing your subjective views about the value/reprehensibility of Eich’s support of Prop 8. Pointing out that your arguments are inconsistent and illogical is not “off topic”.

    As for spite, apparently Mozilla’s appointment of a CEO whose actions clash with its mission statements, and who impairs it economically, led many people to believe that their relationship with Mozilla was no longer sufficiently “mutually beneficial” to continue the relationship as it was. That’s not spite; that’s a rational economic action.

  165. @Lawrence “And if those volunteers have intolerant, spiteful criteria for their happiness, nobody should criticize that?”

    People who believe those criteria are intolerant should of course criticize that. I note that you are using the traditional rhetorical jiu-jitsu of calling the people who *oppose* discrimination the intolerant ones. Yes. It’s intolerant of me to be angry at somebody who acted *to remove an existing civil right*. And I’m going to stay angry about it, because Prop. 8 was morally wrong, and I have no problem saying that. Others disagree with me, and have no problem speaking their piece, either.

    I genuinely don’t comprehend what a volunteer who is outraged by the behavior of an organization’s CEO is *supposed* to do? It is spiteful and intolerant to organize to get rid of the CEO. Is it better for the organization if you quietly fade away? Is the answer “shut up and soldier, soldier”?

  166. @mythago. ugh. At this point I feel like you are intentionally misinterpreting me. You are demanding that principles must be absolutist and without exception in order to be called principles is absurd. Free Speech / Crowded Theater. Every rule has fuzzy boundaries and exceptions. “We shouldn’t let judge people professionally based on our political differences” Is consistent and principled, even with the exception “except maybe if their opinions are *really* crazy and out of the mainstream, don’t put them in charge of the whole damn company”

  167. Lawrence, everything you’re saying here, particularly the kindergarten comment, leads me to deduce that you believe one or more of the following:

    1. That Eich’s contributions did not constitute an act of hostility toward LGBTs, including his own company’s employees and volunteers.

    If so, I’d hope that the large chain above has disabused you of that incorrect belief, but perhaps not.

    2. That the contribution DID constitute an act of hostility, but that act was not unprovoked.

    If so, can you tell me what you believe provoked it?

    3. That people who are the objects of an act of hostility have no right to defend themselves from that act using perfectly legal means.

    -or-

    4. That people do have the right to defend themselves, but the means they used in this case were wrong and somehow disproportionate to the severity of the original act (in which case I will refer you to my comment on point #1.)

    If indeed you’re going on #4, may I ask for your suggestions on what people in this situation should do to defend themselves? I get the feeling you believe that most self-defense only serves to further enflame conflict. If so, then what do you propose people do to stop being attacked?

  168. (Sorry for the additional post, John. Last for the moment as I’m about to leave for the evening.)

    Finally, since your concern seems to be primarily for Mozilla rather than Eich, I should point out two things:

    1. Mozilla as a company has considerably more power than LGBT folks as a community. They are not an underdog in need of defending from the big, bad gay people.

    2. Every company has to weigh the consequences of its decisions. In giving Eich that job, they made a mistake, and therefore earned the consequences of that mistake.

  169. @Shawna i disagree with all of 1 – 4. I do not view this as any kind of effective defense. I agree with Andrew Sullivan that it is counterproductive to the cause of LGBT civil rights. I view it as unnecessarily destructive to Mozilla, generally illiberal and intolerant, and I do not see how any good can come of it.

  170. @Lawrence D’Anna

    “Yes, and it’s those disparate people that I’m criticizing. They decided to walk away from a mutually beneficial collaboration because of an unrelated disagreement. I can’t think of a better word than ‘spite’ for that.”

    You seem to be making two assumptions here that can’t be justified, at least by a nonparticipant in the activities under discussion.

    First, “mutually beneficial collaboration.” How do you define “mutually beneficial?” Just by the fact that those participating were either making a worthwhile product, or were making money, or both? Is it your contention that when people go to work, they suddenly stop being who they are, whole and complete, ethics and morals and beliefs and all the rest, the moment they clock in? That the minute the workday begins, all that matters is the paycheck and the product? Just flip that switch to the “off” position until the workday ends? Sorry, but that’s not how it works. People are people – those things that are deeply held are held so all the time. People are integrated mental and emotional “packages” – there isn’t a “work mode” where the only concern is getting that project done, no matter what else is going on around you.

    The collaboration you speak of is most assuredly NOT “mutually beneficial” if some of the participants are repulsed by the CEO’s publicly demonstrated hatred and attack on someone’s civil rights. You’re saying they should just accept what they see and hear, and just merrily go along, tra la, making that product and banking that money, and ignore the reprehensible (even if only in their eyes) behavior of the CEO?

    There seems to be three actions folks caught in this mess can take. They can do nothing, just seethe mentally while continuing to make the product – this, apparently, is the solution you favor. However, it completely ignores the fact that people DON’T compartmentalize their thoughts and emotions for “mutually beneficial collaboration.” They may still continue to work, but they will have various unpleasant reactions (stress, anger issues, other health problems) to doing that work – and that’s not beneficial to anyone.

    Or, they can walk away.

    Or, they can protest and criticize. It would seem the folks you’re complaining about did both of these latter two.

    It is not “spiteful” – it is stating that the company you work for has abhorrent (again, perhaps just in their eyes) policies, and that you refuse to work for them as long as that remains the norm for the company. (Yes, it’s the company’s policies, as long as that CEO remains the CEO.)

    The solution you seem to be advocating – just continue the beneficial work no matter how offended or angered you are by the CEO’s statements and financial support of a cause you disagree with – is simply not possible in a population of informed and thinking human beings. Perhaps it would be possible in a society where no one can think independently or critically – but we don’t live in that society (and I, for one, wouldn’t want to, regardless of how “mutually beneficial” the interactions in said society are).

    I begin to wonder if you think those involved should have been able to put aside their disgust and keep working because you don’t think this particular issue is a “big deal.” I wonder how you’d react if the issue *was* one you cared about. Would you, yourself be able to continue to work with individuals who held a diametrically opposite viewpoint – and publicly and financially supported it – from one you held dear?

    Second, “unrelated disagreement.” Says who? Playing off what I’ve said above, it’s NOT unrelated if those involved SAY it’s not. Things like this do not exist in an objective, unexamined vacuum. They are issues because we, the humans involved, SAY they are issues. Therefore, if those working for Mozilla say that the stated opinion and financial actions of their CEO constitute – for them – a working environment that they won’t put up with, then the disagreement is NOT unrelated to their work. It’s their working environment. Their CEO – and therefore, their company – has stated support for something they find unethical. They refuse to be associated with such a company. They leave, loudly stating why.

    It was not “spiteful.” They were placed in a situation in which they disagreed with the public opinion of their CEO. They thus preferred not to work for the CEO. They stopped doing so and told people why.

    You can continue to assert that people should be able to work, unaffected, with those who hold and support viewpoints that are bigoted, unjust, illegal, or unethical. But I think it reveals a mindset that does not truly understand the world – and the people who populate it – as it is.

  171. I disagree that this is counterproductive. Yes, the bigots will continue to be bigots. And they’ll whine loudly. But no matter what else happens, they have to know that this means their actions have consequences! And that’s a good thing.

    Will this change their minds? No, but they weren’t going to change their minds anyway, so that’s a red herring. If you’re focused on the public posturing of the bigots, you’re looking at the wrong thing. The important thing is that they’re freaking out because they’re scared! The idea that being a hateful bigot is consequence-free is less supportable than it used to be.

    This was a good, and productive, thing to have happen.

  172. Dear Lawrence,

    You misunderstood my focus: it was the entire effort to evaluate and analogize racismsexismanti-semitismhomophobia that was a failed exercise in comparing pain.

    As for the rest, well, that was refuted with the “asymmetry” posts, but more importantly… honestly, you’re sucking up an awful lot of air just repeating yourself over and over. You are not saying anything new. We heard you the first three times. We do not agree. You are not going to convince us. Insisting on saying it yet another time will not do so.

    I’m done. You’re done. Let it go.

    pax / Ctein

  173. Heh. I saw this somewhere: “The argument of those who are crying about Eich is that the pro-SSM people are allowed to make their argument; they’re just not allowed to win it.”

  174. Ctein and Marc W., ooo! Can I introduce myself into that timestream? Blah blah blah Henry VIII, blah blah blah Elizabethan Compromise, blah blah blah?

    Lawrence, I’d just like to point out that Andrew Sullivan is a known asshole, distinctly to the right of center, and not at all mainstream with the rest of the gay community. In fact he’s kind of the right’s pet gay guy.

    Shawna: Brava. Don’t have much to add. Just brava.

    Lawrence again: @Nutella, You make it sound like we’re talking about a single individual’s private decision. We are not. We are talking about a very public controversy with calls for boycott.

    If you think one person making a decision to behave a certain way is OK, and a bunch of people organizing to agree to behave the same way is not, you’ve left the path of reason.

    Shawna again: more brava, and I take it you noticed that Lawrence did not answer your question. It’s a pattern for him; he won’t answer mine either.

    At this point it seems clear that Lawrence will object to any action that actually has any impact, while suggesting none of his own, even when directly asked. He just wants the LGBT community to keep toiling in the server farms until the straight masters magically deem them virtuous enough to be entitled to human rights.

  175. I think the disagreement here comes down to how we view the opposition, and how we expect to win.

    It seems to me that most of the commenters here view conservatives as hateful bigots, who need to be defeated, humiliated, shown the “consequences of their actions”. We’re at war and they are the enemy. How can you expect us to ever be nice to them in any context? We need to show them that “actions have consequences”.

    I view them as generally good people that are in serious moral error about LGBT people.

    How we will win: I guess y’all think you can win the culture war? That the entire conservative coalition can be beaten into submission and utterly defeated like state religion and segregation?

    Well I don’t think so, and I sure hope not. There’s a lot of aspects of conservative politics that I’m rather fond of, though discrimination towards LGBT people is certainly not one of them. Regardless of my preferences though, I don’t think the culture war can be won. I think that even as discrimination against LGBT people comes to an end, conservativeism will live on. I think discrimination against LGBT people ends as conservatives *join* the cause, not as they are defeated by it. Alienating people by treating them in unfair and intolerant way is not the best way to get them to join your cause (and yes, for the record, before you say it *again*, what they did to LGBT people was worse)

    Conservatives will join the cause as they come to see LGBT as an identity rather than a choice, and LGBT people as normal and upstanding citizens. One of the most effective ways for people of very different backgrounds and beliefs to come to see each other as normal is for them to actually work together and get to know each other. Sorting the economy into progressive companies and conservative ones where people with the wrong opinions need not apply is *not* the way to achieve that, nor is it healthy for discourse in general.

    If you focus on fighting the ideas you disagree with, you leave the door open for your opponents to become your allies. If you fight the *people* you disagree with, they will always be hostile to you.

  176. Dear Xopher,

    “A large Mallet shimmered tentatively into existence over the Tardis. “Oooh, this could be a bumpy ride,” guessed the Doctor.

    “Ya think?!?!” demurred his Companion.

    pax / Ctein

  177. “He just wants the LGBT community to keep toiling in the server farms until the straight masters magically deem them virtuous enough to be entitled to human rights.”

    yes that is exactly how the IT industry works. They gay minions sweat in the sweltering code pits while straight overlords watch from above and sip lemonade. And I love it that way.

  178. “Audioanimatronic sodomy”, next band, etc.

    Also, that’s some nice entitlement ya got there. Be a shame if somebody chipped away at it. Actually, no it wouldn’t.

  179. It seems to me that most of the commenters here view conservatives as hateful bigots, who need to be defeated, humiliated, shown the “consequences of their actions”. We’re at war and they are the enemy. How can you expect us to ever be nice to them in any context? We need to show them that “actions have consequences”. I view them as generally good people that are in serious moral error about LGBT people.

    Being “good people” doesn’t exempt anyone from having their actions and words criticized, nor does it entitle them to be handled with kid gloves. Whether or not someone is “good’ isn’t the point – you can be a “good person” and still engage in actions that are harmful, in which case, be prepared for people to point out (often loudly), how what you’re doing is hurting other people and that if you’re not going to stop, your actions are going to have consequences, including criticism.

    Please, consider how intent is not a “get out of jail free” card for excusing impact.

    “How we will win: I guess y’all think you can win the culture war? That the entire conservative coalition can be beaten into submission and utterly defeated like state religion and segregation?”

    And you think segregation was ended because people asked *nicely*??

    One of the most effective ways for people of very different backgrounds and beliefs to come to see each other as normal is for them to actually work together and get to know each other. Sorting the economy into progressive companies and conservative ones where people with the wrong opinions need not apply is *not* the way to achieve that, nor is it healthy for discourse in general.

    If you focus on fighting the ideas you disagree with, you leave the door open for your opponents to become your allies. If you fight the *people* you disagree with, they will always be hostile to you.

    A difference of opinion is arguing whether or not you think Batman is preferable to Superman. That’s the kind of difference of opinion people can overlook in order to work together to create things. Asking LGBTQ people to overlook the opinion that they don’t deserve equal rights because of who they are is beyond the pale and not an equivalent comparison.

    The issue is not at all about “Is Eich a GOOD person”? Plenty of “good well-meaning people” have held and do hold bigoted beliefs. The issue has always been “Is Eich the RIGHT person to shepherd Mozilla as CEO?” Employees, volunteers and consumers of Mozilla spoke up and said no, they did not think he would be the right person to lead Mozilla, because he’d demonstrated support for bigoted legislation.

    You’ve been relying over and over on tone argument and the privilege of politeness as a reason to dismiss the concerns of those who didn’t think Eich was the right choice to lead Mozilla. Doing so focuses quite a bit on the comfort and feelings of those who support oppression “because they’re good people” while showing very little regard for the comfort and feelings of those who are being oppressed.

  180. May I note that Eich didn’t suddenly transmogrify into the CEO of Mozilla? Their leadership (board of management, whatever they call it in the Mozilla universe) PUT him there. This shows some pretty glaring lack of foresight on their part, too. The subsequent loss of value of company stock, as well as loss of volunteer worker bees, was a hit on the Board, as well as Eich. I don’t think too many CEOs at any other companies would have survived that sort of problem, especially the drop in the value of company stock. I wonder, if they had been trying to find a new CEO for around a year, if the appointment of Eich was seen by some to be an act of desperation on the part of the Board, so it was the lack of faith that the company was going to ever recover from its financial and technological woes, that was crystalized by the appointment of Eich, as much as his support for Prop 8 that caused a lot of the subsequent problems?

  181. So, if I read @Lawrence correctly, the actual people who are affected, donating their work, etc., to Mozilla are being “spiteful” etc., by protesting his appointment on blogs and not continuing to donate their labor on his behalf, because they are disorganized individuals with individual beliefs, ethics, etc.

    However, NOM calling for a boycott, and the folks flooding Mozilla’s customer feedback site with death-threats and homophobic rants are perfectly reasonable actors, practically victims of the terrible oppression of the GLBT employees, volunteers, and users of Mozilla’s product who quit and protested. Because not serving a master who beats you, and saying that you won’t take it in public, is a terrible thing to do to the master. It might hurt his feelings.

    @Lawrence: The above is the general gist of your many, many, many comments. I am pretty sure that you don’t actually see this; I am also convinced that you are not gay or female. These three things are not unrelated.

  182. @scalzi, sorry bout that.

    @GeekMelang. Sigh. I just don’t know what to say to you anymore. I may not be as well versed in feminist jargon as you, but I don’t think the “Tone Argument” is what I’m doing here. I do not think LGBT activists should be mild or polite when describing something such as Prop 8. I’ll say right here I think it was a spiteful, bigoted, discriminatory law and a massive injustice. Is that strident enough for you? My argument has nothing to do with tone. It is about context. The workplace is the wrong context for politics. Punishing individuals for political disagreements is a terrible way to peruse causes. You really should try to get along with people you disagree with. Who knew that could be such a controversial sentiment?

  183. The workplace is the wrong context for politics…Who knew that could be such a controversial sentiment?

    Everyone who has ever been discriminated against in the workplace?

  184. And after further thought about John’s question about the 2nd Amendment CEO, if his donations, etc, even when done as a private individual, are adversely affecting the company… Driving away product developers, employees, customers, and driving down the company’s stock value, then – even though I am one of those who thinks gun ownership should be a right given to those who have shown they can be responsible owners by attending and successfully completing gunnsafety classes, etc – I would have to say the CEO should resign, and further, that the decision to ask him to be CEO, and his decision to accept the post, were deeply flawed.

  185. @Lawrence I believe you misattribute the damage done to Mozilla to protesters and boycotters. The boycot was, as many are, believed to be the only effective means of raising awareness and applying temporary pressure. It was action taken in the absence of much choice or power. The decision of the Mozilla board to promote Eich was taken in an atmosphere of far greater freedom of action, by people with power and far more time for deliberation, and with much better knowledge of priors (e.g. that Eich’s political positions have been controversial since knowledge of them was made public in 2012, etc.). And let us not forget that they [the Mozilla board] are the ones paid the big bucks to make good decisions, to weigh the potential benefits vs liabilities of their decisions, and they performed *extremely* poorly.

  186. Skipping over the many important moral/ethical issues already aired here, I’m worried about the practical consequences of this demonstration that someone can be driven out of the CEO position by collective action. Let’s consider gun rights, an issue on which the tech community seems to be split. If someone who favors gun control can be driven out by a determined minority who oppose it, while someone who opposes gun control can be driven out by a determined minority who support it, then who can run the company? Do we have to limit our CEO picks to the ciphers who refuse to admit anything about their personal beliefs?

  187. David, it’s not like this is a new development. Private firms happily hunted down suspected Reds and fired them in the ’50s. Union advocates have been at risk forever. Anita Bryant helped establish an ongoing anti-gay national effort 35 years. Heck, the non-importation leagues are almost 250 years old, and the early successes of the civil right movement of the ’60s are half a century old. All of these have involved pressures on businesses to change their leadership. There just isn’t anything new about this at all – whatever good and harm it can do, it does and has been doing since way back when.

  188. @David Karger, guessing you didn’t actually read Scalzi’s original post, which in fact used gun control issues as an example?

  189. @mythago, I did read Scalzi’s post. However, Scalzi was asking what was *reasonable* (which i read to be focusing on the question of rights). I agree with his (implied) argument that everyone has a *right* to boycott/pressure for the resignation of a CEO they disagree with. But I’m worried about the consequences of everyone exercising that right.

  190. If gun control is that divisive in the tech community, then one “vocal minority” is going to be canceled out by 1) the opposing “vocal minority” and 2) the non-vocal majority who will continue doing business with the company regardless.

    Your example also seems to make the rather ugly assumption that Mozilla’s actions were driven by a small but loud minority, rather than a large and diverse group of people including its own employees, and by Mozilla and Eich’s own failure to manage the controversy sensibly.

  191. Well you’ve taken on the whole thread there, D’Anna.

    Eich’s views and actions to jail gays, etc. are not unrelated to Mozilla and his position as CEO there. In fact, they are directly related, since industry leaders like tech CEOs guide corporate policies, corporate environments, which effects society and work as a whole, and influence and outright buy politicians to make unconstitutional laws to enforce their own personal beliefs, as well as gain further control of their workers, including gay workers. So how a CEO feels about gay people is incredibly relevant to how his company will function and whether others want to work for that company and do business with that company.

    You are pretending that gay civil rights issues are a separate, personal issue. They’re not. They are a business issue, a legal issue, a social and institutional issue that permeates every field, which is why the discrimination against gay people is so widespread, ingrained and damaging. Mozilla made a business error in today’s climate. They faced consequences for that business error. They are not innocents. They chose to appoint a known gay bigot for CEO — it was a policy decision they made, in direct opposition to their own corporate goals. That you think that should be given a pass has not been, historically, the effective method for improving the climate in business or elsewhere. If a company takes action against gay people, including some of their employees and possibly stakeholders, by appointing a gay bigot as their CEO, then investors, vendors, customers and employees can take action against that company. And the company will have to decide what client base and what employee base they want and face the consequences of whatever that decision is. That’s how business works for civil rights issues and for other issues.

    How we will win: I guess y’all think you can win the culture war? That the entire conservative coalition can be beaten into submission and utterly defeated like state religion and segregation?

    No, I do not think that we can win a culture war because of people like yourself who have your views. But what is interesting is first, your continued insistence that the culture war has been won about state religion and segregation, when it has not. There were legal victories that helped blacks and freedom of religion, but conservatives work tirelessly to enact unconstitutional laws and build social and business circumstances to enforce segregation and theocracy. It’s going on currently, with voter disenfranchisement, disproportionate jailing of blacks, school prayer and creationism in textbooks, etc. — and Christian churches that want to marry gay congregants being kept from freedom of religion. The culture war isn’t won at all. We’re still fighting it and we’ll be fighting it for some time. It’s not a matter of beating people into submission. It’s a matter of trying to get people equal rights in society.

    And to do that, Martin Luther King Jr. did not ask nicely. He demanded civil rights. He led protests, boycotts and sit ins. He encouraged people to speak up long and loud. He challenged businesses to stop discriminating and not hiring black workers and unions to truly represent all the workers, not just the white ones. He encouraged white and black allies not to patronize businesses that discriminated against blacks. He challenged and argued with politicians and accused them of wrong-doing. He was called every name in the book and threatened with death and then killed. He did and led all the same sort of protest methods that occurred with Mozilla. The protest methods you’re calling dirty tricks rather than simply what they are — protests.

    And second, there’s your claim that the gay civil rights movement is somehow different from the racial civil rights movement and the much less organized efforts for freedom of religion, and we shouldn’t use any of the same tactics, such as boycotts. If boycotts worked on changing the climate on racial issues, why wouldn’t they work on gay issues? And in fact, they did work because Eich isn’t CEO of Mozilla anymore and Mozilla is going to work their butt off to make it up to their stakeholders, coders, and customers. And boycotts also worked on Target, Home Depot and other companies caught in the same bind of having CEOs and owners who are bigots and tried to use the companies to maintain repression. They then scrambled to correct those business errors. Target set up family booths at gay pride parades for a start. And even Chik-fil-a, after screaming from their franchise owners due to protest boycotts and protests from gay employees, had to back down on a number of points and cut donations to anti-gay groups and do general PR repair, after their original huffing and puffing. And major businesses made the Arizona governor veto the let’s throw gays in jail for trying to get a cake law because of protest of employees, customers and vendors that made such a law bad for business. Why is it bad for business? Because of protests, boycotts and resignations in protest — the things you think are dirty tricks.

    Again, the change in social view of gay rights did not come from asking nicely. it came from gay pride parades, protests, confrontation, boycotts of businesses, media scrutiny and opinion, from lots of people telling people with bigoted views, those are bigoted views and you are hurting people and even causing their deaths, rather than patting them on the head. People do not change their views on civil rights because you tell them that they are nice people who are mistaken. People change their views on civil rights because you tell them the fact that they are hurting others very seriously and you are going to call them out on it and protest their views. Which forces them to look at their views and confront their assumptions about how others think. That is how civil rights change occurs, every time.

    The Mozilla incident was a business decision that happened to involve civil rights, because civil rights involve business, labor and economic opportunity. And no dirty tricks occurred. The coders and vendors and investors in Mozilla did not sabotage their computers or beat up Eich or put a horse head in anyone’s bed. They simply protested, which is their right of free speech. And the totalitarians are protesting the decisions that were made by Mozilla thereafter, which is their right of free speech.

    D. Karger: Are you under the impression that CEOs are not regularly driven out by collective action? Because I’m pretty sure that’s how it usually works in companies. For instance, Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple by the collective action of some of the board of directors, just as the collective action of some of the board of directors at Mozilla pressured Eich to resign. And that battle at Apple was under the same sort of public scrutiny and media coverage as today, minus the magnification of the Internet. In fact, the term “hostile takeover” is essentially a description of collective action to oust in business at work. So the clucking that this is somehow some sort of ominous new direction for business relations is misdirection.

  192. David: I agree with his (implied) argument that everyone has a *right* to boycott/pressure for the resignation of a CEO they disagree with. But I’m worried about the consequences of everyone exercising that right.

    A person could say they have the same fear about “voting” or about “constitutional democracy” or similar. They could be worried that everyone might vote the other way, the “wrong” way, and then what? What if everyone votes to outlaw alcohol or some such nonsense?

    I think the point of constitutional democracy is to have a government that is no worse than the people as a whole are. Not perfect, but no worse than the whole.

    And I think boycotts are actually a smaller part of the entire democratic process. It doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it is a way to nudge things so that they reflect the people as a whole. You might see stuff like the Dixie Chicks getting boycotted for all the wrong reasons. But at the same time, you might see stuff like the Montgomery boycotts.

    In the end, I think to champion democracy one ultimately has to have a certain level of faith in humanity, that people will improve themselves, will find better answers. To truly believe in the democratic process requires a belief that the arc of history bends towards justice because people as a whole change for the better.

  193. Mr Eich has the right to speak. This is granted to him by the constitution of the USA, and has never been impinged along the way. He has the right to make political donations as he sees fit – another right granted to him by the legal system of the USA, and another which has not been impinged.

    However, his freedom to speak doesn’t mean everyone else has to agree with everything he says. Even if he is a straight, white, USAlien, Christian-appearing male, he doesn’t automagically get granted the privilege of having everyone nod their heads to whatever he says. Nobody gets that.

    As a very wise man said, there is one central freedom on which all the others are based: the freedom to take the consequences. This includes accepting something you said may annoy the living hells out of some people, and they’ll make life difficult for you as a result. Mr Eich, apparently, is somewhat socially tone-deaf, and didn’t realise his dearly-held views could possibly annoy people (or possibly he didn’t think anyone who worked at/for Mozilla and who happened to be non-heterosexual might see his behaviour as being aimed at them). He is now aware of the contrary viewpoint, and the consequences thereof.

    Complaining because the people who made him aware of this contrary viewpoint were somewhat blunt about it… well, see my comment about “socially tone-deaf” up there? He’s in his fifties. If he hasn’t learned by now through tactful means there are times and places to keep his mouth rather firmly shut about his precious beliefs, as well as jobs he should be endeavouring not to perform if he can’t, well, there’s not much we can do for him. Bluntness, at this point, is a teaching tool.

  194. Not only that, but let’s please keep in mind that we are not an absolute democracy. We have certain rights enshrined in the Constitution that cannot be removed by a simple majority vote. It takes IMMENSE work to change that document. So mob rule making hash of human rights? Not (technically, if not practically) possible here.

    Our system of government is actually a brilliant machine. Its only flaw is that it currently is far too subject to manipulation via money, instead of being strictly about representatives answering to their constituents.

    @Lawrence: I really don’t know what more anyone can say to you. So let me just remind you that it’s not your personal rights at stake here, so really? You kind of don’t get a say in how we fight for them. We already know just sitting there asking politely for the bullies to stop beating us or hoping that someday they’ll stop doesn’t work. We can–and must–use other means to fight back, and that includes gathering allies to us and acting collectively.

    I’m sorry that a company you are invested in is getting a bit of a smacking in this, but that’s the price they pay for making a bad decision. Many companies and other orgs I care about have similarly screwed up and similarly got spanked for it. Amazingly, they’ve come out of it just fine. Mozilla will, too. And in the meantime, LGBT folks were able to assert that we ARE a force to be reckoned with, and that will go a long way toward making people think twice about continuing to abuse us and expecting to get away with it.

  195. What I have not heard is if he expressed any anti-gay remarks or supported anti-gay policies as an employer. I do believe that people should be allowed to have purely private opinions which are “off limits” as long as they treat their workers fairly and legally.

    @ChristopherBrown:

    Well, I guess that’s all very nice in theory. In practice, I’m not sure I’d really want to invest in or do business with a corporation whose CEO (say) financially supported repealing equal pay for women or child labour laws simply because their company isn’t running kiddy sweatshops where the girls are paid less than half what the boys are.

  196. Just to respond to David’s hypothetical about vocal minorities clashing about gun rights: if a CEO donated to a group pursuing legislation aimed at taking away the rights of the LBGT community to bear arms because of the particular danger they (the community) pose to children, then I feel that would be more analagous to the Mozilla situation. And I think that would receive a lot more attention than a simple donation to the NRA.

  197. Dick Cheney came out in favor of gay marriage when he was still VP. Long before Barrack Obama did it…. So don’t give me this evil right wing crap.

    I agree with John on his post. With one exception. CEOs/Executives should be held to a different standard. The CEO gets a golden parachute when he gets fired. When you make that kind of money there are no excuses. I don’t think that regular employees should be harassed for their political positions. I am sure lefties wouldn’t like it if conservative executives fired liberal employees. However, at the executive level with that kind of pay check it is completely different.

    Salary denotes expectations. This is a laissez-faire conservative point of view. To quote Bill Parcells ‘there are no medals for trying’. All this being said, I have no problem with a liberal CEO getting fired over his political beliefs either. However, rank and file staff should not be harassed.

    There are plenty of gay people out there who don’t want to pay as much in taxes as we do now. There are plenty of gay people out there who agree with me on many issues. I see no reason to drive them away.

  198. @Kat Goodwin, obviously I disagree with a lot of what you said, but let me just respond to this:

    “And to do that, Martin Luther King Jr. did not ask nicely. He demanded civil rights. He led protests, boycotts and sit ins. He encouraged people to speak up long and loud”

    That’s right, he did. He was not shy about demanding justice, I think he also took great care to make sure his civil rights movement was seen as virtuous, liberal, as treating other people fairly. He did so by actually being virtuous, being liberal, and actually treating others fairly.

    I don’t think I can say anything else without just endlessly repeating myself.

    @Scalzi, thanks for tolerating me!

  199. What I find “interesting” about the “can’t we keep politics out of the workplace” argument is that basically it’s asking one side to suck it up for the good of the cause, and somehow it’s the ones being oppressed that are supposed to do the sucking up. Not the person in power who tried to interfere with their families and ruin their lives, oh no. He was in an important position and should have had the good of the organization and its cause far more in his sights than the individual developers, users, and volunteers — yet it wasn’t important enough to him for him to make himself easier for a diverse group to work with. Doesn’t seem to have been sufficiently important to the board, either, at least not until they found out the consequences.

    People tend to learn behavioural rules from experience. Having other people cater to their privilege or background tells them that they don’t need to change. (Eich’s background may make his POV understandable, but it doesn’t make his actions acceptable, and as long as you accept the privileged they may see no need for change.) Drawing the line, even if there is an important cooperative venture at stake, is a responsible thing to do. And drawing it early and sharply takes care of the problem now, before even more of those involved decide separately they don’t want to have anything more to do with the organization that chose him as their face. They dealt with it quickly enough that it likely forestalled a lot more people jumping ship. I’ve been part of a few organizations where people don’t get vocal but instead gradually fall away; it’s worse because the problems never really get addressed, or not until it’s too late, but the org starves and the venture fails. Stepping up and saying “this is our problem” and pushing for change is better, and it can save the venture.

  200. Greg mentioned the boycott against the Dixie Chicks, and I think it’s worth thinking about that. They said “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” They were a country music group, and most of their audience was conservative. There was a successful boycott against them, and it was financially damaging for them. As with Brendan Eich, here there was no government involvement and, as our host said, they are not protected against the consequences of their actions. However, even though I certainly do not dispute that the boycott was perfectly legal, it leaves me feeling unclean. The legal meaning of freedom of speech is one thing, but morally, the respect for other people’s opinions, even when we are convinced they are wrong, is a value worth pursuing. This is just not the finest hour in the fight for the rights of gay people.

  201. He’s in his fifties. If he hasn’t learned by now through tactful means there are times and places to keep his mouth rather firmly shut about his precious beliefs, as well as jobs he should be endeavouring not to perform if he can’t, well, there’s not much we can do for him.

    This! This this this!

    Also? I’m not sure that someone who “just hasn’t caught up to the culture” is a good choice for a public role like CEO, especially of a goddamn *technology* company.

    I mean: you expect your Great-Aunt Hattie to be a little on the homophobic/racist/sexist side, maybe, because eh, she’s ninety. You also expect her not to know what a smartphone is.

    (And that is my goal, and what I expect to happen, re: bigots. They won’t go away entirely, but they’ll become Great-Aunt Hattie or Nutbar Uncle Milt, the relatives everyone sort of talks around/over and avoids at family reunions. You can’t really take it personally when Uncle Milt goes off about “the gays” or Great-Aunt Hattie tells you “how to keep a man”, because…well, they really don’t know what’s going on around them in general.

    They’ll become tolerated, compensated-for embarassments. And then they’ll die off. And the world will be a better place.)

    And I think the boycott is fine. I think it is, in fact, fine to use what power you have to exclude certain abhorrent forms of thought from debate: if a friend of mine says something homophobic, I’m gonna call him on it, and if he doesn’t apologize and not say that again, he’s not going to be a friend of mine, and he might not be a friend of my other friends, because I’ll for damn sure make sure they know. I don’t have a lot of power, but I will absolutely use it to make things better in what limited ways I can.

    If other people want to do the same–if John Q. Asshole wants to stop being friends with me because I *am* pro-gay-rights, or whatever–then I trust that the people I value will look at his reasons and know which of us to think worse of.

  202. DanielB: Greg mentioned the boycott against the Dixie Chicks

    And yet you somehow missed everything else I said.

    morally, the respect for other people’s opinions, even when we are convinced they are wrong, is a value worth pursuing.

    But aren’t you’re arguing that people should respect an immoral position? Legalizing homophobia is an immoral position. How much “respect” must we give it?

  203. DanielB, does exercising one’s free speech rights by offering up material support to effort to violate, restrict, curb, and rescind other rights of another group, rights one enjoys oneself, not strike you as an inappropriate exercise of rights? Because that is a fundamental distinction you seem to be missing in your analysis.

  204. The legal meaning of freedom of speech is one thing, but morally, the respect for other people’s opinions, even when we are convinced they are wrong, is a value worth pursuing. This is just not the finest hour in the fight for the rights of gay people.

    The problem with this is that it’s equating having different opinions about personal preferences over things we like (ie – “Who’s cooler, Batman or Superman?” “You like sushi but I don’t” “I’d rather go swimming than running for exercise”) as being on the same consequential level as “I don’t think X group deserves the same rights and protections as everyone else.”

    DC and Marvel fans can put aside their differences to work on projects; you can go on a company luncheon with people who will order meatballs while you’d prefer a salad. Those are the kinds of differences in opinion we can overlook in order to work together.

    But some opinions aren’t worth respecting, and the opinion that someone deserves less rights than you falls under that category. The fact is that Eich’s “opinion” that LGBTQ people don’t deserve equal rights and protections was clearly something that many Mozilla employees, shareholders and customers saw as a cause for concern regarding his ability to be the right CEO for the company and Eich and the board didn’t do an adequate enough job convincing them of Eich’s suitability for the position by addressing how Eich’s views might affect his performance as CEO.

  205. @Lawrence, I don’t think MLK’s position aligns with yours as much as you think it does:

    I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

  206. A man was intentionally hounded out of his job because he contributed to a political effort that at that time received 52% of the vote and reflected the documented opinion of our current liberal sitting President. Is that illegal? No. Does it reflect an attitude of tolerance? Hardly. Many things are legal and ugly. This was one.

    Cheers,
    Rod

  207. @Greg: “Legalizing homophobia is an immoral position. How much “respect” must we give it?

    That seems like a bad perspective to take on the matter. The people who want to deny rights to homosexuals are making EXACTLY that case for why they need legislation to prevent same-sex marriages. ‘Immoral’ is a subjective stance and a slippery-slope. Is female castration of one’s daughter immoral? I sure as hell think so, but there are parts of the world where it’s seen as protecting your daughter for immorality. That’s why the discussion is over individual rights, not over perceived morality. If you turn the discussion into one of morals, then there can be no resolution, since morality is relative to the person making the argument.

  208. at that time received 52% of the vote

    ‘Cause we all know the majority is never wrong. Or stupid. Or evil.

    reflected the documented opinion of our current liberal sitting President.

    You (in the plural sense) keep dragging this out like some sort of trump card. A) Get a new talking point; B) try to understand that what the President did not do was campaign to have these rights rescinded once granted. (Cue another, wholly off-topic hobby horse to get ridden into the ground.)

  209. And in the category of output-only devices, we have Rod Rubert, coming in and contributing another copy of an opinion much expressed in this thread, with utterly no evidence of having read any of the foregoing commentary! Elseweb we call this sort of thing a “drive-by,” and speculate that it comes from infrapontic lifeforms.

  210. The consuming public has a right to express disagreement with a public figure’s actions in whatever way they see fit, short of legally enforcing that disagreement. The power a consumer has in these equations is their purchasing power, which they have every right to withhold for whatever reason they choose.
    The U.S. Supreme Court has declared the exercise of free expression in this country to be a pretty analogous to a laissez-faire capitalist market – in fact calling it the marketplace of ideas. Arguably what happened here is the marketplace in which Eich operated rejected his ideas in a way that had tangible consequences. Much like a job applicant losing out on an offer because of her Facebook profile, or a company choosing not to hire someone with visible tattoos. Sometimes self-expression conflicts with the standards of a given market, and the market acts accordingly.
    Added to all of this is the enormous difference between just another employee and the public face of your company. Where your position includes a representative function, it’s not always realistic or fair to expect the public to judge based only on those actions you say are relevant. Where an individual represents a group, the group is completely within its rights to express dissatisfaction with a given representative and demand a new one – for whatever reason suits its members.

    In the marketplace of ideas and the capitalist market, any member of the public is free to disagree with the group and exercise her own rights accordingly. But there really is no valid argument where anyone involved in the original decision was acting outside their rights under the same systems.

  211. Dear Chris and Daniel,

    This was not a privately held opinion. Stop perpetuating this untruth. This was a direct action to remove people’s rights in a public matter.

    Further, you both fail badly at symmetry fallacy. One does not have to be tolerant of bigotry, one should NOT be tolerant of bigotry.

    There is no “what if the shoe were on the other foot” case, because the shoe doesn’t fit. The “other foot” isn’t even a foot.

    pax / Ctein

  212. Can I just note that this:

    Many things are legal and ugly. This was one.

    is the goddamn PERFECT OPENING for so many classic lines, of which “So’s your old man,” is probably the mildest.

  213. wizardru: ‘Immoral’ is a subjective stance and a slippery-slope.

    It’s subjective, sure. But the only way it is a slippery slope is if one does not have a certain level of faith in humanity. If not, then anything goes. If you have some faith in humanity, then it’s not a slippery slope.

    wizardru: That’s why the discussion is over individual rights, not over perceived morality.

    Individual rights are morally grounded in people because people are (subjective) moral engines. You cannot escape this. Consitutional democracies try to enshrine rights such that they require a larger effort to change than a one shot simple majority. But even then, mistakes can be made, such as prohibition.

    Your rights come from other people’s morality or lack thereof.

  214. I don’t think people understand that your personal opinions are not the problem. I could care less if someone thinks I should not be married (Try prying my beloved chuppah from my gay married hands) or if a church thinks I am going to hell. I do care if they want to remove my rights or stone me, a thing I can barely believe is on a freaking CHURCH announcement sign in NYC.

    I don’t care if a florist or bakery doesn’t like that I am gay and doesn’t want to provide their service to me. I do care that businesses do not violate state business laws.

    I do care that businesses adhere to their chosen mission and vision. I don’t expect the National Organization for Marriage to embrace marriage equality, that is not their mission.
    its the exact opposite. Mozilla’s mission statement (actually, it is a manifesto at http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/
    “These principles will not come to life on their own. People are needed to make the Internet open and participatory – people acting as individuals, working together in groups, and leading others.”
    Mr. Eich was a tech guy. He helped code JavaScript, for dogs sakes. I imagine him on JoCo cruise for example” hating large crowds, being introverted and we would probably get along just fine. He is from Pittsburgh and we could no doubt talk about common places we have been. I don’t care that he gave 1000$ to kill gay marriage in California. It’s all just peeing into the wind at a certain point.

    Mr Eich probably cares a great deal about the technical freedom the internet should have and improving software. He doesn’t know people though. And he has some rather old-fashioned views on people which would have made him screw up the CEO job eventually

    HIs business liked his work. He liked coding and inventing. He was peter principled into a job he was not cut out for. He resigned. that is the way business works.

  215. Four random contributions:

    I think there is interesting overlap here with the discussion from question week about supporting artists who’s political stances you find questionable.

    One important thing going on with SSM is the fact where the it is much harder to be SSMed and closeted. The old, tragic, lying, compromise of “just hide your nature and don’t rock the boat and you’ll get by” works better for a single person than a family.

    For MLK, it seems to me that his actual message has been soft-pedaled posthumously to make him more acceptable to the same white moderates who impeded him. Malcolm X and other POC militants inadvertently helped this by being a convenient dumping ground for all militant attitudes in popular recollection of history. I am hopeful that a QUILTBAG Malcolm won’t be necessary, but worry that we are closer to the antebellum period analogy than the civil rights era analogy on this particular subject.

    WRT to vocally boycotting corporations who make decisions you disagree with being impolite, unfair, strident or whatever: At no point should we be unilaterally disarming when we conflict with large, powerful organizations of any stripe. That way lies serfdom.

  216. Re: “he’s too old and set in his ways”:

    I spent my early adult and child-rearing years in an extremely Red (and religiously conservative) state, and am only a year younger than Eich. I’ve known for the nearly 30 years my child’s been on the planet that my older sibling had the same right to a family life as I did, and have fought to see that zie got it. Age != homophobia as a default setting. And as our esteemed host has said in another context, no matter what time Eich grew up in, he’s living in this one.

  217. I notice this has gotten linked to from Hacker News, so let me briefly pop in to say hey, if you’re new here, it’d be helpful to read the thread before commenting (chances are reasonably good at this point that someone has raised a point in line with the one you want to raise, and also to read the comment thread policy before posting. I’m traveling today and don’t have the full suite of editing options available to me, but if things get out of hand I’ll just wade in and start Malleting comments. Thanks.

  218. Thanks, lz, but Patrick Mullane has already been demolished from several points of view. If you read all the comments with his name in them you may be amused and enlightened.

  219. And what if the “consquences” of your actions are that you are thrown in jail without trial, for the speech you exercised? Extreme example, but to blithly imply that any “consequence” is fine is rather grotesque and naive.

    Further – accusations of “hating” gays for being against gay marriage – can I marry my brother yet? No? Why the double standard? (and don’t go into genetics – conception can be avoided in the modern age). My point here is that we all have our limits, we all have what we consider acceptable and what we don’t… Even the person supporting gay marriage is a bigot in some way.

    The solution is discourse, not an angry witch hunt.

  220. Mmm, slippery slope fallacy, plus the inability to read the several bits where our host says “private” and “without government interference” (which jail would be) and assumption that you know how the entire readership thinks. For example, if two adult siblings want to marry, fine! I have no problem with that.* Other incest issues, on the other hand, involve consent.

    Which you also don’t seem able to grasp as a factor.

    It’s like bingo, here.

    *Whether or not sex is involved: my personal marriage-crankiness is that I want an “I commit my life and legal standing to you” option that doesn’t assume romantic love.

  221. Tali, being thrown in jail without trial would be a government action, and one directly in conflict with several enumerated rights, and is therefore not just an “extreme example”, but completely out of the context of this situation.

    The rest of your post is too stupid to bother addressing.

  222. @Greg: “It’s subjective, sure. But the only way it is a slippery slope is if one does not have a certain level of faith in humanity. If not, then anything goes. If you have some faith in humanity, then it’s not a slippery slope.

    So your response to ‘it’s subjective’ is to double-down on ‘but really, we all KNOW what’s moral and immoral’? I’m not seeing how you deflect the potential problems with the nature of being subjective. The people who backed Prop 8 believed they were doing a moral thing. They were discouraging sin and what, to them, was corrupt behavior. That’s the whole problem with it being subjective. If you argue, ‘we shouldn’t tolerate immorality’, then the logical response from people backing stuff like Prop 8 is ‘we aren’t’.

    Arguing that we shouldn’t tolerate something solely because you find it immoral is a problem, IMHO, because people define it differently. Dred Scott and Homer Plessy would certainly argue that ‘moral people’ were not nearly so moral to THEM.

  223. I see some here who equate Prop 8 with denying human rights to certain groups. It is not. It was a proposition to block a certain solution to an existing problem. Other solutions are available (example: get the government out of religion and isolate the legal issue of domestic partnership from the the religious issue of marriage). Opposition to one possible solution does not equate to a refusal to see or willingness to solve a problem.

    Cheers,
    Rod

  224. Tali, I think that contributing a substantial sum of marriage to an effort that successfully annuls some of your co-workers’ marriages and denies them adoption and parental rights is actually a lot more like a witch hunt than saying “I don’t think that guy should be our CEO”. I think it’s very much like a witch hunt, too, when those anti-marriage efforts are justified by a claim that there’s something in the very fact of having a spouse of the same partner that makes a relationship innately dangerous to children, and when this claim is maintained in the face of justifiers for it being proven to be dishonest, both wantonly negligent and actively dishonest about scientific facts, the law, basic logic, and so on.

    There are propositions, bills, etc., that are purely declarative. The fad for “nuclear-free zone” resolutions on the part of communities where nukes were never going to be stationed, back when I was young, is an example. Legislatures at all levels pass a lot of these every year, honoring this person or group and condemning that thing over there. But Proposition 8 wasn’t one of them. There are people who were married when it passed, only to have their marriages annulled. Some of them worked at Mozilla. People spent five years in legal limbo until their marriages could be reinstated; other people who’d planned to marry had to wait those five years.

    In those five years, children were born and grew up. Some partners sickened and died. Things that marriage provides, they had to do without, because people like Eich found them and their relationships sufficiently distasteful. That’s the initiation of force in this situation, and criticism of Eich is both defensive and doesn’t begin to rise to the level of harm to him that he helped inflict on others.

  225. Other solutions are available (example: get the government out of religion and isolate the legal issue of domestic partnership from the the religious issue of marriage). Opposition to one possible solution does not equate to a refusal to see or willingness to solve a problem.

    Except, of course, that Prop 8 did nothing to implement any other solution, and Eich didn’t oppose a theoretical “solution” out of a range of choices, but rather supported an effort to take away the fundamental human right of marriage that actual people already enjoyed.

  226. Let’s note here that there is no well-financed national movement to deny marriage to:

    communists, fascists, atheists, blasphemers, infertile people, adultererss, murderers, coveters of their neighbors’ possessions, prostitutes, tax collectors, people with a history of child abuse convictions, Sabbath breakers, perpetrators of war crimes, rapists, Satanists, people who like the wrong Doctors Who…

    In fact, the marriage inequality movement is predicated on the notion that George Takei’s marriage and Ellen Degeneres’ are worse than Adolph Hitler’s. This is a problem, all right, but it’s not a problem with the Takei & Degeneres side.

  227. Rod Rubert:

    Other solutions are available (example: get the government out of religion and isolate the legal issue of domestic partnership from the the religious issue of marriage). Opposition to one possible solution does not equate to a refusal to see or willingness to solve a problem.

    You know what, Rod — they’re not available. You’re pulling what Scalzi calls the Libertarian Dismount and I’m not playing that game because I have to live (and do my politics) in the Real World not Gault’s Gulch. Sorry about that.

    Tali:

    The solution is discourse, not an angry witch hunt

    Ah, yes… Isn’t it interesting who’s always getting told to stop being all “angry” and “intolerant” here — GLBTI people and their allies. Funny how the same metric of civility isn’t being applied to someone who materially supported a campaign that casually and routinely equated GLBTI people (and their families) to child molesters and animal fuckers. That’s pretty damn rude in my book, Tali, and such animus really strikes me as coming from a very dark place. (As I’ve been saying repeatedly for years — if my civil marriage in Hobbiton is going to drive our host into the Ohio divorce courts, perhaps I’m not the issue here?)

  228. wizardru: I’m not seeing how you deflect the potential problems

    I’m not deflecting the problems. I offered prohibition as a very real example of the problems that can come out of having rights being grounded by the morality of other people.

    The thing is, there is no way to make that problem ever go away. Your rights are ALWAYS a function of other people’s morality. Blacks didn’t have rights in the US until enough whites changed their morality to support civil rights.

    The potential problems of having your rights defined by other people’s morality never goes away. That’s one of the reasons for having all the checks and balances in the system, for having rights written in such a way that it is more difficult to change them. But the potential for problems is always there. I never said the potential for problems ever goes away.

    What I said was it’s only a slippery slope if your faith in humanity, in other people’s morality (people as a whole), is sufficiently low. If your faith in humanity is low enough, then even the smallest negative change will cascade into disaster.

    Arguing that we shouldn’t tolerate something solely because you find it immoral is a problem, IMHO, because people define it differently.

    And different people don’t define “rights” differently?

    The idea of “rights” comes from morality, so its just as subjective. Jefferson tried to outsource it by saying we find these “truths” to be “self evident”, but they’re only true so long as people believe them. Prior to the declaration of independence, the rights that people most often related to was the “divine right of kings”. But over time, people changed, their morality changed, and so the rights they supported changed.

    I say bigotry is wrong. It’s immoral. it violates people’s rights. There is no way to escape that interrelation between morality and rights. They are intertwined at the most fundamental level. And there is no way to escape that at the systemic level it is always a function of other people.

  229. Rod Rubert, back again, this time with the Libertarian Dismount, and more trolling. If we engage him it will be a long ordeal of sniping, my friends, and Our Host will Mallet us into a fine commentariat jelly.

  230. Eich didn’t oppose a theoretical “solution” out of a range of choices, but rather supported an effort to take away the fundamental human right of marriage that actual people already enjoyed.

    Yeah, and what some remarkably privileged people are forgetting is that Prop 8 actually had real and lasting effects on the lives of real human beings (and their families) beyond losing the deposit on that really cute reception venue.

    And I think it’s about time we remembered the nature of the campaign Eich materially supported — Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern has a useful reality check at http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/04/04/brendan_eich_supported_prop_8_which_was_worse_than_you_remember.html

  231. Good point, Xopher. And as my motto goes, I may sleep with assholes on occasion, but I try to avoid *talking* to libertarians.

    Instead, I will go ponder the phrase “angry witch hunt” and the possible alternatives it suggests, like apathetic witch hunts. (“Burn the witch. Or not. Got any chips?” and half-hearted pitchfork waving.)

  232. @Greg: “I offered prohibition as a very real example of the problems that can come out of having rights being grounded by the morality of other people.

    But the thing about Prohibition is that it was EXACTLY an issue of subjectivity that was how it go enacted and how it came to be a disaster. The Ken Burns documentary discusses at length how two factors entered into it: first being that it was intended to be applied inequally (it was really for those dirty immigrants, not us) and second being that most people interpreted it to mean one thing, when its proponents meant it to mean another (i.e. most people thought it meant the elimination of the saloon and the drinking hall, not Capital T ‘Total’ prohibition).

    I see your point that both rights and morals are equally subjective. I guess my question is that if you say you must fight something because it is immoral, what is the counter argument when the other party claims they’re doing the same thing (even though you are opposite points)? I think denying same sex marriage is wrong, but obviously some people think the exact opposite. How do you pursue that line of thinking in discourse without having it self-destruct in a head-on collision?

  233. @wizardru: You go from effects on people. Measurable, concrete, non-disputable effects, not the sparkly tears of the baby Jesus.

    The positive effects of same sex marriage existing: more people can make commitments to each other, if they want to do so, which will benefit them financially and legally, and will allow them to more effectively raise children.

    The negative effects of same sex marriage existing: sparkly tears of the baby Jesus. Maybe. Depending on your version of same.

    The law cannot and should not recognize harm that nobody can prove exists. Therefore, the side that’s for provable good, or against provable harm, is the moral one.

  234. “Salutations, fellow creatures,” cried Sir Rubert, dismounting from his trusty steed, Libertarian. “I come unto you with Glorious Ideas, from that Shining City on the Hill known as the Gulch of Galt. Be still and listen with Wonder and Trembling to the Words of our Glorious Queen Ayn!”

    “Off with his head!” the Red Queen, commanded to the room at large, taking a deep draught of her gin… er, tea.

    “Forgive me, Madame Red, but I do believe that you are in the wrong thread,” a gentleman near the fireplace gently pointed out.

    “Nonsense, Monsieur. All Rabbit Holes lead to Wonderland.”

  235. I still want to know what people are supposed to do when they’re being attacked and begging for relief hasn’t made the abuse stop.

    *crickets*

    (P.S.: Anyone claiming that the existence or acknowledged-human secular legal status of LGBT people and our families is somehow an attack on religion will just get repeated posts of the Help, We’re Being Oppressed pie chart. As that would annoy many people including our esteemed host, please don’t go there.)

  236. @ Lawrence:
    You used MLK as an example to contradict someone who questioned your belief that segregation was ended because people asked “nicely;” when provided with evidence that niceness had nothing to do with it, you moved the goalposts and said that of course he demanded justice, but he ensured that his movement was fair and virtuous.
    So clearly you feel that complaining about Brendan Eich and/or boycotting a Mozilla that has him as CEO is neither fair nor virtuous. Given that he chose not just to express an opinion, but to take DIRECT ACTION against a group of people, action that would cause immeasurable practical and emotional harm to them, I have a lot of trouble understanding your relative definitions of fair, just and virtuous.
    You seem to feel that there’s an absolute divide between an individual’s actions in a private capacity and what they do in the sphere of work: “The workplace is the wrong context for politics.” But as others have said, the workplace is one of the places where politics play out for people affected by discriminatory activities, so it is entirely appropriate that it also be a place where reactions to such activities occur.
    In any case, we’re talking about the CEO, not Jane Worker. The CEO represents the company and has the power to influence the company. As such, their personal activities are relevant in a way that those of low-level workers would not be. I’d be concerned that a hostile CEO could influence the company to change its policy to work against my interests, or at the very least, dilute the company’s effectiveness in its support for my issues. A CEO could mitigate my distrust by addressing such concerns and explaining exactly how they propose to deal with the conflict in a proactive way (as opposed to just stating that there is no problem). But a CEO who (1) works against their organization’s corporate mandate in their personal life and (2) cannot effectively deal with challenges relating to that contradiction in their professional capacity has demonstrated that they are a liability to the business.
    “You really should try to get along with people you disagree with. Who knew that could be such a controversial sentiment?”
    I can and do get along with many people I disagree with about a wide range of topics; I have no difficulty with doing so, and I know that sometimes attitudes have changed because of that. But if someone expresses a belief in my presence that my rights should be limited they can expect to hear quite a bit from me. And if someone takes an action that harms me—not by accident but in a deliberate effort to constrain my rights as a human being—I will challenge them in every way I can. This includes challenging not just individuals but corporations. If I believe that an organization does harm that there is a chance it may do harm, I will remove my custom and let them know why, until they satisfy me that my concerns have been addressed.
    A boycott is a collective action taken by people who do not have direct control of a company’s activities, when they believe that those activities are harmful (whether directly or indirectly) in order to put economic pressure on that business to modify its behaviour in some way. A boycott has no political position; it may be generated by right or left. It may or may not be successful; if enough people cannot be motivated to support it to actually affect a company’s profitability, it will fail. From a company’s point of view, the optimal solution when faced with a boycott is the action that results on the fewest financial consequences—this is a business decision based on market conditions.
    A boycott is not inherently spiteful or nasty; it is a way for those without direct power (in a given context) to attempt to influence those who do have power and to do so in a way that makes use of the inherent structure of a free market economy. I think that the issue of power is critical here—corporate structures tend to concentrate power and decision making, so those without it (lower ranking employees, customers, etc.) have very little recourse when it comes to affecting a company’s activities. A boycott is the only way people without power have to actually impact a company. It is not immoral or unjust to use it.

  237. wizardru: I guess my question is that if you say you must fight something because it is immoral, what is the counter argument when the other party claims they’re doing the same thing

    I think that underlying your argument is an assumption that there is a “right answer” to moral questions. And if other people have different “right answers” to the same moral questions, who wins? How do we fight it out? What happens if the “wrong answer” wins? And that’s basically the problem that Democracy tries to solve at the systemic level. Democracy isn’t designed to get the “right answer”, it is designed to get the answer that reflects humanity’s “best”.

    At the personal level, I have my “right answers”. I have my own personal moral compass. And my compass says bigotry is wrong, homophobia is wrong. And there are others who say homosexuality is wrong. And what is there to do but to be a part of the process to find the “best answer” for society as a whole from a long list of “right answers” from individuals, including my own?

    I think some people have this notion that since some process can be used for evil ends that its the process that’s evil. For exampe, boycotts can be used to punish the Dixie Chicks, therefore boycotts are evil. Or the democratic process ended up with slavery encoded in the Constitution and prohibition added as an ammendment (both of which are evil and dumb), therefore the democratic process is evil and dumb.

    But in the end, we all use the same processes. Freedom of speech is used by racists to persuade people to become racists, and its used by equalists to persuade peopel to become equalists. Some people think this means we shouldn’t let racists have freedom of speech. I think that’s silly. I don’t support Free Speech just for Neo Nazis to march in Illinois. I support Free Speech so that equalists can counter the arguments of those Neo Nazis.

    When homophobes use free speech to spread homophobia, the problem isn’t free speech. The problem is homophobia. When knuckleheads use boycotts to punish the Dixie Chicks, the problem isn’t boycotts, the problem is the knuckleheads.

    So when people use boycotts to stop racist bussing, when people use economic pressure to stop homophobia, I don’t have a problem with the boycot or the economic pressure. The problem is the racism and the homophobia. And if I would defend the right of my enemies to use things like Free Speech and boycotts and economic pressure to make their views known, then why would I deny that to my allies?

    This economic pressure isn’t the same as Citizens United kind of economic pressure. Citizens United actually destroys the democratic process and replaces it with a plutocratic process. He with the most money wins the argument. In democratic process, when everyone has a different moral compass, some radically different, the tools like Free Speech and boycotts help society find the “best” answer for society as a whole, in a nonviolent (democratic) way.

  238. The substantial difference between this situation and McCarthyism, and the blacklists is that Eich lost a position as CEO, with the option of staying on in the company in a very substantial job, while those affected by the anti-communist campaigns not only lost their jobs, but their ability to work in their previous industries. This didn’t just happen in Hollywood, but industries such as steel as well, where thousands were fired. Most likely, Eich is going to wind up somewhere quite comfortable, which was not true for the victims of the blacklists, who were often driven to suicide, or out of the country.

  239. The substantial difference between this situation and McCarthyism, and the blacklists is that Eich lost a position as CEO, with the option of staying on in the company in a very substantial job, while those affected by the anti-communist campaigns not only lost their jobs, but their ability to work in their previous industries.

    Not to mention that Eich wasn’t hauled before a Congressional committee and threatened with jail if he didn’t name names. If fact, what transpired to Eich has nothing to do with government at all — as Scalzi said, it was laissez-faire capitalism in action. Sheesh.

  240. D’Ana:

    He was not shy about demanding justice,

    No, he was not. Neither were the people who worked for and with Mozilla.

    I think he also took great care to make sure his civil rights movement was seen as virtuous, liberal, as treating other people fairly.

    No he did not. The movement was virtuous, liberal and about treating other people fairly in itself, whether King led the charge or not. It did not have to be made to appear that way to please white people. Nor was it seen as virtuous and treating people fairly by many white people. Those white people who thought King was deeply, deeply wrong often made the same arguments you are making about the folks at Mozilla. (Thanks for that lovely quote, Gregory.)

    He did so by actually being virtuous, being liberal, and actually treating others fairly.

    And yet when stakeholders and employees and vendors of Mozilla used the exact same methods as King regarding speaking out against an appointed executive, just as King did, on the basis of their beliefs in treating gay people fairly, you declare them not virtuous, liberal and treating others fairly. And trot out a fairy tale where King very sweetly asked for his rights and white people magically gave them to him and there were no laws or social policies that discriminated against black people ever again. Which is horse crap, and not what happened, nor is what black people in the U.S. face today.

    What we get in these discussions are a lot of Tone arguments. Essentially, it’s as if people believe they are in a society like a genteel garden tea party and gay people are being tortured on the other side of the hedge. And many people at the party mutter that it’s a shame they are being tortured and hopefully it will change one day. And people like Eich are running parts of the party and declare that the torture level has died down unacceptably and what is needed is more torture of the gay people on the other side of the hedge because gay people are presumptuous, corrupting, unacceptable, evil, etc. And at this, people shrug and say, well, it’s just a mistaken opinion. We should tolerate and listen to it and discuss while the gay people are tortured and Eich is a respected guest/host. And then other people at the party are screaming, stop torturing the gay people, you shouldn’t be listening to this person Eich, why are you letting him arrange for gay people to be tortured. And this is considered rude, wrong, disruptive, unforgivable, and ever so much worse and more important than the gay people being tortured on the other side of the hedge, which probably will magically end any minute now. Eich’s intolerant public views about gays and the need for more torture, his protests against gay civil rights, are perfectly acceptable and should be discussed in whispers, with him and other people at the party never discomforted. Protest about Eich’s views and gay people being tortured on the other side of the hedge is beyond the pale and means the protestors are horrible people who should be ashamed, more tolerant and shut up. Barbarity is polite, especially legally instituted barbarity. Protesting that barbarity is rude and sets a bad precedent.

    The same argument was made and is still made about every issue concerning racism torturing on the other side of the hedge, women’s rights torturing, etc. It’s the prim aunt scold philosophy of denying civil rights. And I agree with King, it can be just as damaging in the long run as the ones who take a gay man, tie him in chains and drag him to death behind their truck. (Torture on the other side of the hedge.) As the ones like Eich who work to drag them behind the truck in different ways.

    A man was writing about his mother, who, coming from the Depression, had racist and homophobic views, calling gays not natural. Her views evolved, not from polite conversations with her son, but from witnessing torture. A neighbor’s son came out as gay and the neighbor disowned him. The mother had to witness, not just hear, the torture given to a boy she knew, the boy who protested that he would be as he was and that it was wrong to torture him. The shock of a mother doing that to her son changed her views.

    And that’s a large part why the public opinion supporting marriage equality has changed so quickly in the last few years. Because gay people have risked death, jail, firing, violence, etc. to come out to friends, relatives, and co-workers (the business world, not simply the personal world,) and said we’re gay, it’s normal, I have equal rights, and I am protesting and fighting being tortured for being gay, including by my workplace, and by the government and the police. They shoved their nearest and dearest’s heads through the hedge and said, we’re being tortured. They disrupted the garden tea party. They shouted at people like Eich who advocate torturing them.

    Eich’s views and actions about torturing gays, people involved with Mozilla find reprehensible. They believe his views and actions about torturing gays as CEO would lose Mozilla money and turn Mozilla into a company supporting harm and discrimination, which they did not want to be a part of and which was a business issue. And so they protested, which caused temporary turmoil in their company and a better corporate climate in the end. And those like Eich who have been perfectly fine with gay people being fired, jailed, losing their children, beaten up, killed, prevented from the financial benefits of legal and secular marriage contracts, etc. — who in fact are all for these things as right and good, find this protest against them to be a horrible, horrible persecution. What a shock. (But also their free speech right.) Because that’s the game. The pay no attention to the torture sounds on the other side of the hedge game. Like Tali is playing: “You’re witch hunting me! Pay no attention to my witch hunt!”

  241. I think the “moral right” issue is irrelevant. In the U.S., the law of our land guarantees certain rights, and the 14th Amendment thereof guarantees that those rights must be granted equally; that no one group can be singled out and denied rights enjoyed by any other person.

    People whose activities violate those guarantees are behaving in a distinctly un-American way, not to mention that if they’re trying to change a sub-Constitutional law, they’re also wasting enormous amounts of time and effort on something that’s just going to get tossed out on those grounds.

    Additionally, there’s the U.N. declaration of rights, and any nation that’s signed on to that has pledged to abide by it.

    People are welcome to argue the merit of these top-level things, or whether we even need a declaration of rights or need to be in the U.N., etc., but any sub-level issues are already a done deal. It has been established as the law of the land that any American citizen is entitled to the same rights as any other. By virtue of living here and not working on changing the constitution itself, rather than creating pointless discrimination laws, people have agreed to that legal code. Just as taxes are the dues one pays for living in a civilized society and enjoying certain collective benefits and services only possible in such, not trying to deprive fellow citizens of rights that they are, by law, entitled to is part of the bargain of being an American.

    That said, there is one legal loophole on this–the notion that one is attempting to regulate behavior rather than state of being. The 14th Amendment doesn’t apply, folks will argue, because they’re not denying rights to a group of people with an established, shared identity, but regulating consciously chosen behavior. Of course, this argument got shot down recently by SCOTUS, but the hilarious (to me) part is that in their constant attempts to deny rights to LGBT folks, the people opposed to us actually helped create and coalesce our group identity. Not only that, but even if it were about behavior, they’d have to prove that there’s a state interest in regulating it. They’ve never been able to do so and never will.

    Tl;dr: This country is governed by the Constitution. Anyone who doesn’t like what that doc has to say can either work directly on changing it, or leave. Trying to make an end run around it is both pointless and un-American.

  242. To be honest, I have zero respect for Mozilla, the slugs that forced Brandon Eich out, and Brandon Eich. Regardless of his personal beliefs, the company should’ve stood behind their CEO to begin with, and not cave in. As for the slugs that forced him out, they’re slowly turning into the type of people that George Orwell so eloquently wrote about in 1984 and that Herr Stalin so ruthlessly used to control his people.

  243. My, we sure are having an infestation of trolls today. Sure wish I had the Mallet right now.

  244. I’m personally trying to figure out how denying a church the right to legally marry two women to each other is “protecting their religious liberty”. Perhaps someone could explain? Because otherwise it appears that the Westboro Baptist Church’s religious liberty is more important than, say, the United Church of Christ, or the Quakers, or the ECLA. Heck, even the Mennonites have been known to allow same-sex marriages. So how is it “protecting” them to refuse to legally recognize the marriages they’ve solemnized?

  245. Cally, what you obviously fail to understand is that the religious freedom of conservative churches is violated by liberal churches having religious freedom. I’m not sure why we have to keep explaining this. </sarcasm>

  246. I was going to explode all over the trollbois, but then I remembered Our Glorious Lord Host, may His name be praisèd, and the glorious Mallet of Loving Correction.

    Praise Scalzi!

    I have to say, though, that was an epic Libertarian Dismount.

    Now. My thoughts are simple:

    –Eich is a low-grade asshole.

    –Eich was called out for being a low-grade asshole.

    –Eich left a position where his low-grade assholishness may have been a problem.

    –Eich is likely headed somewhere where other low-grade assholes like to hang out.

    There. Nice, simple version of the entire affair.

  247. G.B. Miller:

    Wow, isn’t it funny how you managed to get all that out without the Gay Fascists kicking your door in, dragging you off to be burned at the most fabulous stake ever, and forcibly indoctrinating your children into the homosexual lifestyle by forcing them to marry a farm animal. Or something.

    Meanwhile, I’m still not voting Brendan Eich for Pity Prom King.

  248. cranapia: without the Gay Fascists kicking your door in, dragging you off to be burned at the most fabulous stake ever

    Well, now you’re just making me feel bad for giving the rainbow death squad the kill order.

  249. @Gregory, @Kat Goodwin

    As you can tell from the opening sentence, King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail is addressed to critics of his recent activities, in particular, the Birmingham campaign. Those critics presented an argument that is similar to mine in form, but not, I think, in substance. “I’m with you on the goals, but I object to the methods”. In my view, the crucial difference between the Birmingham campaign and this Mozilla boycott is that the organizations targeted in Birmingham were actively engaged in racism and segregation as part of their own operations, while Mozilla is guilty only of associating with someone who advocated for discrimination in a different context. If you can show me that MLK did or condoned something analogous, that is targeting an individual in a professional context (not a politician) for advocacy and opinions expressed elsewhere, or targeting a third party for association with a segregationist, then I will happily concede the argument. It might be going to far to expect people to treat their opponents better than MLK would.

    PS: here’s another nice MLK quote: “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him”

  250. Lawrence: “associating with”? Mozilla was “associating with” Eich all along; those who objected to him becoming CEO even previously passed your test of being able to focus on the work, as long as Eich’s work was strictly technical. But then he was put in charge of the company, to be the head and representative of Mozilla, not merely someone associated with them. The developers, users, and volunteers that left Mozilla then made their own decisions about with whom they were and were not willing to be associated.

    We’re not talking about having a disagreement with the guy at the next workstation here, or with someone hired as a consultant. This isn’t anywhere as distant as you’re making this out to be. We’re talking about people who didn’t like that the new boss of a supposedly open and inclusive organization was someone who had actively tried to take away people’s rights. Including, in some cases, their own. And so they no longer trusted that organization or wanted to associate with it themselves.

  251. Now I’m distracted by isabelcooper’s angry witch hunt variations. How about cheerful witch hunt–like a game of hide and seek. “Ready or not, here I come!” Or “Tag! You’re it!”

  252. I see that many of you have been having fun dismantling the trolls whilst I was off at the concert this evening. Nevertheless, I’m going to go ahead and turn comments off for the night, as I travel tomorrow morning and I don’t want to have to spend my first moments after waking up combing through this thread. I will either turn the thread back on when I get up in the morning, or first thing when I get back home (i.e., early afternoon), depending on how rushed I am tomorrow morning. Sleep well!

    Update: Comments back on.

  253. @Lawrence D’Anna:

    Here’s another Martin Luther King quote,(from the Letter From A Birmingham Jail) but I suspect you won’t like this one so much –

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season”

    You strenuously protest otherwise, but you are being hellishly paternalistic. And I’m frankly all the way over being lectured by you (and people like Andrew Sullivan – who should know a LOT better) for not being sufficiently “nice” in how I exercise my rights to non-violent speech and freedom of association. Seriously. Stop it.

  254. No one apparently had any issue with Eich as CTO. His views didn’t affect his job, and while they might have affected his direct reports, we don’t visibility into that. He is clearly a poor choice for CEO, not because he has particular religious or political beliefs, but because he lacks courage. He lacked the courage of his convictions and therefore when his actions in support of his supposed beliefs were questioned he was unable to defend them. He quit.

    If nothing else, a CEO needs to be able to take severe criticism, yet defend their actions and decisions. That’s the job, especially in high profile company. Instead, Eich stomped his feet, took his ball, and announced he wasn’t gonna play anymore. Ridiculous.

    And, frankly, the criticism of Eich wasn’t *severe* at all. To take a competing example, there is another well known CEO of a high profile company who has not only taken severe public criticism for his beliefs and political actions, but he, his family, his employees, and his employees’ families receive daily hate mail, death threats, and bomb threats. There are multiple layers of security to get into the building, and off-duty police officers volunteer their free time to hang about in uniform to deter the people who show up with guns “to kill all the fags.” Last summer there was a police cordon around the building because multiple death and bomb threats had been leveled against the daycare center on the premises.

    This happens to be my workplace and we’re all aware of the danger, but we live with it. We are proud of our CEO’s commitment to his beliefs and how that is reflected in corporate policy. It’s ridiculous, frankly, that there is this level of danger just because he happens to believe that LGBTQI people deserve the same civil rights as anyone else. Oh, and he’s older than Eich, if that makes any difference at all.

    Eich lacks courage: he is unwilling to stand up for himself, or the beliefs he professes, and that leads me to doubt that he would stand up for his employees and peers. He’s not CEO material.

  255. Lawrence: If you can show me that MLK did or condoned something analogous, that is targeting an individual in a professional context (not a politician) for advocacy and opinions expressed elsewhere, or targeting a third party for association with a segregationist, then I will happily concede the argument.

    so unless someone wrote Eich a letter from the Birmingham jail….

  256. Lawrence, you’re not going to like this, but (having read this entire thread), here is the message I am getting from your words:

    1) Discrimination against people of color is bad, sure, but discrimination against gay people isn’t such a big deal. I mean, sure, eventually we’ll get over it, but no rush.

    2) Discrimination against people of color is mostly hypothetical anyway, since all you have to do is pass a law and the problem goes away. (Just like there’s never any problems with underage drinking, amirite?)

    3) Any political issue that doesn’t impinge on Lawrence D’Anna directly is irrelevant to the workplace, and nobody should ever let it affect their business feelings or decisions. All those people with concerns about workplace discrimination and suchlike should sit quietly, because if they don’t make trouble, then of course nobody else will, either.

    4) You, Lawrence D’Anna, are the best judge of what will further the cause of QUILTBAG rights. Your opinion on this matter trumps that of the people who have actually been in the trenches fighting to further that cause. If a given tactic makes you uncomfortable, then clearly it was the wrong move.

    5) You prefer the Disney version of the civil rights struggle to the reality.

    You’re going to say, as you have said many times before, that I’m putting words in your mouth — words you never spoke. But here is the part you keep missing: this is what your words mean. You may not mean for them to mean it. I hope that in your heart, you actually disagree with every one of those five points. But if you do . . . then you need to change your words, because they are not communicating what you mean to say. You’ve spent an entire thread sending all five of those messages, whether you intended to or not, and it has not made you look very good.

  257. This is really strange; I find it almost inconceivable that people still use the ‘tone’ argument as if we will be stupid enough to believe that if we just ask nicely people will stop attacking us.
    I’m a straight white female who spent her working life as a reasonably well paid professional; my daughter is a medic who leads a resuscitation team. I’m supposed to believe that she is supposed to ask nicely instead of issuing instructions?

    This is really stupid…

  258. …And it’s Marie’s points 3 and 4 that King spoke out so eloquently against while in Birmingham Jail. (Which, I will note again, no one at all involved in this episode had to endure.) King made absolutely clear that it wasn’t his business to ask politely for rights in a way that didn’t offend the sensibilities of the so-called moderates. So yeah, the similarity is indeed substantial.

    I also get the sense someone lacks the courage of their convictions when they use euphemisims like “Mozilla is guilty only of associating with someone” in place of “appointed as CEO” and “who advocated for discrimination in a different context” in place of “contributed a thousand bucks to an effort to strip others’ legal rights”. Certain people love to use the phrase “associate” to imply contitutional overtones to an exercise in laissez-faire capitalism, and that it might not make a difference to Lawrence’s exercise in goalpost-moving, but what Eich tried to do was arguably worse, as King was fighting for rights, and Eich was trying to take away rights others had already fought for and won.

  259. Marie Brennan, that’s the message I’m getting from Lawrence as well. Lawrence, if that’s not the message you intend, the fault lies with you, not us.

  260. D’Ana:

    In my view, the crucial difference between the Birmingham campaign and this Mozilla boycott is that the organizations targeted in Birmingham were actively engaged in racism and segregation as part of their own operations, while Mozilla is guilty only of associating with someone who advocated for discrimination in a different context.

    Eich is actively engaged in the persecution of homosexuals, in criminalizing the exertion of their civil rights (marriage,) and sending them to jail should they fight that, and in supporting politicians actively and often successfully blocking civil rights protections and enacting laws persecuting gays, such as the law formally legalizing firing gays for being gay and to deny gays service from straights only businesses, creating segregation in a business context. And Eich was put in charge of Mozilla.

    Given that situation, it was entirely reasonable for gay employees and stakeholders of Mozilla and those with Mozilla who support and value gay employees, etc. to be concerned that Eich would enact corporate policies that discriminated against gays (no promotions, forcing them out,) and might actively persecute them — outright firing them and refusing to hire them. Because Eich was actively pursuing making such discrimination government law, which would also make it business regulation compliant with the law, changing not just the climate of Mozilla but of industry as a whole. They did not want to be a part of that situation. So they protested, resigned and other companies made business decisions that they did not want to work with Mozilla if Eich headed it with his regulatory agenda.

    This was exactly the same situation that Rev. King and other civil rights leaders faced with business in America. Businesses were actively persecuting blacks (segregation in the South,) but also more surreptitiously discriminating against blacks in the whole country (passed over for jobs for being black, not paid as much as whites, etc. — things that still are happening today.) And a major goal of the march on Washington was to protest these policies and the business executives who were pursuing or might pursue them to demand that businesses stop their discrimination both segregation and general discrimination (corporate climate.) It was to change the corporate climate to get black workers jobs. Businesses were not only boycotted in the South for segregation but elsewhere for discrimination against black workers. (And for those protests, King was called a thug who should die, just as gays and their protesting allies are being called thugs who should die.)

    Did this cause some problems for white workers in white only restaurants and white factory workers in the North who did not decide business policies? Yes. They were caught in the middle. Did that stop King and other leaders from sit ins, boycotts and various forms of protests against these businesses? No. Because gaining the civil rights and reducing the discrimination (torture behind the hedge,) was considered a bigger and more important goal than the temporary discomfort of white workers. And Mozilla workers and investors were caught in the middle concerning Eich’s appointment because they did not want to find themselves in a discriminatory company.

    You want to pretend that Mozilla has nothing to do with gay people being tortured behind the hedge. But they do — all companies do — because that persecution is going on throughout industry and society and frequently mandated by law to occur. Having a tech company that has had a culture of inclusiveness have a CEO who actively tries to shut down inclusiveness was a genuine concern and a genuine threat to Mozilla’s business future. (Some of the protesters may have in fact been just leaving what they saw as a sinking ship.)

    You are arguing that the employees and stakeholders should have all held their tongues until Eich did something at Mozilla that you would regard as sufficiently extremist and problematic (the equivalent of burning a cross on the lawn, which Eich had already essentially done by donating and supporting Prop 8.) But discrimination that is very damaging is frequently not extremist and overt. It’s a subtle change of corporate culture that leads to discrimination and firings. And second, Eich’s sheer appointment, that he would be heading the company, already cost Mozilla a lot of money because it went against their brand. Waiting for further damage could be disastrous. They might not be able to repair it. And vendors like OKCupid stood to lose in the PR disaster too. So the protesters were acting not purely out of personal political interests but very real business interests that Eich was a disaster as CEO appointment.

    And the incident caught media attention precisely because there are massive protest movements going on to end discrimination towards gays in business all over the country, improving economic opportunity for gays who are being blocked from economic opportunity (including the economic opportunity of marriage: spousal benefits and healthcare, loans, etc.) Just as King and civil rights leaders led massive protest movements to end discrimination towards black workers and customers in both North and South and improve economic opportunities for them. Mozilla doesn’t get a free pass from such scrutiny and protest — no business does.

    You may feel that the appointment of Eich as CEO of the company was not discriminatory towards gays. It was. You may feel that their concerns about Eich, who actively persecutes gays as his beliefs, as CEO were poorly founded. They weren’t and the company was losing money and reputation from the error. You may feel that no bigoted chief executive should be protested, nor his company boycotted unless he beats up a gay person, preferably on live t.v., because that’s the only damage that counts. I can’t say I agree.

    You may feel that because the far right, who are already trying to jail, fire and repress gays, are up in arms because people supported gay civil rights in the Mozilla case — and were successful in their protest — that this will somehow convince the rest of the populace that the far right’s persecutions are correct, hurting the gay movement. That gay people should have to convince politely the bigoted to give them their civil rights, which are not the right of straights to give in the first place but a wrong they have seized. That gay people got entirely too pushy concerning Mozilla and should only get pushy if someone chains one of them to a truck and drags them to death or puts them in a ghetto with a pink triangle on their clothes. That they should leave business alone, as if business and government law and the social sphere weren’t all intertwined. That’s a tone argument. And it’s a poor one.

    All I can say is, if you’re freaking out about the Mozilla incident, get used to freaking out. Because they will keep protesting the people who are trying to actively kill and imprison and strip them of rights, especially when they are in positions of power and policy, like Eich. And they will protest businesses to change corporate culture (and thus also social culture and law,) to stop discriminating against gays, overt and covert, such as appointing a CEO who is actively trying to kill and imprison and strip them of their rights. They are not going to go away, gays and their allies, and they are not going to stop protesting, just like Rev. King and his compatriots and allies. And it’s working, as you yourself admit.

  261. @Marie Brennan. I’m sad that’s the message you read. It is not the message I wrote. I do in fact disagree with all 5 of your points.

    @Kat Goodwin. “All I can say is, if you’re freaking out about the Mozilla incident, get used to freaking out.” I don’t think I’d describe myself as “freaking out” over it. I’m upset to see activists for one cause that I support unfairly attack another cause I support. Our gracious host has allowed me to go on and on about why I think it was unfair in this thread. You’re right about getting used to it though, and believe me, I am. America belongs to progressives and conservatives, and I think they will continue to be quite unfair to each other for a long time to come.

  262. Someone dumbfounded about the heavy libertarian bashing, when Scalzi’s whole theme was entirely libertarian in nature. A man resigned due to minor customer protesting, which wasn’t even particularly related to LGBT activism, so much as one little dating site among many.

    The wild overreaction from some conservative sites suggests to me that they’ve been looking desperately for a new excuse for a bogeyman. Oooh, scary.

    Doesn’t seem like a thing that will last but, people do lock their tracks on the most absurd pseudo-issues. Never mind that we’re in a perpetual state of war and economic decay.

  263. @Lawrence: “I’m upset to see activists for one cause I support unfairly attack another cause I support.”

    The “another cause” wasn’t what was being attacked. Eich was the subject of vocal protests directed at a company that chose to raise him to the public face of their business. Members who share your interest in that cause saw Eich’s new position in that company as problematic, and ultimately he agreed that his presence was unhelpful and resigned. No one was attacking what Mozilla represents as a “cause.”

    Mozilla the company is not, and should not, be The same as the larger cause they seek to represent, nor should Eich. Viewing either as a “cause” rather than a man or a company is a bad path to head down.

    I enjoy football. My fandom of football doesn’t mean I should fly to defend Ritchie Incognito or the Dolphins for the way Jonathan Martin was treated last year. Taking the position Incognito or the Dolphins organization are beyond criticism or pressure to fix problems doesn’t help football, it just creates a safe space for them to keep mistreating people.

  264. I’m sad that’s the message you read. It is not the message I wrote.

    That’s not the impression I’m getting from ALL of your messages. And I’m not the only who thinks so.

    I think you need to take some responsibility, sir, which I am not seeing you doing.

  265. @mike75 I guess that comes down to whether you think the dominant effect was people saying (a) “crap, this guy is an asshole, he is going to be a problem for Mozilla”, or if you think they were saying (b) “crap, this guy is an asshole, we need to make sure he is a problem for Mozilla”. Am I misreading the situation here? because it looks to me like a whole lot of (b) with some (a) mixed in. It also sounds like a whole lot of people think (b) is just perfectly fine and dandy.

  266. @Marie Brennan. I’m sad that’s the message you read. It is not the message I wrote.

    It is the message you sent: to me, and to other people in this thread.

    If you do in fact disagree with all five of those points, then you need to step back and rethink your words. In great detail. Starting with learning more about the subjects on which you are speaking (gay rights, the civil rights campaign, how discrimination operates in the workplace, etc). Right now, you are coming across as the poster child for what people mean when they say privilege can blind you.

  267. Marie Brennan – *applauds whole-heartedly*

    Unfortunately, I’m sorry to see it’s *still* falling on closed ears. Lawrence, seriously, when this many people are pointing out that this is the message you are sending, this is past the point where you need to stop and re-evaluate what you’re saying.

    “America belongs to progressives and conservatives, and I think they will continue to be quite unfair to each other for a long time to come.”

    But the important part is, you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.

    And as always, Kat Goodwin’s comments are pure gold. Thank you, Kat.

  268. Lawrence, let me tell you a little story (it’s long, but stick with it; it’s worth it.)

    My husband works for A Major Company (and I did for a while, too, as a contractor.) Said company, like most in its sector, has been a leader on LGBT rights in the workplace pretty much since it was founded. They learned a long time ago that if you want to attract the best and brightest, you give them a reason to work for you, and 20 years ago, that meant offering DP benefits and such when very few other companies did. In the intervening years, the company has been vocally supportive of LGBT causes, and also of its LGBT employees. The company has been, both with justification and without, accused of some other wrongdoings from time to time, but over the years, its stance on this has almost never been questioned, because the people at the top of the ladder have made a point of enshrining this as part of the company’s culture.

    Unfortunately, that progressive message doesn’t necessarily get to every person in the company (which has something like 100k+ employees), and there was a time not long ago when someone fairly high up decided the company should no longer have anything to do with human rights legislation. At the time, a same-sex marriage bill was floating around our state lege, and it was pretty darn clear that’s what the stance was aimed at. Further investigation found that the person responsible for this was being pushed that direction by his pastor, a leader at one of the local warehouse churches who was trying to push his anti-gay agenda via stealthily infiltrating one of the world’s largest companies and getting them to do his bidding.

    Once word got out about this, people absolutely lost their shit. Employees, disappointed locals, folks all over the world who believed the company to be progressive on this issue, etc. It went absolutely apeshit for a couple of weeks.

    And what did the company do in response?

    They cleaned it up. They fixed it. Not only did they reverse that guy’s bad decision, but they ended up donating a ton of money to the campaign (which eventually won.) The company got to keep its LGBT employees (and keep them happy), and came out ahead because a lot of progressive-minded folks who used to assume the company was full of backwards conservatives found out that the propaganda to that effect was actually pretty darn wrong.

    What’s happened here is no different, except that instead of applauding the company for sticking to its principles and kicking out someone who was, in essence, going against the progressive environment they use to attract employees, you’re angry at the people who complained, as if it’s their fault, and not Mozilla’s, that this happened in the first place. You are, in other words, acting like a fanboy who thinks that the thing he’s stanning can never, ever do any wrong, and therefore anyone suggesting it did is clearly lying and acting maliciously. You’re like Justin Bieber fans arguing that he shouldn’t do a single day in jail for any of his multitude of horrible acts just because he’s Justin Bieber and should somehow be above the law.

    Let’s be perfectly clear, here: Mozilla is not going to suffer any lasting damage from this any more than my husband’s company suffered for its screw up. It’s just not. People raising a ruckus about this one bad decision they made aren’t actually harming it in any way. In fact, Mozilla was harming ITSELF by making that stupid choice, and stands to come out ahead by fixing it.

    You need to face that fact that the company you’re stanning fucked up. It just did. People pointing that out aren’t being evil meanies out to get them, they’re just holding them to the same standard of not being a shitty corporate citizen that every other company in the tech sector is held to these days. People who point out someone else’s grave mistake and hold them accountable for it aren’t the ones in the wrong. People refusing to believe that their golden gods could ever fuck up? Yeah.

  269. Dear Lawrence,

    No, it’s not that “this guy is an asshole.” It is that this guy is a BIGOT! He acted to take away civil rights from a particular group. He neither said nor did anything to repudiate that. That’s prejudice, that’s discrimination, that’s BIGOTRY. Random “people” did not single him out, the people who he was working to discriminate against, his intended VICTIMS, singled him out. Along with those standing alongside the folks being discriminated against.

    I’m having increasing trouble believing you’re genuinely on the side of support, here. Add me to the list of those who find what you say utterly at odds with your professed politics.

    With friends like you…

    pax / Ctein

  270. D’anna: the crucial difference between the Birmingham campaign and this Mozilla boycott is that the organizations targeted in Birmingham were actively engaged in racism and segregation as part of their own operations, while Mozilla is guilty only of associating with someone who advocated for discrimination

    Wait a sec. So it’s ok to boycott a segregated restaurant owned by one person or run by fiftty people because its a restaurant “organization”, but it’s not ok to boycott a large organization to get them to remove one bigotted employee???

    That’s like saying you approve the use of atomic weapons but feel that a sniper would be unfairly singling out one individual. It’s mind boggling.

  271. “It is the message you sent: to me, and to other people in this thread.”

    No. It’s not. Maybe the fault is my poor ability to write, or maybe it is your poor ability to read, or maybe both, but none of your 5 points are what I said.

  272. Lawrence, it doesn’t matter what was in your head. What matters is what’s in OUR heads as a result of what you wrote. THAT is the meaning of your communication.

    And several people have told you the message that’s coming across. It’s not one person misreading. It’s you failing to communicate.

    You think you should tell LGBT people how to run their movement. That’s your first mistake. Everything else cascades from that.

  273. @Lawrence D’Anna: Intent’s not magic.

    As Marie said: if you didn’t mean to say those things, then you need to re-think what you wrote. (And protip: if the entire audience of, I’m guessing, fairly prolific readers takes that meaning from what you wrote, the problem’s probably not our reading comprehension.) Because you said what you said, and the meaning that exists in your universe, if it’s dramatically different from her points, did not come across, and that is your problem.

    You could, in fact, *explain* why you don’t think what you said is the way Marie paraphrased it, but you…haven’t, so far. (“BECAUSE I SAID SO NUH-UHHHH IS NOT NEITHER” is not actually reasoning.) This leads me to believe that the problem is not in fact that you didn’t mean to say those things, but rather that you didn’t mean to get called out on them, and are now trying to confuse us with weasely jazz hands.

  274. Adding: I love how That Guy will totally say something and then, when called out on it, claim otherwise because he didn’t mean it that way. I wonder if I could get away with that in other parts of life.

    “But I didn’t call you a lush, boss!”
    “You said ‘I bet you had a good weekend’, winked a lot, and made a drinky-drinky motion with your hand. In a board meeting.”
    “…but that’s not the message I sent!”

  275. @Lawrence: (a) is easy if you’re in the boardroom, but here are more stakeholders involved than those in the boardroom. When you’re not in that rarified position, stakeholder options end up being to either grumble to yourself and hope for the best, or speak out, even if it means Mozilla might get dinged in the process. That doesn’t mean people wanted to ding Mozilla. It means they weighed that as a potential consequence to exercising their right to speak, considered the message they wanted to convey by speaking out, and determined it was more important to speak.

  276. @greg

    “So it’s ok to boycott a segregated restaurant owned by one person or run by fiftty people because its a restaurant “organization”, but it’s not ok to boycott a large organization to get them to remove one bigotted employee”

    exactly!

    @shawna

    I like your story a lot actually. I think it illustrates exactly the distinction I’ve been trying to get you to acknowledge: contextual relevance. In your example, the guy changed *company* policy. He did so in an objectionable direction, and what’s worse, he did it not out of a misguided idea of what was best for the company, but at the behest of his own personal priorities. I think its just grand that people noticed, complained, and correction was applied. Really. If Eich ever brought his bullshit into work I would be 100% with you.

    I think its ironic that you would accuse me of thinking my idols can do no wrong, because I think that’s exactly what you are doing here. It seems any criticism whatsoever of a LGBT rights activism would get exactly the kind of response you’ve given.

    I guess I haven’t said it, but yes, you’re right Mozilla made a stupid choice. They should have anticipated the backlash and never appointed him in the first place. They harmed themselves. I hope you are right that they do not suffer lasting damage because of it.

    Also javascript is a terrible ill-conceived train wreck of a language.

  277. So, since it’s become clear that introspection is not in the offing, how long before the term “groupthink” gets bandied about?

  278. @Xopher

    You are right, and you are wrong. Yes, the meaning of words is the effect they have in the mind of the hearer, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to construct strawman versions of my position and tell me I’m lying when I disavow them either. I could just as easily accuse you of doing that deliberately as you can accuse me of deliberately goalpost-moving. At which point we’re really just confirming our own biases instead of trying to understand one another, so lets not.

  279. Do you really think EVERYONE in this thread who read your statements as I did is constructing strawmen? Seriously?

  280. @Lawrence: Not wanting Eich to “bring his bullshit to work” was precisely why employees were upset with the board’s choice of leadership. Do you think Mozilla was obligated to wait until a certain number of people quit, or until they were sued in a given number of lawsuits, before you would deem it appropriate to treat the bullshit as brought? Remember that Eich already demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to take action that, for example, nullified people’s marriages, and that Mozilla’s “reassurance” was lawyerly PRjabber.

    You sound a bit like a cop in the bad old days telling a woman whose husband is storming around punching walls and muttering threeats that it’s not enough for her to be afraid he’s going to hit her next, they won’t bother to come by until he does.

    It’s pretty manifest that you are deeply fond of Mozilla. Great, but the gravity of that admiration is warping your arguments badly.

  281. Lawrence: then explain, point by point, why that is not what you meant. Because it’s sure what I read, too.

    There’s an old saying: if one person calls you a jackass, ignore them. If five people call you a jackass, buy a saddle. Well, at least five people have now stated that they read your writing the way that Marie did. Indeed, by my count, at least 7 people have. Communication takes place between writers and readers. If many of your readers are misreading you, consider that it’s not them that’s at fault, and rephrase.

    As for you approving of Shawna’s company calling out a guy who changed *company* policy [your emphasis] in support of his bigoted beliefs, “at the behest of his own personal priorities”. Well, guess what? We know what Eich’s personal priorities are. He spent a thousand dollars to take away people’s rights. When asked later, he refused to disavow his earlier position, even though doing so would have clearly benefited him, so one can only believe that he had not changed his mind, and it was still his personal priority.

    Please explain why the people whom he DIRECTLY ATTACKED should believe that he would not do so again, only now in their work life as well as in their personal life? He certainly refused to give them any evidence that he wouldn’t!

  282. @mythago,
    I don’t buy your analogy. He wasn’t making threats. He was making anti-threats, promising to keep the bullshit at home. And he had a history of doing so.

    I think the board should do whatever they think is best for Mozilla, without regard to what’s good for the CEO. I think people who would be thinking about quitting over something like this….well I really wish they wouldn’t. Obviously its their life, their work, and their choice, but given that the bullshit had not yet, actually been brought, I would ask them not to quit based on hypothetical speculation that it might be. I think anybody suing Mozilla based on Eichs personal donations must be out of their gourd. Please tell me a lawsuit on that basis would be considered frivolous. And most of all, I think people calling for boycotts should have taken the fight somewhere else.

  283. @cally

    If I walked into a church and told them god doesn’t exist they’d probably all call me a jackass too. I’m not saying it’s the same thing, just pointing out that the audience might be just a wee bit predisposed to disagree with me on this point.

    ok, point, by point, this is what I actually believe:

    1) Racial discrimination is very, very bad. LGBT discrimination is *just* *as* *bad*, for all the same reasons. It is a great injustice, does enormous harm. Those who believe it is right are in grave moral error. That is my normative belief. Please try not to misunderstand what I am going to say next. It is strictly positive, I mean to give it no normative connotations whatsoever. Because LGBT discrimination is a common error, in this place and time, the fact support for it does not tell you nearly as much about a person as racism would.

    2) discrimination against PoC is a shadow of its former self. Overt racism is utterly unacceptable to most Americans, even conservatives. Some inadvertent or unconscious discrimination still takes place, but it is not easy to know how much. It seems the justice system is particularly problematic. Passing the civil rights laws made a huge difference, especially in the south, but more important than that was the change of public opinion that led to the laws being passed in the first place.

    3) Yes, I think politics should be kept out of work, to the largest extent that is practicable. I do not want to worry about my Evangelical boss firing me when he finds out I’m an atheist, and I would not fire a conservative employee for being a homophobe. And yes, that includes donations and advocacy conducted outside of work. I don’t think I said anything at all about workplace discrimination, but obviously I’m very much against it.

    4) I don’t think my opinion “trumps” anyone, and I don’t think expressing my opinion constitutes such a claim.

    5) MLK was distinctly and unusually for a political figure, civil, polite, fair, and virtuous. This was a large factor in his success. The civil rights movement did not take rights from whites by force, it threw their immoral actions into view and shamed them into reform.

  284. D’Ana:

    I’m upset to see activists for one cause that I support unfairly attack another cause I support.

    They don’t see it as attacking Mozilla. They see it as trying to save Mozilla from a tragic mistake that would cost the company large amounts of money, destroy its mission statement, ruin its reputation and credibility in the tech industry and with the public, lose them tons of long term customers, and cause immense harm to many of its employees. They were trying to protect Mozilla from dire consequences. As such, they don’t consider their protest of Mozilla’s poor decision policy unfair. They consider it necessary and important to get the company back on track.

    Your basic premise is that Eich would keep his legislative agenda — which included regulatory law of businesses like Mozilla — out of managing the company and setting its policies. You believe in Eich’s professionalism to pursue and implement policies that he is dead set against, which is a subjective judgement and is a business assessment subject to argument and others’ assessments. Many more people involved with Mozilla or customers of Mozilla did not, from Eich’s past behavior, trust him to do this at all. And in fact, his statements on the matter indicated that he would not do this.

    His appointment immediately led to thousands of customers deciding not to use Firefox and other Mozilla products and discussing their distress on the Net, which is a totally fair decision for customers to make whatever their political leanings. And which was also a PR disaster. So Eich’s legislative agenda of bigotry had already damaged the company. To save the company from further damage, some involved in the company protested and pressured, while others sought to save their own businesses by disassociating from and protesting Mozilla’s change in policy. And Eich bowed out, which means the customers Mozilla lost by their behavior they now have a chance of getting back and their corporate future is a lot brighter. And this you term unfair and letting Mozilla go down in flames as fair.

    So yes, it was #A: the guy was a problem for Mozilla by his appointment. They saw him as a problem that would hurt and was hurting Mozilla and would make it a company whose products they could not in good conscience buy, use, make, sell or invest in. Because you don’t see the appointment as a problem, and you don’t see as a problem gay bigots trying to change government and corporate law to harm gay people being put in charge of companies as CEO’s, you felt their fears unjustified. But for them, having a gay bigot as the CEO of Mozilla was as big a problem as having an openly racist CEO of Mozilla.They saw the damage the decision was already doing to the company in the current corporate climate and they acted to rectify the damage. They sincerely tackled that problem, or left the company to avoid the problem the company decided to take on.

    The reason you do see having a racist bigot appointed as CEO of a company as a problem is because once having a racist bigot appointed as CEO of a company was normal, and then it was a tad unwise, but surely the racist bigot would keep his belief and political activism separate from his business dealings. And protesters like King said no, it’s a problem that is causing all of us harm, and they acted to save businesses from a dead end. And they were accused of making a problem up where none existed to advance their civil rights agenda and trying to cause trouble. But they persisted in their protests, and customers would boycott, and the corporate climate changed. And so now you think that appointing a racist CEO is a valid problem. You just aren’t willing to extend that view to gay bigotry yet.

    Which means however much you may support gay rights, most gay people are unlikely to see you as an ally from such a view. Because you think they are just out there trying to cause trouble for political fun or something, option #B, rather than trying to save the lives of their children, and their jobs, and get their rights. You are accusing them of the exact same thing that King was accused of, over and over, until someone thought that accusation was sufficient justification for shooting him. Which is something that can very well happen to the main protesters of Eich’s appointment at Mozilla. Which is something that has happened to gay people and gay activist leaders.

    In Mississippi, sodomy is still illegal, which is an unconstitutional law that allows them to jail gay people, as they have. And in that state, they are enacting abstinence only sex education in the schools. And the state requires those programs to teach the kids that homosexuality is illegal, in defiance of federal and constitutional law. If the teachers don’t teach it, if they don’t tell gay teens that they’re going to jail, the teachers can be fired and maybe end up going to jail. And people like Eich financed that legislation and the politicians who enacted it. Eich isn’t an asshole. Eich is trying to kill people. He probably doesn’t see it that way. He probably would consider that unfair. He probably would say we should be more polite about it. While he tries to get gay people killed.

    Mozilla was saved by gay and allied protesters who risked their necks and their livelihoods to do it. You’re welcome.

  285. Thank you for responding directly, Lawrence. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t — that you would just stay behind the shield of “but that isn’t what I meant.” Responding directly means we can at least try to communicate, which I am glad to do. (My apologies for the resulting wall of text.)

    1) Racial discrimination is very, very bad. LGBT discrimination is *just* *as* *bad*, for all the same reasons. It is a great injustice, does enormous harm.

    Then why should people be polite in protesting this “enormous harm”? Why should they stay silent when they have legitimate reason to fear that doing so would aid and abet the enemy? Giving Mozilla their business or labor = profits for Mozilla = a nice paycheck for Eich = more money he can spend on trying to take away their rights. Not to mention the reasonable suspicion (which you have given no reason to allay) that under his direction, the company might become LGBT-unfriendly. Eich had a chance to try and address those concerns; he chose not to.

    Because LGBT discrimination is a common error, in this place and time, the fact support for it does not tell you nearly as much about a person as racism would.

    In both cases, it tells me they hold bigoted views about a particular group. That’s the important part, and it doesn’t change.

    Here’s where the actual difference lies: whether or not I’m surprised by this fact. If Eich had donated $1K to ban interracial marriages, my jaw would have been on the floor, wondering how the holy living hell anybody could still push such views in this day and age. (I know they exist. I just don’t understand them.) Instead he donated it to ban gay marriages. This does not surprise me . . . but that doesn’t mean I accept it. A reason is not an excuse. The fact that this view is common does not make it okay. Nor does it make the imperative to speak out against that view any less strong — if anything, the contrary.

    And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the question here is not really what we think of Eich as a person. It’s what effect he had on the company he was supposed to be leading. It was a bad effect; ergo he was pressured to step down. This is simultaneously a victory for Mozilla (well, a lesser defeat than keeping him on would have been), and a victory for those who want bigots to learn that not everybody will support their bigotry anymore. Yay!

    My feelings in that regard would be unchanged if it were racism instead of homophobia. Why? Because I think both forms of bigotry are equally bad. To say that speaking out against bigotry is good when racism on the table, but bad when homophobia is on the table, suggests that you do not actually weigh those things equally — even if you intend to treat them as equally bad.

    2) discrimination against PoC is a shadow of its former self. Overt racism is utterly unacceptable to most Americans, even conservatives. Some inadvertent or unconscious discrimination still takes place, but it is not easy to know how much.

    You missed a category in there: covert but conscious. And it exists. Oh god, does it exist. Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog; you’ll see how it exists. Alongside the inadvertent kind and the unconscious kind and some of the overt kind, too, though at least we’ve gotten to the point where most public figures at least pay lip service to the idea that they believe in equality.

    The legal victories are important (and to bring it back to the issue at hand, that’s why the passage of marriage equality laws and/or the removal of anti-sodomy laws is so valuable). But mainly what that does is hand the minority group a shield to defend themselves against the attacks. It doesn’t magically stop the attacks — that takes longer. And more effort.

    Passing the civil rights laws made a huge difference, especially in the south, but more important than that was the change of public opinion that led to the laws being passed in the first place.

    I will be the first to admit that period of history is not my strongest point, but I believe you wildly underestimate the extent to which those laws were passed against public opinion. How many protests were there against desegregation? How many civil rights leaders attacked or murdered? Nor did those problems go away with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. I know enough to know that your depiction of that particular issue is simplified and more than a little rose-tinted. If you wish to go on using this as an exemplar of Doing It Right, you either need to read more deeply on the subject, or be prepared to listen when people tell you that your statements on the matter are wrong.

    3) Yes, I think politics should be kept out of work, to the largest extent that is practicable. I do not want to worry about my Evangelical boss firing me when he finds out I’m an atheist

    Ah! Excellent example. How about wanting a situation where you don’t have to worry about your Evangelical boss firing you for your (lack of) religion? Wouldn’t that be better? Maybe he wouldn’t fire you; maybe you just wouldn’t get that raise, or that promotion, or that consideration when you fall ill and miss a few days of work. And — to make this fully analogous — what if you found out that your Evangelical boss had contributed money to a campaign which enshrined discrimination against atheists as legally A-OK?

    In your shoes, I would want that hypothetical world where my religion or lack thereof would not in any way endanger my employment. And if I had the chance to leave that job and take one elsewhere, at a company where I knew I would not be discriminated against, I would do that in a heartbeat. If that isn’t the choice you would make, that’s your prerogative . . .but you do not get to tell other people what they should and should not do for their own security and peace of mind.

    I don’t think I said anything at all about workplace discrimination, but obviously I’m very much against it.

    Then you should be in favor measures that help prevent workplace discrimination. “We prefer not to have someone who has materially supported legal discrimination in charge of our company” is one such measure. Leaving is another. Yet you have decried both of these things as unfair, and claimed the issue itself is “irrelevant” is irrelevant to their jobs.

    4) I don’t think my opinion “trumps” anyone, and I don’t think expressing my opinion constitutes such a claim.

    When you hold forth on what is and is not a good tactic, with no evidence to support it but your gut feeling, against the testimony of people for whom all of this is their daily struggle, you are implicitly saying their experience is not meaningful or persuasive when weighed against your own gut. That is insulting to your interlocutors, and it shows an unwillingness to consider experiences beyond your own.

    5) MLK was distinctly and unusually for a political figure, civil, polite, fair, and virtuous. This was a large factor in his success. The civil rights movement did not take rights from whites by force, it threw their immoral actions into view and shamed them into reform.

    . . . whoa, when did “taking rights from X by force” enter into any of these equations? What right has been taken from Eich — or for that matter, from any homophobic activist? He does not have the right to be CEO of Mozilla. That was a privilege offered to him, which turned out to be a bad move from a PR, financial, and organizational standpoint. What right has been taken from straight people? Unless “the right to be a bigot and not experience any negative consequences from it” is what you mean, I don’t see anything on the table here that would remotely fit that bill. There is plenty of homophobic propaganda claiming their rights are being stripped from them — the gay police are going to come into your church and force you to perform gay weddings of gayness! — but it is a pack of lies. I sincerely hope you are not naive enough to have bought into such things.

    Also: MLK was not the beginning and end of the civil rights movement. This is what I mean by the Disney version; focusing solely on him strips away all the black people (and non-black people) who did not simply ask for equality, but fought for it. To suggest the entire gay rights movement should be like MLK is to ignore the vital role played by other kinds of activism — and the necessity of more than one kind of activism in the struggle for equality.

  286. @Lawrence D’Anna

    discrimination against PoC is a shadow of its former self.

    Maybe so, but that’s cold comfort to the those still effected, as well as their friends and loved ones. The tide of public opinion may have crossed the point of no return on an issue of discrimination, but that oft gets deployed as an excuse – and I’m not saying you’re excusing it, but many do – to minimize the widespread systemic discrimination that every person of color must be prepared to deal with daily. So you can see how saying it’s all just a mop-up operation now might rub folks a little raw.

    Even if the outcome for our culture is a foregone conclusion (which is debatable), my partner still has to deal with Hispanophobia even as a successful business translator, and we both have to face the likelihood that any children we have will face it as well. I’m not trying to make an appeal to emotion, only the point out that the harm racism causes is still very much alive and well for those on the front lines, shadow of its former self or not.

    Yes, I think politics should be kept out of work, to the largest extent that is practicable. I do not want to worry about my Evangelical boss firing me when he finds out I’m an atheist, and I would not fire a conservative employee for being a homophobe.

    The difference is that one is discriminatorily firing someone (your boss against your religious freedom) and the other is being fired for voicing discriminatory views (including giving those views a voice with monetary donations). I happen to agree that we should be wary of firing people for their bigoted beliefs save where it demonstrably effects the job. But your two examples of politics in the workplace are not morally equal.

    I’ve been following this discussion with great interest. Apologies to all that I haven’t had time to participate here as much as I’d like. I miss you guys (and gals). It’s good to see old friends in action. Back to lurking…

  287. D’anna: Exactly!

    Ok but you didnt explain why it is moral to go to war with an atomic weapon against an organizationyet immoral to go after on person.

    What gives individuals special exemption from their behaviour yet you support going after an organization for its behaviour?

    What if theres a company that has one aspect of its operation be biggotted? Must any boycott efforts target the organization as a whole? Or can the boycott target the specific division that is doing bad things? Or a small corporation whose majority shares are held by a parent corporation. Does the boycott have to target the parent corporation and all its assest because to target the smaller corporation would be “mean”?

  288. From Kat Goodwin’s post, worth highlighting:

    Your basic premise is that Eich would keep his legislative agenda — which included regulatory law of businesses like Mozilla — out of managing the company and setting its policies.

    A CEO’s role is both internal and external. Even if Eich did keep his agenda out of how he managed Mozilla internally, the thought of “CEO of Mozilla” being added to the list of prominent businesspeople in support of such an agenda is sickening. Eich’s leadership of Mozilla would have given him significantly more influence even as a “private individual”, and Mozilla’s reputation for inclusiveness (had it endured) would have made useful cover for those who wanted to change regulatory law. (Look who supports us!) There is no magic divide between business and politics.

  289. Just a reminder that echoes that of our host: we have to use the facts we have. I’ve seen several references to Eich being fired: while you can make the case that he was pressured to resign, the fact remains that he did resign and was not fired from his position. While it is possible that he would have been fired if he chose otherwise (or voted out), this has not happened. Mozilla is stating right now that they actually tried to convince him to stay, that only 10 out of a 1000 employees had any issue with Eich and seriously that while they were ‘disappointed’ in his support of Prop 8, they thought he’d be a swell CEO, honest. It’s kind of a weird FAQ file, really.

    https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/04/05/faq-on-ceo-resignation/

  290. @Patricia: SO happy you underlined that. Splitting personal and professional gets much more difficult the higher you move up the chain of command, and at CEO level it can be like splitting atoms – immensely positive and even beneficial if done carefully and in the proper environment, massively destructive if done poorly.

  291. @Lawrence D’Anna

    discrimination against PoC is a shadow of its former self. Overt racism is utterly unacceptable to most Americans, even conservatives. Some inadvertent or unconscious discrimination still takes place, but it is not easy to know how much.

    As an Asian American who actually has to live with racism permeating my everyday experiences, so much of it normalized that even well-meaning progressives often wonder “what’s so wrong with saying X about Asians??”, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your believe that overt racism is “utterly unacceptable to most Americans.”

    “Some inadvertent or unconscious discrimination” is still discrimination and the only reason “it is not easy to know how much” for you is that you apparently don’t have to live with it or bother noticing. What looks like a “shadow” to you is still very much a living, breathing monster for many of us. How much inadvertent discrimination is there? A LOT!

    I’m upset to see activists for one cause that I support unfairly attack another cause I support.

    Mozilla is not a cause, it’s a company with considerable power and influence. The choice of CEO for said company, as Kat, Marie, Shawna and others have pointed out, thus makes a very, very big difference, because of how a CEO can shape and direct that company’s power and influence. Which is precisely why people were concerned about Eich’s appointment to that position because he’d taken a direct action that contradicted Mozilla’s corporate culture as an inclusive, supportive workplace. As to why you think that’s unfair, you’ve expended quite a bit of breath demonstrating just what and who you prioritize here and it’s clearly not equal rights for LGBTQ people.

  292. I don’t buy your analogy. He wasn’t making threats. He was making anti-threats, promising to keep the bullshit at home. And he had a history of doing so.

    Indeed, he took direct action that helped pass a law extremely damaging to LGBT folks. Mozilla employees, particularly, were concerned that he might again take direct action in his new capacity at CEO. Both his statements and Mozilla’s were extremely unconvincing PR pieces that failed to meaningfully reassure the stakeholders that he would, in fact, ‘keep the bullshit at home’. (Bullshit which, as has been noted before, also includes politically supporting Pat Buchanan’s political campaign. I’d like to see the argument that good people of reasonable views can disagree on that.)

    BTW, to be clear, by lawsuits, I mean that if a company is being sued by a former employee who says they were fired or demoted for being gay, it’s going to be a little bit tougher for a company to argue “Nonsense! That couldn’t possibly be true. Why, we are Inclusivity and Tolerance incarnate!” when the company has appointed an openly anti-gay dude as its leader, representative and policy-setter. Is anyone with half a brain supposed to believe that how the company treats LGBT employees (and things like benefits for their spouses, a thing Eich did and does believe should be illegal) is the one policy that the CEO can’t and won’t touch?

    Also, Lawrence, re your comment “I do not want to worry about my Evangelical boss firing me when he finds out I’m an atheist”: it is already illegal for your boss, Evangelical or otherwise, to fire you because of your atheism, and I find it difficult to believe that someone who is 1) an outspoken atheist 2) with access to Google doesn’t already know that. So by ‘keep politics out of work’, what you’re really saying is that you want other groups of people to stop fussing about having the same workplace protections you have and can take for granted. Classy.

  293. Well, I for one think Lawrence has been given quite a lot to think about here, and rather than add my own thoughts (which pretty much would echo Marie Brennan’s anyway, except as outlined below) to the pile, will wait and see if Lawrence has anything to say in reply (after a decent interval to allow him to read and think). I have no desire to back him into a corner, which in my experience often leads people to become defensive even if they secretly believe they’ve been refuted.

    Marie Brennan, Beautifully done! A clear and cogent point-by-point response. I agree with almost all of it.

    The “almost” comes in because I honestly think you may have misconstrued Lawrence on one point: I read him as talking about POC taking THEIR rights from white people, rights they were entitled to, rather than as talking about taking WHITE PEOPLE’S rights from them. I think his comment makes much more sense with that reading.

    Though I’m far from unsympathetic to your reading, since people really DO act as if gay people having rights takes theirs away. But I don’t think Lawrence is that far into La-La Land wrt gay people, much less POC.

  294. @ Marie

    Actually, when Lawrence said “The civil rights movement did not take rights from whites by force, it threw their immoral actions into view and shamed them into reform”, while I initially read it the same way you did, on second glance, it looks as if what he’s trying to say is that people of color didn’t take the civil rights they were due from whites by force, whites were “convinced” to make civil rights reforms because they were shamed into doing so.

    Which still doesn’t make sense given his apparent inclination to look at the Mozilla employees, volunteers and customers who did just that about Eich’s appointment – pointing out how giving the CEO position to a man who’s views and actions had harmed many in their organization was, in fact, immoral and something they should be shamed over – as a bad thing.

    How did the civil rights movement throw immoral actions into view and shame whites into supporting reform? By calling out racial discrimination loudly, utilizing methods such as marches, protests and boycotts, methods that according to laissez-faire principles, we’re supposed to use to affect the free market and business practices, rather than “government intervention” or “activist judges legislating from the bench.” Methods that Mozilla employees, volunteers and customers used to signal their support for equal rights for LGBTQ people and displeasure with Eich’s appointment. But somehow what critics of Eich’s appointment did is worse, akin to “taking something by force” and “spiteful” because Lawrence likes Mozilla* and has apparently decided it’s ok to apply special pleading in this case.

    *Pro-tip – the people who were protesting Eich’s appointment? Were doing so because they liked Mozilla, too and feared that his appointment would be bad for both the company and for LGBTQ people.

  295. A CEO’s role is both internal and external. Even if Eich did keep his agenda out of how he managed Mozilla internally, the thought of “CEO of Mozilla” being added to the list of prominent businesspeople in support of such an agenda is sickening.

    Which just goes to show that the “associating” ploy D’Anna attempted earlier, disingenuous as it was, actually cuts against him. Eich’s “association” with Mozilla as its CEO, along with his history (as mythago points out) not of “keeping the bullshit at home” but rather of taking conspicuous action to take away rights from others, would tend to bolster others who would deny rights to or take rights away from LGBT people.

    I’d add that just because D’Anna claims to approve of King’s actions (or at least with his perception of same) doesn’t mean that King’s own definition of the acceptable ways to protest those who would deny others their rights agrees with what he’s comfortable with. He hasn’t made a convincing case that King’s condemnation from the Birmingham Jail is a much better fit.

  296. 2) discrimination against PoC is a shadow of its former self. Overt racism is utterly unacceptable to most Americans, even conservatives. Some inadvertent or unconscious discrimination still takes place, but it is not easy to know how much. It seems the justice system is particularly problematic. Passing the civil rights laws made a huge difference, especially in the south, but more important than that was the change of public opinion that led to the laws being passed in the first place.

    Frankly, this right here seems pretty damned delusional to me. I think the post-2008 political landscape in this country pretty well demonstrates that. Or do you think that the Obama Truthers (for example) are motivated by an honest concern that Obama may, in fact, by a Kenyan Muslim terrorist? Or that the voter suppression laws springing up everywhere the GOP controls a state government are really about a concern for (demonstrably nonexistent) voter fraud, or an attempt to suppress voting by PoC? Or that the entire Tea Party movement is really /only/ about government spending (when they didn’t make a peep while Bush spent us into poverty cutting taxes at the same time he launched two wars)? Or is there a substantial segment of the population just driven insane by the notion of a black man living in the White House?

    Overt racism is all around you, Lawrence. Go take a gander at some of the comment sections of CNN. That you can’t see that and think we’re living in some sort post-racial America is pretty sad.

  297. Mozilla is stating right now that they actually tried to convince him to stay, that only 10 out of a 1000 employees had any issue with Eich and seriously that while they were ‘disappointed’ in his support of Prop 8, they thought he’d be a swell CEO, honest.

    That’s…disappointing. I won’t be using Firefox then, for awhile. At least until the current directors and execs who appointed Eich are gone from the company. They do not have very good judgement, which is I suppose a part of why the company is having troubles in the market.

  298. @Xopher, @GeekMelang — ah, okay. That is indeed a more coherent interpretation of Lawrence’s words, and I’m totally willing to grant I may have misread him on that count. In which case, my apologies to Lawrence.

    Addressing that point instead of the one I originally read: I’m still stuck on this whole “by force” thing. How can you take a right by force? There has been no military coup in support of gay rights. Nobody is trying to stage one. Eich was not threatened with harm to his family if he didn’t resign. People have not been prevented from going to the polls where they might vote against marriage equality — though I will note that there is voter suppression going on in the U.S., just not in pursuit of equality.

    For that interpretation to make sense, I have to assume that “force” encompasses things like “public shaming” and “exercise of individual rights of association” and such, i.e. the tactics used in Eich’s case. At which point I wonder . . . how in god’s name is anybody supposed to make progress without them? “Please stop hitting me in the face. I will not move out of your path to prevent you, nor even tell anyone that I don’t like you hitting me in the face; I will just stand here and hope my noble martyrdom persuades you that hitting me in the face is wrong. It hasn’t worked in the last fifty years or so, but you never know; maybe today is the day you will wake up and see that what you are doing is wrong and hurtful. Maybe.”

    Here’s the thing about oppression: it is done by the powerful to the powerless. It stops when the powerless gain enough power that they can no longer be hurt with impunity. To say that the powerless should eschew the use of even the smallest fragments of power they have gained in the name of “virtue” is to guarantee they will continue to be oppressed.

    And I continue to be puzzled why the “force” employed against Eich is so much more to be decried than the force he employed and supported against those in more vulnerable positions. The latter is, in Lawrence’s own words, a “great injustice” that does “enormous harm.” The former is not. And yet he seems much more worried about the former than the latter.

  299. @Kat Goodwin: “At least until the current directors and execs who appointed Eich are gone from the company. They do not have very good judgement, which is I suppose a part of why the company is having troubles in the market.

    Well, that’s certainly a valid point. I don’t know if you read that FAQ page, but it was very…odd. It felt like it was trying very hard to take some odd middle road in every way: “we didn’t force him out, we swear” side-by-side “we are very, very progressive, seriously guys”. It’s trying for a balancing act, I guess, but it’s both defensive and feels kind of false to me.

  300. On day … what, now? Three? Four? … of waiting to be told what people are supposed to do when someone attacks them and asking them to stop doesn’t work.

    This is starting to feel like Waiting for Godot.

  301. @wizardru I agree that is an odd FAQ. I wouldn’t expect many employees of any company to stick their necks out in calling for their CEO to resign. ~1% is probably really very high for that sort of thing and it’s really not good evidence that most employees are okay with the CEO.

    And the answer to the last question is bizarre. “Q: Is Mozilla pro-gay-marriage?” Follow the link and it seems the answer is a straightforward “Yes”. This is not an answer that calls for circumlocution and defensiveness.

  302. I’ve been thinking about some of the implicit assumptions going on about the civil rights movement here, mostly on the part of Lawrence. Unfortunately, a very particular reading of Martin Luther King begins to stand in for a complex and diverse movement. If you want to get a sense of the multiplicity of views in the movement, look up former NAACP head, Robert F. Williams or the Deacons of De fence, both of whom took up armed self-defense in the name of civil rights. The period was also marked by widespread rioting, that can’t be separated from the civil disobedience movement in any easy manner. (King’s response to these various threads of the movement can’t be understood in any simple narrative, either.)

  303. Omg, I finally get to catch a troll, pre-Mallet. I am sooooo psyched.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

    John, please leave it, for me? I just left my partner in cardiac ICU, so I’m playing the pity card.

  304. I’m having a hard time fighting off the urge to say “In the face of such arguments, we are all reduced to being intellectual bottoms.”

  305. [Deleted because Thordaddy has some private issues to resolve, hopefully far from here - JS]

  306. mintwitch, best wishes if wishes are wanted, an it be their own will!

    Wow, I get to see a particularly idiotic and hateful troll before it gets Malleted! Presumably because Our Host is on a plane.

  307. Mintwitch: best wishes that your partner comes out okay!

    I am not familiar with these particular conspiracy theories of this particular troll. Probably we are not supposed to engage since he doesn’t really want a conversation. I like the question tactic, though.

  308. Kat, given that this lying sack of shit has been Malleted several times, and comments replying to him have likewise been Malleted, I think we’re definitely not supposed to engage.

  309. I like kittens! They are so very soft and snuggly! I could just cuddle them for days and days! Yay! Kittens!

    (note)

  310. I am not using Firefox anymore because of your many mistakes – if one big fail is resolved, the next one is upcoming. Don’t even want to start to talk about your Chrome similar new UI.

    Maxthon it is, i choose a reasonable browser developer, Mozilla has stopped being one since you decided to go to bed with Google!

  311. Well, now Dropbox has hired NSA liar-in-chief and non-warranted wiretap enthusiast Condolezzaa Rice as a privacy expert *, Mozilla may get a bit of a break…

    * which makes perfect sense – she knows users don’t have any.

  312. Seledan, you appear to be under the impression that people here work for Mozilla. If not, your phrasing and choices of pronoun are nothing short of bizarre.

  313. Dear John,

    ‘S’okay. Didn’t really think it would stick.

    … and ‘sides, now there are KITTENS!!!

    (which’re almost as good as parrots)

    pax / Ctein

  314. Here is what I do get:

    Eich was named CEO. His donation re: Prop 8 Came to light. Various constituencies thought this was a problem and protested. Eich, and or The Mozilla board decided that he would resign for the good of organization.

    Here is what I do not get:
    The level of hatred and vitriol that was unleashed on Eich in this thread. There does not seem to be a center space that acknowledges “I strongly disagree with his position. and I understand that these are his thoughts and philosophy. While I would never agree with them, I respect his right to hold them.

    It seems to me that our host moved this controversy from the heat of the fire just to have the most vocal posters to add gasoline.

  315. Shawna, quite. Not that Odin was a great guy, either. (I mean the real one, not the comic-book one.)

    Dad of Four, you couldn’t possibly say that if you’ve read the thread.

    If you believe you have read the thread, you are mistaken. Try again.

  316. @geekmelange, quite welcome! Puppies!

    @Xopher: Aw, I quite like Odin in most myths. But it’s true he doesn’t come off great in some of them.

    @Dad of Four: I respect people’s right to hold whatever horrible, irrational, hurtful beliefs they want, be that “the gays do not deserve marriage” or “black people are lazy” or “lizard people are controlling the world.” I don’t respect the beliefs themselves, nor the people who choose to hold them. But I totally respect their rights to believe that.

    Does that help?

  317. Xopher I have read the entire thread over the past few days. That is what moved me to comment.

    Isabelcooper, I agree with you. but I don’t see much of that philosophy reflected here.

  318. Really? Have you seen anyone advocating that the government should take him away or keep him from talking/posting on blogs/giving money to bigoted organizations?

    Because I seem to have missed that.

  319. @Dad of Four — since I haven’t seen anyone here suggesting that we criminalize Eich’s views*, I’m pretty sure we’re all on board with “I respect his legal right to be a bigot.”

    If you’re waiting for me to respect his bigotry, or respect him for being a bigot, or respect his right to be a bigot without consequences . . . well, then, you’ll be waiting for a long time.

    *Nota bene: criminalizing actions is another matter. You have the legal right to think whatever you like, but as the saying goes, your right to move your fist ends where my nose begins. Hence laws against hate crimes, etc.

  320. Dear Dad of Four,

    Why on god’s green earth should I respect the right of a bigot to be a bigot?

    Why, on or off said green earth, should I respect his right to try to impose his bigotry on others?!

    No, I can’t prevent a bigot from being one or doing that, but I sure as hell do not have to respect him for it.

    pax / Ctein

  321. For that matter, none of us criticizing Eich have proposed annulling his marriage, if he’s married, nor barring him from ever adopting or exercising parental rights. We haven’t even proposed it, let alone pitched money at making it happen.

  322. @Dad of Four: Respecting one’s right to believe whatever bigoted thing they want != refraining from criticizing said bigoted beliefs and actions for what they are: bigoted, and support for legalizing discrimination against others. Eich’s free to say and do whatever he wants, but he is not free from criticism for his beliefs and actions.

  323. @isabelcooper:

    It should be noted that the original Odin was, among other things, the god of murder, and precipitated Ragnarok by breaking an oath, and horribly tormented Loki when the latter called Odin and the other Aesir out for being massive douchebags.

    MCU Odin is a tyrannical and borderline sociopathic despot who rules a society that imports everything except asskickings, which are its sole exports.

    Really, if you read the myths or watch the Marvel movies, you always end up siding with Loki…and not just because he’s hot.

    On a completely unrelated note, it’s been a while since we saw a Kittening. Praise Scalzi! Praise the Mallet of Loving Correction! Ghlag’ghee bâkùn!

  324. Why would there need to be “a center space that acknowledges” those things? Nobody disputed Eich’s right to speak or to make political donations. Comment threads typically follow those aspects that are under discussion and at least somewhat in dispute, and I don’t find this one to be much of an exception to that.

    Otherwise… well, given what raised many vocal responses, this objection sounds like it’s tone-policing the rejection of tone-policing.

  325. isabelcooper et al.

    As far as I can tell, Eich was not “advocating that the government should take him away or keep him from talking/posting on blogs/giving money to bigoted organizations?”

    And you are all using “Bigot” as a synonym for “someone whose morality \ views I do not like”. Was this not exactly how you were treated in the past? Isn’t this the discrimination you worked to end? Isn’t what you fight against similar to:

    “If you’re waiting for me to respect his sexual orientation, or respect him for his sexual orientation, or respect his right to choose his sexual orientation without consequences . . . well, then, you’ll be waiting for a long time.”

  326. No, of course it isn’t at all similar to that. You’re drawing false equivalencies and you’re not worth engaging. Back under your bridge.

  327. Really? The quote came from today’s comments. The easiest way to refrain from thinking about your actions is to declare the “other” a troll and not worth engaging.

  328. I did a Ctrl-F. That was not said by anyone in this thread except you.

    Eich gave money to take already-established rights away from people because of an inborn trait of theirs. That’s bigotry.

  329. To me the gay lynch mob is as misdirected as the straight lynch mob

    To quote a piece from Gawker about what is and is not an actual lynch mob:

    a “lynch mob,” in American culture, is a group of people who extrajudicially captured, murdered, and mutilated thousands of men, a majority of whom were black, in the 100-year-long period following the emancipation of African slaves in the 19th century. It is a particular, historically contingent phenomenon, an outgrowth of white Southerners’ anxiety about maintaining the social and economic order slavery had enforced.

    It is not “people who are criticizing me.” It is not a metaphor.

    The rest of Dad of Four’s comment seems to fall under the predictable tone argument rubric of “You’re intolerant for not tolerating intolerance.”

  330. Dear Dad,

    And now I am sincerely doubting that you bothered to read most of this thread before you posted. Your assertions have been raised and refuted. Repeatedly. You are saying nothing new. Nor, consequently, anything interesting. You are talking for the sake of talking.

    That is why you are being accused of being a troll. As in “trolling for responses and reactions.”

    That is mine.

    Oh, and not-so-by the way, this it NOT “the discrimination you worked to end.” Eich tried to take away people’s rights. “We” have not.

    Intolerance and discrimination is NOT equivalent to tolerance and the granting of rights.

    That is the deep, profound and overriding difference. It is one that seems to be beyond your grasp.

    And now we are done. Because, you are a troll. A polite troll, but a troll nonetheless.

    pax / Ctein

  331. Dear lumi,

    Do not fall into the “inborn trait vs. lifestyle” trap. It is, in fact, an irrelevant red herring and a diversion. We, as a society and constitutionally, protect many rights that are not inborn traits but choices we make in life. We protect the right to vote for the candidate of our choice. We protect people from discrimination based on their choice of religion. Which is, for most religions, a most fundamental matter of choice (doctrines of free will, faith, etc.). Whether you are Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian; Catholic, Jew, or Noodleist… Those are lifestyle choices. We deem them worthy of protection, even to the extent of writing that into the Constitution.

    The scope of fundamental civil rights is not limited to what you are born with.

    If it were to be scientifically proven tomorrow that sexual orientation was utterly immutable… or mutable (and neither is remotely close to having been proven)… it would not matter one bit. You would still be entitled to rights.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    – Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
    – Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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  332. @Dad of four:

    To me the gay lynch mob is as misdirected as the straight lynch mob/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcCm_ySBslk
    These trees grow in my parent’s back yard. Don’t use that metaphor. Just… don’t. It’s not a lynch mob unless somebody is lynched. And in this case, I might be related to both the lyncher and the lynchee. Fuck right the fuck off.

  333. Ctein,

    I actually agree with you (and am grateful that you chose to assume ignorance rather than malice). I guess it’s just that for so long I’ve heard bigots excuse their bigotry with the “it’s a(n immoral) choice” that I tend to emphasize the biological evidence in this particular case. It is my belief that choices that don’t harm anyone else are just as worthy of protection as things we can’t choose. Pax.

  334. Oh, mintwitch, now you’ll have to endure the ritual punishment – which is just a few cats staring at you in disdain until they get bored/hungry and wander away.

  335. I have 4 special needs cats. They never get bored and wander away. Instead, they stare with the “I am going to eat your face any second” look. Unnerving, to say the least.
    /off topic

    My SO works for a vet. No one who works there ends up w/ less than 5 psychos. And yes, that includes us. She kicked me out of ICu to come home and feed the crazy ass zoo. That’s just how we roll.

    Sorry to veer OT, John, but folks will ask, and answering is keeping me sane.

  336. When a question has been asked and answered, we don’t have to answer it again for each person who comes to ask it. When a point has been raised and refuted, we don’t have to refute it again every time someone raises it.

    In fact, I would submit that it’s wrong to do so, because it encourages the Dad of Fours of the world to waste our time and drain our energy by coming and saying the same things, making the same bullshit points, throwing around the same stupid insults.

    Dad of Four, you’ve brought nothing new. If you HAVE read the thread, you’re just trolling, because everything you say has already been discussed/refuted before you came. We don’t have to discuss them again just because you’re a special snowflake and have your very own super special form of words to bring up the same tired nonsense.

    And if there were any doubt before, your use of the phrase ‘gay lynch mob’ makes it absolutely clear that you are here not to engage, but to provoke.

    That’s called trolling.

  337. Xopher, are you suggesting that we switch to talking exclusively about cats? (Please say yes so i don’t get all the blame for this :) )

    I just really want to know about special needs cats. (Not facetious, i am interested)

  338. Hi Lumi! If you are in the Seattle area, I can totes hook you up w/ special needs cats. If you are outside of Seattle, it might take a day. But if you are serious, I’ve got cats that need a home. Lemme know!

  339. I would love to have them, but I’m in Maryland, and my husband has a cat allergy – he has to take medication for the first few months he is exposed to a particular cat. Our cat is harmless to him now, but i can’t ask him to go through that again.

    I wish I was able to help you with rehoming!

  340. Ser Scalzi, I know this was a wild veer off topic. Please don’t send the plane gremlin after us.

  341. Dear lumi,

    Oh, heavens no! I didn’t think your remarks were either ignorant nor malicious. I just wanted to remind folks that is both risky and unnecessary to hang the argument on essentialism.

    Not that it isn’t sometimes expedient! I’ve been at this long enough to see prevailing opinion swing from “it’s just the way we are” to “it’s our choice to be this way” and back to “it’s just the way we are.” Each of those swings was driven entirely by political needs, not by anything resembling data. In fact, I was one of the players behind the swing back to essentialism in the late 1970s. There was this thing called the Brings Initiative (see Wikipedia for details). One of their big talking points was that “homosexuals can’t reproduce, so they have to recruit.”

    Yeah, it was that kind of a time. Unfortunately, that resonated unfortunately well with the “it’s our choice” liberation politics message. I was on the mobilizing committee against the Briggs Initiative in San Francisco. It didn’t take us more than one meeting to consense on essentialism as the party line that we would hew to. Did any of us there actually believe essentialism? Very few; quite possibly not a single one of us. Didn’t matter. It was about winning the hearts and minds of the voters. So we built a campaign around what we (collectively) considered a lie.

    That’s politics.

    We were very successful at promulgating that lie. Honestly, I’m surprised at how successful. I figured that after another 10-15 years, the pendulum would swing away. Well, it’s taken a lot longer than that to start to develop a more nuanced understanding of sexuality, and most people still don’t get it.

    There is no real moral to this story. Or, if there is, it’s that you say what you have to say to win the campaign, but never forget that you said it for the campaign, and not because you knew it was true.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    – Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
    – Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  342. I would note that had I note been traveling and otherwise occupied, Dad of Four would have been off the thread at “gay lynch mob,” which among many other things, shows that’s he’s not thinking, he’s just reading off some reactionary cue card. I see it’s been handled in my absence, so rather than delete a large chunk of the thread, it stands for now.

    Dad of Four, it’s clear that in fact you did not read the whole thread before you commented, or if you did, that you didn’t bother to try to understand it. Why don’t you go ahead and take the rest of the thread off, please.

  343. No thanks from me. I am decidedly tired of the inhumanity of folks, especially those claiming to be parents.

    A vicious and sustained campaign of persecution and bigotry to criminalize and jail gays with the operation of a police state, take away their children, strip them of their secular rights as citizens, get them fired, have them tortured in schools to the point of suicide, and call them child molesters while encouraging violence against them — all that Eich supports wholeheartedly and with his money and political operatives. And that you want to call a “difference of opinion.” No vitriol involved apparently.

    An angry verbal rejection of that campaign of persecution and bigotry and that people had to give up their jobs to protest someone who uses his power to try to harm an entire of group of people then getting more power. And that you call a vitriolic lynch mob. D’Ana wants to call it not virtuous or noble.

    And why do you do that? Increased political power. Greed. The desire to grind others into the dust in order to make yourself feel righteous and superior, leaving a trail of broken bodies behind you. An unwavering devotion to cherry picked scripture that leaves your churches’ coffers full from scared people while other churches with gay congregants are actually deprived of their freedom of religion by the political maneuvering of people like Eich.

    So there’s some actual, real vitriol, Dad of Four. Choke on it. Because — while Scalzi may wave his mallet around as is his right here — I’ll be damned — since you think I am anyway — if I let your hate filled smear campaign and lame-ass apology be the last comments on this particular thread.

  344. @ Kat Goodwin: Thanks for that, you make me laugh and cry as usual. In a good way.

    On a semi-related note, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the cutest thing in the universe is a pair of gay kittens.

    Because kittens + makes bigots fume. Made of win!

    Plus, some people who are really crazy about their pets even do cat weddings and such…

  345. I keep seeing talk about jailing gays and taking children away. All he did was donate to Prop 8–did I miss something?

  346. Nope, you don’t get to do the last (troll) comment either, Harold Osler. I will bite down on your troll bait just for snarls.

    Prop 8 stripped away the civil rights of gays to get married and particularly the civil rights of gays who had gotten married. Those gay couples who defied the unconstitutional attempt to dissolve their marriages faced going to jail, as did other gays who defied the law and government officials who protested the law as unconstitutional, which it was and was so ruled. And when you go to jail, conveniently you can be kept from voting, a twofer. And on top of that, by keeping gays from and invalidating gay marriages, Prop 8 kept gay citizens from the financial benefits of the secular marriage contract, such as spousal healthcare, tax breaks and joint investments, inheritor benefits and the ability to authorize spousal medical treatment if the spouse is incapacitated. Which meant gays were dying from illness, etc. All of which Eich supported.

    Eich also financially supported anti-gay politicians who have been trying to and sometimes been successful in ramming through laws barring gays from adopting children and from gay couples both being guardians to their children, meaning gays can lose and are losing their children. They have worked to have laws allowing employers to fire people for any reason, including being gay, and blocked legislation to protect gay workers’ rights from being fired for being gay. This issue was of particular concern to the folk protesting Eich’s appointment to CEO. Various laws have been attempted to keep gays from being teachers and other professions. Various laws have been attempted to “protect” students who beat up and bully gay or “gay-seeming” students on the grounds that it’s their (extra) religious freedom right to negate their victims’ religious freedom and right not to be attacked in school. Anti-gay activists and legislatures routinely accuse gays of being child molesters and other crimes with the wish that they be imprisoned. In Mississippi and a few other states, there are still sodomy laws that can allow police to imprison gay people against their constitutional rights. Christian churches and other religious sects with gay congregants they’d like to marry are being unconstitutionally kept from practicing their religion by secular law as interpreted by theocrats angling for more political power. And it goes on and on.

    So all Eich did was financially try to persecute gay people, involving stripping their rights, getting them imprisoned, and removing them from their children — and subvert secular law to do it. And apparently, if you point that out, you are a vitriolic uncouth monkey monster, but Eich’s a shining example of humanity because he invented Java. You want to trivialize the pain and wrongful repression of your gay neighbors, Osler, go right ahead and be disgusting. But if you’re going to troll, Scalzi’s forum has a high bar for ability. This was a very lame attempt.

  347. Look missy–don’t generalize me. I wasn’t trying to troll. I know the high standards here for truly interesting trolling. I may have been the last post, but someone has to be.
    I was asking because I thought I missed something. As did other people here in San Francisco I told this to.
    I still think that it would have been better if he’d acknowledged it and tried to explain why–although I don’t think it would have helped. and that there should have been a high road taken of giving him some space with an eagle eye kept on what he did in the future.
    In my opinion–all this overblown rhetoric on both sides serves no purpose. I didn’t see the Prop 8 foofarah as important as others did because I don’t really give a rat’s ass for straight people’s approval of my relationships. (No offense to straight people). And that’s what I’m getting from it–people are upset because others don’t think their relationship is as good as theirs. If anyone had had the nerve to tell me that–I’d probably have just shrugged and said–”Well, fuck you then,”

  348. I didn’t see the Prop 8 foofarah as important as others did because I don’t really give a rat’s ass for straight people’s approval of my relationships.

    That’s an incredibly self-centered way to look at the issue.

    That’s probably why you’re missing the elephant in the room.

  349. I didn’t see the Prop 8 foofarah as important as others did because I don’t really give a rat’s ass for straight people’s approval of my relationships.

    That may be because the approval of the IRS or the tax agency in your state or adoption agencies may not affect you. They do, however, affect many people.

    I have no desire to join the military, and never have had (I grew up during the post-Vietnam era and only got over the strong anti-military bias this instilled after I was too old anyway). But I support the struggle of people who do want to serve in the military to serve without having to hide in a closet (or locker, in a military context).

    Being a person of the left, I call this “solidarity.” Not sure what you call it on the right; I sense that they’re opposed to all nonhierarchical collective action, so maybe they don’t talk about it much.

    I would point out to you that if you’re trying to fan a flame war, beginning a comment with “Look, missy” is a very good way to do that.

  350. Sigh. I previewed, and still missed a ‘you’ that should have been ‘they’. Should have read

    Not sure what they call it on the right

  351. @wizardru: They even played the ‘lurkers support us’ card. It was a remarkably passive-aggressive response.

    @Harold Osler: Given the extensive and extended fight over Prop 8 here in San Francisco, I find it extremely difficult to believe anyone who paid the slightest attention – as opposed to, say, spending that entire time up in Healdsburg living in a cave and stoned out of their gourd, and maybe not even then – really though that Prop 8 was simply about whether straight people thought two dudes getting married was gross. I find it impossible to believe anyone living here who asked their friends ‘what’s all this about then’? didn’t manage to understand that Prop 8 was, in fact, about destroying people’s existing marriages and depriving them of rights and wealth.

    WRT Eich, again, I’m still wondering why the Cone of Silence on his past support of certain other political candidates. Ron Paul I can kind of see, because despite his manifest bigotry he’s a darling of the clueless single tech dude demographic for his stance against certain kinds of government misconduct. But Pat Buchanan? Really? I’m dying to hear the principled stand for that one.

  352. Harold Osler:

    In my opinion–all this overblown rhetoric on both sides serves no purpose. I didn’t see the Prop 8 foofarah as important as others did because I don’t really give a rat’s ass for straight people’s approval of my relationships. (No offense to straight people). And that’s what I’m getting from it–people are upset because others don’t think their relationship is as good as theirs.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinions, you sexist cutie you. And so are the folk who protested Eich. If you don’t give a rat’s ass for straight people’s approval of your relationships, why then would you see Prop 8 as no big deal when it was straight people trying to gain legal control of your relationships? And not simply your relationships, but your freedom not to be in jail. Because it wasn’t just about blocking gay marriage, it was about criminalizing the gay marriages that had already been performed and criminalizing any gay folk who tried to stand up for equal civil rights. In San Francisco, officials who defied the law were threatened with firing, court action and jail. And for the politicians Eich also financially supported, Prop 8 is the least of it. They are after laws to allow employers to legally fire you for being gay, that is in the states that don’t already have laws to do it. They are taking people’s kids away from them. They are trying to legally protect assault on teenagers. They are trying to institute laws to have people ban you from stores, from living in apartments, from any service or institution you might need if the people who own it feel like it.

    So even if you never plan to get married, they’re coming after you anyway, and Prop 8 was an unconstitutional law that they almost got away with, and that just encouraged them to make more laws persecuting gay people well beyond marriage. And they went after straight people too in some states, trying to ban benefits and rights regarding children for civil partnerships, gay or straight. And the battles over gay marriage have included attempts to have legislation that is built on religious belief, not secular democracy, beliefs that you are a child molester and should be in jail, but also the belief that all the laws should be based on their religious beliefs. And they’ve been pretty successful at it, thanks to the funding of people like Eich. And the battle to overturn Prop 8 was in fact key to keeping numerous legislative attempts to come after single gays just as well as coupled ones from making headway. And Eich has fully and publicly supported Prop 8 and other anti-gay campaigns, supported setting up laws to get you thrown in jail and blocked however you can be blocked in society.

    Not that you haven’t experienced all this, and probably more besides, which is why your position is exceedingly weird. I’m not sure why folks would regard laws designed to be able to throw them in jail for trying to live their lives as no big whoop. Maybe because it’s been going on for so long. Be that as it may, the discussion was because we just had a troll attack trying to continue the protesting Eich is too vitriolic to be borne line. When anti-gay folk boycott Disney for its policies towards gay employees and customers, there’s nary a peep about how they are vitriolic and overboard and might cause harm to Disney employees. When they protested and boycotted Kmart for having Ellen DeGenneres as a commercial spokesperson — a situation very similar to Mozilla — I heard nothing about them being too vitriolic. But speaking up about Eich or saying that Prop 8 was in fact a big fucking deal is apparently rude and overblown rhetoric. So I was annoyed with the troll and determined not to have the last word in the thread be a how dare you protest this man nonsense, and you jumped on the same bandwagon as him.

    Because I don’t agree with the downplaying of what’s going on in the law, both the importance of attempts of gay people to have the same, full civil rights as straights — not just to get married but to work in jobs, have sex without getting arrested, raise kids, buy cakes, etc. — and the attempts to establish theocratic, unconstitutional laws to persecute them, laws that also subvert democracy and put straight people in danger too. I think it’s a big fucking deal and I can say so. Because even if we don’t agree about things, I regard you as a person with equal rights that should be protected under the law, with legal discrimination removed, whether it’s marriage or anything else.

    If you’re going to make the argument that it’s not a big fucking deal, make a better one, Harry.

  353. SIgh–
    (1). “really though that Prop 8 was simply about whether straight people thought two dudes getting married was gross.” I’m not sure where this line of thought came from. I do know that no one wants to talk about the facts that Prop 8 was funded largely by Catholic and Mormon institutions who want to run other people’s lives. I still think there should have been an investigation into money-laundering to hide where funds came from. Like GIngrich in Iowa.

    (2)”.I find it impossible to believe anyone living here who asked their friends ‘what’s all this about then’? didn’t manage to understand that Prop 8 was, in fact, about destroying people’s existing marriages and depriving them of rights and wealth ” I KNOW that –what I couldn’t figure out was where the jail thing came in.

    (3). I got in trouble here in SF by saying that Prop 8 wouldn’t matter anyway because no matter what the final vote was–it would just get kicked into the courts. And it was. So all that money, time, tsurris, hurt feelings and rhetoric would be just dust in the wind.

    (4)–if you really wanted to see self involved; some of the pro-marriage people here fit the bill. I got really tired of the ‘”We have to behave ourselves and not frighten the straight people so we can get marriage” line.

    And missy came out because i suddenly was channeling my midwest background.

  354. Legal marriage matters. It’s not an “approval” thing. It’s being able to enter into a private contract for the purposes of mutual legal and financial support. Some people may not want that, and that’s perfectly fine. But the people who do want and need it should have access to it. Mutual interdependence, especially when there are kids involved, is not a straight thing.

  355. (3). I got in trouble here in SF by saying that Prop 8 wouldn’t matter anyway because no matter what the final vote was–it would just get kicked into the courts. And it was. So all that money, time, tsurris, hurt feelings and rhetoric would be just dust in the wind.

    If you couldn’t see you’d be getting yourself in trouble saying that, I think you got what you deserved. Like I said, you’re being incredibly self-centered here. You’re simply not seeing others time and legal status’ as real–the uncertainty over years time certainly mattered to the people involved. It is NOT dust in the wind to people who have a real marriage at stake.

  356. And missy came out because i suddenly was channeling my midwest background.

    I have a Midwest background, too, and the charming regional quirks I picked up were things like calling carbonated beverages “pop” or referring to a particular kind of playground ride as a “teeter-totter”. I don’t remember ever learning that it was cool to pop off with a condescending, sexist insult like “missy” when a woman disagreed with me.

    @Kat: there’s a certain type of person who believes that discrimination is bullshit, because it hasn’t impacted them directly; ergo, discrimination must be a reflection of one’s merit and hard work, because they (good, hardworking people) haven’t experienced it; therefore anyone who claims they have, is lying, or trying to blame their own failure on external factors.

  357. Harold Osler:

    what I couldn’t figure out was where the jail thing came in.

    As I’ve said frequently in this thread already, the “jail thing” comes into the fact that Prop 8 and similar laws make gay marriage illegal. Prop 8 first made all gay marriages illegal, then the CA Supreme Court ruled the gay marriages that had already occur could exist in a legal limbo, but no others could occur — to issue a marriage license would be illegal. So when San Francisco officials did it in 2004, under the similar Prop 22, they faced threat of arrest when they were ordered to stop if they did not. (They did since the mayor was using the defiance for a protest to get media attention for gay rights.)

    For gays to protest these laws and attempt to declare themselves married in defiance of the law was then illegal when Prop 8 passed, replacing Prop 22. By legally banning gay marriage, not only does it stop gay marriage but provides legal methods and use of police to arrest gays who protest the laws banning their marriages. To protest the law and declare their marriages legal in defiance of the law, they have to risk arrest. And this is the exact position those who funded Prop 8 wanted gays to be in.

    For example, a gay couple in Texas was arrested trying to get a marriage license and protesting there, because Texas has an illegal law banning gay marriage. Thirteen gay rights activists were arrested in a statehouse sit in to get a bill banning legalized discrimination against them in housing and the workplace on the floor in Utah. Forty-three activists were arrested in Idaho protesting for a similar bill. Two women arrested in North Carolina in a sit-in protest trying to get a marriage license. A gay minister and his partner did a sit-in protest to get a marriage license — arrested in Louisville, Kentucky. Indiana passed a law making falsifying a marriage license application a felony, so that gay people protesting in applying for a license would be arrested and seriously charged. And if you get convicted of a felony, you can’t vote either. Not to mention that 17 states still have sodomy laws, (Virginia just got rid of theirs this year.) There’s more than just marriage involved with Prop 8 and all these other laws. Segregation is about the legal and police force apperatus to ban a repressed group from various civil rights and interactions (such as buying a cake.) You need laws outlawing the repressed group’s civil rights. That was the point of Prop 8.

    And Eich not only agreed with it, he publicly funded that campaign, and politicians who have supported campaigns to persecute gays in one way or another through the law. Given that he was willing to fund an attempt to declare gay civil rights illegal, it was therefore a perfectly legitimate concern that if he was head of Mozilla, that the company would become hostile to gay employees and vendors, including firing them, getting rid of company benefits and allowing harassment of them in the workplace. Because Eich is hostile to gays. Prop 8 was hostile to gays. Pat Buchanan whom Eich gave money to calls gays child molesters, i.e. they are criminals who should go to jail.

    I am now getting trolled by some of Scalzi’s troll bots, saying I lie on Prop 8. Apparently if you point out facts of public record, that’s lying. Because the important thing is to silence and discredit. The dry heaving over Eich is a classic example of this. But this is a simple fact, whether it’s a civil rights issue or not. If you make a law making something illegal, such as gay marriage, then defying that law (no matter how unconstitutional it may be,) means risk of arrest and jail time. So when people talk about these laws as if they were no big deal, they’re pretending. They are not accepting that something that they may agree is an illegal law is being enforced by police. And court cases take years and are by no means a sure thing, as we’ve seen with the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act so that Republicans can try to win more elections by blocking voters. Who if they defy new laws about voting meant to keep their non-Republican hands off the levers, risk arrest. See how this works? Law makes something illegal. Protesters defying the law can get arrested and go to jail as long as the law stands. And because it is illegal, it encourages in society other acts against gay people, such as beating them up, etc., which is also part of the campaign to pass these laws.

    A campaign Eich fully supported. So the people protesting risked not jail time but their jobs protesting him getting to control Mozilla. This will keep happening accompanied by wails and gnashing of teeth about what bullies the activists are fighting for their rights, while the far right boycotts Disney and other companies they decide are not medieval enough with barely a peep. Because the people who fight for their rights are always doing it wrong, so that it doesn’t have to be done at all.

    This is my last long post on this one. I just didn’t want a troll playing the you are unjustly bothering a righteous man schtick as the end of the conversation. But since the conversation has gone on past it, I will not continue to repeat myself, since doing that doesn’t sink in anyway apparently. :)

  358. Kat: To protest the law and declare their marriages legal in defiance of the law, they have to risk arrest.

    Breaking a law to protest a law is called civil disobedience. That’s not the same as saying that Prop8 makes it illegal to “protest”. Rosa Parks not giving up her seat was civil disobedience against segregation. Civil disobedience is always illegal, because its always about disobeying some law to highlight the injustice of the law.

  359. Harold Osler:

    Speaking as a current citizen of the Midwest, not many people use “missy,” and when they do they don’t use it on anyone over the age of 13. I think you’re probably better off just admitting you were trying to put Kat on her place than typing in “sigh” to suggest it’s everyone else’s fault for not understanding your quaint regionalism.

  360. Also, fyi, “missy” is racist. The derivation is “young mistress” and it was used by slaves to refer to the younger, female members of the master’s household. Even currently, it is still used in small communities in the south to refer to young white women by POC household help.

  361. I had accused him of trolling, since he seemed to me to be, so the irritation is not out of left field. The choice of missy was putting the noisy woman in the position of exasperating child, yes. But as we’d been discussing in the other thread, that’s part of the institutionalized habits we all fall into. I think he’s had it sufficiently pointed out to him.

    What the gripe has been from me, is the downplaying of the consequences of discriminatory laws, in making existing ones stronger, establishing new ones and blocking laws aimed at protecting civil rights from discrimination. These things get called “differences of opinions” and “simple political policy” and “private views.” What they are is persecution through the law and the police, and they effect the lives of those persecuted at every level. They attempt to criminalize groups of people or ways that these groups live their lives, and strip them of legal rights as full citizens thereby. To overturn that persecution requires protest, civil disobedience, boycotts, etc., and with them the risk of arrest, punishment, job loss, and violence.

    So if you’re going to make the argument that protests such as these, with all those risks to simply attempt them, are impolite, or unjustified or overboard or piss off the people who are already pissed off with the persecuted group, and therefore should not have occurred, it had better be a good argument. And the arguments I’ve heard so far against such protests I haven’t been impressed with.

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