Mozilla CEO "resigns" after uproar over his opposition to gay marriage

His opposition consisted of a $1,000 donation to support Proposition 8 in California made years ago. Over to you, John McCormack:

The difference between Eich and Obama is that. as far as we know, Eich didn’t lie to people’s faces about his views to further his own ambition. He could have publicly renounced his donation this week in the name of keeping his job, but apart from a statement about making sure that Mozilla supports everyone regardless of orientation, he didn’t. I imagine there must be some satisfaction to him in that. The ultimate goal in boycotts like these isn’t getting people fired, it’s enforcing uniformity of thought on the subject. When forced to choose, Eich evidently preferred to sacrifice his job rather than his beliefs.

In several interviews this week, Eich had insisted that he would not step down from the job he was only recently appointed to, due to the intense backlash over a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of the ballot measure to ban gay marriage…

In an interview this morning, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich’s ability to lead the company that makes the Firefox Web browser had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue, which had actually been known since 2012 inside the Mozilla community.

“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” said Baker, who added that she would not and could not speak for Eich. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”…

Baker — who became emotional at one point during the interview — noted that she was “doing a fair amount of self-reflection and I am wondering how did I miss it that this would matter more when he was the CEO.”

Having now exorcised the demon and returned to a state of grace in the eyes of moral watchdogs like OK Cupid, Baker took to groveling to the Mozilla “community” on the site’s blog:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

That’s the core of it. Eich’s free speech didn’t serve the cause of equality, therefore the company didn’t feel obliged to defend it. Free speech is valuable only insofar as it serves the right politics, an attitude shared by people far more influential than Mitchell Baker. Frankly, given that logic, why the company permits its users to access traditional marriage sites on Firefox is a mystery to me. Surely far more money has been donated to social conservative causes online, using the Firebox browser, than Brendan Eich donated to Prop 8. Why not block disfavored sites completely? Free speech is, after all, but a means to an end.

Sean Davis asks. a la McCormack:

Good question. The answer, I think, has to do with gauging what’s possible in different political subcultures. Liberals know a hard line on supporting gay marriage is apt to lose them a Senate seat in Arkansas. They’ll give Pryor a break in the name of victory — for now — just like they gave Obama a break. They don’t need to be as forgiving in left-leaning Silicon Valley. On the contrary, sacrificing the CEO of Mozilla is a ruthlessly efficient way to remind members of the tech community to toe the progressive line on hot-button issues like this one. They burned Eich pour encourager les autres.

If you oppose gay marriage (which I do not), you should treat this as a lesson that organized economic power is really your only way to make SSM fans think twice about purge-minded boycotts. You’re not going to talk them into an “agree to disagree” accommodation at this point; the trends in popular opinion are too far in their favor, and to many of them, opposing gay marriage is tantamount to opposing interracial marriage, i.e. a vestige of a system of persecution. Start by dropping Firefox, if you use it now, and go from there. If you don’t, this will keep happening.