In Defence of Brendan Eich, former Mozilla CEO.
I've been most dismayed by the furor that Brendan Eich's appointment as CEO of Mozilla has caused, and his eventual resignation has pushed me to finally come out in his defence, albeit admittedly too late. That in this day, a man can be prosecuted for his ideas and beliefs, beliefs that have nothing to do with his ability or capacity to act as the CEO of Mozilla, has been most disheartening. The whole episode has laid bare the hypocrisy of those who claim to fight for equality and justice.
Brendan Eich made a personal donation to the Proposition 8 campaign in California which intended to outlaw gay marriage in that State. As someone who has marched on more than one occasion in Pride March in Melbourne with the LGBT community, let me firstly admit that the politics of gay marriage are long and twisted. I have friends who self-identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual who are against gay marriage (mostly because they are against the concept of marriage, as well as various other reasons). Merely being against gay marriage, or donating to the Pop 8 campaign or conservative candidates does not make a person a bigot.
Remember the dark days of 2002-2006, and how IE-only the Web was becoming, and then think for a second what the Web would look like today if Firefox hadn't been there to challenge Microsoft and remind everyone to avoid turning the Web into a proprietary platform. Were it not for the Mozilla Foundation and had Microsoft been successful in its "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" campaign with the Web, our world of computing would look very different today. Neither Chrome, nor Safari, nor Android, nor iPhone would have been possible the way they are. And I firmly believe that without Brendan Eich, the Mozilla Foundation would not have started the way it did, and would not be where it is today. We all owe this man a huge debt.
Eich has been the CTO of Mozilla for many years now. The position of CTO is a high-profile position, the second or third highest position in an organisation such as Mozilla. In this position, he has overseen work by many, and has had the opportunity to shape the careers of many more. Not a single claim has been made by those who have worked with him that during all his time at Mozilla, he has acted discriminately or has treated any LGBT employee any differently. Let's be clear here, we have prosecuted a man for merely having ideas and beliefs that differ from ours, not for having done anything wrong.
Free speech isn't cheering only for those whom you agree with. Let me be clear: I disagree with Brendan Eich vehemently on the subject of gay marriage. I believe in the context of US Politics today, gay marriage is very important step towards equality of rights. While my preferred solution would be to get the State out of the business of sanctifying/classifying people's private relationships with each other, as that is a far fetched goal, I support gay marriage as an intermediate measure. But what happened to the whole "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? Is true liberalism really dead?
The treatment that Brendan Eich has received bears all the signs of an orchestrated witch hunt. To prosecute a person for their personal beliefs is wrong. Merely supporting Prop 8 does not make Brendan Eich a bigot, but even if you think he is, bigots have every right to be CEOs, as long as they don't act based on their bigoted beliefs.
I am sad that this is what the LGBT community and its allies have seccumbed to: Prosecuting thought crime. #Mozilla #LGBT #gaymarriage #BrendanEich #ThoughtCrime