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Mozilla Businesses Politics

Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO 1746

Posted by timothy
from the but-a-decade-as-cto-is-fine dept.
New submitter matafagafo (1343219) writes with this news, straight from the Mozilla blog, which comes in the wake of controversy over Brendan Eich's polticial views (in particular, his support for California's Proposition 8, which would have reversed a decision legalizing same-sex marriage within the state). and how they would reflect on the organization : "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 ..."
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Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

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  • by axlash (960838) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @02:52PM (#46652407)
    ...Keep your political views well hidden if you plan to head up an organisation that is sensitive as to how it is perceived by a cross-section of society.
  • by galloog1 (3433335) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @02:53PM (#46652419)
    He and mozilla made a business decision. It didn't matter what his feelings were on the topic; all that mattered was what it would do to the organization and its mission. While I will defend to the death anyone's right to say what they want regardless of if I agree with them I definitely do not blame Eich for it. I blame OkCupid and others instead.
  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:05PM (#46652609) Journal

    He has a defamation lawsuit against OKCupid that he should use to destroy them and/or become very rich.

    He doesn't have a slander or libel lawsuit; however, there is still a strong argument that OKCupid acted to irreparably and directly harm the reputation of Brendan Eich. The argument becomes stronger when observing that there was no issue with Eich prior to being promoted to CEO.

    In all likelihood, Eich would either win a defamation of character lawsuit or have it downgraded to a strong harassment lawsuit. Harassment is nearly inescapable in this context: Eich was called out by name directly to all users of Mozilla browsers in a public campaign by OKCupid, and has experienced direct harm by these actions. Further, these were not allegations of continuing behavior; rather they were attacks on past behavior, with no accusations current--no accusation of Eich implementing hostile corporate behavior in his career.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:08PM (#46652649)

    I'm not clear. When did freedom of speech extend to the operations of a private business?

    A majority of people in modern-day America work for corporate entities of some kind. If you argue that free speech should only be protected against the government and not against employers, then you are in effect saying that a majority of people shouldn't have any free speech protections at all.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:09PM (#46652659)

    What if he had said, "blacks don't deserve the right to vote"?

    I would have said "Mr. X is wrong in his view, but his company makes a mighty fine browser."
    Now if Mozilla had started using HP webcams for facial recognition [slashdot.org] to determine who can and can't use Firefox, then I'd change my tune about whether the company's product should be boycotted.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:12PM (#46652723) Homepage

    If he'd said any of that at work, you'd have a point. But think of the precedent here. Do you want your employer monitoring your political views outside of work and firing you if they think one of your opinions could prove embarassing to the company in the future?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:13PM (#46652753)

    Freedom of speech does not mean free from consequences. Freedom of speech does not mean unconditional support.
    It means that you have the right to say what you want, and that you should not be persecuted for it.

    Now, as consumers of a product, it is our right to not use/buy the product to not financially support acts that go against our beliefs and moral stances (just like we choose to buy organic, or buy american, or buy fair trade, etc.)

    You are right, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. However, I'd argue that there is a difference between spouting a view in a public forum and supporting a cause through what should be an anonymous donation. Should I be persecuted for voting Democrat? What about voting for or giving money to gay marriage? It cuts both ways remember.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:21PM (#46652921)

    It wasn't on twitter, it was a donor record that was stolen and published in violation of state and federal law. That's about the same scale of intrusion as a Pepsi employee getting fired because he bought a can of Coke with cash and someone stole the security footage at the gas station, identified him, and started a blog devoted to vilifying him.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:21PM (#46652927)

    I am a lesbian and I still think hounding Eich for standing for Prop. 8 and threatening to boycott a cornerstone of the internet and internet development if he was CEO of the Mozilla foundation is complete and utter intolerant bullshit. I am very disappointed with people doing such things and disappointed he caved to such.

    I am straight (though I'm not sure that sexual orientation really matters since it's a matter of supporting human rights -- I could be against homosexuality yet still support homosexual marriage) and I think that if you don't believe in someone's views (especially a public figure like the CEO of a well known organization), you definitely should speak out against his views and not support his product.

    Everyone should have the right to support whatever cause they want to support, just like everyone should have the right to *not* support that cause or the people that support it or even outright protest it. Some supporters of gay marriage have also faced outrage and boycotts [huffingtonpost.com], so why should opponents of gay marriage not expect the same? Or should we all just keep quiet when some cause offends us?

  • by businessnerd (1009815) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:27PM (#46653043)
    Chick-fil-a's CEO, Dan Cathy, may actually disagree with you. Not long ago, he openly apologized for his comments about gay marriage and his donations to many of the apparent hate groups have declined or all together stopped. He cited many reasons for his change of heart, but the most telling was that "it was bad for business." http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US... [upi.com]

    I remember reading at the time (although I can't find the source anymore) that while sales spiked during the initial publicity, they later declined to a point lower than before the controversy started. So they didn't really get any new customers from the whole thing, just lots of people who were already Chick-fil-a customers going out and making a statement. Once the controversy died down, existing customers went back to their old purchasing habits. However, they did lose customers. Those who used to be customers and were offended by the comments, will likely never be customers again.

    A company needs to succeed based on the product that they are offering, whether its differentiating qualities are real or perceived. Anything else is simply a distraction. This goes for chicken and web browsers. The views of the CEO shouldn't be a consideration for customers when choosing a web browser.
  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:40PM (#46653283) Homepage

    You mean like how the right wingers boycotts TV/radio shows/movies and threaten sponsors when something is done that they don't like? What's good for the goose and all that jazz.

    Want to really compare the numbers between the right wingers and left wingers on the issue? You'll find that the numbers are skewed left wing very quickly. You'll also find very quickly that government running as a handler for groups in the last 5 years with the help of organizations such as OFA and MM to boycott things has reached a fevered pitch. Toss in the "if you don't support it, you're a racist" I'm sure we can agree that it's all the same right?

    Never mind either that we still haven't gotten to the bottom to the GP's post about the IRS directly targeting conservative groups. And that Lerner's probably going to end up in prison over it to protect whatever political master she's serving higher up in the chain. 5th not applying in her case.

  • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent.jan.goh@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:42PM (#46653339) Homepage

    Oh Christ. Free Speech is fine. The government interfered with nothing. Just because he's allowed to say shit doesn't mean the world has to like it. He's an asshole if he thinks that a certain class of people deserve fewer rights than other people, and I wouldn't be any less condemning of his statements if he'd donated similar money to campaigns to remove rights from blacks, or asians, or any other minority group.

  • by thecombatwombat (571826) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:11PM (#46653761)

    I've been firmly pro marriage equality and firmly against Prop 8 and its supporters forever. That said, I think this whole thing is really a shame. Supporting this law was deplorable, I think it's very much like supporting miscegenation laws last century. It's backwards and just shouldn't be a thing.

    In On Liberty, JS Mill said something that's stuck with me since my undergrad Philosophy days:

    "Those in whose eyes this reticence on the part of heretics is no evil, should consider in the first place, that in consequence of it there is never any fair and thorough discussion of heretical opinions; and that such of them as could not stand such a discussion, though they may be prevented from spreading, do not disappear."

    However, we've won. The tide has turned and mainstream opinion is on our side. Assuming that's undisputed, we can't just browbeat and boycott people who still disagree. We should engage and accept them. Unless he's actually oppressing anyone, Eich deserves our respect and engagement. It's in our best interest if we ever want to leave the kinds of views he's expressed behind us. A "fair and thorough discussion" of the views supporting Prop 8 may seem downright silly to those who don't hold that view, but if we don't have it, we'll keep this nasty view around for a lot longer than if we do.

    Further, I think people have been comfortable dismissing Eich and wanting him to leave simply because they don't want to acknowledge that someone who's contributed so much could have views they find so deplorable. Again, without supporting his views at all, I think he and those who oppose him both deserve more respect than they've received.

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:23PM (#46653989)

    The last time I checked America was a country of free speech. Well, it is...as long as you don't say something that offends the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender folks. Then you get fired for expressing your opinion.

    What did Eich do that was so bad? He contributed $1000 to a campaign opposing gay marriage. It doesn't mean that the guy hates gays. It doesn't mean that he discriminates against anyone. There is no evidence that he has ever discriminated against anyone working at Mozilla, or their business partners, or their competitors for that matter. All he did was take a side in a constitutional amendment vote in the state of California. That is his right as a citizen. It is also his right to donate money towards the cause, if he chooses to do so. Just like people are free to donate money IN FAVOR of Gay marriage, should they choose to do so.

    Personally, I could care less whether Eich supports Gay marriage or not. That's not the point. The point is that the man should be free to voice his opinion.

    This smacks of exactly the kinds of McCarthyism communist witch hunts that took place back in the 1950's and 60's. At least Marc Andreessen has come out in support of his friend. I'll give him props for that.

  • by seebs (15766) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:24PM (#46654015) Homepage

    This is wrong in so many ways. We have always recognized at least some marriages which we knew perfectly well would never produce children, because children are only part of the point of marriage. The purpose of marriage is to create family relationships. That's useful for kids, but it's also beneficial to lots of other people. Furthermore, there have been plenty of places recognizing marriages between same-sex couples for years, and even if there weren't, so what? We are allowed to do new things if we think they're useful.

    Mostly, it comes down to: No one is going to believe your feeble excuses, because we all know perfectly well that the people who don't think gays should be able to get married always just sort of happen to have a very noticeable personal hostility thing happening, even if they hide it somewhat, and that the arguments for that position are long-dead. The point at which several of the major former proponents of the position walked away because they realized that it was stupid and indefensible and motivated mostly by hatred was the point at which it stopped being a credible position to take.

    Mostly, though, I think your analysis sucks because you're not considering the many non-child-related functions of having an institution for the creation of family ties.

  • by Wycliffe (116160) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:47PM (#46654397) Homepage

    Obamacare allows everyone in the country to share ownership of the means of production? Sweet. I'm going to tour some of the factories that I'm now part owner of.

    If that was the only thing communism was then communism would be great. Who wouldn't want an equal share of everything.
    Actually communism is pretty great at the local level where you can kick someone out or they are free to leave.
    Communism/Socialism doesn't scale though as at the national level there is no non-violent way to handle freeloaders
    or people who cheat the system so you eventually end up with a bunch of rich people at the top taking advantage of
    the system and a bunch of lazy people at the bottom taking advantage of the system.

    And that's pretty much what we are starting to have in the USA too.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:08PM (#46655557)

    FWIW I also do not support the right of marriage for gay people. IMO it makes no sense. To have state protection against gay persecution is one thing I agree with but I do not think it is a good idea to provide ANY state incentive to be gay. Nothing forbids gay people from living together as is. They just do not get the legal and economic benefits of a traditional marriage. They do not provide any of the benefits of a traditional marriage either. What is the birthrate for gay couples? How is that going to help pay the Social Security debt? I could go on this subject.

    If we ever get another World War I will be interested to see what will happen to all this idiot entitlement bullshit when the state realizes it does not have enough people of recruitment age.

    Of course if you are interested in living in a dying nation carved up by Indians you are welcome to it.

  • by Cyrano de Maniac (60961) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:10PM (#46655601)

    Your observation jives with one of my own thoughts on the matter.

    Many people have something which they incorporate as the center of their identity, be it their race, their ethnicity, their gender, their sexual proclivities, their religion, their choice of operating system, their athletic team, their place of origin, their family, their career, their hobby, and so forth. People who have convinced themselves that their very identity is tied first and foremost to one aspect of life have an incredibly strong, even visceral, reaction to anyone who expresses anything less than complete agreement with them. There is a term for this: zealotry. A zealot is unable to distinguish disagreement with their view from a personal attack or even hatred, as their very identity is melded with that for which they are zealous.

    One of the most zealous sets of people we see today (at least in my myopic U.S.-centric personal experience) are homosexuals. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but my observation seems to be that this particular group of people has made homosexuality the defining feature of their life. As such, even minor disagreement with the idea that homosexuality is completely normal results in a strong adverse reaction and accusations of fear and hatred.

    Personally I am saddened by this, that people have focused so strongly on one aspect of their identity so intensely that they view themselves first and foremost as that thing, rather than as a person, complete and whole. This is unhealthy, and when widespread (as we see today most strongly in both political zealotry and the zealotry of homosexuality) we end up with a fractious society that struggles to engage in a civil exchange of ideas, and at its worst can lead to quite literal violence and bloodshed.

  • by cbhacking (979169) <[been_out_cruisi ... [at] [yahoo.com]> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:16PM (#46655703) Homepage Journal

    Leaving aside the fact that nearly all the calls I saw were asking him to step down (not the same thing as advocating that he be fired, although not completely different), you're still wrong. As CEO, Eich has influence over everything from HR policies to promotion within the company to product direction to (perhaps most importantly) using the company's resources to influence legal processes. When you have somebody who is unapologetically on the record for attempting to enforce legal segregation against a minority population, and somebody gives that person control over a company and all its resources, damn straight that's a job that has something to do "with the issue itself"!

    So yeah, 0 for 2. Play again?

  • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:11PM (#46656747)

    And as long as they're not directly being a dick to you, you're supposed to exhibit some degree of tolerance, especially in the workplace.

    I would say that if you are Gay and would like to receive the government benefits associated with a marriage then giving $1,000 to stopping you would fall into the category of "Being a dick to you".

    I've actually proposed a solution that addresses that. Overhaul the government laws so that all "marriage" benefits are now tied to civil unions, leaving the term "marriage" reserved for purely ceremonial (religious) use. This neatly eliminates the conflict between religious definitions of marriage and government benefits tied to marriage (or lack thereof for gay couples). The benefits would be tied to civil unions instead.

    Every pro-gay marriage friend I suggested this to rejected it. The only acceptable solution to them was to strip the concept of marriage entirely from any religious influence, and hand complete control of it over it to those with modern secular viewpoints. I protested that this could create a conflict wherein a church could be sued for refusing to allow a gay couple to use the church for a wedding. They had no problem with this. i.e. Their stance is based on attributing no value to any religious viewpoint - they do not believe in freedom of religion.

    Second, it's not like the man is a skin-head.

    Skinheads think blacks are inferior and bad for society.
    Homophobes think gays are inferior and bad for society.

    So yes it is like he's a skin-head.

    Conservatives think liberals are inferior and bad for society.
    Liberals think conservatives are inferior and bad for society.
    Religio-phobes think religious people are inferior and bad for society.
    People like you think skin-heads are inferior and bad for society.

    So by your reasoning, pretty much everyone is like a skin-head; including yourself.

    Skin-heads aren't bad because they think Jews and blacks are inferior and bad for society. They're bad because they think this justifies eliminating Jews and blacks from society - removing their influence from the socio-political fabric which makes up our society. Kinda like how Eich was eliminated. The supporters of Prop 8 at least had the decency to push their viewpoint through legislative channels, giving the electorate a chance to vote on the issue, and allowing the courts to weigh in on the outcome (eventually overturning the vote). What happened to Eich was a lynch mob-like naming and shaming. The whole reason we came up with formal government systems was because at some point we decided gossip and hearsay were a poor means to run society. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of the Internet is that it gives more power to gossip and hearsay.

    Tolerance doesn't mean tolerating only those who tolerate you. Tolerance means also tolerating those who don't tolerate you. If you live by the former, then you believe the Black Panthers were right, and Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. were wrong. The former leads to all-out war. The latter leads to coexistence. When Prop 8 passed, I didn't rub it in the faces of my gay friends. I encouraged them to not lose hope and to continue fighting for what they believed in, because that is the way our system is set up to work. Everyone gets their (thorough) say before society as a whole decides what to do, and the losers (usually the minority, though in Prop 8's case it was the majority) agree to live with the outcome without resorting to violence, while the winners do not resort to outbursts of Schadenfreude.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:21AM (#46658671)
    Sleep with whomever you want but your piece of paper will not give you legitimacy. You are free to be happy but that requires a choice that only you can make. Happiness is a choice. No law is going to make you happy. People that you think hate you don't actually hate you. They hate people like you trying to change the definition of "normal". Be as gay as you want to be but don't trying to force everyone else to think of you as "normal". You will always be "queer" to them regardless of how many laws you get passed or lawsuits you win. Legitimacy is bestowed by society. It cannot be forced upon society by bullies like you.

    Eich invented Javascript. What did you do?

    I suggest that you stop using Javascript and all pages with Javascript on it including Slashdot.

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