Friday, 4 April 2014

Brendan Eich - A Worrying Precedent


Brendan Eich chief executive of Mozilla - the company best known for its Firefox browser - has stepped down after only one month in post.  He came under a lot of criticism for his views on same sex marriage. In 2008 he gave a $1000 (£600) donation in support of Californian anti-gar marriage law Proposition 8.

Pressure on Brendan Eich grew when earlier this week, the dating website OKcupid sought to deter its users from accessing its site via the Mozilla Firefox because of Mr Eich's views on same sex marriage.  Visitors to OKCupid's website using Mozilla's free Firefox browser see a message that reads: 

"Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OKCupid."  
This led to #firefoxboycott trending on twitter, with comments such as these being posted online:

I'm sad I won't be able to use #firefox anymore because @mozilla has a homophobic CEO. #firefoxboycott

Bye Firefox! I don't support your homophobic CEO. I think you're finding many of us don't. #firefoxboycott

VOTE YES ‏@Independent_SCO  Apr 1
@firefox DUMP THE HOMOPHOBIC CEO

In writing about Mr Eich's decision to stand down Mozilla's executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote in a blog post. 

"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."
Mr Eich's decision to stand down as chief executive of Mozilla concerns me for several reasons.

Firstly it seems that those that support a traditional view of marriage (between a man and a woman) are increasingly accused of being homophobic.  As Rick Warren is recently quoted as saying 

"Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

Secondly that this could set a new precedent, where opponents of same sex marriage are either barred from office or forced from office.  I cannot see how Mr Eich's personal views were an impediment to his role of CEO of Mozilla.

Thirdly a society that emphasises the importance of tolerance and understanding, appears to be growing increasingly intolerant towards people who do not support same sex marriage.  

Whether you agree with Mr Eich's personal stance or not, I don't believe that he should have been forced from office.  

As one friend posted on twitter:

.@mozilla support for freedom of speech necessitates the defence of your CEO even if you disagree with his view on marriage #firefoxboycott