A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


McCarthyism or Corporate Survival?

Mozilla Firefox is my browser and it works. Every now and again I get an update; sometimes a note asking for a contribution to what is largely/wholly a public-spirited effort to keep the internet open source (or something like that). For some reason, I thought it was an Italian effort (as in Mozarella), but it turns out it organizes itself right here in the U.S. drawing on sources from global techies.

Brendan Eich, its recently appointed CEO is now its recently resigned former CEO. The issue: he donated a thousand dollars to California's proposition 8 campaign in 2008. It was an effort to turn back a California court decision allowing same-sex marriages in the state. Apparently when this contribution was discovered, there was a social media uproar (didn't see it on Mozilla though). There were calls for his resignation, and according to this story in the NYTimes, he did resign.

The great debate: Should Eich have been penalized for his views and his contribution? Andrew Sullivan thinks not in this post on the Dish, "The Hounding of a Heretic."  And continues here. And on Sunnday posted this [HT: Ann Olivier]. Meanwhile,  Farhad Manjoo explains at the NYTimes  why Eich had to go: The very nature of Mozilla required it.

UPDATE: Saturday's NYTimes story: The issue of Mr. Eich's social skills comes up. What would social skills consist of in a libertarian context? The story suggests to me that no Mozillian has much in the way of social skills! Or at least, it can't be much of a job requirement.

UPDATE2: Many comments here link to posts elsewhere on this issue. Michael Kelly @4/7,9:04 quotes some particularly interesting comments on the Supreme Court's treatment of donor lists.



Commenting Guidelines

As Peggy alludes to above the climate has changed so rapidly in the last few years. Barack and Hilary opposed SS Marriage. Bruni calls it the  "new gay orthodoxy." Surrounding this controversy concerning Mozilla it seems clear that many are for SS Marriage because now it is fashionable. Seems to be enough blame and hypocrisy all around. 

Aw, c'mon, Jim Mc.C., that review of Dubya's art is completely over the top.  In the first place, it's mainly about Bush's war decisions, which I grant you were execrable, but I doubt that he realized what he was getting us into.  Bush is very dumb in some ways, so his decisions should have come as no surprise.  That's why it's so surprising to find him doing so well at portraits.  Or maybe not.  He's a politician without any real sense of the past or of the consequences of his own decisions.  Not surprising then, that his protraits portray most of the people in no great depth.  But the eyes are well done, I think.  Just take a look at Putin's.

And given some of the stuff that passes for art these days, the man's a genius.  And he has gotten some good reviews from professional art critics.  IThe writer of the Guardian review is not a critic.  So what's he doing trying to pass for one in the first place?)

"True.  It's a distinction that's hard to qualitfy, I guess."

Aren't classic purges -- whether socialist or ecclesiastical -- usually orchestrated by a small number of people at the top of the hierarchy, to shore up their power? That doesn't really describe the Mozilla case.

Mark, yes, I agree. 

The Catholic church has enforced "belief/action compliance"  for centuries, from burning heretics at the stake in the past to silencing theologians, defrocking dissident priests, and firing school teachers in the present. 

But what happened with Mozilla is different.  There's no huge international institution crushing all those who think differently, there's a singel commercial entity buying out a guy who can no longer effectively lead due not especially to his outre beliefs about marraige equality but to his believing so much and so publically that he contributed money to doom it.  That last bit is the difference between him and Obama and Hillary.


Andrew Sullivan's defense of his posiion is well worth reading.  It's a strong defense of the necessity to tilerate diversity in a democracy. 

Quality Of Mercy

Here's a bit:

"The ability to work alongside or for people with whom we have a deep political disagreement is not a minor issue in a liberal society. It is a core foundation of toleration. We either develop the ability to tolerate those with whom we deeply disagree, or liberal society is basically impossible. Civil conversation becomes culture war; arguments and reason cede to emotion and anger." 

As I said way back when, I agree with Sullivan. It's too bad there's no one with both the standing and the character of a Nelsom Mandela or Desmond Tutu to call the recently (and from one point of view miraculously)  liberated to treat their opponents with more grace than their opponents for so many years treated them.

Is who is doing the purging that important?  If it were Catholics in the pews calling for the ousting of people they dont consider orthodox- which happens sometimes- would it be ok, since its a more dmeocratic purge ? (I don't think it would be). 


The second Sullivan post is interesting, but what he doesn't note in his heated endorsmenf of Eich's begging is that Eich wouldn't apologize for donating to support Prop 8, and wouldn't walk back from that support. 


Irene, I think your analogy fails, because, as much as some people want to make this about what Eich believes, it really has to do with what he did, which was donate money to a cause aiming at lessening the quality of a group of people's lives. Don't people in the pews clamor for the ousting of folks not only in situations involving their beliefs, but also in situations involving what they've done?

I genuinely doubt that anyone here thinks that a person can say or do anything and expect to retain a position like CEO of a high profile company--and yet what Eich did apparently passes the smell test of what is acceptable. So I think this comes down to the fact that a lot of people are still ok with giving a pass to people who want to restrict the rights of gays,

Hi Abe-I'm trying to parse out a little (in my own head) the distinction being made in a couple of comments above that who is doing the ousting matters. I think it is very much about what Eich did and what he believes, but a couple of comments above make the point that this is more acceptable than a Church group, for example,  purging its members, because in this case it is more ground up.  Do you think that's true? 

Mozilla's Gay-Marriage Litmus Test Violates Liberal Values

Purge the Bigots - Brendan Eich is just the beginning. Let’s oust everyone who donated to the campaign against gay marriage.

The New Pitchfork Persecutors

Justice Thomas Was Right

Citizens United and the defenestration of Brendan Eich


     This column does not agree with our notional principled and imaginative leftist. Our view is that the corporations involved were acting within their rights under the First Amendment. They exercised those rights in a nasty and illiberal way, but free speech protects disagreeable views as well as agreeable ones. There is nothing the government properly could have done to prevent this regrettable outcome.

     Actually, there is one thing. Eich's support for Proposition 8 became public knowledge because of a California law requiring disclosure of personal information--name, address, occupation and employer's name--of anybody who gives $100 or more to a campaign for or against a ballot initiative. The secretary of state's office is required to post this information online, and, as's "AllahPundit" notes, the Los Angeles Times made it available on its site as an easily searchable database.

     Which brings us back to Citizens United. It is known as a 5-4 decision, and most of it was, but one part of Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion--upholding a provision requiring disclosure of political contributions--was for an 8-1 majority, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting alone.

    Thomas's argument rested heavily on the facts of the Proposition 8 campaign, and it's worth quoting at length (we're omitting legal citations and shortening and adding links to news-media ones):

    “Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. They cited these incidents in a complaint they filed after the 2008 election, seeking to invalidate California's mandatory disclosure laws. Supporters recounted being told: "Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter," or, "we have plans for you and your friends." Proposition 8 opponents also allegedly harassed the measure's supporters by defacing or damaging their property. Two religious organizations supporting Proposition 8 reportedly received through the mail envelopes containing a white powdery substance.

    “Those accounts are consistent with media reports describing Proposition 8-related retaliation. The director of the nonprofit California Musical Theater gave $1,000 to support the initiative; he was forced to resign after artists complained to his employer. The director of the Los Angeles Film Festival was forced to resign after giving $1,500 because opponents threatened to boycott and picket the next festival. [John Lott and Bradley Smith, The Wall Street Journal] And a woman who had managed her popular, family-owned restaurant for 26 years was forced to resign after she gave $100, because "throngs of [angry] protesters" repeatedly arrived at the restaurant and "shout[ed] 'shame on you' at customers." [Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times]. The police even had to "arriv[e] in riot gear one night to quell the angry mob" at the restaurant. Ibid. Some supporters of Proposition 8 engaged in similar tactics; one real estate businessman in San Diego who had donated to a group opposing Proposition 8 "received a letter from the Prop. 8 Executive Committee threatening to publish his company's name if he didn't also donate to the 'Yes on 8' campaign."

   “The success of such intimidation tactics has apparently spawned a cottage industry that uses forcibly disclosed donor information to pre-empt citizens' exercise of their First Amendment rights. Before the 2008 Presidential election, a "newly formed nonprofit group . . . plann[ed] to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions." Its leader, "who described his effort as 'going for the jugular,' " detailed the group's plan to send a "warning letter . . . alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives." [New York Times news story]

    “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]”

Thomas's conclusion (quoting an earlier opinion of his own): "I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in "core political speech, the 'primary object of First Amendment protection.' "

That last argument is one that has drawn wide support on the court in other contexts. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995), a 7-2 majority struck down an Ohio law prohibiting the distribution of anonymous campaign literature. In an opinion joined by five of his colleagues (Thomas separately concurred), Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that "the decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one's privacy as possible." The applicability of that observation to Eich's predicament is obvious.

In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the Warren court unanimously quashed a state subpoena for the NAACP's membership list. "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."

"a couple of comments above that who is doing the ousting matters."

Speaking for myself, I just think the images and associations that come to mind with the phrase "socialist purge" (a strongman and machiavellian plotting) are sufficiently inapplicable here that the phrase doesn't work. My understanding of the great socialist purges (Stalin, Hitler, Mao) is that they were all means to an end, and the end was consolidating the power of the people in charge.

The Mozilla business is more about a whole bunch of people wearing "I don't like Eich" buttons, and the Board realizing that it had better back down for practical reasons. This is more like what happened last week at Worldvision, a charity funded mostly by conservative Christians. The Board made a decision to change its hiring policies to allow for the theoretical possibility that a person in a same sex marriage could be employed there. The base howled so loudly that the Board backed down later the same day. Come to think of it, it's like what happened with Komen and Planned Parenthood a while back. The base got ticked off and the Board decided they shouldn't bite the hand that feeds them. It may or may not be appealing; it just doesn't fit with what I mean when I say "socialist purge".

If it were Catholics in the pews calling for the ousting of people they dont consider orthodox- which happens sometimes- would it be ok, since its a more dmeocratic purge ? (I don't think it would be). 

It's an apropos comparison.  My observation of 'grass-roots' Catholic complaints of insufficient orthodoxy, is that they're seldom genuinely grass-roots.  Typically they are instigated and/or seized upon by leaders who have control of funding and media - in the 1990s, that would have been EWTN, Crisis magazine, and a variety of web and email resources.  

We might observe similarities with the Tea Party movement within conservative politics.  There is leadership, funding and media helping to coordinate the Tea Party, too.

I don't claim to understand all the ins and outs of how Eich was outed/ousted, but Sullivan's description suggests that some of the same dynamics are at play.  Things don't typically "blow up" of their own accord.  Leadership in the gay rights movement made it possible to identify who donated money to Prop 8.  Sullivan suggests that gay rights movement leadership worked to go after Eich.  None of this is to discount the importance of the people at the grass roots, or question their sincerity.  But it doesn't seem correct to suggest that this was all spontaneous - that it wasn't a campaign.

A company's ethical persona matters

Crystal - I agree.  I'm proud that my own employer has straightforward standards that are quite similar to the Google tenets that you quoted.

My understanding of Eich is that he was fully committed to fairness and equality for the company (Mozilla).  Apparently he had no intention of marshalling Mozilla resources to oppose same sex marriage or to do anything that would transgress full equality for gay employees, customers, suppliers or members of the Mozilla community.  

But apparently, that's not sufficient: a person who at one time in his life, perhaps many years ago, said something objectionable, is no longer employable.  That's the new standard.

Eich wouldn't apologize for donating to support Prop 8, and wouldn't walk back from that support. 

Right.  That seems to be the crux of what Sullivan finds objectionable: that he was ousted for being a heretic.

David N - first of all, please comment more, so I don't have to say, "Good to see you commenting again" every time you decide to grace us with your presence :-)

I guess the difference I see between this case and Hobby Lobby, is that the owners of Hobby Lobby are seeking to align their company's values with their personal values.  In the Mozilla/Eich case, what I've read indicates that Eich had no wish or desire to make Mozilla a bastion of gay inequality - in fact, just the opposite.

I would guess that there are many corporate executives who would make the same distinction, between personal views and company policy.

I've worked with many people over the years who have odious personal opinions - on race, on women, on gay persons, on religions, and so on.  One benefit of today's workplace as opposed to the workplace of 30 years ago is that people with odious personal opinions feel less open to express them in the workplace, so I don't have to be subjected to them as much as I used to.  My observation is that so long as the odious opinions were not translated into policy and weren't used to create an environment of harassment, people typically wouldn't be fired for holding them.

You and I both know, I expect, of instances in which odious personal opinions were translated into workplace policy: as for example the racist boss who wouldn't hire or promote African Americans, or the sexist boss who harassed or even abused women, or needless to say, the boss who despised gay employees.  Those approaches aren't acceptable anymore, when they do occur, there are internal company and legal recourses for victims, and the workplace is better off for it.

He was ousted because a lot of people take equality of gay people very personally, so personally, that they didn't want to work with Eich, and certainly not for him.  Once upon a time, the Ivory Baby Detergent girl turned out to be Marilyn Chambers, who went on to be a porn star.  Do you think Ivory thought long and hard about freedom of speech when it found someone else's picture to put on their box of detergent? 

I agree with Sullivan too, but freedom for Eich means freedom for people who make decsions about where to commit their mostly volunteer labor.  They are mostly VOLUNTEERING for an organization that is paying a high salary to someone whose views they consider to be the equivalent of the KKK.  There are many people who put up with colleagues they disagree with in exchange for a paycheck, but would you go out of your way to work for much less volunteer for an organization if you vehemently disagreed with its spokesperson in chief?  It might help to see this as the outlier situation it is -- an outlier organization (Mozilla) with an outlier position (CEO) in an outlier industry (in the sense of being so uniformly supportive of gay rights and a lot less likely to understand religious objections to ssm or sympathize with the people who hold them).

One thing seems certain to me from interacting with my own children, and that is, the battle for gay equality has been resoundingly won in the generation that is comprised of people who are under 30 years old.  These court victories are saving legislatures from the pain and agony of having to explain themselves to a new generation of voters. 

I promise this is the last missive, as I am very busy, but I am actually finding the reactions to Sullivan to be quite interesting, and here is another that sees this situation from a different perspective:

Basically, it notes that Eich's resignation was taken in reaction to the actions of a single website who made clear what the commercial consequences to Mozilla might be.  And also, how in fact, most states still do NOT recognize equality of gay people or the legality of same sex marriage. 

There are several things at work here it seems to me.  In the first instance, this is much more of a Duck Dynasty situation than Matthew Lyon.  A corporate entity it seems to me can determine who is fit as its public face and I would think that looking for a match with the entity's "culture" would be perfectly legitimate.  The other point is that gay marriage absolutley fits the Libertarian world view, at least in the classical sense.  Polictics these days is filled with pseudo-libertarians and those who claim to be libertarians, but who haven't a clue what it really means.  They mainly think they are opposed to the modern welfare state though it doesn't stop them from accepting its benefits for themselves. 

Michael Kelly at 9:05 am, Interesting points from Justice Thomas. The cases you cite appear to refer to state and not federal laws. Is this accurate?

Are we caught up in a situation of unintended consequences. Laws (Federal?) that require a donor to federal political campaigns to give their name and address and profession would seem to prevent fraud and to allow a campaign to verify you are who you say you are (and also unfortunately, get your name and address for their solicitation lists). Are those "federal" lists confidential? Or are they available for public scrutiny as well?

Should the question be raised that we are getting to the point that we are more outraged about the rights of gay people than the poor? Is it similar to when Shirley Chisolm was criticized for running not because she was black but because whe was a woman. So the gays are better off than the poor. And there is not as much outrage. 

"But apparently, that's not sufficient: a person who at one time in his life, perhaps many years ago, said something objectionable, is no longer employable.  That's the new standard."

No, promising not to discriminate against gays in the furure was *not* enough.  The reason why is because of what Barbara wrote above.  Based on Eich's behavior - donating money to prop 8 and his refusal to apologize - one surmises that he is committed to the belief that gays are not people in the same way that straights are and that they do not deserve the same rights.  For a mojority of people in the US, that amounts to bigotry on a level with racism.  Who would choose to donate/volunteer work to a company headed by someone who believed and contributed to a cause that disinfranchised racial minorities, who believed that such people were not the same as others, even if he promised in the future to act in a non-discrimitory way despite his beliefs?  For all the ways that this is a different situation than firing a worker who has different beliefs than you, see all the objections readers of Sullivan's post  made to him, noted at the beginning of his post and agreed to by him.

When it comes to marriage equality in the US, I think using the term "recently liberated" is a bit of a stretch. 28 states plus D.C. allow marriage equality or comparable status (civil unions and domestic partnerships), and recognition of other states’ marriages. The balance have outlawed it by either constitutional amendment, state law ... or both.

Right.  That seems to be the crux of what Sullivan finds objectionable: that he was ousted for being a heretic.

Using language like "heretic" is a rhetorical ploy aimed at keeping this abstracted from the actual impact of Eich's political activities on people. This isn't about refusing to vaidate the term theotokos, it's about aiming to delimit people's happiness.

I wonder, Jim, what are the political views and causes that people can espouse before you think it's alright for a company or the public to voice objections?

Mark Preece,

There is a difference between forgiving those who have wronged you in the past and allowing those who wish to continue to wrong you to have positions of power. Brendan Eich isn't someone who used to favor discrimination against gays and lesbians but now doesn't. He is someone who has contributed money to the cause of eliminating the right to marry, has shown no sign of changing his mind, and now wants everyone to trust him to treat all of his employees fairly.

It seems to me that the gay agenda got a foothold by preaching tolerance, but now that they are ascendant, tolerance no more.

It seems to me that the gay agenda got a foothold by preaching tolerance, but now that they are ascendant, tolerance no more.

Oh what nonsense.... How often do we need to hear this bullshittery? Just how tired can a trope get before somebody takes it behind a barn and puts a mercy shot into its skull? Are people supposed to tolerate the views of those who discriminate against them on  the basis of thsoe views? Who try to keep them from living their lives in the fullest happiness possible. Bruce, I ask you what I asked Jim: what views are of such a kind that you think people are justified in no longer "tolerating" them? (where "tolerate" apparently means  leaving to enjoy a bigshot CEO position in peace)

Tolerance isn't trusting the guy who hit you and continues to insist that hitting you wasn't wrong.

Abe - why should *any* personal political views make a person unemployable?    Why should *any* personal religious views make a person unemployable?

Margaret used the term "McCarthyism" in the headline to her original post.  Many people in the 1950s were blacklisted  because they were Communists themselves or were sympathetic to Communism.  Eich has now been blacklisted from Silicon Valley.  Apparently, you applaud Eich being blacklisted.   Is there any difference here between what happened to Eich and what happened to, say, Lillian Hellman or Paul Robeson?

Talk about violent rhetoric.  Yeesh.

No, promising not to discriminate against gays in the furure was *not* enough.  The reason why is because of what Barbara wrote above.  Based on Eich's behavior - donating money to prop 8 and his refusal to apologize - one surmises that he is committed to the belief that gays are not people in the same way that straights are and that they do not deserve the same rights.  For a mojority of people in the US, that amounts to bigotry on a level with racism. 

To summarize:  a person who at one time in his life, perhaps many years ago, said something objectionable, is no longer employable.

Abe - why should *any* personal political views make a person unemployable?    Why should *any* personal religious views make a person unemployable?

Odd. I hadn't realized I had said Eich or anyone else should be unemployable. You use this same turn of phrase again a few times--it is something you are introducing and is meaningless in this discussion. 

Apparently, you applaud Eich being blacklisted

Indeed, I do. I was going to observe that you have at least owned up to the belief that no belief, no matter how objectionable, should be grounds for losing a job like CEO of Mozilla, but as I've observed above, you've decided to make the issue absurdly general by making it a matter of employment, period. I will expand on this below, but I will re-use a term in saying that I do not fetishize free speech to the extent that I think anyone can say/do anything and expect no consequences. 

Is there any difference here between what happened to Eich and what happened to, say, Lillian Hellman or Paul Robeson?

No, they are clearly exactly the same down to the last detail. You outfoxed me, you rascal! (Seriously, I would type out the differences, but I respect myself and even you too much to play that game).

I will, though, make an observation. Insofar as I live on Earth and not in Cloud Cuckoo Land, I do not have any illusions about the fact that I situate acceptable speech on a spectrum that is impacted by context and other factors. In light of this, I also think that views occupy a spectrum of reprehensibility, the nature of which is likewise affected by various factors. This is sort of what I was getting at much earlier: I place efforts to prevent marriage equality way over in the red on the reprehensible spectrum, but obviously others do not. I do not consider this to be a "different strokes for different folks" issue: I will oppose those who attempt to make denying marriage equality politically viable.  I do not believe that people have the right to advance just any view and expect there to be no consequences for their actions in every context. 

Talk about violent rhetoric.  Yeesh.

I trust your tender sensibilities were not overly bruised.

To summarize:  a person who at one time in his life, perhaps many years ago, said something objectionable, is no longer employable.

What are you summarizing here? Not the situation involving Eich, because a) it's not a question of some "youthful indiscretion," because he does not recant his views or actions, and b) we know when and what he did (did, not only said). 

Ya plays the game and ya takes yer chances.

This is good old US capitalism in action.

The anti-Sullivan view seems to be that some views, even if it is not against the law to hold them, are morally intolerable and should result in the person's being fired.  But, as I remember, something like 40% of all American are still against same-sex marriage.  Should those 40% lose their jobs?  And what about the other 60% -- surely some of them have some other thoroughly obnoxious views -- should they be fired?  If all those people were fired then probably more than half the people would be out of work.  

Or is the better alternative to put up with such narrow minds and attempt to change them by cogent persuasion?  IS civility a pre-condition of our democracy?  I think it is.  

Jim Pauwels,

It is not that he at one time said something objectionable. He made a significant campaign contribution only a few years ago and has given no indications that his views have changed. He also isn't unemployable. He was CTO for years before becoming CEO. He is just unfit for leadership of a company that has a policy of supporting its gay and lesbian employees. He is still fit to be in positions where he is ultimately the one responsible for implementing these policies.

Bill Mazzella 4/7@11:07 fans the sparks of one of the great puzzlements of civil rights.  The legislation, the court decisions, the changes in regulations, affirmative action, and all the ins and outs of ending discrimination began with the black civil rights movement. Almost fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act meant to remedy the political disenfranchisement of African-Americans, especially in the South, how is it the the Woman's Movement and the Gay Rights Movement have made greater progress on equal rights, in all of its manifestation, than African-Americans?

Ann Olivier,

They shouldn't be fired except from positions responsible for implementing policies that are inconsistent with their beliefs. People who support discriminatory campaigns shouldn't be placed in charge of implementing anti-discrimination policies.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels,

I'd guess it is because women, gays, and lesbians come from every family while African-Americans are concentrated in only percentage. Years of discriminatory policies have concentrated them into particular neighborhoods and stolen the wealth from these neighborhoods. I can't find the stats at the moment, but I think a middle-class black child is more likely to live in a poor neighborhood than a poor white child. This means that they are less likely to make the connections that allow others to rise from their parents' class and that any success is going to be met with a disproportionate amount of need from family and friends.

RK: Perhaps there's only a limited amount of equality to go around and women and gays have sucked it all up before African-Americans could get out of their economic ghetto.

I don't know if its useful to compare progress of various marginalized groups, but I'm still waiting for a woman mayor of NYC. 

"They shouldn't be fired except from positions responsible for implementing policies that are inconsistent with their beliefs. People who support discriminatory campaigns shouldn't be placed in charge of implementing anti-discrimination policies."

Ryan --

There have been no accusations against Eich that he discriminated against any of his employees in the past. He is apparently againsst same sex marriage, not gays in the workplace.  The two issues are not the same.  

Odd. I hadn't realized I had said Eich or anyone else should be unemployable ... Indeed, I do [applaud Eich being blacklisted]

Maybe I'm missing something, but everything to the right of the ellipse suggests that you've said that Eich shouldn't be permitted to work - essentially, that he's not employable.

In the 1950s in the United States, a lot of talented and productive people were prohibited from pursuing their crafts - their vocations - in some cases for many years, because of political views and activities that were viewed by a vocal and hostile movement as being too dangerous and horrible to countenance.

Despite your sarcasm, the parallel seems pretty good.

If you think he's wrong, then make an argument.  Try to persuade him and others that his views are wrong.  Don't get him fired.  His holding that position at Mozilla poses no more danger to your views than his holding the equally prominent position he held for two decades before that.  His work had nothing to do with his views.

This business of drumming people out of work because of their views is pernicious.  So is the business of silencing people because of their views.  

In the 1850s, angry mobs would break down the doors of abolitionist newspapers and wreck the printing presses.  What has happened to Eich is pretty much the same thing: mob justice.  To borrow a word from the blacklisting era, it's profoundly un-American.


It amuses and saddens me at the same time that you take it for granted that "being un-American" is something I would worry about. It's very American of you, actually.

Also, it's jst dumb to claim that breaking up a press is the same thing as voicing disagreement with the hiring of a CEO. I know, I know... you're going to say something about making an argument instead of just saying something is dumb. Have at it.

For what it's worth Jim, I seriously doubt Eich is unemployable.  He was employed for more than five years after his donation without incident that we know of.  He is too talented; someone is going to use his skills if he wishes them to be used.  He is probably not employable as the CEO of a tech company that relies on the volunteer efforts of tech gurus and engineers and web developers.  There is a difference.  You might describe Mozilla's dilemma thusly: Live by the herd, die by the herd.

Ann Olivier,

The issues aren't the same, but they aren't unrelated. It is not unreasonable to suspect that a person who has spent money to change the law to discriminate against gays and lesbians would not be an advocate for equality in the workplace. His responses indicated that he would follow the policy, but he reminded me of a bishop promising to follow a mandatory reporting policy: the concern is more about avoiding liability and appeasing outsiders than a committment to the policy.

Barbara - I'm sure you're right.  I'd like to see the herd be a little less herdy in this case.

Abe - right, I don't know whether you're American.

Ryan - he worked for the company for 20 years after co-founding it, and was promoted from the position of CTO.  We can be pretty sure that his views on workplace equality and virtually every other workplace policy weren't a mystery to people within the company.


Coincidentally, I saw this article today about Chick-fil-A:

Chick-fil-A's controversial CEO Dan Cathy, whose comments condemning gay marriage in 2012 set off store picketing and a social media firestorm, has now fully backed away from such public pronouncements that mix personal opinion on social issues with corporate policy "All of us become more wise as time goes by," he says, apologetically, in a rare, one-hour sit-down interview. "We sincerely care about all people"

About two years ago, Cathy made headlines after conceding to being "guilty as charged," in confirming Chick-fil-A's support of the traditional family. Both ardent supporters and angry picketers showed up at stores. While Cathy's comments didn't hurt short-term business — and even helped it — Chick-fil-A executives recognize that the comments may have done longer-term damage to the brand's image at the very time it was eyeing major growth outside its friendly Southern market....

Chick-fil-A's socially conservative agenda, which formally led the company to donate millions to charitable groups opposed to gay marriage, has been tempered. This, just as the company aims to quickly expand into Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Southern hospitality must give way to urban reality as the 1,800 store chain moves to compete with big city success stories like McDonald's, Panera Bread and Chipotle.

If nothing else, Cathy has listened. In 2012, Cathy not only heard from some unhappy consumers about his comments against gay marriage, but also from some store operators and employees. Now, he says, "I'm going to leave it to politicians and others to discuss social issues."

Barbara: "someone whose views they consider to be the equivalent of the KKK. "

You're probably right that a lot of young people are stupid enough to make that comparison without realizing how utterly offensive and demeaning it is to trivialize the oppression that black people suffered under the KKK . Put bluntly, a guy who says, "Gee, we have civil unions in California that are the exact equivalent of marriage in everything but name, and I think that's good enough," isn't the same thing as a group of people who cut off a black guy's genitals, stuff them in his mouth, and burn him alive.  

Need I explain further why those are not the same thing? 

Thanks Jim Pauwels@9:47AM.

Yes, indeed.  Her evocation of Vaclav Havel's Greengrocer is particularly potent. As is her observation that Eich's sin was not the $1000 contribution but his unwillingness to recant under public and corporate pressure.

Havel's essay, "The Power of the Powerless," is a forceful analysis of the consequences of ideological control of cultural and political life. Maybe I will make it my required reading for the Fourth of July.