McCarthy was self-righteous too

Brendan Eich, inventor of JavaScript, just resigned from his brand new position as CEO of the Mozilla foundation, after it was discovered he made a $1000 donation to the anti-gay-marriage campaign in California known as Prop 8.

That discovery caused uproar among the self-righteous bien-pensants who work for Mozilla, and a number of employees posted tweets about how they thought he should resign.

I'm angry about this because this isn't very different from McCarthyism in reverse. A guy was forced out of a job because his political views don't agree with the majority.

I feel opposing gay marriage is bigoted, wrong, indefensible and on the wrong side of history. I don't know Eich. For all I know he's a raging asshole with ultra-right-wing views. He might even hate kittens and burp at the dinner table. I don't know.

But what I do know is that getting forced out of a job by a self-righteous San Francisco mob of entitled nerds who have probably never even seen a Republican in the flesh is just as indefensible. It's not what America and California are about. And it shows liberals can be assholes, too, when they put their minds to it.

I'd venture to say a very large number of CEOs are raging right-wing Republicans with questionable ethics. If you don't like your CEO's politics, you're free to work somewhere else. Your job isn't in grave danger if you and your CEO don't see eye-to-eye in terms of politics--there are laws on the books protecting you from discrimination. Why should your CEO's job be in jeopardy for that very same reason?

Eich's contributions to Web tech are immense and he may well be as capable as anyone of running Mozilla, a company he's been with for years. Yet he lost his job because of his politics. And that's not right, whether you agree with him or not.

1 comment:

  1. To me this isn't just about his political views. Indeed, he has never spoken directly about his views.

    To me it's about his actions. He helped strip a civil right from gay people. He has energetically avoided explaining why he did that or whether he thinks it's a good idea to do it again. Mozilla's employees and partners could reasonably fear that his willingness to treat gay people as second-class citizens would harm them in a work context. That's not about his political opinion; it's about his behavior.

    Personally, I don't think the donation disqualifies him from the CEO job. But I do think his terrible handling of his first crisis suggests he's not really prepared to lead a major outfit like Mozilla. He's had six years to get out in front of this, including a year of CEO search. And even if this were a surprise, his attempts to dodge the issue make it clear he's not an adroit leader or particularly good with the media, traditional or social. And again, that's about behavior, not politics.

    That said, I don't think "politics" gets a free pass. Belonging to the KKK is a political choice, protected by the first amendment. But I don't think many people would argue that a white-supremacist grand wizard is a good choice to lead Mozilla, no matter the technical skills. The right to free speech is not a right to freedom from social consequence, and leading a company is very much a social activity.

    One could argue that we should be more forgiving of anti-gay bigots than anti-black bigots, because we're in the middle of a big societal change. And I'd agree. If Eich had apologized, explained his previous behavior as an error, promised to discriminate no more, and asked for forgiveness, I think he would have gotten it. But he didn't, and I think that's what sunk him.