In the days following Brendan Eich’s forced resignation from Mozilla, there has been a swift and angry response directed towards the maker of the Firefox browser. Admittedly, I was livid when I learned of Eich stepping down. The inanity of Eich being forced from his job because of his view on gay marriage was difficult to comprehend.
According to reports, Eich was a man who didn’t make his viewpoints on gay marriage known. That was evident from the reaction of Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker who discussed the donation Eich made:
“That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness,” she said, noting that there was a long and public community process about what to do about it in which Eich, then CTO, participated. “But I overestimated that experience.”
She said this as if Eich suffered from some sort of mental imbalance. Apparently, it’s not possible to support one type of public policy and still be able to fathom the value of inclusiveness.
I, along with many others, expressed my displeasure at Mozilla caving to the pressures of the mob by deleting Firefox from my computer. It was a largely symbolic move, as I rarely used it anyway. In addition, my act was personal. I was not looking to form some sweeping social movement intent on running Mozilla into the ground.
Unfortunately, others didn’t see it that way. Many conservatives, repeating the mistakes of the past, have latched on to Mozilla as the focus of the problem at hand – but Mozilla isn’t the real issue.
There is a scene in the movie “All The President’s Men” where Bob Woodward is meeting with Deep Throat. Woodward keeps bringing up Donald Segretti and Deep Throat says:
“Don’t concentrate on Segretti. You’ll miss the overall…”
This is precisely the trap conservatives are falling into by concentrating on Mozilla. Ben Shapiro of TruthRevolt has created a petition called, ‘Stop Mozilla Firefox’s Discrimination Against Conservatives.‘ While Ben’s heart may be in the right place, from a practical perspective,this won’t do much to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.
Conservatives (or anybody interested in protecting privacy) need to look first at campaign finance laws that require disclosure of political donations. Contrary to some rumors being floated about on the Internet, Eich’s identity was not leaked by the IRS to a gay rights group. It was located in a public database, easily accessible to anybody.
California law currently requires disclosure – name, address, occupation and employer’s name — of anyone who donates more than $100 in support or opposition of a state ballot initiative. Such disclosure laws have often been touted by supporters as “critical” to our “democracy” because “special interests” shouldn’t have such unrestricted access and influence over our politicians. That’s basically what President Obama said when the Senate blocked passage of the cleverly named DISCLOSE Act back in 2012.
Thus far, disclosure laws in California have done little but make supporters of Proposition 8 into victims of harassment, intimidation, vandalism and more. Brendan Eich was merely the latest.
The time has come to issue new legal challenges to these disclosure laws. In Buckley v. Valeo, while holding that laws mandating public disclosure of political donations were constitutional because of the government’s interest in seeking to prevent corruption and inform voters, the Supreme Court also held such laws could be unacceptable if somebody could show “reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisals” arose because of their political donations. In Brown v. Socialist Workers Committee, the Court said, “In some instances fears of reprisal may deter contributions to the point where the movement cannot survive. The public interest also suffers if that result comes to pass, for there is a consequent reduction in the free circulation of ideas both within and without the political arena.”
After seeing what happened to Eich, ask yourself: if you were in a high profile position, would you donate to a politically controversial cause in a state where such donations had to be disclosed? Where does it stop? At what point do employers become so fearful of public backlash because of an employee’s political views that they attempt to seek out ways to determine beforehand whether a potential hire is “safe” to work there?
This leads to the second part of this battle, the one taking place in the public arena. Mollie touched on it in her piece about this issue:
Well, I know that we’ve had years of criminally one-sided media coverage, cowardly political leaders and elite cultural views that have conveyed to you that the only reason anyone might think sexual complementarity is key to marriage is bigotry.
This has become the go-to tactic for the left in the arena of public policy — and not just gay marriage. Abortion, taxes, welfare — you name it, the left will attack the motives of conservatives as evil and intending to do some kind of harm.
Oppose gay marriage? You hate gay people.
Pro-life? It’s because you want to control women.
Support additional reforms in our welfare system? You want children to starve.
Support reforms in Social Security and Medicare? It’s because you want to kill Grandma.
As Mollie also wrote, such visceral responses to an opposing point of view don’t reveal a position of strength, but rather one of weakness. Better for the left to believe their ideological counterparts are sitting around twirling their mustaches, cackling as they plot ways to pollute the earth and steal from babies, than to engage in an honest debate.
Instead of focusing on Mozilla, the better choice is to focus on the people and organizations who are leading on these fronts. With respect to gay marriage, no organization stands above GLAAD as the self-appointed arbiters of what is and is not offensive. GLAAD recently attempted to have Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson removed from the air because of comments he made about homosexuality. Even the word ‘homosexual’ was recently deemed by GLAAD to be “offensive” to gay people. With respect to Brendan Eich being pushed out of Mozilla, the following brief statement was released without a hint of irony in spite of what had transpired:
Mozilla’s strong statement in favor of equality today reflects where corporate America is: inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all.
The most admirable aspect of this entire episode is that Eich refused to back down to pressure to apologize. He could have gone the cowardly route like President Obama, claiming his views had “evolved” over time. That might have allowed him to keep his job. But he didn’t. They want people to bow and scrape.
People who respect the free exchange of ideas should not bother directing their ire at Mozilla. Rather than waste time bashing them in the aftermath of the mob’s victory, it would be better to show support for a business or an organization so they can stand up for one of their own in the face of attacks from the “tolerance” crowd. Instead, we should be prepared to take up for the next person who faces such a situation.
The left have become the “bullies” they so often speak out against. They not only expect people to “tolerate” their viewpoint, but to adhere to it as well. Bullies only back down when shown somebody is going to punch back. For the sake of the next Brendan Eich, conservatives should be prepared to do that instead of attempting to pick a fight with Mozilla.
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