Robbie George: “It’s not just Mozilla…”

Robbie George of Princeton University comments on Brendan Eich’s forced resignation from Mozilla. He writes:

You can bet its not just Mozilla. Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why, then: “You are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.

Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, observant Jews, Muslims, and others had better stand together and face down the bullies, and they had better do it now, or else they will be resigning themselves and their families to a very unhappy status in this society. A very unhappy status indeed. When tactics of intimidation succeed, their success ensures that they will be used more and more often in more and more contexts to serve more and more causes. And standing up to intimidation will become more and more difficult. And more and more costly. And more and more dangerous.


    • Chris Ryan

      Where was the concern when Jesse Helms blocked Clinton’s appointment of a gay ambassador for no other reason than the man was gay? When conservatives pull stunts like that, what kind of tricks do you think the other side will pull?

      This is the price of the politics of personal destruction. This is the chickens coming home to roost. Unfortunately for us in the middle.

      • David Powell

        Apples and oranges. There is a major difference in NOT HIRING someone to a post based on a personal character evaluation and FIRING a long-term employee/executive from a job he already had. Not even close to the same thing.

  • buddyglass

    What I find interesting is how the way in which we view “applying public pressure” differently depending on the direction in which its applied.

    If Eich had been a virulent racist and public pressure had forced him to step down we probably wouldn’t be calling those who applied the pressure “bullies”.

    It’s either underhanded bullying or its not. If applying public pressure and causing Eich to step down makes one the “thought police” then how does applying pressure and causing the virulently racist version of Eich to step down not also make one the thought police? Or boycotting a business that refuses to serve blacks and, consequently, causing that business to fail?

    Also worth mentioning that opposition to Eich was not universal among the left and/or the homosexual community. I’ve read multiple responses from gay individuals indicating their disapproval of Eich being forced out. Gay employees at Mozilla spoke up in his defense when the opposition to his appointment first started gathering steam.

    • Rick Wilson

      That’s because as Christians we’re making moral judgement, which we’re instructed to do. If we lived in a culture (as we used to) where holding an immoral position on an issue, such as support for same-sex mirage, would cause one to be pressured to resign, that would be just and right and good. Same thing with racism. That is the consequences of sin. We can choose to have grace and often should, but the consequences of sin are still just in the end. Now we’re living in a culture where holding a moral position can lead to harmful consequences. That is the indicator that this whole thing we call Western civilization has made a very sharp turn and things are about to begin moving faster then we ever imagined. We’re seeing somewhat of a tipping point, in other words.

  • Ian Shaw

    Bottom line, the internet threw a temper tantrum and in an age where company branding is all that matters, ie. public opinion, there wasn’t much of a choice for Eich. He didn’t voluntarliy step down. He was given a choice. That’s how corporations work. The conversation probably went something like this:

    Board of directors: Mr. Eich, we heard that you made a private contribution to ‘X’ back in……, is that correct?”
    Eich: Yes I did.
    Board: Well, your contribution flys against the beliefs/values that this company and foundation stand for. We’re getting flamed in the blogosphere and social media is very negative about our brand right now We’d like to give you a choice to publically correct what you did, or you’ll need to find a new place of employment.

    He chose not to apologize for what he did. He showed strong conviction. If he didn’t decide to leave, he would have been fired.

    This wasn’t so much public pressure for an individual to quit, but public pressure heaved onto a company that claimed to have “diversity” as one of it’s core values. Thus causing the company itself to look to fire someone who on their own time, did something contrary to the beliefs of the company.

    Will starbucks fire a barista if they see a him/her sharing an article on FB defending traditional marriage? Do you really want to go down that path?

    • buddyglass

      The board almost surely knew about the donation prior to tapping him to be CEO. It came to light several years ago and there was a minor kerfuffle. I think they just underestimated how big the backlash would be.

      • Ian Shaw

        So the board was ok with it if it was kept private then?

        This just tells everyone that if they hold a position greater than middle management, having a view on a social issue that is contrary to public opinion will put pressure on your company to terminate your employment.

        No one should have to deal with that in a public company.

        • buddyglass

          You seem to be arguing against capitalism and the markets. A CEO is the public face of a company. Companies exist to make money. It’s hard for a company to make money when the person serving as its “public face” is seen as a moral monster by a significant percentage of its customers. If you’re someone who wants to be serve as the public face of a company a significant percentage of whose customers have “strong views” about something then it behooves you to not go on record with views those customers find highly objectionable.

          This cuts both ways. If you’re the CEO of a company that primarily operates in the rural South it is not in your self-interest to be an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage, even if your support for same-sex marriage is religiously informed.

          • Ian Shaw

            When Eich made the donation, his view was in lock step with th 52% of the people of California that voted for Prop 8. His view was the majority. Just like President Obama’s opinion and fmr Sec of State HIllary Clinton’s opinion was then.

            Where was the collective outraged at those two? No one yells at those two about their previous opinions because they have formally and publically issued mea culpas about how wrong their opinion was.

            Eich should not have to grovel or pay pennance to maintain his job. This only became an issue because SSM advocates brought his donnation to the masses in an effort to publically shame someone for their personal views.

            That is not tolerance. That is not equality. That clearly shows that tolerance and equality are not the end game of SSM advocates. What they did with Eich will bring more harm to their cause than good.

            • Ian Shaw

              Not against capitalism and free markets, but if that’s the case, Mozilla should have waited to fire him. Sure, that online dating service put up a message to have their users use a different browser, but had Mozilla started to see advertising dollars/revenue drop off? If not, they’ll never know if it would have been detrimental to their bottom line.

              • James Stanton

                Well, from a risk analysis perspective it seems the board thought he wasn’t worth the risk anymore. A public company isn’t obligated to take a moral stand one way or another. A different firm in a different place and he probably keeps his job although time will tell on that front. I certainly agree that public firms are far more susceptible to societal pressure.

  • Jason Kates

    While I agree that this sort of intolerance will extend to other areas outside of homosexuality, I am not sure if abortion will be one. It seems that the tide is turning in favor of the babies on that one.

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