NY Times: Mozilla CEO's 'Anti-Gay' Stance 'By Definition Disqualifying,' He Needed 'Rehabilitation'

Our web guru Steve Edwards passed along a tweet from Moe Lane that said  "New York Times confirms: Open Source advocacy is for liberals/progressives only. "

Lane linked to an obnoxious blog post by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times titled “Why Mozilla’s Chief Had to Resign.” You see, “Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization.” And activists apparently find it very distasteful to be less than “militantly tolerant,” as Manjoo put it:

Is this an instance of political correctness run amok? Is it a sign that Silicon Valley has become militantly tolerant, unwilling to let executives express their personal viewpoints on issues unrelated to their jobs? I’ve seen many such worries expressed online; even supporters of same-sex marriage have been characterizing Mr. Eich’s ouster as an awful precedent for giving in to moralistic mob rule.

But it’s a mistake to draw any such conclusions in this case, for one simple reason: Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization. Mozilla’s primary mission isn’t to make money but to spread open-source code across the globe in the eventual hope of promoting “the development of the Internet as a public resource.”

As such, Mozilla operates according to a different calculus from most of the rest of corporate America.


The company serves two markets, not just one, and the second market is “arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.” They have an ideology that must not be broached:

When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

This became clear in a string of tweets and thoughtful blog posts that Mozilla employees (a.k.a. Mozillians) published this week. A number of them called for Mr. Eich’s resignation. One employee in Britain, Paula Le Dieu, put herself on “unpaid leave” in protest. Others stopped short of calling for Mr. Eich’s ouster but expressed frustration that Mozilla was being tarred with his views, and hope that they could rehabilitate Mr. Eich’s ideas about gay marriage...

“He is actively harming Mozilla by not making a proper statement on these issues and making things right,” wrote Ben Werdmüller, a Mozilla developer.

In other words, those "thoughtful Mozillians" believed Eich apparently needed to undergo "conversion therapy" and become an "ex-Anti-Gay," and then he would be "rehabilitated."

Manjoo bizarrely thought that this Mozilla mutiny is "slightly more nuanced" than liberals cry Negative Branding and get out the (career) guillotine. Imagine if the CEO were a gay activist who'd donated a mere $1,000 to support gay marriage and it ruined the "unit cohesion" of the company:

In such an environment, it isn’t out of bounds to consider how a certain leader’s political views might affect employees’ passion for their mission. If the community’s cohesiveness is Mozilla’s primary advantage over its rivals, the fact that Mr. Eich’s views on gay marriage might have posed some danger to that community was almost by definition disqualifying. If his job was to motivate people, and he was instead causing people to question the community’s ethic—well, at the least, you can say he wasn’t doing a good job.

To some Mozillians, this became especially clear over the last week, when Mr. Eich refused to recant his position on gay marriage in a series of interviews. “In his first test as C.E.O. of Mozilla, he failed to execute,” wrote Matthew Riley MacPherson, a developer who works for Mozilla in Montreal. “So while I think his donation to Prop 8 spurred the controversy and exposed his inability to think as Mozilla’s C.E.O. instead of as Brendan Eich, I don’t think it was his stance against gay marriage in his home state of California that should be named as the cause of his departure.”

Instead, Mr. MacPherson argued, it was Mr. Eich’s inability to keep his community together amid a growing firestorm that proved he could not lead the organization.

Mr. MacPherson added: “So while the mob might feel like it won, proving that there is some kind of zero-tolerance for homophobia in America, Eich’s departure from Mozilla tells a slightly more nuanced story than that.”

No, you "thoughtful" Mozilla mobsters, it's not more nuanced than that, no matter how you try to spin it.

[Image from PJ Media]
 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis