Brendan Eich And The Years To Come

As you may have read, Brendan Eich stepped down as CEO of Mozilla over controversy around his support of Proposition 8.  His support did not endear him to people, from employees to OK Cupid – which seems to have had a big influence.

Now, to be open up front I am a supporter of marriage equality.  I want a national law on it.  I see no reason not to have one.  I like to jokingly note that marriage equality could help us get all our marriage in order, because we’d have more people getting married and having a chance to get it right.

I confess to not being sympathetic to Eich.  I found Prop 8 to be an act of bigotry, and Eich’s blog post didn’t address the issue he needed to address, but instead he seemed to take the tact he was the victim.  He needed to address it head on – and did not.  Worst, he was in Silicon Valley in California, showing some tone-deafness.

His later post on inclusiveness at Mozilla was much better, but the damage was done.  Also, I think his initial post showed cowardice – inappropriate to the issue or to a leader, which bigotry aside, I think called his leadership into account.  Also he didn’t address the bigotry.

Watching reactions to his stepping down is interesting.  Triumph, claims of bigotry/reverse-bigotry,wonders about backlash, etc.  I suspect he won’t get much sympathy overall.

So a few things as I analyze this:

  • The idea that this was somehow wrong or fascism (the gay rights/issues blog Joe My God has some Tweet roudups) seems hypocritical as this was the result of protest and public pressure.  Having seen many calls for boycotts for shows with gay couples, having heard many vile lies told about gay people, it seems rather odd to see people who complain about gay rights complain about someone being treated poorly.
  • Seeing claims that he was punished for his belief leads me to answer “in part, yes.”  Yet as noted above, I find too often people are ready to protest other things they don’t like – and not liking it when it happens to them.  I prefer civil protests about such things.
  • On the subject of being punished for his beliefs, I would note his beliefs had an effect on his fellow citizens on an issue that did not harm him.  Two gay people getting married doesn’t harm him, and he put money towards stopping that.  Here I am not sympathetic.
  • Politics has always had a personal element – and vice versa.  In an age of social media and increased awareness, we’re just far, far more aware of it.  Frankly, we haven’t adjusted to it.
  • The involvement of OK Cupid came out of nowhere.  This makes me wonder how other companies and organizations can raise awareness that we’re not thinking about.  Also Silicon Valley could get involved in other pressing issues like, say, Climate Change.
  • People are getting more and more open to gay marriage.  Some of these people will have once been biased towards gay people but changed their minds.  I’m wondering what this means in the future – will people start pre-emptively apologizing for their homophobic activities of the past?  That’s something he could have done had his beliefs changed – and he may have set an admirable example.
  • Eventually there will be national recognition of marriage equality.  I could see a federal law proposed within the next five years (and I have some theories it could come much faster).  That will make such activities as having donated to Prop 8 look even more inappropriate – and backwards.  It’s like that Daily Show parody “It Gets Worse.”

I’ve been amazed how acceptance of marriage equality has skyrocketed.  I’m literally watching a formerly acceptable bigotry rot away at higher speeds than I expected.

But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, is it?  There’s always more questions. There’s a lot to consider.

If you have any thoughts please share them.  I feel I’ve got a lot to learn from all of this.  I want to learn.

– Steven Savage