Mozilla CEO breaks silence to talk about Mozilla under threat

Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s new chief executive, told CNET that Mozilla itself is under threat by the firestorm surrounding his donation to Prop. 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative.

Since the controversy erupted, as I wrote about in a column, Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, has been torn between two values the Internet community holds dear: Free speech and the battle for equality.

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for his resignation. This week, as we reported, OKCupid, the dating site, recommended that its visitors using Mozilla’s Firefox find another browser.

Employees and board members have blogged and tweeted their concerns about the donation. Some have called for Eich’s resignation; others have given him their support.

In the lengthy CNET interview, Eich declined to discuss his personal beliefs and whether he has changed his position.

But he was adamant that people especially the Mozilla community should be able to work together despite differing beliefs.

Eich argued that people’s beliefs, even CEO’s, are protected:

Beliefs that are protected, that include political and religious speech, are generally not something that can be held against even a CEO. I understand there are people who disagree with me on this one.

But it’s not his job that he’s worried about, he said, but Mozilla’s future:

The other thing is imagine a world without Firefox. Mozilla is under a threat here. We don’t know how big. If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail.

Above: Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. (Photo by Darcy Padilla/Mozilla)


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  • BubblesGump

    Not to worry Mozilla. The gay community is a very small percentage of the general population and the activists are an even smaller percentage. The general population will not be bullied by the gay community nor will they be censored. What you did is no big deal. Move on. No corporation is America would tolerate this kind of behavior from any employee(s). I would confer with you lawyers as I believe OKCupid is in a precarious position legally. The more you allow this to become a forum the longer it will dog you. You are entitled to your personal beliefs, which obviously, have nothing to do with Mozilla nor its business. The gay community went after Ender’s Game even though the movie had nothing to do with them. Apparently the author, Scott, had spoken out against gay marriage at some time in the past and the LGBT’ers decided he must be punished. Radical factions in NYC advocated disrupting the movie’s showing. This is nothing short of domestic terrorism. By dwelling on this, you are encouraging this kind of behavior.

    • Codger37

      I too never heard of OKCupid and don’t know anything about gay groups or think they’re relevant. It was the out of State interests (mainly from one religious denomination who decided for (California citizens), what was ‘safe’ or ‘good.’ For decades our family saw zero of the claimed wrongs or potential issues they warned of. Given the folks who are gay have a genetic component, like skin color it seemed morally wrong. Obviously the use of all the various prejudices that campaign played into worked and they got a narrow win. I would consider his trouble now a lot less than he helped foist off on the gay community then, by stealth, or for that matter any minority. It’s about character and at some point bigots need ‘outing’ after all and if they’re signing a petition, that’s more than he did.

  • Steve Hammill

    Can you imagine the firestorm if conservative thinking or religious employees and customers did the same thing to those technology companies that donate or cater to politically-correct factions?

    It strikes me that our country is being torn-apart by the trivial-many issues rather than focusing on the truly critical issues of our time.

    • l1ttlet3d

      Equality is a “trivial” issue to you? These “truly critical” issues you’re referring to must be terrifying!

      • Steve Hammill

        Yes, this issue is a trivial one. People will never all be equal, because we are not all equal; that is reality, period. However, people are more equal, in the USA at least, than ever before – yet still you bellyache.

        • l1ttlet3d

          That’s it. Punch the hell out of that strawman. Get him!
          No one is saying everyone is objectively equal in every way. Equality in terms of this discussion (and I have to assume you do in fact understand this) is for equal treatment from the state. Equality in treatment – not equal in every way.
          Simple, right?
          (Words can be hard – it’s not your fault.)

          The fight for rights, liberty and equality are far from trivial matters. To stand in opposition to that fight would be a bizarre position if not for the widespread bigotry that supports it.

          • Steve Hammill

            Wrap yourself in the flag to disguise your intolerance and hatred of those who simply don’t agree with you.

          • l1ttlet3d

            And that pitiful statement is really the closest you’re going to get to an argument, isn’t it?
            An appeal to emotion (argumentum ad passiones). An attack on my position as hateful and intolerant on the same level as “I know you are you said you are”. Another strawman of my position – this time diverting attention away from your lack of a response to the argument by asserting that my position is nothing more than an attack on you for “simply” disagreeing with me. And finally the whole thing is a great big attempt to take the victim position in a discussion on why YOUR group won’t afford another smaller group equal rights. Ridiculous. Transparent. Not convincing.

            Would you like to attempt to actually justify your position or are you only in the business of dolling out logical fallacies and emotional rhetoric?

          • Alan

            For someone that likes pulling the Strawman card, you certainly do use it too often yourself

  • Codger37

    I don’t see how this has anything to do with ‘a gay agenda’ .. it has to do with his decision to put energy and money behind a proposition that was a campaign orchestrated by out of State religious organizations to influence California’s electorate to take away rights that all our citizens had enjoyed. Some of them did not even know they had the rights under the California Constitution.

    Those who donated presumed their prejudices would not be revealed. That action was to my mind worse, as they were by stealth coming in to shape policy and in fact to take a slap at gays who were interested in normalizing their relationships, most of us thought a good for society.

    The amount of Fear and Loathing that the well financed campaign (he endorsed), spewed onto all California voters was crafted to prey on prejudice and fear. It played to other minorities to stop a peril that to my mind and experience had never existed. It hit at professionals such as Teachers and made suggestions which were well beyond our families decades of experience. In short it used a lot of bigotry to accomplish the wish of some religious organizations, most based in Utah.

    In short this man put money into a project not unlike what Putin’s doing in Russia. Now he wants to hold his prejudice and not acknowledge his part in what I consider a reprehensible, stealth campaign to influence us all.

    Fine.. we then may forget that Mozillia is a non profit and needs our support. He can’t ask for something he never repudiated. I think he owes a lot of people of all types an apology first and some therapy second. In the words of Rodney King, why can’t we all just get along? I’ve downloaded Chrome, Opera and Safari is great.

  • Mike Marshall

    Wow, looks like Glenn Beck’s geeky brother. hmmmm

  • FlipMe

    Free speech is protected by constitution, this includes gay activist and vice versa. OKCupid use this hate tactics to promote its own website, that’s just lame and I will boycott OKCupid.
    Second, Brendan needs not step down due to this issue, since it should not affect the business significantly, 70k is peanut compared to millions of downloads. If Brendan made anti gay remarks in workplace, then it’s justified for him to step down. The Mozilla management is wrong as well.

    Things to ponder:
    If I donate to the gay camp and anti gay camp, then I will definitely 100% get fired the next day?
    Can I support anti gay today and support gay 3 years from now or is it set in stone once I choose side? If not set in stone, why blame a person for their past belief unless you know his current belief?

    • l1ttlet3d

      OKCupid used hate tactics? Hating hate is hateful so you’re opposed to it?… idiot.

      You’re equating the “gay camp” and the “anti-gay” camp as equivalent. They’re not. One is promoting equality and an end to discrimination the other is advocating inequality and discrimination. By definition that’s what the “anti-gay” camp is doing. And it’s based on hate. The two camps aren’t equivalent and so neither is supporting one or the other. This isn’t a vanilla vs chocolate opinion debate – equality objectively demonstrably matters.

      • Dave

        So, a person is not entitled to his or her own beliefs? This is not a debate about equality or discrimination it is a battle over whether I or you have a right to believe that something is right or wrong. I can love someone, and respect someone, and still believe that something they did or are doing is wrong. I have that right. This CEO did not tell anyone that they could not use Mozilla software if they were gay, he chose to exercise his right to support a cause that he believed in. Also, he did not discriminate against any person involved with or working for the company. Why does your right to believe in something trump my rights to not believe in it?

        • l1ttlet3d

          You don’t have a right to consequence free beliefs or speech – no. Why is this so hard for people? Do schools not teach this?

          You enjoy freedom of speech which means the state can’t punish you for your beliefs or what you say (within some limits) but that doesn’t extend to the private realm. You can’t take away someone elses’ rights and then hide behind your own when the consequences of that come knocking, hypocrite. You don’t have that ‘right’ and nor should you.

        • l1ttlet3d

          If you want to say something else then respond – don’t change your comment after it’s replied to.