Story 2014-04-01 3HA Mozilla foundation's new CEO causes concern due to anti-gay-marriage views

Mozilla foundation's new CEO causes concern due to anti-gay-marriage views

in legal on (#3HA)
story imageThe guy co-founded Mozilla and served as Netscape's chief architect . He invented Javascript . He's been Mozilla's chief technical officer for 9 years. On March 24th, Brendan Eich became the Mozilla Foundation's CEO - and members of Mozilla's staff promptly demanded that he step down . Why? Because Brendan Eich is anti-gay-marriage.

The BBC , CFO World , and others are reporting that online dating site OK Cupid is notifying users of Firefox of the views of the Mozilla Foundation's new CEO - and requesting that they use another browser to access the site. It's not quite a boycott - users can still click through to access the site while using Firefox - but it's definitely a statement. This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. Hobby Lobby , Chick-Fil-A , and Costco have all experienced similar backlashes.

Mark Surman, XO of Mozilla, says:
"I worry that we do a bad job of explaining ourselves, that people are angry and don't know who we are or where we stand. And, I worry that in the time it takes to work this through and explain ourselves the things I love about Mozilla will be deeply damaged."

At what point do a person's political, personal, or religious views outweigh their qualifications for leadership - and does using Firefox in any way imply support of these views?
Reply 29 comments

That Costco link (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-04-01 18:55 (#XN)

When I wrote the original article, I was using Costco as an example of a corporation whose CEO's political/personal/religious/other views affect the way they manage the entity, not an example of a corporation which has undergone backlash for said views. The link I connected it to reflects that original example. If you want a good example of Costco backlash, though, try this one. ;)

And in other news: the editors here actually EDIT! Holy crap! I think it looks better than what I originally submitted, too. Thanks!

Now just kill the magenta and comic sans and it'll be perfect. Damn April 1st.

Different levels (Score: 4, Informative)

by on 2014-04-02 03:52 (#XX)

The Costco example was simply an accidental misnaming of merchandise. It was nothing too serious and was quickly remedied by the company when someone complained.

The Firefox example was one individual donating his own money to an organization. Again, hardly an issue and barely related to the company.

Chick-fil-a was using the company's policies to push their religious views. Starting to slide down that slippery slope here.

The Hobby Lobby case was - geez - the company challenging the healthcare of their own employees to serve their own religious beliefs. Sure hope SCOTUS knocks some sense into that company.

Re: Different levels (Score: -1, Flamebait)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-04-02 07:10 (#XZ)

Thank you for not using your position to down-mod the GP into oblivion. That, more than anything, shows conviction.

Re: Different levels (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-02 12:43 (#Y6)

Heck, I don't think bryan and I are disagreeing on anything as far as I can tell. The examples, the situations, are all different, he's right. That's on purpose. Even if this were That Other Place, and he were power-crazy mod-nuts, it doesn't really sound like he'd be on a mod-down fit. Maybe I'm misreading, though.

The closest this comes for me to anything I can compare to is honestly none of those examples - I always knew Hobby Lobby was scary somehow - it's to the one about Orson Scott Card. This guy, Eich, is someone I would normally really admire. Finding that out gave me a Card Moment: D:

Re: Different levels (Score: 1, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-02 22:49 (#YJ)

I'm going to disagree with you there. Both sides in any debate have rights. A customer may have a right to buy something, but a store has a right to not sell and a right to refuse service. Sometimes, for the good of society, we curtail the service provider's rights. Examples would include Utilities, Telecom, Housing, Banking, Transportation. Big ticket items where there are de facto oligarchies entrenched are far too powerful to let them do however they please, so we have laws to (try to) limit that.

That doesn't mean that you can force a baker to sell you a wedding cake when doing so violates their beliefs. Suck it up and move on. Someone else will be happy enough to take your money.

Same thing on health care. No company should be forced to provide it, let alone dictated to which specific features it will/must include. Some companies will provide it, others will not. Let the market decide. Personally, I'd rather have the extra money in my pocket (Especially since I've been laid off four times in ten years. That's money that would have gone straight down the toilet, and instead helped me keep food on the table. Yeah, something bad requiring a hospital stay could have happened. I would have crossed that bridge when I got to it.).

By saying that you hope SCOTUS "knocks some sense into that company" what you're saying is that you're right, they're wrong, and you're willing to use the threat of force, via the government, to get your way.

Here's a simpler idea: Go shop some place else.

What I suspect will actually happen is that people will continue shopping at because they like the product selection and prices, and that's more important than maintaining your ideals. So instead of tightening your belt and going some place whose standards you agree with, you'll soap box against . Either you have integrity or you do not, and crying over morality speaks volumes.

There's one side of the debate that constantly screams about equality and respect over one's choices, yet it's ALWAYS apparent that it really only applies when they agree with you.

Re: Different levels (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-03 21:15 (#YY)

I dunno about that wedding cake example, since that has specifically been discussed in the courts and appears to have lead to a decision that yes, you can force someone who runs a business to sell you a wedding cake. ( Court decision here - warning, it's a PDF.)

I do not shop at Hobby Lobby specifically because of their stance on women's rights. Happy to make you happy - hope that helps your faith in humanity. I also ditched the Slash, which I loved, because Beta. Some of us have principles - and I would be willing to wager that the guy you're replying to has 'em too, considering he went and built a whole new site over them.

I am still posting using Firefox because I haven't yet been satisfied on the Eich issue. I'm keeping an open eye on alternatives, but I'm giving the man a few days (okay, nine so far, though only a few since I found out about it) to say something that isn't pandering to the popular belief that equality is good while still shimmying his way around his personal beliefs that equality is bad.

As for your parting shot, though, it comes down to this: He has the right to say "Hey, those people shouldn't be able to get married to the people they love!" I have the right to say "That guy is a dick for saying that!" That's equal rights - which is more than Brendan Eich seems to want to grant some people. I'd say the protest is pretty darn equal all around.

Has to be a joke (Score: 3, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-04-01 21:34 (#XQ)

So on the okcupid page telling you not to use FF because the new CEO and inventor of Javascript is a bad man, the links are in Javascript. I can't tell if they are serious, trolling, or just using this poutrage for media attention.

Re: Has to be a joke (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-02 12:54 (#Y7)

What gets me is the amount of coverage it's getting, backhanded or no. This can't be good for Firefox, my very favorite browser.

Also: Javascript long ago passed into other hands than Eich's. It's a standardized and regulated language - and there really aren't any options besides it for doing the fancy client-side stuff on the web. (Okay, there are options, but we're going to pretend they don't exist. *shudder*)

A browser, on the other hand, is a choice - and via the user agent, a declaration to the world of one's opinion. IE says "I don't know enough about computers to pick another browser." Chrome says "I like it fast and I'm not concerned with privacy." Firefox says "I like my browsers like I like my coffee - (insert customization here)." It's a statement, a deliberate choice, and that makes it something you can change in response to bad stewardship.

worry about yourself (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-01 22:24 (#XR)

Looks like I don't need to use OKCupid or Firefox. Spend more time worrying about yourself and less about others. You'll be a lot happier.

Disagreement (Score: 3, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-02 10:07 (#Y1)

I'm sure the CEO of almost every company has some viewpoint I disagree with vehemently.

I will now go live in the bush as a hermit.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-02 13:11 (#Y8)

Where do you think the line ought to be? Somewhere past "an unpleasant opinion" I suppose? What about "an unpleasant opinion backed with money"? Don't forget, the guy's not just a dick, he's a dick who puts his money where his mouth is. (There's a really terrible but hilarious dirty joke to be made there...)

Or are you saying that there is no line, that you'll buy/use/promote anything from anybody if it's something you want or need?

Or... maybe I'm misunderstanding. Maybe you're saying you'd just rather not hear about this stuff, so you don't have to make the choice, even by inaction?

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-02 14:32 (#YC)

There are a lot of people who do put money behind causes I disagree with that I don't know about due to campaign finance rules and crazy 501 non-for profits.
The stupidest thing in my opinion is to not use a free software product because of who is the ceo of the foundation behind it. Its free software. Using it doesn't require me to give any money to them. Now, if I were donating money to mozilla, or a developer of their products, it would be a different issue. But using free software? That's just odd. The whole point of free software is to not put any restriction son the use of the free software. Especially a web browser. You're free to use it to learn about causes the ceo of mozilla disagrees with, and anything else you want. Users shouldn't be discriminated against or harassed in any way. Thats BS.

I'm more in line with the parent of this thread, Its really annoying when people impose their value systems on you and assume that you agree with them and additionally assume you agree with their action plan to further their goals. I rarely agree with people on these things, and am offended with the notion that I must believe *exactly* as they do and do *exactly* what they want me to do.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-02 15:58 (#YF)

Heh, I think the point was that by using the software, you appear to be supporting the beliefs of the Mozilla foundation and, by extension, its CEO. I support free software - but it is the antithesis of discrimination. The guy who runs Mozilla supports discrimination. That's a headscratcher for me - presumably they chose him because he epitomizes their views, and that's disturbing. Personally, I think they made a mistake. The guys at the end of this thread have it right - this could hurt Mozilla's reputation, especially since people are making a moderate fuss about it.

Mind if I restate your points, as I read them? This is what it sounds like you're saying, as far as I can tell:

1. I know there are assholes out there and I don't know who they are, but some of them probably make things I use. I might object to paying them money for stuff if I knew who they were.

2. The software's free, so it doesn't matter what the CEO thinks - because using it isn't the same as giving them money. (How does the Mozilla foundation support itself? Why do they try to get users, if users are worthless?)

3. If something is free, it should be used without restraint. (Not restrictions - restrictions are things that limit HOW you can use the software, not WHETHER you should use the software. Restraint is the thing that makes you go, "Hey wait a minute here..." when something like this comes up.) To rephrase, it sounds like you mean: free as in beer means free as in morals - if the KKK started giving out free cupcakes, it'd be OK to take one.

4. That last paragraph reads like "Even asking this question is rude. I might think it's OK to discriminate against gay people, but I can't say that because people would get offended and I'd look like a dick. Making me have to hide that opinion is mean." I don't think you meant it that way, but the air of discomfort behind it is readable.

I want to point out that the question I was trying to ask - will this harm Mozilla? Is this something we should be worrying about and trying to put a halt to? Is this bad for the community? - was not built on the assumption that you supported one viewpoint or the other beyond the basic "controversy bad, Firefox good". Yeah, personally, I'm all for equal rights, and I love Firefox and other free software, but I do not expect you to share those opinions. I do expect you to have an opinion (cuz everyone does) and - if you choose to express it - to express it in a way that makes some sense, but aside from that? Who gives a damn.

OK, sure, maybe this is a trivial topic. People are dying in thousands of unpleasant ways every day; a cure for cancer still hasn't manifested; there was a giant friggin' earthquake in Chile yesterday. But... this is news for nerds, not news for people concerned only with the gravest of SRS BSNSS - and honestly, I do think this will do Firefox's (and Mozilla's) reputation some harm. It's already done some harm to it and the harm is ongoing.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 0)

by on 2014-04-02 22:54 (#YK)

Right, because someone who disagrees with you is discriminating. While the use of the word is technically correct, you mean it as a pejorative, and deserve to get kicked in the genitals.

I'm sorry, but your opening sentence is so laughably bad it's really hard to take seriously. You really believe that every position can be filled with someone who espouses every belief system that you do? And that everyone else will share those beliefs with you? Seriously? Because that's what you're saying.

You should probably stop looking to corporations to tune your moral compass.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-03 21:42 (#YZ)

Eh? Are you smokin' something? Here, let's crack that first line open:

Opinion A) People who love eachother should be able to get married.
Opinion B) People who love eachother should be able to get married - EXCEPT FOR GAY PEOPLE.

Opinion A and opinion B disagree! That does not make either of them discriminatory. However, opinion B... is discrimination. I mean... textbook:

discrimination - dis·crim·i·na·tion [dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn]
1. an act or instance of discriminating, or of making a distinction.
2. treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment: She chose the colors with great discrimination.
4. Archaic. something that serves to differentiate.

Highlighted the definition that's relevant to human beings for you, in case you missed it in grammar class.

Sure, anyone who holds Opinion B is discriminating, and it is a pejorative, because there's just no way that discrimination is good here. However, you're fucking up sets there: just because someone disagrees with me by holding Opinion C, not expressed above, does NOT mean they are discriminating and are thus dicks - I'd have to see Opinion C expressed in a fashion that didn't make it look like they were trying to treat a subgroup of humans differently than others.

Such opinions do exist - you could claim that the institution of marriage is baseless and that people who love eachother should instead perform ritual suicide, and as long as you argued it for ALL of those people, you would not be discriminating in the fashion described above. However, you completely failed to express such an opinion. Therefore I have not insulted you. Any insult you perceive is imagined in your own mind. You feel insulted - because... you hold Opinion C? Or maybe B? And really don't want to spend the time laying it out, but by golly you're gonna stand up to that internet bastard who said you were discriminatin'!

But hey, this site needs more discussion and debate, so I'll take you somewhat seriously and read the rest of your post too! :D

Since you asked: I believe that the leaders of every technological, spiritual, and social entity I support should agree with me, yes, and if they do not, they should be able to coherently express why they think I am wrong. I am actively policing the things I support and participate in, for example, free software projects, to make sure that they do not suddenly espouse beliefs like "Kill all Canadians" and "Oppress the third world". Don't you do the same?

You vote, don't you? If you walked into a bar and the sign over the back said, "No purple people at the bar!" and you were purple, would you patronize the place? Oh, and hey, while you were leaving, and saw another purple person coming in, you might say, "Hey, don't go in there, the owner's a bigot." Right? I mean... human behavior: see something wrong, say something. You might even, if you were particularly ballsy, ignore the bouncer and go up to the bartender and call him out. This would be the equivalent, for me, of calling that guy out.

Fortunately, it's not quite that serious (though people are sure acting like it is, considering the way they flail when challenged). The guy made a donation a few years ago. I want to know what the hell he meant by it and how he can still espouse the view (if he does). He has comments disabled and I don't have his email address. Making a fuss seems like a good way to get to him and get some info - or if not, to get to the people who hired him, and get them to interrogate him on something they may not have considered when they stuck him up for the job.

You'll note that nobody's in front of his house with pitchforks and torches, trying to deprive him of life and limb. No one's tried to make HIS marriage illegal. I have a nice, strong moral compass. I'm exercising it. It's fun, you should try it!

Or you could make stupid cracks about kicking people in the delicates. No need to elevate the discussion, we'll be fine down here in the mud, I'm sure.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-04 00:11 (#Z3)

You should be modded flamebait and troll because you were, as evidenced by personal attacks. I said the comment was stupid, which it was. You, however, attacked me. There's a troll here, and it wasn't me.

The funny thing is, I don't give a rip who dates who. It's none of my business. I would vote against laws putting limits on it. My problem is with people like you who feel that yours is the only valid opinion and shout down anyone who disagrees with you. Notice that you proved my point when you modded me down. That's not a debate and your position is not legitimate.

It's nice if you can surround yourself with people who completely share your views and only patronize businesses that only share your views. In the real world, this isn't possible because, as someone else kindly pointed out, the world is not black and white.

Why should I even try to be reasoned with you? Go back and read what you wrote. Read it again.

Sarcasm over "elevating the discussion." Sarcasm isn't a good way to make your point. But, frankly, people who insist on shouting down others for having a differing opinion are the ones who need to be punished.

Rhetoric over "pitchforks and torches." BTW, that's figuratively what you people did. You raised a fit until someone was forced to resign, which definitely has an impact on his life and most likely will effect his job prospects. And you seem to feel justified for doing so because he doesn't agree with you on marriage. I don't agree with him either, but he's entitled to be an ass if he wants to. Personally, I'd rather have my corporate head competent enough to do his job.

The crack on grammar doesn't even warrant a response.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. Get your nose out of everyone else's business and worry about yourself. You'll be a lot happier.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-04 13:09 (#Z9)

Dude, I'm happy. I have a great life. Doesn't mean I can't speak up for what I feel is right. If that's trolling, then call me a troll. I'll own it.

If you have a look at Mozilla's post on the matter, you'll see that Mozilla pretty much went, "We made a mistake about that guy." The man stepped down as CEO. That doesn't mean he's not still economically doing okay. (In my experience, guys who get nominated as CEO of a major company don't live paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us.) It means he's not right to lead an inclusive, open, and diverse Mozilla. I'd be fine with him in a tech job where he doesn't work managing other people who might be gay. Being a bigot doesn't make you unemployable. It makes you "not management material". (Mind you, I wouldn't work with him in the workplace if he couldn't behave in day-to-day interactions, but that's called "being rude", not "being a bigot".)

Incidentally, I wouldn't have minded if Mr. Eich had stepped up and explained why he either doesn't feel that way anymore, or still feels that way but it's honestly not discriminatory. If you check out his post on the matter, he did not do that. He instead chose to continue holding on to whatever he believes (he's never really articulated it in public) and to step down. I'd argue that shows principles, albeit the kind that involve shooting oneself in the foot. I can respect those, even if I can't respect the beliefs which prompted them, so the whole matter is something of a wash respect-wise.

Yeah, I still feel justified for attacking a CEO verbally over his beliefs. He appears to think that a portion of the population deserves less happiness than another portion of the population. That's not really defensible. I'm sure there are still racists out there and that some of them run corporations, and if I knew who they were, I'd attack them verbally too, yes, in the hopes that they'd step down. I think basic human kindness is a mark of competence. If you can't pull that off, if you can't at least keep your intolerances under your hat, you aren't good enough to be CEO.

My nose is firmly in my business here, friend. I love Firefox. I love gay people. That guy was mucking in my business by becoming CEO of Mozilla while being anti-gay. He could've declined the position. He could've articulated something, anything that wasn't "I still feel this way but it's fine, no really, cuz I promise I won't screw up." He did not show the competence to run Mozilla. I'm happy he stepped down, both for Firefox and for gay people.

troll trōl/
gerund or present participle: trolling
1. fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat. "we trolled for mackerel"; carefully and systematically search an area for something. "a group of companies trolling for partnership opportunities"
2. informal - submit a deliberately provocative posting to an online message board with the aim of inciting an angry response. "if people are obviously trolling then I'll delete your posts and do my best to ban you"
3. sing (something) in a happy and carefree way. "troll the ancient Yuletide carol"
4. Brit. walk; stroll. "we all trolled into town"

Once again with the highlight of the appropriate definition.

My purpose in posting this story was not to elicit an angry response. It was to elicit a reasoned, intelligent debate concerning whether or not this guy was actually good for Mozilla. I'm the angry one here. I'm the one feeding the trolls. I'm doing it because I think Pipedot needs more chatter, and because I really do feel passionately about this sort of thing. Sorry, this fails your definition. You, on the other hand... you really do seem like you'd just like to have some anger spilled your way. Why is that?

Re: Disagreement (Score: 0)

by on 2014-04-03 05:37 (#YQ)

Some people just don't have a large enough experience living in the real world to grasp such nuanced concepts. Black and white just don't exist. Live long enough and you'll understand.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 0)

by on 2014-04-03 21:43 (#Z0)

You let me know when you catch up to the rest of us then.

Re: Disagreement (Score: 1, Informative)

by on 2014-04-03 21:44 (#Z1)

And yes, I just modded myself flamebait, cuz I know when I'm feeding the trolls. Whee!

When it hurts the company (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-02 10:29 (#Y2)

The job of a CEO is to lead the company. If his/her personal views are affecting the public image of the company, the use of the company's products, and the effectiveness of the company's employees, then that is a problem for the company.
If it makes business sense for Mozilla to have a different CEO, then they should appoint a different CEO. If what Mr. Eich brings outweighs any negative effects (incurred and expected) wrt. any other potential CEOs, then, by all means, keep him.

But I don't believe that there are no other candidates who are also well-qualified, and who would not kick up this kind of reaction.

Re: When it hurts the company (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-02 11:50 (#Y4)

Ultimately, a CEO - any leader, in fact, sets the moral and ethical tone for a company. If your CEO is a blatant racist, not only does your company get associated with racism, but it affects employee relations. If your CEO kicks puppies, then your company kicks puppies and it's OK for aspiring leaders to also kick puppies, because "that guy does it." How's you like to be a gay Mozilla employee? You're not going to feel as secure and comfortable in that work environment knowing that your CEO is against you. Maybe you'll look for work elsewhere, and take your talent with you. Inclusive work environments are more productive, because people feel safe to be who they are and focus on their work instead.

I have no problem with this guy being forced to defend his stance. He seems to be taking a relatively conservative stance at a moment when the world is shifting in a different direction.

You don't have to agree with all of your CEO's views. But you do have to understand that his views not only impact your company's reputation but also affect employee relations and more.

Who would have known anyway if they hadn't complained so much? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-03 05:11 (#YP)

Isn't the basic claim that a company CEOs public image should not contradict the company mission? But then I have to ask - if nobody had started this whole media circus, who would ever have found out? Didn't they create the problem themselfes?

Re: Who would have known anyway if they hadn't complained so much? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-03 20:55 (#YX)

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Yeah, the CEO's image shouldn't contradict the company's image, that is indeed the statement we seem to be coming up with. ...Oh, I get it - you think that because people care about free software and the Mozilla community, they should keep quiet. Not rock the boat. Stay in the back of the bus. Get back in the closet.

Ahem. Sorry, got a little carried away there. The point I should make is: speaking up is what makes the world a better place. If Rosa Parks and Harvey Milk hadn't spoken up we'd be worse off than we are now.

As for Eich... people are speaking up. He needs to communicate - does he still feel that way, and can he support that view in a way that doesn't involve treating others like second-class citizens? His response has been, so far, couched in political speak which boils down to "I won't say it outright but yes, I still feel this way, and I'm not letting it affect my judgement as Mozilla's CEO." I'm not sure I see how that's possible. If I were CEO of Kitten Killing Enterprises, I'd certainly have a problem keeping my personal views on kitten-killing out of my management style.

Maybe he can do mental yoga. I'd like to hear him do it out loud, though, so I can find out whether he's crazy or smart.

Re: Who would have known anyway if they hadn't complained so much? (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-04 00:15 (#Z4)

Rosa Parks was a staged incident (and one that definitely needed to happen)

You really don't believe that you can hold an opinion that's contrary to a legal requirement and still be effective in your position or executing your duties? You don't find that limiting?

Re: Who would have known anyway if they hadn't complained so much? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-04 13:55 (#ZA)

This is the first post you've made that wasn't outright insulting. Kudos! (No, seriously. I want some interesting discussion! +1!)

Correct, I don't think I could hold an opinion contrary to a legal requirement and still be in charge of supporting the legal requirement. For example... the RIAA. I could not run it. I would just... not be able to bring myself to press the button on the robo-lawsuits. I'd be a poor choice to run the RIAA or MPAA, because I just cannot take it as seriously as they do. (I just... can't. Little Johnny downloaded a song, ohnoes! Pay us a billion bucks!)

I'm trying to think of something a little more equivalent and more serious - Eich's position on gay marriage was only tangential to his corporation's main duties. It wasn't The Gay and Lesbian Love In Society he was CEO of. It's hard to find a good example without bringing religion or politics into it, though. Or classic flame wars like vi versus emacs. Sexism is a good fallback, I suppose. (The alternative was racism. It's early and I haven't had my coffee yet. Suggestions welcome.)

Let us say that I am a complete sexist - dyed in the wool chauvinist pig - and I have somehow managed not to let it render me impossible to hire - I hide it, except for my political donations to a fringe group that wants to keep women from working. I get hired as CEO of General Motors. I walk into the office every day and I see the lady who works in accounting. ...Yeah, I would personally have trouble not twitching every time she gave me a report, if I felt that strongly about it. I don't know that it would affect my conscious decisions, but it would certainly affect my unconscious decisions. I might be reluctant to be in an elevator with her. I might make an inappropriate comment or a pass. I might not invite her to my "private" birthday party where basically the whole company showed up, except the girls. When given the choice between two resumes, where one had the name "John" at the top, and the other had "Jane", and they were equivalent, I might pick John first, and rationalize that "his cover letter was better." I might, in fact, pick Jane, because I know I'm being sexist - when you catch yourself doing it, you tend to overcorrect. Sexism is subtle, it's insidious. Same with racism and homophobia. There's a reason that the first thing out of a racist's mouth is usually "Some of my best friends are..." It affects you in ways you can't predict - which just isn't good for a CEO. I might step down on the basis that I was not a good fit for the company if I knew that about myself and wanted the best for the company.

Yeah, that's limiting. Some limits are good. I shouldn't be in charge of people I want to oppress. Neither should anyone else.

Now, supposing I didn't step down. And supposing it came out in the news that I, personally, think that women are not fit for the workplace, that they should all be in the kitchen, pregnant, making me sandwiches, and that I had supported a political action committee which operated with the express purpose of suppressing women's wages and whose eventual goal was to remove their right to vote - six years ago. And I'm CEO of General Motors.

Granted, women are a bigger demographic than gay people, but bear with me here: are the people who work at GM justified in speaking up about it? Definitely - they stand to be directly oppressed by my mistakes. Are the people who work outside GM but drive GM's cars justified in speaking up about it? Yes, because they stand to receive potentially inferior cars made by the best men for the job, not the best people for the job. Are people everywhere justified in speaking up about it? I think so, even if they don't have a stake in it. It's kinda like seeing a bully push someone over in the playground. You step in or you're a coward.

Incidentally, when I did research, I discovered that people spoke up when Eich was originally made CTO at Mozilla. It's not just the "CEO" part they're objecting to. It's "being in charge of people". They chose not to take it any more. Good for them.

There is, I think, a difference between this - internet outrage over a guy who is a grownup, knew full well what he was doing, and refuses to take it back, and getting him to step down from his people-managing job - and other incidents of internet outrage that have gotten people fired for silly reasons. Damned if I can articulate very well what that difference is, though. Perhaps it's the feeling while doing it which is different: the feeling of going after someone who ought to be able to defend themselves, versus the feeling of picking on someone who was completely unprepared for the fallout of their idle, accidental comments or photos or videos. Nobody needed to pile on Rebecca Black as hard as they did. Brendan Eich, however, could stand up for himself.

Time to pick a new one (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-04-03 23:39 (#Z2)

Seems he is stepping down as CEO.

Re: Time to pick a new one (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-04 14:08 (#ZC)

I wonder who the other candidates are. Anyone have any ideas?