Mozilla says, "While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better." Again, Mozilla's actions will undercut tough conversations by making fewer people willing to engage in them. If you believe that an open, robust public discourse makes the world better, as they purport to, they've made the world worse. This action is a betrayal of their values, not a reflection of them.
At least that's what this Mozilla user and fervent gay-marriage proponent believes. In that same statement, Mozilla states, "We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves. We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."
I wonder if, now that I'm upset, Mozilla will move quickly to engage me. I wonder if they'll engage Andrew Sullivan, who wrote, "This is a repugnantly illiberal sentiment. It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others’ views as the Christianists? You’ve just found a great way to do this. It’s a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it."
Do they believe in engagement in principle, as they claim? Or do they regard the gay-marriage proponents threatening boycotts to be more worthy of engagement?
Some of the people responsible for this forced resignation have offered their own conclusion:
First, I want to say how absolutely sad to hear that Brendan Eich stepped down. I guess this counts as some kind of “victory,” but it doesn’t feel like it. We never expected this to get as big as it has and we never expected that Brendan wouldn’t make a simple statement... People think we were upset about his past vote. Instead we were more upset with his current and continued unwillingness to discuss the issue with empathy. Seriously, we assumed that he would reconsider his thoughts on the impact of the law (not his personal beliefs), issue an apology, and then he’d go on to be a great CEO.
The fact it ever went this far is really disturbing to us.
The Mozilla blog post really warmed our hearts. We’ve been working directly with Mozilla and Brendan to try and find a positive resolution to this. We really do love the Open Web and to see it threatened by this issue was heartbreaking for us as advocates of both open source software and our own equality under the law.
We think Mozilla put it the best: “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.” That’s exactly how we have felt. We absolutely believe people should be allowed to have personal opinions, but we also believe that we are allowed to disagree and to try and change someone’s mind by expressing our own personal story.
Those words make me think that the people who wrote them like to think of themselves as the sort of people who do the right thing. The hint of humanity is there. But they're evasive words, and their authors don't have the courage of their convictions. They didn't merely "try and change someone's mind" by expressing their personal story. Disinclined to stop at personal persuasion, they waged a pressure campaign that could be summed up as "change your mind, or else."
Now that the ultimatum has been rejected, they're not taking their share of responsibility for the outcome. They should face and own up to the fact that they helped force out a CEO solely because he disagreed with them about same-sex marriage. Put in their position, I'd feel uneasy about admitting that too. The rise of marriage equality is a happy, hopeful story. This is an ugly, illiberal footnote, appended by the winners.