The key moment of the Brendan Eich-out-at-Mozilla story comes in this interview with his long-time business partner Mitchell Baker. Upon learning that Eich gave $1,000 of his own money to the campaign for Proposition 8, Baker says:
“That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness,” she said, noting that there was a long and public community process about what to do about it in which Eich, then CTO, participated. “But I overestimated that experience.”
Here’s why this is important: Baker is saying that she never saw Eich acting badly, or exhibiting uncharitable or uncivil behavior. So the problem isn’t with how he comported himself. It’s with what he thought.
(1) This is a perfect illustration of the degree to which the same-sex marriage movement has succeeded in conflating the belief that the down-stream effects of same-sex marriage might be, net-net, problematic for society with hatred, bigotry, etc. toward gays.
Of course this is a selective conflation. If you’re Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama circa a few years back, you’re just misguided. But whatever.
(2) Now that we’re in the realm of thought-crime where Eich loses his job not because of how he behaved, but because he gave money to a cause which is deemed untouchable, let me ask you this: What if Eich hadn’t given $1,000 to support Proposition 8. What if, instead, the tech community simply found out he had voted for it?
By any reasonable chain of logic, voting for Prop. 8 is at least as bad–probably even worse–than merely giving money to support it. A vote for Prop. 8 is an affirmative action taken to directly advance the cause, rather than the indirect advancement of financial support. If Eich was a known Prop. 8 voter, would there have been a similar campaign against him? I can’t think of a reason why not.
(3) And once you get to the point where merely voting for candidate x or issue y makes you unemployable, Katie bar the door. I mean, if you’re a good progressive, what issue is more important to humanity—gay marriage or climate change? Because if you can mount campaigns against people skeptical of the harmlessness of gay marriage, then surely people who deny climate change–which threatens all 7 billion of us with actual death–are infinitely more dangerous. Who knows what you should do with them.