Thoughtcrime at Mozilla
April 3rd, 2014

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.

Three things:

(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.

  1. Charlie Springer April 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Great piece. This is exactly why the progressives are so dangerous, stopping at nothing to get their way, regardless of the facts, the freedoms they threaten, and the individuals they endanger.

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  3. Phil April 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I think you’re making a pretty big leap in saying that the reaction would have been the same if people found out that Eich merely voted for Prop 8 without financially supporting its passage (which support, after all, implies that he would vote in its favor).

    Your argument is logical…but people aren’t. I think most still respect others’ right to vote however they wish, and don’t hold it against them in the way they do when money comes into it.

    In the first place, money drives people crazy. Money in politics drives them crazier. And financially supporting a cause suggests a much deeper commitment to it than merely casting a vote in its favor.

    If you told hardcore Progressives that you voted for W. twice, I think the reaction would be mild-to-moderate disfavor, and maybe an attempt to convince you you were wrong. If you tell them you maxed out your donations to W. in both campaigns, they might refuse to associate with you altogether.

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  5. Nedward April 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Excellent point. Progressives find it unconscionable, if not a frontal assault on the fabric of civilization, for any mere citizen to tactlessly out-in-the-open put money on something as sacred as a Political Matter. Of course their moral first principle here does not proscribe monetary donations by unions; government-employee unions; environmentalist billionaires; Planned Parenthood; PFAW; the plaintiffs bar; well-connected slumlords from the South Side; James Riady; Charlie Trie; George Soros; Bono/Geldof/Sting; and then a list of a few million other sources

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  7. Robbie April 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    There are few problems here:

    Denying climate change (while misguided) isn’t the same as actively working to take away a certain populations rights. (Remember, the right to marry was legalized before it was voted to be illegal – and, even before the courts declared it legal, the CA legislature voted it legal, but the Governator vetoed it.)

    The thing that seems to be hard for conservatives to understand is that the time has arrived that being against civil marriage equality – or, pro-bigotry, is simply an untenable position in society. Just like racist comments were, at one time, the norm, they are now considered fringe thoughts and absurdly offensive. That’s what’s happening here.

    There’s also an issue with classifying civil marriage equality as just another issue like climate change, or supporting a certain candidate. There are real people’s lives – people’s families – hanging in the balance here. Prohibiting marriage equality doesn’t stop same-sex couples from forming families; it simply prohibits their children from being adopted by both parents, or allowing spouses to make medical decisions together, etc.

    Prohibiting civil marriage equality actually does harm to American families, and to support that is simply no longer acceptable in civil society.

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  9. Wayne April 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Prop 8 took away no one’s rights. Maybe you should actually read it before commenting and therefore highlighting your ignorance.

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  11. Nicolas April 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Your use of the term marriage equality is misguided.
    The rules are the same for everyone, you guys have figured it out since the end of special status for blacks in the 70’s.

    However , there are rules. If I want to marry my sister, whatever my sex is, it is forbidden. Yet it is not a matter of equality, as this rule apply to everyone.

    Coining the equality leads to a loaded representation, creating the condition for the race to bottom, which leads to that mess.

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  13. Fake Herzog April 3, 2014 at 10:10 pm


    You are a piece of work. Have you heard of the phrase “begging the question”?

    1) For those of us who don’t believe in the metaphysical possibility of so-called same-sex “marriage”, we aren’t denying anyone any rights. A gay man or a gay woman (is that word gauche when talking about lesbians? hard to keep track of the sensitivities of queers these days) can always get married — to a woman or a man respectively.

    2) You seem to be confused about how basic democratic processes work. So-called gay “marriage” was never legal in CA before Prop 8. As you say so yourself, the legislation was vetoed, meaning it never became law. Do you understand how that works?

    3) Do you have a reading comprehension problem? Why do you think “climate change” is “just another issue” when Mr. Last just got done telling you the very survival of the planet and everyone on it is at stake — if anything all other issues pale in comparison.

    4) Children always have a mother and a father — referring to the perverted adoption by two gay individuals of children as the equivalent of “families” or those individuals as “parents” is once again a Orwellian distortion of the language. I won’t let you get away with it. But you are right — real lives are at stake — the lives of children who are being raised by people who embrace their objectively disordered sexuality. That won’t turn out good for those kids or for society.

    5) Given the First Amendment — you don’t get to tell anyone what is and is not acceptable in civil society. Those of us who believe in the natural law, traditional morality, Christian values, etc. will fight you until our dying breath.

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  15. JW April 4, 2014 at 2:07 am

    And, more people are going to die from not having cheap energy than can ever dies from a 1 degree rise in world temps in 100 years…which isn’t looking like it will ever happen.

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  17. Robbie April 3, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Fake Herzog,

    1. This is an absurd argument and it’s not worth responding to. You can find discussions just like this one all over the place, so go ahead and look those up.

    2. Since when in America do we vote on people’s rights? Every single case that has been brought to court on civil marriage equality – EVERY SINGLE ONE – has had the same outcome. It is illegal to vote on other people’s rights. Voting on someone else’s rights isn’t the democratic process, it’s tyranny of the majority.

    3. My response wasn’t actually about climate change. It’s a valid conversation, but in my view, it is not the same as civil marriage equality.

    4. No respectable scientific study has come to any conclusion close to the point you’re attempting to make. Children do best in homes with parent/s who love them.

    5. Given the first amendment, I can tell anyone anything I want. Only the government is prohibited from being able to tell people what they can and cannot say. And, it would do you well to remember that not all of us are Christians, and that very same first amendment prohibits the government from legislating based on Christian (or any other religion’s) beliefs.

    I appreciate your response and the discussion, but I’m going to ask that if you respond, you refrain from the slurs and judgement statements. Let’s stick to facts.

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  19. Fake Herzog April 4, 2014 at 11:10 am


    I’ll respond to you how I please — liberals have no monopoly on “facts” and your reply to me is full of “judgement statements” — that is the nature of political arguments — we are discussing metaphysical, philosophical, and ethical issues; not just factual or scientific issues.

    1) If you refuse to engage in the basic question of what is marriage then you’ve lost the argument before we’ve even begun. My suggestion to you is to pick up a copy of Budziszewski’s On the Meaning of Sex or What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense and engage some arguments before you cavalierly dismiss the foundational premise of your opponent.

    2) The issue here is what exactly is the “right” in question. And like it or not, we have a Constitutional republic, so while I agree with you that rights come before government, on a practical level they are protected by government and so are defined and voted on by citizens. Let’s not forget that the Constitution was ratified before it took effect.

    3) Yes, but you kind of miss the whole point of the analogy — if in your mind “families” are suffering because two men or two women can’t get “married” and adopt kids (thanks be to God) then Mr. Last is pointing out that by any utilitarian metric of suffering think of all the other families that will suffer if we destroy the planet as the climate change people claim. And just for JW’s edification — I don’t worry about climate change and think that the danger is hyped for political reasons; I’m just pointing out the logic of the argument Last is making.

    4) Incorrect — no “scientific study” has proven what you claim. The social science literature suggests children do well in intact two-parent families. There is some evidence that they will do O.K. in financial secure same-sex homes, but we really don’t have any evidence to suggest this is the case across the board and of course you are arguing from a utilitarian perspective. I would argue for kids and what’s best for them using moral arguments.

    5) Once again, you display basic ignorance on how the First Amendment works and how we legislate matters in a democracy. People can legislate based on Christian beliefs, Islamic beliefs, atheist beliefs, etc. — all they need to do is make their case in the public square and use the machinery of democratic government to pass laws. You don’t think civil rights laws back in the 60s were inspired by Christian beliefs? Go tell that to MLK Jr. and all the black church leaders who used the Bible to fight for equal treatment under the law.

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  21. Half Canadian April 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    The right isn’t to get married. Gays were getting married well before prop 8. The issue was whether the government should recognize said marriages.
    Prop 8 wasn’t a vote on whether to round up teh Gays who got married and jail them. It was on how the government would define marriage (ie, between a man and a woman). That, on the face of it, was simply formalizing the manner in which marriages were recognized in the history of this nation (and, before that, Western Civ).
    There are, IMO, compelling reasons to follow this definition, and I’ll concede that there are compelling reasons to expand it (though, IMO, not as compelling). But trying to argue that this is about rights is just a rhetorical device that tries to ignore the genuine concerns that opponents have.

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  23. Fake Herzog April 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Well said, Half Canadian. Of course, at issue are all the legal rights associated with marriage and therefore government recognition. We’ll have to agree to disagree about “compelling reasons to expand” the definition of marriage (I don’t think they exist), but it is nice to have someone enter this debate with a more nuanced understanding of what’s going on.

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  25. Nicolas April 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    1) it is the kind of very factual argument that you call for in your conclusion, mister.

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  27. des deash April 4, 2014 at 2:39 am

    I’m not comfortable with someone losing his job for supporting an unpopular cause. I see too many instances where any criticism of certain groups is suppressed.

    I understand the importance of the civil rights issue here and maybe it is at a higher level than some other popular movements. I am just concerned with how acceptable suppression of dissenting opinions has become.

    I hate learning new programs and I really am accustomed to Mozilla but it’s time to ways.

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  29. Mozilla CEO forced to step down for having same gay-rights views as Obama in '08 - Page 8 April 4, 2014 at 10:23 am

    […] a person that the companies employees, developers and customers did not want is gone. From "Thoughtcrime at Mozilla": “That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from […]

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  31. Jason Dough April 4, 2014 at 10:50 am

    @des deash
    I disagree that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. I disagree that gay “rights” is a civil rights issue.
    If gays were being treated like they are in Uganda or the Middle East then they’d have a point, but they have gay CEOs,Movie Stars,Millionaires,Politicians etc..what gays want is to force others to accept their lifestyle without question and because of their gestapo tactics..they’ve only made things worse for them as evidence in the rise of anti-gay hate crimes in the US and around the world

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    […] This is quite simply thoughtcrime, as Jonathan Last notes: […]

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  35. Steve Berman April 5, 2014 at 8:45 am

    It is a very dangerous practice. I don’t think the left sees exactly how dangerous. They choose the issue of same-sex marriage because they know that the majority of young people either support or at least are not against it, and they know they have leverage in society to enforce their will upon anyone they wish.

    The next issue may not be as cut and dried, and the backlash may be worse than they expect.