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Brendan Eich Steps Down as Mozilla CEO (mozilla.org)
982 points by platz 396 days ago | 1171 comments



I am a strong supporter of gay marriage, but I have to say that I find this very unfortunate and worrying. Apparently many Mozilla supporters seem to think it is okay to bully a qualified person out of his job only for his political views, even if they had absolutely no effect on his qualification or his actions on the job.

I can't help but feel like this campaign has done a lot more harm to him than his $1000 donation could have ever done to anyone.

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I generally agree with you but I think the problem here is that being against gay marriage is more than just a "political view." Being for low taxes is a political view. Being for smaller government is a political view. Believing a certain group of people don't deserve to live their lives like other simply because of who they love is not a political view. It reads as extremely hateful and that makes people uncomfortable. I would be uncomfortable if the head of the company I worked for felt that way.

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I support legalizing gay marriage. But two things, first, supporting prop 8 does not mean you "believe a certain group of people don't deserve to live their lives like others." It means you don't believe that the government should recognize same sex marriages as marriages. There are a large gradient of views here, and on one extreme are the bigots who hate homosexuals and on the other there are people who simply have hangups about the word "marriage" vs "civil unions." As far as I know Brendan has never articulated his opinions on the matter, they have just been extrapolated from a $1,000 donation.

Second, support of prop 8 would have been a mainstream viewpoint less than 10 years ago. In many parts of the country, support of prop 8 is a mainstream viewpoint. People who have different upbringings in different geographic areas are of course going to be biased towards certain views, and it's a bit unfair to chastise them for not completely realigning their viewpoints overnight for something that has probably been the fastest and most productive civil rights movement, maybe ever. People love to talk about tolerance except when tolerance means they have to deal with people who were raised with fundamentally different views, or people who may even have the same views they did a decade ago but failed to "evolve." This could have been an opportunity to attempt bring someone, a powerful CEO, to the side of being informed and support gay rights but instead it was a witch hunt and an embarrassment.

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Putting money behind Prop 8 helped strip a civil right from gay people. It's technically true that proves nothing about Eich's beliefs. Heck, maybe it was Eich's personal Opposite Day. But does it matter? Even the bible says, "You will know them by their fruits," meaning that it's reasonable to judge people by what they do.

The pseudo-gotcha about tolerance is ridiculous, an accusation of hypocrisy based on a straw man. Gay marriage isn't about some mushy notion of tolerance. It's about civil rights, about equality before the law. As you point out, we don't yet know his views. This is about his actions.

And the concern about him as CEO also isn't about tolerance. It's about safety. Given that Eich has worked against the civil rights of gay people without explanation or apology, it's reasonable for gay employees and business partners to be concerned. When he was CTO, it wasn't as big a deal, because that was a technical role. But as boss of everybody, it's a different thing.

Personally, I don't think he should have left over his donation. I think he should have explained and apologized for his gay-hostile action before or as part of the CEO transition. Failing to recognize the problem in advance and then failing to deal with it quickly and forthrightly did make me strongly question his fitness to be CEO. Mozilla's CEO needs to lead and inspire people, and to adroitly handle the media, both traditional and social, adroitly. At that, so far, he's very much failed.

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>>> it's reasonable for gay employees and business partners to be concerned.

Unless Mozilla has entered into business of organizing gay weddings while I wasn't looking - no, it's not reasonable at all. No more than gun owner should be concerned if his CEO donated to a known anti-gun politician, or a medical marijuana user should be concerned if his business partner donated to a politician that opposes drug legalization. There was nothing in Eich's actions that would concern his employees and business partners in their capacity as employees and business partners. As far as it is known, he didn't say he would fire gay people (and he didn't do that either), he didn't say he would deny them benefits if affording such benefits were recognized by the law, he didn't refuse to enter any deals because opposing side was represented by gay person - in short, he did absolutely nothing of the sort that may raise such reasonable suspicion. The only base for that is "he's for prop 8, so he must be despicable person, so he's evil, so we have reasonable suspicion he would hate us because that's what evil people do". It's not an argument, it's a series of stretches, one worse than the other.

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It is absolutely reasonable for gay employees to be concerned. As CEO of a company guides company policy about a lot of things that have nothing to do with writing code such as health benefits.

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The link between any particular issue and what Eich's day-to-day responsibility would have been can be made as tenuously as we want. I could argue six-degrees-of-separation-style that every belief he held is relevant to his position. The basic point remains: we shouldn't be punishing people for holding beliefs that we disagree with, or coerce them into renouncing their disagreement in order to remain in our good graces. That's not democracy and it's not how you win a policy argument. No matter how right or wrong the belief in question is, such policing creates a hostile environment where people are afraid to argue, debate, and say what they really think.

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> No matter how right or wrong the belief in question is, such policing creates a hostile environment where people are afraid to argue, debate, and say what they really think.

What if his belief was the blacks should not be allowed to get married? would you have the same opinion on this then? Would there even be a discussion?

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Yup, same belief. Because that archaic thinking is going away. I don't care if he donated $1000 to the KKK. If it isn't affecting his role as CEO, then who cares. But I support gay marriage and I still eat at Chic Filet, so what do I know.

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That is the problem with the ad hominem culture in America. Just because a person is racist/whatever doesn't necessarily mean that s/he is a bad person. We should actually be open to people who have these ideas. We don't have to hurt people to change them.

An environment where people are allowed to debate over even the most atrocious ideas is much more productive and inline with what the ideal democracy is.

I would have loved if Mozilla had an internal, open, philosophically rigorous, discussion that employees would participate in. Brendan would be forced to change his mind, not by force, but by reasoning.

Unfortunately, this is just my rosy way of thinking.

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What if his belief was something that you agreed with, and he got fired for it? Would have you the same opinion then? Would there be any discussion?

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The real question here is whether democracy (i.e. the vote) is taken after influence games have been played out and resolved, or before.

I think the vote should be taken after influence has been applied, because I think part of what defines a person is their influence (it is perhaps the most important part, especially in questions of politics like this one).

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I'm not sure that punishing is the right word here. people who did what they did, whether it be his board leaving, or people uninstalling firefox,or op-ed letters or forum comments. All that is not punishment, that is nobody was deprived of anything. Negative public sentiment is a tough thing. But I think that it actually represents democracy quite well. Democracy can do the morally wrong thing, it can keep a minority enslaved for example.

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Which specifically policy of Mozilla has any relation to gay marriage in California?

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an obvious policy: since CA doesn't have gay marriage, it's optional to offer partners of gay employees health benefits

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Are you sure it is optional? [1] In any case Mozilla does offer them. So what exactly is the problem? What would change with or without gay marriage recognized by California? If anything, this shows that while Eich may be opposed to gay marriage, he is not at all opposed to equal benefits (unless of course you could point to instance where he tried to remove that policy).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_partnership_in_Califo...

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California does have gay marriage now, Prop 8 was overturned on appeal.

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True, but a) Mozilla had benefits equality all along anyway, and b) California moved to equalize benefits way before prop 8 was overturned, see my link above or look it up - for almost all matters except calling it "marriage", domestic partnerships in California have the same meaning as "marriage" for about a decade now. The whole hoopla seems to be exclusively about calling it "marriage", not about any benefits or any economic or legal matters.

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A two class system leaves room to give one class new and exclusive benefits.

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The only issue I had with domestic partnerships was the lack of federal recognition, and the lack of universal recognition by other states.

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If that were true then would you consider it right to oust Mr Eich because the company in which he only just became CEO abides by the law? Wouldn't it be more mature, and democratic, to request that the company adjusted to allow people equal benefits regardless of their beliefs about sexuality and then take action if they refuse.

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Oh, it would be, only Mozilla already has equal benefits. So they can't adjust something they've been doing all along.

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No, the basis for a reasonable fear is that he helped strip a civil right from gay people.

He has refused to speak about his views, so Mozilla employees and partners could reasonably fear that he might take other actions that harm gay people. Those need not be explicit and declared ones. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of bias knows that out-and-out bigots are rare these days; it's the subtle stuff that is more often the problem.

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> Even the bible says, "You will know them by their fruits," meaning that it's reasonable to judge people by what they do.

That's reasonable enough.

On the other hand, it's selective at best to limit the applied focus to his donations.

He's spent a lot of time/effort working at and building up Mozilla, a Mozilla that has an equitable/inclusive code of treatment, a Mozilla where by several LGBT accounts his co-workers felt interaction with him was free of aggression, a Mozilla where where co-workers felt free to defend or reject his appointment. And he invited everyone to judge him by those standards had he kept on.

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Sure. And I hope people were weighing that. It definitely meant something to me.

But Eich promising to only work against gay people's civil rights in his off hours wouldn't strike me as enough if I were a Mozilla employee. It's not the kind of promise I'd fully trust.

Really, I feel for Eich. If I had to guess, he's somebody who grew up around a lot of religiously-driven intolerance of gay people. And, like many smart people, he used his smarts to compartmentalize one set of views from another. It must be heartbreaking to be forced to deal with those inconsistencies in the eye of the national media, and to handle it poorly enough that he ended up quitting something he started and believes in. I wish he had sorted this out years ago, but I hope this serves as an opportunity for him to do so soon.

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>But Eich promising to only work against gay people's civil rights in his off hours wouldn't strike me as enough if I were a Mozilla employee.

Do you actually have a source of him saying that? Or are you basing it solely on his political donation?

If that's the case, you're engaging in nothing more than pointless conjecture.

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He previously worked against gay people's civil rights. When questioned about that, he promised that at work he wouldn't do that. But he has conspicuously avoided any substantive statement about his donation or whether he'd do something similar in the future. So there's no conjecture here, just a rephrasing.

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Oh boy, you brought the Bible into the discussion. Brave.

> Even the bible says, "You will know them by their fruits,"

With a little more context: http://bible.com/59/mat.7.15-20.esv

For those not used to reading the Bible. "Them" in this case is referring to people who claim to be followers of Christ. A subset of those people are labelled as "false prophets", people with positions of influence in a "church" (a teacher, pastor, or other leader). The "you will know them by their fruits" bit is a way for the genuine follower of Christ to identify a "false prophet" when deciding whether or not the leader is following Christ. Namely, that there should be evidence in their lives of that following.

If you want to go way out on a limb (heh, puns) and you support same-sex marriage, you could use this text as consolation that if Brendan Eich is a "tree that bears bad fruit", he'll be going to hell.

I'm disinclined to believe that there are many here who want to really get into what the Bible says about homosexuality, but if so, I'm game.

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heh. can't not appreciate the irony of defending public shaming someone because of a hint that he may be anti-gay rights ...with a bible quote.

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Thanks. But it's not a hint. He helped strip gay Californians of a civil right. An action which he has neither repudiated nor apologized for.

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Even the bible says, "You will know them by their fruits," meaning that it's reasonable to judge people by what they do.

The bible also says "Turn the other cheek", meaning that you should give people a second chance, and to treat them kindly despite their actions.

The bible has a ton of stuff in it, for example during times of slavery was used as a basis for both pro- and anti- slavery arguments. Drawing on a slogan from the bible to use its name as an authority is rather pointless - as a collection of aphorisms, there's one for every occasion.

Given that Eich has worked against the civil rights of gay people without explanation or apology

Eich expressed sorrow at the pain he caused in an article on his blog. He also stated in several different channels that the culture at Mozilla was going to remain diverse and inclusive. That's something of an explanation.

You seem determined to crucify a person based on one past bad action rather than the larger, more nuanced picture.

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Eich expressed sorrow for causing pain to his colleagues. But he did not apologize for working to strip gay people of a civil right. He did not say he thought that was wrong. He did promise to be a good boy at work, which is great, but I can understand why some people find that insufficient.

Personally, I'm not trying to crucify anybody. As I wrote in a number of places, including the very post you reply to, I don't think the donation should necessarily have been a problem. We all make mistakes. But his handling of this has been terrible.

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The bible also says "Turn the other cheek", meaning that you should give people a second chance, and to treat them kindly despite their actions.

Yes, people have asked him nicely and politely to resign rather than threatening or berating him.

I think it's sort of telling the way ideas like "freedom of speech" or "turn the other cheek" get abused in this particular instance. "Freedom of speech" says the state won't abuse someone for expressing their views. It doesn't mean people can't judge each other for their view - otherwise, we couldn't vote for the politicians of our choice. "Turn the other cheek" means be ready to forgive. But it doesn't say actions should have no consequences. Moreover, "I'm sorry sorry for the pain" is the standard "non-apology apology". A "I wish I hadn't done that and I won't do it again" statement would have been a prelude to a request for forgiveness, in which circumstance your plea would make sense - unlike now.

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I don't agree with his (apparent) personal views. But he has made an expression of sorrow for hurt (it's still an apology, though it might not be as strong as you want), and he has clearly stated that the position of Mozilla won't change. Folks like wpietri ignore these things and keep on stating that one event of six years ago is all we need to know of the man. I think Eich's (apparent) position is wrong, but I also can't condone the strawman that's been built up around him, which is being used as a proxy for a witchhunt.

Basically I'm saying: it's fine if you judge the man on his merits. It's not fine if you turn who he is into a strawman, and then treat him as if he is that strawman.

Re: the bible stuff, I'm just saying that just pulling a slogan from the bible is pointless, because you can always find a counter from the same. Also, 'forgiveness' does mean no consequences (or significantly reduced consequences). That's the whole point of forgiveness. If you make someone suffer consequences, you haven't actually forgiven them. These are not orthogonal concepts.

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> keep on stating that one event of six years ago is all we need to know of the man

- He donated to Prop 8.

- He donated to Pat Buchanan, who has largely made his bones on hating anybody who isn't WASPy[1].

- He donated $750 to Thomas McClintock[2], another politician who makes a show of being anti-gay. Eich was living in Santa Clara--not in McClintock's district.

- He donated $500 to Linda Smith[2], she of the "morally unfit inclination" opinion of gay people. She was running in Washington, while he lived in California.

The reason I list these is to dispel the notion that it's "one event". He has a pattern of going out of his way (out-of-district donations) to give money to causes and politicians who are particularly strident in their anti-gay stances (and even Ron Paul, who he also gave money to, is notably anti-gay-marriage and remains static in that despite having vacillated on marriage privatization).

This is, by my lights, who he wants to be known to be. Should that not be considered in the light of Mozilla's self-described values? (I do not believe there exists a coherent, moral worldview where it's not important to prioritize the inclusion of the less privileged ahead of the comfort of the privileged. I say this while thinking of multiple communities of which I am a part that sometimes make me uncomfortable in the effort to make those less privileged feel respected and safe. The actions that result in this piss me off sometimes, but I am an adult and I recognize that it's for the net benefit of everybody.)

[1] - http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/02/controvers...

[2] - OpenSecrets donor query - it requires a captcha, though, so I've omitted the link.

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So your opinion is no person who considers homosexuality to be wrong should be allowed employment?

You lay up some facts [I've not checked but don't doubt especially] but don't look at his actions in his employment - were there objections from staff that he discriminated against them. Did he force modification of Mozilla's codes to deny rights based on specific sexual behaviours of the employees in an unreasonable way?

Mozilla's values are, according to their blog:

>We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

Except that's no longer true is it. "Mozilla welcome contribution from anyone who believes that homosexual behaviour is right and that homosexual's should be granted civil unions by the state those unions to be called marriage". Not so pithy I guess.

Unless they tried to refuse his resignation then this move strikes out the "culture" and "religious views" parts of that quoted statement.

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Being allowed employment and being the leader of a diverse company including people you've helped to discriminate against are two different things.

He was fine as a CTO because of his brilliant technical mind. His actions, however, make him unfit to lead an organization as diverse as Mozilla.

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So he couldn't support a gun lobby and keep his job; or support abortion and keep his job (assuming there are some people in Mozilla who oppose guns/abortion)?

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>support a gun lobby and keep his job; or support abortion and keep his job

you just cannot compare those to gay rights. Neither of those perpetuate inequality or hate. In fact they are in support of individuals rights.

being against gay marriage is wanting to strip people of their rights and promote inequality. It is like saying only white people can get married, and if that was the case how would you feel about it then?

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but...being unable to control your body's reproductive rights does make you unequal. You're being discriminated against by having other beliefs forced upon you and your body, much like gays are discriminated against by having a different sexual orientation. Anti-abortion lobbying strips women of their reproductive rights and promotes inequality.

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ug sorry my reply was poorly worded. the parent post said "or support abortion and keep his job". so yes, you cant compare that as support of abortion is in favor of giving women the right to control our own bodies, unlike prop 8 where it was taking away gays right to marry.

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Considering homosexuality to be wrong is not the problem here. If Eich doesn't like gay sex, or thinks his god would disapprove, then he doesn't have to have gay sex. Problem solved!

It's his helping to strip a civil right from gay people. It is reasonable for Mozilla's gay employees and partners to fear that he hasn't entirely stopped trying to treat gay people as second-class citizens.

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Do you support polyamorous marriage?

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I don't know about him, but I do.

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An expression of sorrow is not in fact an apology. It's just an expression of sorrow. What it certainly isn't is an explanation of his helping to strip gay people of a civil right. It isn't a claim that he has changed his apparent view that gay people are second-class citizens. And isn't a promise that he will no longer work against the civil rights of his employees.

I also have never stated that all we need to know is one action of six years ago, and have several times stated the opposite.

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It's interesting that you refer to the Bible "you will know them by their fruits" meaning it is reasonable to judge people by what they do. Isn't that what we do when we oppose queer rights? You think it's OK to punish Eich for what he does. Bottom line is you justify your actions whenever you think you're right on an issue so what makes you think you're above someone who opposes queer rights.

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I guess the same thing that makes me think I'm above people who are opposed to civil rights for black people, or any other group facing groundless prejudice.

Honestly, I don't think I'm above anybody in that sense. We all believe stupid shit, and sometimes that makes us do bad things. As I said, my problem isn't with Eich's action; a lot of people were on the wrong side of that issue. But until he has recognized that stripping a civil right from gay people was harmful and wrong, and until he says that he won't be trying to treat gay people as second-class citizens, then I think it's reasonable to ask whether he should have a position of power over the people he's helped oppress.

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Hey, if we're gonna go quoting that book, I believe there was something about throwing the first stone.

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Oh, that's definitely a good bit. But that was in the context of a court, and a woman accused of adultery (with, of course, the guy not around).

If I were to apply that chapter to this situation, I think it would more be about Eich, a sinner like the rest of us, not using a court to punish people he things have transgressed his god's law.

I'd also note that story ends with, "Go and sin no more." Suggesting to me that forgiveness is bound up with a recognition of error and an attempt to reform. Which is something Eich hasn't yet done.

And indeed, I think that was Eich's way out of this. He could have declared, like a lot of Christians have, that hating on gay people is a sin, one he wanted no further part of. If he had actually apologized for injuring gay people, I think a lot of people could have, like the Pharisees, recognized that they too had made mistakes.

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...at anyone who works on Saturday. (Numbers 15:32-56)

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Perfectly said.

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> on one extreme are the bigots who hate homosexuals and on the other there are people who simply have hangups about the word "marriage" vs "civil unions."

As someone who is entirely unconvinced about the need for the government to recognise any kind of marriage at all, my view could also be characterised as anti-gay marriage, but without the context to do so would be misleading.

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Marriages are just contracts, governments should treat them as such. Having a special case is just stupid.

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Support for Prop 8 has a huge age gradient, as does anti-homosexuality in general. Support for Prop 8 falls by about 0.75% per year Ages 18-24 voted overwhelmingly against it. 65+ voted overwhelmingly for it. Old people hate gays. Young people don't.

Support for Prop 8 among young people in the SF Bay Area is negligible. These are the people Eich was supposed to lead as CEO of Mozilla. You can't lead people who think you are a reprehensible bigot.

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People have not been spending their time arguing about the pragmatic negative effects of choosing Eich due to the perception of young people that he is a bigot (regardless of facts.) They have spent their time talking about how terrible Eich actually is, how terrible Mozilla actually is, etc, etc.

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Old people only know gay people as Elton John and Freddie Mercury. Younger people know normal people as gay, so it's no wonder.

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Freddie Mercury was bisexual, at least according to Brian May's account of Mercury having sexual relations with many women. Elton John too was married and in interview said he was bisexual, but yes more recently has stated his behaviour is homosexual.

I wonder why people find it so important to note a person had/have homosexual sex but not mention they had/have heterosexual sex.

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Do young people really believe this?

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Yes. You should have seen my mother when she figured out that Liberace was gay. As if Liberace wasn't the gayest person ever.

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I knew Liberace was gay before I knew what gay was. Just like google could spot cats in videos.

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Liberace appears to have had a homosexual relationship, but he himself denied it. "Gay" to me implies a person who openly embraces a lifestyle including exclusively homosexual sex; under such a definition he was not gay. Indeed he won a libel case against a newspaper and stated he wasn't homosexual and had never taken part in homosexual acts. His supposed live-in lover also failed to show he was homosexual.

There's evidence to suggest he was [also] interested in women. Wikipedia doesn't mention it but a BBC article, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22099082, says he was engaged. Of course that could have been a way to court interest from [female] fans; but it seems equally others could have lied about the extent of his homosexuality. Often people mistake flamboyant-camp for homosexual, it's possible to have either without the other.

The whole Wikipedia page for Liberace appears to be an attempt to force him in to a mold that he refused repeatedly. Perhaps he was asexual as some reports hint, or maybe bi-.

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Well, I do, because I was told by older people and it makes sense. Why?

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Because (in the US at least), gay people started more openly coming out in the 1970s, with large increases in the 80s as well. So that's 30-40 years of gays becoming increasingly open.

Not to mention before that, there were people, even in the small town south, that everyone knew was gay but just didn't discuss in open terms.

Now it's true the cultural stereotype for "gay" was the Village People or Liberace or whatever, but a large number of people knew ordinary gay people as well.

Of course, even today, and even in a place as open as San Francisco, I suspect most everyone knows more gay people than they think they do. I know that's true, in fact. A lot of people just never talk about it.

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The problem is that support for Prop 8 has been misrepresented as "hate" of gays, and that gullible young people have been tricked to support the gay agenda in the first place, and also to believe anyone who disagrees with that agenda is a "reprehensible bigot".

If "gay rights" are really so self-evident, let's confront the haters and explain in a clear, concise manner why their beliefs are invalid. The thing is that reasonable people disagree, and shouldn't be shamed for that disagreement.

Pro-gay activists have gotten all progress by bullying opponents and teaching people that anyone who dares to question them is automatically a "reprehensible bigot", and foolish children have been flattered into accepting this patently ridiculous line of thought.

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> let's confront the haters and explain in a clear, concise manner why their beliefs are invalid.

It's actually pretty easy. Any number of court opinions on the issue are readily available and generally easy to read. These represent the best-of arguments from both sides.

Once the issue was raised as a legal issue, it became subject to constitutional scrutiny and the U.S. Constitution simply doesn't allow for that kind of discrimination and the kinds of argument used in support of.

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> Once the issue was raised as a legal issue, it became subject to constitutional scrutiny and the U.S. Constitution simply doesn't allow for that kind of discrimination and the kinds of argument used in support of.

This is actually completely backwards. It only became tenable to approach as a legal issue after gay marriage had become culturally acceptable.

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Yeah, courts are subject to popular opinion in a way. I suspect many gay couples wanted to get married, but were denied in lower courts and appeals denied after. It's finally reached the popular critical mass to make it to the Federal level and that's why it's suddenly an issue.

But more importantly, when you actually read the arguments put forward in the cases, it takes the courts a very big legal stretch to side with the non-gay-marriage arguments, as they're almost uniformly non-legal and unconstitutional religious and traditionalist arguments.

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You act as if the decisions are uniform. Legislation banning gay marriage has been upheld repeatedly by the courts. Prop 8 itself has had an eventful docket, and was most recently struck by a court (after being upheld), and the Supreme Court refused to decide on the case's claims because the party appealing the decision did not have standing to bring the case. The Supreme Court has made no ruling on Proposition 8.

Nationally binding case law on relevant marriage topics didn't exist until Windsor last year, and even that stopped short of claiming that all bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, and 4 sitting Supreme Court justices disagree even with the narrow logic by which sections of DOMA were invalidated, which essentially punted the issue back to states and said that the Feds were obliged to honor marriages granted by states.

Should we all go boycott the Supreme Court as long as John Roberts is Chief Justice?

It's completely misleading to pretend that reasonable, non-bigoted people can't oppose gay marriage and/or can't believe that bans on gay marriage are constitutional and fair.

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Your are absolutely correct, the lower courts have decided one way or another depending on their state's legal tradition, while the Federal Courts must measure against the U.S. Constitution and those courts' decisions have been remarkably uniform, especially in terms of what arguments they'll accept from the two parties.

> Should we all go boycott the Supreme Court as long as John Roberts is Chief Justice?

Well, you and I both know that you can't boycott a court. And losing votes against a decision don't matter much outside of an interesting historical footnote and some light reading of the dissenting opinions.

One of the really cool things about the U.S. legal system is that, at least it seems to me, that the higher the court, the better written the opinions are for the layman. SCOTUS opinions (and the dissenting side) are actually pretty easy reads.

> It's completely misleading to pretend that reasonable, non-bigoted people can't oppose gay marriage and/or can't believe that bans on gay marriage are constitutional and fair.

The ultimate problems is that, when measured by the U.S. Constitution (used by Federal judges and SCOTUS alike), a reasonable legal argument has yet to be presented. At best the arguments (if you read the court case transcripts and opinions) are grossly in contrast with a handful of Amendments and are presented purely as religious and traditionalist arguments -- but not legal arguments. More importantly is that Federal judges keep finding that those arguing against are not able to demonstrate any legal harm to themselves if gay marriage is made legal -- a very simple and low bar that millions of dollars in lawyers has yet to figure out.

So while arguments scoped to a State might succeed, because the State has different legal standards to measure against. It's just a matter of appealing it up to the Federal level where the standards of measure are different before the arguments no longer work.

There's all kinds of Federalist-style arguments that States should be able to be masters of their own destinies in this regard, but that's not the status of the U.S. legal system today.

I'll also note, that some of the State Supreme court decision against gay-marriage have been similarly interesting reading -- as in "we acknowledge that the arguments against gay-marriage are unconstitutional, but we'll go along with them anyway" a la Hawaii.

The beauty of course about our legal system is that the court only has to find a law in violation of a single amendment to strike it down.

If your interested, here's the decision and dissents about DOMA and Prop 8.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/7176...

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/7176...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/35374462/California-Prop-8-Ruling-...

They're amazing reads. The last document affirms previously found decisions on the fundamental human right to marry which SCOTUS has found on several occasions and has not yet seen fit to decide against.

For the record, SCOTUS also frequently comes to decisions I disagree with, and I always find reading the decisions illuminating.

Here's one of the best discussions on this topic I've seen on the Internet. http://www.brambletonian.net/forums/topic/16509-the-conserva...

It's a little dated now, but still a good read and accurately predicts most of the Federal decisions that happened after this discussion.

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And there's always SCOTUSBlog if all else fails. It's where I go for reporting and analysis.

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I've similarly found SCOTUS opinions to be really good, and easy, reads.

Thanks for the links.

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Trying to strip civil rights from people for no rational reason may, for some individuals, may not be motivated by hate. But if you're on the receiving end of it, I'm not sure it makes much of a difference.

It would be great if you could solve civil rights problems by patiently explaining obvious facts to people. But that's not how it works. If you think you can do better than current gay rights activists (who have many approaches besides the ones you acknowledge), you should demonstrate your solution.

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I think the gay rights activists have to resort to bullying precisely because their case is not supported by rationality. I also do not believe that this is a "civil rights" issue, nor do I believe that same-sex marriages should be legal. In fact, I don't even believe homosexual behavior should be legal.

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I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but I'll bite anyway: What rational reason do you have for desiring the criminalization of any sort of sexual activity between two consenting adults, in the privacy of their own home?

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Prop 8 didn't criminalise any behaviour.

What rational reason do you have for misrepresenting the positions of others, publicly and when Wikipedia is mere clicks away?

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Argh, I was wrong. Thought this was in the context of Prop 8.

FWIW I don't think sexual activity where all parties who are capable of consent five it should be criminalised, no matter how weird it might be or how much I personally dislike it.

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The post he is responding to explicitly says "I don't even believe homosexual behavior should be legal", so he's not misrepresenting anything.

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Doh, you're right. Editing my comment.

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Incest?

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That's a reason to deny people the right to procreate with near family members but that doesn't prevent any sexual actions (because for example abortifacients could be used).

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You should be more direct in your support for incestuous sex and bestiality. Those people are more seriously hurt by bigots since they have a much weaker voice. If you only support popularly-acceptable sexual activity, then you shouldn't misuse the emphasized "any".

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I'm confused, do you think that "consenting adults" refers to animals? What are you trying to tell us about yourself?

I honestly don't give a fuck if consenting adult family members decide to fuck. It is not my business what they voluntarily do with each other. How and why could/would it possibly be any of my business?

In other news, this is yet another great example of "refurbished arguments against interracial marriage". What I am not seeing in your comment is any rational reason why somebody should want to criminalize homosexual relationships. Do you have any?

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I agree with you. I just think we shouldn't judge people for their sexual activities no matter how perverted they might seem to us. Instead we should consider if they're harmful to others. Insulting people for having sexual activity with animals is the exact same bigotry as insulting people for homosexual activity. By the way sex with close relatives is still illegal in most of the western world. I know it's a wrong law but almost everyone implicitly supports it.

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No, it's not at all the same. Animals cannot consent. Nor can children.

(I think polyamorous relationships should definitely be recognized by the government, though.)

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We can kill, enslave, and psychologically torture them as well as rape them to make them pregnant (farmers and breeders do this routinely) and most people are OK with that. The real reason people don't like the sex part is because it's seen as disgusting, perverted and weird, not because of consent. Very similar to the real reason people don't like gays, not because they aren't good at having babies.

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When people honestly see how animals are treated, they are disgusted as well. Those industries go to great lengths to keep their operations private.

Consent is a real issue, and should be part of the equation. Certainly with Children, but with animals as well.

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Homosexual behavior doesn't only occur in the privacy of a home, and if kept truly private, it'd be impossible to arrest anyone for engaging in the activity. I'm more concerned about public homosexual behavior and the message that tolerance of this behavior broadcasts, which is that a) we no longer understand or value the pre-eminent importance of the male-female sexual partnership, which is the only way children can be conceived and the preferred way for children to be raised, providing in the child's upbringing proper balance of inherent masculine and feminine traits that cannot be sufficiently replicated by same-sex parentage, and b) that we tolerate incursions that threaten the establishment of that sexual partnership as the fundamental unit of social cohesion or that indicate alternative sexual behaviors are acceptable.

This is my rationale. Perhaps you don't agree that male-female sexual union is ideal or important. Perhaps you don't think society needs to prioritize or promote opposite-sex unions. That doesn't make my rationale invalid, it doesn't mean I hate everyone (or anyone in particular), and it doesn't mean I'm a bigot. It just means we don't agree. I would suggest that some people no longer recognize male-female sexuality as preferential despite biological imperatives that mandate this as a necessity for continued national, cultural, and indeed basic human survival, indicates that, to a large extent, our society is already extremely ill and probably terminal. The mere fact that homosexual marriage can be a controversial issue shows that.

If anyone doubts that acceptance of homosexuality destroys the place of heterosexual marriage and child-bearing, just look at the discussions that occur now which would've been considered plainly ridiculous by societies more in touch with reality (like ourselves, 50 years ago). The fact that persons can propose with a straight face that marriage be done away altogether is a literal fulfillment of the prediction that gay marriage destroys and impacts marriage as a whole (of which straight marriage is the only acceptable form).

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I've got news for you pal: science has made it possible to conceive without a "male-female sexual partnership" for a while now.

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Not really. You still need a male-female sexual partnership. Science just cobbles it together after the fact.

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Be that as it may, homosexual couples are still becoming parents. Who cares (aside from yourself) and how does it matter what process was used for that to occur?

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If there is anything this world does not currently have a problem with, it is forgetting how to pop out more babies.

How does permitting people who are homosexual to express their relationship publicly in any way prevent men and women from fucking each other?

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many societies are facing this right now, see Russia, Japan, Germany, Italy, places with quickly declining populations. Meanwhile, other countries are rapidly growing. In the world of geopolitics, is having a rapidly declining population and seeing your stake at the table fade away, a good one? The countries popping out the most babies have traditional views regarding the role of marriage in building a society. And no, the 0.0001% of children born from artificial insemination does not nudge the needle enough.

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The countries "popping out the most babies" first and foremost have poverty, lack of education, and high infant mortality in common.

Perhaps we should shut down our education systems, health systems and welfare, and tax anyone outside the "1 percent" into poverty in the name of procreation.

(just in case, this being the internet and all: that's sarcasm)

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Tolerance of homosexuality has absolutely fuck-all to do with birthrates in those countries.

Seriously, what is your thesis here? What do you think is happening? "Oh honey, I just saw two gay men in the park. Let's never have children." ?

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It's not about stopping the instinct to fuck, that obviously is not going to happen. It's about breaking down the structures and the constraints that give order to those instincts, and result in domestic and national peace, stability, and strength. The exact problem is that people see it as you've described and have discarded the importance of the structures that are in place to make civilized life possible.

A prominent husband-wife historian team once wrote of the lessons of history: "Sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred constraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group."

Our society has set itself for full-scale consumption. We have donned the gasoline-drenched firecracker suit and are currently descending into the lava. I honestly do not believe we will make it more than 1 or 2 more generations without complete social collapse, and I think acceptance of homosexuality and furthermore government endorsement and reward of homosexuality via grant of marriage are tokens of this extremely broken social consciousness. If you look back through the 20th century you can trace the disintegration step by step, and now we're just a smidgen short of ripe. I fully anticipate that ripening to occur, and modern Western society to drop off the tree and into the flames.

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You're just spewing "fire and brimestone" shit. How exactly is permitting homosexuals to be in relationships with each other damaging in any way your ability to have a heterosexual relationship?

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I never claimed that permitting homosexuals to be in relationships damages my ability to have a heterosexual relationship, so I'm not sure why you're asking me that. It seems that you failed to read or process my posts and have fallen back to a stock pro-gay marriage defense that has no relevance to the comments I left. The existence or legal standing of homosexual relationships does not affect my personal heterosexual relationships. It's about the aggregate effect on the institution of marriage and the structures of society, not about any direct effect on my personal relationship with my wife.

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> I honestly do not believe we will make it more than 1 or 2 more generations without complete social collapse

Our economic house of cards will be crashing down within ten years. You should probably worry about that first.

Besides, over- or under-population being a problem is related to the economy too. It's all about having enough resources and jobs for everyone, right? The best possible thing any government can do for an economy is to keep its hands off of it and let people produce and accumulate wealth.

Then there's the US police state, which probably won't take long to complete. That's another much more pressing concern than whatever might happen with regard to the population.

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No-Fault divorce has done more to harm heterosexual marriage than gay marriage ever will.

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Why do I care if my position on marriage promotes or discourages the creation of new humans? I guess you haven't noticed, but we have enough.

What is the ideal balance of masculine and feminine traits in a person's upbringing, how did you deduce this ideal balance, and how does a heterosexual union achieve this balance? Can you point out why a homosexual union does not achieve this balance? Shall we also ban divorce?

Since when is sexual partnership the fundamental unit of social cohesion? I thought it was mostly hunter-gatherer units, which in prehistoric days would have been same-sex groups for both the hunting and the gathering. The analogue in modern man would be the people we work with, I guess, which admittedly is mixed gender - but generally not sexual. Furthermore, I suggest that intolerance of different sexual preferences threatens social cohesion a lot more than the preferences themselves.

Consider that you might actually be a reprehensible bigot after all. I'm not saying this as a judgement of you personally, or to shame you or call you out or whatever, but rather as a motivation for a bit more introspection and maybe some personal growth. I hope it works out.

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>Why do I care if my position on marriage promotes or discourages the creation of new humans? I guess you haven't noticed, but we have enough.

I disagree that we have enough, and some first-world nations are now starting to become aware that they've decimated themselves and that their national identity is now in real danger of extinction, not because of massive war or famine, but because they simply chose not to have children anymore. In my mind, things must be severely broken to make this condition possible.

>What is the ideal balance of masculine and feminine traits in a person's upbringing

The masculinity and femininity contributed by one full-time parent from each sex.

>how did you deduce this ideal balance

Nature has deduced it for you, and every respectable shred of data in existence supports and admits that children fare better in loving homes with both biological parents. This is instinctively understood by persons not fully brainwashed.

>how does a heterosexual union achieve this balance

The sexuality of the union is heterogeneous, which is to say, there is a male and a female. This provides 1 masculine figure and 1 feminine figure as the major lodestars in a child's life, and their interplay teaches the child how to interact with his peers of both sexes.

>Can you point out why a homosexual union does not achieve this balance?

The sexuality of the union is homogeneous, which is to say, there are two parents of the same sex. This provides lodestars of only one sex, and their interplay cannot as effectively teach children to interact with peers of both sexes because there is no sexual dimorphism among the parents.

>Shall we also ban divorce?

We should not outright ban divorce, but I believe we should make it much stricter, and I believe the proliferation of no-fault divorce and the devaluation of family court is another milestone on the now nearly-complete road to social collapse. Divorces should be much, much more difficult to get, and much rarer. The current rate of divorce devalues the marital institution as a whole, which is not to say that the acceptance of homosexual marriage doesn't devalue it further.

>Since when is sexual partnership the fundamental unit of social cohesion

Since always. Hunter-gatherers were not civilized or socialized at the level which is meant when people talk about human civilization.

>Furthermore, I suggest that intolerance of different sexual preferences threatens social cohesion a lot more than the preferences themselves.

I disagree. Acceptance of sexual deviance is a threat to the cohesion of a group on many levels. I do not accept the narrative that those impulses are uncontrollable and that it's unkind to suggest discipline, just as I don't accept that narrative as applied to other anti-social behaviors, like theft, that are considered negative. Society must invoke the discipline necessary for its survival where the individual fails to do so.

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> In my mind, things must be severely broken to make this condition possible.

As we've learned: This happens when a nation becomes wealthy, educated, and have sufficient health services and welfare systems. If you want high birth rates: Plunge us into poverty, take away education, and shut down health services. Good luck getting support for that political platform.

Despite the declining birth rates, though, the UN estimates that while the world population will eventually decline for a while, this is expected to be a relatively short lasting stage, while the "bulge" we're creating now through ridiculous growth-levels ages and starts to die off, then all the projections is for renewed, but slower, more sustainable growth.

> Nature has deduced it for you, and every respectable shred of data in existence supports and admits that children fare better in loving homes with both biological parents. This is instinctively understood by persons not fully brainwashed.

Where is this evidence?

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> The masculinity and femininity contributed by one full-time parent from each sex.

Despite the many social pressures brought to bear, people do not universally exhibit the gender roles and behaviors expected of them in their particular cultures.

What of, for example, butch women or effeminate men in heterosexual parenting relationships? I know gay and lesbian couples who have a substantially more "balanced" mixture of masculine and feminine characteristics than did my own, heterosexual parents.

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>Nature has deduced it for you, and every respectable shred of data in existence supports and admits that children fare better in loving homes with both biological parents. This is instinctively understood by persons not fully brainwashed.

Nature has also produced a sub-population of homosexual individuals. You haven't established that heterosexuals are 'natural' while homosexuals are 'unnatural', so your argument here falls flat.

In fact, the preponderance of evidence suggests that children raised with the involvement of their entire extended family fare the best. The old saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' turns out to be very grounded in reality. It's the so-called 'nuclear family' that turns out to be pretty unnatural. In light of that, whether some portion of unions within that extended tribal unit are homosexual or not seems pretty irrelevant, even assuming your a priori postulate about 'gender balance' turns out to be true. Which it probably isn't, since human populations in a tribal state, i.e. the state we have evolved to live in, tend to have larger female populations in the first place, as men are over-represented in deaths from hunting and inter-tribal conflict.

>Acceptance of sexual deviance is a threat to the cohesion of a group on many levels.

You're begging the question here. The only way homosexuality could threaten social cohesion is if enough of the population considered it deviant enough to make taboo. Since the very point we're arguing is whether that is, and should be, the case, you've failed to make any coherent point here at all. Sorry about that.

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World's most articulate caveman

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Well, then, you are a fucking asshole.

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Well, then, you are a fucking asshole.

^^you might want to delete this

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Let them, then. I'm just calling it how I see it. Anyone who says "homosexual acts should be banned" is either trolling or they're a horrifying throwback of a human being. Either way, they're an asshole.

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dang (mod) has stated explicity that this kind of name-calling is zero tolerace.

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ref: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7525573

ref2:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7525555

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What's ridiculous about it? People who would deny homosexuals the right to marry are reprehensible. It's not too hard to understand.

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See, there's your problem. Labeling people "reprehensible" who don't agree with you about the limitations of what defines "marriage", but who otherwise might completely support the legal rights of same-sex couples in regards to health benefits and so on.

The bullying tactics and manipulation of the argument by pro-gay marriage activists is what's reprehensible. Including forcing CEOs to resign, attacking web browsers, and generally accusing people who believe in a traditonal definition of marriage as "anti-gay", which in most cases they are not.

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Your argument is absolutely absurd.

Were black people who fought against separate-but-equal segregation policies "bullies" to you, too?

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Marriage isn't a bus or restaurant. Marriage is something else entirely, it is not needed for survival.

For the record, if I had to vote for gay marriage, I'd vote yes - but mainly to shut people up about it because I'm sick of hearing about it.

This is because I don't particularly believe in marriage to begin with. So if I hold such a low opinion of marriage to begin with, how do you think I'm going to react when I visit okcupid to find them discouraging my fav web browser because someone donated $1000 back in 2008 to.... you know the rest.

Please don't draw parallel lines between gay marriage and the struggles of minorities to achieve equal rights in basic services such as catching the bus. That's completely different.

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Marriage has been declared a basic civil right in more than one Supreme Court case, including but not limited to Loving v. Virginia and Turner v. Safley. The first one being about interracial marriage.

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Court rulings from 50 years ago won't help - the context then was race, not sexuality.

This is another example of drawing parallels with obviously blatant racism from well before the 60s and hoping it fits the modern argument.

Further ramblings:

If one of the main functions of marriage is a platform for starting a family, then right away gay couples have a problem. If they marry, the mother or father is sorted out, but not both. And only one of the parents is biologically linked to the child. A third person is needed, and marriage by definition excludes a third person. Something new is needed that brings in the third person. Because who wouldn't want to know and keep in contact with their biological parent? Even if it was a "sperm donor", it's still the biological father.

Obviously we make the best of the situation, but it still goes against the grain of the billion year old natural process. It's like trying to force normality by applying an existing ceremony (marriage) to a biologically unnatural situation, all for "love" and "health benefits". Well, I think you can have love and legal equality in a recognised same-sex relationship without calling it marriage. That's what I now argue for after this Firefox thing because I don't like tactics where certain groups push their opinions in such a manner. So I'm in favour of giving gay couples legal rights for all those things such as medical emergencies - but stopping short of marriage.

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You need to disconnect the argument from the person making it, they are not one in the same.

Most of the people who argue against gay marriage are fine honorable people, who are very sincere in their beliefs - but totally dead wrong when measured to any objective standard.

Being wrong doesn't make you reprehensible, it just makes you wrong - to borrow from judeo-chrisian ideology "Hate the sin, not the sinner".

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True, those people just need to get over their stupid hangups.

Being actually anti-gay is reprehensible (see the above person who stated that homosexual acts should be illegal).

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>The problem is that support for Prop 8 has been misrepresented as "hate" of gays.

I agree that many of the Christians that support Prop 8 don't know that they hate homosexuals, but the act of supporting Prop 8 is a hateful act. Whether they realize it or not, they are actively attempting to prevent their fellow Americans from being able to live as equals in our society.

>If "gay rights" are really so self-evident, let's confront the haters and explain in a clear, concise manner why their beliefs are invalid.

When it comes to deep-rooted beliefs, whether they are religious or not, most people aren't going to change their minds. Yes, reasonable people do disagree with one another, but not every disagreement involves two reasonable people.

I've nearly always been an atheist, but when I was younger I was highly opposed to the concept of homosexuality. However, when I actually started to think about it, I couldn't find a single, reasonable argument for homosexuality being immoral. I challenge you or anyone else who feels up to it to present a logical, non-religious argument that illustrates why homosexuality is immoral. I'm pretty sure it can't be done.

Just to clarify, no reasonable person would consider the lack of child-producing capabilities as a valid argument. Its perfectly accepted among the overwhelming majority of Christians and non-Christians alike for a sexually active couple to refrain from having children, so it can't reasonably be considered an issue of morality.

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>I challenge you or anyone else who feels up to it to present a logical, non-religious argument that illustrates why homosexuality is immoral. I'm pretty sure it can't be done.

See above.

>Its perfectly accepted among the overwhelming majority of Christians and non-Christians alike for a sexually active couple to refrain from having children, so it can't reasonably be considered an issue of morality.

It's actually not perfectly accepted among religious communities. Many believers have chosen to discard their religion's guidance on this topic, but most religions do not look kindly on contraception. The opinions typically range from "no, it's never ok to do that" to "you should think REALLY hard before you do that, and make sure you have a good excuse to present when God asks you about it later".

Fertility is never guaranteed in heterosexual unions, but infertile heterosexual unions are allowed and blessed anyway for a few major reasons. First, a happily married heterosexual couple supports and promotes marriage as the bedrock of social cohesion and encourages others to get married by example, whether children can be produced or not. Second, you never know when infertility will go away, and if the potential is there because the partners are heterosexual, it's worth it to wait and see. Third, the male-female sexual duality is still ideal for child-rearing and the stable married couple may be able to adopt an unwanted child and provide him with a normal and healthy upbringing where both sexes are represented and where marital protections are in place to safeguard the domicile.

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>It's actually not perfectly accepted among religious communities.

Well, the overwhelming majority of people in our country use some form of birth control, even if its just the rhythm method, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are Christian.

>Fertility is never guaranteed in heterosexual unions, but infertile heterosexual unions are allowed and blessed anyway for a few major reasons.

This really doesn't have anything to do with what we are talking about. I mentioned specifically those who CHOOSE not to have children, not those who are unable.

>First, a happily married heterosexual couple supports and promotes marriage as the bedrock of social cohesion and encourages others to get married by example, whether children can be produced or not. Second, you never know when infertility will go away, and if the potential is there because the partners are heterosexual, it's worth it to wait and see. Third, the male-female sexual duality is still ideal for child-rearing and the stable married couple may be able to adopt an unwanted child and provide him with a normal and healthy upbringing where both sexes are represented and where marital protections are in place to safeguard the domicile.

These arguments aren't logical, objective, or rational.

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You're assuming the people he briefly led and who worked with Eich for years thought of him this way. I'm hugely anti Prop 8, but "reprehensible bigot" is not a coat of paint I would use on all of its supporters.

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>there are people who simply have hangups about the word "marriage" vs "civil unions."

And this 'hangup' is simply idiotic. Christians that speak of 'civil unions' are trying to hold homosexuals' rights hostage so they can pretend that they have carved out a small victory. Christianity invented neither the concept nor the terminology for marriage. Most of us at HN rave all day long about how stupid it is when a company tries to patent a generic English word, so why would it be OK for a religion to do the same thing?

That being said, I'm not entirely sure that he should have been forced out of his job. I mean, while we're at it, why not harass everyone that voted for Romney or Bush? Anyone that votes for either of them was basically voting to oppress homosexuals and atheists. What's the difference?

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Please don't paint all Christians with a broad brush. I, for one, support gay marriage, as do many others. Just say'n.

On the other hand, I also think it'd be completely valid to say that the government shouldn't be in the 'marriage' business at all (gay or straight) and it should only handle contracts -- aka civil unions. One could then parse "marriage" to be something reserved for whatever church/belief system/personal labeling one wishes to subscribe to. In the end, however, the government would treat all people equally, as it should.

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"Marriage" IS a civil contract. This is the entire point of the institution. And considering the Government is the embodiment of and the centralized authority for our society, it very much should be at the center of marriage.

A "marriage" is a multifaceted social institution that has civil/economic implications (first and foremost) and cultural implications as varied as the number of people on the planet. To state that it is only a religious institution is incredibly myopic to it's history and evolution in human society.

That all said, we pretty much have the same view, but I propose a slightly different solution: drop one of the terms entirely. There is no reason to differentiate between civil unions and marriage. They are legally the exact same thing - no reason to have two terms for it.

I would say we drop "civil unions" and stick with "marriage", but that's just my opinion.

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You wrote the comment I was about to write, but I would also add: plenty of groups have come up with modifiers or completely new names to describe their marriages as they differ from the civil meaning of "marriage", so I'm not sure what the big deal is about putting the burden on (for example) religions to come up with something other than "marriage" by itself to use if sharing it with lgbt people getting married is just unimaginable for some reason.

See: handfasting, "celestial marriage"/"eternal marriage"/sealing etc. from Mormons (but having different names for their own marriage rites wasn't enough to stop them from supporting Prop 8 I guess...), common law marriage if you want to take the government out of the equation...

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>"Marriage" IS a civil contract. This is the entire point of the institution.

I think the fairest way to characterize it is that it is a term that means multiple things to different groups, much as you said... However, while it may not be your view, many religions view the institution of marriage as being much more than just a civil contract as you have by saying "that is the entire point of the institution."

>That all said, we pretty much have the same view, but I propose a slightly different solution: drop one of the terms entirely. There is no reason to differentiate between civil unions and marriage. They are legally the exact same thing - no reason to have two terms for it.

Again, to you there's no reason to differentiate, but for many, there are two parts to it all -- the contract via the state and the religious vows via the church. I think it's actually more helpful to understand the two parts, lest we make the silly mistake many anti-gay marriage types do, which is to assume that the government wants to push anything on anyone's religion.

Instead, the argument is most easily made, IMHO, that inasmuch as it's solely a civil matter, irrespective of religious matters, then gay marriage is a simple matter of equality under the law. What churches do with their marriage rituals is up to them and is a non factor for the state.

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"Instead, the argument is most easily made, IMHO, that inasmuch as it's solely a civil matter, irrespective of religious matters, then gay marriage is a simple matter of equality under the law. What churches do with their marriage rituals is up to them and is a non factor for the state"

Yes, exactly.

But arguing that a Government marriage isn't a "marriage" is a subjective and value laden position. Marriage is a civil union, they are the same thing as far as the law is concerned. This should always be the case - there is zero ethical ground to argue for a seperation of the terms. In so doing, you create a class system based around gender discrimination, something that is CLEARLY prohibited in nearly every bill of rights, charter of rights and freedoms or whatever document your society uses.

If the Catholic church doesn't want to support gay marriage, fine, don't support it. But do NOT inject that belief system into the civic government and attempt to control who can and cannot be "married".

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>Please don't paint all Christians with a broad brush.

I'm not sure how I gave you the impression that I was doing so. I didn't say "Christians speak of 'civil unions'", I said "Christians THAT speak of civil unions."

I agree that the government shouldn't be in the 'marriage' business. I'd be OK with the government calling all marriages 'civil unions' for legal/tax purposes. That would be fair and impartial. Unfortunately, the subset of Christians that is currently arguing for a monopoly on the term 'marriage' would still be upset, because then it still wouldn't be able to stop homosexuals from using it.

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In fairness, I did misread what you wrote, just as you've said here, so my apologies.

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And you're pinning this on Christians, which is also idiotic. First, I could introduce you to more than a handful of non-christians that do not support gay marriage. Second, take a look at other countries, specially theocracies, see how they treat gays.

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>And you're pinning this on Christians, which is also idiotic.

I'm not placing the blame on all Christians, just the ones that happen to be opposed to gay marriage in general, or opposed to calling gay unions 'marriage.' I said as much in my previous statement.

>First, I could introduce you to more than a handful of non-Christians that do not support gay marriage.

This is actually very interesting to me. What are their reasons for holding such a view? Perhaps there is a good reason that I haven't considered. I'd love to hear it.

>Second, take a look at other countries, specially theocracies, see how they treat gays.

This isn't really a productive thing to say. Right now there are anti-Christian genocides going on in some parts of the world. Using your own logic, I could simply respond to every single grievance that Christians might have with life in the United States by saying "Christians don't have it that bad. Look at how they are treated in some other countries!"

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I agree that it's idiotic. But if someone feels this way, they are just an idiot (in that respect.) Most people are idiots in one way or another. But that doesn't mean they are necessarily a bigot or think gay people are subhuman, as has been accused of Eich. And we all know that having stupid, idiotic opinions never prevented anyone from being a CEO.

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Yep. Some people might consider the design of Javascript to be idiotic, but nobody was calling for him to resign over that.

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Sorry, you're just wrong. There is no language in prop 8 that has to do with the concept of civil unions. All it DID do was define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Any debate about marriage and a government's role in it is sidestepping the issue. It's a civil rights issue, and he chose to put money in an attempt to create discrimination for a certain kind of people.

There's no excuse, he doesn't deserve death threats, but he deserves everyone talking about it and making it a big deal.

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If you are someone who believes gay people should be allowed to form civil unions, but are offended by the idea that those unions be called marriages, supporting prop 8 is consistent with those views even though it doesn't mention civil unions.

I have no idea why Brendan donated $1,000 to support prop 8, and I'd be skeptical that he'd do so if he didn't actually have much stronger beliefs than the civil unions point. But I still feel like this entire situation where a donation to a widely supported political cause, context free, can cause your life to be ruined is chilling.

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> If you are someone who believes gay people should be allowed to form civil unions, but are offended [emphasis added] by the idea that those unions be called marriages

... then you still see gay people as fundamentally different from and less than straight people.

There's no way out of this.

EDITED to add: Also, what's happening to Eich isn't happening just because he made that donation.

As furious as I was about Prop. 8, I could understand someone supporting it in 2008 just because gay marriage was a new and strange issue to them at that time. What I have more of a problem with is someone who has spent the intervening 5+ years working shoulder-to-shoulder with gay people in an atmosphere in which acceptance of them was espoused and apparently practiced, and in a world in which gay marriage was being debated vigorously and often, and yet has not reconsidered his beliefs. That, I think, really says something about who they are.

All that said, I don't really feel I have standing to object to his being CEO of Mozilla. I think what this comes down to is that many Mozilla employees felt they couldn't work for him.

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> There's no way out of this.

Sure there is. Many people who oppose gay marriage not because of their feelings towards gay people but because they believe or were taught that the Bible says that God says that marriage is between a man and a woman, and regardless of their personal views they defer to the Bible as the word of god.

Is this a fucking stupid belief? I think so, yes. Is it the same belief as thinking that gay people are subhuman? No.

Seeing the difference is what makes it possible to get through to people who feel this way in order to persuade them their beliefs should be reconsidered. Calling them bigots and shutting them out as being intolerant and evil (and getting them fired from their jobs) is a sure fire way to ensure they become entrenched and feel it's an "us vs. them" environment.

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Well, in that case: marriage is absolutely a polygamous institution; if a virgin is raped she must marry her rapist; a husband owns his wife's property; a wife may not assume any sort of authority over her husband, etc.

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No no, it's the words of god that we choose to accept.

That's why the rules can change whenever the church feels like it.

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If you ask one of these people you're talking about how they would feel if their daughter or son turned out to be gay, how many of them do you think would say, "I would love them just as much, but I don't think they should be allowed to get married"? I think a much more likely response is denial of the very possibility, combined with anger that you would suggest it. Doesn't that seem a more likely response to you? And what do you think that denial and anger would be rooted in? Does it really make sense that it's just about the definition of "marriage"?

I certainly have not mastered the art of getting through to gay marriage opponents. Have you actually had any success at it? (Not, I assume, by calling their beliefs "fucking stupid" :-)

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>... then you still see gay people as fundamentally different from and less than straight people.

/s/gay people/homosexual behavior/g

/s/straight people/heterosexual behavior/g

Societies have a right to regulate the private behaviors of their citizens, including (and in fact especially) sexual behaviors. Societies also have the right to determine which sexual and interpersonal unions they will bless and which they will not.

Public homosexuality is a behavior, not a biological trait. People aren't administered a test to check for a "gay gene". It only comes up when a person engages in homosexual behavior.

Under your argument, it is not possible to make anything legal or illegal, and we must simply say, "You see thieves as somehow less than non-thieves, and that makes you a bigot. Thieves can't help it, there is a biological imperative that they engage in theft."

You may state that you believe theft is more damaging than private sexual behavior, and others may disagree with you. A dialog could be had if one side wasn't so busy trying to bully the other into submission with name calling like "Well, if you don't agree with me, you're automatically a bigot".

The point is that behavior is being regulated here. People are being punished or rewarded based on their behaviors, not unchangeable biological traits like sex or race, and not private philosophy or the exposition thereof like religion. There is nothing wrong with laws precluding certain sexual behaviors or laws refusing to solemnize and acknowledge certain sexual unions.

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Societies can not have rights, as society is nothing but many people. People have rights, but I don't see how many people can have the right to regulate somebody's private behavior. Where would such right come from? Why do you think I have the right to tell you what you can and can not do, even if it doesn't concern me at the least? Why do you make special emphasis on sex - why do you think I have the right to say how you can have sex? Sex is one of the most private affairs in our culture - why do you think it is especially appropriate for me to intervene in it when you engage in it without my participation?

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>Societies can not have rights, as society is nothing but many people

This is pedantry. The many people that comprise a society hold in aggregate the ability to enforce rules that ensure their survival and prosperity. This is the basis of all governance.

>Where would such right come from?

Governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, regardless of the institution that governs. The right comes from the unified concurrence that some behaviors are dangerous to social survival, and the unified strength to enforce that concurrence.

>Why do you think I have the right to tell you what you can and can not do, even if it doesn't concern me at the least?

See above. The government has the right to forbid behavior insofar as the people believe that behavior to be detrimental to their survival.

>Why do you make special emphasis on sex - why do you think I have the right to say how you can have sex? Sex is one of the most private affairs in our culture - why do you think it is especially appropriate for me to intervene in it when you engage in it without my participation?

I put special emphasis on sex because sex carries very unique properties. Sex is the only mechanism by which a child can be conceived, which roots it directly in the core of a society's concern -- their perpetuation, their survival is directly impacted by sexual practices.

Furthermore, most people have very strong sexual instincts and impulses that are evolutionary necessities, but are threatening to social survival if they are not checked by the aggregate behavioral standards of the populace. Some people have powerful violent impulses, but not most people. Some people have powerful psychotic impulses, but not most people. Sex is special because almost everyone has overpowering instinctual responses to sex, and sexual behaviors or displays therefore demand special control and attention from the governing authority.

Sex is super great and everything, I'm not saying it's bad. I'm just saying it's dangerous as well as necessary and pleasant. Rules must be established to ensure that the dangerous side of the coin sees minimal face time.

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I'm not sure why I'm replying to this, but to point out some very basic things:

Are you aware that sexual orientation is set and can't be changed by puberty? It may or may not be entirely controlled by genetics, there may be an environmental component as well. But one has about as much control over it as one's height.

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Societies have a right to regulate the private behaviors of their citizens

Societies are not set in stone.

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You're still stretching the point.

If you have an issue with the term marriage, then you're coming at it from a religious perspective. There's separation of church and state, it's a constitutional thing.

If you want to redefine something as a Civil Union, then you help create and vote for that specific legislation. There was/is no logical or rational reason to vote for Prop 8.

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I, personally, have an issue with witch hunts, with McCarthyism, with bigotry.

Eich's persecution for his beliefs was bigotry.

Everyone complicit in it is a bigot.

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One man can't be CEO because other people complained on the Internet. A great many people temporarily couldn't get married because that one man paid good money to make it so.

And your sympathies lie with the poor persecuted CEO. Won't someone think of the rich white guy for once?

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> A great many people temporarily couldn't get married because that one man paid good money to make it so.

That is not remotely true. There were thousands of people stumping and many people donating tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eich's donation wasn't even a hundredth of a percent of Prop. 8's support.

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Okay, that's fair, I'm clearly exaggerating.

But that actually makes the comparison even better! Lots of people pushed for prop 8, which in turn affected lots of people. Lots of people complained about Eich, which in turn affected... Eich.

Yet the GGP is focusing on the masses who tried to pass a constitutional amendment to prevent Eich from being CEO. Wait, no, I must be confused.

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I'd say Eich's deposition affects a lot of people ... the users of all Mozilla software. We've discarded the technical brilliance and direction of this man because a few noisy people disagreed with his political beliefs, which he expressed politely and quietly, never intentionally inflaming anyone. He was "exposed" by witch hunters for supporting a very mainstream and normal political position. If we're going to throw away the technical expertise of anyone who disagrees with us, we're going to have a bad time.

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I have strong emotional investment in Mozilla, because they fight to do the right thing, not just do whatever's mainstream and normal. Prop 8 was emphatically not the right thing. Eich has fought some of the battles I sympathize with, and I certainly hope he keeps doing that, but I'm not comfortable seeing him as head of the company.

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> One man can't be CEO because other people complained on the Internet.

Just as importantly--if not more so: board members and employees in the organization were complaining.

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So why did they appoint him in the first place?

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That's a pretty good question, and (as noted elsewhere) it's amazing that nobody saw this coming. It took them a while to settle on him, too.

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No, Eich's $1000 didn't singlehandedly determine a law. It's peanuts. It's nothing. On the other hand, this witch hunt did singlehandedly disenfranchise him of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of employment.

There is no comparison.

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The pro-prop-8 side spent $39M. The passage of the amendment caused the state to stop recognizing 18,000 previously-legitimate marriages. So if you count only immediate effects, his $1000 contribution works out to 0.46 marriages, or destroying the marriage of about one person. Is the emotional harm done to that person worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? It's at least comparable.

In fact I think the harm done to Californians and other Americans by the passage of prop 8 is vastly more than is implied by that simple calculation. I'll just link to my other comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7525692

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What's the sound of one person getting married?

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Do you believe that you're making a good-faith attempt to understand how prop 8 caused actual harm to people, and how Eich bears some responsibility for that harm?

For this purpose you don't even have to accept that it was a net negative; you could even believe that prop 8 was overall positive for society. Just that it also caused some harm to some people, and that Eich suffering harm as well is not some crazy unjustified notion, but can be talked about in the same way.

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"I do"?

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The inventor of JavaScript will have to find something else to do. Woe unto him.

It's not a witch hunt if we really did catch him red-handed using his magical powers for evil.

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It is a witch hunt. He didn't do anything illegal.

Your moral judgment concerns no one but you. It is binding on no one but you.

You are a bigot. Everyone that is complicit in disenfranchising this man of employment because of his political opinions is a bigot.

Political persecution doesn't just happen in the third world. It also happens here. And it's a crime against humanity wherever it happens.

You are responsible for what you did. I am holding you responsible for your actions. I am holding you responsible for what you did to this man.

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I didn't do anything illegal, either. Yet you seem to have some unspoken set of rules beyond mere law that govern what is acceptable behavior. I've got some of those, too.

I don't want him to not have a job. I want him to not have this job.

I'm curious why it's okay for him to pay money in an attempt to enforce his opinions on others via law, but I'm a bigot and a pox upon civilization for talking on Twitter.

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Anecdotally, I've only heard a lot of people complain. Comparing this to a witch hunt appears pretty absurd. Nobody is physically attacking him for what he believes.

Free speech is a 2 way street. I can disagree with him and express that, just as he can express his own views. Free speech is not expressing an opinion with everyone else shutting up about it. Why is this so hard to understand?

Edit: The more I read your comments, the more ridiculous you sound. People protest and boycott things all the time. Why is this any different? If he can't handle public outcry to his own actions, well, that's his problem, not mine.

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You disenfranchised him of employment, which has very physical repercussions.

Yes, you very much physically attacked this man.

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Well, you're just wrong, simple as that. If you can't see the difference, I suggest you try educating yourself.

I'm not going to waste my time with your factually incorrect pedantry.

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>Sorry, you're just wrong. There is no language in prop 8 that has to do with the concept of civil unions.

Let me start by saying that I find both scenarios (pro-civil union/anti gay marriage and plain old anti gay marriage) equally reprehensible, but your logic is flawed. I'm an atheist married to a young-earth Christian, so I get to hang out with quite a few other young-earth Christians. The logic behind prop 8 is that if you clearly define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, with no exceptions, then you are leaving homosexuals with no other alternative than to form some kind of alternate terminology, such as the civil union. You have to look at the entire situation outside the context of the actual proposition, such as the views that Christians are openly expressing outside of the legislative process. There are Christians that are 100% against allowing homosexuals to form any sort of a bond with one another, but there is still a significant percentage that would be somewhat OK with a 'civil union.' There's no way to tell which view Mozilla's former CEO held without talking to him.

Like I said, I disagree with him either way, but its disingenuous for you to pretend that you know exactly what he's thinking.

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But we can look to states like Washington - where there were 2 votes - 3 years apart on gay unions. One established domestic partnerships with all the state-granted rights and responsibilities of marriage. The other legalized same sex marriage.

They both passed with nearly identical results. To me that indicates that a pretty large percentage (at least in Washington) of the electorate that opposes same-sex marriage, opposed anything - no matter what it's called.

Yes, there are some people who really are concerned about the name of the relationship, and he might be one of them. However, based to the Washington results, they seem to be in the vast minority of those who oppose same sex marriage.

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While everything you wrote is basically true, there's perhaps another detail of Washington and Oregon politics to consider - the west and east are completely divided politically in both states. For example, if you were to look at another divisive issue like the legalization of marijuana, you'd probably find that exactly the same counties in Washington voted against it as that voted against same-sex marriage. Eastern Washington and eastern Oregon are rural, agrarian, religious, and significantly Republican compared to urban, wealthy, etc Portland and Seattle. So, when you look at issues like this is isn't just "a pretty large percentage of the electorate" but rather a geopolitical divide that runs straight down the Cascades.

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> The logic behind prop 8 is that if you clearly define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, with no exceptions, then you are leaving homosexuals with no other alternative than to form some kind of alternate terminology, such as the civil union.

I just don't get this, so please explain if you can as you seem to have some insight here: why does marriage have to be between a man and a women? Why can't gay people be "married"? Why does it affect anyone else if they do?

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>why does marriage have to be between a man and a women?

You're misunderstanding me. I think gay people should be allowed to marry. I was illustrating the rationale behind proposition 8. Its supporters knew that they didn't have the support that was needed in order to outright ban homosexual unions, and so they wanted to at least prevent them from calling those unions 'marriages'. If they were successful in excluding homosexual relationships from their constitutional definition of marriage, then they would have successfully forced homosexuals to call their marriages something else.

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I am not saying I agree with this, but allowing gay people to be married gives them rights to adopt children. If you believe that the foundation of society is traditional family and that children should be raised, when possible, in a traditional family, you could see why someone would appose gay marriage.

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He had the opportunity to clarify which of these views he held. He chose to step down and leave us to speculate instead.

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That's a fair point. But to play devil's advocate, I can empathize with someone just wanting to get out of the spotlight when they are in the middle of a worldwide mob accusing them of being a bigot. In all likelihood, at that point, anything you say will just be manipulated to re-enforce the view that you are an intolerant, evil person.

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Well, actually, he comes across as the bigger person.

He made a very public post saying, I'm happy to discuss my views - reach out to me and I'm happy to do it in private.

The alternate would have either been a public spectacle, or farce - sorry, but the real world isn't quite like 4chan, and adults are able to sort things out without resorting to baying mobs.

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He didn't say that at all. He said:

"If we are acquainted, have good-faith assumptions, and circumstances allow it, we can discuss 1:1 in person. Online communication doesn’t seem to work very well for potentially divisive issues. Getting to know each other works better in my experience."

I think it's clear that the vast majority of people that would like to discuss his views with him couldn't actually take him up on that offer, because they're not acquainted and couldn't meet in person.

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How is that not the right thing to do?

Having a flame way on 4chan, or HN benefits nobody - it just feeds the mobs, and rapidly degenerates into the lowest common denominator.

If you were genuinely interested in having a dialogue, and engaging as one human being to another human being, then what he suggested is exactly the right thing to do.

If you just want to get up on a soapbox, or mouth off at somebody in a public forum to inflate your ego, then he's not interested - and I applaud him for that.

And look, I'm not even in the US - but if I wanted to engage in a dialogue with him - I'm sure a Skype or phone call might suffice.

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Who said it was the wrong thing to do? You wrote:

"He made a very public post saying, I'm happy to discuss my views - reach out to me and I'm happy to do it in private."

That is a severe mis-characterization of what he said, and I pointed out your error.

I agree that him debating pseudonymous internet commentators, or even engaging in private email threads with interested but unknown people, would be counterproductive. Given his seeming unwillingness to change his views, there's nothing better he could have done.

--

I'll note that the tone of what he wrote (e.g. saying "if you have good-faith assumptions" as if most people who disagree with him wouldn't) comes off to me as a one-sided offer. It reads like "if you want me to explain my beliefs and let me try to change your mind about why they're so bad, then let's talk". There's no willingness to accept that he might be wrong, no "I'd like to give you an opportunity to change my mind". Perhaps that's reading into it slightly, though.

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Hmm, wait, so you're saying that somebody doesn't have good-faith assumptions, and they want to have a reasonable adult conversation with him?

Or perhaps you have a different definition of what "good faith" means?

For example, WIkipedia say:

> In philosophy, the concept of good faith (Latin: bona fides, or bona fide for "in good faith") denotes sincere, honest intention or belief, regardless of the outcome of an action; the opposed concepts are bad faith, mala fides (duplicity) and perfidy (pretense).

The way I read it is, if you honestly want to have a discussion - which means two minds coming together and having a dialogue, and both parties will hear out the other side - then I will be happy to talk.

If your'e going to be a dick, and just bait him, then he'd rather not.

How is that not reasonable?

Unless you have another source for a definition of good faith?

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That actually sounds like the most reasonable thing I've heard out of this entire fiasco.

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> people who simply have hangups about the word "marriage" vs "civil unions."

oh well, that's okay then.

?!

you do realize these people only have "hangups" about "marriage" vs "civil unions" when it concerns gay couples, right?

see on the one end of the spectrum you got bigots who hate minority X, and other other end you got these people who simply have hangups about treating them equal.

> As far as I know Brendan has never articulated his opinions on the matter, they have just been extrapolated from a $1,000 donation.

The most charitable opinion on the matter I can extrapolate from donation $1000 would be if he believed that this money would somehow be used to abolish "marriage" in favour of "civil union" in general, for same-sex, gay or corporate couples all alike.

Which would be such a dumb assumption that stepping down as CEO seems again very reasonable.

> In many parts of the country, support of prop 8 is a mainstream viewpoint.

In many parts of the world, hunting down and lynching gays is a mainstream viewpoint.

Also in those very same parts of your country, there's many other rather questionable mainstream viewpoints being held.

> People who have different upbringings in different geographic areas are of course going to be biased towards certain views, and it's a bit unfair to chastise them for not completely realigning their viewpoints overnight for something that has probably been the fastest and most productive civil rights movement, maybe ever.

It's not been "overnight", it's been years (maybe decades even). Now you can argue it's not fair to chastise large groups of people over geographic areas for realigning their viewpoints over many years. I could also argue that it is fair, but that's not even the issue here.

An individual can be expected to realign their viewpoint much quicker and can therefore be held to a much higher standard. And when this person is the CEO of Mozilla, I don't think it's unfair at all to hold them to that standard either. Whoever gets to make that call.

> This could have been an opportunity to attempt bring someone, a powerful CEO, to the side of being informed and support gay rights but instead it was a witch hunt and an embarrassment.

It's not a real witch hunt until we test the hypothesis that bigoted CEOs do not actually catch fire if you burn them at the stake, because they will be saved by The LORD for their unquestioning dedication to the sanctity of marriage. This is a widely held belief in many parts of the world and I guess the only real solution is that everybody just have at it and we'll see who gets out alive in the end (a traditional method of conflict-resolution that is also practised pretty much everywhere in the world).

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Yeah, and here's a third thing: Prop 8 support is mainstream TODAY! Sure, maybe it's extremely unpopular among the hackernews crowd (including myself) but let's not forget that Prop 8 support is hardly fringe. Prop 8 actually passed! In California!

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It passed with 52% 6 years ago with an allegedly confusing ballot paper. You can't extrapolate from that to what might happen if you repeated the vote today.

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I'm not saying it would easily pass again if a vote were held today. All I'm saying this establishes is that opposition to gay marriage is not, in the community at large, a fringe view.

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...in 2008 according to a possibly confusing ballot paper.

You cannot in any way extrapolate from that vote 6 years ago to how things might be now. No sir, you cannot.

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Then I suggest you go read some opinion polls. Here's a relatively recent one: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163730/back-law-legalize-gay-marr...

Yes, a majority of Americans apparently now support gay marriage! Yay! But 43% remain against it. Of course, reasonable people could disagree about exactly what constitutes a "fringe view." But I doubt many would say that the term covers views held by 43% of the population.

So, yeah, maybe the ballot was confusing, and maybe that was six whole years ago. But I'd say it is, nonetheless, a generally pretty accurate indicator of people's views on the subject.

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> * It means you don't believe that the government should recognize same sex marriages as marriages.*

Perhaps his situation would have been better had he explained his views that way. But, like the people who think a functioning laissez faire market in medical care would spring forth if only the government would get out of the way, such views are unrealistic.

Unfortunately, his actions are indistinguishable from those of a bigot. As for growing up in a different environment, there is a vast amount of racism in some homogeneous societies. And there is no reason to give it any leeway.

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So Barack Obama, the President of the US, was against gay marriage in 2008; I'm confused as to why he gets a pass here, but the head of Mozilla doesn't?

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I can understand why he gets a pass: He probably was only publicly against it in 2008 in order to win an election, and when it was politically convenient he had a "change of heart" and has repented.

What I can't understand is why anyone who espouses the view that opposition to gay marriage is akin to the most heinous racial bigotry could possibly have voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I'm a pretty reliable GOP voter, but I wouldn't think twice about voting for a Democrat for president if the Republican candidate expressed support for segregation! I'd vote for a third party if they both did.

My point is that it's basically free to express outrage at Eich. Six years ago (when Eich actually made his donation), a lot of folks here and at Mozilla who are so worked up about this issue now were not so unforgiving about it when it came to getting "their guy" in the White House.

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Opposing something right because it's politically convenient isn't any more ethically defensible than opposing something you truly disagree with. You, as liberals tend to do, are giving Obama a pass -- he can't not do the right thing, by your logic.

I suspect that many Republicans nominally against gay marriage are privately for it, but the political ramifications for saying so would be much graver for an older, whiter and more religious constituency. Do we give them a pass, too?

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Politicians say one thing while believing something else all the time. It's almost a qualification for the job.

I don't care about that (much). 'Twas always thus...

I'm pointing out that there are surely things 2008 Candidate Obama could have said and positions he could have taken that would have disqualified him in the eyes of many of the folks here, even if they suspected he didn't really mean them. I'd like to hope some of those would include expressing support for racial segregation or opposing interracial marriage. But many in this discussion are claiming that BE's 2008 opposition to gay marriage is morally indistinguishable from support for racial segregation or opposition to interracial marriage, and that he should be judged accordingly. Then how can they square that with a vote for Senator Obama in 2008?

The analogy with the Civil Rights Movement to end racial discrimination absolutely has some force behind it, but I don't think making that analogy ends the debate over how to treat folks on the other side.

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I think it's clear that the comment you're replying to does give them a pass since he says he votes GOP.

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So, being against gay marriage is so despicable that you can't even use software that is associated with organization that is run by such a vile man. But if this vile act is performed in service of being elected president of the USA, that's completely OK. Not sure I get how that works out. To me it sounds like "Did you murder this guy? - Surely, yes. - You're going to jail! - But I'm a politician, I did it to get elected! - Oh! Why didn't you tell it from the start! It's completely different then, you're free to go."

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Or maybe he didn't support gay marriage then and doesn't support it now, but is scared of a ravenously malicious committee of self-appointed witch hunters who are out to destroy anyone who dares to disagree with them on their pet cause. Or maybe he just did it because certain organizations or people would give him more money for his presidential library, and he still privately disagrees with it.

I'm not sure why we assume that he's not just doing this for political expediency now if we accept that he may have held the previous position for political expediency as well.

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Left-leaning folks are going to be gun-shy about third parties for a while. The memories of 2000 with Gore/Nader in Florida aren't fading all that fast.

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So there's no view a Democrat could express that wouldn't disqualify him in left-leaning folks' minds? That would be depressing. Winning isn't everything.

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That depends entirely on the expressed views of the person they're running against. I accept anyone I vote for is going to do things I don't like. Maybe most things. Avoiding the vote because there's no candidate that's "perfect" leads to people getting in that will do EVEN MORE things I don't like, so while winning isn't everything, it's a lot.

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Winning isn't everything, no. A "loyal opposition" is an important thing - I'd love to see Eisenhower/Goldwater Republicans balancing out the Democrats.

Handing over the reins to the crazies, though, is significantly dangerous, and all candidates are going to have downsides. Obama's been wrong on gay marriage in the past, but it's quite clear that his administration has been far better for gay rights than a Republican one would have been.

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A related point, though, is that the opposition is almost always characterized as "crazy" at the time.

Goldwater was portrayed as a dangerous right-winger when he was around. The famous "daisy" campaign ad [1] was anti-Goldwater after all. This crazy man is going to kill kids in a nuclear war!

He did break from the Republicans later, and once he was no longer any sort of political threat, he magically became an icon of moderation or something.

It's worth keeping in mind that in the moment, the political opposition is always portrayed in the worst possible light. It's just how politics works.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k

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So were a majority of voters in California in 2008. I think anyone hiring in California would be an ~evil homophobe~ if they didn't screen their applicants on their prop 8 vote these days.

But really I have no idea why Obama(or javascript) gets a pass. The thing that is so frustrating to me as someone who lives in a liberal hivemindy area(DC) and works in a hivemindy field(tech) is that "opposing marriage equality"(which is super biased phrasing) is NOT a fringe or rare opinion in a vast majority of the country.

People need to quit equating this to being a Nazi or a 60s era segregationist or all kinds of things which are so incredibly different.

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> So Barack Obama, the President of the US, was against gay marriage in 2008; I'm confused as to why he gets a pass here

(1) Barack Obama didn't contribute money to Prop. 8, and in fact specifically spoke out against it and similar measures in 2008, e.g., "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America's about." [1] (2) Barack Obama's wasn't appointed CEO of Mozilla Corporation, so the people that think that Eich made a bad head of Mozilla because of that don't have that basis to object, and (3) Barack Obama's position on gay marriage has changed since 2008, and he has spoken on that evolution at length.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/11/obama-on-mtv-i/

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Barack Obama was appointed the President of the United States, which is a bit higher position that CEO of Mozilla, with all due respect to Firefox and all. Still nobody of the people who waged war on Eich did not say anything remotely like that about Obama the whole time while he was publicly opposing it. And if you think that President's position is worth less than $1000 in cash, you don't really understand what President in the US means. The whole point is that Obama was "our guy" and Eich was not. That's why Obama got the pass and was patiently allowed to "evolve", but Eich got the "enemy of the nation" treatment.

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He didn't get a pass. A lot of people made a huge issue out of it from the day he announced to the day he changed his views. He also didn't stand in the way of the advancing equality movement while he mulled it over. Brendan Eich did, to the tune of $1000.

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Actually, with respect to civil rights, acts of omission matter >= acts of commission.

Therefore the POTUS withholding support is a far, far greater impact than some dude contributing $1000.

Yet I imagine a super-majority of the people pitchforking Eich also voted for Obama. Whatever justifications they had -- "lesser of two evils", "he's right about most other things" -- should apply to both people.

But of course they don't, because some people apparently need a monthly Paula Deen or Kony or #CancelColbert controversy to serve as their moral compass.

By the way, I fully support marriage equality. But it feels wrong that I even need to state that like it's some sort of Pledge of Allegiance litmus test.

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Furthermore, this man supported a controversial cause to the tune of peanuts worth of money, and his job is to run a tech non-profit.

There are probably thousands of of other companies and people HN'ers interact with every day that have done worse things than this man. It's a point about which to rally; it's not that important in the grand scheme.

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> Actually, with respect to civil rights, acts of omission matter >= acts of commission.

No, I think actually using (or advocating using) power of government to discriminate is a bigger problem than merely failing to oppose such abuses, though both are bad. But, in any case, this is irrelevant because:

> Therefore the POTUS withholding support

On Prop. 8, the President didn't withhold support from the side that Eich spent money opposing -- Obama opposed Prop. 8 specifically and measures to entrench prohibition of same-sex marriage in Constitutions generally in 2008.

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Well I believe it was just under 2 years ago, May 2012, that Obama first said that he personally approved of it -- but still thought it should be left up to the states. Text and video: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/dissecting-president-oba...

Even if he also said Prop 8 is bad (?), I think overall he has withheld far more than $1000 worth of support for marriage equality.

I don't understand people who are willing to overlook that in Obama's case, but not Eich's. Not only is that inconsistent, it's even more confusing when you consider that Obama was elected to represent people's views on political matters, but Eich was not.

I voted for Obama. I deeply support marriage equality. I don't know Eich well at all, but if the Mozilla board thought he was qualified to lead the organization I think he should get more than 2 weeks to demonstrate that. (Also at this point some board members ought to resign, because they've demonstrated they can't handle one of their few non-trivial responsibilities.)

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Anyone with half a brain knew that Obama did not really oppose gay marriage. When he switched views no one was really surprised... At least of those with half a brain.

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If that's true, isn't it terribly disturbing they were not concerned he was lying.

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They made such a huge issue out of it they elected him president.

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Obviously he's still president. So, yeah.

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Context partly. Think about it: Mozilla vs Population of the US, certainly there are massive differences of opinion between these groups. Mozilla is clearly a group that holds the rights of LGBT people in high regard. The population of the US as a whole -- less so.

And politics partly. I don't think anyone without their heads in the sand actually believed that Obama was against gay marriage. He was clearly playing the game and paying due lip service in order to get the votes he needed, like any politician. Eich refused to play that game.

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Because he's recanted, and is too powerful to assail anyway. 'Who, Whom?'

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He evolved. Brendan did not.

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I think it's easy to also say he lied. Probably before, and his support of gay marriage is his true heart... which is nice, so he's got that going for him. But, he probably lied.

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Who said he gets a free pass?

Our election system is deliberately designed and maintained so that only two parties--only two candidates--matter. That sucks, and I'd change it if I could, but in the meantime my options are to either stay home, which accomplishes nothing; vote for a third-party candidate, which shows admirable idealism but is also unlikely to accomplish anything; or vote for the lesser of two evils, which at least has a chance of producing some of the results I want.

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This is the fallacy that maintains the system you complain about. Voting for a 3rd party supports that party and gains them publicity. Just because they don't win (this time) doesn't mean it's wasted. By your reasoning, any vote for a losing party is wasted, so you should only vote according to the latest poll figures. However all options are guaranteed to produce many of the results you want. The greater of two evils still outlaws murder and theft and still enforces contracts, and all sorts of useful laws, just like the lesser of two evils does.

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How well did third parties do after Nader in 2000, or Perot in the 90's? This seems like a glaring counter-example to your argument, don't you think?

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Nader did well following Perot. Eventually one of these might make it and if they also act to weaken the two-party system, the floodgates could open like they have in other countries. But none of that can happen if people who don't like the two-party system keep voting for it anyway just because of petty bipartisan tribalism.

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No. Perot did around 15% in his first run (with 10s of millions of his own money), followed up by 5%. Nader did in the low single digits. There is no momentum to be had. They do exactly as well as their money will allow. Third party candidates have no shot.

Look up first-past-the-post voting. It is impossible for a viable third party to do well in such a voting system.

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Because he changed his stance. Brendan refuses to do so, he's defending his bigotry and standing by it.

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Obama presides over a nation who are basically split on the issue. Eich was the CEO of an organization, members of which are overwhelmingly in favor.

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I keep hearing people saying that gay marriage is more than just a political view, but so is every other political view.

Don't support welfare? You're against poor people. Support welfare? You're against the working man. You're pro-choice? You're against babies. You're pro-life? You're against women.

Pretty much every political stance can be viewed in the same fashion as people are viewing Eich's. The thing is, Eich has been at the company for 15 years; if he wanted to discriminate against gay people in the workplace, it could have been done already - he's a co-founder, don't you think he had some input towards the policies in place? And if it has been done already, I haven't heard of it, but I would fully support trying to get him to step down. The thing is, it probably hasn't been done, which would mean he has done nothing wrong in my opinion.

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Well put. The problem is that on almost every issue, people think their own personal view is "above" the issue somehow (see dopamean's comment at the top of this page for an example). Atheists claim they shouldn't even have to debate religious people because it's so "obvious". Pro-choice people claim they shouldn't even have to debate pro-life people because women's rights are "so obvious". Same thing with gay marriage.

This is simply a horrible and almost completely ineffective way to argue your point. You can't pull the "so obvious" cop-out on any issue that has a clearly decisive split within a country.

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Don't support welfare? You're against poor people. Support welfare? You're against the working man. You're pro-choice? You're against babies. You're pro-life? You're against women

your black or white stance is a logical fallacy.

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That's precisely the point - people are portraying Eich as being against gays because he doesn't support gay marriage, which is a logical fallacy.

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I have heard people mention this distinction before, but it seems a bit arbitrary to me.

You and I may agree that this is a universal right that is "not up for discussion", but we can't deny the fact that there is a sizable portion of people that would disagree with us. Many of them believe as strongly that we are wrong as we believe that they are wrong.

In my eyes, this shows that there are certainly different viewpoints on the matter and makes it as political as anything else.

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> In my eyes, this shows that there are certainly different viewpoints on the matter and makes it as political as anything else.

We had the right to marry in California. Proposition 8 took away that right. We gained the same freedom everyone else has and then the proposition Brendan Eich supported took that right away. Of course politics are involved, but you have to understand how hurtful that turn of events was to many in the gay community.

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The difference for me is that we all have to work to live. Racists, sexists, and homophobes running workplaces have a direct effect on the standard of living and the effort it takes to preserve it for groups of people who are already besieged and disadvantaged.

In the US, that's why the federal government steps in and requires at least the appearance of fairness. If they hadn't, my family would still be sharecroppers.

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There is absolutely nothing in Eich's record which would indicate what you're saying is true. If he had actually had a "direct effect on the standard of living" of any employee, that should have been resolved through an internal review process of his actual behavior, not a public lynching of a man based on a political issue (that was, let's not forget, endorsed by a majority of California voters).

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If you think it's "not up for discussion," I think there is a serious problem with your view. And yes, I think my previous sentence is up for discussion.

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The problem is that the state has granted privileges to married people.

If the state treated everyone equally without regard to marital status, then gays and straights could marry privately and it wouldn't become an issue. It's an issue because married gays want the same marriage privileges as straight couples.

We need to separate marriage and state. Except for enforcing contracts that the married parties sign themselves, the state should not get involved and grant special privileges to those who are married, such as tax deductions.

I'm for consensual gay marriage. I'm against state-approved or state-disapproved marriage, whether it bans consensual relationships or rewards or punishes marriage with privileges.

Even consensual polygamy should be none of the state's business.

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Shared health benefits? Child custody rights? etc...

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I am against gay marriage and in favor of polygyny. I do not believe that we should get the state out of marriage. Marriage is nothing without effective legal protections and backing. Your position is the literal fulfillment of all those people who said that gay marriage would destroy real marriage. That is precisely what you are claiming should happen -- marriage should stop being a real thing, and if you feel like saying you're married, then go ahead and do it. I just wanted to point this out since many people say it's ridiculous that gay marriage would destroy straight marriage. You are explicitly endorsing said destruction.

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The notion that the state should lord over the private consenting adults is bizarre and unsettling.

One would think that, as a proponent of polygyny, you would realize just how unfair your position is. Personally, I can't imagine anything scarier than the government controlling love, sex and reproduction. As a fellow citizen, I have no objections to your romantic choices or with whom you can form a legal contract. Why do you persist in objecting to mine?

I support your rights because they are my rights as well. If your camp could reciprocate, maybe we can legalize polygamy, not just polygyny, so that we might all live in a maximum of happiness and freedom.

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Ah, the rub is that some people don't believe it maximizes happiness or freedom to legalize any kind of sexual activity as long as a vague notion of consent is present. Consent isn't the only thing that matters in law.

I hope we never legalize polygamy in general, but I hope we do legalize polygyny. I see polygyny and same-sex marriage as polar opposites; polygyny represents maximal social good, and same-sex marriage represents maximal social chaos, almost to the point where one has to admit that society is already practical disintegrated. I see polyandry as less bad than gay marriage, but also majorly problematic.

Gay rights supporters would rather nobody ever express this opinion because they think it is bad. They have just now kicked Brendan Eich out of his job because they believe that strongly no one should ever be allowed to believe things they don't believe. Why can't we have a truly free dialogue on these issues? Why can't people say what they believe? Is there any meaningful dialogue at all if half of the populace is terrorized out of expressing their true beliefs?

I'm all for correcting incorrect things and I am beyond happy to acknowledge when I've been misled or when I need to change my mind. I am all for teaching other people to see things more correctly. I just don't think we need to do that by shame, humiliation, demagoguery, and persecution.

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Is this not a meaningful dialogue? I'm afraid the answer is "No." What can be gained by engaging in conversation a person who believes that I am, at my very core, evil and destructive?

But by all means, lecture me on "shame, humiliation, demagoguery, and persecution" that you have endured!

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I don't believe either gay rights supporters or persons who identify as gay are "evil and destructive" at their very cores. I think they are misguided and confused. I think they can still provide useful contributions despite their confusion on these central issues (which doesn't necessarily mean that their destructive behaviors should go unpunished), and I think that their destructive behaviors could be corrected if the right circumstances were effected.

I guess the difference between myself and the gay rights camp is that I believe people are still worth something when they disagree with me, or even when they participate in behaviors I consider destructive.

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So you respect my freedom of speech but believe that my "destructive" nature is worthy of punishment? Gee thanks, I guess. As long as your yakking it up over the 1st amendment, why not add "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" to the list of things you respect?

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It's not about freedom of speech. I didn't say anything about your nature. I believe homosexual behaviors are worthy of punishment because they pose a threat to the successful existence of society; they impede the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" of society as a whole, and I oppose these behaviors precisely because I respect the preservation of those principles. Behaviors that produce that impediment are known as "crimes".

I believe that homosexuals still have basic human worth, just as I believe other criminals still have basic human worth. I believe that homosexuals as well as other criminals can make useful contributions despite their crimes because they are not "evil at their very core". I still believe crimes should be punished, but I don't believe a significant portion of criminals are naturally and permanently evil, and this includes those who engage in the criminal behavior of homosexuality.

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I find your ideas worrisome indeed. To call homosexuals a threat to society has no merit- not an iota! It's both unfounded and callous to compare it to criminality.

No doubt you disapprove of Brendan Eich's treatment. Normally, I would disapprove of mob rule as well. But if he ever held only a fraction of the hatred and stupidity you harbor, then with all vindictiveness I say that it is good that the mob stormed the castle and cut off the kings head. Put his head on stick, as an example to others like him. As long as the homos have the upper hand, let the shoe be on the other foot.

I hope you remember these moments, should the day come, when someone makes the declaration that something about your nature, say your religion, is now criminal. You could have lived and let live but you didn't. We are winning and you have not made an ally in me. Gay marriage opposition is falling like dominos. When the twitter mob comes for you, and I hope they do, I will not be there to defend your rights.

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I think there is a great deal of merit in the claim that practicing homosexuals threaten society. I have explained my reasoning elsewhere. You may disagree with me, but you cannot say that I have an unreasoned or stupid opinion. It should also be noted that until very recently, the criminality of homosexuality was obvious and every jurisdiction punished it as sodomy. Perhaps everyone that ever lived prior to 1970 was hateful and stupid, but I don't think that's exceptionally likely. My opinion is simply that they were more in touch with reality and didn't have the insane invincibility complex that we have now.

My religion is not part of my nature. You may want to look up that word, "nature". While religion or other matters of belief and practice may be very important to me, they are not "natural", and I wouldn't claim that someone was assaulting my very nature as a human because they didn't like one element of my personal belief or conduct. I suggest homosexuals drop the inconsistent, unjustifiable victim narrative and get some perspective. And for the record, my religion has been criminalized repeatedly in the good old U.S.A.

I can and do live and let live. I have no interest in guiding the affairs of other persons' lives, I only have interest in preventing criminal activity that jeopardizes the survival of our society. I believe homosexual conduct is such a criminal activity. Reasonable people can debate whether that is a valid position without feeling that their natures have been denigrated. Gay rights dudes are doing what gay rights dudes always do, turtling up and screaming that they're oppressed because someone tried to confront them with information that they couldn't contest rationally.

I agree that for now, gay rights people are winning. I don't believe it's because their logic is prevailing, I think it's because the strength and intelligence of normal people is failing. I think it is idolatry at its core, self-worship. And I believe that in a short time, society will reap the consequences of all of that, which are utter destruction and extinction. I believe your twitter mob will come after me, but they'll do so to beg for food and decent life, not to attempt to lynch me.

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"I guess the difference between myself and the gay rights camp is that I believe people are still worth something when they disagree with me"

There are people in any camp that say deplorable things. Generalizing this way, and patting yourself on the back, isn't terribly useful.

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It's also a religious view for many. For someone who belongs to a religious community, publicly renouncing canon has serious impacts on you and your family's social standing. Many people are able to balance their personal beliefs against their professional obligations. Is a defense attorney who defends a rapist at trial assumed to not be capable of working with women?

People should be judged by actions, not thought. If he was mistreating gay employees, that's a totally different matter.

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But he is being judged by his actions, because his actions suck. His actions like donating a grand to these jerks, like donating money to other jerks like Pat "our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally Hell-bent on Satanism and suicide" Buchanan. He has a history of badness and it's catching up to him. Though, honestly, the Pat Buchanan donation bothers me even more than the Prop 8 one; donating money to Pat Buchanan should not only be reason to not represent Mozilla but possibly be thrown off of planet Earth entirely.

And if somebody has a problem differentiating between civil and religious marriage, that's their problem. A few people's failures in civics classes should not be a rationale for injustice or a pass for people who wish to encourage further injustice.

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Says you.

I would rather work with and disagree with someone who has the integrity to stand by what they believe.

I work in a group with folks of Indian decent from different religious backgrounds (Islamic, Hindu, Catholic), an Orthodox Jew, a bunch of Irish catholic types (including myself), and a person from Nigeria. We are literally from many corners of the earth, with different backgrounds, traditions, etc. If we delved into politics, we'd probably find a lot of contested ground.

Part of democracy and free society is that we need to get past those differences. If you believe that gay marriage is against your moral code, you have a right to vote your conscience. Likewise, if you campaign for LGBT rights, you have that same right, and I would make the same argument 20 years ago for people similarly mistreated for taking that stand.

I'm Catholic, and contribute regularly to a church congregation. I'm also a public officer in a secular government, whose policies are often not consistent with the church. Should I be booted out of my job (or contemplate "spending more time with my family") because I provide financial support to a religious organization whose doctrine re: things like birth control or LGBT issues are out of step with many in our society?

Where do you draw the line? Once you decide that it's not OK to think different, you end up on a steep slope.

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I don't think anybody's contesting Eich's right to not get gay-married. And likewise, nobody's contesting his legal right to try to strip a civil right from gay people through California ballot propositions.

But I don't think one can to try to harm gay people and then expect to have no problem becoming the boss of a bunch of them. They have a right to express their opinions too.

I also think your live-and-let-live stance only works as long as others share the same view. Eich's donation is just the opposite of what you advocate: he refused to live and let live. Would you still be calling for tolerance if Eich were working against interracial marriage, or against letting black people vote, or working to have the Catholic church made illegal in America? I'm guessing not.

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The normative nature that you touch on is particularly bizarre. All too often, "live and let live" is only something that must be respected when it's straight white men doing the living. (I'm a straight white male, and that bugs me.)

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The "civil right" phrase is a red herring. You can define any arbitrary item as a civil right - let's say unborn children deserve not to be killed, and thus we should ban all abortion. Then we can talk about any CEO who's donated to Planned Parenthood as stripping civil rights from fetuses and should be unfit for CEO-ship. Gay marriage is at a similar level of contention. Many believe it to not be a a civil right at all until very recently, nor is it accepted by many cultures. Or some accept civil unions but not semantically marriage. If you think you're always going to be right, there will be a definition of "civil right" or just plain "correct" that is diametrically opposed to you.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7526663

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The civil right violated is equality before the law, a right explicitly documented in the 14th amendment.

Which you would know if you had read the decision overturning Prop 8.

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> Part of democracy and free society is that we need to get past those differences.

Nobody's saying he can't believe what he wants to believe. Nobody. But he is not allowed to hurt people because he doesn't like that some dudes like other dudes, do you get me? Are you reading me, Major Tom? Hurtful jerks don't get to run nonprofits dedicated to being good to everybody and if they're appointed to do so in what we view as contravention of the organization's core principles we are totally free to refuse to do business with them. If Eich doesn't like that, all he had to do was not be an hurtful jerk. Or, that being in the past, apologize for being wrong. If he can't do that, if he thinks hurting people is OK and that he was justified, then yes, it is entirely cromulent to use our freedom of association to have nothing to do with his--because it is his--organization.

You can complain about slippery slopes all you want, but from where I sit the calculus is not hard: you don't get to hurt people who aren't hurting you. Punching downward is disgusting and Eich did to do that. Eich chose to do it publicly, too. And Eich is reaping his very just rewards for his behavior. Nobody's telling you that you can't have your religious beliefs but the day you start hurting people who've done nothing to you based on your religious beliefs you have crossed a line. I don't do business with most businesses with leaders whose behavior I find repugnant, and the few I do I do because I have no other choice.

(If they show a renewed commitment to their principles--and I have every confidence they will because they have so many good people working for them--I'll go back, because they have a browser I like more and I appreciate their stated goals even if they misstepped here.)

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Being for low taxes is a political view. Being for smaller government is a political view.

This is marching well out into controversial territory, but I don't see any clean division between "political" and "ethical" grounds.

If you look at the founder of modern economic thought (called for a time "political economy", BTW), his other book is The Theory of Moral Sentiments, an explicitly moral work. Much of Wealth of Nations concerns "ought" rather more than "is" (though Smith focuses on both).

As von Clausewitz observed that war is the continuation of politics by other means, politics is the continuation of war by other means. More recently you'll find voices such as John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) and Smedly Butler (of Business Plot[1] fame) who'd come to realize that as a marine general he was "a racketeer for capitalism":

In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.

(Wikipedia [2])

Given that taxation and government decisions have social implications, and those, based on the distribution of resources implied, have moral elements, all of the areas you posit are in fact value-laden questions: what is fair, what is appropriate, how should power be allocated, how should wealth be allocated?

The same holds true for technology as well Michael and Joyce Huesemann[3] argue, among other things, that all technologies have implicit value-laden judgements, and that adoption of those technologies includes adopting the values of those technologies. They might be of cars (personal transportation autonomy, pedestrian minimalization, land-use planning, air pollution), television (individual isolation, advertising, mass media), or web browsers (cheap information dissemination, subversion of censorship, voicing of dissident or minority views, cats, free access to pornography, pop-up ads).

Moral and other viewpoints aren't so easily divorced.

________________________________

Notes:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

3. http://redd.it/21pc8c https://archive.org/details/scm-33066-michaelhuesemanntechno... http://newtechnologyandsociety.org/

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Very thoughtful post, and I wish it weren't buried so deeply. I agree with you, and that's what makes me feel so uncomfortable with this past week's events, as much as I disagree with Prop 8 on both moral and political grounds.

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> I generally agree with you but I think the problem here is that being against gay marriage is more than just a "political view."

Not necessarily. It's quite possible to support gay partners' legal right to live together, file taxes together, set up wills and visitation rights, adopt children, etc., but still oppose changing the legally-defined notion of marriage.

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You'll forgive me if I find expanding the definition of "marriage" in state and federal law to be a more reasonable approach than having to fight separate battles for each of the 1000+ legal rights and obligations which currently accrue to married couples.

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Do you really think that's what this is about?

Sorry, but I call fake.

In many countries, you have the concept of de-facto relationships - you don't even need to be married, let alone have a civil union, and you have the same rights.

So it's not like the courts couldn't do it - and in many cases have.

However, this entire debate is purely one of ideology and semantics.

It was never about "privileges" (whether tax, medical, or whatever), but about two different people trying to define what marriage meant.

For some groups, marriage has ties to family and raising children - and human society has sort of flowed along those lines for thousands of years.

Another groups says times are a changing, and we need to redefine marriage to also include homosexual relationships, which while nothing to do with families (as we know them) or creating children, are still marriages.

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The idea that homosexual relationships "have nothing to do with families" is simply laughable.

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And why is it laughable?

The definition of the traditional nuclear family unit, and the inherent roles and responsibilities as we currently know them is very much geared towards man-and-woman relationships.

You could argue that we should change these definitions - but until the, how the majority of people in most countries think of families is very much coloured by the concept of the nuclear family.

Then again, times are a changing - so maybe you'll argue that in the future, we'll do away with the concept of this procreation business, and just clone humans, or have surrogate artificial wombs and we'll just pick our kids off an assembly line fully grown =).

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For starters: * Members of a couple (same-sex or opposite sex) have family obligations to their partner's extended family. * A surprising number of same-sex couples have biological children from earlier relationships. * The "traditional nuclear family unit" is not that old a tradition - prior to large-scale industrialization and easy migration, extended families were the rule. It's just one kind of family. Others exist.

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No forgiveness necessary. I think that's a valid strategy.

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Right. How many people would be in here saying this is a free-speech issue if he had donated money to support a law against marriages between people of different races? It is absolutely about human rights, and I applaud the community for drawing a red line on this.

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People keep bringing up interracial marriage, but really it's a red herring. Interracial marriage does not involve a fundamental change to the way marriage works. Furthermore, in practice it is not enforceable, since you would have to know someone's entire ancestry to know whether they were eligible to marry another person.

Anyway, to answer your question: If I found out that my CEO had donated to an anti-interracial-marriage campaign, but had never discriminated against or otherwise treated people in such relationships differently, I wouldn't particularly care.

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"Furthermore, in practice it is not enforceable, since you would have to know someone's entire ancestry to know whether they were eligible to marry another person."

Not true! Knowing someone's entire ancestry since the beginning of H. s. sapiens may be impossible, but less-rigorous standards of discrimination are practical to implement.

Nazi Germany defined how Jewish someone was based on their number of Jewish grandparents. This means checking genealogical and religious records back two generations. I've heard that some positions, like the SS, required proving your ancestry back to 1750. I don't know how many people were certified, or how extensive the research was -- could someone walk into an office with a few badly-copied baptismal records and get their "I can marry a German" card stamped? did it require checking government databases? -- but it must have been a large number.

The existence of terms such as quadroon and even octoroon show that people of centuries past seriously considered and even legalized notions of how 'black' people were, but I have no idea how well-implemented they were in practice. (I imagine there was a lot more "yeah, you look white enough" and a lot less "please come back tomorrow after I've telegraphed the Census office".)

My brain kind of needs a shower now.

Edit:

My knowledge of these subjects is limited to about 90 minutes of reading Wikipedia, by the way. I was vague enough that I don't think anything I stated is actually wrong.

Incidentally, apparently Nazi Germany had a scandalous number of women who suddenly admitted under oath that their children were the product of an extramarital affair with a conveniently non-Jewish and dead family friend. How well this worked may have depended on how well-connected you were. The senior Luftwaffe officer Erhard Milch is a prominent example.

Edit again:

If your point was "in practice it is not enforceable", mine was that it was enforceable enough that a lot of people put a lot of effort into trying, even if they didn't pull it off perfectly.

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Except if who they love is a child, or a relative, or an animal, or not their spouse, or a member of another race, or an abused wife, or ... I'm 90% agreeing with you, but most people who claim to agree with you are actually only including a very narrow set of people and still want to treat other groups worse just because of who they love. It should really be based on whether they do harm to others or not. Anything else is simply prejudice.

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Low taxes?! You want to cut funding for the social programs that are the only thing giving LGBT folks a shot at surviving in this oppressive, heteronormative world?!?

That's not a political belief, that's saying that people should starve in the streets simply because of who they love.

Any CEO who supports lower taxes is clearly hateful, and needs to resign.

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If you like to extrapolate...

Paying more taxes and a larger government is more apt to distribute wellfare properly.

Most child deaths are in poor families.

So voting for less taxes and a smaller gov is directly killing babies.

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Depending on your point of view, legal abortion is either part of a fundamental right for a woman to control her own body or an unprecedented holocaust. Should you have to pick the "right" choice in order to be employed in the tech industry?

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Eventually, you will, it seems.

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Look at it this way. If at the time of the invasion of Iraq, people suddenly noticed Eich had donated to an anti-war cause, or maybe mentioned in private that he thought 9/11 was a consequence of US foreign policy, how many red-blooded, freedom-fries eating Americans would have asked for his head because he held an unpopular opinion?

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You seem to intend this as a rhetorical question, but I think it's an excellent literal question. Did this happen? Perhaps you will cite some cases.

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I'm not aware of any case, but it's possible. You may have examples during the Vietnam war or the Red Scare. The basic issue is the same, though: is it OK to let the Vox Populi evict a CEO for holding currently unpopular views?

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One person losing his job, compared to millions of people not being able to marry the person they love? Even if you figure that $1000 as a fraction of the money raised by the campaign, you're still talking about significant emotional harm to hundreds or thousands of people directly affected within CA.

But the effects are actually much greater, because the CA decision was not made in a vacuum: it affected public sentiment all over the country, and the world. Delays in full marriage equality in CA mean delays in general societal acceptance of gay people, which means more bullying of LGBT children and teenagers, more suicides, more people getting disowned by their families.

Equating the harm done to him to even a fraction of the direct and follow-on effects of the prop 8 campaign seems almost offensive, to me.

[Edit: Even so, I think the reaction was a little over the top and this outcome was unfortunate. However, I don't feel bad for him.]

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> But the effects are actually much greater, because the CA decision was not made in a vacuum: it affected public sentiment all over the country, and the world.

Who holds up America as an example/ideal of socially progressive policies? People who are waiting for Americans to lead the way with socially liberal laws might be waiting for a good while.

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As the most populous state, with a reputation for being fairly liberal (but of course that's only the coastal areas), and one of the earlier states to try to address the issue through a referendum, CA was definitely looked to as a bellweather on the issue by the rest of the US.

Of course, the relationship between the US and the rest of the world is totally different.

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So...

Bullying: tweeting/emailing/blogging an opinion on Mozilla's decisions

Not bullying: taking significant monetary action to push for discrimination against 5-10% of the country

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Yep! Paying to help keep family members apart and put children at risk is a reasonable political action, one everybody should be a-ok with.

Saying that you don't like that? Shocking oppression of an innocent man.

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Apparently many Mozilla supporters seem to think it is okay to bully a qualified person out of his job only for his political views

He was not qualified for his job. Mozilla is a non-profit organization founded on ideals. It has a social and ethical mission as opposed to a directive to earn profits for shareholders. His social views made him unqualified to lead a company whose purpose was social good.

There are plenty of for profit businesses that do not fit that mold where he would be a better fit.

Additionally, he was not bullied. He gave publicly supported both in words and tangible resources initiatives to deny equality to others and people within his organization and without responded vocally and negatively. If that falls within the definition of bullying (I don't consider vocally calling out bigotry and intolerance as applicable here) then I'd argue he was a far bigger bully than those outraged by his actions and appointment.

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> political views

Labeling one's belief in fundamental inequality among citizenry as a "political view" simply serves to make the argument for inequality sound OK.

It's not OK.

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I don't agree that he was bullied out of his position. He held a belief that wasn't in line with what the Mozilla organization believes is in their best interests. The most logical thing would be for him to not represent the company as the CEO anymore. It's no different than if he believed Firefox should be a closed source shrink-wrapped product or other view that is contrary to Mozilla's mission.

edit: The statement from Mozilla even says "Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech." Eich's views were contrary to this mission, so him leading the company made no sense at all.

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"He held a belief that wasn't in line with what the Mozilla organization believes is in their best interests."

The problem now will be what is starting to happen on certain social media sites[1] with other employees of Mozilla. It looks like quite a few people are looking at what they have donated. So far, it looks like someone actually donated to Lyndon Larouche who has been accused of being an anti-semite. I would imagine if any employee of Mozilla has donated to questionable groups, its going to be all over the place now.

I wish Mozilla had worked all this out in advance and thought of the consequences. It is no fun having everything you've ever donated to put under a microscope. I wonder if it is just rumblings or will we see the typical "second wave mob" that generally happens in these situations.

You can say none of these people are CEO, but that really won't stop anything.

1) search for yourself, I'm not spreading these links and I'm not very fond of the behavior, and I could write an article on how it is taught on both sides of the political spectrum. Tit-for-tat is scary at a personal level.

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What if he was once donating to an anti-gun campaign and the NRA advocating its members to replace Firefox as browsers (or vice versa)? This is a witch hunt.

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Again, views of an individual don't necessarily have to match the view of an organization. That's why they have a separate mission statement for an organization. Otherwise you'd just pick up the mission of any one of the employees. This is ridiculous to force him to step down by causing public humiliation.

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On top of it, the resignation shines a bad light on gay-marriage activism, nobody likes a bully.

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So registering an opinion about the actions of a public figure is bullying, but making a monetary donation to restrict the rights of a minority is not?

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I can't believe i have to say it, but donating to a cause, no matter how misguided, is meant to effect the public opinion in a certain way through certain channels. Asking for his job, his head or his property because of his opinions is bullying [mob rule is a better term], not civil discourse!

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Proposition 8 was not a campaign to change the political views of people. It had but one purpose, and that purpose was to declare a subset of the population legally unequal to everyone else.

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Everything is political, unless you presume that laws come from nature or from god. If we 're all defacto equal vs marriage, then i could marry my 6-year old cousin.

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If we 're all defacto equal vs marriage, then i could marry my 6-year old cousin.

Just so you know, the official slippery-slope argument is "I could marry my horse".

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i was referring to the appeal to nature rather than to a slippery slope

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Is your 6-year old cousin a consenting adult?

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Why should the majority opinion get to say who's an adult and who's not? Aren't we taking away the rights of minors to marry by claiming that they're relationship would somehow be different to a traditional one?

You anti-minor-marriage bigot you.

(To be clear, this is sarcasm hopefully in the service of making a point. I am not arguing for marriage between adults and minors.)

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C'mon now, illustrations of a slippery slope oughtn't start so far down the hill.

So, what about a post-menopausal mother marrying her adult son? If "consenting adults" is the standard, it must be sanctioned as "marriage," yes?

For the record, I'm not really against gay marriage, but I am staunchly against inconsistent reasoning in service of realpolitik.

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The second half of your statement does not follow in any way, shape, or form. Both actions are essentially bullying, and the problem is that it's not truth or justice that has won today, but simply the currently-stronger bully.

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Mozilla is perhaps a special case. In other organizations, I might understand that argument. To me, it feels like a case of cognitive dissonance when the organization promotes free speech, free expression, etc., while its CEO donates to organizations which restrict it.

(Whether or not one agrees with that is besides the point. Mozilla's board does, which is what matters with this decision.)

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>Whether or not one agrees with that is besides the point. Mozilla's board does, which is what matters with this decision.

Mozilla's board put him there to begin with. This is not a moral issue for them.

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Mozilla's board is, in fact, not omniscient and may not have foreseen this controversy.

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That's neither here nor there. I was responding to a comment which claimed that the CEO's views were not in line with the board's, you know, the board that made him CEO, and implied that it had something to do with the CEO stepping down. As you say, I'm sure they didn't see an uproar this large coming, but that has nothing to do with my comment.

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Can we say he was empowered by Mozilla's culture to pursue his political view with a passion same as LGBTQ employees of Mozilla would? When did being homophobic become the wrong view to have?

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What if he had supported legislation to ban marriage between people of different races? Would you say that that has absolutely no effect on his qualification or his actions on the job?

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As CEO, part of his responsibilities include the overall corporate culture. You don't see why people might be concerned that someone who put money forward to support a measure with the goal of actively discriminating a group of people might not be qualified to ensure an inclusive, non-discriminatory corporate culture?

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Thanks for saying this.

I'm usually very angry with people who oppose gay marriage (why do they care??)

But this is just bullying. This is another form of hate.

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I agree with what you said. I hate it when "Free Speech" is viewed as a one way street. For example:

> 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.

Ok, Mozilla believes in free speech? Not according to how they have behaved. So why was their last CEO canned (oh... he "stepped down"... whatever)? If they really believed in free speech they would've left his opinion his opinion, and judged his capacity as CEO based on his work.

None of what I have read or heard about all this actually offensive until I read that sentence in the report.

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I have to disagree. Let aside if it is right or wrong to support homophobic groups. Essence is that many people would hate him for what he did - and I think that it is bad to have CEO who is hated for his personal opinions.

I live in Czech Republic and our past president was global warming denier, he wrote several books about that. I will not judge if he was right or not, but because he had so strong and controversial opinions, it shed bad light on our country.

I think that when you are "public person" or spokesman, you have to be very careful about what you do and say, because then you aren't hurting only yourself, but whole organisation you represent.

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I have a hard time when segregation gets labeled as a "political view".

Segregation is a lot more than a political issue, but also a human rights issue. That $1000 actively helped pass a bill that prevented consenting adult couples who wished to spend their lives together from having the same legal rights as everyone else. His donation in this case was more than having a political view, but actually helped to promote segregation.

Why would I want someone who has tried to take away my rights as the CEO of a company that I care about? If it was just his "view", this would not be the issue that it has been.

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>even if they had absolutely no effect on his qualification or his actions on the job.

There's no evidence of this either way, and the qualifications for being a CEO are nearly orthogonal to the qualifications for being a developer. He's clearly an outstanding developer; though javascript seems the product of a damaged mind, it's the water we all swim in. As a CEO, he chooses the direction of the company and manages its employees. Being a homophobe could directly apply to some decisions that he would be tasked with making (although he promised it wouldn't and I believed him), but also speaks to his softer (non-code) decision-making skills.

>I can't help but feel like this campaign has done a lot more harm to him than his $1000 donation could have ever done to anyone.

He's been punished by not being allowed to be CEO. Feel free to cry for him, but he's 5 billionth on the list for me. The donation was made years ago, we all know about it, we still respect him and work with him. I just don't want him being my boss, or the boss of anyone I love.

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What evidence is there that he's a "homophobe"?

7 million other Californians also voted for Prop 8. Does that make them all homophobes?

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Either homophobes, or very misguided. All the evidence points towards Eich falling in the former camp, unfortunately. To recap:

"Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs."

It's pretty clear to me that campaigning to prevent homosexuals from enjoying the same rights as heterosexuals falls under this definition.

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The problem with the word "homophobia" is that it tells us almost nothing about a person. Not only does it include people who have negative attitudes toward the people, it also includes people who have a negative attitude towards homosexuality. There is a major difference here: a person and lifestyle are NOT the same thing.

Someone who does not like homosexuality can have a positive attitude toward homosexuals. The Wikipedia definition of "homophobia" is just a straw man fallacy waiting to happen.

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By "negative attitude towards homosexuality" are you talking specifically about the sexual act? Because, if so, I don't see anyone arguing that heterosexual couples who engage in anal sex should not be allowed to marry.

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This is a red herring for I was not talking specifically. My main point was "a person and lifestyle are NOT the same thing" regarding the negative attitudes in the wikipedia definition of "homophobia".

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yes, actually. not all homophobes are virulent, frothing-at-the-mouth gay bashers who use the word "faggot" a lot.

mostly its a pervasive attitude that homosexual relationships are "abnormal" or "ungodly" or something like that. its homophobic to feel that way, even if you're polite in public when discussing it.

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It's the socially respectable homophobes in the suits and ties that politicians and people in power listen to, not the thugs shouting "cocksucker!" at people coming out of bars.

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Tens of millions of Americans supported anti-miscegination laws. It certainly made them racists.

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Yes, it does. Many millions of Americans supported slavery/Jim Crow as well.

People were voting against the rights of gays even though the right for same-sex couples to marry had no effect on them personally.

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    > Does that make them all homophobes?
What's your alternative explanation?

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My explanation? That they were in favor of what the Proposition actually was, i.e. insertion of the following language into the state constitution:

"only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"

I don't think a supporter of such a clause is automatically a "homophobe". It might just be that the proponents did not wish to make same-sex marriage an institutional reality. That's not an infringement of gay rights so much as an expansion of gay rights.

Note that I'm not taking a personal stand either way, but I do dispute that it was correct to demonize Eich (and millions of others) who support the traditional definition of marriage. There's no evidence that Eich or anyone else sought to actively discriminate against gays.

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Out of interest, had the language been "only marriage between a man and a woman of the same color is valid or recognized in California", would you have said supporters of it were racists?

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This analogy is broken. There is nothing of substance that distinguishes people of different races that could rationally preclude them from getting married. There is a substantive difference between the sexes that could rationally limit what combination should be allowed to get married. The former opinion can only be caused by racism. The latter could have a few different sources besides "homophobia".

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    > There is a substantive difference between the sexes
    > that could rationally limit what combination should
    > be allowed to get married
Interesting. Could you expand on what those differences are, that might yield rational reasons?

Also, please could you let me know if they extend to: couples where one or both are infertile; couples where one or both partners have a genetic intersex conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome; couples where one or both partners had gender reassignment shortly after birth due to medical intervention; couples where both partners are living as men, but one was born female, but no surgery has been performed; as the before, but surgery has occurred; couples where medical accident has led to removal of genitalia; completely asexual male/female couples who have decided they wish to live together and support each other.

Also any links to your research in this area.

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Lets clarify some terms: by marriage I mean the institution recognized by government. Of course, anyone can get "married" to anything they want--it just wont be recognized by government.

The government has an interest in promoting social policy it believes is a benefit to society, by way of its power of taxation. It is not entirely unreasonable to believe that society is better served with the family unit being anchored by one man and one woman, and thus believe that government benefits should be limited to this "ideal" case.

Personally I don't care one way or the other, but I don't entirely dismiss this idea either. I am hardcore "evolutionist", in the sense that I believe there is hidden value in the way things have played out over the eons. The fact that we evolved distinct sexes and sexual dimorphism is not something to be dismissed as an accident of history. There is information encoded in these facts that may not be readily discernible from our vantage point, but it is there nonetheless (just like there is practical information encoded in various culture's scriptures against eating pork). I do believe society is better off with the "traditional" family unit as its cornerstone, and so government reserving benefits for this traditional unit does make a certain amount of sense. I don't think the benefit is big enough, nor do I care enough, to try to deny people the symbolic label and a handful of tax-breaks though. But framing the issue of marriage as a civil rights issue has always seemed a little absurd to me.

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The notion that gay people are lesser and should only get the rights of the majority if allowed by their straight betters sounds like homophobia to me. If we look at equivalent historical limitations on interracial marriage (or earlier, black marriage), you'd have a hard time convincing me they weren't racist.

Before Prop 8, couples could get married. After, only straight couples could get married. The effect of Prop 8 was to actively discriminate against gay people, so if people supporting it meant to do something else, they weren't paying attention. I'd rather that Eich have been a homophobe, because that's something he can get over. And I hope he does.

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@peteretep >>>Out of interest, had the language been "only marriage between a man and a woman of the same color is valid or recognized in California", would you have said supporters of it were racists<<<

I don't know what I would say about that, but that's not a true analogy except in the political sense, certainly not in the biological or anthropological sense.

Since you bring up racism, though, it should be noted that 70% of African-American voters in California supported Prop 8.

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By today's hyperexagerrated language, yes.

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>Does that make them all homophobes?

It does.

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It does indeed.

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Yes. Yes, it does.

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I can't help but wish that the gay community would focus its attention on asshats like "Supervisor" Eugene Delgaudio, instead of Brendan Eich. Delgaudio is an elected official with a virulent anti-gay rhetoric (in addition to being ethically challenged, and having avoided criminal prosecution by the narrowest of loopholes in Virginia law).

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> I am a strong supporter of gay marriage

I'm sorry, but this simply isn't true. I would argue the very first criteria for someone who "strong[ly]" supports gay marriage would be that they consider it a civil rights issue and not a political one.

Bigotry isn't a sacrosanct opinion, and just because politicians have debated about it doesn't make an issue solely political.

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Political views are about allocating scarce resources when confronted with unlimited wants and needs. The act of paying to deny a group of people basic rights that all other groups enjoy is an act of discrimination. Now, a company is a corporate entity that has a brand identity, which it continuously communicates to its audience and the message that Mozilla's sends out is in total contradiction to Brendan Eich's actions.

When the message the Ceo sends out grabs more attention and is detrimental to the corporate identity of a company, then it is time to part ways, as this will manifest into a huge consumer base loss. Why? Because consumers align themselves even stronger with corporations that push charity, tolerance and freedom as their main identity like Tom's shoes. The biggest sin a company can do in a highly competitive market is to alienate their most vocal consumer base, where they no longer see their principles reflected in the company's identity. Mozilla is now bigger than Brendan Eich.

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Apparently many Mozilla supporters seem to think it is okay to bully a qualified person out of his job only for his political views, even if they had absolutely no effect on his qualification

I disagree that those views had no effect on his qualification. Mozilla's values specifically talk about diversity and inclusion; Eich has previously acted in a way that's totally incompatible with those views.

On top of that, he did not succeed in defusing the situation before it got to this stage – something which I would expect a person in an important and visible leadership position to be able to deal with.

Remember that Eich had previously actively campaigned against removing civil rights from people employed within the ranks of Mozilla, and indeed members of the wider community. How can it legitimately be called bullying to oppose the appointment of somebody as a community leader when that person has been actively seeking to harm you?

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I'm leery of politically-correct thinking, as well, but I feel Eich had to go, and he made the right decision.

The quote by Baker which Swisher highlighted nails it: Eich had become a distraction and his presence at the helm, and as a figurehead for Mozilla, was a distraction.

The fact that Mozilla itself is a symbol for freedom from oppression also doesn't sit well with Eich's political beliefs, and more importantly, activities.

There's also the fact that times and beliefs can change: I'm not a believer in absolutes of ethical and moral values. Often very quickly and disconcertingly for those who live through those changes. I can remember when discrimination and abuse against gays and others was simply part of the landscape and widely accepted (as it still is in too many places). But within the cultural, creative, and intellectual cores of the world, that's no longer the case.

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You can't really compare large scale oppression to individual inconvenience. Besides, being denied equal rights and being denied the opportunity to be CEO of Mozilla are obviously not even remotely comparable.

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Well, this is exactly what people wanted after the learnt about this stance and his reactions. I don't understand why you find this worrying. It's mob justice but justice nevertheless. As a CEO, he simply has to accept and support popular opinion and views. That's how people in top management survive.

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Just because it's still up for debate in some of the more unenlightened parts of the world doesn't mean it's a reasonable position to support.

So, many things can be argued to be a "political view" somewhere.

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He should have just said that he's a devout christian or muslim, and therefore does not condone gay marriage. It would suddenly become adorable in the name of tolerance and diversity.

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It can be fairly reliably assumed at this point that someone opposing gay marriage is a devout something-or-other.

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Agreed. And this way we are surely not helping him change his views. Or be more inclusive.

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> even if they had absolutely no effect on his qualification or his actions on the job.

It did affect his ability to fill his role as CEO of Mozilla. A CEO is not just another employee. A CEO is the face of the organization.

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What does this even mean? I have no clue who any of the past CEOs of Mozilla were, or that Mozilla was without a CEO for a period of time until Brenden Eich, somebody I've known about for years as a person in the Mozilla Organization, became the CEO.

You want the face of Mozilla? Look at http://planet.mozilla.org/, not the CEO.

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Is his political views are contrary to some of the organization's core values (such as diversity and inclusiveness), then he should have refused the job. To be fair, I don't think anyone saw this as an issue at that point. Everyone has blind spots.

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Apparently many Mozilla supporters... bully

I would wager that plenty of those opposing Eich don't actually use Mozilla products. Chrome is the most popular browser, not Firefox, and their other products aren't monopolies either. Of the several screeds I read against Eich, not one of them said "We currently use a Mozilla product and now no longer will".

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I would wager that plenty of those opposing Eich don't actually use Mozilla products.

but their relatives might use Firefox, and these relatives might listen those who oppose Eich because they are family...that's called social effect.

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I would guess the proportion of non-tech family that equate firefox/'The Internet' with this set of circumstances approaches zero.

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Vicious bigotry is not "a political view".

Can we please stop comparing Eich's hateful, hurtful and downright delusional notions with ordinary political or personal views?

Being anti-gay is not a political view. And being anti gay marriage is just a very, very lame and transparent attempt to make being anti-gay seem somehow less hateful.

Hating people for what they are may be very human, understandable even, but it's not a "political view".

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"for his political views"

In this case, you cannot speak generally like this. In this case, it really matters exactly what those political views are, not just that they are "political". And that's why there was such an uproar, and why he's stepping down.

People seem to be willfully misunderstanding this. It's not like, "Whoa! Guys! We can persecute people for their ''''political'''' views now? What's up with that?" No, it's more like we're sick of having to liberate all the people that some people find too 'othery', one group at a time. We've seen this before. We know how it goes. We know how it ends, and we're less inclined than ever to play nice with the oppressing side.

And it really does not take a genius, or an orator, to see which side is the oppressing one.

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  "And it really does not take a genius, or an orator, to see which side is the oppressing one."
I only see one side that pushed someone out of a job here.

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I only see one being denied a civil right...?

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On a scale of 1 to 5, how strong of an argument do you believe you're making right here? That an individual assuming a position of high leadership being pressured to leave that leadership position, is equivalent enough to people withholding civil rights from a minority group, to use the word "oppress" to refer to both, to make a rhetorical point? Do you feel like you're really nailing the issue here?

Also, now I have to take back that line anyway. Maybe it does take the ability to categorize well.

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The tech community needs to rewatch "The Lives of Others". Making ideological purity a precondition to employment is fucking terrifying. I'm terrified.

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Jesus, no-one is arguing for that. Do you really think that 'being homophobic' and being 'ideologically pure' are right next to each other on some bizarre morality scale? They are MILES apart.

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Right, and the fact that no CEO could safely utter racist sentiments is another sign of how we're living this Orwellian nightmare.

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From the recode recap - http://recode.net/2014/04/03/mozilla-co-founder-brendan-eich...

>“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” said Baker, who added that she would not and could not speak for Eich. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”

The most damning aspect of this was their a) inability to predict this would be an issue and b) their inability to deal with it once it did.

All he had to do was lie and say "I understand how my activities can be seen as divisive and wrong and inconsistent with my commitment to upholding the diverse values underpinning the Mozilla community and I apologize for my behaviour at the time. I will do everything in my power to make up for it and I hope the community can judge me based me on my record from this point onwards".

Then, find ways to anonymously engage in whatever political causes he supports, or wait till he's no longer CEO.

The tone deafness of his last interview was kind of the last straw.

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It speaks a lot to his integrity that he didn't. Would you rather have a CEO who says one thing in public and then goes and does another thing surreptitiously, or one who stands up for his beliefs even when they're unpopular?

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I don't think 'integrity' in the face of an opinion that is becoming more and more unacceptable to hold in our culture is a good thing. Changing your views, and admitting you were wrong is the best thing you can do.

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This line of reasoning is very troubling to me, because 20 years ago it was pretty much unacceptable in the U.S. to hold the opinion that gays were entitled to full legal rights, let alone the ability to marry. That changed only because some very courageous people stuck their neck out, weathered all the flack and negative personal repercussions towards themselves, and gradually made the point of "Why not?"

I fully support gay marriage and I personally think Brendan is on the wrong side of this issue, but I also fully support the right of people to hold their own opinions, even when other people find them unpopular. If they weren't allowed to hold unpopular opinions, then pretty much all the social progress we made in the last century - racial equality, feminism, gay rights, etc. - would never have happened.

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There's two sides to that -- the first is that, yes, he absolutely has the right to hold any opinion he wants to, no matter how noxious I or others may find them. To paraphrase Hall on Voltaire, I'll defend to the death their right to be assholes. (Full disclosure: pro- gay marriage, anti-Prop 8, not a CA resident, so doesn't really affect me.)

On the other hand, there's no absolute right to be a public-facing CEO, and it's not unreasonable for the public to name-and-shame companies for their stances on public issues and the people they choose as corporate leaders.

In some cases, this means right-wing activists boycotting and gay-marriage advocates praising Target for same-sex wedding registry ads; in others, it's blue-staters deciding not to eat at Chik-Fil-A for its right-wing political donations, and red-staters buying that 24-piece combo for the exact same reason. Personally, I do think that Eich did all the right things as far as policy and PR goes, and I'm actually a bit sorry that he's stepping down.

I think that the real sin here was not his political donations, it was the fact that he and MoCo didn't make at least cursory efforts to wargame out the possible PR issues that they ran into, which meant they were unprepared to deal with the firestorms.

It's obvious that a significant number of board members weren't happy with Eich's promotion on strategic grounds, and the Prop 8 issue was just the icing on the big poisonous cake of bad publicity. Generally speaking, if you're the CEO, the company should be in the news, not you, and Eich was getting hammered left and right.

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To piggyback, there's an additional difference between being a public-facing CEO of, say, McDonald's, Exxon or Apple, and being the public-facing CEO of a non-profit which exists due to the donations of primarily liberal and libertarian internet people. The prior case might cost them a little revenue due to boycotts but if the person's effective, you can make a case for 'private views' and 'shareholder value'. When your whole company is an activist platform, it's a bit harder to say that political positions of the CEO don't matter.

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"non-profit which exists due to the donations of primarily liberal and libertarian internet people"

Citation needed.

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> When your whole company is an activist platform, it's a bit harder to say that political positions of the CEO don't matter.

I see the point that it's different for a non-profit than it might be for a for-profit, but I'd also think differences in primary focus matter too.

If I was looking at the conversation over the last week as a representative, I'd suppose that Mozilla is more of an LGBT standard-bearer than an open-web advocacy group.

One could argue that's a ridiculously narrow window to focus on, and that's probably correct, but it's no more narrow a focus than that turned on Eich's donations vs the whole of his behavior and what he had to offer as CEO.

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On the topic of being an "activist platform", I strongly suggest you read <http://incisive.nu/2014/thinking-about-mozilla/>, and in particular the paragraph starting "Several of my colleagues have called for Brendan’s resignation. I have not done so ..."

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I thought mozilla exists mainly because of google?

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>being the public-facing CEO of a non-profit

He was the CEO of the for-profit Mozilla Corporation, not a non-profit.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Foundation#Financing

Pretty sure that is incorrect.

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The Mozilla Foundation is funded by donations and "search royalties". Since 2005, the vast majority of funds have come from Google Inc....Mozilla Corporation [is] "a taxable subsidiary that serves the non-profit, public benefit goals of its parent, the Mozilla Foundation"

Mozilla =~= Google

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This is a terrific comment, and I couldn't agree more -- regardless of Eich's personal views and how they made people feel, the fact that he and Mozilla didn't have statements, interviews, and a PR plan in place for something so obvious is reason enough that he shouldn't be CEO. End of story.

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He was CEO for two weeks. If Mozila would have statements, interviews, and a PR plan prepared, they would have to be done before he became CEO.

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That's exactly what I'm saying, that these preparations should have been made prior the announcement. His consideration for and acceptance of the role happened prior to the announcement, presumably. This should have been a part of whatever transition plan they had in place.

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They knew about his donation two years before he became CEO. It's not like it was discovered 5 minutes after his appointment - they had plenty of warning that this might be a PR shitstorm. There's no excuse for them to be this unprepared.

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> It's obvious that a significant number of board members weren't happy

I'm aware of one board member that's true for. Note that the Wall Street Journal blog post that everyone has been quoting on the board member issue pretty much just got the story wrong. Two of the board members had been meaning to move on to other things for a while and just stuck it out to the end of the CEO search, since that's one of the board's key functions.

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> It's obvious that a significant number of board members weren't happy with Eich's promotion on strategic grounds

How is it obvious? The board appoints the CEO. It's true that several board members left shortly after the appointment, and some outsiders have claimed that it was in protest, but I've not seen any confirmation of that. At least some of the ones leaving must have approved, because the remaining board members, I believe, do not have a majority.

I've seen other claims that these people had already planned to leave, and were just staying around to finish the CEO search. Some evidence for this is the fact that the people who left also announced their next major engagements. People who quite on short notice in protest generally don't know where they are going next.

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> It's obvious that a significant number of board members weren't happy with Eich's promotion on strategic grounds

What makes this obvious? I haven't heard any statement to that effect from any of them.

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I'm in 100% agreement. Moreover, I think that this was made worse by the fact that not only was there no pre-planning to address the PR issues, which they had to know about (and if they didn't when this already came up, the entire board needs to go, period, b/c that's just amateur hour), Eich's refusal to even explain his position made it hard to not see him as a hate-monger.

If he had defended or explained his position on the basis of religious beliefs -- this might not have ended any differently, but it would at least give the community context for why he feels the way he feels. Not having that context and his outright refusal to elaborate on it, only made it worse.

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This is exactly how opinion worked in East Germany. You didn't have to be a communist, but if you weren't you would never work again.

We have the exact same protection for political expression as East Germany. That's freedom? "The Lives of Others" was a warning, not an instruction manual.

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Eich has been with Mozilla since the very beginning, and before that he worked at Netscape, writing the first implementation of JavaScript among others. There was some uproar when his Prop 8 donation was revealed in 2012, but no noticeable calls for him to be fired as a Mozilla employee.

But it's obviously a totally different case when you become the CEO. You are meant to be the highest public-facing representative of the corporation. It was publicly known that Eich holds very conflicting views to what many consider a basic civil right, and per his interviews seems to still hold. I can fully understand how this is an impossible equation with leading a company that claims to be committed to equality and inclusiveness.

Do not confuse freedom of speech with lack of public accountability.

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EXACTLY. Especially if that company has an ethos that runs counter to those views. There are plenty of companies -- even tech companies -- where Eich's position wouldn't be an issue. Mozilla is not one of those companies.

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And just who decides that? As a Mozilla community member and employee with an ethos that runs counter to Brendan Eich's view, I was willing to give him a chance as a CEO.

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> And just who decides that?

Presumably, Mozilla Corporation's board and its sole owner (Mozilla Foundation).

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So now that he has resigned as CEO, assuming he takes or maintains a high level position with Mozilla, will the firestorm die down?

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I would hope he would be able to maintain a good position there, he seemed to be a very valuable fellow to have onboard - he did create JavaScript (for better or for worse, but still - 10 days to create a language is insane). And as the CTO he cherry-picked Rust as a project worthy of devoting resources to – something I am extremely grateful for. I'm sure has done a great deal of other good things at Mozilla too – those are the just the ones I am most familiar with.

That's not to say I wasn't uncomfortable about the CEO appointment though.

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You have confused the right of free association with government oppression. OKCupid has a right to not be associated with Firefox. That's rather the opposite of what the Stasi did to dissidents in East Germany.

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You have confused the general concept of oppression with government oppression. There are no laws specifically against black people in America, but our society nonetheless still has some big issues around race.

The government derives its authority from the people. If the people go right ahead and oppress you themselves instead of going through government processes, you aren't any less oppressed.

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Then I oppress people all the time. I oppress students of mine who cheat during tests. I oppress people who talk too loudly when I ask them to be a bit quieter. I oppress the guy who almost ran me over last week when he quickly drove across the sidewalk to park and I yelled at him.

All those who participate in a boycott are of course also oppressive. So are those on strike.

Do you really think this is the exact same as East Germany?

It's tough to bear, but we do allow private clubs to discriminate on the basis of race. That's part of what freedom of association means in the US. (For that matter, in most states, if I am a business owner and I have two employees, then I'm still allowed to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, etc.)

Your point can be valid, if there is widespread inability to get work when publicly holding a minority viewpoint. That does not seem to be the case here. All evidence is that Mozilla would have been able to continue in some fashion with Eich as CEO, and that Eich could easily get work elsewhere.

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> Then I oppress people all the time. I oppress students of mine who cheat during tests. I oppress people who talk too loudly when I ask them to be a bit quieter. I oppress the guy who almost ran me over last week when he quickly drove across the sidewalk to park and I yelled at him.

If you mean you form an angry Internet mob to try and force someone's employer to fire them just because they talk too loudly, you're crazy. If not, I don't think you're making a fair comparison here.

> Do you really think this is the exact same as East Germany?

No, I think it has much more in common with the Red Scare in 1950s America. "This guy holds a political opinion that would abridge my liberty if it took over the country. Let's get him fired."

> Your point can be valid, if there is widespread inability to get work when publicly holding a minority viewpoint.

The fact that these people aren't consistent in trying to get Prop. 8 supporters fired doesn't change the fact that, if they were consistent, "there is widespread inability to get work when publicly holding a minority viewpoint" would probably be the case. The lack of consistency in putting their beliefs into practice doesn't really make me like the philosophy of personally targeting your political enemies any better.

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You tell me how an "angry mob" is different than a boycott or picketing, then I'll let you know if I mean to "form an angry internet mob". I support that people organize and participate in boycotts and pickets. I think they are part of protected free speech in the US. Do you?

As to the Red Scare reference, see my comment in the sibling thread at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7526405 , which starts:

> "I don't want to do business with a company which has Eich as a CEO" is rather not the same as the Stasi. It's closer to US sentiment during the Red Scare of "I won't do business with any company which employes a member of the Communist Party." (The US still has a number of anti-Communist laws still on the books that I consider reprehensible.)

(I then point out a couple things which I think are even closer.)

Even then, there was several decades of government involvement, from state representatives to Congress and the president. That's not the case here. And without that high-level government involvement, we likely wouldn't have had the Hollywood blacklist and laws to prevent Communists and leftists from being able to work.

As to your consistency point, you propose that the issue is "trying to get [all] Prop. 8 supporters fired". You haven't shown that to be true. It could be limited mostly to non-profit organizations which promote community development and "doing good." (Mozilla.org says "Doing good is part of our code".)

Nor might have you shown it's a universal goal. As Sarah Silverman once said "If we can send a person to the moon, we can send someone with AIDS to the moon, and then someday we can send everybody with AIDS to the moon." Clearly a partial goal is acceptable even if a universal goal isn't.

There are also strategic goals. If I boycotted apartheid South Africa am I inconsistent for not boycotting other countries with deep racial, religious, and caste segregation? Perhaps. Or perhaps I realize that South Africa is a special case where a boycott might work.

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Well, at least you didn't mention Hitler.

Mozilla made a business decision that the guy was a liability for a public non-profit. That's capitalism, not totalitarianism.

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The East Germany comparison made sense and your comment about capitalism also made sense. Mozilla itself might very well have simply made a reasonable business decision. Many comments in this thread, though, say that it's fine to have an unpopular opinion as long as you don't mind the consequences. It's fine for the people who disagree with you to punish you for having your opinion. That certainly invites the comparison with East Germany.

The Hitler thing is uncalled for.

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"I don't want to do business with a company which has Eich as a CEO" is rather not the same as the Stasi. It's closer to US sentiment during the Red Scare of "I won't do business with any company which employes a member of the Communist Party." (The US still has a number of anti-Communist laws still on the books that I consider reprehensible.)

Or even closer to people in Northern Ireland still who will choose or avoid a Catholic/Protestant-owned store because of strong Unionist/Nationalist beliefs, even when the store itself has no basis.

Or a boycott on a chain of stores in the US where the owner contributes to anti-immigration policies, even when the chain itself has taken no political stance.

These later ones fall squarely under a right of free association. The East Germany comparison does not. That's why this comparison is malarkey.

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I'm curious why you think the East German and US situations during the Cold War were all so different from the perspective of what the comparison was talking about.

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The Stasi was run by the government.

With the Red Scare (which started decades before the Cold War), the government was involved early on, and at a high level. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Red_Scare for some of the details of what happened in the 1920s. Senator McCarthy of course used the bully pulpit to push anti-communist policies. The House Un-American Activities Committee played a key role in starting the Hollywood blacklist.

Of course there were certainly non-government pressures as well. People were anti-bolshevik and worried that the US would be overthrown just like Russia was. Others saw anti-Communism as a way to frighten people, and use that freight as a way to gain power. But without the government we wouldn't have had laws like the Taft–Hartley Act, which for 18 years prohibited union leaders from being members of the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act of 1954 is still on the books.

With Eich there's absolutely no government involvement, and the opposition is based on the right of association. Some Mozilla employees, some volunteers, some citizens, and some organizations don't want to associate themselves with Mozilla.

With East Germany, the police wanted to be involved in the actions of dissenters, and had the power to do so. With the Red Scares, the US government also used their power to force others to not associate with Communists. But with Eich .. what power do the dissenters have other than their right of free association?

That's why these cases are very different.

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It's a public perception and media job. Being popular is literally the job description. We're not talking about some poor persecuted office worker who just happens to hold unpopular views and now can't hold a job anymore.

Mel Gibson ruined his career with unpopular statements, Tom Cruise nearly did, and nobody started talking about the Stasi then. The Stasi comment was completely uncalled for itself, a Godwin rejoinder was begging to be made.

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> "Many comments in this thread, though, say that it's fine to have an unpopular opinion as long as you don't mind the consequences. It's fine for the people who disagree with you to punish you for having your opinion. That certainly invites the comparison with East Germany."

Eich went beyond merely having and expressing an unpopular opinion. He took action to support the effort to have his opinion forced upon others by the government. He couldn't restrain himself to respectful disagreement, and that's why he's suffering more severe consequences.

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For a long time, "equal rights" for gay people was an unpopular opinion. Through action, gay rights have been forced upon others by the government. Why didn't gay people just restrain themselves to respectful disagreement?

You are advocating a double standard. Why is it ok for people to support "gay rights" being forced upon others by the government, but not ok for people to support traditional marriage values being forced upon others by the government? In either case, there are people who do not want the government to force those opinions upon them. So, if the majority is going one way, you're saying the minority should do nothing other than "respectfully disagree"?

The East Germany comparison is actually quite appropriate here.

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[deleted]

Dude, no offense, but this thread is packed full of overheated hyperbole. This comment seems like a minor one to pick out of the herd.

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Fair enough and no offense at all. I'll delete it.

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I'm commenting on this thread because it's the only one I can comment on.

Whether or not it's appropriate for the duplicates of a controversial thread to be deleted, you've effectively squashed all productive conversation on a massive, contemporary topic.

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You would have an excellent point if the conversation were productive, but it's the opposite of productive. Nor has it been "squashed".

Such conversations predictably and egregiously violate all of Hacker News' values, especially those of intellectual substance and personal civility. Pinpoint interventions, like I've been making in less inflamed threads, have no hope of working on these, so we have to do something else. Doing nothing is not an option; neither is killing discussions outright on subjects that are, after all, on topic for HN.

If the community were capable of discussing this kind of subject maturely, we wouldn't think of intervening. But it's been so painfully clear for so long that that isn't so, that in my view the thing we can perhaps be faulted for is taking so long to deal with it. That's a measure of how reluctant we are to intervene.

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My opinion is that it should have been all contained to the first big thread, which should have been moderated such that it stayed on the front page.

This is a major topic, with major ramifications for tech, and it's going to be discussed.

True, most of the discussion isn't productive, but it's still better to let it happen, and to focus it all in one place instead of it being scattered around.

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My opinion is not all that far from your opinion. When that thread fell very low in rank, I lightened its penalty for that reason. There's no fine-grained control over rank, so it's a bit hard to calibrate.

Nobody's going to stop discussion from happening, but discussion that repeatedly, predictably violates HN values can't be handled the same way as isolated comments. If I try to respond everywhere that the HN guidelines are violated in those threads... well, it's impossible. I actually tried in one place, and someone immediately asked "why here?"... which was such a good point that I just deleted it. (Edit: oh yeah, it was this very thread!)

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Yeah, it was me, the same person in both instances. :-)

I agree it's it a tough call. There's a ton of inflammatory comments on both sides of the issue, and it's both predictable and impossible to moderate on a practical level.

Often I get annoyed at the obvious flamebait political stories on the front page. They usually have a lot of back and forth that's just people talking their side, saying nothing that we haven't all heard before. Not much plus to offset the minus of the flamewar.

This one felt different, though, since it's one of the biggest people in tech and one of the biggest companies. And I personally feel it will have ramifications for years to come in the tech business world.

I don't know. What can you do when a topic really does merit discussion on HN, but most of it will be a flamewar?

Maybe fencing it all in one place is the best of no perfect choices...

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This one felt different, though, since it's one of the biggest people in tech and one of the biggest companies

Yes. That's what I didn't get at first, and needed feedback in order to see. It seems obvious now, of course. But I'm not really reading the stories or threads for content—I'm thinking about the site, and don't have the time and/or the brain cells to do that as well as process the news itself the way I used to. This is a bummer—especially when the "news" involves kdb+ or a new paper on JIT compilation—but it's ok, as long as we can actually make HN better. In this case, though, it caused me to miss something that actually mattered for HN. Dang, as we say!

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Could you simply freeze it and allow the users to make their own decisions?

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I don't know what you mean by "freeze it". Could you explain?

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Leave it on the front page but disable commenting.

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That's not analogous. Brendan Eich materially supported a current threat to freedom. A few decades ago it would be as if you were writing checks to an anti-miscegenation organization. At time, plenty of people would have said "What's the big deal? It's a valid opinion." and yet it is just as clear that's wrong.

Plenty of people on this forum have radical political philosophies, ranging from anarcho-capitalist to communist. Some of them are probably far more radical than Brendan Eich, who might be utterly mild in his politics otherwise. And yet because they are not speaking out against individual rights, all these bomb-throwing radicals coexist.

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Wish I had more upvotes for this. It's surprising how intolerant people become once their opinion becomes the socially acceptable one.

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Why is it surprising? This is exactly how oppressive mobs work.

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"While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger." - John Rawls.

Intolerance toward Prop 8 supporters is appropriate due to the threat to liberty that the restriction of same sex marriage creates.

There is no need to be tolerant of someone who threatens your security and liberty.

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I love the overblown rhetoric here...sigh.

This was never about security or liberty (although it's a bit like the Monty Python sketch - "We're being oppressed, we're being oppressed! We really are!".)

I'm not saying there isn't discrimination against homosexuals in other areas, but this wasn't it.

This was basically a semantic debate about marriages versus civil unions.

A majority of Californians (Eich included) took the viewpoint that marriage was a traditional institution, and if people had a new style of relationship, they should have a new term for it, even if it had the same privileges (not rights - government's can't grant rights).

However, another group said no, we want to use the same word for it (I assume for ideological reasons, as opposed to purely utilitarian ones).

So no, please don't hoist the whole "WE'RE BEING OPPRESSED" flag - it doesn't help your case

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That's incorrect. Prop 8 stripped all marriage rights. Most of those rights were restored by the time it got to the CA Supreme Court, but only because the CA Supremes said that Prop 8 was, legally, horseshit, but that to honor the will of the people they would let Prop 8 have the term "marriage". They're very clear about that in their decision.

The point of Prop 8 was to prevent gay marriage, and all the privileges that marriage includes. That is, to strip a civil right from gay people.

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And cue the separate, but equal, rhetoric (...longer sigh).

That same sex marriage, isn't a new style of relationship, and that civil unions could never provide the same "privileges" is the whole point.

It's not just semantics, it's about real people.

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Err, how is it not a new style of relationship?

For thousands of years, we've had the concept of "marriage" and "families", and (more or less) monogamous relationships.

Central to this has been the idea of a man and a woman procreating, and raising children.

Now, perhaps we'll evolve away from that - maybe we'll simply clone people.

Or perhaps we'll have special breeder castes, and we'll raise the children away from their (biological) parents in learning centres.

Or perhaps the idea of having children will seem antiquated, and we'll just die away as a species.

Who knows.

But this (large scale homosexual relationships in society) is most definitely a new thing - and procreation, and nuclear families have no place in it.

Hence this whole ideological fight over whether to call it "marriage" (with all the associated ideas of families and raising children) or something else entirely.

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Same love.

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Sigh...really?

Look, for many cultures - marriage aren't about love (or aren't solely about love) - this is very much a Western/modern thing.

For them, marriages are part of society - a married couples has responsibilities to the society.

And the family unit, and raising children are a big part of it.

You need to look outside your own experiences.

That's what I don't get about this whole fracas.

You have all these people on HN screaming and jumping up and down, saying EICHS IS A BIGOT! ONLY MY VIEWPOINT IS CORRECT! IT'S SO OBVIOUS?!!!!

Well, if they were as "big-minded" as they claim, then they'd see that there many people with differing opinions to you. Shock!

I think this poster said it best (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7526663)

Don't support welfare? You're against poor people. Support welfare? You're against the working man. You're pro-choice? You're against babies. You're pro-life? You're against women.

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Yes, you can see all the campaigning for him to be stripped of legal protection. Clearly the exact same thing.

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> this line of reasoning is very troubling to me ..

This entire affair is troubling. This individual's livelihood was affected because of his socio-political views and activities. Your 2nd paragraph correctly underlines the more important issue.

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What if had been donating to the KKK instead? Do you think he could accurately represent his employees of color?

Or for a less cut-and-dry example: If he had donated to Pro-Life organizations, would you expect him to be accepted as CEO of Planned Parenthood?

Your socio-political views and activities have consequences. If you believe strongly enough in them, you will weather them. His views and activities certainly had consequences for a lot of California families.

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There are probably lots of pro-life CEOs running companies that are not related to abortion.

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And there are probably lots of anti-gay people as CEOs of companies that don't make equality and openness a core value of their mission statement.

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If I walked into my office tomorrow and told people that I think women aren't humans, abused some racial minorities, my livelihood would be affected because of my socio-political views.

And I'm okay with that.

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No, that's not okay.

I very much disagree with the KKK, but I believe in a society where they have the right to think whatever they want about non-white people, without getting harmed.

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Oh really? You'd rather live in a society that gives discrimination a free pass?

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False dichotomy.

"Not given death threats" != "Giving a free pass".

If you want to kill people who you disagree with, are you any better than them?

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Can we have some perspective here? His livelihood has been at no point under threat. Unless you have some evidence that the CEO job was somehow keeping him from the poorhouse, this is just a ridiculous term to use here.

He still works for Mozilla (as far as I can tell) and he almost certainly still has a significant say in how it's run through the shares he almost certainly has (I can't find any specifics on it in a cursory search, but it would be astounding if it were not so).

But when he made that donation, he was tying himself to a cause. As an officer of a company he is a face of that company. This is true in all companies and for all causes, and it was his choice to make the donation and the company's choice to appoint him to a position where that donation would reflect poorly on them.

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> He still works for Mozilla (as far as I can tell)

Nope.

> he almost certainly still has a significant say in how

it's run through the shares he almost certainly has Shares? We're talking about Mozilla. It belongs 100% to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

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I'll grant you I was misinformed on the latter, but can you point to some source on him not working for Mozilla at all anymore? Nothing I can see says anything but that he stepped down from the CEO role and his board position on the Foundation (which would be where he could still have a say in the running of Mozilla, I don't think it was the goal of the boycott to have him leave the Foundation board so it seems a little excessive to me).

That is a shame if so, as his technical contributions are still clearly valuable.

[edit] https://brendaneich.com/2014/04/the-next-mission/ answers my own question.

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Would you expect his views not to have consequences? I will gladly stand up for his right to hold opinions I disagree with, but the right to an opinion is not a shield from the consequences of those views. The board had just as much right to hold the opposite opinion and how they want the culture and outward face of their company to look like.

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Where have you been living the past, I don't know, all your life. Many socio-political views are untenable and would affect your livelihood negatively if they are known publicly. The only thing that changed is that being against gay-marriage specifically, and gay-rights generally, is now seen in the same light(at least in certain parts of the country). Brendan Eich found himself on the wrong side of history before he even realized this. Too many trips to Indonesia maybe?

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He was not stamping out widgets in a factory. He was supposed to be leading a diverse group of hackers and technologists at a bastion of future-looking/open culture.

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I had a longer response, but I'll try to condense it down. I understand what you're saying, and as a supporter of free speech (which includes unpopular speech), I generally agree with your point. Still, I can't quite see the parallels between the two scenarios.

This isn't a situation where he's sticking his neck out and weathering flack of negative personal repercussions to achieve a point, at least, not yet. If Brendan wants to use this experience to further voice his support against gay marriage, he can certainly do that.

But thus far, Brendan has gone out of his way to NOT discuss the unpopular opinion he holds -- he hasn't even explained why he feels the way he feels.

It's sort of hard to draw an analogy between someone who stuck their neck out and said "not supporting LGBT rights is wrong and bigoted and I'm going to talk about it, even if it means losing my job. And I'm going to continue talking about it until things change." and someone who says "yes, I have to confirm I gave money to this cause b/c it's public record, but I refuse to explain or defend my position, stop asking me about it, it doesn't matter."

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Indeed, Brendan has actually gone to extreme lengths to not use his right to freedom of speech. Just look at all this "I prefer not to talk about my beliefs"[1][2]. With the CNET piece, the reporter was very kind, open and professional with him. He handed Eich the forum to come out with his views on a silver plate lined with silk. But Brendan chose not to use it, instead going for the "my private opinions as CEO are irrelevant". Well clearly, they aren't.

It's not about freedom of speech, but actually holding you accountable for what you say, which is a great thing.

[1] http://www.cnet.com/news/mozilla-ceo-gay-marriage-firestorm-...

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/01/mozilla-ce...

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> He handed Eich the forum to come out with his views on a silver plate lined with silk.

Can you envision any scenario where he would be able to express his views that wouldn't have angered the mob even more, without modifying his views to be those of the mob?

> It's not about freedom of speech, but actually holding you accountable for what you say, which is a great thing.

For this, pg's "What You Can't Say" essay cuts both ways:

"The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true."

http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

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Sure, he could easily have said, "My religion, of which I am a sincere believer, doesn't permit gay marriage. I mistakenly supported Prop 8 because I hadn't thought things through, and in the 6 years since I have come to realize that gay people deserve the same civil rights straight people do. I now see that religion is a private matter, and freedom of religion means that my church's views aren't a good basis for legislation."

And if he had said this in a blog post at any before becoming CEO, he could have skated through this easily.

On the other hand, if he still believes gay people to be inferior and not deserving of full civil rights, then yes, people could have reasonably questioned how he could be the boss of some of them.

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Brendan Eich gave $1000 to support the following text to be amended to the CA constitution:

    Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
You take that to mean he supported this being amended to the constitution:

     Gay people are inferior and not deserving of full civil rights.
Which is a wonderfully built straw man, but not at all likely to be an idea that Eich would ever espouse. I don't know Eich, but his public record doesn't seem to support the supposition that he thinks anyone is inferior or that anyone should be denied civil rights.

If you really want to attack his ideas, attack their best interpretation, not their worst.

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The goal and practical effect of Prop 8 was to keep gay people from equal treatment under the law. In particular, to strip them of the ability to marry.

We have no idea what Eich's ideas are, because he has refused to say. But I can and will judge him by his actions. And no, I don't believe that's a straw man. I don't believe it's possible to have a rational and consistent view that includes both the 14th amendment (explicitly naming equality before the law as a civil right) and using the power of the law to keep gay couples from marrying like any other couple.

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> If they weren't allowed to hold unpopular opinions, then pretty much all the social progress we made in the last century - racial equality, feminism, gay rights, etc. - would never have happened.

Back in the day, they weren't allowed to hold unpopular opinions. The history of civil rights is a story of many people going to jail for their beliefs, and then being force-fed when they performed hunger strikes and being lynched by roving mobs. The righteousness of their ideas became apparent because they clung to those beliefs and refused to budge until physical force moved them, and because they never renounced their beliefs despite the torment of their oppressors. To paraphrase Ghandi "You can kill me if you want, and you will have my dead body. But you will not have my obedience."

I'd argue that the stakes are not nearly as high here. We're not talking about sending Brendan Eich to jail. He is free to move about the world and continue making boatloads of cash at whatever firm is willing to hire the foremost JS expert on the planet. We just don't want him running this particular organization.

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Holding an unpopular opinion that is all about increasing fairness and equality (racial equality, feminism, gay rights, etc.) is completely different than holding one that is about decreasing fairness and equality.

We cannot compare Eich's position of denying a freedom to some people to those of the people who stood for racial equality and feminism.

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AFAIK, Eich donated $1000 to an organization that put the following amendment into the CA constitution:

    "Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
That's not "denying a freedom", that's defining a population who will receive certain benefits. It's a normal part of democracy. Just like when a government body defines "poverty line" to mean $XXX income, for the purposes of excluding the (very real, legal and financial) benefit from some of the population, we don't call it denying "rich people's freedom" to food stamps.

Now, whether we should distribute food stamps or whether there should be benefits for married couples is another argument, but merely expressing an opinion on the definition is certainly not the same as denying someone an essential liberty.

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Defining marriage as being between a man and woman isn't like giving food stamps to poor people.

The bottom line for me is that America is supposed to be a place of freedom and equality. If we're going to say that a man and woman can get married, then we have to say that two men or two women can also get married (assuming consenting adults, etc.).

Food stamps are different. They're about helping out people who are struggling to survive (at least that's the idea. Don't want to turn this into an argument about food stamps).

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> Defining marriage as being between a man and woman isn't like giving food stamps to poor people.

I think you missed what I was trying to say, sorry I wasn't more clear.

> The bottom line for me is that America is supposed to be a place of freedom and equality.

Freedom, yes. Equality? That's tougher to quantify. America certainly has a notion of "inalienable rights", but is Marriage one of them? It doesn't seem so, because if you want to "marry" a 5-year-old, we don't call that a marriage. And we don't call polygamous relationships marriages, at least not for state purposes.

I'm claiming that the Prop 8 campaign is not a civil rights issue, because there are no "fundamental rights" being violated. There's nothing in the constitution that guarantees your right to be married.

Furthermore, the only actual harm that you can claim to have been done to you as a result of Prop8 is a denial of certain financial benefits. That's where the food stamp argument comes in. I'm not equivocating the two situations in a moral sense. I'm merely pointing out that we allow discrimination which we've deemed to be morally neutral for the purposes of allowing access to government benefits.

> If we're going to say that a man and woman can get married, then we have to say that two men or two women can also get married

Why do you make that assertion?

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You could also say that it was pretty much unacceptable to support women's suffrage or be against slavery in certain times and places.

But, the thing is, these ideas have trajectories. The idea that slavery is wrong or women should have the right to vote never got less accepted over time.

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> The idea that slavery is wrong or women should have the right to vote never got less accepted over time.

This cannot be the case, because those ideas have not existed since the beginning of time. They had an origin and therefore an upward trajectory towards their reification in law.

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With a scant few matriarchal societies aside, most of human history is absolutely dominated by men making other men and women subservient to them. That's the story of humanity.

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This is very wrong. Various cultures have had different systems of slavery - some better, some worse - and vastly different views of women's civil rights or participation in society.

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I don't think so. I think that the societies that practiced slavery were always amenable to the practice. The societies themselves just grew and spread.

For example: Iran's official policy went from being progressive to oppressive, but it was a result of the Islamists moving into power in the 70s. They didn't just suddenly convince everybody that "hey we should oppress women". All of those people were there, and had been there for a long time. They just weren't in power.

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To pick a glaring example, what about American slavery? Do you think there was an unbroken line of racist slavers from the dawn of time right through to Eli Whitney's cotton gin? The fact is, slavery was made much worse because of the economic situation after the invention of the cotton gin.

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It's not as if Americans were abolitionists until the cotton gin was invented. The justification of slavery was already there. The institution of slavery grew due to the cotton industry, but those people already had the justification they needed. They knew the Bible didn't condemn slavery and they had God on their side. Abolition spread in spite of the economic demand for slavery.

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I couldn't figure out how to efficiently say exactly what you just wrote. Nicely put!

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Nobodies' right to have different viewpoints is being taken away. Nobodies' right to donate to political causes is being taken away.

The only people in this entire story that were/are trying to take away the rights of others were the people who pushed for Prop 8. The right to support legislation like Prop 8 remains intact. The right to not be criticized by others for doing so has never existed in the first place. There is no "right to not be criticized".

[Edit] The voting swings on this comment indicate to me that it is controversial, so I will attempt clear some things up:

* Whether or not you believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry, the fact is that before Prop 8 they did have the right to marry.

* The purpose of Prop 8 was to remove this right, because the supporters of Prop 8 felt that it should not be a right.

* After this entire series of events, Brendan remains free to donate to similar political causes in the future. He remains free to publicly hold these beliefs. He remains free to be a CEO.

* The general public remains free to criticize Brendan for anything that they please.

* The rest of the general public remains free to criticize those criticizing Brendan for his political beliefs.

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I think you're dismissing what has happened too lightly. The real issue here is mob mentality, and you're underestimating the ways in which it can be dangerous and insidious.

People aren't taking this seriously because in this case they disagree with Eich's opinion, so they feel it's all okay. They're letting that blind them.

What if Eich actually had the "right" opinion? And this is hypothetical at this point--I'm not talking about gay rights anymore. Suppose you are an oracle and you know that the mob was wrong rather than right and Eich was right rather than wrong. Don't fool yourself into thinking that things would be different. They wouldn't, and this has caused extraordinary difficulty in righting many wrongs of the past, including slavery. It can severely impede the democratic process because people are afraid to hold dissenting opinions--not due to legal ramifications, but social ones.

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Slavery seems a poor example, since the people with the "wrong" opinion were already rich and powerful, and the people with the "right" one were... well, slaves. A large part of this Eich fiasco has been rejection of giving power to someone who's already used it to "wrong" ends.

What are you proposing? That we shouldn't object to injustices, on the off chance we're wrong and too many people agree with us?

We can all only do what we think is best. Eich thought he was making the world a better place by trying to block gay marriage. It seems the world disagrees.

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> Slavery seems a poor example, since the people with the "wrong" opinion were already rich and powerful, and the people with the "right" one were... well, slaves

Actually there were a small number of rich and powerful people with the "right" opinions. They could hardly voice those opinions or they'd risk losing all that power and, as a consequence, wealth.

The whole point is that the people who had the power to do something about it didn't do anything for a very long time, for the most part, because it would ruin their reputation, at best.

> What are you proposing? That we shouldn't object to injustices, on the off chance we're wrong and too many people agree with us?

Yes and no. You conveniently phrased this as a loaded question, making it hard for me to respond.

No, we shouldn't ignore injustices. But yes, we should be tolerant of certain things to a certain degree. But it turns out we already have a centuries-old system that allows us to do this without resorting to public shaming and near vigilante tactics. I'm suggesting we just use that system rather than trying to scare people into sharing our opinions.

> It seems the world disagrees.

You're jumping the gun. It's entirely possible that many (or even most) people who are against gay marriage don't even know who Brendan Eich is.

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I still can't imagine how you expect this to ever have gone. "Well, those other people are fighting to take away something important to us, so I guess we'll just quietly smile and nod"? I hardly expect anyone whose way of life is at stake to go peacefully, no matter how wrong that way of life may be.

Not so fast. Rabbling at a village gathering is surely the most ancient form of protest. :)

But you're dropping a lot of context here. This wasn't just some dude with some job holding some opinion. He acted to enforce his opinion on others, then became CEO of a company whose entire schtick is to not do that sort of thing.

That nobody has come out in support of Eich's opinion is exactly why he's unfit to be CEO: Mozilla believes in some things, the people who care deeply about Mozilla also believe in those things, and Eich actively opposed those things. He represents the company, and he has a known history of acting against what the company is supposed to stand for.

If it turned out Ballmer had donated to prop 8, would there be nearly this outrage? I seriously doubt it; I would still call him something uncomplimentary on Twitter, but it's not like I have any existing philosophical expectations of either him or Microsoft. People called Eich a dick two years ago, but nobody expected him to quit his job.

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Regardless of who I think is right, I am pointing out that contrary to popular narrative, no rights have been removed from Eich.

There are and have been plenty of movements to boycott companies that I am certain are misguided. "One Million Moms" is an example of a group that organizes pushback on companies that I feel is wrong.

Even in those cases, it is their right. If they had been putting pressure on Eich to step down because he supported same-sex marriage, I would maintain that no rights were being removed from Eich.

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I'll tell you what we should do. We shouldn't give those rights to gay people and we should take away those rights from straight people as well. The status quo is a clear discrimination of people who choose not to marry, but may have others in their lives where it would be mutually beneficial to opt into an agreement where they share some of those rights/benefits.

Each one of the rights currently afforded to people in a marriage or civil union should be split up and any two people for whatever reason should be able to opt into some, none or all of those rights.

I'm hoping that one day those pushing for additional rights afforded only to married people, straight or gay, get the exact same treatment that Eich did here.

Marriage shouldn't even be within the purview of the government, only religions.

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I see this arguement crop up a lot and I feel like this is largely a semantics issue. "Marriage" as a union under some God and "Marriage" as a package of some 1000+ legal contracts hold the same name for historical reasons (dynamics of the Church in European power structure mostly). When gay mariage is brought up I feel like people just see the religious side and ocasionally the tax breaks and fail to completely grasp the issue. What they gay community wants is to have the easy contract that handles the passing of estates, the combination of insurance, citizenship issues, adoption preferences, etc. Currently we lack the infrastructure to affordably deliver "a la carte" packages; it's the same reason everyone gets the same TOS when installing a particular piece of software. It is not particularly realistic to say that a particular group be denied rights because the infrastructure for delivery isn't ideal.

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It's only not realistic because everyone uses this exact same argument every time someone brings this up. We could move slowly towards the correct solution by acknowledging how incorrect the current situation is and fixing it little by little.

Why can't I have an easy way to pass on my estate to someone with all the same tax benefits without having to have sexual relations with that person? Why can't I get insurance options that can be extended to those I cohabitate with regardless of the nature of the relationship beyond the fact that we live together. Why are there not citizen affordances for other relationships such as extending rights to siblings as well? I'm talking exactly about all those same rights the gay community wants. Just like there is no reason many of those rights should be restricted to straight people, there is also no reason that many of those rights should be restricted to two people in a long-term sexual relationship. There's also no reason why we shouldn't be able to pick and choose which rights and obligations we want to opt into or which rights we may want to share with person A and which rights we may want to share with person B.

There is absolutely no reason in this day and age that we can't switch over to a la carte packages over 10-20 years. All you need to do is start offering those options on each of those rights individually and to let all the rights for married couples expire and for those that don't expire, you can work on sunsetting them once a suitable a la carte solution is available.

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I understand that argument--and you're not completely wrong--but a) that would require a massive overhaul of our legal system. The whole impetus behind this is that by not being able to be married, LGBT citizens are denied literally thousands of legal rights. That would be a big project. b) Good luck getting our uber-religious society to do so. c) Whether the system is flawed or not, keeping a class of people out of it is certainly not OK.

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Oh, I definitely agree that discriminating against a group based on their sexual preference is abhorrent, but I also resent this discussion to some degree because it completely takes away attention from the discussion we should be having and it further legitimizes marriage as something the government should even have involvement in.

For example, if I want to jointly own a home (and only a home with no other possessions jointly shared) with someone, we would not receive a total $500k capital gains exemption on the sale of the home after 5+ years of ownership. Only married people filing taxes jointly get this right. Instead, me and the other person would only be allowed a $250k exemption. How can such a situation possibly be fair? The correct abstraction would have been to allow up to $250k capital gains exemption for each individual on the deed. [0]

At the end of the day, we should be designing laws the way we design software. Strong separation of concerns should be a design goal when drafting legislation.

[0] http://charliedunn.com/_Sellers_Tips/Capital_Gains_Exclusion...

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For the love of everything they aren't rights! They are privileges!

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http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

You do NOT have the right to judge anyone based on "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty"

You violated Brendan Eich's human rights, it's that simple. Bigot.

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I'm confused. How the heck did I violate Brendan Eichs human rights? My comment about privileges pertains to the benefits granted to married couples, straight or gay. Marriage rights don't exist, married couples aren't entitled to tax breaks, spousal benefits, etc. those are all privileges that can be repealed by the stroke of a pen and therefore are not rights.

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Per Article 2 of the UDHR, "political opinions" are a protected class (to use the American terminology).

However, "the right to not be judged or criticized by fellow citizens" is not a right that is outlined by the UDHR. Not as I am reading it anyway. Specifically which article and section details the right that you think Eich is being deprived of?

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It seems like most are ok with harassment and discrimination against Eich simply citing exercise of free speech. But if one-tenth of what happened to Eich had happened to someone with different sexuality or female, people would cry harassment and discrimination. Why is it ok for Eich to get huge backlashes, harassments and character assassination? I fully support same sex marriage, but I feel like treating Eich like this was too far.

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If it weren't for double standards, most people wouldn't have any standards at all.

All you have to do is look at all the public figures who express views, and act on them in much more thorough ways, who get a free pass. Look at the all the famous Hollywood types with very sketchy behaviors in their backgrounds. Look at politicians as well, where it's even easier to find skeletons. Eich has been held to a standard that a whole lot of people in public life, CEOs, politicians, movie stars, sports heroes, would not live up to. Do we now move on to all of them?

The biggest problem I have with this situation is not that it happened to Eich, but that the mob has been so selective. There are plenty of people in the public life who have done far more than donate $1000 to a state referendum that, let's not forget, was popular enough to pass in one of the most liberal states in the Union, but haven't been hounded out their jobs for it.

All the folks celebrating that a moral victory has been won with Mozilla ought to consider what happens if this considerable power is put to an evil use, or a use for which they personally find objectionable. Don't think it can't happen. 100 years ago, Fascism was the big thing because it allowed the leaders to Get Things Done, and in fact, many good things were done in that era by dictators with tremendous power to make sweeping changes. But some other stuff happened, too.

Of course, I'm speaking in a political climate where I heard many people state in 2009 that they wished President Obama weren't limited by the Constitution so he could _really_ fix things. I've never heard such a frightening thought from an American in my life, yet I heard it from a number of people back when the President was elected. That isn't a political thing either, because it would scare me equally no matter who the person was talking about. Sure, I don't like President Obama, but I wouldn't want that kind of power in the hands of someone who was the combined reincarnation of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and the Buddha himself either.

If we are living in a country where people are that ignorant of history and of human nature, then this society isn't long for the world anyway.

Maybe the tide is changing and this the start of a new era of populist activism. I guess you have nothing to worry about as long as you hold popular opinions... and, of course, those _never_ change.

Mob rule is a powerful thing and genies never go back in the bottle after they've been let out.

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Free speech does not mean, and has never meant, freedom from social consequence. The Constitution does not say that you can do and say whatever you want and other people can't have opinions about it.

Eich paid good money in an attempt to restrict how people in Mozilla's home state live their lives — some of them even Mozilla employees. He expressed no regret for doing so, then became CEO of Mozilla, a company that virtually defines itself by freedom and inclusion.

There were myriad ways he could've attempted to resolve this, and he did precisely none of them. That he would rather give up the job entirely speaks volumes about what he finds important.

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Because viewpoints are not opaque little packages whose contents do not matter.

Nor are they isolated from historical context.

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> He remains free to be a CEO.

Given the content of the OP, this is demonstrably untrue. He attempted to be a CEO and was effectively prevented from doing so.

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Mob rule is fine as long as the mob is always right. That's usually the case, right?

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He still has the right to be a CEO. He does not now, and never had, the right to not be asked to step down. He does not now, and never had, the right to be respected as a CEO.

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What does it mean to have a right that you can be effectively prevented from exercising? What is the difference between a right that one is not allowed to exercise and a right one doesn't have?

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He's still allowed to be CEO of Mozilla. (Calling a specific job posting a "right" seems a stretch — do I have the right to be CEO of Mozilla? Where are the complaints that I'm being effectively prevented from exercising that right?)

Nothing and nobody forced him to resign. He could've weathered the storm and risked Mozilla's most valuable asset, its goodwill, over his beliefs. It would've been a terrible thing to do to the company and made him a terrible CEO, but nothing stood in his way.

Claiming that someone's rights were violated because he voluntarily quit his job is patently absurd.

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[deleted]

Then social forces were preventing him from doing his job — which has a large social component. Does he have the right to not be fired for being an inadequate employee, too?

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If Mozilla changed their mind and asked him to be CEO again he could. If another company asked him he could. Just because no one wants you to be CEO does not mean you don't have the right to be.

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Eich was not legally barred from being CEO. He could have chosen not to step down. He could choose to start his own company to be CEO of. He could be CEO of another company.

He will not be barred by the government from doing all of those things. He is not being prevented from exercising his right to be a CEO. He was asked to step down by many people, as is their right, and he did.

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Would everyone please use "privilege" and not "right"? The legal benefits of a government recognized marriage are privileges, not rights. Government can grant privileges not rights.

I understand the demand for equal treatment doesn't change though.

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Marriage is both legal and social, and the two are heavily intertwined (hence the religious objections). The recognition itself is, arguably, a right. The argument is then that the government should respect the right, not "grant" it.

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Mobbing someone out of employment isn't a right, either.

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Eich has the right to make whatever donations he wants. He also has the right to hold whatever beliefs he wants. What he doesn't have is the freedom from consequences of performing those actions and holding those beliefs.

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Which part is troubling to you then? Eich has every right to hold his beliefs, and Mozilla has every right to ask for his resignation when they believe his beliefs run too contrary to their own.

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This is just moral relativism and reductionist analysis. It's easy to frame problems in a light where it's impossible to make an objective judgment. This is like saying that violence is wrong. Sure, in the abstract, but in practice there's an objective difference between the use of violence for oppression, personal gain, and domination and the use of violence as self-defense.

Let's go to first principles here. Which, for America at least, come down to equality and liberty. Principles enshrined in the founding documents of this country. Oppressing people because of their sexual orientation is not a neutral proposition in regards to those principles, it is very much an exception to the principles of equality and liberty.

The two scenarios you describe are NOT and have never been symmetrical.

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Your reasoning here is very similar to the rationale for oppressing Communist sympathizers during the Red Scare. They were opposed to the democratic principles of America and we ostracized them for it, and I'd thought the lesson we took from it was that we were very much in the wrong. I fully support gay rights, but I have trouble embracing what feels like a new form of McCarthyism (just s/Communist/homophobe/).

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Hardly. There's an enormous difference between publicly ostracizing someone for holding beliefs or a political position that you disagree with and oppression. But there's leagues of distance between using speech and private choices (like whom to do business with) on the one hand and using the machinery of the government to deny people rights and to harass them at every turn.

For example, the KKK is horrendously ostracized in this country. And I think that's OK. But while they might be ostracized, KKK members still enjoy their rights, they still have the opportunity for free speech. And I think that's important too. I wouldn't equate the ostracization of open racism with McCarthyism and I don't think most folks would either.

The lesson from the McCarthyism scare isn't that ostracizing people for their beliefs is wrong. That's a valuable, even essential, function of society and an important aspect of free expression. Although we should definitely be careful in its use. The lesson is that hounding people for mostly private activities or activities in their past is wrong, and conducting public witch-hunts using the power of the government where the flimsiest of evidence is allowed to decide someone's fate is also wrong.

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The difference is that the people who stuck their neck out for racial equality, gay rights and women's rights were objectively right, but Brendan Eich is objectively wrong. And that matters.

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objectively right

There is no such thing. I agree with them, and under various moral philosophies I could make convincing arguments that they're right, but you're off the rails.

Or, if you've really found an objective measure of right and wrong that isn't based on a subjective positing of objectivity, you've upended an entire field of study, have a very rewarding future and are totally set for life. You'll just have to forgive us for not waiting with baited breath.

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Well, that's a matter of opinion (which I completely agree with!) but we can't say it's objective.

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If we can show that sexual orientation isn't a matter of choice, then we can say oppression of people based on it is objectively wrong.

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Species is not a matter of choice. And yet we're quite fine oppressing chickens.

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I'm just fascinated that you've found objectivity in ethics.

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"surprising" is one thing.

but it's downright _scary_ how people get so _zealous_ once they firmly believe they are "objectively right".

i don't know if i'm happy or sad this tendency has been adopted by the leftwingers. of course it will help them to battle the rightwingers (who always felt "righteous"), and let me be crystal clear i want the rightwing crushed, but i can't help but think that something has been lost.

i'm unsure you can _beat_ intolerance _with_ intolerance.

-bowerbird

p.s. go ahead and downvote this; it will prove my point.

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The two aren't the same. On one hand, you have powerful white guys who sometimes don't get the exact CEO crown they want. (Aww...)

On the other, you have oppressed people who face horrors. Social movements who challenge the powerful. If you're black in the US, you're vulnerable to incarceration in the country which is the world's biggest jailer. If you're a woman, you're a target of violence and subordination. If you're not entirely heterosexual, you get abuse and humiliation heaped on you.

You mention history; would you compare Turing's fate to Eich's?

Anyway, nonprofits like Mozilla have serious problems if they're so top-down that your ability to contribute is limited by your distance to the CEO crown.

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I'm sure Turing would really cry Eich a river.

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That argument means that, back in the days when homosexuality was culturally wrong, anyone who thought that it was OK should have changed their view to match the culture.

That is, your idea that social consensus determines right and wrong is really dangerous. We have historical examples where it proved to be a terrible guide to morality.

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Your idea that human rights are about social consensus is really dangerous. The argument that homosexuality is acceptable is not based on cultural attitudes, it's based on science and ethics.

Why don't you let Brendan Eich play the victim and feel sorry for himself, he doesn't need any of your help.

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Not to hijack the thread, but... science? How?

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Not sure exactly what the other fellow is talking about, but science is definitely relevant here. If you read the recent decision in the Michigan Marriage Amendment case:

http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C4220110321.PDF

The basic question was: is there a rational basis to deny gay couples the same right straight couples have? One of the offered reasons for preventing gay marriage is that it was worse for children. That being a factual question, social science research was relevant. The short version: the judge, like other judges, found that the evidence offered favored the "gay people are just fine" side of things.

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Indeed, what is better for children is a factual question, and the answer is not surprising at all. Of course gay parents don't matter, because parents don't matter. If you do literature search on the matter you will find long term effect of parenting to children outcome is (not statistically distinct from) zero when you substract genetic component.

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you know the saying "a square peg in a round hole"? well: round peg, round hole.

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The two sides of opinion are not "the majority opinion" and "people too stubborn to admit they're wrong".

It was once unacceptable to hold the opinion that different races were equal, and more recently it was unacceptable to hold the opinion that different genders were equal.

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I don't think 'integrity' in the face of an opinion that is becoming more and more unacceptable to hold in our culture is a good thing.

"Unacceptable"? Really? I don't get this mindset. The core premise of a free and open society is that you can hold any opinion you want, no matter how unpopular or "unacceptable".

Personally, I absolutely value this kind of integrity. An individual should stand firm to their principles and stand by them, regardless of what "society" or "out culture" think.

Of course, there may be consequences (economic, or whatever) as a result of having that opinion, at least if you're vocal about it. But to suggest that one should change one's views to simply fit the majority, is one of the most disturbing things I could imagine.

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I think the people wishing he had changed his mind would have liked it to be because of some dialogue or epiphany he had, rather than just conforming so he can get an impressive title. That's absurd, though. Amidst this PR crisis there's no way he could have changed his opinion in earnest. He could have changed his mind before all this, but if that were the case he should have blogged about it or something long ago.

So I think I agree with you. If he had come out and said he had changed his mind, it would have been a small victory for gay rights at the expense of his own integrity.

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So he is to be viewed as objectively incorrect because his is an opinion that "is becoming more and more unacceptable to hold in our culture"?

That's crazy, man. I can't imagine it would take too much effort to come up with some popular opinions that reasonable people could disagree with.

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>...admitting you were wrong...

Therein lies the problem. He clearly does not think he is wrong. If he made an apology it would only be for show.

Lying to appease the masses in this scenario would be no different than is he had the inverse opinion (not discriminating against gays and then telling everyone you do).

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So it's best to just side with the majority/public opinion?

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>Changing your views, and admitting you were wrong is the best thing you can do.

Dude, what?

What if he doesn't feel it was wrong? Furthermore, who the fuck cares what he believes and what he spends his money on in his own PRIVATE time? That's COMPLETELY outside of his job at the Mozilla foundation which he's been working at just fine for 15 fucking years.

Your comment genuinely irritates me.

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If the view is that some of the people you will soon be boss of are not deserving of the same civil rights as everybody else, then that is entirely relevant to his job. Because those employees would have a reasonable fear of discriminatory treatment.

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...but they haven't had a fear of discriminatory treatment since he's...a fucking founder of mozilla and worked at the company for 15 years and lead many projects.

If there was a fear of discriminatory treatment, we would've heard about it much sooner.

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He helped strip a civil right from gay people. That's discriminatory treatment. More evidence is not needed for people to have a reasonable fear of further discrimination.

"We haven't detected X, ergo X doesn't exist" is an obviously false notion. It's false even in the same situation, but it's even more obviously wrong in a different one. As CTO, he would have had a hard time making a bigoted technical decision. But as CEO, he's in charge of all sorts of stuff where a subtle bias could be expressed, and there's no longer an executive above him who could hold him accountable.

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He donated money for a campaign that he believed in. You might believe that was discriminatory, he did not. Ultimately its up to the law to decide that. He gave money for a caused he believed in, even if that cause was wrong.

But contrary to what you're trying to link it to, that does not affect his professional life or the way he managed mozilla up until this point. There's simply no evidence of it. There's no logical fallacy. There's just no evidence that he's done anything discriminatory. No angry anonymous mozilla blog posts about brendan. No company leaks. nothing.

Saying that because he's CEO and in charge and doesn't have someone to hold him accountable so he can do whatever he wants...outlines your ignorance of company structure and...office politics. Sure, a CEO can call the shots, but Brendan had been in charge of many things at Mozilla for a long time and could've realistically gotten rid of people or shuffled them around whenever he wanted to. But he didn't.

Could he have been secretly scheming to get rid of "the company gays" at Mozilla for 15 years and only now finally realized his master plan that he was CEO? I honestly, seriously, doubt it.

The fact that you cannot, and will not separate personal life from business is what truly worries me. Many people are cooperative and productive despite having different beliefs and backgrounds. Sometimes they can offer insight from a different perspective and sometimes they can be a hindrance. This is a core prospect of working with a group of people, and it is a great advantage. Brendan has shown that he wasn't a hindrance the 15 years he was at Mozilla, and he's given back a lot to the open source community.

On an off note, and I am not implying that you are doing this at all, surrounding yourself by a group of people that hold the same mindset is bad. It creates an echo chamber and allows for really terrible ideas to flourish.

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I love that he is entitled to his views, but nobody else is.

I'm not accusing him of secretly scheming. I am saying that helping to strip marriage rights from gay people -- which is indisputably what his donation did -- is reasonable cause for employees and partners to suspect anti-gay animus.

It's up to each individual to judge his actions. If you would like to give him one scorecard titled "at work" and one titled "not at work" and believe them unrelated, great. Then you can make your judgments about working at Mozilla on that basis. But that is a very particular view. You don't get to decide that for everybody. Me, I think that people are unitary individuals, and their beliefs don't change depending on what building they've walked into.

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Note that phillmv is not suggesting changing views, but just lying about changing them. Changing views can be done with integrity. Not changing them can also be done with integrity. Simply lying about what your views are, on the other hand really can't.

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becoming more and more unacceptable to hold in our culture is a good thing.

So it isn't accepted by everyone yet. So why should he or me or you ever change opinion because majority says so?

If majority says so, what's the point of minority opinion? You don't have to agree that gay deserve equality, but once the law is written, you have to accept that the gay is protected under the law.

Until all the states accepts to give marriage equality to all, the expectation of everyone to accept is hard. You don't have to agree with my disagreement in order to accept that we can agree to disagree.

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"Changing your views" isn't what was suggested.

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The Catholic Church said as much to Galileo.

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It speaks to the fact that he really, truly feels that way... which is a big problem. Sticking to your beliefs is not a virtue if your beliefs are reprehensible.

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He didn't stand up for his beliefs. He dodged all questions about them, hid behind Indonesia (?!), professed his love of inclusion and free expression, and expressed zero regret for having donated.

If he'd at least come out and said "yes, I oppose gay marriage, but I have no intention of involving that with Mozilla" then I would still not be thrilled but I would respect him more. As it stands, I know he won't talk about what he believes publicly, but he will merrily support it privately.

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A U.S. President, maybe, but no, certainly not a plain old CEO.

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I'd rather someone who acts like Carter on the issue of abortion. Someone who unapologetically states their opinion, states publicly why they hold that opinion, and then follows it up with why the role they are promising to uphold requires that they put that opinion to one side and represent the beliefs of the people they are leading instead.

You can only do this successfully if you are prepared to discuss the reasons for your opinions in public. Eich isn't.

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Integrity is only admirable when you are standing up for what's right.

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right for whom?

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The only people who can combine being anti gay marriage and integrity are those who are willing to openly admit they hate gay people.

Anybody with an ounce of integrity couldn't claim with straight face that gay marriage negatively affects their personal or religious beliefs and freedoms.

Not standing up for their beliefs but surreptitiously acting on them anyway is exactly what people like Eich do.

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It speaks to his integrity as a hateful bigot that he didn't have the human decency to change his beliefs based on the fact that he was completely incapable of coming up with a valid justification for them, and refused to justify himself or apologize for what he did. And no, his non-apology apology was not an apology.

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I think this showed Eich is insufficiently dedicated to Mozilla's mission. If Eich believed he can help Mozilla's mission by being a CEO (otherwise, why bother?), is lying about an issue more important than how much you could help Mozilla's mission? Utilitarian 101.

On the other hand, Eich probably didn't make such utilitarian calculation, and followed "do not lie" deontology instead. Pity.

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"Do not lie" is a pretty great attribute of character. Lying to keep your position is pretty much the opposite.

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Sure, not lying is great, it builds trust, yada yada.

On the other hand, imagine you have two choices. You can either lie, or Google Chrome achieves 90% market share, all of web runs on Pepper, and there is no more open web. (Let's call this world "Google Earth".) Mozilla's mission is to prevent such world, right? Do you seriously think not lying is the right thing to do in this case?

Now imagine you have choices of lying and making Google Earth 10% more likely.

Now imagine you have choices of lying and making Google Earth 1% more likely.

How much Google Earth worth is not lying? Eich probably believed him being CEO is worth some reduction in probability of Google Earth. I would be surprised "not lying" has more utility than such probability reduction. I conclude he didn't decide not to lie because of utilitarian calculation.

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Perhaps we're referring to different organizations here, but I've reviewed Mozilla's mission statement and efforts and it doesn't appear their task has any connection to preventing "Google Earth", as you describe it.

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Feel free to replace "Google Earth" with some situation you think is contrary to Mozilla's mission. The exact same argument still applies.

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I do not believe that lying to advance your goals is a praise-worthy trait. Advocating for conscious deception in service to an end is quite the slippery slope.

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It's very hard to lead when you always say what's convenient rather than what you actually believe. I know executives like that - every word out of their mouth is a sales pitch - and their people don't trust them, the rest of the company doesn't trust them, and the public at large doesn't trust them.

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It's certainly always possible to change what you believe, and that's a lot more ethical than lying about what you believe. Of course, Brendan is a failure as a CEO and a decent human being because he REFUSED to change what he believed.

It's ironic that bigots of Brendan's ilk strongly believe that it's possible for gays to change their sexual preference, while they continue to cling to what they believe in the face of all the facts that prove them wrong.

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I "like" how it didn't even occur to you that having a person who is known for integrity and honesty might be a positive.

The collateral damage of advocating a world with more liars (which is what you are doing) is gigantic, because you are now forcing everybody to waste (more) mental energy on trying to discern truth from lie.

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strongly disagrees

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dumb question alert. Why are some replies so light you can barley read them? Is this something new on HN?

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Lots and lots of downvotes. It's not new, threads like this just attract more downvotes than usual.

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Anything with a zero/negative reputation is faded correspondingly. Mouse highlighting restores it to readability, of course.

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Another thing he could do is instead of lying, just change his mind and apologize

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I would have considered him a worse person if he'd done that. I disagree with his opinions on marriage, but he has the right to have those opinions, and to provide support for causes he believes in.

I'm not shocked the he is stepping down, or that others in the organization appear to have applied substantial pressure on him to do so, but it makes me sad. Their statements about supporting freedom of speech are hollow: the community has pressured him to step down because he expressed an opinion not held by the majority.

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Ironically, though, his opinion was supported by the majority in that California election: 7 million to 6.4 million in favor of Prop 8.

I guess if they consider any other candidates for CEO from California, they'll have to ask them how they voted.

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The majority that voted. Those in favor were more likely to go out and vote than those opposed. Many of the opinion polls showed that more people were opposed, but clearly not enough of them actually went to the ballot.

Either way, I'm confident that the same measure today would have a snowball's chance in hell of passage.

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That's the way democracy works, though. If about 320,000 more conservative voters had turned out to vote in several swing states in 2012, we'd have a different President in the White House.

That doesn't mean Romney should have won, though. It's the people who turn out to vote who get to decide. If you don't care enough to vote, tough beans!

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> That's the way democracy works, though.

> It's the people who turn out to vote who get to decide. If you don't care enough to vote, tough beans!

Democracies with more complete voter participation don't seem generally worse off for it.

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I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that. The point being made is that the people who come to vote are the ones who make the decisions. If people are being prevented from casting their votes, that is a serious problem, but if people choose not to exercise their right to vote then whatever vote they would have cast doesn't count towards the outcome.

Saying that a vote would have gone differently if more people on the losing side voted is obvious. It's also not constructive, except in the context of wishing more people would participate in the political process in the future. Amusingly (or perhaps not), the fervor against Brendan Eich is based in large part around his participation in that process.

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I agree that in practice elections are won by those who manage to cast their ballots, but I disagree with the notion that this is not a defect but rather how democracy ought to work.

I'm all for the option to not vote, but I want it to be a choice. I think the current setup provides the wrong incentives: it encourages politicians to care about how they can rouse up enough to come to the polls or demoralize enough to keep away, in addition to or at the expense of reaching out to all constituents. We can change this either through cultural or legal means, but the legal way is faster and not demonstrably harmful.

Greater participation is far from a panacea, of course. It may even introduce its own particular ills (e.g. takes longer to change the status quo). But I hardly think it would make no difference at all. That's why I pointed to other democracies with better voting records, to show that overall democracy isn't harmed by more voting.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout#International_di...

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So you're saying it was wrong for the Supreme Court to strike down bans on mixed race marriages because at the time an overwhelming majority of Americans were against it?

Why do you think human rights should be put up for a vote? Are you against mixed race marriage because it was so unpopular at the time the "activist court" struck it down?

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How can it be a right if it's subject to a majority vote?

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All rights are subject to majority vote. Or subject to the majority, anyway.

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No, rights are manifestly NOT subject to a vote. That is why they are called rights.

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That is the case in an ideal world, where we receive some blessed words inscribed upon our souls and also a way to read them.

Since we don't live in that ideal world, our only option is to designate some body to decide what are rights and what are not. Whether that body is a king or a judge or a council of judges or a legislative body or the full populace (or some combination of the above) is an important and worthwhile discussion, but in the end we do need to designate some entity to decide what the rights are.

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Fortunately, that entity sits above California's voters.

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Except the population votes for the people who pick the members of that entity.

We've added a few hops, and hopefully increased the average intelligence of the people who get to decide on rights, but they still end up there based on the population's vote.

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Reality disagrees.

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No, it doesn't: Californians passed a proposition that violated people's rights. The courts, playing their proper role in our system, said, "Nope, you can't do that." That's what happened; that's reality.

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The courts played the role that the majority allowed them to play, just like they did for the hundreds of years during which even same-sex sexual activity was illegal, let alone gay marriage.

Like a diet that sometimes prevents people from eating what they crave, the system is nothing more than a mechanism of self-control for the majority.

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Is marriage a civil right, or even a fundamental human right? On closer examination, the answer appears to be NO.

The campaign for gay marriage, branded as marriage equality, actually leaves many people behind.

Brothers can't marry sisters, mothers can't marry sons (nice way to avoid inheritance tax!), men and women can't join in a polygamous marriage even though there is a long history of polygamy in many cultures around the world.

It's quite ironic that the campaign for marriage equality is itself highly discriminatory.

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You left out bestiality.

(which I've never understood why it wasn't spelled "beastiality")

I guess the rationale for specifically bestowing marital rights on same-sex (but non-related) spouses is that there's a significant number of them.

Polygamy, too, there might be a lot of that somewhere in the world, possibly Africa, obscure corners of Utah, certainly pre-modern China when it was normal for a wealthy land owner to have several wives, etc. I suspect it won't be long before polygamy is legalized. Maybe a couple of decades at most.

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What's the other option? One person, or a small elite group, deciding the list of "rights"?

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> I guess if they consider any other candidates for CEO from California, they'll have to ask them how they voted.

Interesting. The difference between which box you check, and giving money to influence other people to check a certain box. The privacy of the former is a nearly-sacred privilege, while the latter is not allowed to be private. And I do tend to agree with campaign finance disclosure, but the double-standard is interesting. To be consistent, will we have to make all voting records public?

Would there be outrage if there were political questionnaires for employment/promotion like this? If proof of lying was found, would there be more outrage over the lie; or over violating privacy to find out about the lie?

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Please remember that part of the reason many voted in favor of Prop 8 was because of the amount of money raised in donations allowed a massive ad campaign that was full of lies and deceit.

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Not sure why people always bring up "freedom of speech" in these types of scenarios. You can say what you want without going to jail; that's freedom of speech. It doesn't mean you won't feel social consequences.

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I'm an openly gay male, I came out at 15.

Why should there be social or employment consequences - in my mind this is just as bad as when employers fire employees for being gay.

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http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/10/speech-and-consequences/ describes it well:

> Speech is designed to invoke private and social consequences, whether the speech is "venti mocha no whip, please," or "I love you," or "fuck off." The private and social consequences of your speech — whether they come from a barista, or your spouse, or people online, or people at whom you shout on the street — represent the free speech and freedom of association of others.

> Yet people often confuse these categories.

I believe you are making the same confusion between the right of free speech - Eich can support a political position - and the freedom of association so employees of Mozilla and OKCupid need not be associated with a company that has Eich at its head. (In the employees' case, the right to quit.)

There can be and is a tension there. As a country we have said that the right of free association is limited while at work, and that certain factors - race, religion, country of origin, etc. - cannot be used to discriminate between employees. But other factors, like disrupting the office every hour on the hour for a boisterous rendition of the National Anthem, can be grounds for punitive action.

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Exercising Freedom of Speech and Association shouldn't open one up to trial by public opinion - we did this once before, McCarthyism and the blacklist in the 50's - I'd rather not see us ever return to an era where there are bogymen lurking in the corners.

As much as I strongly disagree with the Prop 8 folks, I think resorting to trying them in the court of public opinion is fundamentally wrong.

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Could you tell me how 'trial by public opinion' in this case is different than a call for a boycott or picketing? That is, I assume that you think people should have a right to boycott and picket. Those are well protected free speech rights in the US.

McCarthyism and the blacklist involved decades of government pressure, including passing various laws against Communists at both state and national levels. The blacklist specifically started after various people were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify to the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

That's hardly the same as a few organizations calling for a boycott of Firefox and a few people threatening to quit their jobs at or stop volunteering for Mozilla, is it?

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The main point here is the notion of protected class. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_class In the United States protected classes are predominately traits upon which the individual has no control over (the notable exception being religion, pregnancy, and veteran status which are present because of constitutional and social value reasoning). Because of this line of logic egalitarians in this country support moving sexual preference as a protected class. Holding opinions (for whatever reason, you don't get to hide behind religion on that one) is on you and if that causes your employer to look bad or runs against what they stand for it is perfectly reasonable to expect to be let go.

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Being gay and being a bigot are not comparable, that's insane.

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I think what he's getting at is that you shouldn't suffer work consequences for opinions that you hold outside of work.

Alternatively, maybe we can decide on a set of American values and we can investigate and blackball people who hold unamerican views.

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Things like this are about ethics, not "American Values" or any cultural norms. It used to be the cultural norm to be a white supremacist but that position as never actually been ethical.

Additionally, in this specific case it's worth noting that the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation are largely political organizations and someone who holds such obviously bigoted views is pretty clearly unqualified to lead an organization who's goals are freedom and openness.

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Since you think ethics are absolute and unchanging, can you please tell the rest of us what the one true ethical code is?

I'm pretty sure a much more reasonable interpretation is that ethics are subject to cultural norms, and that we should not decide on one true version of ethics and force that upon everyone.

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Obviously there is too much detail and history to lay out the Correct Ethical Choice for every single situation ever, but stuff like "give people equal rights," which is what we are talking about in this case, should be incredibly obvious to any reasonable person these days and judging by the backlash against Eich's appointment to CEO, that seems to be the case.

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Being a bigot is a lifestyle choice, and I don't support it

(this is just a joke)

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> the community has pressured him to step down because he expressed an opinion not held by the majority.

That's not true. The fact that the majority believe the idea was necessary for the pressure to be applied, but it is not why the pressure was applied. The pressure was applied because his views trample on others' rights, and equal rights is philosophically closely tied with the entire mission of an organization like Mozilla. There are many other things which the majority believe, but which most people would acknowledge an individual's right to disagree with. This issue is different because Eich's personal opinion negatively materially affects another class of people without any justification.

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> his views trample on others' rights

No; I don't agree with Eich's views, but merely having those views does not implicate anyone else's rights in any way at all. Rights are violated by actions, not merely by expressing distasteful opinions.

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It's shocking and irritating to me that the three of the replies pointing out the strictly false nature of your post are all downvoted while your post sits inexplicably positive.

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You mean actions like donating $1,000 to a campaign to deny people's rights.

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Donating money over time against marriage equality is pretty distasteful.

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I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you somehow have been living under a rock and did not know that he donated $1000 to support California Prop 8.

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You can turn any political belief into "someone's rights". There are people who believe abortion is a woman's right, and others that believe legal abortion is an unprecedented holocaust. I believe we should be able to work together and respect each other while we work that out.

This is enforcing an ideological litmus test on the industry, policing people's internal beliefs. It is terrifying.

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Personally, I feel the opposite. I think it's terrifying that so many in the tech industry apparently feel that ethics are irrelevant.

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Sure, the world is not black and white, you can always twist things around and mince words to support any viewpoint. But you picked a bad example, because the argument with abortion is that the unborn baby has rights too.

The only way you can say gay marriage violates someone's rights is to say that people have the right to not be offended, or the right to hate people who are different from them. For all the contortions that people will make on this issue, it's fundamentally about fear and hate and nothing more. Abortion is a much more nuanced issue.

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Yes the framing is intentionally naïve, as if the minority-ness of the opinion is why he was rejected. If he was a vegan I doubt anyone would give a shit despite that belief being way more unpopular than opposition to gay marriage. The key is not that his belief was unpopular, it's that he held a belief widely regarded as bigoted and unjust. He then went on to enact those beliefs by proxy, through financial contributions.

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Freedom of speech is to be exercised only for populist opinions.

If we continue to travel down this path, we'd all have the same opinions, as anyone who dares to hold an different opinion than the majority would be ostracized from the society.

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Ironically, what you're saying is that the right to free speech for the people who dissented shouldn't be respected.

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Human society seems quite capable of forming isolated regions (usually geographic, but also online) where a certain belief can prosper despite it being opposed in other regions.

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No one is abridging Eich's freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is the right to express yourself, not the right to have no one judge you for it.

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This is how East Germany worked. You weren't usually harmed for holding non-communist beliefs, but you were blacklisted so that you would never work again.

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It's also important to remember that freedom of speech is only protected from the government (which is why your East Germany example is nonsensical). The first admendment says you can stand on a public street corner and yell "God hates Fags" however, if you do so on my property I will remove you.

Mozilla is not a governmental body and (so long as it doesn't violate the protected classes as codified by law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_class) can hire and fire people to project whatever image they see fit.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but blacklisting was done by the government. It wasn't just some business owners that decides they weren't going to hire non-communists. Big difference.

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Not all opinions are equivalent. There are opinions that are factually wrong or ethically wrong in the context of accumulated and shared wisdom of the society.

If you stubbornly hold on to latter, is it bad to you eventually become ostracized? Should we respect a holocaust denier as a good member of the society? As a CEO? How about someone who doesn't deny it, but thinks it was a right thing to do?

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There's a difference between expressing an opinion, and actively working to establish legal and social policy.

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Is there? I don't think we want to take the stance, as a society, that it's ok to have unpopular opinions as long as you don't advocate for your opinions.

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Why not? I don't care if my neighbor believes aliens built the pyramids and some deity created all animals in their present form in six days. I do care if they pressure the school board to teach those things to my children.

In the same way, I don't care if somebody believes that different races shouldn't intermarry because of dilution of racial purity or that people of the same sex shouldn't marry because of Adam and Steve. I do care if they try to put that into law.

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This is the same logic that was used to justify policies like Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

We are not perfect beings; we make mistakes, we believe things that end up being false, and we do things that we (or the rest of society) will regret later. As such, advocating that opinions other than the current prevailing set should be suppressed is a dangerous game to play. I know that like most of the people advocating it are doing so out of a desire to see the world become a better place. But since we've been wrong before about what "a better place" looks like, we should exercise utmost caution in telling others to be silent about their own views.

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Really? You think there's a chance we're wrong about the pyramids and allowing racial mixing?

Clearly, we aren't. Clearly, the people who push the opposing policies are harming society. Just like with evolution, there is no debate among thinking people about this.

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Society has the right to protect itself from intolerant bigots like Brendan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

Michael Walzer asks "Should we tolerate the intolerant?". He notes that most minority religious groups who are the beneficiaries of tolerance are themselves intolerant, at least in some respects. In a tolerant regime, such people may learn to tolerate, or at least to behave "as if they possessed this virtue". Philosopher Karl Popper asserted, in The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1, that we are warranted in refusing to tolerate intolerance. Philosopher John Rawls concludes in A Theory of Justice that a just society must tolerate the intolerant, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust. However, Rawls also insists, like Popper, that society has a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance: "While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger."

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> All he had to do was lie

I may be diametrically opposed to Brendan's views, but he has earned my respect by being honest and sticking to his values.

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Meh. Sticking to your values of exclusion and divisiveness isn't really something I can respect someone for. 'Good for you for continuing to believe that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry, even though it doesn't hurt you in any way if they do.'

Preventing gay people from getting married really just seems like spite, like 'I don't like you so you can't have this'. I can't respect someone like that.

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> even though it doesn't hurt you in any way if they do.

He is no longer CEO of Mozilla, a job he quite clearly wanted to do. Sticking to his beliefs _HAS_ cost him.

It's not spite. It's based on his moral framework. 15 years ago I shared that framework, so I understand why he feels that way. He is, in my opinion, wrong, and I hope that he eventually realizes that (like I did).

But he stuck to his beliefs at a time when lesser men would have buckled.

We could do with my people like that in the financial industry..

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Would you say the same of people who hold opinions you've always thought were immoral? Do you respect the current remaining members of the KKK for sticking to their guns?

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You should respect him if he had the integrity to earnestly change his views. But he deserves absolutely no respect for sticking to views that are wrong and hateful that he refuses to even justify.

Just because you were a bigot 15 years ago doesn't mean you should respect bigots who haven't changed their opinions yet. You deserve some respect for changing your views, but Brendan only deserves contempt for failing to do that himself, not respect.

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I think Eich is a bigot and I'm glad he stepped down. I don't see how someone can be against gay marriage and not have a problem with homosexuality in general.

How does one go about changing their views? They just wake up one day they're like "hmmm.. I just don't hate gays anymore"? Most of the reformed racists and other bigots I've heard about have become that way because something happened, maybe a family member came out or a black dude helped them jump start their car or something stupid like that.

Your comments read just like the people that claim homosexuality is a choice and gays should just choose to not be gay.

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I agree with this. His last interview was just embarrassingly bad, no kind of leadership at all. Leadership is taking responsibility and owning your actions, not hand waving and vaguely pushing away.

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From what I've seen, he has demonstrated a few of the traits of a Level 5 leader (from the book Good to Great). Very humble, puts others before himself, has integrity. The fact that he's not a skilled interviewer and terrible at politics is a plus, not a negative.

CEOs with integrity in the face of public persecution are very rare.

The next guy to replace him could be someone that will sink the Mozilla ship.

> Leadership is taking responsibility and owning your actions.

You are implying that it is a fact that his actions are wrong, when it's simply an opinion.

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So the ideal CEO is someone who will lie about his beliefs the second it becomes inconvenient for him?

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Also works well in politics, apparently.

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Don't forget the clergy

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It doesn't work for Mozilla.

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We don't know that. He didn't lie. For all we know lying about your beliefs works fine at Mozilla.

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Don't know about you, but I applaud any organization that can hold itself to standards as high as theirs.

As I understand, this position is a rather unpopular one.

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He could have at least honestly said that he wouldn't donate to such causes again. In the current climate, that would just be a foolish waste of money anyway.

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Because, of course, a lie of omission* can't really be considered a lie at all!

Of course, it all depends what we mean by lie. In my experience this tends to vary from person to person.

Personally, I do tend to lie of omission* much more willingly than not of omission, though I am not really convinced that it is any more moral.

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I'm afraid I don't understand what you're saying. When he was asked if he would donate more money to these causes, a savvy person would have thought to himself, "You know, I've already said how I feel about the issue at hand. However, clearly my donations are causing some very bad press for the company I'm supposed to lead, so it would be unwise as a leader to repeat that action however I personally feel," and honestly answered, "No, I'm not going to donate to those causes anymore despite whatever my personal viewpoints are." No lies.

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I completely agree, and thank you actually for saying "All he had to do was lie". We may not like that said option exists, but lying was an option. As was simply saying "I'm not going to lie {comment about personal beliefs}" - which may wouldn't have helped him keep the job, but might have given me more respect for the guy[1]

[1] As an out and proud queer, I'd rather someone be honest than obviously skirt around issues without addressing them. At least then we know were we stand

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"All he had to do was lie".

Are you suggesting this would've been better, in the grand scheme of things?

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From Eich's position, and assuming he wanted to lead Mozilla, and assuming Mozilla wanted above all else for Eich to lead Mozilla, yes. Lying would have been the best move.

In a greater societal context, I'm not sure. I think it is naive to say being 100% honest and transparent 100% of the time is always the best solution, as theoretically appealing as that is. I think it depends on whether you personally think the greater good Mozilla could have done with Eich as CEO, if any, outweighs the (positive?) message that we send when we force people with unpopular beliefs out of their positions. I purposefully ignore the actual monetary contribution, since the Supreme Court struck down Prop 8 anyway.

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This is the culture we've created for ourselves. The only people who can be in a position of power or publicity must be sanitized to the extreme. Hold a view that isn't mainstream and you will be eviscerated by a mob that has hijacked the media. I guarantee that no one has a completely "right" set of views that won't anger some faction of the population enough to create a mob response. Of course, we still need politicians, CEOs, and presidents. And thus the only way these people can rise to the top is to lie through their teeth. This is the environment we've created, and thus this is what we get.

Incentives matter, and instances like this simply re-enforce the fact that one must lie about their true opinions otherwise you will be tarred and feathered.

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"sanitized to the extreme"

"Hold a view that isn't mainstream"

We're not talking about slightly controversial views, 'colorful' language, or a 'racy' past here, we're talking about out-and-out homophobia, wanting people to be treated as lesser humans simply because of who they love. Please, that is a LONG way from being 'sanitized to the extreme'.

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Personally I think your characterization is hyperbole. There are a lot of rational reasons to oppose gay marriage (if you allow one their irrational premises). Opposing the state recognizing gay marriage is far from "treating people as lesser humans".

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If there were no state benefits for those married, of course. But there are. Both opposing gay marriage AND not opposing that benefit system is patently discriminatory - how could it be anything else? It is saying 'there is no way you are going to get the same benefits as other people, because of whom you happen to love'.

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I was under the impression that a sizeable amount of people are against gay marriage for purely symbolic reasons and that they would be fine with civil unions, which would grant all the same legal benefits of marriage. Under this scenario opposition to gay marriage seems more like a political/religious belief rather than a civil rights issue.

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It seems like a semantic belief in that case, which doesn't seem to be worth spending $1,000 on, let alone the rest. Unfortunately, I don't share your optimism: I suspect that many of those objecting have a pathological dislike of gay people.

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If this were true, then all religious bigots would simultaneously be "pro civil unions", which is like never the case.

I agree with you, they are two different tunes, but never sung simultaneously in practice.

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Err, did you actually read Prop 8 legislation?

This was never about "treating people as lesser humans", despite the cawing hyperbole from the pro-homosexual-marriage faction...

This was basically a semantic debate.

Marriage, for most of recorded history, was defined as one thing.

There's a new style of relationship that's arisen in modern times, and that group wants to extend the definition of marriage to cover that as well.

Heck, in many countries, you don't even need a marriage, leg alone a civil union - simply being in a de-facto relationship (i.e. living together) will give you the same privileges (tax, medical etc.)

It was never about privileges (government's can't grant rights), but just about ideologies.

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> There are a lot of rational reasons to oppose gay marriage (if you allow one their irrational premises).

How can you have a rational reason with an irrational premise? If the premise is irrational, so is anything based on it.

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I disagree. Rationality is the process of deducing new knowledge from existing knowledge and axioms. Axioms generally aren't rational in this sense. "Irrational premises" were meant specifically to evoke the idea of religion, not necessarily as the opposite of "rational" used in the preceding sentence.

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I genuinely don't want to rag on religious people, but I don't think that's legit. "We need to cut out peoples' hearts and offer them to the gods, because if we don't the sun won't rise" is not a "rational" argument for human sacrifice by any useful standard. No more so is "we need to deny gay people human rights because God wants us to." No amount of earnest belief makes that argument remotely valid.

So, no, there are zero rational reasons to oppose gay marriage, only irrational, bigoted reasons.

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My response to the same point in another thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7536635

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Not to make a general rule, but in this case I think it would have.

The most damaging thing about homophobic (or other bigoted) views isn't necessarily how the holder of those views acts toward people based on them (in this case it's clear that Eich didn't treat individuals any differently), but how making those views public legitimizes them in other people, giving space for others to act on them directly, and delays full societal acceptance of the marginalized group.

In other words, it's the knowledge that a public figure has those beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. If he just hid them, it would make things better overall.

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I don't think he's suggesting that at all. He's saying that might've resolved the controversy while allowing Eich to remain as CEO.

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I certainly think so, at least for Mozilla. Perhaps his close family and friends would be upset with him for lying about his views, but if he estimated that they would be okay with it, I don't see what the problem would be.

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It depends if lying as such would be "ethical", but of course that too is open to interpretation.

Although this not exactly written for the audience of CEO's here's one viewpoint on this: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/the-right-and...

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Yes. I was waiting until he had the opportunity to actually put out a good response (despite the initial waffle). That interview destroyed any faith I had.

But I blame this entire trial and failure on the Board. It is their responsibility to vet candidates, and their inability see how this could blow up shows a horrible lack of judgment on their part.

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> "I understand how my activities can be seen as divisive and wrong and inconsistent with my commitment to upholding the diverse values underpinning the Mozilla community and I apologize for my behaviour at the time. I will do everything in my power to make up for it and I hope the community can judge me based me on my record from this point onwards".

This is close enough to what he actually said:

https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/inclusiveness-at-mozilla/

that it's not at all far-fetched to wonder if there's anything he could have said or done that would have been enough.

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The difference to me is that he hasn't admitted his previous views or apologized for the harm he did. Saying, in effect, "Oh, I don't want to talk about helping to strip gay people of their civil rights, but I promise at work I'll be totally awesome," struck me as a) weaselly, and b) unconvincing.

Personally, I don't care much about the donation alone. But his handling of it has been terrible. If he had owned his action and apologized, this would have been a small issue. But from both a staff- and media-relations perspective, leaving this an open issue and trying to dodge the meat of it was a mistake. It's that that makes me think he might not have been a good CEO.

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>The most damning aspect of this was their a) inability to predict this would be an issue and b) their inability to deal with it once it did.

I'll grant you a) but with respect to b) there was nothing they could have really done once Eich decided to stand his ground. Who would have thought that Eich felt so strongly on this topic that he was willing to sacrifice his CEO position and possibly his future at Mozilla. He never came close to either apologizing for his actions or publicly supporting gay marriage. He really really is against gay-marriage, that's his thing.

>All he had to do was lie...

Personally, I'd rather he not lie.

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>All he had to do was lie and say "I understand how my activities can be seen as divisive and wrong and inconsistent with my commitment to upholding the diverse values underpinning the Mozilla community and I apologize for my behaviour at the time. I will do everything in my power to make up for it and I hope the community can judge me based me on my record from this point onwards".

I think liberals have a hard time understanding that "bad people" people truly believe the things they say and do. If someone feels that their beliefs are justified they generally don't care if it upsets people. It seems like all you wanted from his guy was an insincere apology...or worse rhetorical nonsensical featuring all the right pleasant-sounding keywords.

Frankly, I prefer it when bigots speak freely and openly-- that way the rest of us can understand what we're up against.

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"""All he had to do was lie and say "I understand how my activities can be seen as divisive and wrong and inconsistent with my commitment to upholding the diverse values underpinning the Mozilla community and I apologize for my behaviour at the time. I will do everything in my power to make up for it and I hope the community can judge me based me on my record from this point onwards"."""

He did say that. https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/inclusiveness-at-mozilla/

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He did not apologize for his behaviour, he expressed his "sorrow at having caused pain." Quite different.

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It's really not, but people choose to see it that way.

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An apology is acknowledgement of wrongdoing. He did not acknowledge wrongdoing, he acknowledged that he hurt people but did not admit to any wrongdoing.

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His last interview was the point where I started to call for it, as he buried his head in the sand with everything that's happened.

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"All he had to do was lie"

This speaks volumes.

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I would have agreed years ago, but consider me jaded. All it says to me is "Yep, you're reading Hacker News."

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Thank you for saying so. I find the moral compass of a lot of HN posters rather baffling sometimes. Nice to know I'm not the only one :o)

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> I find the moral compass of a lot of HN posters rather baffling sometimes.

From what I can tell, pretty much everyone in this topic thinks that opposing gay marriage is immoral and donating money to Prop 8 is a bad thing. The divide is on whether it is OK to oust someone for their beliefs, given a lot of extenuating circumstances. And on HN, there are a large number of people who think yes, and a large number of people who think no.

You know what bothers me? People who try to shut down debate. Those that think not only is the other side wrong, but it's not even up for discussion. There's another poster decrying the lack of ethics in the tech community, which really is another way of saying "don't even talk about this, my opinion is right/ethical/moral, and yours is wrong/unethical/immoral."

Another way of shutting down debate is by making snarky one-liners. Why actually talk about something when you can assert that you are right, and that HN is stupid (presumably excluding the large number of people who agree with you)? What exactly are you adding to the discussion?

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Umm.. sorry, but not everyone thinks opposing gay marriage is immoral. That's just you hoping that everyone agrees with your point of view. Which they don't.

Morality has nothing to do with defining the limitations of artificial mad-made things such as "marriage".

It's like denying the gay community their annual mardi gras because the streets are trashed with broken bottles and nothing really good comes out of it except gay people have a big party. Cancelling the party would surely bring much "gay hatred" accusations. So the party continues, every year. And every year the same thing happens - streets trashed and gay party people pop pills all night long.

Imagine if there was an annual heterosexual party, celebrating heterosexuality? Imagine the outcry and hatred directed at such a thing?

I have nothing against gay people, but personally find the whole gay activist vibe on the marriage issue really pathetic and manipulative. Fair enough fight for equal laws regarding health and so on, but marriage is what it is. You need to respect people who want to keep marriage as something for a man+woman.

If I don't agree with gay marriage, I DO NOT deserve your hatred and ridicule,

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Totally, I often feel the same way and like I'm on my own, these posts are the way I vent.

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In the world where you live, where CEOs never tell lies, what colour is the sky?

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Eich's late March '14 comment, for reference: https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/inclusiveness-at-mozilla/

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Yeah I couldn't believe the last interview he did where he basically hand waved the whole controversy away and effectively said if people make a big deal it will just hurt Firefox.

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All he had to do was learn.

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As a gay man this makes me sad.

Eich gave a relatively small amount of money to a cause that happened to be supported by a majority of voters at the time(disclosure: I am gay, I don't care). For the first ~200 years of America NO ONE supported gay marriage beyond fringe gay groups. 20 years ago a celebrated sitting Democratic president signed DOMA. It was a long time ago and not a lot of money and Eich's (edit: technical)contributions outweigh his political opinions. "Not supporting marriage equality" should not be an "unacceptable" opinion. Why can't we respect people's opinions? How is this any different from railroading a staunch Catholic or Mormon or Muslim out of an organization(because if you say "god told me to feel this way" it turns into a protected class). I'd be delighted to work with him, because I don't tend to work with people on software projects with their political views in mind. It just bums me out when people capitulate to angry mobs, in either direction(just last week an organization capitulated to an anti gay agenda...World Vision, and that made me sad too).

Edit again: Why don't all you folks put your money where your mouth is and refactor all of your JS code to dart or something, just so you don't have to be tainted by evil Eich.

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I'm not sure how I feel about this one.

On the one hand, Brendan Eich had some beliefs that were against Mozilla's core values, but on the other hand we just showed that when a mob on the Internet wants something - they get it. It's scary because this mob has global reach, unlimited power, but isn't always right.

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"On the one hand, Brendan Eich had some beliefs that were against Mozilla's core values."

Care to elaborate this? Last time I read, the Mozilla Manifeto[1] says nothing about marriage rights or anything marginally related.

[1] https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/

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Exactly. Mozilla is about at the end of the day "openness" unfortunately for some people at mozilla, that means working with people who's views you might not be comfortable with. This is the whole point of working in and pushing for an open society.

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It looks like some people's response to working with people who's views you might not be comfortable with is to get those people fired. Which is great, as long as you always hold the views which is approved by everybody and never step out of the line. Woe to you if you do.

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This isn't what "open society" means. In your view, what would we do with people that discriminate based on gender, or skin colour? We cannot tolerate this. Any society must strive to ensure equal rights to its members.

Edit: we're not going to have this debate for every minority group. This equal rights thing is happening, whether you like it or not.

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The Mozilla Manifesto should not be taken to be the total sum of what Mozilla, as an organization, believes. Their Manifesto is about how they believe the internet should behave and be treated, not how the company itself should behave and act with regards to its own employees.

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"The Mozilla Manifesto should not be taken to be the total sum of what Mozilla, as an organization, believes."

That's the deal. They all think differently on subjects unrelated to the Manifesto. True, there may be cases where the ratio is 99% against 1%. But it's still there.

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I'm kind of confused why a software project has to have any values about gay marriage. Should they also have values about abortion, gun control, marijuana legalization, single-payer healthcare, contraceptive funding, stem-cell research, fracking? You know, we have a lot of hot button topics here and a lot of groups who would like nothing more than make national news by attaching themselves to something or somebody famous and making a nice juicy controversy. Having nothing to do with what Mozilla foundation was supposed to do, but who cares?

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Because the project employs gay people, some of whom would be in a position to receive marriage benefits from said project.

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So what? The project can also employ gun-owning people, marijuana-smoking people, birth-control-using people, healthcare-using people, etc. Those issues are hot issues because they interest a lot of people, and since big project employs a lot of people, it is inevitable that the intersection between people affected by the issue of the day and people working at big company is significant. And among them inevitably would be the people holding minority - or, in this case, unpopular majority opinion. If you refuse to interact with them, your circle of reference becomes very narrow indeed.

Once diversity meant surrounding oneself with people different from you and learning to deal with them. Now some people understand diversity as surrounding oneself with people looking superficially different but thinking virtually the same, within very near bounds. This is just sad and wrong.

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Um, the project would not give gun or marijuana benefits to its employees.

Yes, government-sponsored birth control is a hot issue and many CEOs are having a hard time reconciling it. And, yes some people have quit over it. So, yes, it's similar.

Being pro-diversity does not mean being morally obligated to accept racism or hate-induced views. That's pretzel logic.

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The project also doesn't give gay marriage benefits, so what's the difference? If the gay marriage ever is recognized by California or on federal level, the benefits would be automatically equalized. I'm not sure if it's possible to do that before the law is set in this regard (may be some accounting/tax issues with just giving benefits to people that the law considers strangers).

>>> Being pro-diversity does not mean being morally obligated to accept racism or hate-induced views

It does not mean that, of course. But it also does not mean you should try to ruin the life of everybody who disagrees with you.

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Yes, the project does. Quote: "Mozilla offers the best benefits I have ever had and goes out of its way to offer benefits to its employees in same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships on par with those in heterosexual marriages."

The bare minimum compliance with current law is no way run a company. Great companies do more for their employees than the law requires.

I don't see anyone (other than idiot internet trolls) wanting his life ruined. All I see are some pretty compelling arguments for some difficulties he will face as a CEO and a lot of anguish that this had to happen at all.

If he'd just shown some empathy in that CNet interview, I wonder if things would have gone differently? It read like an engineer's response, not like a CEO. Alas.

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OK, so that's possible (I wasn't sure it is but I'm rather ignorant in accounting/tax law) and Mozilla, despite their CEO supporting Prop 8, does absolute maximum that is possible, going out of their way to be inclusive. So what exactly is the concern with him as the CEO?

>>> If he'd just shown some empathy in that CNet interview, I wonder if things would have gone differently?

I think this is disingenuous. The campaign people were absolutely out for him for donating to prop 8 and won't be satisfied unless he's gone from CEO position. Saying it like "oh, if only he'd say this and that then it all be fine" doesn't make any sense - it wouldn't be fine for people who called to boycott Mozilla over it until he'd be gone. Now he's gone, and probably own't be able to serve in high position in any large company, because if he were, the same people would immediately use it to get more air time attacking him. Does it ruin his life? I don't know, depends on the point of view. But definitely it will have a lasting impact.

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The concern is that those policies were put in place before he became CEO. They're a part of Mozilla culture, yet he made no (publicized) attempt to reconcile his well-known personal views with them. That's a problem!

He could have let the campaign bluster. A good CEO will piss a few people off anyway. It's inevitable. Eich could have let a few developers quit, but shown everyone else (especially the board!) why he's the right person for the job.

Unfortunately, his recent bumbling turned a medium PR mess into a major one, and demonstrated that he might not be CEO material after all. That's my take anyway -- I don't believe the original donation was the cause of his resignation, just the trigger.

There are a number of Silicon Valley companies that would hire him to a high position today. Probably not to CEO or HR of course. Or PR. But remember how many influential friends he has -- they won't be swayed by this mess. In a few months, when all this has blown over, I expect most companies will be happy to forget this ever happend.

His life is far from ruined.

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Curious, why the downvote?

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on the other hand we just showed that when a mob on the Internet wants something - they get it.

I don't think that this follows. In this particular case, someone was promoted to a role which many felt was incompatible with his personal views; they made that known, and the person in question stepped down. That's kind of how things should work in a community enterprise.

That said, I understand he's received wildly disproportionate abuse, like death threats. That's totally unacceptable, and frankly I'm surprised that anybody feels that strongly about the issue.

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Not to minimize the issue, but receiving death threats is rapidly becoming part of being a public figure on the Internet. Columnists, reporters, celebrities, and many others receive them all the time. It's definitely unacceptable, but it's not like we have shown an ability to control it, and I can't think of any assassinations of high-profile Internet figures. I'm surprised you're surprised at people, though! Death threats are regularly meted out over FAR more inconsequential things. I haven't received any myself but colleagues have... and then again I didn't look too closely at the comments on my gun control article. Anyway - it sucks, but it's pretty much the norm for people like Eich to receive death threats pretty regularly.

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I really wish when people talked about "death threats", there was some clarification on what that actually means.

Is it a detailed email summarized as "I know where you live, you better watch your step, because I'm going to kill you"?

Or a tweet of "Fuck off and die"

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> Not to minimize the issue, but receiving death threats is rapidly becoming part of being a public figure on the Internet.

Indeed, I've gotten quite a few death threats myself over the years for my radical cause of trying to improve the quality of video game emulators.

The problem with the internet is that you can't really judge a person's mental state from a text post. Quite often the person on the other end making the threats is literally mentally ill.

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Wow really? I don't get why someone would be against a more accurate emulator, especially to the point of death threats.

I love your work by the way.

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Get to be an exec at Nintendo or Sony and you might feel differently!

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>my radical cause of trying to improve the quality of video game emulators.

God's work. Thank you for this.

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I was a LONGTIME Digger before that though had even occurred to me. The crazy folks who shout at you on the bus aren't exactly going to be eloquent when they sit down to type are they ;)

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Well, when your partner dies and the State doesn't recognize your marriage, you don't get survivor benefits. It's conceivable to be with a partner for most of your life, and then lose the house you lived in to your partner's bigot family. That's something to feel strongly about.

That said, death threats are always disproportional, and I think we can all agree that however you feel about Eich and his contribution, they were uncalled for.

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> Well, when your partner dies and the State doesn't recognize your marriage, you don't get survivor benefits.

The lack of survivor benefits is ridiculous. But it is (or could and should be) completely orthogonal to how government defines the term "marriage."

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Well, it's the world we live in, not as it should be. The government definition of marriage and the rights it confers (not just survivor benefits, but substantial tax/program eligibility economic advantages, among others) are real and should not be withheld on the basis of sexual orientation. And the priority should be addessing this clear violation of the 14th amendment before addressing the relationship between the religious ritual of marriage and the nondenominational legal relationship of marriage that regrettably shares the same name.

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I might be misremembering (I'm on the other side of the country) but didn't the civil unions give exactly the same survivor benefits?

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Were there actually threats? I just googled "Brendan Eich threat" and didn't see anything relevant.

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There was at least one mozilla employee that reported on their blog that they received death threats when they blogged about support for the new CEO (despite initially conflicting feelings, the blogger is gay). I'm not linking to the blog because they might end up getting more abuse.

When controversial stuff like this happens, it is sadly common to receive death threats on the internet. Given that employees merely voicing support received death threats, I would be surprised if the CEO did not receive such things as well.

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Why would you not link to it? It is a public blog it is meant to be read. Respectful your point makes no logically sense. You think the HN crowd is the youtube crowd? Is it this one: http://incisive.nu/2014/thinking-about-mozilla/

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I was talking about a different blogpost actually.

While I agree with you that the HN crowd is not YouTube, there are still many people reading this and sharing with others etc., and since the blogger I am talking about has already been harassed, I don't see a point in drawing more attention there. It doesn't help our discussion anyhow, there are only downsides.

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I work at Mozilla. I don't know about Brendan, but other employees definitely received multiple death threats.

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Why would anyone else get threatened?

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Because people can be cruel idiots. Your question makes it sound like properly targeted death threats would be rational. They are not.

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Because they blogged about the situation.

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Of course a threat that actually contains the word threat is probably more comedic than threatening.

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Reasonably legit news reporting on threats would probably contain the word "threat"; that's what I was looking for.

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Here's the root of the issue:

"many felt was incompatible with his personal views"

Who all is "many" here? People at Mozilla? People in the tech industry? People who are LGBT? Angry people on the internet with nothing better to do than troll?

People who actually were directly and personally affected by Eich's actions in donating, of which there are quite few compared to the number of people weighing in on this?

It's easy to have an echo-chamber hollering for blood, but let's not pretend that those voices have any automatic credibility.

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People who actually were directly and personally affected by Eich's actions in donating, of which there are quite few compared to the number of people weighing in on this?

Is this the case? There are a whole bunch of LGBT people working at Mozilla, and in the wider tech community. On top of that, there are families and friends of these people, who while not being personally affected can certainly legitimately object to the damage done to their close peers.

I suspect that this affects more people than you are implying.

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"damage done to their close peers"

Again, what damage, and how does that get traced directly back to Eich? The law was repealed, marriage reinstated, and everything's fine. The system worked, so what's the issue?

And a "whole bunch"? How many? Numbers? Percentage? Let us not suspect--we are in the Information Age. Google your way to success.

The only number we have is $1000 from Eich to support Prop 8--that's the only number we have. Somehow that one number is enough evidence to cost the man his job, but magically nobody else has to back up their assails.

Look, if the numbers for this act justify the outrage, sure, I'll recant--but that simply hasn't happened yet, and the bookkeeping is pretty shoddy.

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How is that not enough evidence? He paid $1000 to the campaign. Since the outrage began, he has said nothing to nuance his position, nothing to talk about changing his mind, nothing to make his employees or contributors feel like he had their best interest at heart.

And furthermore, are you really trying to say we should have to directly tie how that money went into the Prop 8 bank account and then was spent to influence voters in California?

You're making completely irrational requests. Showing up at an anti-civil rights protest back in the 60s may not have directly influenced someone to keep their mouth shut out of safety(and how would you prove that it did), but it has an influence and to act like because you can't directly tie it to someone is to absolve people of any past wrongdoings short of force.

Changing your mind is okay. Saying you were wrong is okay. They need to be, as society grows and matures. But the same as the risks taken by those who try to push society's opinions ahead of itself, if you lag behind you're just as likely to get hurt.

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It's rational to demand an apology or explanation for a vote held six years ago that actually passed? Are you going to collect apologies from the other seven million voters as well?

Sorry, and I hate to be the one to say it, but his view isn't that far from mainstream. In fact, it would seem less than a decade ago, it was quite popular.

Just because your opinion is currently popular, doesn't mean the people who disagreed with you six years ago owe you an apology or they can't have a job.

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That's a preposterous argument. Is there some kind of minimum damage level that must be achieved before publicly objecting to someone's views? How does one quantify social damage?

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Well, they just cost a man his job--that's fairly quantifiable.

So, yeah, I don't think it's unreasonable that, in exchange, we be able to show both columns in the ledger.

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Yes. The "many people" here is a small but shrill collection of single issue voters/activists. Through slick PR these individuals were able to convert his employment status into a referendum on a political issue, even though one should have nothing to do with the other.

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> That said, I understand he's received wildly disproportionate abuse, like death threats.

[citation needed]

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That said, I understand he's received wildly disproportionate abuse, like death threats.

It must have been difficult for him to receive the same treatment as every sufficiently notable LGBT individual.

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Yes, it probably was. And it's just as sad.

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Burden of proof is on you to prove that "every sufficiently notable LGBT individual" has received "wildly disproportionate abuse, like death threats".

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I don't know that there's a list of famous people including sexual orientation and whether they've received death threats or not. However:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6239098.stm - 17% of UK gay students report receiving death threats

http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2008/victims.html - 17% of hate crimes in the US (2008) are related to sexual orientation (mainly against male homosexuals).

I think it would be fair to extrapolate that famous gay people also receive plenty of death threats.

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Nevertheless throwaway137 said "every", not something around 17%.

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Unfortunately I think what this encourages is being less genuine.. hiding your personal feelings when they go against the current tide. Was the problem truly that he felt this way, or that he publicly+financially felt that way? If there was no public record of his position, there'd be no controversy.

I completely disagree with his position, but I don't think shutting him up or vilifying him is the answer.

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The problem is that it ceased to be his personal opinion when he donated money to and voted to strip other people of their rights (while keeping those rights for himself) under force of law. He directly contributed to preventing some of his very own employees from being able to marry in their home state of California. A right they had previously enjoyed.

If he held to his own beliefs, but allowed others to have their own beliefs and live their lives how they wanted, I sincerely doubt this would have been such a big issue.

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Wecome to Corporate America.

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There are beliefs in this world that you cannot publicly hold and still expect to be taken seriously. If Eich were arguing against interracial marriage there would be very little debate about this issue; believing that humans cannot marry between races is not a belief modern society continues to respect.

I think this controversy is an indication that -- to the tech community at least -- believing that discrimination based on sexual orientation is one of those illegitimate beliefs.

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But Eich isn't arguing or advocating anything. All he made was to donate to a popular proposition, I mean, it did found the majority of the electorate (then). In all other comments I read from him, he says his private politic views are a private matter and I agree with him there. I also think donations of this rather small size ($1000) should not needed to be publicly disclosed.

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What does it being popular have to do with anything? Popular bigotry is still bigotry. A donation in support of that bigotry is tantamount to bigotry.

Finally, personal political views absolutely enter in to public debate when the views are held by a public figurehead that is in place to represent the ideals of an organization. This is how you change public opinion, by making it dangerous to hold these views and still be supported or taken seriously.

People didn't just suddenly decide not to be racist. It took endless shaming of the people that hold those views until those views are no longer the norm, then the next generation grows up in an environment where that kind of bigotry is considered reprehensible and instead of just hiding their bigotry due to shame, they actually find it reprehensible.

This is social change in action. Personal views aren't sacrosanct, and simply believing in something and having the right to say it doesn't entitle you to be tolerated or respected by those who hear it.

Free speech isn't a license to say or do whatever the fuck you want without consequence. It simply protects you from government censorship or physical violence.

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Oxford defines bigotry as "Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself". Which is exactly what is done to Eich, just by bigots from the other side.

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Yep, I'm also bigoted against racists. The "you're bigoted against bigots" argument is as old as dirt, uncreative, and childish. Pretty much the "I know you are but what am I" playground argument tactic.

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For example, if the mob tomorrow decides that it's OK to give up privacy for "security", mozilla will happily have to oblige to become a state security tool. That's why strong leadership with values is needed.

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I don't think 'standing in the way of equality' is really the kind of values that Mozilla needs.

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Apparently "tolerant to opposing political opinions" is not such a value either.

I presume most Mozilla users, myself included, are in favor of gay marriage, yet there is no clause that you "have to support gay marriage" to use Mozilla software. It's also obvious that if Eich ever let his political beliefs affect his decisions on software he would be fired immediately.

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Ironically I think it is ultimately a privacy issue. His (small) donation shouldn't have been publicly disclosed.

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They are not right on this one. Eich was clearly persecuted politically.

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Who persecuted Eich? His detractors were merely engaging in their freedom of speech. You know, free market and all that.

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It's about being a gracious victor. Yes, Eich was on the wrong side of history when he supported prop 8 those years ago.

Yes, those who support gay marriage are "right" and history will show this. But the graceful thing to do when you're right is not to curb-stomp those who were wrong. It's not to rub it in their face. It's not to ruin their lives because they made a mistake.

The graceful thing to do when you are right is to let those who were wrong to get away with it. To let them pretend like it never happened.

Because "winning" history is not about destroying those who opposed you.

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Curb stomp? Rub it in their face? What are you talking about?

Eich never said that he was wrong. That’s his prerogative – he can have that opinion – but I’m not sure why anyone would forgive someone who isn’t even asking for forgiveness.

I’m really all for forgiving mistakes and being graceful. There is no reason to rub someone’s past mistakes in their face when they already admitted to making a mistake. Humans screw up, even CEOs. I think in general we need to be more forgiving.

But Eich never asked for forgiveness, so that’s really a moot point with him.

Of course, harassment is not ok, but I really can’t see a problem (and also no internet mob) in voicing your opinion (even strongly worded) and calling for a boycott.

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Ask yourself this. What is the victory here?

Is gay marriage, or equality in general, now going in a different direction because Eich was forced to resign?

Can you come up with any positive effect of this controversy?

If the answer is no, and I believe it is, then I don't think you can call any of this graceful.

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It's not about gay marriage; it's about Mozilla. And yes, I do think Mozilla is in a better place now that Eich is gone.

Donating $1000 to support a movement that undermines human equality is incredibly out of line with Mozilla's views. From my perspective, that's about a month's rent or a mortgage payment; he must care about the issue a lot to donate that much of his own money. His interview non-apologies certainly didn't help the issue.

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Employees who are members of the LGBT community or allies can now feel comfortable working at Mozilla. I think that is a positive effect.

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Is there any proof that they felt uncomfortable at any time ? Every post I've seen from Mozilla employees has stated that they find the work environment at Mozilla very supportive and Mozilla does have excellent pro-LGBT benefits. I fail to see how this is a positive effect.

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Any positive effect? Of course. It's now far less safe to donate to anti-gay marriage causes while also being a public figure. Public figures shape public opinion and societal norms. Ergo, a net gain for gay marriage and a net loss for public funding of bigotry.

Is it the most monumental gain ever, or the cause for a "different direction" for gay marriage? Of course not, few things are. It's a war made up of small battles, and small victories that add up. That's how societal change works.

Since we're just throwing questions, here is one for you: How exactly do you think most societal change occurs?

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> Yes, those who support gay marriage are "right" and history will show this.

I prefer the term 'equality'. This particular fight is just one example of a large group of people trying to prevent a smaller group of people which they dislike from enjoying the same benefits as the larger group. There are many others, and they're all equally important on principle.

It's not about being gay; it's about being equal no matter who you are or what you do.

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You keep saying "was" and "opposed" like his opinion has changed. For it to be a mistake, you have to first own up to it, and second, apologize and try to make amends.

Brendan has don neither, and in fact has pretty much doubled-down on his opposition with his clearly crafted non-answers.

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I don't think so, pal. There is absolutely no evidence that Eich would be a real threat of freedom of speech inside Mozilla. He stepped down because of pression over his political views, which has nothing to do with his competence or the way he treats people.

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The problem I have with all of this is the manner in which it occurred. The "mob" here had a disproportionate voice and thus disproportionate political power. This is a real problem with our culture today, instances of which can be seen at all levels of society. Any group who can "hack" the media to create a narrative that suits their cause (whether through quirk of politics or through large amounts of money) can have nearly unlimited power in our society. There must be a line somewhere. The fact that there doesn't seem to be one is terrifying.

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No. A bunch of people, many who were members of that community, felt that Eich's personal views were incompatible with a relatively important and visible community position. It's not persecution to object to the appointment on that basis.

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If you had asked me a few weeks ago who was CEO of Mozilla I couldn't have answered the question and neither cared. I suspect a large part of hn would have felt the same.

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As were gay people in California.

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So one error justifies another?

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Are you kidding me? He lost a job because of having bigoted views and financially supporting legislation which disenfranchises an entire class of people. He will never suffer 1/10th of what the average gay person goes through in a lifetime. Comparing the consequences of his personal actions to the systematic discrimination against the entire gay community is laughable. You might as well say I'm just as bad as Charles Manson because I once swatted a fly.

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This is why I think we don't truly have a democracy anymore. Instead we now have an Ochlocracy[1]. Ruled by mobs and groups of people (super pacs and multinational corporations)[2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_action_committee

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This could not have less to do with the situation. Mozilla is not a democracy.

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If the CEO says "my views on why some of my employees shouldn't have the same rights as others of my employees" that seems pretty problematic.

If this were a CEO who had been found to be donating to ban blacks and whites marrying it wouldn't even be a discussion.

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The mob on the internet got it this time due to some rather specific circumstances. There are plenty of companies out there that Brendan Eich could have been promoted to CEO of, which wouldn't have cared nearly as much about this level of controversy.

It basically comes down to this - if Mozilla cares this much about what the internet thinks of it this strongly, then why didn't they pick someone else to begin with?

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Who is "this mob"?

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> 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.

So Mozilla has to "act" the way some people "expect them to act". There was not even a ballot, poll or evaluation of the man in the position. It was a pretty ridiculous move to avoid bad press. Talk about to sticking to values like meritocracy.

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It wasn't just bad press, someone here posted a link to a "biggish" organization in, I think, Australia where they were asking people to boycott Mozilla by not using it's software.

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Also, OkCupid called them out on it extremely publicly.

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Yes, even though their employees have contributed far more.

http://pastebin.com/ekaFQXbE

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Neither OkCupid nor Proposition 8 appear anywhere in that list: it records donations to the Republican Party or candidates from ordinary employees of OkCupid's corporate parent, IAC.

Also, almost all of the donations predate OkCupid's acquisition by IAC in February 2011.

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People with their own opinions and beliefs apparently.

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Oh, just folks like Erin Kissane: http://incisive.nu/2014/thinking-about-mozilla/

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> We can’t let that happen here: the open internet is not more important than gay rights or any number of other progressive causes, but it should and must be a broader movement. The moment we let “open internet” become synonymous with progressive causes—inside or outside Mozilla—its many conservative supporters will be forced into an impossible position.

This is such an important point. Please, let us not put all our eggs in one basket.

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Erin's article is the least mob-like thing I can think of:

"I don’t see there’s much to gain by asking Brendan to resign."

And then: "Beyond that I guess I only have one more thing to say, which is to Brendan, who is doubtless also having one of the most challenging weeks of his professional life.

Brendan, I grew up in a very conservative religious home and many of the people I love the most can still be described as very religious and very conservative. I think your views on this issue are wrong, and that your actions have done harm, but I can no more caricature you as a terrible person driven by homophobia and hatred than I can break off relations with my cherished family members because they take actions similar to yours."

Why are you completely mischaracterising her post (and, by extension, her)?

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"Mob" wasn't to be taken literally. Partly, responding with scarcasm but I guess it didn't come across that way. She has some good commentary on the issue - it's not black and white.

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Thanks. That was a well written post by Erin.

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It's all of us.

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the twitterati

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In business the "Mob" is usually right. If the mob of people are saying they won't buy into your product, you usually conform to the mob.

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In this case the "mob" that was outraged was a small, very vocal minority.

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I wasn't aware of this, they certainly were vocal enough to make it appear like a mob.

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True, but Mozilla does not typically operate as a standard business. They have a different goal, and that goal and quite frequently be at odds with the "mob". The majority of people and certainly the political inclination of the day is taking power and freedom away from people in the context of the Web. If Mozilla went with the mob rule instead of the smaller but passionate group that feel that is wrong, it would quickly be just like every other browser vendor out there, and it wouldn't be attempting to make a difference in the web, despite whether it is the most profitable stance.

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The mob is definitely an emotional child but it doesn't have anywhere near unlimited power.

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This isn't a new thing. It's not even a recent thing. Public opinion has always been a potent force. For an organization like Mozilla I don't think it's at all surprising that public opinion has a big role in shaping who is at the helm. It's also not overly scary to me that issues of equality related to sexual orientation are now prominent enough to be a major factor in issues like the leadership of the Mozilla Organization. Indeed, personally I think it's somewhat heartening.

There are, and should be, limits to how much we allow politics to influence business, but in this case we're not talking about issues of small import. This isn't about monetary policy or minimum wages, this is an issue related to the civil rights and equitable treatment of millions of human beings. It's OK to take that issue extremely seriously.

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Monetary policy or minimum wages are issues of "small import"? They don't relate to equitable treatment of millions of human beings? I guess we can just lower taxes and increase the wealth gap however we see fit, as long as we have gay marriage.

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I suspect that "being right", at least in the eyes of a lot of people not actively in the "mob" certainly made it much easier for this to happen and thus I don't see any clear "People from the Internet get what they want" precedent.

It's a large group lobbying a nonprofit to persuade it to have someone who represents the ideals they supposedly uphold. That Mozilla is a company that shouldn't stand for X political position is something lots of people agree with. That the CEO is the company face and can be held to a different standard than an ordinary employee is clear to a larger group than just activists for cause X (even if some large group on HN don't seem to grasp it).

For example, some movement to force the CEO of company X take a positive position in favor of political cause Y would have a lot harder time because it would seem much less reasonable to a larger group.

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You know what? great. I'm glad that there was so much political pressure that someone who does not support gay rights simply could not hold the position of CEO at a tech company. That's absolutely fantastic.

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Not sure why you are getting downvoted here. Especially given that everyone was raging about it here before this happenned.

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Three board members did step down [1] so it's not just the internet.

[1] http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/28/three-mozilla-board-m...

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They didn't step down because of Brendan, but for different reasons.

"The three board members ended their terms last week for a variety of reasons. Two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected."

[0] http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/03/three-mozilla-board-...

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My father-in-law is a high-level official in the "Alliance Defending Freedom", which is essentially the conservative counterpart to the ACLU, providing legal advice to conservative causes.

For years, he's been telling me about the "gay liberal agenda", which, to him, was not just about promoting gay rights, but also about silencing any freedom of speech advocating opposing viewpoints. I always pooh-poohed him and gently asserted that he was on the wrong side of history.

Now, I think he's right. That someone can be ousted from their job because of privately held opinions and personal donations is extremely scary to me -- and I'm in favor of gay rights and gay marriage. You can't correct injustice and intolerance with more injustice and intolerance.

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I fail to see how a CEO facing criticism for personal political contributions to be evidence of some sort of "gay liberal agenda". He has every right to donate to Prop 8 or whatever cause he likes. He has every right to vocally advocate his position.

He does not have a right to be the public facing chief executive of a private organization. I would see no issue with a pro-gay rights CEO being forced to leave Hobby Lobby or something of that nature. It's not censorship to be unable to represent an organization that is expected to have a certain political/social/cultural alignment.

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I have a problem with the very idea that a mostly apolitical organization like Mozilla should have a sweeping political/social/cultural alignment.

If Eich were opposed to net neutrality, or against open internet standards, etc, those would be damning beliefs for someone in the Mozilla CEO spot. Gay rights, however, have nothing whatsoever to do with Mozilla. (I agree with you that Hobby Lobby would fire a pro-gay-rights CEO, but we probably shouldn't be taking lessons on reasonable behavior from Hobby Lobby.)

If Mozilla does represent any kind of broad social alignment, I would hope that it would be one in favor of diversity of opinion and free speech.

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free speech

Which includes the right of others to criticize your speech.

If I get up on a soapbox and preach something you don't agree with, so you get up on a soapbox of your own and preach your disagreement, I am not being persecuted or denied my freedom. Nor am I being persecuted or denied my freedom if your arguments convince a majority of people to disagree with or choose not to associate with me.

This is, ironically, a fundamentally conservative position, that maximizing individual rights to speak up is what produces the best results, by causing the best ideas/most persuasive arguments to prevail.

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> This is, ironically, a fundamentally conservative position

Isn't it much more a libertarian position? Christopher Hitchens was a vociferous supporter of 1st Amendment rights, but you'd hardly call him a conservative.

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Bingo.

It seems that some Mozilla employees and members of the public deluded themselves into thinking Mozilla was some kind of political charity fighting for social causes, rather than being a technology company.

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No one is deluded into thinking Mozilla is a political charity.

They most certainly are a technology company and everyone knows that, so are the companies behind Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari. As far as I know none of the CEO's behind those companies are openly anti-gay marriage.

The public, and the employees of Mozilla have expressed that this is not an appropriate view for the CEO to hold and will move to other offerings if he is left. He used his freedom of speech to speak out with his wallet against gay marriage. Just as the consumers and employees have expressed that they will use the free market to go to competitors if he is not ousted.

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> and the employees of Mozilla

More precisely, a few employees. A similar number of employees are clearly on record as saying they don't agree with Brendan's position but don't think it's incompatible with him being CEO. A vastly larger number of employees didn't say anything in public at all, not least because many of them (e.g. all the non-gay ones) could not do so without being accused of supporting the views in question.

Of course the employees who did speak out in favor of Brendan staying as CEO got death threats for their troubles (see bottom of http://www.twobraids.com/2014/03/the-mozilla-ceo.html for example), because that's apparently how debate goes on the internet nowadays.

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Free speech doesn't mean no consequences for your speech -- it means the government cannot interfere with your speech (within reason).

When you make political speech it is necessarily public not a privately held opinion. He made a political donation showing that he supported a law that curtailed a group of people's natural Right. That donation was used to try and affect public policy. That is not some theory he holds for himself, that is action that directly affects others.

Just because people hold opinions doesn't mean you have to tolerate them.

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Let me put it a different way, since the term "free speech" admittedly has many different connotations.

My day job is as a scientist. In science, individual researchers put forth many different ideas, some right, some wrong. Over time, we come to a consensus on which ideas are right and wrong, and the right ideas are kept and the wrong ideas are dropped.

However, we don't blackball people who had the wrong ideas: on the contrary, we want to encourage diverse ideas and opinions because it is only through the conflict of these ideas that truth emerges.

I don't want to live in a society where people have to fear for their jobs or a public mob action because they espoused an unpopular opinion. I disagree with Eich's opinion today, but tomorrow I could be in the minority. Yes, the wrong ideas can be harmful, but in my opinion if we have an open marketplace of ideas, rather than the "chilling effects" of political correctness (or religion, or any other force that says that there are unspeakable ideas), the truth will eventually out.

Case in point: gay marriage itself. A few years ago it was a radical idea, now it's just a matter of time before it becomes legal nationwide in the US. Ironically, the only reason there was enough political force to oust Eich is because his viewpoints are now in the minority.

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>I don't want to live in a society where people have to fear for their jobs or a public mob action because they espoused an unpopular opinion.

And I don't want to live in a society where we tacitly accept discrimination because it is labeled as political opinion.

There is a huge difference between politics and science. It is a terrible analogy. Scientific hypothesis, by definition, can be tested. If someone is wrong, that can be proven. Even if an entire body of work has been built on a wrong hypothesis, that work can be tossed out or modified in the face of new evidence. It can be painful, sure, but there is a mechanism in place for just such an occurrence.

Law and policy are made of pure, sloppy human thought-stuff. Some things might be testable but, in general, that is not the rule. If we allow a body of work to develop under bad ideas they take on a life, an inertia, of their own. We do not have any generally agreed upon or foolproof mechanisms to dismantle such an edifice. In fact, most of the mechanisms are designed to make them as permanent as possible -- to bolster the image of institution and consistency. We do not have the luxury of suspending our judgement in the political realm.

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Fundamentally, law/politics are addressing an empirical question: how do we maximize the well-being of the population. I understand that this is a much more fuzzy and difficult question than those addressed by the hard sciences, but it is empirical, and we do see progress.

Would anyone seriously argue that our political system, despite all its flaws, is not better now than when we had slavery, only white male landowners voting, regularly massacred Native Americans and invaded neighbors, and had no union rights or worker protection laws? Would any nitpicker say that because we cannot precisely quantify the degree of betterness that it isn't better?

Every one of those progressive ideas started out as a niche, minority opinion, and many of them were repressed, not by the government, but by social mores. Liberals who seek to repress the opinions of social conservatives -- who, by the way, have lost the war, long-term -- are being profoundly shortsighted, not to say hypocritical.

Finally, I'm not saying that individuals should suspend their judgement. You should feel absolutely safe to speak publicly in favor of gay rights, and, say, donate $1000 to your favorite gay rights organization without the fear of losing your job. But you cross a line when you seek to repress other viewpoints.

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There are still people out there arguing that slavery might be an ok system. That landowners or taxpayers should be the only ones with the right to vote. That the slaughter of other peoples is the natural way of things and has some benefit and that workers should have zero protections.

All of these things, to you and me, seem obviously like backward movement in terms of general well-being.

We don't hear about these extreme views because they are abhorrent to most people and the people that hold them get ridiculed. Can you not see someone losing their job is they publicly support a return to slavery? Would that be repression of that idea?

I would argue, no, its not. The discourse has reached a societal consensus that slavery is bad. Why? Because it violates some very fundamental rights of human beings. I think we have reached that threshold with the rights of people with various modes of sexual choice.

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The appropriate response to someone who is advocating an idea that has been proven wrong, from flat-earthers, to Holocaust deniers, to slavery advocates, is not to ostracize or fire them (unless their job directly relates to the subject that they're mistaken about), but simply to either a) ignore their wrong opinion, or b) gently explain why they are wrong.

The trouble with using "societal consensus" to determine which views should be repressed is that sometimes the consensus is wrong. We cannot know a priori whether the majority or minority is right, so we need to protect all viewpoints, even if it means some wrong ones will persist a little longer. It's ok; eventually they will die off -- two generations from now, a anti-gay-marriage person will be almost as rare as a slavery advocate is today.

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It is a huge mistake to ignore people who are in the wrong. If their ideas gain traction because they are given an unchallenged platform that could lead to bad policy that is hard to reverse. Gently explaining they are wrong is only slightly better than sticking our head in the sand...sometimes worse because it is seen as a legitimate debate.

We absolutely do not have to protect all viewpoints. We need to allow people to have them and their freedom to express them but, in the same motion, we must protect others freedom to express disgust.

We cannot allow the behemoth of government acting as referee and thus control the conversation. But the conversation must be allowed to take its natural course.

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There are two possible scenarios:

1. An idea is self-evidently wrong to the vast majority of educated people; e.g., the earth is flat, slavery is good. In this case, the idea can be safely ignored because it has no political power.

2. A bad idea (from our perspective) has the support of a decent-sized group; e.g., opposing gay marriage. In this case, the idea should be vehemently opposed by reasoned argument and political protest, but I think for the reasons given above that it is unethical and unwise to persecute the advocates of the idea themselves. It's perfectly okay to be disgusted with the idea of suppressing rights for a group of citizens, and to express that disgust.

If a big group believes something differently from me, there must be a reason why. In the case of the majority of Californians who voted in favor of Prop 8, they didn't do so because they are fundamentally evil bigots. They did it (in the most common case) because they have been raised to believe a relatively literal interpretation of the Bible, which if read straightforwardly, condemns homosexuality and sees it as a harbinger of a corrupt society.

Aggressively coming out and calling them bigots and publicly ousting people supporting their viewpoint is not persuasive; given their worldview, it will only strengthen their conviction that society around them is corrupt and harden their resolve. If, on the other hand, we make a reasoned and compassionate case that gay rights are a good idea on libertarian grounds and as a way of maximizing the well-being of our fellow citizens, people will, and have, come around.

So, in short, personal attacks like what happened to Eich are neither ethical nor effective as a persuasive tactic.

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Employees don't want to work for people who use their wealth to campaign for discrimination against their co-workers, and businesses don't want to do business with companies whose CEOs are known to campaign for discrimination against their employees.

If you're the CEO of a company and you are a known bigot, you are a a ticking HR timebomb. Eich can find plenty of jobs in the industry, but he isn't fit to lead as CEO given his prejudices and his unwillingness to admit his mistakes

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> I don't want to live in a society where people have to fear for their jobs or a public mob action because they espoused an unpopular opinion. I disagree with Eich's opinion today, but tomorrow I could be in the minority. Yes, the wrong ideas can be harmful, but in my opinion if we have an open marketplace of ideas, rather than the "chilling effects" of political correctness (or religion, or any other force that says that there are unspeakable ideas), the truth will eventually out.

But there's no difference between the two. Society has come to a consensus: Gay Marriage is okay. It isn't gonna end anybody's world.

If you're still arguing the other way- especially to a group who have held this consensus longer than most- of course you probably shouldn't be at the head of the organization. That'd be like denying climate change while being the head of an environmentalist organization that had been started in the 50s.

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I think the question you have to ask is, who is responsible for Eich's ouster?

To the extent it was primarily Mozilla employees, I don't think there's a problem. If they feel they can't work for this man, for any reason, they have the right to say so. If the Board finds that enough employees object to him, they can and should find someone else.

If it was primarily public opinion, I agree that that's unfortunate. I don't know for sure, but my guess is that public opinion, loud as it has been, played only a supporting role. If the employees collectively supported Eich, they could have said so, and I think criticism by the general public would have died down sooner or later.

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You're not going to find ~1000 people who "collectively", without dissenters, support anything unless you picked those people on the basis of their support for that one thing.

The public info I see has several employees not supporting Brendan as CEO, a few more not supporting the bad PR having Brendan as CEO will produce, and some more supporting him being CEO, with the vast majority of employees keeping quiet. Not least because for those of them who are not gay they have no sane way of expressing support without being accused of just agreeing with Brendan's views.

What really happened here was a combination of public opinion and the press picking up things and running with them (including the false reports about the reasons for board member resignations), which further fanned public opinion, which further fanned press about the issue. No one was much listening to what employees had to say except as it suited their preconceived stories; note that the mainstream press did not report on the employees who came out publicly in support of Brendan staying as CEO.

In the end, as far as I can tell, it wasn't the board asking Brendan to resign; it was him deciding to resign because he felt that the way the press was presenting the story (falsehoods and all) was too damaging to Mozilla as an organization.

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Personally, I am worried not only for Brendan Eich, but all future CEOs that will encounter similar problems. BTW, do you know why the Twitter account got deleted?

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No idea about the twitter account thing.

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Should we have been tolerant of racist people in the 50s and 60s? Was being in favor of segregation a viewpoint people should have respected?

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As I said, I disagree with my father-in-law's views, just like I disagree with Eich's views. I have tried to talk my father-in-law out of them.

But I certainly don't think employment should be conditional on having the right set of beliefs. That way lies madness -- it's the very reason we forbid employment discrimination based on religion, for example. How can you possibly determine which privately-held beliefs are "too bad" for you to deserve being employed.

Also, Mozilla's mission has absolutely nothing to do with gay rights. Arguments based on "freedom" and "openness" are so highly metaphorical as to be meaningless, as those words mean different things to different people.

As another example, I think the conservative approach to economics is disastrous and would be ruinous if adopted. But do I therefore think that conservatives shouldn't be hired in jobs totally unrelated to economic policy? Of course not.

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> How can you possibly determine which privately-held beliefs are "too bad" for you to deserve being employed.

First, it wasn't his beliefs that lost him his employment — it was his actions.

Second, while it's not always as clear, donating money to oppress a group in 2008 is an objectively abhorrent act. You know it when you see it.

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But it passed in 2008. That was democracy. With your line of reasoning it would be right to fire a majority of California.

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Democracies and majorities don't determine what is right. In fact, they have historically produced some nasty policies and held some nasty views, respectively.

> With your line of reasoning it would be right to fire a majority of California.

Firing someone for political activities is currently illegal in California, if I am reading the law correctly. Though I don't imagine half of Californians would be out a job tomorrow even if they weren't protected by law.

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Those demanding Eich step down aren't "silencing [his] freedom of speech", they're noting that Mozilla's culture of inclusivity is not congruent with his viewpoint and, as such, isn't fit to lead the organization in the capacity of a CEO.

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the reality is that at the end of the day, Mozilla is a civil rights organization. Although it is ostensibly a technology company, their actual agenda is deeply rooted in civil rights, and Brendan Eich's Proposition 8 donation is antithetical to civil rights.

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Firstly, Mozilla is a technology organization, not a political one.

Secondly, is marriage really a civil right? If you say yes, explain why campaigners aren't fighting to allow brother to marry sister, mother to marry son, or polygamous marriages which have a long history in many cultures?

I think there are many people who would agree that Eich should not have been forced out for his views and donation, and those who pushed the issue are just as intolerant and bigoted as they claim Eich to be. Tolerance works both ways.

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>Secondly, is marriage really a civil right?

Yes.

>If you say yes, explain why campaigners aren't fighting to allow brother to marry sister, mother to marry son, or polygamous marriages which have a long history in many cultures?

I think those rights should exist and I'd be shocked if there aren't organizations fighting for the legalization of polygamy. The incestuous marriages you mentioned are probably not represented because those practices are on the one hand, taboo, and on the other hand, practiced by such a small minority that they're unable to materialize a voice.

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> such a small minority that they're unable to materialize a voice.

Surely the whole point about fighting for civil rights is to help all minorities, not just those who are able to muster a voice...

Anyway, I think it would have been more accurate for the gay marriage campaign to not brand themselves as a fight for marriage equality since it clearly excludes certain factions. Small point but I think the details matter.

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This really saddens me.

It is a black-mark on the gay rights movement.

Eich made a mistake when he supported prop 8. History will clearly show this, like history has shown those who opposed interracial marriage were wrong.

Being on the right-side of history isn't about stomping out those who opposed you when you finally win. It's not about retribution for past slights.

Did we learn nothing from Nelson Mandela?

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Would you call someone being removed from a position of power "stomping out"? Eich can and will still live a decent life and nobody in their right mind is denying him his right to that, but remember that he did seek to deny those rights to others.

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Eich made a mistake when he supported prop 8.

He actively avoided apologising for his support of prop 8 – a law which is directly opposed to the values of Mozilla as an organisation. Had he done so, I suspect there would have been much less backlash.

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Why should he apologise if he believes he's in the right? That's just pushing hypocrisy.

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If he firmly held the belief, and did not change his mind, then he shouldn't apologise. In that case, it's legitimate to complain about his personal views where they are not compatible with his position.

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How so? he was a CEO not a politician.

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Half a CEO's job is being a spokesman, representing the organization, and in Mozilla's place, representing the surrounding community.

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He shouldn’t apologise if he didn’t actually change his opinion – but then you can also not make the argument that he made a mistake. Mistake sort of implies that he acknowledges he made a mistake – which he doesn’t.

You can’t forgive someone if they aren’t asking for forgiveness.

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Forgiveness is really about being open hearted and keeping no record of wrongs. On the cross Jesus said:

"Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing"

Jesus had the perfect right to be angry, but he wasn't. He forgave while people were mocking him and killing him. Stephen to first martyr said the same thing while he was being stoned to death.

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I don't think people are advocating for him to apologize while still believing he is correct.

I think people are advocating that he reflect on his beliefs, come to a different conclusion than he's held, and then apologize for his past views.

It doesn't seem like he is going that route.

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Would you change your mind on an issue like this as a result of peer pressure?

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I change my mind about things all of the time.

While 'peer pressure' is seen as a negative, if you think yourself right while everyone else is wrong on an issue it is a pretty good indicator that you should check your assumptions and logic carefully.

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> Eich made a mistake when he supported prop 8

Nothing proves that Eich think he did make a mistake. He never apologized for that and refused to talk about it.I'm sure he would not need to resign if he did apologize. People make mistakes, and most people will forgive if an apology is issued.

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It doesn't matter what Eich thinks. History isn't going to reverse course so there's no need for those who are wrong to fall to their knees and beg for forgiveness. Being graceful in victory is about letting those who opposed you to get away with their mistake.

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How many lives need to be ruined before an oppressed community can fight back? Sainthood should not be a bar that everyone must meet in order to avoid being labeled with a black mark. This guy attacked a large group of people and that group defended itself by explaining their displeasure at his recent privilege. He then suffered the consequence of having his privilege removed. Good.

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@OpieCunningham - How many lives need to be ruined...

That's a great question, actually. How many lives were ruined by Prop 8? (which, by the way, was overturned by the Supreme Court)

Are there gay people in jail in California as a result of Prop 8? Are there broken marriages? Was there an increase in anti-gay violence? Not that I've heard of.

Prop 8, which apparently very few people seem to know (or care), was about preventing legal recognition of same-sex marriages, not about preventing those marriages per se. Legal recognition means next-of-kin and hospital visitation rights and some taxation differences. Really, other than that, people could perfectly well exchange vows and call themselves married, and the state has no authority to change this.

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Clearly it is a rhetorical question - Prop 8 was discrimination - how many people need to be discriminated against in order for a defense to be mounted? The minimum answer is 1. The larger the answer the larger the defense.

If the law had not been overturned, the answer would, by definition of the law, be far greater than 0. If you propose that the actual answer was 0 before the law was overturned, I don't believe that - how many partners were refused next-of-kin, hospital visitation rights and some taxation benefits? More than 0 I would estimate. Is Eich in jail? Was his marriage broken up? Did anyone physically attack him? No. He lost the privilege of being a CEO.

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> How many lives need to be ruined before an oppressed community can fight back?

The oppressed already did fight back and won. This is putting your enemies on trial afterwards.

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The oppressed have already won? No, I don't think so. I do not see any reality to a claim that the gay community is not actively oppressed. Perhaps you mean the gay community is sufficiently less oppressed that it should stop defending itself. Then how few lives need to be ruined for that qualification to take effect?

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I mean that prop 8, the thing Eich supported, was overruled. Anti-gay marriage laws are being overturned across the country.

No, not every injustice has been thwarted. But Eich isn't responsible for every injustice, just the one he participated in. He is not, to my knowledge, actively oppressing anyone today.

I asked someone else this elsewhere in this topic and I'll ask you the same: What is the victory here? What does this change, positively for the cause of equality?

And I ask again, how did Mandela treat his opponents after his cause was won, and why do we not strive for those standards?

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I mean that prop 8, the thing Eich supported, was overruled. Anti-gay marriage laws are being overturned across the country.

That's precisely a definition of "sufficiently". The group is still oppressed, so there has been no victory. Your argument is that the group is winning and should therefore stop fighting.

Eich isn't responsible for every injustice, just the one he participated in. He is not, to my knowledge, actively oppressing anyone today.

Eich is a member of the group of oppressors. He had an opportunity (yesterday) to claim his role with that group was a mistake - he refused to state that. Therefore he is actively oppressing the group. If he had believed he had made a mistake and believably made that declaration, there is a very strong probability that the oppressed group would have accepted his admission and he would have kept his privilege. This happens all the time with public figures - even those whose admission of a mistake are questionably believable.

I asked someone else this elsewhere in this topic and I'll ask you the same: What is the victory here? What does this change, positively for the cause of equality?

The victory is the message to all others: if you oppress people, those people will defend themselves and you may suffer a lose of privilege. It is exactly this approach which incentivizes people to question their own beliefs, how and whether those beliefs adversely effect other groups and provides the opportunity for self-growth. If there are never any consequences to oppressing people, no one will ever reassess their oppressive beliefs.

And I ask again, how did Mandela treat his opponents after his cause was won, and why do we not strive for those standards?

Firstly, your comparison is far off mark. Mandela's cause was won - the oppressed were now in a position where they had complete power. That is not the case with an oppressor who recently received the privilege of being appointed CEO and the still-oppressed gay community - in addition, Mandela's situation involved life and death, not privileges. Secondly, I've already stated that sainthood should not be the minimum bar required to avoid being looked down upon. Defense is a perfectly acceptable course of action when you are being attacked. Turning the other cheek should not be the minimally accepted path.

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That's a sadly negative victory. I believe we can and should be better. The tides of history won't stop just because we show mercy.

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It is certainly a positive victory. This is a wave in the tides of history. If you take away the waves in the guise of "mercy", you end up with no tide. What's sad is that Eich has learned nothing yet. Hopefully he does, or others do.

Mandela did not say "let us show mercy, and extend extra privileges".

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