The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

The events surrounding Brendan Eich have caused me to think long and hard about the values I believe in over the last week. I support the equal rights of the LGBT community (and many more of course) and condemn public discrimination against them.

However, to be up front and clear, Eich has not overtly shared what his exact beliefs are and I support and respect his right not to. In fact, I will strongly and vigorously defend the RIGHT for anyone in this country to both hold and express (or not) whatever their beliefs are. I can even appreciate the company and discourse of others who disagree with me because it makes me re-evaluate when I am wrong, but also makes me more convicted in what I believe as well.

But, I've concluded that the true events of the past week aren't really about one or any other position on rights of any kind or whether the public should or shouldn’t band together with those oppressed. The online media has turned a lack of communication into the story that they WANTED rather than what it could have been.
Could Mozilla and Eich have managed the situation better? Yes, of course. Did I WANT Eich to step down? No, I actually don’t feel anyone should be forced to sacrifice their job for what they believe in. I also think that while we ALL have the right to hold whatever beliefs we like and should be constitutionally protected by government prosecution for those beliefs (with clear and obvious exceptions I won’t cover here), that does not mean that expressing one’s opinion does not free them from consequence.

For instance, I also believe that if enough of the employees at Mozilla decide they do not support him, then I can respect their right to work wherever they like as well. If Mozilla was at risk of losing a significant portion of their employees because Eich could not lead them, then I can understand his decision without judgment.

The role of CEO is not technical. A technical CEO is a bonus if and only if the candidate is also an competent leader and business executive. I can respect Eich's contribution to the industry and his technical acumen without agreeing with what he may or may not personally believe (which again, he's not outspoken about, so this can only be presumed). Thus, the calls or actions to boycott Firefox (or crazily even JavaScript) are a bit hyperbolic and silly. I personally don't use Firefox since I find it slow and bloated, so I feel I make my decisions on the technical merit of the product. (Note, I used to use Firefox for personal use exclusively about 5 years ago, but felt the performance of the product suffered since then.)

I can't help but think that the real issue at heart here is that some Mozilla employees have made a call that they cannot support the new selection for CEO. The online technology media have latched on to these calls and have inserted stories in the void created by lack of communication on the part of Eich and Mozilla (which sadly is in their nature to do). I wish I knew the true numbers; I trust Eich did when making his decision. But, the real failure here is the selection committee in making the appointment they did and causing such a rift in the first place. My understanding is that they might have known that this was a possible outcome with their selection and I read text from an interview implying that Eich might not have initially wanted the role either (which might affect his reactions and communication in this crisis).

In conclusion, I have seen many trusted friends and colleagues online over the last week or so flinging stones and arrows back and forth. I have seen many tweets regarding whom supports whom and over whether anyone has the right to call for action when they disagree with the personal beliefs of a public figure head. Well, my friends and colleagues. You are both right. Neither side will “win” in this debate. We can and absolutely should protect and respect the rights we have as citizens to hold any belief we like. BUT, we also can and should call out those who are in positions of power who PUBLICLY support the oppression of others. Like it or not, selection to positions of power (either socially or technically) require a greater scrutiny on the political and social beliefs that candidate holds. This has and will continue to be true in our society. I would have ALSO supported a public dialog on his beliefs as well such that we could then evaluate and compare our own beliefs with his on merit. That is how our social fabric is changed and molded. As mentioned, that is his right to control  and by choosing to remain silent, his story will simply fade over time and most likely be forgotten.


(P.S. On an editorial note, I post here MUCH less often now that my twitter feed is public:

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