I'm writing about corporate actions vs. personal belief. No, I'm not writing about the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, at least not yet. I'm writing about Brendan Eich being named as CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.
Eich's appointment, though, has come with more than a fair share of controversy, and none of it is related to anything he's done at Mozilla. It has to do with what Eich did, as an individual, several years ago.
California has a law where donations to political causes have to be reported. I'm not sure of all the particulars, but it sounds like a good law. In 2008, Eich donated to the Proposition 8 campaign. Proposition 8 was the initiative to make gay marriage illegal in California. Unfortunately, the law passed; fortunately, it hit a Constitutional wall.
Because of California's reporting laws, Eich had to report his donation, as well as list his employer, Mozilla. The report went unseen for many years until 2012, when it generated a Twitterstorm of moderate proportions (after all, he's a geek, not a reality TV show star). The storm died down, as these storms invariably, do.
Now, Mozilla has named Eich as CEO, and the storm, she is a blowing once again. Mozilla app developers are promising a *boycott. Employees are asking Eich to step down. Pundits are writing heartfelt and soulful contemplations about the act.
And I don't agree with any of them.
I have been and will continue to be a supporter of gay rights and marriage equality. I shouldn't have to preface my reason for supporting Eich by saying this, but such is the environment with which we now hold discourse—we have to shield ourselves with righteousness just so we can safely have our say.
Appointing Eich as CEO to Mozilla is not a slap to the gay community—it's a corporate action most likely taken for any number of reasons, in which Mozilla launching a new anti-gay movement is not one of them. I'm comfortable saying this with authority, primarily because I've known Mozilla since the day this organization first started making ripples in the tech community. There are very few organizations as open, and as inclusive, as Mozilla. Mozilla's own employees demonstrate this by coming out on Twitter, expressing their unhappiness at Eich being appointed. Not many companies have a culture such that employees ask a CEO step down because they don't agree with his personal actions.
Personal actions. I can think of no act more intolerant than the one that does not allow individuals to express their own political views.
Brendan Eich donated to the Proposition 8 campaign. When I first heard this news, I was disappointed. Surprised, too, because I'm like so many others in the tech community in assuming we all share the same core principles. How shocking to find out, though, that among the tech community members I know, some don't support gay marriage, some don't like President Obama, and many are even hard core libertarians. A few even teeter into Tea Party territory.
In other words, for all the homogeneity of the audiences at tech conferences, we are actually a rather diverse crowd. And diversity doesn't always mean diversity our way.
I was personally disappointed in Eich's donation, but it did not impact on my view of Mozilla. Why should it? He wasn't donating as an employee of Mozilla. He wasn't representing Mozilla. He was donating as a private citizen. Last time I heard, we respect this sort of thing in the US. Don't we?
And now he's been made CEO, and his past donation as an individual to one campaign I don't agree with still doesn't impact on my view of Mozilla. What Mozilla does, as an organization, influences what I feel about the organization: not what one employee believes, personally.
This situation isn't the same thing as the Hobby Lobby court case, where the owners consider their business to be a reflection of their personal views. More than that: consider their business to be an extension of their personal views. This isn't the same as a bakery refusing to provide a cake for a gay wedding, or a corporate CEO attempting to use his company as a way to undermine Obamacare. These actions were all the actions of leadership seeking to entwine personal views with corporate identity, and doing so aggressively.
Mozilla is Mozilla. I do not expect Eich to someday state that Mozilla is coming out against gay marriage. Neither will he allow his personal belief to negatively influence corporate culture because it has not done so for the last eight years. Remember that Eich made the donation in 2008, but Mozilla has somehow managed to survive to this day, still open, still inclusive. If you're not going to develop apps for the company today, why did you do so yesterday? Or last year? It was the same company then. He still had enormous influence then. Do you expect his appointment as CEO is somehow going to rip down the rainbows over night?
Leah Libresco wrote in the American Conservative that "Balkanized businesses, which only hire employees or leaders that are politically palatable to their donors and customers aren’t economically or socially efficient." She also wrote:
If the gay rights movement wants to change Brendan Eich’s mind, it’s to their advantage to keep him enmeshed in mainstream culture; after all, gay friends and acquaintances are one of the strongest predictors of support for same-sex marriage.
Sometimes you can influence people more by positive actions than negative. After all, thanks to this thoughtful piece, I've now actually linked a story from the American Conservative.
I also hope that all the openness and inclusiveness among so many Mozilla workers, floats up.
How can you tell if armor is any good? You field test it. You shoot stuff at it. You shoot a lot of stuff at it.
Think Progress created a one page timeline of GOP attacks on the Affordable Care Act. After looking at the extraordinary degree the GOP went to undermine and/or kill the ACA, I came away with a feeling that this thing must be pretty good—look at how it survived all these attacks.
What's a bit sad about the timeline is knowing that the GOP has basically spent most of their time the last several years either trying to prevent people like me from having access to affordable health care, or ensuring that women have little or no control over their bodies—or both. Seriously, GOP, my god, don't you have anything else to do?!
Regardless of all the attempts, the ACA survived. It not only survived, but I'm now a proud possessor of a genuine healthcare policy, provided via the Healthcare Marketplace, that allows me to see the doctors I want to see. I had originally decided to go with an Anthem Blue Shield plan, but the company is having problems with its own systems and the provider network wasn't that great. Instead, I went with Coventry, instead, and now I can see the doctors I want to see and it covers all the nearby hospitals and urgent care centers. The deductible and co-pay aren't too bad, either.
All the GOP warnings about the many and myriad failures of the Affordable Care Act—of Obamacare—have proven to be false. False. The hysteria has been proven to be nonsensical, the assertions are unfounded, even the court challenges have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. The only court case of importance that still exists (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores) should give even the GOP cause for concern, because if the Supreme Court determines corporations can have religious freedom as well as freedom of speech, we're all in a world of hurt. And that includes the corporations, because a religious ruling undermines the economic separation between corporate owners and corporate actions (which is why the Chamber of Commerce is rooting for the government's side in this one).
The real problem, though, isn't with the GOP. No, the real problem is with the Democrats. And people like me.
See, once I stopped having problems with the Marketplace and was able to get a healthcare policy, I never said another word about the ACA. I bitched about the system, but when it came through in the end, not a peep.
That's a heck of a way to thank a system that ensures I have healthcare coverage for the first time in five years.
And Democrats, oh my. When did aliens come from another planet and rip the backbone out of every Democratic candidate for office in the land? Instead of holding up the ACA with pride—because they, more or less, single-handedly solved one of this country's biggest problems—they either pretend the ACA doesn't exist, or they actually repudiate it.
Seriously, Democrats create a system that, over time, will ensure the majority of people have adequate healthcare coverage in the only industrialized nation that didn't ensure this previously, and they run for rocks when it's mentioned.
Well here's a clue, gutless ones: I won't vote for a Democrat that doesn't go, "Damn straight, I'm proud of the ACA!"
We need to stop letting the GOP control the discussion about the Affordable Care Act. We need to stop pandering to the ignorant and the paranoid and the libertarians who, frankly, can only be libertarian because our government is so damn strong.
The Affordable Care Act is a good thing. End of Story.site:
Simon St. Laurent and I have been discussing that exciting upcoming conference, DHTMLConf.
Party like golden sparkles following the mouse cursor is cool again!
If you're going to JSFest, how can you not go to DHTMLConf? This is a conference celebrating a time when all of the technologies we take so seriously now, were fun!