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Mozzila, gay marriage and power of social networks


paya

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http://abcnews.go.com/Business/mozilla-ceo-resigns-calif-gay-marriage-ban-campaign/story?id=23181711

 

Mozzila's CEO had to step down after it was revealed that he supported Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California. Not only had he face the opposition from employees, the last nail in his coffin most probably came from online dating site OKCupid that blocked access to their website via Firefox. :worship:

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Thanks for posting this Paya :)

 

I saw this last night and was amazed that when it was revealed that the CEO had views that were against gay marriage, that he and his company was held accountable to his personal views.

 

This is what it made me think about:

 

Although we all are entitled to our own views and as with you and me we believe in equality and the right of gay marriage, we also have to understand others have different view than others.

 

In this case, the CEO of a major internet company Mozilla (only 10 days), had a different view than us. When exposed, a dating site, OKCupid put in language which blocked users of Firefox from accessing their site. Bringing more attention to the CEO's views. The CEO realizing his views ARE hurting his site, he resigns.

 

Although I am happy at first glance that he has removed himself from the position, I then think what are his views? Have they changed since he made that $1000 donation a while back. Did he ever publicly speak out against gay marriage or was it just the donation?

 

Barack Obama's views initially were against gay marriage but over time and introspect he changed his views over time where he now is in favour of it.

 

So I guess what I am wondering, even though I'm outwardly pleased with this, are we intolerant of people we BELIEVE are intolerant of our views :(

 

There is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

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It's unusual, and obviously significant, that a website blocked access by a browser.

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It bothers me that this man was, to a degree, vilified for holding an opposing view. While I certainly don't think his opposition to gay marriage is correct, I question whether he should be held professionally accountable for this viewpoint. Of course it should be concerning to employees and any stakeholders if he intends to inject his personal opinion into company policy, but given he had just started the job does anyone know he would do that? Is there proof? It doesn't seem like he was given much of a chance.

 

I am all for marriage equality and while I know words can have consequences, freedom of expression is pretty important too

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I looked at some of the comments at the article linked and part of it was a debate as to whether this is muzzling free speech.

 

The response in those comments was that the CEO is free to make whatever speech he wants, but that does not grant him the right to be free of the consequences of that speech. I'm happy with that.

 

Wildone's point as to whether the speech that caused the outrage is still the CEO's view is, however, important. Prop 8 was a number of years ago -- does he still hold those views?

 

Indeed, did he ever hold those views? It's plausible (I'm not saying it's the case) that the donation was made for political/commercial reasons and doesn't reflect the CEO's personal opinions. As an example, it's not unusual for business to donate to both major political parties. The donations are not an endorsement -- they're a commercial decision to say to both parties that the company doesn't want to be seen as being partisan.

 

The counter to that would be for the CEO to articulate his reasons, but that hasn't happened.

 

Based on known actions, we have to deduce a probable degree of intolerance. As the public face of the company, that gives the general public the view that the company would share that probable degree of intolerance. The combination of internal disagreements with that view and the external customer who decided to take their business away from Mozilla was enough to result in his departure.

 

Are we intolerant of people we believe are intolerant, as Wildone asked? My opinion is that the question is too simplistic. We are entitled to express our disapproval of things that we don't like, just like others are entitled to express their disapproval of us if there are things about us that we don't like. The limits are on how that disapproval can be expressed. Some forms of disapproval are over-the-top and should not be used. The forms used in this example, however, were, in my opinion, acceptable.

 

The company employees expressed their disapproval to management and directors resigned. Neither imposed their views on others -- they made their views known and then moved on (in the case of the directors, literally).

 

One 'customer' expressed their disapproval by taking their business elsewhere. Indeed, that customer could be seen as arguably taking a business hit with what they did -- they lost any customers that exclusively used Firefox as their web browser. That business decision arguably affected them more than it affected Mozilla.

 

In both cases, actions taken to express disapproval arguably hurt the person expressing the disapproval more than it did the target (resigning their job or dropping customers who used Firefox). I would find it hard to argue that is inappropriate behaviour.

 

An (extreme) example of what I would consider to be inappropriate disapproval would be for an employee to sabotage the company's product in some way. That's just plain wrong as it hurts people who are not involved (as well as many other reasons).

 

So, in my opinion, the question should not be about being tolerant-vs-intolerant, but whether the forms of disapproval used are appropriate. In this case, I believe they were.

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Mozilla has a very lgbt friendly culture. And people that use it's products tend to be under 40 - people who are very tolerant of lgbt issues.

 

They also use a lot of developers, mostly younger people as well. They need those developers - they are the engine that makes the company run, in a lot of ways.

 

Eich's views about gay marriage - which he has never denied that he still has - threaten Mozilla's ability to keep the developers.

 

I think that's why he had to go.

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I don't fully understand the circumstances here but in answer to the more general question raised it is not appropriate for a business person to use their company or position within that company to express their personal view on a political matter that has no direct relevance to their business's operations or policy. It's unprofessional, unbusinesslike and an abuse of their office. I've no sympathy with individuals who do so and come a cropper.
 

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