As you probably heard, a few days ago the website, OkCupid, began posting up messages saying that they prefer users not access the site with Firefox. This was due to the CEO of Mozilla, the company that makes Firefox, giving $1000 to support California’s anti-equality ballot measure, Proposition 8. This eventually led to the CEO being forced to resign.
Now I have several thoughts here, and I’m quite conflicted by all of this.
First off, this wasn’t an infringement on his free speech, as some like to say. Brendan Eich, who had only been made CEO a few days before, was and remains perfectly free to say what he likes and to donate money to whatever causes he likes. However that doesn’t make him free from suffering the consequences for those words and deeds. Had he stood up and talked about how Judaism wasn’t really a religion, but was actually a cult, you can bet there would be consequences. Free speech, as a political concept, applies only to the government. The government cannot punish you for the things you say or donating money to political causes. Companies, at least to an extent, can.
Second, though, should Mozilla have forced Eich out? He made a choice I disagree with, but…so? I won’t go to Chik-Fil-A, and that’s in part because the owner of that company supports anti-equality causes. Also, their food is kind of overpriced. But Eich wasn’t CEO when he made that donation, so that isn’t the same thing. Perhaps he should have simply been left in place, and we could all decide whether or not that’s a reason not to use Firefox. It’s a largely moot discussion for me, because the only time I ever use Firefox is when I’m doing my computer science homework, since for some reason it won’t work with Chrome.
Third, if Firefox was something that I used regularly, would Eich’s donations to Prop 8 be enough to make me not use it? I don’t think so, no. I’m a creature of habit, and it takes a lot more than one idiot’s political views to make me change even something as basic as a browser. Also, frankly, it was only $1000, and the Prop 8 side basically lost in the long run, so, yeah…
One thing Andrew Sullivan said the other night when he was on The Colbert Report is that it is important for us to learn to live with people we disagree with. He’s absolutely correct, and as an atheist, that’s something I have a fair amount of experience with. I regularly have to work with, hang out with, and otherwise be around people who believe in a god or several gods. I think it’s fundamentally a stupid thing to believe in, but I generally ignore it and just accept them as people.
Boycotting Firefox was a silly thing to do. The CEO made the donation before he was the CEO, and had been in place for only a few days. Ignore crap like that. If you must boycott people for their political views, be a bit more choosy, and chase after companies like Papa John’s, Wal-Mart and, yes, perhaps even Chik-Fil-A. Those are companies that are run by people who are actively trying to make life worse for their underlings and/or the general public. But something as minor as the Firefox thing, no. Leave it alone. Save your energy for the big battles.