COMMENTARY | Back in 2008 the now former CEO of Mozilla held the same view on an important social policy issue that then Senator Barack Obama did but the opposite of what then Vice President Dick Cheney believed. He has been forced to resign as a result.
The irony is that the issue in question is same sex marriage, which Obama then opposed but Cheney, who has a gay daughter, supported. Brendan Eich has been forced to resign as the CEO of the company that is the purveyor of the popular web browser Firefox because he gave money to an effort to pass Proposition 8 in California that prohibited same sex marriage in that state. The ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly but has subsequently been struck down by the courts.
The matter is troubling not because of Eich’s views, which is rapidly becoming a distinct minority in the United States, but the thought that there are certain beliefs one cannot hold to if one wants to remain employed in certain parts of the country. The word that comes to mind to label a climate in which employment is contingent of private beliefs is fascism pure and simple. It doesn’t matter whether Eich was right or wrong. The First Amendment to the Constitution does not have clause, “unless the speech is deemed to be unpopular.” Freedom of speech protects unpopular and even obnoxious speech.
Gay rights advocates and supporters of same sex marriage are celebrating Eich’s fall, though they ought not to do so. The reason is that it sets a very ugly precedence, To illustrate image if a CEO of a company in the more conservative part of the country had been found out to have supported – say – same sex marriage and was subsequently forced to resign because that view did not reflect that company’s values. The hue and cry would be loud indeed.
Indeed, using the precedence of Eich’s forced resignation, President Barack Obama should also resign. To be sure he has gotten his mind right on the same sex marriage issue, following the poll numbers and responsive to the fact that the LGBT community is an important Democratic constituency. But that should not matter. Obama held for bigotry and intolerance six years ago. He too needs to go.