While the Mozilla board members ostensibly resigned because they’d wanted to hire someone from outside the company, the protesters on Twitter were clear that they were upset because Eich donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure which took away the right to marry from same-gender couples living in the state. And as the Washington Post’s Gail Sullivan points out, a lot of people across the web think it was “intolerant” to protest Eich for his political contributions.
You keep using that word …
Let’s be honest, though. Eich’s donation was a form of hate speech. It helped pay for hurtful TV advertisements which made Californians afraid of their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) neighbors, and portrayed their advocating for the same rights and acceptance that others have as a storm that would destroy people’s way of life.
Mozilla stands for a free and open internet. But hate speech is not free speech. It silences the people it targets. It’s an act of terror against them, designed to turn friends, employers, and church and family members against them and make their already dangerous lives even moreso. It depersonalizes others, to the extent that the commercial portrayed children being taught that gay people are people as a bad thing on the scale of a natural disaster. Even though some of those children will turn out to be gay.
… I don’t think it means what you think it means
Maybe things would have been different if Eich had made a donation to a charity that takes in homeless LGBT teenagers, whose parents may have thrown them out to escape the big, scary gay storm clouds in the ads that his money paid for. Maybe they would have been different if he had said he realized now that what he did was wrong.
Eich would have had to do something like that, to try to undo the damage he did, because his donation was not about a political issue. People’s lives are never an “issue” to be debated like the national debt. They are meant to be lived, without fear of being harmed or separated from their loved ones, and in the years since Proposition 8 passed courts have found that it — and other measures like it — infringe on their constitutional rights.
So in other words …
Eich spent $1,000 to try to take away others’ constitutional rights. That’s what this is all about, not a game of who can be more “tolerant” of “different opinions.” And until it caught up with him just now, he got away with it, too.