Last week, under pressure from employees and board members who did not approve of his 2008 donation to promote California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, Brendan Eich, the new CEO of software company Mozilla, left the post and the company.
We hate to see anyone lose his job but, as we reflect whenever a CEO, cabinet secretary, or other high-ranking rich person is forced from office, Eich is much less likely to suffer and much more likely to find new employment than most of us would be if we were canned.
As it turned out, he is also much more likely to be wept over by rightbloggers — who are not normally too bothered when someone gets fired (it’s creative destruction!), but who made an exception for Eich because he was, in their view, a martyr to the “gaystapo.”
It would appear that Mozilla (and maybe Eich) made a calculation about what was best for the company. You would think rightbloggers would accept and approve this, for normally they would deny our captains of industry nothing, including the power to fire a CEO or anyone else. Yet the brethren wept with outrage, because Eich’s ouster was not normal corporate hurly-burly, they said, but the purge of a politically incorrect martyr by America’s new homosexual overlords.
Eich, formerly Mozilla’s chief technology office, made his $1000 donation to the fight against gay marriage in 2008. People have known about this since 2012 at least, but it became a big deal when Mozilla boosted him from CTO to CEO. Apparently a number of Mozilla employees are gay or have gay friends or just don’t approve of depriving gay people of their right to marry.
These employees complained publicly and — this is big — three members of the Mozilla board quit. One of them, former Mozilla CEO John Lilly, told the New York Times he quit “rather than appoint [Eich].”
We never got our MBA, but this sure does sound like a management crisis to us, and the disposal of Eich sounds like a businesslike response. Business magazines like Inc. treated it as such. But rightbloggers saw it as a civil rights issue.
Which is strange, isn’t it? Some rightbloggers may somewhere exist who have complained when, for example, Christian company WorldVision banned gay-married employees from its service, or the Boy Scouts prohibited gay scoutmasters, or Senate Republicans withheld the job of head of the DOJ Civil Rights Department from Debo Adegbile largely because he’d supported Mumia Abu-Jamal. (In fact, rightbloggers were more likely to find Adegbile’s rejection “Justice Served,” as the Washington Free Beacon put it, and be on the lookout for, as National Review‘s Jonathan Keim put it, “The Next Debo Adegbile” to reject.) But we’re hard-pressed to find them.
In this case, however, the CEO’s ouster over gay rights was to them an outrage. In fact, John Hinderaker of Power Line thought it was “something new in our history, as far as I know” — not that someone would be kept out of a job because he had unorthodox beliefs (as we’ve seen, that’s not unprecedented) but because “a corporate officer has been driven out of a company because he holds unpopular political views.” He wasn’t just some little scoutmaster — he was rich!
Hinderaker found this “a harbinger of things to come,” and added, “The Left is mobilized and on the march, and has no intention of taking any prisoners. Anyone who thinks some kind of accommodation or compromise can be reached with these people is mistaken. They are vicious bullies, and must be dealt with accordingly.”
The Left? We thought Eich was pushed out by his own company, not by the Third International.
Well, this was a common conflation: The actions of a corporation were, in this unique situation, generally confused with the actions of liberals everywhere (and also homosexuals — but then, what’s the difference?).
Ace of Spades ruminated darkly on “the left’s sudden embrace of Progressive-themed fascism,” and claimed “the Unleashed Left is also calling for ‘global warming deniers’ to be prosecuted for manslaughter.” He was talking about one guy, Adam Weinstein at Gawker, who is apparently now in charge of The Left’s climate change division. Michael Mann will be pissed!
“I’m beginning to think that the only thing the left found wrong with the 1950s blacklists was that they were aimed at… the left,” sniffed Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. “Pink Mafia claims another scalp… Chalk another win up for the intolerant left,” snarled Weasel Zippers. “Why are they called ‘homofascists’? Here’s why,” J. Matt Barber prefaced his ravings at Renew America. “This is the culture of the left not being satisfied with making an argument or even prevailing in an argument, but in destroying personally and marginalizing people who oppose it,” said Charles Krauthammer.
“The hatred and the bigotry and the intolerance here is all on the side of the fascists on the left!” said Rush Limbaugh” “Brendan Eich has been the first straight guy forced to fall on his sword at the behest of the LGBT Mullahs,” said Brendan McNeill of A Conservative Perspective.
“Having won the battle in California, the sore winners are roaming the battlefield with bayonets and taking no prisoners,” said the editors of National Review. They were speaking not of the members of the Mozilla board, but of “the nation’s full-time gay-rights professionals” who “simply will not rest until a homogeneous and stultifying monoculture is settled upon the land” with a “lynch mob… the gay agenda of the moment is, ironically enough, to force nonconformists into the metaphorical closet.” If you thought the closet gag was funny, get this: “It is one of history’s little ironies that some of our current batch of prim-faced, puritanical, intolerant, and miserable thought police call themselves, of all things, ‘gay,’ something they manifestly are not.” Nothing in there about Adam and Steve, alas.
“This is the emerging face of gay-rights activism: hateful, intolerant, illiberal, persecutorial,” cried Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. “They’re not going to stop at Brendan Eich. Because error has no rights, nor do people who hold to it.” Also, when a member of the board of the gay-marriage-unfriendly WorldVision resigned last week because, she said, “I disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry,” Dreher assumed it was “under pressure from gay rights activists.” Because why else would anyone oppose such a policy, except out of fear?
Bryan Preston of PJ Media trumped them all, though.
When, pre-resignation, OkCupid told Firefox users of their site that they would “prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid,” Preston howled, “OKCupid Goes Full Fascist for the Gays” and, noticing some Mozilla employees had spoken out against Eich, roared, “they are fools and should be fired summarily.” Toleration for contrary opinions stops at the C-suite, we guess. (Later, Preston headlined, “Surprise! OkCupid’s Board Includes At Least Two Democrat Donors.”)
After the fall, Preston’s headline was “The Fascist Thugs Win One: Firefox CEO Steps Down.” He also quoted a source that claimed the Internal Revenue Service caused Eich’s donation to be leaked, which turned out to be untrue; his source retracted, which Preston got around to in his next Mozilla post, in which he continued yelling about the “cyber witch trial” and “the left’s fascist collective.”
Later still, Preston revealed that The Left’s real targets were “Catholics” and “Evangelical Christians,” and predicted this result: One day “a perfectly ordinary American decides to run for office,” Preston fantasized, and when he does, it is revealed that he attended a church where one day his pastor “defended the traditional definition of marriage,” and as a result “he finds himself on defense and before long he’s toast.” If this seemed to some readers very similar to what happened to Barack Obama and his former pastor Jeremiah Wright — except for the toast part, of course — Preston assured them that “this was no Jeremiah Wright type of sermon, I want to be clear about that. It wasn’t hateful. But it wasn’t equivocal either. It was energetic and it was clear.” Oh, well then. Speaking of Obama, “Why did President Obama’s spokesman today dodge a question about what the president thinks about what has been done to Eich?” asked Preston. “…That silence sent a signal from the president to the mob: Do whatever you want. Punish your enemies. Make them fear you.” Well, Preston found so much evidence of tyranny in so little, it figures silence would also speak to him.
Inevitably came the boycott threats (which we guess are still allowed in a democratic society): “Users #uninstall after Mozilla forces out CEO for support of traditional marriage,” announced Twitchy. “The people at Mozilla may yet live to regret their decision in cooperating with the forcing out of Brendan Eich,” fist-shook neo-neocon at Legal Insurrection.
“Fight Gaystapo Iniquity, Switch Off Mozilla!” gibbered RossRightAngle. “They have been able to push us so far so fast, so that even formerly traditional companies like Barilla crawl on their knees to please the pink fascists, because there is no one pushing in the opposite direction,” seethed Moonbattery. “The absolute least we can do is uninstall Firefox immediately and refuse to use any other Mozilla products, like Thunderbird.” Moonbattery also said, “how did the gay mafia even know to put out a hit on him? Because Obama’s politicized and weaponized IRS tipped them off,” and that “homosexuals typically go through literally thousands of sexual partners in the course of their lives, accounting for the rapid spread of lethal diseases like AIDS.”
These guys were so wrought up about the gaystapo assault on Eich’s rights that some of you might imagine their outrage would lead them to common ground with liberals who think employees shouldn’t be fired for their beliefs. At least, you might think that if you were new around here.
“Private companies can hire and fire as they wish,” said Rob Port of Say Anything at the end of a long peroration on tolerance and evil liberals. “It’s not as though conservatives are saying that the law should have protected Eich from the campaign against him,” said Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review. Even National Review‘s editors found time, in the midst of their slur-fest, to tell us that “Mozilla, to say nothing of its partners and customers, is free under the law to hire and fire executives for almost any reason it sees fit…”
In a series of dudgeon-rich posts Andrew Sullivan decried “The Hounding Of A Heretic” who, he claimed, had been “scalped” not by the board of Mozilla but by “gay activists,” and followed with “that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell.” He also said, “…of course Mozilla has the right to purge a CEO because of his incorrect political views. Of course Eich was not stripped of his First Amendment rights. I’d fight till my last breath for Mozilla to retain that right.”
Then, one is tempted to ask, why you crying? The answer is simple: Because they think it will convince other people that they’re supporting a principle rather than a team.
The brethren know this has nothing to do with the CEO’s rights. While conservative ignorance of actual business practices can never be underestimated, they do at least have some idea that top executives are not operating under the same rules as employees. (Well, not all of them: “Why did Eich resign rather than force the board to oust him? I don’t understand that,” puzzled Allahpundit of Hot Air. “…He shouldn’t have made it this easy for them.” Such innocence of boardroom behavior is touching.)
No, what bothered them isn’t that someone got fired for his opinions — ask Martin Bashir about that; hell, ask the poor low-wage employees who can get fired for just about anything about that. What bothered them was that someone got fired for their opinions. After years of considering themselves perfectly in tune with the morality of big business, the idea that the employees and management of a successful company might consider their ideas repulsive must have come as a great affront.
Their apparent self-pity and rage is probably real; but, disciplined propagandists that they are, they know better than to just complain that they have been ill-used, and so make out like it is freedom that has been ill-used by the gaystapo. A few dummies — the sort who thought the Iraq War must be good idea if a major intellectual like Andrew Sullivan was in favor of it — might be taken in; if not, they at least can believe, in their days of waning influence, that what’s happening to them is a great injustice and not, despite all evidence, exactly what they deserve.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.