Eich Resigned. That’s Not Good.
April 4th, 2014
What is the statute of limitations for donating to support Prop 8 before that individual can no longer be fired from his job? I’m asking because this might be important information for those who employ some 101,894 people who did just that. We now know that the offense is still prosecutable after six years. Should we not be allowed to fire them after eight years? Twelve? Twenty?
Also, there were 1,120,801 people who signed the petition to put Prop 8 on the ballot. Can we fire them? Or should we let that slide? It’s too bad the ballot was secret. There were 7,001,084 people we could fire in California alone. That doesn’t even begin to take into account the thirty-three other states where many millions more contributors, petition signers and voters tried, often successfully, to prevent their gay and lesbian neighbors from marrying.
We’ve had a banner two years. Isn’t it time we were more magnanimous? I guess not. Mozilla’s former CEO, Brendan Eich got what was coming to him this week when it was revealed that he had exercised his First Amendment right to support Prop 8 to the tune of $1,000 six years ago. Firefox users and Mozilla employees began criticizing Eich’s elevation to CEO from chief technical officer, and dating site OKCupid put up a special landing page for Firefox users urging them to dump their browser.
Boycotts, I can understand, at least on a personal level. While I can’t think of a single boycott that was decisive in changing a company’s behavior, we all make personal decisions based on a variety of factors about where we spend our money and the products we use every day. I avoid Walmart, Exxon/Mobil and Chick-fil-A, and we’ve rediscovered the simple, childlike joy of graham crackers in our house.
But at a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act so that companies can’t just up and fire LGBT employees because they don’t agree with them — as they can now in about two-thirds of our states — we need to think very long and hard about whether we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election.
We say that LGBT people shouldn’t be fired for something that has nothing to do with their job performance. I think that principle is good enough to apply to everyone, including Eich. And there is no evidence that I can find that his donation affected his ability to do the job he was hired to do. Eich made his donation out of his own pocket. He didn’t do it on behalf of Mozilla, he didn’t do it with Mozilla funds or through a foundation sponsored by Mozilla. And he certainly didn’t own Mozilla, which is a non-profit organization. It was his own dime on his own time.
As for Mozilla, it has inclusive policies that provide protections for LGBT employees and collaborators and offers health benefits to same-sex couples. Eich pledged to work “with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming,” and reiterated his support for the company’s policies “and the spirit that underlies all of these. …I can only ask for your support to have the time to ‘show, not tell'; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”
Which means that everyone who has had to endure corporate diversity training now has the same lesson lodged in their heads. Until now, they had been told that they can do whatever they want and believe whatever they want outside the workplace, but when they crossed the company’s threshold, they had to treat their fellow workers with dignity and respect, and to respect and encourage diversity in the workforce. They’ve now learned that it was all a lie. We do care about what they do outside of work and we can demand their ouster if we don’t like it. Eich learned that lesson the hard way and resigned yesterday. I can’t think of a better way to encourage even more cynicism toward company diversity programs than that.
And on a more personal note, I’ll be avoiding the word “tolerance” along with Walmart and Exxon/Mobil from now on. When a word has no meaning, there’s no reason to use it.