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Firefox boycotts lead to forced resignation

by AMBER KELLY Photographer

Brendan Eich, the co-founder of the nonprofit internet company Mozilla, was recently forced to resign from his newly gained position as CEO due to backlash targeted at a monetary contribution he made years earlier.

In 2008, Eich made a contribution of $1,000 toward a gay-marriage ban in California. Although this contribution was made years before and he has no history of discriminatory behavior within the company, boycotts ensued, and he was forced to leave his position.

This forced resignation has brought up questions concerning freedom of speech. If someone can be out of a job due to his or her personal political beliefs, then do we really have freedom of speech?

Back in 2008 when the contribution was made, 52 percent of California voters shared Eich’s views. Prominent democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton similarly were publicly against same sex marriage at that time, but where is the backlash against them? The answer – there is none.

Eich, according to other employees at Mozilla, was extremely qualified for the position as CEO. He created JavaScript and helped Mozilla gain the following it has today, yet his qualifications were not taken into account when he was forced to leave.

Eich was being attacked for his contribution, and one of the leaders of this attack was OkCupid, an online dating site. On March 31, OkCupid asked its users to consider using a browser other than Firefox in order to boycott Mozilla and to specifically target Eich.

“People have the right to believe what they want, whether they’re a CEO or anything else. Eich made that contribution years ago, so why is it being brought up now? He has every right to be against gay marriage and to express his opinion. The fact that there are no reports of him ever being discriminatory makes this even worse,” says senior Jessica McDonald.

According to reports, Eich never tried to influence others with his opinions on gay marriage at work. He never discriminated against employees; he never did anything to warrant a forced resignation.

Various LGBT groups called for his resignation, as well as some Mozilla employees, solely because of his political beliefs.

Groups like LGBT and OkCupid claim they are for equality and that that is what they are always promoting. However, demanding a man’s resignation because his beliefs do not match their own undercuts this whole idea of equality. If such groups believe homosexuals should be able to express their sexual preferences, then why can people with more conservative views not express their political preferences without being attacked? This is hypocrisy at its best.

“It’s unfortunate that a man qualified for his position is forced to resign just because he has political beliefs different from other groups. It’s unfair,” says senior Vincent Grassi.

Maybe what happened with Eich is going to be the new precedent for America. Now, if people express a view that other groups disagree with, those people will be punished.

If such a precedent is created, then the political culture in America will be irreversibly tarnished and political debate will cease to exist.

Do you agree with Brendan Eich’s forced resignation?

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