Friday, April 4, 2014

Why be transparent when Mozilla - and many of your bosses - have the right to discriminate for political reasons?

This post was originally going to be very different.

When I began researching this post, I intended to compare Mozilla's refusal to back up Brendan Eich with the 1970s-era ACLU's willingness to back up the Nazis who wanted to march through Skokie.

There are some parallels between the two, after all.

Both Mozilla and the American Civil Liberties Union espouse a particular set of principles.

Both organizations became involved with entities (Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, ACLU client the American Nazi Party) who espoused different principles.

Both organizations were criticized, from outsiders and from within, about this involvement.

The difference, in my mind? The ACLU (at least at the time) stuck by its principles to defend the free spech rights of everyone, despite the fact that it lost 30,000 members as a result. Mozilla, as you may have heard, pretty much decided that inclusiveness only goes so far.

But as I thought about it more, there was a much more important difference between Eich and the proposed Nazi march through Skokie.

The city of Skokie is a governmental entity, and is therefore somewhat constrained in discriminating against people because of their political views.

Mozilla is not a governmental entity, and therefore can perform as much political discrimination as it wants.

It should be noted that Mozilla is prevented by law from discriminating against people because of their religious beliefs or their sexual preferences. But political discrimination is fair game, as I previously noted when discussing Goodwill's firing of Michael Italie because he was a socialist.

So Mozilla can fire anyone who donated to Proposition 8, and Hobby Lobby can fire anyone who opposes Obamacare.

Is there a lesson in this? Yes, but it's not the lesson that Michelle Quinn derived:

[I]n not explaining why he made a $1,000 donation to support Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, or clarifying his views now, [Eich] let the bubbling controversy over his stance fester and reach a point in which his only option was to step down.

Quinn believes that Eich wasn't transparent enough.

I believe that Eich was too transparent.

The clear lesson from the experiences of Eich, Tony Hayward, and other people who have fallen afoul of public opinion?

Reveal as little as possible about yourself.

Let's face it, I've already endangered my chances of ever becoming CEO of Mozilla. And I'm sure my chances of becoming CEO of Hobby Lobby have been similarly endangered.

I happen to disagree with Nuno Maia:

The next Mozilla CEO better be a vegetarian.

I doubt it; because of the backlash to the backlash, even the selection of a prominent credentialed progressive may be considered too "edgy." Mozilla showed no backbone when everyone criticized Eich, and they're not going to grow a backbone if the American Family Association suddenly urges all families to abandon Mozilla.

No, the next CEO of Mozilla - if Mozilla finds someone willing to take the job - will be a bland individual with no dangerous opinions whatsoever.

And no, don't count on Zelig taking the position - he has troubles of his own.
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