I’m a stalwart Firefox user (I roll with their cutting edge Aurora build, which is a beta to the beta of forthcoming versions of Firefox). I’ve used Firefox for years. Hell, I was using it even before it was called Firefox. I feel kind of old school about it. I’m not a huge fan of Chrome. I don’t think it’s the best browser out there and I hate that as time has gone on, the heads who make Firefox have tried to make it look more and more like Chrome. Firefox has become, in some ways, such an afterthought in the browser world, that it’s almost crazy to see the level of press that Mozilla, the people who make Firefox, has gotten recently.
All of this stems from the fact that they promoted Brendan Eich, a guy who gave a fair amount of money in support of Prop 8, to be their CEO. This naturally caused a lot of blow-back, because Americans are finally waking up and realizing that it’s not exactly cool to deny people rights because they’re not the exact same as you. This continued to build for a few days until the guy resigned. Then the blow-back started the other way, about how the hell could they do that, it was his personal opinion, and etc. I’m happy that this was the final decision, and this is why.
It doesn’t take a lot of looking around to see just how much influence corporations and CEOs now have over our nation’s policies and politics. Supported by a legislature that bows before the corporate altar and a judiciary that is inclined to allow corporate rights to run amok, we’re at an interesting place these days. You don’t have to look much further than the Hobby Lobby case that was argued in front of the Supreme Court recently. At stake here? Essentially, the rights of a corporation to deny rights to a class of employees because of what they believe in. Supporters of the Hobby Lobby folks will try to offer a more narrow interpretation of this, but that’s what it comes down to (well, that, and the fact that conservatives hate vaginas). If the Court sides with them, it could open the door for all kinds of companies to deny rights about things to all sorts of people because they don’t agree with them. Sure, a small non-profit foundation that makes a free internet browser isn’t going to make as many waves as that, but you have to draw a line at some point.
In some ways, of course, this is an exaggerated comparison, but the fact stands that when a CEO is appointed, what they believe in matters greatly to the world around them. In a world where CEOs wield such influence (and a judiciary that continues to say that money talks… loudly), our rights can disappear just like that. If they go in believing that certain kinds of people don’t deserve rights, what’s to stop them from pushing their political agenda?
In Mozilla’s tag line on their homepage, they say that doing good is a part of their code. They’ve maintained policies that sacrifice usability in the name of higher standards (like holding out on h.264 for so long). Having a CEO who believes that a whole class of people don’t deserve the same rights that he enjoys and likely takes for granted is doing the exact opposite of that. No matter what his supporters think, firing Brendan Eich was the only possible outcome for Mozilla. You can’t do the most good otherwise. Kudos to Mozilla for getting this one as right as they could.