Editor's note: On Thursday, Brendan Eich, the newly appointed CEO of Mozilla (maker of the Firefox browser) stepped down after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support Proposition 8, a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California. The following is excerpted from two postings by Andrew Sullivan, an openly gay journalist, on his website andrewsullivan.com:
The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists.
In a post at Mozilla's official blog, executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker confirmed the news with an unequivocal apology on the company's behalf. "Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it," Baker wrote. "We didn't act like you'd expect Mozilla to act.''
Will Brendan Eich now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me — as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
It turns out that Eich might have saved his job had he recanted, like all heretics must. But given the choice of recanting, he failed. Hence the lighting of the fires, as Kara Swisher explained at Recode.net:
"It was not hard to get the sense that Eich really wanted to stick strongly by his views about gay marriage, which run counter to much of the tech industry and, increasingly, the general population in the U.S.,'' Swisher wrote. "For example, he repeatedly declined to answer when asked if he would donate to a similar initiative today. Instead, he tried to unsuccessfully hedge those sentiments and, perhaps more importantly, did not seem to understand that he might have to pay the inevitable price for having them.''
He did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that's left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell.
This is a repugnantly illiberal sentiment. It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others' views as the Christianists? You've just found a great way to do this. It's a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it.