TagMozilla

Inclusiveness

Might as well bring this trilogy to a close.

Mozilla’s CEO has stepped down. And the Internet erupted. I held my tongue today. But I watched a lot of impassioned discussions break out among the social networks I frequent. And I’m sad. I’m sad because I feel like I’m sitting on a side that bullied a man into leaving a job.

I’m sad at how this all played out. It feels an awful lot like a witch hunt. The HTMLynch Mobs gathered with their TorchPresses. The words have flowed today and the stories have been fast and furious. I’ve watched debates take place on Twitter and App.net.

I saw a lot of anger today. A lot of rage in my tiny corner of the Internet.

Justifiably. This is an issue that riles everyone up. This is an issue of discrimination and the results of such are not pretty. But this also became an issue of bullying. And an issue of ganging up on one person. That in the end, is inconsequential. What really changed today?

Did we win anything? Are we more tolerant as a people? Did we show that we can come together and work through our differences? No. We just yelled and screamed until we got our way. Did the ends justify the means?

It may be a win. But it’s not a pretty win. How is this any better than others losing their job for their views? We should not be out for blood. We’re not trying to make the whole world blind.

Are we any better for bullying a man who gave a small amount of money to a cause four years ago? He has not publicly spoken out against it. He has not made it an issue. He has not enacted policies to forbid it. He is coming out of this whole situation looking like the bigger man. He gave $1,000 to a cause where over over $83 million was donated.

Why are we not turning our pitchforks and torches towards the IRS who leaked the information? If they’re leaking information the no one’s donations are safe. No one’s actions are safe. Would you feel comfortable with everyone knowing who you gave money to last year? What about 5 years ago? How about 10 or 20?

Update: “California requires disclosure for donations over $100 in any ballot measure, and makes them publicly available.”
https://alpha.app.net/doctorlinguist/post/27656710
I did not know that and had not seen that mentioned.


Turn this situation on its head…

Take this headline.

Mozilla CEO resigns amid controversy over donation to anti-gay marriage proposition

Now let’s pretend it read differently.

Mozilla CEO resigns amid controversy over donation to gay marriage proposition

How does that strike you? Would a CEO stepping down after supporting gay marriage make you just as angry? Is that a win? Or a loss? Or a man losing his job because he had an opinion a vocal minority didn’t agree with? This doesn’t feel like winning. It just feels mean.


Patrick Rhone said:

https://alpha.app.net/patrickrhone/post/27596715

https://alpha.app.net/patrickrhone/post/27596320

I agree with him. We should be working to come together despite our differences. Not yelling at those who don’t share them.


This wasn’t justice. This was revenge. And that does nothing to aid either side. We are not working to be closer and to have our side heard. We’re using the same tactics as those who wish to keep things as they are.

The Verge has a good post on this whole mess. Mozilla is a company in turmoil. Their board members were already planning to leave. Eich wasn’t even sure he wanted this job. And this issue originally surfaced in 2012.

For a man who talked of his wish for inclusiveness, he wasn’t given any. One of the people who originally started this whole thing writes of the sad “victory” and about not ever wanting it to become this big.

The fact it ever went this far is really disturbing to us.

If that was the case, when why make a public statement? Why not talk to your new CEO privately? Why not take to email? Pick up the phone? Schedule a meeting. Sure, CEOs are busy and not necessarily in the same building as you. But there are ways this could have gone down very differently.

So you raised an issue publicly. Got a man fired for his beliefs. And now you can go back to your life without consequences? That’s not inclusiveness. That’s not equality. That’s not a victory. Extremism doesn’t end well for anyone.

Snowballing

Mayan Corp.

Since I wrote yesterday about Chick Fil-A and Mozilla, there have been some other good takes on the topic.

JD Bentley comes out burning bridges and guns blazing in Mozilla FireEich. He writes,

Today, in a fit of rage and righteousness, I dragged Firefox to the trash can icon in my Dock and let go forever.

Boom. There it went. One browser among many now being dumped into the waste paper basket. Now Firefox is not a paid project. But they do make the majority of their money from the Google bar. That means they need people to be using it to make money. So each deleted browser is a couple of pennies plinking to the ground.

One man’s stand against Mozilla won’t ruin them. But given enough people…

If Eich remains CEO, people may be forced to consider an opposing view, however articulately and delicately laid out, as something other than outright bigotry and madness. That’s wholly unacceptable. If an individual’s viewpoint is clearly–clearly!–on the wrong side of history, it ought to be discounted and buried immediately. And Mozilla ought to be the one doing it. I’m not in need of a philosopher, a priest, or a politician. I need only my web browser.

Web browsers are plentiful and not hard to get. Switching it a trivial task. So trivial many people may not. But enough may move on to hurt their bottom line even just a little.

OK Cupid front page on Firefox

OK Cupid front page on Firefox

Joe Steel pointed out something interesting. Visit OK Cupid from Chrome or Safari and Internet Explorer you’ll be greeted by a woman asking you to sign up. Now visit from Firefox.

I agree with him when he writes,

This increases the conversation, but it can really antagonize people by getting in the way of what they are doing. That doesn’t really put someone in the mood to be receptive.

A for intent, D for execution.

It’s good to bring attention to an issue, but getting in the way of your users isn’t always the best way to do it. Intent is good. Execution may be lacking somewhat. And despite other reports, you can still access the site from Firefox. You need to scroll below the message first.

Joe raises a couple of excellent points. First, “For historical reference, B.E. never said anything about same-sex marriage until his donation was outed in the published donations that followed Prop 8’s passage.” He never spoke out against it. He put his money where his beliefs were. And again, there is nothing wrong with that. But when it become public, there will be consequences for that action.

At the end of the day, this will all go away as the Internet Outrage Machine finds some new cause to champion. Joe continues,

Unfortunately, just as before, this conversation will soon fizzle and he’ll keep being exactly how he is, and probably maintain his position as CEO for a decent chunk of time.

And he’s probably right. Unless there is another chapter or Mozilla feels threatened enough to act. Like Joe, I think Eich is standing on the wrong side of history. And while we are slowly moving towards the eventuality, as recent history is showing.

We are moving forward. Things are getting better. I could have not said it better, so I’ll borrow Joe’s words.

These seismic spikes in conversation slowly move public perception of these issues. Much like tectonic plates creep along, and then shudder, violently. Something changes, people react with big, bombastic conversations about it, and then it dies back down.

Derek Powazek, who wrote a wonderful post on How To Apologize Online. I’ll end the same way this all started, with a tweet.

Conversations and Consequences

This all started, as many things do, with a tweet.

It’s something I’ve thought a lot about but neglected to dip my toe into the pond on, partly because my own thoughts were still half-baked. I wanted to avoid a knee-jerk reaction.

Commentary tracks to our lives

Why can’t we just stay out of each other’s lives? That’s a question that’s been bouncing around my head a lot lately?

Is it because Reality TV shows have taught is it’s OK to turn someone’s life into a topic of public discourse? Is it because social media has opened the door to our lives in unprecedented ways?

Whatever the reason, the window has been smashed, the front door kicked down and our lives are now open for discussion. And that discussion is increasingly less civil and more angry.

Conversations

We need to have conversations about our differences. But we’ve lost the ability to do so. In Trusting Others J.D. Bentley writes,

We’re unable to have proper discussions anymore. People these days are either incredibly apocalyptic or incredibly messianic, incredibly black or incredibly white. Instead of seeing disagreements in shades of gray, or as sound and unsound arguments, people look at the opposing side as the enemy not worth hearing out. They take an apocalyptic approach to diplomacy. The enemy can’t be talked to or negotiated with, only destroyed.
This is most evident today in conversations surrounding same-sex marriage, wherein opponents are cast as hateful and ignorant “bigots” regardless of the tack or reasoning employed and proponents are cast as pushers of a monolithic and mythological “gay agenda”. Both sides build very shallow stereotypes in order to assault the other. If your fellow man isn’t a man at all, but a self-made concoction of everything you hate, of course you’re going to say other people can’t be trusted. We like to see the best in ourselves and the worst in others.

Everyone who agreed with us is the ally and everyone who disagrees is the enemy. But it’s not true. We’re all people. We’re all products of our environments and upbringings. We’re all people. Right and wrong are variables. They’re not set in stone. That’s the beauty of beliefs. They can be changed over time. But not by screaming.

When anyone who doesn’t agree with you is the enemy it’s hard to have a dialog. It’s no wonder our politicians can’t get anything done. They shout at each other from across an aisle. That’s how we interact with each other these days.

We’ve forgotten how to converse.

One thing I cherish is a good, conversation with someone I don’t agree with. A well-reasoned, thoughtful discourse on a topic. The goal is not to change their minds. Nor should their goal be to change mine.

Our mutual goal is to share where we’re coming from so we can be closer as people. And to hone our own beliefs by examining them and making them our own. If one of us has a change of heart as a result, that’s an unexpected bonus. Not a stated goal.

But it’s harder and harder to have such a conversation, especially online, even in less-public forums. It is not my goal to convert you to way of thinking. Just to share what I think.


Corporations are people.

Like it or not, if you’re the CEO or President of a company. You’re the public face of that company. And just as our private lives are open to scrutiny, so too are our public actions.

A company is made of people. And those at the top make up the company’s image. There is no longer a divide between who makes up a company and the company’s image.

Chick Fil-A is now Hate Chicken after the President and CEO spoke out against gay marriage. The company quickly deleted it and PR took over. But the damage was done. A controversy raged for weeks with people calling for boycotts of the restaurant and others rushing to defend it resulting in a record-setting sales day. By March 2014, the company had stopped funding anti-LGBT groups.

Despite the reversal in funding and public image, once branded, it’s very hard to remove the image from a company still run by the same man who made the original statements. Another company is having the same problem.

Mozilla, makers of the Firefox web browser, is just the latest in a line of companies that are learning an important lesson.

You can have your own beliefs. And you can spend your money where you want. But if you’re the head of a company, your views are going to be attached to that company. You are not an island. You are the leader. Your head is on the chopping block and what you say and do matters.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion

Is the head of Chick Fil-A able to be sad about gay marriage passing? Sure. Is the head of Mozilla’s donation supporting Prop 8 in California well within his right? Absolutely. They’re entitled to their actions and those actions have consequences.

But Chick Fil-A is going to be branded as Hate Chicken and lose business by those who won’t support those views. Mozilla has already had people step down because they won’t work for the newly-appointed CEO. As the leader of a business, your actions can hurt that business even if it has nothing to do with the business directly.

Let’s Play A Game

Gay marriage is a hot button issue. There’s no quicker way to get blood boiling. Let’s move it out of that realm into another one. How about something we’ve solved long ago? What about racism? That’s over right? Or women’s rights? How about Christianity? This is the land of the free isn’t it?

Let’s take this article and rewrite it’s headline.

Mozilla Staff Urge Their CEO To Step Down Because He’s Anti-Black.

Mozilla Staff Urge Their CEO To Step Down Because He’s Anti-Women.

Mozilla Staff Urge Their CEO To Step Down Because He’s Anti-Christian.

Mozilla Staff Urge Their CEO To Step Down Because He’s Anti-White.

Would any of these be OK to say? If a CEO of a company came out and said these things, would that be OK with you? Not if you don’t agree with it.

Phobias

The fight for marriage equality is racism all over again. This is not to say racism is over and dead. Because it’s not. But this is the same battle. It’s just harder to see who the enemy is because they’re not conveniently a different color.

While I don’t agree with those who are against equal rights for everyone. I respect their difference of opinion. I respect that in this country we’re allowed to have differing opinions. That’s what this country was founded on. Freedom.

We’re allowed to disagree but when you voice and opinion or give money towards a way of thinking you’re accountable for that opinion. When you give money to support Prop 8, you’re going to lose support from those who aren’t with you.

When you give money to groups looking to keep people from marrying, those who want to marry and those who support their fight are going to stop supporting you.

In your private life, you can do and support what you choose. But when you’re the head of a company and your actions are public, does that change? No. You can still do and say what you like.

However, when you’re the head of a large group of people, not all of those people are going to agree with you. And to those outside the group, it may seem that the group mirrors those beliefs.

What you say matters

Everyone is accountable for their own actions and statements. I’m allowed to say and do what I feel. But I also know that those actions and statements don’t exist in a vacuum. They matter. They can hurt. They can help.

We’re allowed to disagree. We’re allowed to have our beliefs and support what we want. But don’t be surprised when your beliefs aren’t the beliefs of everyone. They’re allowed to the same rights as everyone else.

The CEO of Mozilla can choose to spend his money to prevent gay marriage. Those working for Mozilla can choose to speak out against that and the organization. They can also choose to resign and work elsewhere.

Chick Fil-A’s CEO can do the same. And as a result, he will draw protests and supporters. His profits will rise and fall.

What we say matters. And when you say it from a position of leadership, what you say reaches far and wide. Actions have consequences.

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