On Mozilla, Brendan & the future

As I’m sure many of you are already aware of, Brendan Eich has resigned as CEO and is leaving Mozilla and Mitchell Baker, our Executive Chairwoman, expressed more about Mozilla and the situation. I haven’t said anything publicly about this so far, but I believe some things have to be mentioned.

Different opinions

Personally, I’ve been fortunate enough to have made friends with many different and varying backgrounds, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political opinions, takes on religion and much more; and I wish that mix was even bigger. Because I learn so much from them and their perspectives and view on things, I’d like to believe both I and them get a richer way to think about the world.

I don’t necessarily agree with them in some cases, but I always respect their right to that opinion and the possibility for us to discuss it. And I naturally believe all of them deserve the same rights to their values and legal rights in their lives. Therefore, Brendan’s choice of what propositions and political parties to support do not match my personal choices and I’m sad when any restrictions affect only one group of people. But at the same time, in a democracy, people must be able to support and express their values. And hopefully, in the best of worlds, that leads to a good discussion and greater understanding.

Possible actions and opinions

When all this came out about Brendan’s lack of support for gay people having the right to get married, maybe it would have been easier if he had immediately apologized about how his actions might have hurt people, and made their lives harder. Without giving up his political values, but publicly showing more empathy towards people affected, and to have a constructive discussion about values. But, for integrity reasons or others, he never wanted to have a public discussion about his values, and that’s his choice.

In hindsight, though, it’s always easy to be wise, to think alternative approaches would have solved it all. Given the current state, the outcome seems like it was inevitable. Now Brendan has left Mozilla and has also decided to not be on Twitter anymore either. (Update: he is now back on Twitter)

Reading the tons of articles, tweets and much more surrounding this issue, though, one thing that worries me is the notion of a mob rule. The criticism hasn’t often been very nuanced, a lot of cries for “Resign” and lack of will to discuss the greater picture and the complicated topic this is. It has more seemed like an “of course you can have any opinion you want, as long as it’s the same as mine”-approach.

Yes, Brendan might have a political opinion that not you, nor I, want to support. But at the same time, and I think it needs to be pointed and remembered, with Mozilla he has created one of the most open and diverse organizations I know of, defending the rights of all users out there. There is literally all kinds of people and backgrounds both within the Mozilla organization and community, and the users across the world that Mozilla works for to help and protect.

And the argument that just because he became the CEO, he would change the organization and people in it to all become anti-gay is just ridiculous. He co-founded Mozilla 16 years ago, been on the board of the Mozilla Foundation and has constantly worked to make the web open and inclusive to everyone. There is no reason that would change, nor that people would just accept such a possible change.

Without Mozilla, I’m certain that the web, and the rights of users, would look very different. We need to respect that enormous work that was put in to make that happen and make sure that the torch is being carried on.

What about Mozilla?

Mozilla is filled with people working really hard to make sure the web stays open, that it is available for everyone and to protect users’ rights and their integrity.

These recent events have hurt us, and we could point fingers forever, shifting blame. But I’d rather see us move forward, both as an organization and with the help of you out there, to keep on making the web and the world better.

We are here, and we will continue to be, for as long as we can. Because we truly and genuinely believe it’s the best thing for all of us.

Picture by Sean Martell – please use it, share the love and help us help everyone out there (EPS version)

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