A friend told me he agreed with the full statement, but pointedly asked, “What purpose does this serve, exactly.” That’s a great question.
I, at least, was concerned, not just with the resignation of Brendan Eich, but the broader impulse among some of our supporters to take victory too far. The extreme, quoted in the statement, is the writer who just wishes everyone who opposes equal marriage rights would just shut up.
There are times when I understand the impulse, but it’s something to be resisted. A liberal society does not enforce conformity of opinion, and it should not — either through the law, or even through majorities — punish those whose opinion is deemed wrong.
That is the impulse behind the pressure on Eich — that he had to pay the price for his donation to Prop. 8. Under California law, it’s not illegal to pressure your CEO to quit over political reasons, or much of anything else. And I acknowledge, as several of Mozilla’s board members did, that Eich’s donation (and some other reported activities) made him a difficult fit.
But he is not the only one who has been subject to a growing sense, not of success among our supporters, but of something close to vengeance against those who oppose equality. We are prevailing in the political debate, and there is a long way to go. We need to let the other side fully air their arguments, even the bad or intolerant ones. We need to have the strength of character to accept even hateful insults, particularly those of us who are homosexual. We will never eradicate arguments and opinions we think are absurd or offensive, nor can we silence them.
That’s the price of living in a diverse society — actual diversity. That’s the point I think is worth emphasizing, and it’s why I signed.