I'm going to get so much shit for this, so for the sake of the discussion I'm going to first say that I whole-heartedly believe that any two people who want to marry, without a single doubt, should be allowed to marry, no matter where they are. It's just common sense to me.
But it's not common sense to Brenden Eich, Mozilla's co-founder and now ex-CEO, who served the role of CEO for the past 11 days, before he resigned (fired, probably) last night.
Since being appointed to CEO, both Eich and his company have faced what can only be described as an absolute shitstorm, with users revolting and badmouthing Eich all over the internet, and even other companies going so far as to protest Mozilla's business.
The reason? In 2008, Eich donated $1,000 to California's Proposition 8, which passed with 52% of the vote, making same-sex marriage illegal in California for years to come.
That sucks. Everything about that sucks. It sucks that we still haven't mutually agreed that every human being deserves the same set of rights, no matter who they love and where they love, and it sucks that there are still so many people like Eich who don't believe that all couples should have these rights.
The fact is, there are people like Eich, tons of them, and it would be pretty difficult to argue that 52% of Californians who voted in favor of Proposition 8 should immediately lose their jobs.
No matter how much we may disagree with Eich's beliefs, and no matter how much we may want to change them, they are his beliefs, not ours.
I've seen a lot of people arguing that Eich's stance on same-sex marriage completely contradicts Mozilla's core values, and that may be so. However, at no point over the past two weeks have we seen evidence that those values would be compromised simply because of his donation and personal beliefs. And we'll never know either, because we didn't really give him much of a chance.
I think that as a society it's going to become increasingly important that we learn to accept the beliefs of others, no matter how strongly we may disagree with them. That probably sounds contradictory—I know—because I'm proposing that we accept someone's belief in legalized inequality, but it's important that we still allow people the freedom of their own thoughts.
There is a line that has to be drawn somewhere, of course, maybe when somebody begins to physically hurt others, but in this case there was no direct physical harm committed. (I realize that this is probably debatable.)
I brought this up on Twitter yesterday, and I'm going to revisit the idea here hopefully without sounding too pretentious: I have a very strong personal belief that we shouldn't kill.
We shouldn't kill humans, we shouldn't kill animals, very simply we should not kill. But if I were to start a company tomorrow and I was looking for workers to hire, I wouldn't exclusively hire vegetarians. (I would exclusively hire people who have never murdered a human being though, because—well—that's a bit too much.) My point is, just because I believe strongly that I do not want to kill and eat animals, doesn't mean that I'll treat others any differently because they do not share the same beliefs as I do, because what would be the point of that?
They'll still feel exactly the same as they always have, and they'll also be out a job. Your disapproval in another person's beliefs doesn't solve your problem. It doesn't actually change their mind, it only silences their mind.
I wish that we could have been mature enough to give Eich a chance at running the company, and if there actually were any signs of changes to the company's values, it could have been handled from there. Instead of giving him a chance, regardless of our disagreements, we silenced him.
And until we learn to tolerantly disagree with people on things like this, we're not going to solve any of our problems. Because I don't think that you can successfully fight a serious problem by silencing beliefs that differ from your own, you can only fight by including them.