Can Anyone Trust Firefox Now?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Over the past few days, I've noticed mentions of Mozilla's firing of its CEO, Brandon Eich, for a political contribution he made years ago towards a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. I was a little amazed that this was making much news: After all, a company has the right to hire or fire whomever it wants for whatever reason. It did seem strange to me that the firing had happened, but in more of a "Didn't they do their due diligence?" sort of way than anything else.

Consider me newly enlightened, and more than a little alarmed, now. Mark Steyn, after about half a column's worth of wisecracking (and some pandering to the religious right), cuts to the chase and tells us exactly why this firing is (and should be) news:

[L]et's not forget how all this targeting of "homophobic" contributions started. The IRS leaked "traditional marriage" donor lists to the gay enforcers at the "Human Rights Campaign". America has a corrupt government - so corrupt that many Americans now think it entirely normal for the state tax collector to target the regime's political enemies. I don't, and for the last year I've called for the abolition of the institutionally corrupt IRS and its replacement by an agency with far more limited powers appropriate to a free society. Surprisingly few Republican candidates seem interested in joining that campaign. But the IRS' wholesale corruption is a free-speech issue, too: it's about using state power - the threat of audits and, ultimately, asset confiscation - to get you to shut up. And the alliance between the IRS and the gay enforcers is a foretaste of where things are headed. If your confidential financial information can be leaked to those who want to take you down, why should your medical information or your vote by "secret ballot" be any more secure? [link removed, bold added]
Earlier in his piece, Steyn says that, "the thuggishness and bullying ... ought to disgust people", including those who support gay marriage. Color me disgusted -- as a starting point.

Such a willingness discredits anyone willing to resort to such tactics, and is a confession on their part that they themselves do not understand the merits of their cause. (At least, in the case of two consenting adults being able to have a permanent relationship recognized by law, there are merits.) What happened to persuasion and appealing to the better nature of one's opponents? Granted, leftist thugs do not speak for all homosexuals, but it is astounding to me that anyone who has suffered intimidation -- or at least has had to fight merely to have what almost everyone else takes for granted -- could have learned so little from the experience.

I don't think the state should be in the business of defining what marriage is, but I support gay marriage in the sense that I see it as one of the state's jobs to recognize and enforce legal contracts (e.g., marriages) between consenting adults. On the other hand and for the same reason, the state has no business enforcing political orthodoxy of any kind (even if it happens to sound correct).

When I first heard about this controversy, I was mildly puzzled as to why a software company would conduct a political firing. But now, I see a genuine reason to be concerned (beyond this as yet another example of cultural decline). Firefox, the company's product, is a web browser and, as such, handles secure communications for its customers. The blatant disregard this company has shown the privacy of its former CEO should serve as a warning to its customers. Can you trust your private and secure communications with a product made by a company that condones the release of confidential information for purposes of political intimidation?

It may be time to fire the 'Fox.

-- CAV


4-9-14: Corrected a typo.

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