Who Will Be Brendan Eich?
I hold unpopular opinions. We all do, though some of us more than others, apparently. If you look at Brendan Eich, the brief CEO of the Mozilla Project, you see some curious things. He’s been with Mozilla since the beginning, and was apparently a very respected CTO for quite a while. But when someone discovered that he’d once donated to the Prop 8 Campaign in California, the word spread virally. Even with his assurances that he didn’t run a company convergent with his personal opinions, he was out in well under a week.
So that makes me wonder… what have I written on this blog, or on Facebook, or what political sign in my yard will eventually end my career? I can’t guarantee that it will end that way, obviously. Tomorrow is different, today is the only thing I can really work. But still, there’s a trail of yesterday that I have to say is mine.
I’ve often said that having this blog, even as small as it is, will likely stop someone from offering me a job in the future. There’s a possibility it already happened… and I’m okay with that. If having an opinion makes me unpopular in some areas, I have to live with that, since having an opinion and being able to voice it is part of what makes this country so great.
But still, it’s chilling to see the comments from people on both sides. Measured people will show some discomfort across the spectrum of the Internet, and comments will rapidly fill in from one side… less so from another. Can an opinion so widely held (by somewhere around 50% of the population in most polls) is now a reason for not just exclusion, but for expedient dismissal.
Several years ago, my wife and I were at a tradeshow for her promotional business. A person came up and asked if we could help him with items for his business, a winery that has a suggestive name and markets innuendo. I’ve since seen the winery and its promotional items in a lot of places… it would have been a lucrative contract. But we politely declined the business and referred him elsewhere, because we didn’t feel that our corporate image or brand would support a customer like that.
Now photographers and cake makers are being put out of business for similar reasons. You can argue that some opinions are worse than others, and I’d agree. But are things truly at a point where we’ll begin to brand people for a belief? If so, I mourn for what we were. And I wonder what will cause them to come for me?