Sometimes, it\’s hard to be a liberal

I am typing this post using Firefox, an \’open-source\’ web browser developed by Mozilla, a non-profit organisation that rose from the ashes of AOL/Netscape.  Like millions of other Firefox users, I use Mozilla products because they are free, well-maintained (by the wisdom of crowds), and gently cock a snook at proprietory behemoths like Microsoft\’s Internet Explorer.

This morning (yesterday afternoon in California), Brendan Eich was driven to resign as chief executive of Mozilla, because of his opposition to same-sex marriage, and specifically his support of California\’s Proposition 8.  Obviously, I disagree with his views, and think it\’s sad that people become so obsessed with preventing other people enjoying equal rights that they throw money at preventing it.  But his views don\’t make Mr Eich a bad chief executive, nor do they make Firefox a bad product (either in terms of its intrinsic quality, or in terms of its wider social and ethical impact). 

There\’s an interesting comparison to be drawn between Mr Eich and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.  Mr Bezos\’ credentials are impeccably liberal.  The $2.5 million he spent campaigning for gay marriage in Washington State dwarves the $1,000 donation made by Mr Eich.  But Mr Bezos heads a business whose huge wharehouses provide minimum-wage employment under Orwellian surveillance, which drives out of business bookshops, record stores and any other retailer it focuses on, and which has been criticised on both sides of the Atlantic for the paltry levels of tax it pays. 

Whatever their chief executives\’ views, I know who I\’d rather do business with.

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