Mozilla and Brendan Eich's resignation: Why it sets a dangerous precedent

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Brendan Eich

The resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich represents a dangerous precedent for society at large.

While the kind of campaigns that removed him from his position are perfectly legal, if this kind of issue is more widely replicated, we could see society start to seriously fragment.

Mr Eich is apparently not the only target. Left wing news outlet Slate.com has linked to the list of the 35,000 people who donated to support Proposition 8's ban on same sex marriage in California.

According to Slate.com, the list includes employees from "Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo, as well as Disney, DreamWorks, Gap, and Warner Bros".

They end their article with the disturbing comment: "Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let's go get them."

The world this kind of precedent sets is one of radical social balkanisation, where we only buy from people we agree with, we only work with people we agree with, and we are only friends with people we agree with.

This trend is already visible on the internet, with news sources dedicated to bringing people news that highlights a particular political worldview. Slate.com does this for left-leaning individuals, while Townhall.com is a similar site for those of a right wing persuasion.

To a certain extent, this trend has always existed in the UK, with newspapers like the Telegraph and the Guardian, and to a lesser extent television news on ITV and Channel 4.

However, the internet is accelerating things, with people able to connect to larger and larger communities of like-minded people who would otherwise be geographically disparate from each other.

And this online trend is having real world consequences. In 2008 Paulville.org was founded with the intention of creating "gated communities containing 100 per cent Ron Paul supporters and/or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty".

This community has laid down its intended site on salt flats of north Hudspeth County in Western Texas. An online community is now looking to very much become a real world one.

The danger of living, working and trading only with those who agree with you is that you have less and less reason to attempt to understand those who you do not agree with.

The key thing to note here is that understanding does not mean agreeing with.

For example, in the abortion debate the pro-life movement characterise those in the pro-choice camp as uncaring about the baby's life, while the pro-choice camp declares that pro-lifers don't care about a woman's bodily autonomy.

If both sides only engage the other on the issue they object to, no greater understanding will be reached, and all that will happen is that both sides will become more angry and more divided.

They will be less and less willing to engage with each other, and more and more willing to think the worst, and only the worst, about each other.

Regardless of the truth or otherwise of the accusations of both sides, it is necessary to remember that all people on all sides of all debates are still people, loved and cared for by God.

Campaigns like the one initiated against Mr Eich make us forget that, and begin to make us reduce people to a mere embodiment of a set of opinions.

We need to be able to step back and ask ourselves some fundamental questions when engaging in protests like this – questions like: "Is it really worth changing people to my point of view if they only do so to get more money?" and "Would I accept this kind of pressure tactic as legitimate if it was used against me?"

Ultimately, the biggest questions are ones like: "Do I really understand the viewpoint of the person I'm objecting to?" and "Am I seeing them as loved by God in the same way that I am?"

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