Andrew Sullivan | Brendan Eich | Mozilla | News

Was Brendan Eich 'Scalped by Gay Activists' or Done in By His Willful Donation to a Hate Campaign?


As you may have heard, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned yesterday following a week of outrage over revelations he donated to California's hate campaign, Proposition 8, as well as to a number of other controversial right-wing figures.

The episode is inspiring some striking differences in opinion.

SullivanAndrew Sullivan took a strong position in support of Eich last night, accusing gay activists of "hounding a heretic:"

The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists...Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Right-wingers like Bryan Fischer, Linda Harvey, and Tammy Bruce agree with Sullivan.

SignorileMichelangelo Signorile responds in the HuffPost:

According to Sullivan, the gay mafia has struck again, destroying a man and bringing him down because he would not conform to its thinking. You would be justified in being massively confused by that because this is the same Andrew Sullivan who was first out of the gate with the pitchfork, driving Alec Baldwin off of MSNBC -- as Baldwin bombastically charged that he was the victim of Sullivan and his "fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy."

But if you're going to get worked up over a guy hurling the word "c--ksucker" in the heat of the moment -- while he also gave money and support to the causes of LGBT rights and marriage equality -- you should be completely outraged by a man unapologetically giving money to a hate campaign that helped pass Prop 8 by demonizing gay men and lesbians in television ads charging that gays are dangerous to children. The damage done by those ads is incalculable, turning neighbors in California against one another, empowering anti-gay bullies in schools as well as the bashers on the streets.

Signorile correctly notes that it wasn't until news came out that Eich had also donated to Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul that he resigned - until then it seemed clear Eich was staying on.

Suddenly, in addition to defending a CEO who gave money to homophobic efforts, Mozilla would have to defend a CEO who supported Buchanan, a far right extremist and isolationist who's been accused of racist and anti-Semitic attacks, and who also was, rightly, driven off MSNBC -- though that took years longer to accomplish than the few weeks it took to purge Alec Baldwin.

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  1. Andrew Sullivan is mentally ill. He should be pitied if his views weren't so dangerous.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Apr 4, 2014 11:35:11 AM

  2. Signorile's right, Sullivan's wrong -- again.

    Posted by: Richard | Apr 4, 2014 11:35:50 AM

  3. Ditto what Richard wrote.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Apr 4, 2014 11:40:36 AM

  4. Game, set, match to Mr. Signorile.

    Posted by: Glenn | Apr 4, 2014 11:48:53 AM

  5. Sullivan's troubled relationship with his own sexuality and his own type have been on display for a good many years now and seem always to cast a shadow over his perception of people and events. He's almost always dead wrong out of the gate, and sometimes will, years later, not exactly to apologize, but redact or revise. The saddest thing is Sullivan's inability to wrestle his own homophobic demon to the ground (or even to admit he has one) and kick its arse out.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Apr 4, 2014 11:49:22 AM

  6. Signorile, on the other hand, has been out there--in every sense--for is for decades--yes decades--and has never apologized, reneged, revised, or had to repent of anything he has said about the antagonistic relationship between mainstream culture and its gay subsidiary.

    It doesn't hurt that as he's aged he has only gotten sexier.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Apr 4, 2014 11:52:10 AM

  7. Good god, I'm shocked at what Andrew Sullivan said, especially as Signorile points out about the Baldwin episode. If Eich had supported the KKK or some other white supremacy group (well, Pat Buchanan notwithstanding, ahem) he would have never been appointed CEO in the first place.

    Posted by: Gerry | Apr 4, 2014 11:53:41 AM

  8. Andrew Sullivan is no vanguard of the Gay Population. I know I'm not looking up to him.

    Posted by: Kieran | Apr 4, 2014 11:58:21 AM

  9. i'm sorry whomever you are, andrew sullivan. if you don't get it there's something wrong with you.

    disgusting to say he was hounded. i'm glad he stepped down. all our actions have consequences. if he's suffering them now so be it.

    Posted by: Jesse | Apr 4, 2014 12:06:19 PM

  10. Its been around for some time but be prepared for this new strategy to position us to be the villains and bullies. It started with claims for "special rights" and now we are somehow attacking religious freedom. This will be the mantra for the next few years. The fallacy is that anyone can form a religion and decide who deserves equal protection. The Scientologists and Mormons are a great example. Personally, I'm forming a religion that requires the U.S. to deport short fat Italian Supreme Court Justices.

    Posted by: Turing's Ghost | Apr 4, 2014 12:07:17 PM

  11. I don't know who Andrew Sullivan is but based on the information I've just read in the story (above) I'd have to agree with Michelangelo Signorile.

    Posted by: mike | Apr 4, 2014 12:13:00 PM

  12. Right wingers tend to throw out, boycott, and pillage those who disagree with them, including their own ilk.

    We should be educating and talking to Andrew Sullivan, not bashing him. He comes around to a more educated view now and then, and he has opened up a much needed discussion. So let's discuss, not pillage, the guy who is one of us.

    Posted by: wwolffus | Apr 4, 2014 12:14:19 PM

  13. as I stated on another blog - its the free market.....just like when the whole chik-fil-A crap come up.....FREE MARKET at people didn't force him to resign, he resigned on his own.

    Posted by: disgusted american | Apr 4, 2014 12:16:25 PM

  14. Emotionally, I'm on Signorile's side. Rationally, I think Sullivan has a point. How we treat dissenting minority viewpoints (which the anti-gay marriage perspective is rapidly becoming) is one of the ways in which our society defines its values. Let's say a gay ally works for Hobby Lobby or another conservative "Christian business" and donates money or volunteers time for a campaign in favor of gay marriage. Should the owners be able fire that person, or pressure them to resign? Should Hobby Lobby's conservative customers be able to put pressure on the company to fire the employee? I assume most people here would emphatically say no. But what makes this case so much different than Eich's circumstance, other than that most of us find Eich's positions repugnant but like the positions of my hypothetical ally? I'm asking the question hoping for an honest dialogue about tolerance for dissenting viewpoints. If we're serious about living in a democracy, how we treat dissent is really important. Restricting minority rights through social pressure--whether that be to marriage or to hold distasteful points of view--is problematic.

    Posted by: Eric | Apr 4, 2014 12:18:16 PM

  15. But yet it was ok for the One Million Moms to go after Ellen's job with Penney's?

    Posted by: Macmantoo | Apr 4, 2014 12:18:23 PM

  16. I agree with Andrew. We've won the fight and we must become graceful, even thankful, winners. Not disgruntled, vindictive winners. We are starting to turn into Senator Joe McCarthy, He would label anybody an anti-American Communist sympathizer if there was any hint to anti-American activity in their past. We are labeling bigots to anyone who is not evolving fast enough -- or who supported an anti-gay cause in the past. We are becoming the far right in our tactics.

    It's time for us to be grateful we've won our fight and let these people off the hook -- we must forgive them.

    Posted by: will | Apr 4, 2014 12:18:37 PM

  17. I'm sorry, but right now, we ARE being bullies. Everyone keeps saying that we should "imagine if he had donated to the KKK" and sure, I guess that's kinda fair, we can all see how those have certain parallels. But now imagine your reaction if people were calling for him to be fired and boycotting his company for supporting gay marriage instead of opposing it. We'd all say that the religious right were being horrible and bullies, and we'd be right. It seems hypocritical to then turn around and do the exact same thing because we disagree with him.

    Posted by: Chris | Apr 4, 2014 12:18:41 PM

  18. Oh Andrew. Being contrary again? I know. IT's your thing.

    Posted by: JimmyD | Apr 4, 2014 12:21:28 PM

  19. homophobic terrorists like Andrew should be deported to Uganda!

    Posted by: litper | Apr 4, 2014 12:28:34 PM

  20. Signorile is right to point out Andrew Sullivan's hypocrisy, but no amount of ad hominem attacks on Sullivan refute his point, which is essentially correct. I disagree with everything that Brendan Eich says, but he has the right to say it, or donate to whomever he wants, and still keep his job. And yes, I'm aware that the 1st amendment only protects you from legal consequences of speech, but the spirit is the same. If he were a politician I would say to organize a movement to vote him out. As CEO what power does he have to influence gay rights?

    I'm not saying I'm sorry he's gone, but hounding someone to resignation simply because he holds a different viewpoint than we do sets a dangerous precedent, and makes us look bad. Gay rights have been going in the right direction for a long time, but we're steering off course here with this immediate pouncing on anyone with a different point of view: Phil Robertson, Alec Baldwin, Brendan Eich... loathsome people, mostly (Baldwin is a grey issue) but we should be taking the higher ground.

    Posted by: Zell | Apr 4, 2014 12:29:35 PM

  21. mr, sullivan, no one's right to free speech was violated or intimidated in this case. brendan eich exercised his first amendment right to oppose marriage equality and the free market responded with its own first amendment right to reject his bigotry.

    Posted by: jed | Apr 4, 2014 12:30:10 PM

  22. Chris, if Mr. Eich has the freedom to express his political or religious beliefs, don't we have an equal right to do the same? Protestations on what happened with Mr. Eich seem to imply that no one should have any right to express their opinion on his fitness to be a CEO of a non-profit organization. The bottom line is that Mr. Eich made his donation(no problem), people express their views on one way or another (should be no problem) and cumulative opinions against Mr. Eich forced Mr. Eich to consider the damage to the non-profit to resign. Freedom does work in mysterious ways.

    Posted by: Turing's Ghost | Apr 4, 2014 12:32:27 PM

  23. It would be a pitiable state indeed if we could only choose between AS and MS. The two are hardly paragons of consistent and rational rhetoric. MS just basically does his travesty of the week freak show (like a left-wing Bryan Fischer) and AS acts like no one read what he wrote 15 minutes ago.

    The problem with going after Eich is that it's a singular proposition. I don't know of any campaigns against other right-wing CEO's, so why him? My guess is that someone smelled blood and knew he'd be vulnerable. And pressure could be kept up because Mozilla's competitors would be in on it. People want to make an "example" of him, but don't want to do any real "work" figuring out all the other companies that they would need to boycott using the same criteria. And this is hardly going to make any difference to gay rights in the long run.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 4, 2014 12:33:11 PM

  24. Andrew is wrong. The right wing has tacked "no repercussions" onto First Amendment rights. Everyone has the right to say or support whatever they want, but there is no guarantee that you won't be called out on it when you do. Just like Cracker Barrel and World Vision changed course, so did Mozilla. Eich just learned the hard way what our mothers taught us. Actions have consequences. That is not an abridgment of Free Speech.

    Posted by: Chadd | Apr 4, 2014 12:33:35 PM

  25. He defeated himself by holding unsustainable views.

    Posted by: Jay | Apr 4, 2014 12:34:09 PM

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