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The creation of the PCEO

By Val Hale And Donna Milakovic - | Apr 10, 2014

Val: As if serving as CEO of a major multi-national company weren’t complex enough, now executives must worry that what they say or do in the political realm will cost them their jobs.

The latest disturbing case in point is former Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, who resigned last week after gay activists learned he had donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8 back in 2008 and pressured the company to fire him. Eich had never been accused of discriminatory behavior or creating a hostile work environment. Instead, he had the audacity to financially support an initiative that won the support of the majority of California voters more than six years ago.

Most troubling about this incident is that corporate executives who choose to take a stand on a controversial political issue are now supposedly fair game for the “tolerance terrorists.” Those are the people who demand that others tolerate their views and lifestyle but obviously don’t believe in tolerating others’ views and lifestyles.

So much for the right to free speech and freedom of thought. The Nazis, Joe McCarthy, the witch burners and the book burners are smiling somewhere right now at the antics of the thugs who ran Eich out. And at Mozilla for bowing to their demands.

Eich isn’t the first CEO to be attacked for standing up for his beliefs, and he won’t be the last. Remember Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy who drew fire and a proposed boycott of his restaurants back in 2012 after affirming his support for traditional marriage. Fortunately for him and his company, many thousands of people turned out to Chick-fil-A restaurants to support Cathy’s right to speak his mind. Their financial support of Chic-fil-A drowned out the cries of the boycotters.

The result of all this is bound to be a gagging of the Board Room. Executives will be very cautious of anything they say that might offend the PC police. No CEOs will engage in debate on controversial issues. Free speech will be the victim. As one blogger put it, welcome to the PCEOs.

Is all this a good thing? There are some who obviously think so. But those who understand freedom and the importance of freedom of speech — including several prominent gay bloggers — view this as a big blow to our society and the notion of open discourse and dialogue.

As I read about Mozilla’s treatment of Eich, I was stunned. I wondered what I could do to stand up and be counted as one who disapproves of the way they kowtowed to the thugs. Then it occurred to me that I use Mozilla on my computers at home and at work. I am proud to say that as of that morning, Mozilla was no longer found on any of my computers. And I sent a message to let the company know my feelings.

The best way to speak out against any type of corporate bullying is to hit them in the pocketbook. Maybe it won’t cause Mozilla to change its mind (They are, after all, located in Silicon Valley, the PC capital of the world.) if several million people quit using their product. But it will let them know that there are still people in the world who care about free speech and are willing to take a stand for it.

If you feel the same way, perhaps you, too, should erase Mozilla from your computer.

Donna: Let’s talk Mozilla for a minute. It is a web browser founded as a non-profit organization committed to keeping the Internet open and free for all. In their manifesto they outline this mission of open access to Internet and information. In a recent statement triggered by CEO, Brendan Eich’s resignation they stated:

“The Mozilla Project welcomes and encourages participation by everyone. It doesn’t matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you: we welcome you. We welcome contributions from everyone as long as they interact constructively with our community, including, but not limited to people of varied age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views.”

For Brendan Eich, creator of JavaScript and cofounder of Mozilla, the company fell short of its stated promise. In 2008 Eich made a donation of $1,000 to a political cause he believed in and a majority of voters in California also believed in.

When his donation was first disclosed in 2012 there was a brief flare up within the company he founded and as CTO he rode it out.

So what changed in the last few weeks? Well, Brendan Eich was appointed CEO of the company and the “Tolerance Terrorists” struck again. The very minority groups fighting for equality and tolerance of their views and beliefs waged war on Eich for his views. They called for boycotts, employees threatened to strike and the raging activists fired up the political Gatling gun.

Under pressure from these attacks, Eich resigned. Where was the statement on behalf of the founder whose company embraces ‘everyone?’ Mozilla has for years recognized health benefits for same-sex couples and other groups. What they did not do is more telling than what they did do. There was no support of Eich by the board of directors or the team of PR professionals when the first mud was slung from the not-so-tolerant activists firing shots at him publicly.

There is now a blog post stating that the internal support of employees at Mozilla was not being shared by the media. Whose fault is that? How many public statements were made to counteract the employee tweets asking for his resignation.

The blog said only 10 employees out of a 1,000 were speaking out. This is typical of the activists at work. A tiny percentage of people who work tirelessly to tear down anyone who happens to disagree with them while crying for tolerance of their cause.

Along with the outpouring of sympathetic posts regretting that the talented CEO had to leave his own company, is another group-that tiny percent-saying, Watch out or you are next. We have thrown a rock through the window of Mozilla and hit our prey and next we will come after any leader who dares stand up for something we don’t agree with.

So how does the resignation of a Silicon Valley CEO impact business in Utah Valley? Well, we have a good share of successful international companies built on strong traditional values and many talented CEO’s and leaders who openly share their political views. Honestly, I am disappointed that Eich jumped ship and didn’t fight. Perhaps his resignation has made a much more public statement than any other move he could have made. It has fired the discussion on both sides.

However, I hope we will see more fight from our Utah Valley CEO’s and business leaders when their opinions are questioned or the tolerance terrorists come for them. I hope they will stand by what they have build and expose the hypocrisy of any groups who demand tolerance and dish out injustice in return.

It is not simply one group. This discussion was over gay rights, but it could have been about gun rights, pro-life vs pro-choice, immigration and any number of other issues.

For my part, I have also deleted the Mozilla/Firefox browser from my computer because of the cowardice of the company in the face of an unjust onslaught against one of their own.

Val Hale is president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Donna Milakovic is Executive Vice President of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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