The last couple of weeks have seen some interesting controversy in the technology industry. Its not over technical standards or best practices, but rather over politics and worldviews. Recently Brendan Eich (former CTO of Mozilla- the creators of the Firefox web browser) was promoted to the position of CEO. Shortly after that it became known that he made a donation a few years ago to support the passing of Proposition 8 (a proposal to ban gay marriage) in California. This, of course, stirred much controversy around Eich and his political views. He and Stephen Shankland (CNET) discussed the potential effects this controversy could have on the Mozilla company here.
Eich was careful to hold his ground while explaining that Mozilla has historically held inclusivism in high value. He pointed to the fact that Mozilla has international offices in parts of the world that generally disagree with the pro-homosexual position. Throughout the conversation Eich implied that Mozilla's inclusivism included those who dissented from the pro-gay lobby. He even said:
"If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we'll probably fail."Such a stance includes everyone. The implication here is that the exclusion of anyone (including his own possible view, evidenced by his donation) would go directly against Mozilla's value of inclusiveness, and many would argue, this is true, by definition.
Just two days after the interview, Eich resigned his position. As reported by Amy Hall (Stand to Reason), Mozilla took a stand, claiming that their exclusion of Eich's view was being inclusive. In agreement with Ms. Hall's analysis of the situation, I find it ironic and dishonest to misuse terms to describe one's views in order to make it more palatable.
Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism
Much of the outrage against Eich and support for Eich come from a foundation of belief that one or the other is morally right and the other, morally wrong. However, if we live in a world where morality is determined by the individual, society, or government, neither side's position is anything more than merely opinion. It becomes a power-struggle. One where there are no moral rules (since morality is up for grabs, no behavior, tactic, or scheme may be called "wrong") generally devolves from an intellectual discussion (if it even began there) to manipulative rhetoric, blackmail, lies, hypocrisy, and "might makes right." Whoever has the biggest foot and stomps it the hardest wins.
Yet we all have a feeling (regardless of which side we fall on) that something is objectively, morally wrong here. Whether it is the position that won and/or the methods that brought it victory, but we are afraid to voice our concern because to do so would be "intolerant," "exclusivistic," and "bigoted." But even those concerns have objective moral components. So if we live in a world of moral relativity our concern is not objectively wrong. Why do we feel that we cannot voice our concern? This is the self-defeating nature of moral relativism. If we would just realize that morality is objective, we could have a foundation for calling out the retched behavior that leads to a position becoming accepted by society, and we could have a foundation to discover which side of a debate is actually correct without having to resort to the despicable methods above.
But we, as sinful human beings, do not want to recognize that something we desire so much is wrong. We do not want an intellectual discussion where evidence and counter-evidence is presented. We do not want to be faced with the prospect that evidence may be so compelling against our view that to remain intellectually honest, we must reject our dearly held view. So we desire moral relativism to be true; for if it is, we can justify resorting to any means necessary to see that our desires are realized and accepted (willfully or not) by society- including, but not limited to, the strategies and schemes we would consider objectively immoral if our views were already dominant.
It is a tragedy that we would desire so much for our views to be forced on others that we are willing to grant moral relativism, thus justifying the professional, mental, emotional, political, and/or physical destruction of fellow human beings. Moral objectivism calls everyone to tolerate those with whom they disagree, not harm them. True tolerance and true inclusivism require people to disagree intellectually yet be willing (if not excited) to put those disagreements aside to work together in other areas, including the work place. Eich was calling for such inclusivism and tolerance. Yet Mozilla, at the pressure of a group focused on the best interest of their ideology not the technology industry or the future success of the company's products, decided to redefine their values to exclude certain views and be unwilling to set aside disagreements in an orchestrated effort to reach a common goal. Who is truly the inclusive and tolerant one here: the one who encouraged teamwork despite differences or the one who silenced such blasphemy?
For more on politics, morality, and homosexuality, please see these posts:
Politics and Foundations
Book Review: Christian Ethics by Norman Geisler
Evolution, Morality, and Transformers
Morality, Knowledge, and X-Men
Raising Children With God?- A Logical Christian Response
Ravi Zacharias on Race and Homosexuality
Thanks to the Facebook Group "We Can Defend Marriage" for the awesome meme.