The Meaning of Eich


Back in 1971-72, I was Cadet Commander of a Civil Air Patrol Squadron in Pueblo, Colorado. I don’t know that I was a great cadet commander, but God knows I was trying to be. But then the squadron got a Chaplain, and the Chaplain wanted to have private talks with all the cadets. I didn’t think anything of it — I talked with Baptist preachers fairly regularly, my family was largely Baptist even though I’d been a Buddhist for 6 or 7 years.

So I had my little chat, told the guy I was a Buddhist and why I had stopped being a Christian, and that was the end of it.

Literally. I arrived at the Squadron for our next meeting and found, stapled to the board, an order from the Squadron Commander saying that I had been removed as Cadet Commander, and someone else was appointed in my place. The kid who was appointed was a Good Christian.

When I went to college, as an undergraduate at University of Colorado, there was a lot of talk about Dalton Trumbo, a Coloradan who’d been a student at CU and then became famous as a screenwriter, then as a blacklisted screenwriter, and then was rehabilitated. Trumbo, of course, was one of the famous Hollywood Ten. Eventually, the fountain outside the CU Student Center was renamed the Dalton Trumbo Fountain in his honor.

Of course, we all know that last week Brendan Eich, the inventor of Javascript and one of the founders of the Mozilla project that eventually inherited and extended the old Netscape browser, was forced to resign from Mozilla for having donated $1000 to an anti-Proposition 8 campaign in California.

Last year, I was identified by as one of the top developers in the country, with a Gild score of 99.7 out of 100. Gild flew me to Las Vegas last October to meet about 50 senior recruiters, including the senior recruiter from Mozilla, who gave me an extended sales pitch on the wonders of working for Mozilla. It sounded very interesting; I applied, exchanged a couple of emails, and never heard from them again. Not even an email reply.

Of course, I’m pretty much out of the closet about being “conservative” in the peculiar American meaning of the word, where a radical egalitarian, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-free speech, pro-porn, mind your own damn business, yes we need to pay attention to what happens in the Middle East and Ukraine because we’d rather fight there than here anti-fascist Buddhist is “conservative” while an aristocratic elite dedicated to centralized control by a chosen few is “liberal.”

Now, I’ve got to wonder: was I dropped from consideration by Mozilla for my politics?

Here’s the point. I feel this issue particularly because I’d run into it many times before myself. I’ve seen the desire to blacklist applied to friends in the recent past — Orson Scott Card, and other SF writers. Not to mention some writers who I generally think are obnoxious and unlikeable dolts (cough Vox Day cough).

None the less, I object to anyone being blacklisted. As long as anyone is being blacklisted for holding an unpopular opinion — or in Eich’s case, a popular opinion — then none of us are free to speak.