Thinking About Mozilla

Erin Kissane, Werbsite, Apr 01, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Mozilla - the organization that makes Firefox - has been roiled recently by the appointment of a new CEO who supports a Californian law called 'Prop 8', which eliminates same-sex marriage. Erin Kissane makes it clear that the concept of 'open' is central to Mozilla and are enshrined in the principles of the organization. And yet opposition to same-sex marriage seems to run counter to this. It's the classic dilemma of openness - what happens if people use the open system to promote some way in which it should be closed? What if (to ciite Socrates) people use democracy to argue for dictatorship? The answer is, in my view, that the meanings of 'freedom', 'openness' and 'democracy' are not so clear that they are beyond debate. We need to be constantly testing what we believe these things to be. If we do not allow the opponents of some right or freedom to make their case as well as possible, we risk others using those same laws to stifle those people arguing for more freedom. 'Open' means allowing people to advocate unpopular positions, even if they are CEO. If it really bothers people, they can vote him out. But, you know, people can have redeeming features despite being wrong on important issues.

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