OkCupid played a major role in the successful effort to bring down Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.
On March 31 the company showed a message to all visitors using Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The message stated: “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
As we all know, Eich’s opposition to equal rights for gay couples stemmed from his $1,000 donation to support Proposition 8 in 2008. There are no other allegations that he ever showed any other discrimination against gays or anyone else.
Most people will argue (including me) that OkCupid is permitted to express opinions and take actions like this under its first amendment rights as a corporation.
But what was OKCupid’s motivation? And how does OkCupid’s co-founder Sam Yagan fit into this?
I believe that it was a PR stunt by OKCupid, that the company isn’t really committed to gay rights at all, and that OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan was particularly hypocritical in this.
To go further, I think that a person and/or a company who deliberately destroy a man’s reputation and career under false pretenses just to get a PR bump is being explicitly evil.
Here’s my support of that.
1. Many people (here’s just one example, but a quick search pulls up far more) have pointed out that OkCupid’s actions appeared to be little more than a PR stunt to get attention. Regardless of motivation, there’s no argument that OkCupid benefited hugely from the saturated media coverage of their boycott.
This was a PR stunt, and as I show below, nothing but a PR stunt.
2. Sam Yagan is the co-founder of OkCupid and CEO of Match.com, OkCupid’s parent company. He certainly approved OkCupid’s actions, and his twitter stream shows numerous statements confirming his approval and, later, support of Eich’s forced resignation.
3. And yet Sam Yagan made a $500 donation to U.S. Congressman Chris Cannon in 2004.
4. Cannon has a special kind of hate for gays.
The Human Rights Campaign gave him a 0% rating on supporting gay rights. He voted no on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for a ban on gay adoptions. And he supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as man/woman only.
He also voted to make the Patriot Act permanent, and supports (literally) any limitation on abortion that anyone can possible think up.
He’s the kind of politician that led me to vow to never vote for a republican again.
5. Is it absurd to judge Yagan as a person based on a single donation, years ago, to a politician well known for waging war on gays? Yup. But that is precisely what Yagan and OkCupid did to Eich.
In this new reality, supported by Yagan, it is both acceptable and a moral imperative to judge people based on their prior political donations, even those made years and years ago.
6. How can a man orchestrate and support a boycott of Mozilla over Eich and yet donate to a hateful politician like Chris Cannon? How do you square that?
You don’t. A man who feels strongly enough to boycott Mozilla over Eich’s actions is not a man who would donate to Chris Cannon.
OkCupid received a clear benefit, media attention, for trashing Eich. But their co-founder and ultimate CEO has shown strong anti-gay tendencies in the past. That’s hypocrisy, and worse.