Why Can’t the Internet Have Nice Things?


Welcome to the Matrix, everybody. readme’s not sure how, but some technological juggernaut—Google, probably—has plugged us all into a lotus-eater simulation so they can harvest our bio-energies to feed their robot overlords. readme was at first suspicious when it heard CMU was canceling two whole days of classes for some carnival thing. Like that would ever happen in real life. And then the Tartan invited readme to a breakfast date at Pamela’s, which it did not expect, considering last time they talked it left all its Magic: the Gathering cards at her place like an absolute noob. The clincher, though, is the news that a movement on the Internet protesting a corporation’s homophobic behavior led to actual, positive change.

The controversy started when Mozilla named as its CEO one Brendan Eich, who had once supported the California Prop 8 act which would make gay marriage in the state unconstitutional. Numerous web apps, including dating service OkCupid, spoke out against this decision, withdrawing support for the company and encouraging users to boycott. Obviously, Mozilla fought back by citing ‘corporate personhood’, ‘religious freedom’, and accusing their detractors of violating their freedom of expression by expressing an opinion.

Except no, that’s not what happened. Instead Mozilla released a statement saying they had failed to listen to the wishes of their user base in appointing Eich, while Eich himself resigned just two days after OkCupid’s boycott began. Huh. Well, it looks like the people of the Internet can rest easy, knowing the corporate landscape is changing to reflect consumer values and that companies are beginning to understand that freedom of speech does not exempt one from the consequences of that speech.

Or they could, if not for the fact that the people of the Internet never rest easy. Soon after OkCupid released its politely-worded request that its users not access their site through Firefox, commenters flooded news sites with condemnations of these “openly fascist methods” OkCupid used to “[force] their opinion” on their customer base. They leapt to Firefox’s defense like a Republican to the defense of women, praising the actions that Eich himself admitted were incongruous with Mozilla’s core mission of inclusivity.

Of course, the OkCupid-hate didn’t stop there. Invocations were made to Nazi Germany, Orwell’s 1984, the “militant gay movement” (on that subject, guys, why did you take readme off the militant gay d-list? Is this about that time with the bear? Because readme swears, its aim’s gotten a lot better since then), and more. Some concerned citizens worry that the boycott will actually create a less diverse environment at Mozilla, because now homophobes and other bigots will hesitate to supply their “unpopular” opinions. Aw, here, let readme play you a mournful dirge on the world’s smallest bagpipe.

If this debacle has taught us anything, though, it’s that we really shouldn’t worry about corporations being granted rights of personhood. After all, there’s nothing they can do to people that we haven’t already done to ourselves.

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