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A Personal Message

This is my personal comment on Brendan’s donation to Proposition 8. I believe Planet Mozilla is now just for Mozilla content. This is Mozilla content: it’s about the pain people have experienced, which necessarily affects their work and working relationships. I need to do this for myself: if I don’t, I’ll feel isolated and silenced. I hope it may comfort anyone who needs comfort.

In this post, I speak for myself: no one else has read it, edited it, or approved it prior to posting. These words are imperfect and they are mine alone.

tl;dr version: This hurts. If you hurt too, you’re not alone. If anyone needs someone to talk to, I’m here.

I have a strong connection to LGBT issues, including Proposition 8. My wife is bisexual. We have many LGBT friends. Opposition to discrimination and stigma has long been one of my most closely held political beliefs.

I have a strong connection to Brendan. Brendan has been one of my mentors at Mozilla. Brendan is one of the founders of a community I love being a part of, and a company I love working for. Brendan passed on SpiderMonkey module ownership to me.

Because of all these connections, when I learned last Wednesday night that Brendan donated $1000 to support Proposition 8, I experienced intense pain. I was first shocked, then disappointed, then sad, then anxious, then angry, and then back to disappointed. I’ve been able to think of little else at work or at home. I’ve had heartburn, tense muscles, and an anxious, alerted feeling every day.

If you were hurt too, you are not alone.

Various comments have led me to believe that some might not understand why people feel so strongly about this. It’s been suggested that this is just a difference of opinion and we have to learn to live with it. I agree that we have to learn to live with differences, but Proposition 8 is not just a difference of opinion. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me and my wife, Proposition 8:

  • by taking away the previously established right of gay couples to marry in California, took away a fundamental right from a class of people, and
  • defined gays as second-class citizens in the Constitution of California.

This may not be what Proposition 8 supporters intended. (I hope it was not.) But it is how it was received, and hopefully you can see how painful that would be: imagine that a law was passed saying that you (or a friend or family member) could not marry or stay married to the person you love.

There are probably people who have very different strong feelings about Proposition 8 or Brendan’s donation. If you do, I would be interested in hearing what you have to say. I invite anyone who is affected by this to open up and speak from the heart about what they believe and feel.

I’m sure there are Mozillians who are just as distressed that are not in a position to reach out or express their feelings at work. I hope knowing that you are not alone helps at least a little bit.

I’m available if anyone wants to talk about any aspect of this issue, or just needs someone to vent with, rant at, commiserate with, or whatever.

(Excepting commercial spam) I welcome all comments, public or private, regardless of who you are, what you believe, or the content or tone of your message.

Comments

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 10, 2012, 1:26 pm

Thanks for saying this. Some people have said angry things, and more of us are angry. I hope that those who are puzzled or intimidated by the anger remember that being angry is a way of coping with the pain that you described here eloquently.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: April 10, 2012, 1:39 pm

Although I have no personal connection to the LGBT community I was seriously disturbed when hearing of it first. I hoped that someone would bring it up because I feel like I’m not in the position to. Not sure what’s the right way to handle all this and if silence is really gold in this one. Thank you for talking about it.

Comment from Marcus
Time: April 10, 2012, 1:48 pm

Thanks for putting this out there, David. Really well written, and touching for all the right reasons. Mozilla’s lucky to have an employee like you.

Comment from Erunno
Time: April 10, 2012, 2:31 pm

Oh, someone finally decided to break the omertà regarding Brendan Eich and proposition 8. After all the outrage about Gervase Markham’s very controversial statements I was surprised about the deathly silence on the planet in a very similar matter.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: April 10, 2012, 3:10 pm

Honest and to the point.

If there is perhaps a silver lining, it will be an opportunity for constructive dialogue and working towards mutual understanding, which is not possible when the opposition is faceless.

Comment from Kkmberly Sperry
Time: April 10, 2012, 3:28 pm

Thank you David. I am proud to call you family :)

Comment from Anonymous
Time: April 10, 2012, 3:41 pm

The fact is that neither Gerv’s post nor this one should be aggregated on Planet Mozilla. Mitchell expressed very clearly where to draw the line, but I guess that until this policy is effectively enforced, people will just abuse Planet to voice personal opinions on other topics.

Comment from Anon
Time: April 10, 2012, 3:50 pm

I thought most of MoCo knew that.

/hipster

Comment from Jet Villegas
Time: April 10, 2012, 4:08 pm

I disagree with the notion that posts like this don’t belong on Mozilla-related blogs. Software is created by hand by human beings and we all need to be reminded of that fact on a regular basis. Kudos to dmandelin for writing from the heart. That is a very Mozillian thing to do.

Comment from David Anderson
Time: April 10, 2012, 7:02 pm

Thank you, David, for writing this. I want to share that I too was deeply hurt and disappointed by Brendan’s donation. He’s a community leader and a role model to many people. On my part, I’ve spent the past four years working on his implementation of his language, and in the TraceMonkey days we all hacked side-by-side.

After seeing his blog post, I felt dirty working on the code base, as if by extension I was betraying the community. To make things worse, Mozilla has been totally silent, which is very isolating. I thought, “apparently, no one cares.” That was really hard since I’ve always considered Mozilla to be the best thing I could ever work on.

I talked with Brendan today, and now I feel better about working with him. I don’t believe he is hateful. However, he owes the Mozilla community an explanation, and some kind of apology or acknowledgement that goes beyond his current post. People who look up to him – to Mozilla – deserve this.

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 10, 2012, 8:31 pm

@David Anderson – Mozilla hasn’t been totally silent; Gary Kovacs made a brief statement (in response to a question; I doubt it would have been said otherwise) about it at the MoCo meeting yesterday. I found that statement to be disappointing in its lack of acknowledgment of the difference between a difference of opinion, and an attack on a vulnerable group.

Comment from njn
Time: April 10, 2012, 9:28 pm

That’s a great video. Thanks for posting.

Comment from Thaddee Tyl
Time: April 11, 2012, 4:47 am

While I agree with everything in this post, and felt a little hurt too, I feel sorry for Brendan Eich, whose Mozilla life is being stained by his personal opinion, and by something that he did three years ago (and clearly didn’t tell a lot of Mozilla friends).

What I mean is, he wanted to have those two worlds, Mozilla and his political opinion, separated.

I feel like we should allow people to have compartmentalized lives.

Comment from RIUM+
Time: April 11, 2012, 5:53 am

I have honestly been confused that many people do not seem to understand the difference between professional and personal lives. One person’s personal views do not necessarily represent the company they work for. Which company someone works for matters diddly-squat.

If I personally knew the guy, I would be disheartened to hear this. But I don’t. And just because he works at a company I support, doesn’t change my view of the company (and it shouldn’t). Calling for a browser switch because one developer’s personal life is hurtful to you is mud-slinging and an insult to all the other developers whose personal lives may not be hurtful to you.

And even on an individual level? Judge someone’s professional work by their professional work. Judge someone’s sporting ability by their sporting ability. Judge someone’s cooking skills by their cooking skills. Judge someone’s political views by their political views. Never mix these up, ever. You wouldn’t let someone’s lack of cooking skills negatively impact your opinion of their sporting ability. Don’t let someone’s political views negatively impact your opinion of their professional work.

Comment from Jason Orendorff
Time: April 11, 2012, 6:44 am

David, I felt the same way for days after the uproar over Gerv. Instead of shock and disappointment over one person’s point of view, I felt a milder shock and disappointment over the attitudes of virtually everyone around me. I considered quitting. I felt I could not work someplace where people were so intolerant of others politely and respectfully expressing their views.

For the record, I consider same-sex marriage a civil rights issue and I favor equal marriage rights for everyone. However I also favor tolerance of, and civil discourse with, people who have differing viewpoints, and Mozilla is by far the most intolerant community I’ve ever been involved with.

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 11, 2012, 7:08 am

@Thaddee Tyl: I can understand how you might feel this way — “we should allow people to have compartmentalized lives” — if you are not part of a group that is under legislative attack. However, my life is not compartmentalized, and I can’t make it compartmentalized through any choice of my own. As long as people like Brendan are paying money so that I can’t get married (to anyone — as a person whose gender markers on government documentation are inconsistent, I can’t marry anybody of any gender), their “private” choices affect private life. And I would say that a choice that affects someone else’s private life is not, and cannot ever be, private.

The way to avoid being criticized for a private belief is to keep it to oneself, and to not donate to causes that seek to use the coercive power of the state to impose that private belief on others who don’t believe in it. Political donations have to be disclosed publicly for a reason: it’s unfair for somebody to be able to use their power (both in the form of having money to give, and in the form of being part of a majority group that has social capital) to limit my life without me having the ability to hold them accountable for it.

When beliefs turn into actions, they have consequences. And adults need to be ready to face the consequences of their actions.

Comment from Natalie Mandelin
Time: April 11, 2012, 7:46 am

I am so lucky to be married to you, David. Your compassion for others and desire to be there for people in your community are two of your most amazing character traits. You are my hero. I love you!

Comment from Taryn Fox
Time: April 11, 2012, 10:15 am

the difference between a difference of opinion, and an attack on a vulnerable group.

^^^ This. So much this.

When Gerv’s stuff hit the fan, Michael Meeks over on Planet GNOME harrumphed about how some people just can’t tolerate “diversity of opinion.” That’s exactly what this boils down to, except it’s the other way around. People like Gerv and Brendan are so completely intolerant of the opinion that people who love each other should be able to marry, that they’re willing to spend time and money and energy fighting against it. Breaking up families, and literally making others’ love illegal.

@Jason Orendorff, if you hold racist, sexist, transphobic, or homophobic beliefs, you should not feel welcome to express them. You should not feel welcome to act on them. The fact that you ever have anywhere is a bug.

This isn’t like wanting a different flavor of ice cream — being gay is like wanting a different flavor of ice cream. Your and Gerv’s beliefs and actions are like trying to ban women or brown people from buying their own food. Your wrong beliefs bear no resemblance to reality, and you are not oppressed just because people are calling you out for them and for evil acts based on them — your victims are.

The parts of the world that don’t already know this as the civil rights struggle of our age will soon, and you’ll have a lot to explain to your LGBT grandkids.

Comment from Earl Baden-Powell
Time: April 11, 2012, 6:18 pm

comments r an echo chamber. you assume P -> Q and P then Q — QED!

problem is P is not obviously true.

conflict is between definition of marriage

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fam&group=00001-01000&file=300-310

and marriage as civil right

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

where wikipedia’s incomplete citation of the USSC verdict at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia#Decision leaves out natural law argument predicate of civil right to marriage: natural right to marriage is for procreation which is by def. marriage between man and woman.

sorry, intolerant haters of definitions, it’s not all about civil rights. from Hernandez v. Robles (2006):

[T]he historical background of Loving is different from the history underlying this case. […] But the traditional definition of marriage is not merely a by-product of historical injustice. Its history is of a different kind. The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude.[13] ”

Comment from Jason Orendorff (
Time: April 12, 2012, 8:38 am

@Taryn Fox: I went out of my way, in my first post, to state that I do support same-sex marriage and I do view it as a civil rights issue.

I don’t mind that you missed that part, but it seems like you then misjudged me for the sole purpose of getting personal (my beliefs, my victims, my grandkids).

Exaggerating Brendan’s and Gerv’s views also seems unwarranted.

What did you get out of all that? Do you talk to people like that in real life, people you’ve just met for the first time?

Please understand—it’s disappointing to hear that Brendan supported Prop. 8, but (1) that is far from the only bit that matters about Brendan; and (2) that is far from the only mainstream political view I find morally unacceptable. If I had to alienate everyone who disagrees with me on significant moral issues, I’d have no one to talk to.

Comment from Gervase Markham
Time: April 12, 2012, 10:15 am

I think what Brendan said about the dehumanizing effects of the Net and how it makes it hard to have a conversation about something, particularly with people you don’t know, was very wise. It would take at least half an hour of conversation to untangle all the misrepresentations and misconceptions about my position either directly specified or implied in Taryn’s comment.

Instead, one thought: if you ever want to convince someone they are wrong, you need to first understand why they think they are right, starting from the charitable assumption that they don’t, in fact, hate you.

Comment from Wayne
Time: April 12, 2012, 2:45 pm

In general I’d rather be a homosexual American making six figures than a poor cissexual American provided no horrible education and no chance of success by the capitalist system which produces wealth for you and limits my chance of success. I am landless because you use your privilege to buy land. You pretend that it’s different because you “earn” it not believing that you perpetuate a system which eats up resources leaving me none. I’m glad you have the leisure time to get worked up and threaten to leave a lucrative job for marriage equality. The poor don’t have that luxury. We are treated far worse every day but because you choose to couch LGBTQ issues as “right” but not economic ones you can oppress us and pretend I’m poor because of my own choices. I support marriage equality. I just wish you all supporters of it would get as enraged by poverty in America as you do about a marriage certificate and tax benefits.

Comment from G
Time: April 12, 2012, 2:52 pm

Soon white heterogeneous man will be among minorites..

I don’t know how to live in the USA, but what I defenetly know is I don’t and I will not allow my children grow up with LGBT families. I am not against your kind. But what a hell stop fucking harassing us. And don’t even try to say that this is normal. It’s not. Never was and will never be. If you think that’s ok. Fine, but THERE ARE MILLIARDS OF PEOPLE WHO THINK IT ISN’T!

You scream like a girl about smb’s donation. How many of you donated, supported your own rights, even if other people were against you? How much money has been spent on it? And what is absolutely nonses, YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE. Mozilla is not your familiy, it is a company. A business. Get fired if you want to but stop f*ckin yelling about how you are dissapointed.

Comment from dmandelin
Time: April 12, 2012, 4:51 pm

@Thaddee, Thanks for your insightful comment. I too think it’s unfortunate Brendan had to endure attacks, etc. And I do think people should generally be allowed to have a private life quite separate from their work life. It’s a little more complicated than that for me, though, because I highly value wholeness in a person, but more to the point, in this specific case an action that would ordinarily be private randomly happened to leak out in public and became impossible (for some people, including me) to just ignore.

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 12, 2012, 4:54 pm

@Wayne — you seem to be assuming that all poor people are heterosexual? If so, why? And if not, can you imagine it’s like to experience both classism and homophobia?

Comment from dmandelin
Time: April 12, 2012, 4:57 pm

@RIUM+, All reasonable points. I just want to add a few things (and also see what I replied to Thaddee, who wrote something similar). In this case, with Brendan being a co-founder and really essential to Mozilla even existing, and CTO, and the technical face of the company, it is probably difficult for many people to maintain a strict separation between person and company, especially on the unconscious and emotional levels. Also on the individual level, I think humans are not quite capable of assessing different aspects of each other independently: the halo effect is always in play.

On calling for switching browsers, I don’t have an opinion. I think it’s up to each person. For many people, marriage equality is a much more important and emotional issue than the browser they use, so it might make sense for them to switch. I wouldn’t complain about that. But I don’t think very many people (in a statistical sense) will switch because of this, so I don’t worry about it anyway.

Comment from dmandelin
Time: April 12, 2012, 5:01 pm

@Jason, thanks again for your candid comment. It really shows the depth of emotion and distress that people have been feeling about all these controversies on various sides, which I think had been underappreciated.

It also really gets at how important values are to so many Mozillians, and how connected their values are to their work, such as equality and tolerance (which can be in tension), which I think is really cool even if it doesn’t always go smoothly.

Comment from dmandelin
Time: April 12, 2012, 5:03 pm

@Tim (your reply to Thaddee): well put–another good explanation of why to many people “it’s just private free speech” doesn’t make it all OK.

Comment from Wayne
Time: April 13, 2012, 8:33 am

Tim, I don’t believe I assumed all poor people were heterosexual. I assumed that their struggles with classism and systematic neglect is generally a larger issue than not being able to be married.

You do realize I agree with you that there should be same-sex marriage–insofar as there should be civil marriage. What I can’t abide is you throwing a fit because someone supports discrimination. My point is you partake and benefit greatly from a system which keeps the poor poor and enriches you yet you want to pretend that the great injustice is Brendan donating some of his money to support Prop 8.

Comment from Craig
Time: April 13, 2012, 12:44 pm

Kudos to your missus, well spoken hard hitting video. Shocking insight into strong religious upbringings.

Speaking from across the pond in Scotland, I read about P8 in sheer horror.

Keep fighting the fight.

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 16, 2012, 2:45 pm

@Wayne – http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Silencing_tactics

Comment from Anon
Time: April 20, 2012, 2:21 pm

Tim, your repeated insistence on posting links at people as a pseudo-response and then saying it isn’t your job to educate them when challenged is yet another silencing tactic in discourse. Actually engage with people as equals and quit trying to silence opposing views. You and at least one other community member have damaged all of these discussions with your inability to simply be civil with those with whom you disagree and your accusations when people say things that you don’t like. It subverts your own position in the eyes of others.

Comment from Craig
Time: April 21, 2012, 4:28 pm

Hey,

I have been trying to contact you, you have a tone of spam on your page http://blog.mozilla.org/dmandelin/2009/02/26/tracevis-performance-visualization-for-tracemonkey/. I would remove it if I was you. Not only for SEO, but it looks unsightly too.

Thanks

Comment from Sheeri K. Cabral
Time: April 22, 2012, 4:57 am

While I completely understand how you feel, as a bi woman and activist myself (I helped the landmark 2004 decision in MA to get same-sex marriage legalized), I’m not quite sure why you felt the need to make a blog post about this.

Someone you work with did something that personally disappoints you, and you’re posting it to the world.

I don’t make blog posts that say “I’m so disappointed in my coworker for something he did in his personal life.” If it’s that important to me, I’ll talk to my co-worker directly.

If this post were about *anything else* other than same-sex marriage (which I advocate for!), everyone would be scratching their heads thinking, “why is David airing his dirty laundry with Brendan in a public blog post instead of taking it up directly with him?”

Comment from Wayne
Time: April 22, 2012, 2:38 pm

Tim, I think we’re both smart enough to realize that what I did is no more a silencing tactic than you posting that link. Yes, I think you’re throwing a fit at work and hoping to see if it forces them to change their policies. It might be a good tactic although I doubt it. In general I think it’s just hurting Mozilla and adding to the animosity already created by Gerv being unwise enough to post about gay marriage on Planet Mozilla.

But I think everyone besides me has self-imposed the silencing tactic of “this is boring” so I’ll adopt that one now and toddle off.

Comment from Tim Chevalier
Time: April 23, 2012, 11:15 am

Anon: I’m happy to silence the “opposing view” that says I’m not human. I’d be happy to never hear that viewpoint again. I make no apologies for that.