Concerns with Planet Content

March 6th, 2012 by raccettura

Greetings,

The Planet Mozilla Module Team has received several complaints today regarding a recent post on Planet. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and we definitely want to understand when people are unhappy with the service that Planet Mozilla offers. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify our policy and respond to the complaints.

Our policy for the last five years, since the creation of an official Mozilla module for planet.mozilla.org, has been that we do not filter or censor content on Planet. Further, we have encouraged our community to share more than just their Mozilla-related activities on Planet. We desire that Planet reflect the people of Mozilla and not just the work output of the project. It remains a personal choice of those on Planet as to how much to share. People syndicating their blogs to Planet may submit a full blog feed or a curated Mozilla-related feed. We do not intend to change this policy.

The result is content that isn’t always interesting or even “acceptable” to everybody in our community. We feel that the good of sharing the unfiltered (by us) lives of the diverse Mozilla community outweighs the occasional controversial post, and we rely on those syndicating their blogs to Planet to publish to this medium responsibly.

That being said, we have been talking for several years about creating an additional feed that is curated to only contain Mozilla-related topics. We’re not yet sure how we’re going to accomplish that without a lot of manual work due to technical reasons, but as a result of recent feedback from various Mozillians and our desire to make Planet useful to people who do not want to see non-Mozilla content, we will increase our efforts to develop that solution. Bug 733657 tracks this effort.

Finally, we have additional improvements coming to make Planet easier to consume. Following the lead of planet instances at other open source projects — which treat their planets as a collection of people — we are “returning to our roots” by starting the process of separating content generated by individuals from content generated by the project. We’re going to move the project blogs and status posts into their own planet instance and remove them from the main Planet shortly (tracked as bug 733655). Those wishing to follow only Mozilla project content can simply follow that feed and the main planet.mozilla.org service will once again focus on the many individual community voices.

As always, we welcome any and all feedback, either publicly via the newsgroups or blog posts, or privately to planet[@]mozilla[.]org. Please don’t be afraid to contact us if you ever have an issue with something on Planet. As the Mozilla community continues to grow, we all want to work together to ensure everybody has the best experience when reading Planet and that Planet continues to reflect the diversity of views, individuals, and type of content present within our eclectic community.

Sincerely,
The Planet Mozilla Module Team (Robert, Asa, Reed, Paul)

93 Responses to “Concerns with Planet Content”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    So I can post any homophobic or racist comment on Planet and that’s cool just because I’m a member of the community expressing myself?

    Not good enough. You can do better than this and you’re going to be asked to do so.

  2. Tim Chevalier Says:

    I find this reply disappointing. Where is the acknowledgement that Planet Mozilla published hate speech with a Mozilla banner attached? “Filtering and censoring” is a poor way to describe a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech, which Planet Mozilla apparently lacks. Hate speech is different from free speech in that its purpose is to annihilate minority groups — by publishing hate speech, Planet Mozilla implicitly sends the message that yes, Mozilla is an organization that is interested in actively destroying LGBTQ people. There is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to statements that a particular group of people are not human — you endorse them or you condemn them.

    I’m embarrassed to work for Mozilla right now.

  3. Gavin Sharp Says:

    Tim: I think you need to be careful when using phrases like “hate speech”. There was nothing inherently, objectively hateful in Gerv’s post (it actually seemed mostly concerned with semantics). Clearly you inferred hate, but that requires a lot of additional context (stereotypical positions and characterizations of people on either side of the gay marriage debate) and depends on your perspective.

    I think Gerv’s position on the issue is absurd, and I think it was a poor choice to post something like that to planet, and I support creating a planet feed that’s limited to Mozilla-related topics. But I don’t think it’s fair to classify Gerv’s post as “hate speech”, and I don’t think putting words like “actively destroying” into his mouth is an effective way to voice your discontent.

  4. Alereon Says:

    I would like to know whether it’s possible for blog authors to control on a per-post basis whether their posts are syndicated to Planet? If not, that seems like a pretty necessary feature to have, and I feel that most people can be trusted to exercise good judgment in whether a post they are making belongs on Planet. If that already exists, then a key question for me is why it wasn’t used in this case. If it was a simple accident, that’s fine, human beings make mistakes. However, if the individual in question intentionally chose to syndicate that post to Planet (for a wider audience for example), that seems like a pretty egregious breach of the trust placed in a person when they’re given the ability to post content that will go on Planet.

    While I’m posting about Planet, is there a way to fix it so that unclosed tags/etc in posts don’t break formatting for the entire rest of the page until they drop off or someone manually fixes them? It’s really annoying when the entire page of Planet content is bold because a tag got messed up somewhere.

  5. dan Says:

    Tim, a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech *is* a form of censorship, who decides what hate speech is anyhow?

    Anyone who deems themselves insulted by a proclamation can claim that they are a victim of hate speech, it is far too fuzzy a concept. Were I to pronounce a distaste for Islamism or Homosexuality or Judaism or Feminism any one of those groups could claim to be a victim of hate speech.

    Let us reason how or why something is right or wrong. Surely all forms of real oppression start with shutting down even the idea of debate.

  6. Christie Koehler Says:

    I was one of the concerned Mozillians who drafted a letter to your team in response to the post in question. Your response is quite disappointing in that it does nothing to actually address our grievances. Furthermore, it rationalizes and condones hate-speech under the auspices of not wanting to engage in censorship. I think this is deeply misguided and serves to further alienate minority members of our community.

    Curating content and setting forth standards for participation in order to create safe, inclusive communities is not the same thing as censorship.

    Whether or not you personally see it as such, Planet Mozilla represents Mozilla as a whole. It is hosted on Mozilla servers, has Mozilla branding and includes Mozilla-related news as the majority of its content. Many members of the community, including myself, as well as members of the general public consider Planet Mozilla a Mozilla new source, not unlike WikiMo or blog.mozilla.org. We wouldn’t allow hate-speech there and, we shouldn’t tolerate it on Planet, either.

    Right now, I feel unsafe and unwelcome at Mozilla.

    I hope we can do better.

  7. raccettura Says:

    @Alereon: Every person provides a feed of their choosing. Most use a category or tag, so they can decide if a post gets that category or tag. Some choose their entire blog (in which case everything goes). It’s a personal choice. So to loop back to your question, it’s up to the author how much control they have.

  8. Anon Says:

    Have to agree here, this is a poor standard.

    If planet is a place for rants of this sort, then planet will quickly become removed from Mozilla. No one at Mozilla will want to be associated with it.

  9. Jeff Walden Says:

    I don’t see the relevant post as stating that “a particular group of people are not humans”. Nor do I see it as explicitly “hate speech”. It seems to be advocating legal political activity; it does not seem to explicitly denigrate any individual person or group of people. (It suggests that certain actions often taken by certain groups of people are unacceptable, yes. Yet this is qualitatively different from “annihilating” those groups, or “actively destroying” them, or asserting that they are “not human”.) It’s based on a mainstream moral position (it may not be a majority or plurality position among some audiences, but it’s at the very least solidly into the double digits percentage-wise in many cases), even if one many would vehemently disagree with. For some definitions of liberty it would advocate an infringement of liberty, certainly. Yet government contemplates many infringements of liberty. Reasonable people should be able to disagree which infringements are legitimate and which are not without silencing speech. As Justice Brandeis noted long ago, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

    It’s also worth considering the current policy came into effect after a past…anti-policy…that was arguably arbitrarily and capriciously applied. The current policy is very much a reaction to that mistake. There is a lot of path dependence to how we reached the current policy, and the past situation advises that changes be made to it with care, consideration, and cautiousness.

    (Note that none of this should be construed as my supporting or disapproving of the content of the relevant post. I simply think tolerance of opinions one may disagree with, or engagement with them, or deliberate ignorance is preferable to simply declaring some speech unspeakable.)

  10. Ananymous Says:

    How is allowing the non-filtered, non-vetted content and attached the Mozilla brand not creating a “Hostile Work Environment”? It seems like this entire issue could be handled in the same way it is with everything else Mozilla does for it’s employees. Mozilla has policies to protect their employees and why is the blog syndication from Mozilla’s services not also covered by the same policy?

  11. Xenu Says:

    I see this not as a trigger to file complaints, but an opportunity to respond as freely as people already have.
    After all, if a precedent is set, how will I be able to criticize the Church of Scientology for the dehumanising treatment of its membership without that being labelled as religious hate speech?

  12. CBloom Says:

    Antecedent to any discussion of hate speech or censorship, it seems like a good idea to ask what the purpose of Planet Mozilla is. What I’ve read above about the original policy and the point behind the site seems rather vague. It’s not at all clear to me that it serves widespread personal needs or the project’s interests to aggregate all volunteered blog posts both personal and professional. Perhaps five years ago, when the active community was smaller, it made sense, but a great deal has changed, and anything that hasn’t changed in five years should at least be re-examined.

    More importantly, Christie Koehler made the crucial points about how the site is actually perceived and used, and even more significantly, how everything is branded. It is profoundly naive to think that anyone speaking about anything under the Mozilla banner is justified, because someone has a generally articulated program of “free speech.”

    Put in another way, I’d like to see a justification for the original concept in our current context in the first place.

  13. Tim Chevalier Says:

    Gavin, this reply is part of the problem. I’m remembering a statement that Gary Kovacs made at the September all-hands to the effect that “we’ve fired people who made bigoted remarks at work before, and we’ll do it again.” Gerv is a Mozilla employee and making a statement under the Mozilla banner (which looks like “at work” to everyone outside Mozilla) certainly counts to me. So is someone going to show the courage needed to stand up for what’s right here?

    I don’t have the time or energy right now to explain why a statement that tells me I don’t deserve fundamental rights is hate speech. Just let it be known that like Christie, I don’t feel welcome or valued by Mozilla right now; I feel that my contributions considered less important because I’m queer. If it’s so important to Mozilla to allow speech like Gerv’s speech under the Mozilla banner that it’s worth discarding a percentage of the contributions made by queer and ally employees, then I guess that’s not my decision to make, though I would wonder why and who is accountable for making that trade.

  14. Tim Chevalier Says:

    I’m not sure whether my previous comment got through. Suffice it to say that making Planet Mozilla a forum in which members of privileged groups bully members of less-privileged groups is, to me, a strange use of the Mozilla name and reputation and one that adds questionable value (if any) to the organization, while damaging the organization by destroying the morale of LGBTQ employees and their allies. I think the point would be much easier to see if Gerv had chosen to attack and question the humanity of a different minority group.

  15. Erunno Says:

    Planet Mozilla can’t censor because it is not a governmental agency, it’s a private property. Don’t mistake your right to free speech for being allowed to spew whatever opinion wherever you like. If Mozilla introduces a more strict content policy this is not censorship as nobody prevents the affected party to publish the content elsewhere. I’m living in a democratic country and but I don’t have to tolerate any opinion I don’t like within my home. I can ask the person to leave and use the street. The situation is similar here.

  16. pd Says:

    Please break down the feeds in locales. I read English, that’s it. What rule or principle is being broken if locale-specific content is separated?

  17. Ver Says:

    I was very surprised when I saw that post in my timeline yesterday – I find his point of view very offensive. But after calming down and giving my view on the subject, I thought back and remembered reading some other, clearly atheistic points of view through the same feed. It’s all or nothing folks – either we withhold every politically or religiously sensitive post (this one happened to be both), or we allow the occasional one through in the knowledge that it takes all kinds to form our community.

    I do support the initiative presented in this post to create a separate news feed with more focused content – because it can be very tiring and distracting to read an inflammatory point of view. But I don’t think a few posts among thousands counts as giving people a soapbox, and I don’t think the post in question was more out of line than some other perspectives we’ve seen. Its (implied) viewpoint just happened to be more directly offensive.

    To some of the commenters above: as a bisexual atheist and a fellow Mozillian I do understand your point of view, and given the outcry over this I think most of us agree with you – so I hope you’ll once again feel welcome at Mozilla. But I think you’re making too much out of this.

  18. Daniel Glazman Says:

    Hate speech???? Not humans???? Wow. Wow. Wow. Tim Chevalier, you should really cool down…

    I read – with my europan eyes and state of mind – an article expressing a view that people can share or not share, I did not read anything illegal or not falling into a perfectly acceptable Freedom of Speech bucket.

    1. there are a lot of countries besides the UK where marriage is legally defined as a union between a man and a woman and where the constitutional court as ruled it as constitutional.

    2. in a democracy, it should remain possible to express a “I don’t want it to change” opinion without falling into “this is hate!” responses.

    3. not all Mozillians are in the US or are US citizens and last time I checked, Gerv was a UK citizen in the UK.

    4. on the contrary, quoting the line “we’ve fired people who made bigoted remarks at work before, and we’ll do it again” is a clear call to fire Gerv and that *IS* hate.

    Let’s summarize:

    A. Gerv has a blog and it’s *his* blog on *his* web site

    B. he has all rights to post whatever he wants there, and what he did post is perfectly legal where it was posted, is NOT a hate speech.

    C. his blog is syndicated by Planet

    D. Planet never imposed any form of restriction on syndicated blogs

    Conclusion : not Gerv’s fault, period.
    Again, cool down Tim, please.

  19. Anon Says:

    Erunno, I don’t think that censorship means what you think it means. The term is not limited to government action. Any individual or group which controls the content delivery system can be capable of censoring content in that system. Private parties regularly censor content they control.

  20. Gervase Markham Says:

    I said this on Paul’s blog post, but as I now see that the quote about being “unsafe and unwelcome” is Christie’s, I’ll repeat it here.

    Nothing I said should make anyone feel unsafe. Christie: you’ve met me. Do I seem like the kind of guy who would attack you physically? Or even, for that matter, verbally? Show me where I advocated or did those things.

    As for unwelcome (presumably ‘in the Mozilla community’): show me where I’ve ever been unwelcoming to any individual wanting to be involved in Mozilla. Jesus associated with and showed love to all sorts of people (while encouraging them to, repent, believe in Him, and change various things about their life). I strive to do the same. I bear no animosity towards anyone.

    I am happy to be part of a community where there is a range of views on this issue, (although of course I would be overjoyed if everyone agreed with me, as I’m sure would others be if everyone agreed with them). If Mozilla wants to exclude everyone who agrees with me, that’s an awfully large proportion of the world.

    Decisions on the Planet Mozilla post inclusion policy are for the module owners to make; but for the record, I enjoy reading about what my Mozilla friends are up to outside of Mozilla, even if some posts float past with which I strongly disagree. So I support the current policy.

    Gerv

  21. Sander Says:

    I think Gerv’s position is disgraceful and incredibly narrowminded. I think it would be a very good idea if all planet Mozilla members who think the same would write a short blogpost stating this (obviously without personal attacks in Gerv’s direction), making certain that those members of the community who feel unwelcome will know unequivocally that Gerv’s position is not shared by the wider community.
    So I think Gerv’s post needs pushback; but I do still fully and wholeheartedly approve of the policy of planet Mozilla being _personal_ and unfiltered, with non-Mozilla blogposts being an essential part of the flow, and even disgraces like Gerv’s post being allowed.

  22. Jonathan Watt Says:

    Anyone who knows the Mozilla community knows that it is very liberal and welcoming of all groups, and that the vast majority, if not all, welcome LGBTQ people no less than straight. So the aspect that has actually most concerned me about this whole incident is the lack of willingness of some to tolerate what is clearly a deeply held religious and moral conviction by one minority member of the community (one that I disagree with), and to condemn his actions for voicing that view in public. I saw no bigotry (utter intolerance) on his part, just a request for others who have the same conviction to have their opinion noted in their democracy. I am seeing plenty of utter intolerance against him though.

  23. Brian Birtles Says:

    It’s really heartening to see those who disagree with Gerv, even passionately, defending him and acknowledging that there is nothing about the post in question that deserves the description “hate speech”. Such integrity is really admirable and that’s the kind of community I want to be part of.

    Please, let’s continue to show each other the kind of respect we hope to receive. I worry that the bullied, hated minority here is, frankly, Gerv.

    And as for the issue itself, please, let’s keep in mind that this is about whether the UK government can redefine the word ‘marriage’. It is NOT about opposing gay marriage or the legal rights associated with it and it certainly isn’t homophobic or suggesting anyone, based on sexual orientation, is less than arms-open warmly welcome in the Mozilla community. I think many people here know Gerv well enough to be sure of that.

    We have a great, diverse, community which I trust is magnanimous enough to tolerate even those who want to take a stance about the government redefining the word ‘marriage’ (or at least I hope it does, or I’m locked out too since I happen to sympathise with Gerv!). The question is whether we want to continue this kind of discussion on planet in the future and it’s great to see our community already working on concrete proposals to address this.

    Glad to be part of the Mozilla community!

  24. Anony Says:

    I am shocked and dismayed at the reaction to Gerv’s post. There was nothing offensive or hateful about it. It didn’t name call, it didn’t hate.

    The “disgraceful and incredibly narrowminded” conduct has been on the part of those who can’t seem to tolerate an opinion different than theirs.

    I have seen many things on Planet that espoused a left wing point of view, no one said a word. I wasn’t offended, people are allowed to disagree. I don’t really care about the definition of marriage, but I can’t stand to see Gerv attacked for having the gall to think differently.

    “So I can post any homophobic or racist comment on Planet and that’s cool just because I’m a member of the community expressing myself?”

    “Where is the acknowledgement that Planet Mozilla published hate speech with a Mozilla banner attached? ”

    “Furthermore, it rationalizes and condones hate-speech under the auspices of not wanting to engage in censorship. ”

    “I’m remembering a statement that Gary Kovacs made at the September all-hands to the effect that “we’ve fired people who made bigoted remarks at work before, and we’ll do it again.” ”

    Some hateful things have been said, but they weren’t said by Gerv.

  25. Christie Koehler Says:

    Gerv, it’s not my job to educate you as to you why I feel unsafe and unwelcome by your comments and the reaction thereto. If you want to know what it’s like to grow up and be queer in a deeply heterosexism society and the damage that does, you can go research that on your own. That goes for everyone else who has asked similar questions, or made comments to the effect that we should feel perfectly safe with this kind of discrimination from our co-workers.

    My issue is not with Gerv’s right to publish his opinion on his own blog. We, as part of the community that Planet serves, has simply asked that discriminatory material not be included on Planet.

    And the petition that Gerv advocated for and linked to is indeed discriminatory, despite its claims to the contrary. It perpetuates an unnecessary and damaging separation between how straight and gay marriages are classified, it indicates that gays and lesbians are inferior parents and that same-sex couples are less fitting of a long-term union (because of their lack of “complimentary natures.” All of these statements have been debunked as untrue and they are discriminatory and hateful. I do not believe these statements would be tolerated if said to me in person at work and I don’t see why they should be tolerated when said to me via Planet. Substitute ‘interracial’ for ‘same-sex’ in that petition and I think (I hope) that some of you would think differently about its discriminatory and hateful nature.

  26. Lukas Blakk Says:

    This blog post starts off by saying several ‘complaints’ were received. In fact, one of the communications to the planet team was not merely a ‘complaint’ but a list of requests that was crafted by a chunk of the Mozilla community who felt action should be taken to mitigate the risk of this sort of issue in the future. The reason there were requests for action was because it was believed the planet module owners would actually do something. Now that this blog post has come out, it seems that was an incorrect assumption. The proposal to just have a separate Mozilla-themes only planet and then a community planet still doesn’t address the need for a basic standard of respect and holding back discriminatory sentiments from a Mozilla aggregation (even if it was to move under the Mozillians name, it would still be quite obviously, Mozilla-based).

    It seems like we protect our visual brand identity more than we protect what the Mozilla values appear to be when we refuse to set a minimum code of conduct for participation in our community. Who are we protecting when we do that? Who’s life is enriched by the inclusion of posts that support bigoted points of view?

    The setting up of two separate planets (or an infinite amount of planets) without a standard for participation is worthless and suggests that if you want to participate in the casual, social, ‘community’ part of Mozilla – you’d better just grow a thicker skin. This is a common sentiment in open source already, and I really think we can do much better than this.

    For the record (and for discussion), here are the 5 requests made in the letter to the planet team which was not a complaint, but a call to action that was ignored:

    1. The above post (http://blog.gerv.net/2012/03/coalition-for-marriage-petition/) be removed immediately from Planet Mozilla.
    2. The author’s inclusion in Planet Mozilla be altered to include only items specifically tagged ‘Mozilla’ so that they will be called upon when posting new content to really consider whether or not their post meets the criteria of the planet.
    3. Planet policy be updated to make clear what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate content, as well as what actions may be taken when inappropriate content appears.
    4. Once updated, Planet policy be clearly stated in a more visible location, such as https://wiki.mozilla.org/Planet_Mozilla.
    5. A “from the editors” post, notifying the community of these changes to policy, as well as a message to everyone@mozilla.org saying that the policy is updated.

  27. Tim Chevalier Says:

    Most of the replies I’m seeing are replies that ask me to engage in a debate to prove that I’m human and that I deserve the same rights and respect that heterosexual cisgender people with cissexual bodies do. I refuse to engage in that debate, because being asked to prove I’m human in a work space is exactly what is making that space a hostile environment for me. (Mozilla prides itself on its distributedness, thus there should be no denial that online spaces with mozilla.com or mozilla.org domains attached are no less work spaces than the physical offices are.) White, heterosexual, able-bodied cisgender men who have cissexual bodies are never asked to provide an intellectual argument that they’re human — their humanity is taken as a given. That the rest of us apparently have to have a debate contest to prove it is why we’re not, apparently, welcome or equal.

  28. Lukas Blakk Says:

    On another note – Gerv? What kind of response is that? Is Christie supposed to show a bruise where your remarks hit her? Or a photo of you and your beliefs looming menacingly over her? Safety can be a state of mind. The remote-ness of the Mozilla community means that we reach into each other’s homes and offices on the regular with just our words and no one can deny that words can be very powerful and impact you as a figurative ‘punch in the gut’. When you are taken aback by how strongly someone else seems to believe you are not an equal in their eyes, you can feel unsafe in your home or office – far away from the cause of the damage.

    I will stress again (as on your blog post) that you, a prominent leader in the Mozilla community, could have done this differently and targeted your intended audience without going through the megaphone of the Planet and your claim that the planet’s current policy protects you shows poor judgment and a lack of caring for the entirety of the Mozilla community’s well being.

  29. Matej Says:

    @Gerv: You’re wrong when you say “I would be overjoyed if everyone agreed with me, as I’m sure would others be if everyone agreed with them.” There are people whose minds I would like to change on specific things, sure, but largely I would not want everyone to agree with me. I think a world where we all agreed and thought the same would be a very boring place, not one I’d be very interested in.

    The idea that you would like to change people — “Jesus associated with and showed love to all sorts of people (while encouraging them to, repent, believe in Him, and change various things about their life). I strive to do the same.” — doesn’t give a lot of weight to your claims of inclusion and acceptance of everyone in the Mozilla community. It seems like you’re tolerating them until they come around to your point of view.

    Other people have already rightly pointed this out, but this is not an issue of censorship. Gerv is entitled to have and spread his opinions (I will fight for anyone’s right to do that any day), but not necessarily in a work environment. Your employer also says you have to wear clothes to the office and that you have to get your work done instead of playing video games and surfing porn all day. That’s not censorship and neither is this.

    I was offended by Gerv’s post, but that’s not the point. The point is that it appeared on Planet, which could easily be seen by the general public as an official Mozilla channel that supports the points of view it distributes. (I know that’s not the case, but it would hardly matter if, say, a media channel decided to write a story about this.)

    I don’t want to get into the debate of what constitutes hate speech, but saying that certain people don’t have the same legal right as others because of their sexual orientation certainly doesn’t come from a place of tolerance and love. And right or wrong, if there are people who feel “unsafe and unwelcome” — or otherwise marginalized or discriminated against — as a result, something needs to be done.

  30. raccettura Says:

    @Tim Chevalier:

    Can you please cite which comment specifically asked you to (and I quote) “prove that I’m human and that I deserve the same rights and respect”?

    Otherwise, please don’t put words in other peoples mouths. It’s not only disrespectful but it doesn’t facilitate discussion, it breeds hate, which you are claiming to be against.

    Thank you.

  31. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Isn’t that interesting!

    Many people here seem to be very literal-minded. I could say; “I love hetero people and I especially love the way they scream when they die” and you lot would think, because i didn’t say “I hate hetero people,” that it wasn’t hate speech.

    And then, if someone said “hey, you really hate hetero people” I could say “You’re putting words in my mouth!” And some of you would agree with me. I could demand that you write a kind and careful explanation of why liking to hear hetero people scream as they die isn’t indicative of love. And some of you would agree that i was asking something reasonable.

  32. Graydon Says:

    From the post: “we rely on those syndicating their blogs to Planet to publish to this medium responsibly”.

    Ok. I feel Gerv has demonstrated his irresponsibility on this matter, just now, and should no longer be syndicated.

    Gerv just announced to the internet, using my company’s resources, that my mom isn’t married. And my company is now supporting Gerv’s continued use of our resources (domain name, trademarks, hardware, bandwidth) this way. What shall I tell my mom when I next visit her? “Hi mom, say, did you see that bit where my company endorsed homophobic abuse to deprive you of your marriage?”

    Maybe it’s a good time to remind you of Anil Dash’s post on what you’re responsible for, if you operate a website.

    You do not get to ignore making content policy on a website you operate. If you claim to have no policy against homophobic abuse, you’re actually stating “our policy is to accept and endorse homophobic abuse”. If that is the policy of any public communication channel of Mozilla, I’m embarrassed to be associated with it.

  33. Erunno Says:

    “Any individual or group which controls the content delivery system can be capable of censoring content in that system. Private parties regularly censor content they control.”

    And they are perfectly in their right to do so. For me the only relevant question is: Is the affected party completely cut off from presenting the content to the public by technical, legal or other means (e.g. threats) ? If censorship is defined as broadly as “some party does not allow me to voice whatever opinion wherever I like” then suddenly pretty much every publication channel with limited thematic scope is censorship. Fishing magazine which rejects your latest theory of monetary inflation? Censorship. Business meeting where you are not allowed to talk about your cat’s latest antics? Censorship. Football forum which does not like discussions about baseball? Censorship. Me kicking out a guest out of my house for voicing opinions which I do not tolerate? Censorship. Facing job consequences for defaming the company you work for publicly? Censorship. This list could be extended ad infinitum. And suddenly you mingle people who are denied *one* publication channel (and are free to use any other) with people who have to fear for their social existence, freedom or life at worst for using *any* publication channel. That’s why I’m slightly annoyed whenever people start to throw the term censorship around so carelessly, especially in a case such as Gerv’s.

    Nobody wants (at least not me) to forbid Gerv (and other occasional offenders like roc) to voice their opinions about their personal believes. But as a reader of Planet Mozilla their opinions on anything other than what is related to Mozilla is noise. I don’t think that the situation does require some heavy-handed moderation. Just some simple guidelines on content which should be aggregated on PM. People here are highly intelligent and should therefore have no problem to self-regulate.

  34. Dan Says:

    Please read preed’s excellent blog post here: http://soberbuildengineer.com/blog/2012/03/a-stroll-through-planet-mozilla-history/ complete with footnotes (obviously!)

  35. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Were I to pronounce a distaste for Islamism or Homosexuality or Judaism or Feminism any one of those groups could claim to be a victim of hate speech.

    That’s not exactly true. Gerd’s post didn’t merely express a distaste for a large group of people: it also expressed a desire to legally prohibit an important aspect of their lives– an aspect that is entirely legal for another group which Gerd happens to belong to.

    That’s what makes it hate speech.

  36. Jonas Sicking Says:

    Graydon’s comment here is great.

    Simply saying “we’ll publish anything” is neither a wise policy nor the policy that you actually follow. I won’t express an opinion about if Gerv’s post constitutes hate speech (as that likely varies by country), but if someone were to publish unambigious hate speech I’m pretty sure the person would get kicked off planet and the post removed from the feed.

    I also don’t buy the argument made by various commenters here (not the authors of the original blog post) that “well, planet contains a lot of left-wing comments too”. If there are hateful left-wing comments on planet that’s just as bad. It’s not an ok to be exclusionary even if other people have excluded you. That just means that more people are exclusionary. If you anyone putting offensive of exclusionary contents on planet, speak up, even if the contents is left-wing.

  37. Justin Scott (fligtar) Says:

    Some of the comments and blog post replies seem to miss the very important point that just because *you* aren’t made to feel unwelcome or demeaned by someone’s comments doesn’t mean that others aren’t.

    If you see the post as purely a political opinion, that’s your perspective. To others, the post made them feel unwelcome and demeaned, and broke their trust in Planet Mozilla and/or Mozilla. Please respect that and don’t dismiss them simply because you don’t see it that way.

  38. Sander Says:

    Thinking about this some more, I see a lot of parallels here with the frequently occurring flare-up of publicity about sexism in the tech or open source community after yet another presenter at some conference has made way out-of-line comments.

    In those cases, too, we have people defending the presenter under “free speech”/”anti-censorship” flags, and people telling women in the audience that they shouldn’t feel attacked, shouldn’t interpret those remarks in any way that could make them feel unwelcome. Justin’s comment just above mine is very applicable: Just because _you_ (not being in this minority position) don’t feel attacked / made unwelcome, doesn’t mean that the people who _are_ in that position are somehow wrong. They have a lot more experience being on the receiving end of far too many instances of this. We’ve had people directly affected by this stating that it’s made them feel unsafe and unwelcome. This isn’t something that’s up for argumentation. This is. What’s left for us as a community is to decide how we respond to that.

    Even coming to that realization, I _still_ feel myself wanting to take the position of “but other people will feel unwelcome if planet starts to ‘censor'”, but I think that’s a false comparison. This is about community standards. Do we want to be an _inclusive_ community, promoting diverseness, where there’s certain things that are “just not okay”? In the realm of sexism at tech conferences, that’s much easier to answer; it’s not censorship to have a code of conduct and expect presenters to behave professionally. Planet should remain open for personal blogposts. As far as I’m concerned, it should even have a higher percentage of non-Mozilla posts than it currently has. But it’d be a good thing for the community if people posting to planet would be expected to honor a community code of conduct which’d include things like no sexism, no racism, no homophobia, etc.

  39. Anon Says:

    “That’s not exactly true. Gerd’s post didn’t merely express a distaste for a large group of people: it also expressed a desire to legally prohibit an important aspect of their lives– an aspect that is entirely legal for another group which Gerd happens to belong to.

    That’s what makes it hate speech.”

    Gerv’s post did note express a distaste for any group of people. Gerv posted asking people to sign a petition to continue supporting laws that are on the books today in his country. Are we not allowed in this forum to discuss and debate both sides major points of view on an *existing* law?

  40. Kaida Says:

    I am a recent college graduate and until I read Gerv’s post (and reactions like this, implicitly endorsing it) I was very interested in becoming part of the Mozilla Project.

    Now I’m not sure. The apparent disregard for queerfolk saddens me. I’m not sure I’m interested in contributing any longer (but I’m willing to wait to see how this plays out).

  41. Asa Dotzler Says:

    Sander said “Planet should remain open for personal blogposts. As far as I’m concerned, it should even have a higher percentage of non-Mozilla posts than it currently has. But it’d be a good thing for the community if people posting to planet would be expected to honor a community code of conduct.”

    I like most of this but that Mozilla community code of conduct is not a Planet-specific issue. If you’d like to help develop that code of conduct, I believe there are people working on it.

    – A

  42. Sander Says:

    Asa: True; a code of conduct would certainly be applicable to a lot more than just planet. I don’t know how much I’d effectively have to contribute, but I’d certainly be interested in participating.

  43. Jason Duell Says:

    It’s time for Planet to go away, at least as a Mozilla-branded entity. And not in an unhappy way. It’s just a sign that we’ve achieved a greater level of diversity and organizational maturity.

    I take it as axiomatic that if you get enough people together for some common purpose (say, an open source project), then start having them share whatever they like about any topic (politics, religion, sex life), discord and hurt feelings will eventually ensue.

    There’s a reason workplaces aren’t open free speech zones. And an open source project isn’t fundamentally different. We’re not here to share all aspects of our lives with each other. If that seemed possible in the past, it’s because there’s been an implicit norm about what’s ok to post on the list. But even trying to come up with a “better” norm for this is never going to please everyone.

    So it seems by far the simplest solution to simply not have any official/branded Mozilla central social hub. Find your coworkers’ blogs or social media outlets if you want to hear what they have to say about non-work topics. They can say whatever they want there (at least I would hope they could: employment law doesn’t often protect your public utterances from getting you fired).

    I used to think that keeping workplaces (or “task spaces”: whatever you want to call it) separate from “community” was a terrible thing (“it makes work life barren!”). Now I think it’s actually a real achievement, and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that didn’t have it as a norm.

  44. hackademix.net » All Speech is Free Speech Says:

    [...] like the following quote is acceptable content per current Mozilla Planet’s policy, and a pertinent answer to this now extremely popular post: “The irony of religion is that [...]

  45. Jason Duell Says:

    > It’s time for Planet to go away, at least as a Mozilla-branded entity.

    Or it needs to stay focused on project-related things.

  46. Asa Dotzler Says:

    Jason Duell, can you help me understand this better?

    “I used to think that keeping workplaces … separate from ‘community’ was a terrible thing…. Now I think it’s actually a real achievement, and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that didn’t have it as a norm.”

    To me that reads like “Screw community participation. We’re the Mozilla Corporation and we should act like a traditional corporation” which doesn’t sound at all right so I’m hoping that I’m misunderstanding here.

  47. Jason Duell Says:

    > can you help me understand this better?

    Sure. I’ll try. We’ve got an overloaded meaning to “community” here.

    I’m not talking about getting rid of community participation in the Mozilla project. By all means, anything related to our mission should be totally open to the public. We are a community in that sense, and it’s a beautiful thing.

    I’m talking about the notion that since we’re all engaged in working on a shared project, we ought to have an official place where we can get to know each other better in some unspecified, “personal” way that’s still somehow Mozilla-branded. I think that’s hard to manage. What did you do last weekend? Some of us might have bought a house; watched their baby take its first steps; voted for Newt Gingrich; engaged in dacryphilia; undergone an intense religious conversion; browsed a bunch of Iraq war casualty photos that really seem worth sharing. Which of these are ok to share on Planet? If you say “all of them”, I suspect you’re underestimating the degree to which that can be disruptive. If you say, “we’ll just come up with a standard of what’s ok” you wind up excluding things rather arbitrarily and wind up policing a norm that’s going to make some people unhappy.

    I don’t think it would be so incredibly stifling to simply limit posts to Planet to things that are at least minimally related to Mozilla project goals/work. I think trying have any other policy is going to be a lot of work at best, and probably ungovernable.

  48. Asa Dotzler Says:

    Jason, thanks for the explanation.

    As the first Planet Module Owner and a current Module Peer, I have no interest in maintaining a Mozilla news service. The reason I got involved was to bring the human beings of Mozilla into the picture. If we decide that Planet is just a Mozilla news aggregator, I will stop participating.

  49. Jason Duell Says:

    > bring the human beings of Mozilla into the picture

    I’d point out that you *do* get to know people through work/project contexts. I have a pretty good sense of Mitchell Baker, or you, or lots of other Mozilla people from their public blog posts about Mozilla-related items. I’m not saying we turn Planet into a version of PR Newswire, colorless and without any personalities. But having people’s personalities come out as they talk about Mozilla-related content is a much less volatile process than having a soapbox that anyone can climb up on and talk about any topic.

  50. Ricardo Proença Says:

    While I think same sex marriage should be legal and that everyone had the right to comment on Gerv’s post and saying that his opinion was wrong, I’m very disappointed with the comments that are trying to spin this as a Mozilla issue.

    As was already stated by the Planet Mozilla module owners, Mozilla contributors can distribute their full blog feed (a pratice that is encouraged) to allow people to know more about the life of participants in the Mozilla community – Gerv didn’t break any rules by posting that and he even had the common sense of tagging his blog post as “personal”.

    Saying that his post damages the Mozilla’s community, assets, products or contributes to diminish Mozilla at the eyes of society or of a specific social group are pure intellectual dishonesty.

    For me that constitutes an act of unreasonable pressure over Mozilla to try to force it to suppress an opinion that albeit being contentious does not surpasses the limits of free speech.

    I will go even further and say that some comments, made here and in other blogs, and some blog posts that try to involve Mozilla to not only take a stand regarding the content of the blog post but also at Gerv’s role as a member of the Mozilla community and as a Mozilla employee are a form of collective bullying regarding someone that expressed a different point of view. Ironically this is the same kind of discriminative behaviour that the homosexual community has rightfully fought against and continues to fight even in today’s society ( a struggle that I support).

    The Mozilla manifesto says “Developed in partnership with a global community of people committed to ensuring the Web remains free, open and a benefit for the public good”

    I understand it as:
    Free – as in free speech;
    Open – as in open to different opinions, approaches and points of view
    A benefit for the public good – as in only remaining free and open can we advance the public good.

    To conclude, Mozilla is a deeply political organisation but it is not and shouldn’t be a gay friendly organization, it is not its core mission and those are not its objectives – Mozilla is above all else a champion of free of speech.

  51. Tim Chevalier Says:

    > Mozilla is a deeply political organisation but it is not and shouldn’t be a gay friendly organization

    Well, Ricardo, I guess you don’t think Mozilla benefits from my contributions to it. I think my immediate colleagues feel differently. I would wonder, though, why you want to throw away people’s contributions just because those people happen to be gender and sexual minority members (by “not being a gay friendly organization”, which I take to mean not taking steps to compensate for existing in a larger social environment that dehumanizes and oppresses members of gender and sexual minorities). Isn’t there enough of a shortage of qualified programmers who want to work on open-source?

  52. Homa Sapiens Says:

    To conclude, Mozilla is a deeply political organisation but it is not and shouldn’t be a gay friendly organization, it is not its core mission and those are not its objectives – Mozilla is above all else a champion of free of speech.

    if it isn’t a “gay friendly” organisation, who is it “friendly” to instead?

  53. Ricardo Proença Says:

    Just to clarify my last bit of text and dismiss any doubts about my position:

    “To conclude, Mozilla is a deeply political organisation but it is not and shouldn’t be a gay friendly (or unfriendly for that matter) organization, it is not its core mission and those are not its objectives – Mozilla is above all else a champion of free of speech”.

  54. Michael Says:

    Asa: “As the first Planet Module Owner and a current Module Peer, I have no interest in maintaining a Mozilla news service.”

    Which I guess is a fair enough position, but there seem to be a fair number of people who are interested in following a Mozilla news service. As such a thing doesn’t really exist, those people end up following planet (or announce newsgroups, or the official Mozilla blog, or whatever else) and then complaining when it is not what they want.

    I quite understand why people were offended by Gerv’s post. I could hardly disagree more with his views. However, when I first saw the post I just skipped it, like I skip all his religious posts, other people’s religious posts, posts about cats, babies, hiking or whatever else. If I’m following an individual’s blog, sometimes that kind of thing is interesting. Planet.mozilla.org has so many people that the off-topic stuff is just in the way – there’s far too much volume and I hardly connect the content of the “on topic” posts with a particular author.

  55. Robert Accettura Says:

    @Michael: Why not follow the project planet? It’s exactly what you’re asking for. Projects only.

  56. Asa Dotzler Says:

    “Which I guess is a fair enough position, but there seem to be a fair number of people who are interested in following a Mozilla news service. As such a thing doesn’t really exist, those people end up following planet (or announce newsgroups, or the official Mozilla blog, or whatever else) and then complaining when it is not what they want.”

    And there are a fair number of people who are probably interested in following a people-centric Planet as opposed to a work-centric planet. I’m one of those and that’s why I got involved with Planet in the first place.

    There are also a fair number of people who probably don’t really care one way or the other except perhaps in the specific case of this one post. (It turns out that any decent feed reader — including Google Groups or Thunderbird, make it really really easy to ignore the content you don’t want to read.)

    I think now, when most of the dissatisfaction being expressed has to do with one post (this is the third or forth time in 5 years that a controversy has erupted over a post — a track record I’d say is pretty good for a self-moderated format that’s seen thousands and thousands of posts over that time frame,) I think now is not the time to re-design what Planet is and is rather the time to address that one particular post. (Gerv has voluntarily pulled down his post.)

    I believe that the answer to speech you disagree with is more speech, not less.

    – A

  57. Al Billings Says:

    It would be nice if the peers actually dealt with this issue. I see a lot of talk and no actual action beyond telling people to suck it up.

  58. Homa Sapiens Says:

    “To conclude, Mozilla is a deeply political organisation but it is not and shouldn’t be a gay friendly (or unfriendly for that matter) organization, it is not its core mission and those are not its objectives – Mozilla is above all else a champion of free of speech”.

    It is supposed to be an inclusive community however. Inclusivity is part of its core mission. And to be that it has to be ‘Gay friendly” because gay folk are part of the community. So are black, white, women and men.

  59. raccettura Says:

    @Al Billings: It’s worth noting (as noted by a few folks in the community) your blog post was an attack against the beliefs of a singular individual whom you disagreed with. You’ve yet to take it down. The only post in my memory that’s ever went /that/ far.

    Gerv voluntarily pulled his post down FWIW.

  60. Asa Dotzler Says:

    All, can you point to the part of the Planet team response where we tell anyone to “suck it up”? I can’t find a single instance of a Planet leader telling anyone what to do about anything. We put forward a response to concerns about our policy that said what we were doing but I don’t see in that any telling other people what they should be doing.

    – A

  61. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Gerv voluntarily pulled his post down FWIW.

    I don’t blame him, none of his friends agreed with him.

  62. Anon Says:

    Homa said “Gerv voluntarily pulled his post down FWIW. I don’t blame him, none of his friends agreed with him.”

    Bullying works.

  63. David Baron Says:

    For those who want planet.m.o to be Mozilla-only: it’s a reasonable request, and one I probably agree with from the consumer side. But it also poses a classic backwards-compatibility problem. planet.m.o didn’t start off being popular on its first day. It started off by listing a bunch of existing Mozilla blogs. I don’t think I ever asked to be listed; I think I was just listed there because I was a community member at the time. From that start it became something useful, to the point where people asked to be included. If we want to go back and ask everybody listed to provide an appropriate filtered feed, we have the problem that some people won’t have the time at the moment, or won’t have a blogging system set up to do that (I don’t). So requiring planet.m.o to be Mozilla-only will almost certainly lead to losing a good bit of content that actually is Mozilla-related. How much we’ll lose, and how long we’ll lose it for, isn’t clear. But there’s certainly a tradeoff to be made.

    On the issues of what triggered this discussion: in general I’m extremely skeptical of any attempts to suppress or negatively-label speech based on the views expressed. I think the threshold for doing so ought to be extremely high, for a number of reasons. First, suppressing the speech doesn’t make the ideas behind the speech go away; it just pushes them underground where they won’t face counterargument. Second, it furthers the fracturing of our political discourse. I think one of the negative effects of the Internet has come from its ability to allow people to associate only with the like-minded. I fear that we’re not far from a world where there are major segments of society (say, double-digit percentages), even within a single country like the United States, between which the range of acceptable-to-express views does not intersect. (I would be unlikely to support a standard that would lead to suppression of widely held views, though I’m also uncomfortable making how widely held a view is be a part of the standard.) Third, freedom of speech is one of the fundamental bases of a democratic republic, and I’m not sure what our government would become without it.

    Right now I don’t have time to figure out whether I think lines were crossed here or what exactly those lines are, though.

  64. Al Billings Says:

    @raccettura: You say:

    “It’s worth noting (as noted by a few folks in the community) your blog post was an attack against the beliefs of a singular individual whom you disagreed with. You’ve yet to take it down. The only post in my memory that’s ever went /that/ far.”

    Where have community members noted it? I haven’t seen anyone do so.

    That said, it wasn’t an attack on anyone (their beliefs, perhaps, but that isn’t really something I’m concerned about). My post was in support of an open Mozilla community (in contrast to others). Of course, by “attack” you mean “public disagreement” since there was no “attack” involved.

    Feel free to point me to where people are discussing my post besides within it on my blog and I will respond to people.

    “Gerv voluntarily pulled his post down FWIW.”

    That’s nice. So what? You expect me to remove mine that calls for an open community? Heck, I didn’t even name him or link to him, requiring people to go dig on Planet if they wanted to find the triggering event.

    In any case, obviously, everyone’s opinions have equal weight and no one on Planet is going to remove anything anyone writes.

    In reality, I didn’t call for the removal of Gerv’s civil rights (unlike what Gerv is doing to others). I see no reason to remove my post. In fact, I’m contemplating switching my Mozilla feed to include my entire blog from now on, since that seems to be the supported Planet thing. I’m sure I have much to share with the world there from my eight years of blogging.

  65. Al Billings Says:

    @Asa, the part where they get told to suck it up (not a literal quote) is the part where Planet peers say:

    1) We’re not going to do anything about it.

    2) Gerv (and everyone else) can say what they want on Planet since it embraces everything the community has to say.

    Obviously, you interpret that differently than me. I suspect quite a few people agree with my viewpoint here though. You aren’t going to do anything about what happened other than justify why things are as they are and promise new feeds, possible, maybe, someday.

  66. Asa Dotzler Says:

    Al, you and others continue to repeat a falsehood. Gerv did not call on the removal of anyone’s civil rights. He very explicitly noted that this was not a civil rights issue in his opinion because UK law already has equal civil rights for same and opposite sex couples and he was not opposing that. He offended people by making it clear that he did not support two equal sets of rights having the same name but he absolutely did not call for the removal of any person’s civil rights and by your continue to repeat that falsehood here and elsewhere you are making it clear that you either did not read his post carefully or you do not wish to discuss this honestly.

    As for what we are going to do, we said that in the post above. That’s the position of the entire Planet module. You can continue to put words in our mouth that were never said but that’s just another dishonest tactic and I’m not going to engage further with you until you are willing to talk about the real things that have been said instead of these imagined things here and at Gerv’s blog.

    – A

  67. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Regarding Gerv pulling his post, anon said
    Bullying works.
    He was challenged — in exactly the way you want gay folk who object to hate speech to be challenged. Instead of standing up and discussing, he hid the evidence.

    Again I do not blame him. As Tim pointed out, there are days when you just don’t want to have to prove you are a worthy human being. Just because this is one of the first times that Gerv has been in that situation doesn’t make it any easier for him than it would be for a gay man.

    But I have to ask you all– when was the last time you heard about a young man killing himself because he’d been taunted for being straight?

  68. Tim Chevalier Says:

    Anon: Is “bullying” the new name for “social norms that govern appropriate behavior”? If a parent explains to their 3-year-old that it’s not a good idea to pick your nose in public, is that parent bullying the child?

  69. Al Billings Says:

    @Asa, it is Gerv’s opinion that this is not a civil rights issue. It is *my* opinion and that of the people who sent you that letter (and other members of the community) that it *is* a civil rights issue. Just because the UK passes a civil union law and says that LGBT should be happy with that and not marriage doesn’t mean it isn’t a civil rights issue. Frankly, I expected you to get that, knowing you personally for these years.

    My married gay friends who get to legally call their unions “marriage” very much think that their ability to do so is a civil rights issue. The same for those that are not allowed to do so by their governments.

    It is dishonest to pretend that this heartfelt belief is not out there or just as reasonable (if not more so) than Gerv’s opinion.

    I am not repeating a falsehood and I’ll thank you to quit libeling me by saying that I am.

  70. graydon Says:

    This has nothing to do with free speech, or democracy, or how easy it might be to skip things we don’t want to read, or any other number of derailing points made here. Gerv can say whatever he wants in Gerv-land. And we can all easily find much more offensive material on the internet.

    This has to do with only one thing: what the organization that controls mozilla.org — my employer — implicitly endorses by republishing on its own sites. Mozilla has a content policy already. I believe that policy ought to, if it does not already, denote derogatory, discriminatory speech directed at protected, oppressed groups as unacceptable. This is only a very slight generalization of the anti-harassment policies we already enforce between employees. There are plenty of codes of conduct that address this. We’re not a uniquely difficult community to set and uphold standards of decency and inclusiveness within.

    That’s it. That’s the whole issue. Don’t try to dismiss the question by pointing at disclaimers on planet. Don’t try to read more into it or divert it to something bigger or more vague. Don’t read it as a suggestion to reorganize or overhaul mozilla properties. Just address that single issue directly, with some leadership and integrity.

  71. Ricardo Proença Says:

    @ Tim Chevalier, as I’ve said in my comment I do think that Gerv’s position is wrong and I do think that you have every right in stating and arguing against his point of view.

    However, I do have a problem with the positions that are trying to spin this issue as a Mozilla problem and saying that if Mozilla doesn’t act they are anti-homosexuals, don’t respect human rights and made them unwelcome in the community.

    When you say “I guess you don’t think Mozilla benefits from my contributions to it. I think my immediate colleagues feel differently. I would wonder, though, why you want to throw away people’s contributions just because those people happen to be gender and sexual minority members” you are doing precisely that.

    This is the same behaviour and the same arguments that I saw being made by religious groups when the portuguese parliament voted to allow same sex marriage and when the Parents Music Resource Center tryed to censor heavy metal and hard rock music in the US.

    They both tried to spin it as personal attack and stated that if institutions (state ones and private ones) didn’t abide by their points of view they were saying that they didn’t matter to them and that they didn’t respect religion, parents and children, just to see the suppression of basic human rights (one the right to allow homosexuals to get a civil marriage, the other the right to freedom of speech)

    When I said that Mozilla shouln’t be a gay friendly or unfriendly organisation, I was saying that Mozilla does not and should not have an official position on same sex marriage. However it does have an official position regarding freedom of speech as stated in the Mozilla manifesto. Also, as was already said by the Planet Mozilla module owners, Gerv didn’t violated any explicit or implicit rules regarding the content that should exist in Planet Mozilla. If that would be the case I would be by your side demanding to Mozilla that his post should be removed but that is not the case.

    @ Homa Sapiens, which is more inclusive, a community that fosters and engages people with different points of view or a community that only accepts one point of view? Religious people are also part of the community.

    Like I’ve said I believe that Gerv’s position is wrong and ludicrous but that doesn’t give me the right to suppress it or demand that others suppress it and it certainly doesn’t the give me the right to try to pressure Mozilla in acting to demote Gerv as a member of the community or as a Mozilla employee when he didn’t break any rules that govern Planet Mozilla.

  72. Thinus Says:

    In the name of Religion we have yet again divided a community and friends. There is a reason why this type of thing does not belong in the work place and maybe does not belong on the planet as well.

    Rather channel your energy towards making Mozilla and Firefox great. Fix that pauses that is killing your product and keep on the topic of a free and open web.

    Religion should be private and it should not be in law, the work place or on this planet, neither should be politic (other than that which affect the net) period.

  73. Sander Says:

    Ricardo wrote “which is more inclusive, a community that fosters and engages people with different points of view or a community that only accepts one point of view”.

    The difference between ‘religious’ (mainstream Christianity) people and LGBT people (or really any ‘minority’) is that the former have the privilege of not living in a world where they are constantly reminded that they are somehow worth “less”, where no one arounds them bats an eyelash at slurs, insults and off-color jokes which are directed at an essential part of their own identity.

    I don’t think making people feel unwelcome and unsafe is an essential part of the identity of anyone, or that it no longer being considered to be acceptable to do so does the same harm to them (the ideal of freedom of speech notwithstanding) as their comments do to their targets.

    _If_ Mozilla wants to foster an inclusive environment and wants to promote diversity within the community (which I don’t think is an explicitly (enough) stated goal of Mozilla, but which I do think _should_ be a goal of Mozilla, because the more viewpoints are presented within the community, the more value everyone can reap from that), then the Mozilla community should be actively intolerant of intolerance; that way we shouldn’t lose _anyone’s_ participation, and should actually be more inclusive.

  74. dria Says:

    I’ve stated this elsewhere, but just to get it on record here: I agree with the calls to restrict Planet to Mozilla-specific content. We can still provide a list of the people who are feeding into it, so if folks want to subscribe to individual blogs on their own, they’ll be easy to find.

    “It is about community standards” is correct. I’m disappointed in the stance we’re taking here.

  75. Lars Gunther Says:

    Empathizing with people and sympathizing with their agenda are two completely different things. Don’t confuse the latter with the former!

    Here I see comments that basically boils down to this logic:

    Unless you’re agreeing to my agenda you’re words are “hate speech”.

    Which of course is complete nonsense.

  76. Henri Sivonen Says:

    I don’t think it’s good enough to say that Planet is an aggregation of Mozillians’ personal blog feeds and it’s going to stay that way. I think we should change what Planet is.

    I think there’s utility to the Mozilla project from having an aggregation of blog posts relevant to the Mozilla project. Currently, Planet is that plus other off-topic stuff. Telling people to go read http://planet.mozilla.org/projects/ instead is not the answer, because it’s less than an aggregation of Mozilla-relevant posts including posts on personal blogs.

    When a large enough group of people holds a diverse enough spectrum of political and religious views, there will be clashes when those views are expressed, since, in practice, the spectrum of political and religious views includes exclusionary views. Even if Mozilla takes the position that Mozilla is inclusive to people who hold various religious and political views and express them elsewhere, I think it doesn’t follow that Mozilla needs to host a platform for expressing those views. In fact, it seems that hosting such a platform is counterproductive to working together (even if it works out for GNOME or another project).

    I think Planet should be redefined to be an aggregation of blog posts relevant to Mozilla’s domain of operation: technical Web and browser stuff and even political/legal stuff that relates to Mozilla’s domain (e.g. SOPA, privacy policy, etc.) I think Mozilla shouldn’t provide an aggregation platform for other stuff–be they political or religious views or vacation or cat photos. That is, I don’t think there needs to be a planet.mozillians.org or noise.mozilla.org aggregating off-Mozilla-topic posts as suggested in some comments here or elsewhere.

    As David Baron pointed out, redefining what Planet is poses a technical challenge to various people. I’m one of those people, but I’m OK with refraining from posting non-Mozilla stuff on my blog or taking my feed off-Planet until I’ve written software to generate a redacted feed for Planet.

    As for the case at hand:

    While I disagree with the policy position Gerv advocated in his post, I think the freedom to advocate what the law should be is a fundamental part of democracy and it should be possible to exercise that freedom on your personal blog on your own time without the chilling effect of risking to get fired. It’s the Planet module owners/peers who have invited people to let Planet pull their non-Mozilla-topical, non-work blog posts onto Planet. Considering that Gerv’s post ended up on Planet under the present Planet policy, I think Tim Chevalier’s very thinly veiled call for firing Gerv is inappropriate.

  77. When Geeks Have Empathy Problems » Tech & Troublemaking Says:

    [...] the past few days, I’ve been tipped off to an incident on the Planet Mozilla blog, an aggregator of the personal blogs of Mozilla community members. [...]

  78. Hypothesized Quorum Says:

    Henri, I agree with you about refocusing Planet Mozilla, but I’m not sure you really want to assert the following:

    “While I disagree with the policy position Gerv advocated in his post, I think the freedom to advocate what the law should be is a fundamental part of democracy and it should be possible to exercise that freedom on your personal blog on your own time without the chilling effect of risking to get fired.”

    What if the particular position being advocated were the passage of a law that would legalize murder if the victim was believed to be gay? (Unfortunately, that’s not as hypothetical as one might hope; cf. “gay panic defence”.)

    I would hope you would see _that_ as a firing offence. Now, that’s much worse than what Gerv advocated. But they are both “advocating what the law should be” (and they’re both advocating discrimination).

    In other words, the real question is not “should some personal blog posts be firing offences”. Yes, some of them should. We just don’t all agree about where to draw the line.

  79. Homa Sapiens Says:

    @ Homa Sapiens, which is more inclusive, a community that fosters and engages people with different points of view or a community that only accepts one point of view? Religious people are also part of the community.

    Thing is– homosexuality isn’t a “point of view” any more than heterosexuality is. It’s a state of being. I challenge you to become happily gay. if it were a matter of “point of view” you should be able to do that.

    My opinion is that heterosexuals are generally fairly creepy, and my personal creep radar goes off a lot around hetero assumptions. But I don’t “believe” that heteros should be legislated against. No one’s civil rights should be infringed upon. No one’s civil rights should ever be a matter of popular vote. That’s when democracy becomes mob rule.

    I think Tim Chevalier’s very thinly veiled call for firing Gerv is inappropriate.

    But it’s one of those free speech things, don’t you think? Gerv thinks we should not be allowed to claim our loved ones as spouses– Tim thinks that some people needn’t poison the workplace with ugliness. So, in the spirit of fre spech, he said so.

    Indeed– anger, desperation, and the knowledge that one is considered less human than others will sometimes bring out the worst in a person.

  80. Tim Chevalier Says:

    “Hypothesized Quorum”‘s point is really not so hypothetical, given that American activists and politicians worked with the government of Uganda to encourage the passage of a law that would make engaging in perceived-to-be-same-sex sexual behavior a capital crime. Another variant on HQ’s point is: what if someone had written a blog post advocating in favor of the “kill the gays” law? Would it not matter because Mozilla doesn’t have very many contributors in Uganda? Would it be excusable just because some Americans, like Scott Lively, have done political work encouraging the law to pass?

    For some of us, hate speech is not a theoretical, abstract or academic question. It’s about life or death.

  81. Asa Dotzler Says:

    Homa said “No one’s civil rights should be infringed upon. No one’s civil rights should ever be a matter of popular vote.” and “Gerv thinks we should not be allowed to claim our loved ones as spouses” and neither of those things are true statements about what Gerv said. Gerv made it very clear in his blog post that in the UK same sex and opposite sex couples are afforded precisely equal civil rights under the law. Gerv did not in any way advocate against that. It does not do the debate justice to simply lie about what was said. That has happened far too many times in this discussion and it needs to stop. I don’t say “homa thinks that Gerv should be murdered for his blog post” because you have not said that and you should not attribute words or positions to Gerv that he did not state. That is fundamentally unfair and it causes folks to distrust you and discount all of your other points. Please stop.

  82. Tim Chevalier Says:

    Asa, the right to say that you are legally married – not civil-unioned – to your spouse is a civil right. Equality with heterosexual people, and not consignment to a legal status designed to subordinate us, is a civil right. If that wasn’t clear to you, you could have asked for clarification rather than rushing to call LGBTQ people liars. I simply can’t see what purpose that serves.

  83. The (Overdue) Need for Community Conduct Standards at Mozilla | Subfictional Studios Says:

    [...] recent events on Plant Mozilla (see Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech and Concerns with Planet Content for context) compel me to speak to another issue first: The urgent need for the Mozilla community [...]

  84. Alan Goldman Says:

    Tim wrote “Equality with heterosexual people, and not consignment to a legal status designed to subordinate us, is a civil right.”

    Marriage is a tool for the state to control you. I thought you of all people would be unwilling to cede the state more power since the state is the domain of the powerful, the capitalist, the cissexual.

    I can’t abide anyone who supports giving the state more power to trample my rights as a free person. The state who jails anarchists for their belief that state power is inimical to freedom of the individual and damaging to a society of free association.

  85. Stephan Says:

    I am neither Christian nor gay and my empathy cuts both ways. Let’s remember that being deeply Christian isn’t exactly a majority position among geeks and Europeans in general. My empathy therefore finds it difficult to side with gay poeple who feel threatened by another minority and strike back with words far more insulting and threatening than the words they respond to. Quite now I’d feel far more threatened if I were Mr. Markham than if I were Mr. Chevalier and that is why I’d side with the former from the empathetic point of view even though I disagree with much of his thinking. Sorry for being very clear: hate speech was in use by gays and not by Christians in this place.

    On legal matters: To my knowledge there is no fine whatsoever for gay couples if they say that they are “married” (and everybody understands what they communicate) even though the legal institution’s name is “civil union” in many first world nations. Thus the right to speak freely is not violated even though the legal institutions may have different names. Moreover, equal treatment is different from broadening the meaning of a word. If civil unions grant the same rights as marriage, gays do have equal treatment even though they are unsuccessful in broadening the meaning of the word marriage. What this really is about is the “ownership” of the word marriage. If a religious person fights for the copyright of the word marriage by defending its narrow scope -and does so without using ad hominem attacks as Mr Markham did- then this is as much of a civil right and as legitimate as equal treatment for gays. And Mozilla as an organization commited to free speach should be proud to host this discussion.

  86. Tim Chevalier Says:

    Stephan, being Christian doesn’t entail being a homophobe (or vice versa). As for the rest of it, as I’ve said a number of times before, I refuse to be forced to defend my civil rights on a Web property belonging to my employer. I will not engage with that.

  87. J Smith Says:

    To everyone emphatically stating that gay people should be satisfied with having civil unions, since they are now protected under the law: Would you be equally comfortable with having separate water fountains labelled “white” and “black”? Everyone can get a drink. How about relegating non-whites and women to the back of the bus? There is nothing objectively better about the front of the bus, after all. Everyone can still get a ride.

    Given that hate speech is a legal term that varies by country, and a controversial one at that, I don’t think there is much use in debating that, specifically. However, I think anyone can understand the difference between speaking from a position of more power and a position of less power. For example, what your boss says to you carries more weight than what you say to them. “Gay people should have the right to get married” is not an equivalent statement to “Only straight people should have the right to get married” precisely because straight people do hold that legal right. If there were homosexual people on this thread claiming that Christians should lose the right to marriage because they are sinners, THAT would be closer to an equivalent statement (though still not quite there, since trying to take away a right isn’t quite the same as trying to prevent someone having it in the first place).

    The only thing that gay marriage takes away from Christians is the “right” to control social values and legal rights to protect themselves and exclude others.

    In what way does anyone else’s marriage change one’s own?

  88. Steve Says:

    J. Smith, I’m sure you understand why civil unions vs. marriage is unlike segregation vs. desegregation. Think of segregation vs. desegregation as theft and civil unions vs. marriage as copyright infringement.

    Physicality matters and for as much as I support same-sex marriage–at least until we abolition state marriage–I realize that making someone unequal through labels is very different than giving them separate physical infrastructure.

  89. Stephan Says:

    Mozilla is first and formost an NGO with the goal of enhancing and protecting open communication. If Mozilla were to govern this place like corporate employers govern their blogs, it wouldn’t be credible any more and I wouldn’t care about Firefox as a user.

    By accident, Mozilla is a very successful NGO and therefore capable to employ poeple like corporations do. As a user of Fireofx and as a customer of these employees I expect them to behave in accordance with the goals of their employer and that means that they as opposed to poeple employed in other producers of web software need to cope with the fact that Mozilla does not govern this place like corporations do but instead opts (in accordance to its goal of open communication) to let the public know that employees of Mozilla have the same discussions between gays and Christians as the general public. I refuse the analogy to some corporate weblog. It is dead wrong. Poeple who work for Mozilla need to be willing to stand up for themselves if some other employees publish something in here that differs from their view.

    As for homophobes and Christians: Sometimes Christians are homophobes and sometimes Christians are Christians who are judged by gays to be homophobes while they -as opposed to US-liberals, the European mainstream and me- are only concerned with the copyright and the scope of the word marriage. The concern on itself is not enough to establish that someone is homophobe or else every gay who is concerned about the word marriage is “christophobe” by analogy. I do not know Mr Markham and the material he posted in here isn’t enough to me to judge his credentials on that matter. For sure, quite all gays in here imply he is homophobe and I hope they do so because of personal encounters rather than because of his post.

  90. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Unless you’re agreeing to my agenda you’re words are “hate speech”

    My agenda is that I, and all other GLBT folk, are human beings who have the same rights that hetero folk have.

    That’s my agenda.

    If you disagree with that, then yes, I do call your words hate speech.

    Asa: Same sex civil rights are not a matter of “separate but equal” because separate always ends up being not equal.

    It doesn’t matter what “Gerv made clear,” because he is wrong in his assumptions. He is wrong when he says that gays claimed they would be happy with civil union. He is wrong when he says that civil union is the same as marriage. It’s easy for him to b wrong– it isn’t his life that’s been placed on hold.

    Please, before you continue with your ignorant and insulting argument, take some time to research the topic. Don’t rely on Gerv’s arguments. He is in no way an authority on the problems of living GLBT in a hetero world.

  91. Homa Sapiens Says:

    J. Smith, I’m sure you understand why civil unions vs. marriage is unlike segregation vs. desegregation. Think of segregation vs. desegregation as theft and civil unions vs. marriage as copyright infringement.

    Physicality matters and for as much as I support same-sex marriage–at least until we abolition state marriage–I realize that making someone unequal through labels is very different than giving them separate physical infrastructure.

    I encourage you to not rely on gerv’s statement that civil union is equal to marriage. That’s a handy assertion, but it is untrue. Go do some research.

    Likewise, do not rely on Gerv’s assertion that he is not a homophobe. You should rely on the people who he has attacked, instead. We know them when we feel the rocks hit us. Someone who tells us that we do not deserve the same civil rights that he does– that is hatred in a very practical sense.

  92. When Geeks Have Empathy Problems | Geek Feminism Blog Says:

    [...] the past few days, I’ve been tipped off to an incident on the Planet Mozilla blog, an aggregator of the personal blogs of Mozilla community members. [...]

  93. J Smith Says:

    “Think of segregation vs. desegregation as theft and civil unions vs. marriage as copyright infringement.”

    Please elucidate. How did you come to this analogy?