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. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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”.

  4. 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.

  5. Robert Accettura Says:

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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Homa Sapiens Says:

    Gerv voluntarily pulled his post down FWIW.

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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?

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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. […]

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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 […]

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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. […]

  43. 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?