The letter that Mozilla should have written (instead of an apology)

Ethics Social Issues

Dear GLAAD

Let us first join with our supporters in saying to you: How dare you? You are telling this company to fire our capable CEO, Brendan Eich, because you do not agree with his decision to support a traditional view of marriage as consisting of a man and a woman. When this donation was first brought to light, Mr Eich made a public statement to those who attacked him, challenging them to find just one “incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.” This challenge was never met. Any implication from you or anyone else that his not agreeing with you makes him a bad or lesser person runs contrary to the sort of accepting, welcoming and safe environment that we believe in promoting.

Why would you even imagine that we would treat Mr Eich in this way because of your views about his stance on marriage? We are writing to you now to say as clearly and loudly as possible that this is not going to happen. Whether all of us here at Mozilla agree with Mr Eich’s views or not, he has every right to hold and express them without fear of persecution from us. At Mozilla we have a rich diversity of people, and we celebrate that fact. In a true irony, if we were to cave in to your demands, you might have the gall to make an announcement claiming that “Mozilla’s strong statement in favor of equality today reflects where corporate America is: inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all.” Of course, you would be doing that in spite of the fact that we just folded like  house of cards and made ourselves an unsafe, non-inclusive and certainly not a welcoming environment. In a truly sinister twist right out of the pages of 1984, you might even then hope for us to apologise for ever accommodating a person like this with a job in the first place. It is especially sad that those who spoke for you believe they are actually setting an example of what inclusiveness, respect and equality looks like. But this is not what inclusiveness, respect and equality looks like. There are organisations and media outlets encouraging people to seek the victory of having people lose their jobs for not thinking like them. This a far cry from respectful and inclusive.

Part of valuing inclusiveness and creating a safe and welcoming place means that you need to be tolerant. Tolerance means that although you do not agree with somebody, and although it might be in your power to hurt, disadvantage or stir up hatred for them, and even though you might want to hurt or disadvantage them, you choose not to do so and you certainly do not call for others to do so. We value tolerance, and it is disappointing that GLAAD does not. The leadership of Mozilla hopes for a world where people do not face hate, stigma and material suffering because of their race, religion, creed, gender or sexual orientation. Although it is ironic that GLAAD does not appear to want these things, we hope that we can lead by example.

We have far too much courage and conviction to cave into bullying, and we would never take part in it in the manner you are calling for. With respect, you should be ashamed.

Hoping that you have a more tolerant future

Mozilla

 

If only.

Glenn Peoples

PS: Long-time gay activist Andrew Sullivan‘s thoughts on this are worth hearing.

PPS: In an earlier version of this letter, I mentioned that the existence of the donation was only discovered because it was leaked by the IRS. Although this claim was being widely circulated at the time, it turns out not to have been true. The donation is a matter of public record.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • LorenzoC April 6, 2014, 5:53 am

    If only the apology was the only problem. The situation is much worse. Actually people working for Mozilla and contributors who have some religious belief and/or some political opinion that don’t conform the “progressive values” are now hiding and pretending out of fear. It is so bad that it sounds like a sort of “mirror universe”. Once all this became obvious, things can only go downhill, Mozilla will be purged by dissidents, both actively and because of people getting tired of living in fear and then quitting.

    At the root of this all there is the problem that in the place where Mozilla operates it is expected to have a “mission” that doesn’t sound like “Mozilla, we make good software for the people” but it is more like “Mozilla’s mission is to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just. This is why Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally”.

    Mozilla’s mission is to reshape humanity. No less. And you know what happened in history when ever somebody had the same mission.

  • LorenzoC April 6, 2014, 6:19 am

  • Nate April 11, 2014, 5:01 pm

    Brendan himself said that the donation became public due to a California state law, NOT because the IRS leaked anything.

    Admin note: Some comments were removed from this post because they violated Right Reason’s policy against hate, abuse and profanity.

    https://brendaneich.com/2012/04/community-and-diversity/

  • Glenn April 11, 2014, 6:16 pm

    Nate, just a couple of quick comments in reply. Firstly, you’ve misunderstood Brendan’s comment. In the context of the article you linked to, he was not explaining how the public found out about his donation. No, he was explaining why the word “Mozilla” was mentioned in the tax return. His explanation was as follows:

    People in other countries or other U.S. states do not know why “Mozilla” was listed in the donation data. Donors above a certain amount are required by the State of California to disclose their employer.

    In other words, it’s not that the IRS was required to disclose his donation. No, the point was that he was required, when making the donation, to name his employer. He was saying this so that people would understand that Mozilla did not make the donation, he did. He does not state, in that article, how the information became public. Hopefully that clarifies matters for you.

    However, your comment prompted me to look for other sources, and I did manage to confirm that your claim is correct: The Donation was a matter of public record, as noted here: http://reason.com/blog/2014/04/04/no-the-irs-didnt-leak-mozilla-ex-ceos-do

    So although it does look like you’e misunderstood the article you linked to, fair enough – it’s true, the donation was a matter of public record. I will update the article to reflect this.

    I will say, however, that your abusive outburst, even if correct, does seem to miss the larger point of this letter, which was to explain how Mozilla could have responded with moral courage to a tirade of hatred and bullying. We shouldn’t cave in to bullies, thereby enabling them. We should refuse to let bullies have their way, don’t you think? I do.

    One last thing. You linked to a blog piece from Brendan Eich, which said: “There is no point in talking with the people who are baiting, ranting, and hurling four-letter abuse. Personal hatred conveyed through curse words is neither rational nor charitable, and strong feelings on any side of an issue do not justify it.”

    There is a certain irony in your linking to this at all, due to the four letter profanity and abuse that had to be removed from your comment. Any future comments from you that don’t fully conform to the blog policy will not be approved at all. Please try to express your thoughts in a civil manner.

    Mr Eich’s closing comment is one that we would all do well to reflect on:

    So I do not insist that anyone agree with me on a great many things, including political issues, and I refrain from putting my personal beliefs in others’ way in all matters Mozilla, JS, and Web. I hope for the same in return.

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