Monday, April 07, 2014


There was a lot of anger about Brendan being appointed CEO. There has been a lot of anger since he quit. It is in no way my place to tell people when they should and should not be angry. One of the big points made by progressive movements is that everyone has a right to get angry about things which affect them and people who aren't affected shouldn't tell people not to be angry. Doing so is a control tactic and just generally unfair (especially where it intersects with myths and stereotypes - 'the gay agenda', 'the angry black woman', etc.). I agree. It is one reason I said nothing much about the whole affair. Better for me to listen.

Still, after all this has played out (hopefully), I am left feeling a bit angry myself. And a lot disappointed. Previously, I have mostly agreed with the progressive movements (feminism, LGBT rights, anti-racism, and so forth). When I have not agreed, I have often had my mind changed. I have learnt a lot and I have a great respect for many people in these movements. It feels bad to be on the wrong side of that. It seems to me that the subtlety in the discussion was lost - assumptions were made, opinions were fought for, there was not much attempt to establish empathy and tolerance, nor to accurately learn the specifics of the situation.

Back to anger. Though it is important not to tell people when they are allowed to get angry or what that anger should look like, I would like to suggest how that anger should be used. Anger can be constructive - it is one of the most motivating human emotions and has led to great changes over the years. It can also be amazingly destructive with no purpose - from a child's tantrum to pretty much every war ever fought. Sometimes it is good, emotionally, to get angry and break things. But we must try to put some thought into what gets broken. It was in large part anger that brought LGBT (and other civil) rights to where they are today. We need more of that, and less just breaking stuff, even if it makes us feel better.

In the last couple of weeks we've seen a lot of (justified) anger, but the result has not been positive. Things got broken, but nothing has changed for the better. A small, non-profit organisation which fights for freedom and privacy on the internet against corporate interests and overbearing governments has been damaged in many ways. All to harm a man who made a semi-public donation to an admittedly odious cause. I can't think of anyone who's life has got better from this, maybe some CEOs of other companies who probably have private views worse than Brendan's, but weren't as honest about declaring them.


Lorenzo said...

For me it is not anger, it is disappointment.

I got very disappointed by reading M. Baker posts about "the mission" in the days of "the event". Those posts made clear me and Mozilla are on separate ways.

I got less disappointed reading posts from mozillians. That is because I already knew mozillians are NOT a "diverse environment" like they like to present themselves. Instead, like any "progressive group", tend to be rather uniformed and to repress/suppress who ever doesn't march along.

If you are angry because being on the "progressive" side looks wrong this time, that is because you, like many others before you, have not yet realized that being "progressive" is much similar to being teenager. Lots of dreams, lots of absolute black/white thinking and lots of conformism. Have you ever noticed teen agers dress all the same and do the same things, even when they are rebelling?

And here I am not even going in the details about why most "progressive ideas" are technically wrong. Like Mozilla's idea of imposing some sort of idea about "humanity" over the whole world moving from California.

Anonymous said...

From my point of view, I mostly agree with the causes you describe as "progressive", some of which are especially dear to my family and friends.

But I really can't approve of the attitudes and actions we've lately seen from some of those who would proclaim those causes. This incident has done a lot of damage to Mozilla - but it's also done a lot of damage to the image of those who support LGBT rights.

To my immense frustration, this whole affair only makes the bigots look like the reasonable ones...

Nick Cameron. said...

@Anon - I mostly agree. It is important to remember that the "bigots" are mostly reasonable, but conservative, people. They are acting (mostly) out of a system of moral, cultural, or religious belief that they are right and doing good things. But we disagree on what that means. And don't worry, the conservative side of the spectrum are working pretty hard right now to make themselves look less reasonable ;-)

Nick Cameron. said...

@Lorenzo, I fear we disagree again. I think you'll find more diversity of opinion than you think at Mozilla, although many people are speaking quietly for various reasons.

I think we also disagree strongly about the maturity of progressive ideals - I believe respecting individuality and the rights of each human is what progressive politics is about. Absolute or black/white thinking is a problem for humans of all stripes.

The ideals of Mozilla are purely for the free internet, once it is free you can do what you like with it - express opinions as conservative or liberal as you like - that is what we fight for. As a company, the Mozilla corporation (which is only a part of Mozilla) has an obligation to respect its employees, and that means subscribing to "progressive ideas" in many ways. Please don't think that we are trying to force that view on our users.

Lorenzo said...

You know, you don't really invent anything. Like Newton said, we stand on shoulders of giants who came before us.

There isn't anything new in "causes", most are recurring in history. And here I mean centuries.

There is nothing wrong in try to get some of those "causes" addressed.

The problem is the progressive/teenager thinking turns around the the idea of making ground zero of everything that exists or comes from the past to build a better/smarter/brighter future were everybody are happy and the wolf is the lab's friend. The side idea is to achieve the goal the casualties don't matter much, on the contrary. The bigger damage you make to "the system", aka "the old ways", the better.

I have given an explanation/example of why this is wrong and counter-effective in the previous post on this blog.

About "bigots". I would not use this world.

Lets make another example, lets say I want to have some wild sex with two girls. An old lady criticizes me. I say she is "bigot" because she says having sex wild sex with two girls is wrong in front of God and/or because she tries to stop me from having sex.
Now I am a farmer in a collective farm and I want to own my own cow so I take care of her and I make some extra money selling milk or i exchange milk with some vodka or whatever. The local boss of the party criticizes me saying owning a cow is wrong in front of Marx, Engels and Lenin, a crime against people and he tries to stop me from owning a cow. I could say he is a "bigot" as well. But with one big difference, if you stomp on the feet of the local boss of the party you may easily end in some prison camp or worse.

In Mozilla's situation Eich could have been like the old lady of the previous example while the "progressives", along the "LGBT community" (I feel bad thinking of people enlisted in such a community as a sort of army) are the boss of the Party. The old lady can be an annoyance but she has no real effect on your life. The boss of the party gets you killed.

I must repeat another concept: the idea you can export a "mission" that involves "progressive causes" is once again consequence of a teenager thinking and ultimately wrong.

Lorenzo said...

@Nick Cameron:
Yes, of course english is not my mother language. But I understand it enough to read what Mozilla's "mission" is. There are few words about "open web" and many many words about general social/political/philosophical values Mozilla supports and promotes.

Logically, if you are an organization that makes software you write "Mozilla, we make software" and everything else is totally irrelevant. Nobody SHOULD care if there are asians, jews, gays, rabbits or aliens working on the software. To regulate "diversity" inside the organization there are internal rules and the national laws about employment (depending where the offices are located).

When your mission is as long as the bible and it says almost nothing about software, it means developing software is a secondary activity/thought. Instead you must show and teach the whole world how to deal with the said "values, etc". Which makes no sense because if somebody may be interested in FirefoxOS devices, I don't think many want to be told how to live by progressives working at Mozilla or generally living in California.

Another good trick from the "progressives" is to re-write history. In some time I expect the whole Eich story to get changed so Mozilla is the victim, the LGBT people innocent bystanders and the "conservatives" are the killers.

Anonymous said...

When I referred to "bigots" earlier, I'm not actually referring to the merely conservative, to those who might be against gay marriage without any antipathy to gays.

I'm talking about the *real* bigots, the truly unpleasant "God hates fags" variety. And I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that those people look outright reasonable when compared to some of the people who have come out of the woodwork to vent their hatred of Brendan Eich.

I'm appalled to think that these people support the same cause that I do...

Lorenzo said...

In my opinion the biggest issue that came out from this "event" is seeing Mozilla and mozillians being hypocrite.

It is obvious that, while Eich was known and appreciated by most, while there are inside guidelines about "private matters", his opinions went against the "progressive agenda" and then when he got attacked first from inside Mozilla and then from outside Mozilla he did not get a firm and strong support neither from Mozilla or mozillians. Simply because Mozilla and mozillians were more sympathetic with the attackers than with Eich.

Now I read excuses like "oh we tried soo hard but we got overwhelmed by the thundering voice of the mob". And I read "it was less than ten people from inside Mozilla who asked him to resign". The fact is those ten were like a spark on gasoline, if mozillians were not sympathetic with their cause and then already "in doubt" about having Eich around, they would be like a spark on water.

Besides the said above statements from M. Baker that read like "sorry for having Eich here", ALL blog posts from mozzillians start with "I strongly support the LGBT community". Which, if Eich's fate wasn't already decided, would be totally irrelevant and nobody felt compelled to write it in the very first line.

I propose to extend the Godwin's law to the word "bigot".

Unknown said...

I have family affected by this, so I am in full agreement with your last post. I have sympathy for the other side though. Most of these people are only looking at it from a single point of view. Many people misunderstood the issue and saw it as an attack on religion. Others mistakenly thought there were fair alternatives to LGBT marriage. I think we were too harsh on Brandon, but I also think that Mozilla should probably take a side on this issue. That puts him in a hard place. It is too bad because I don't think anyone really wants this result. I think he would have made a great CEO and kept Mozilla on the right moral path despite that donation.