rmurphey Adventures in JavaScript

JavaScript: It's a language, not a religion

4 Apr 2012 edit

I have six things to say:

  1. I am in a committed relationship with my partner Melissa. We will celebrate six years together on Sunday. We contribute frequently to political causes.

  2. I was deeply saddened yesterday to learn that Brendan Eich contributed money in support of a political initiative that sought to rescind the court-established right for same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. It has changed my view of him as a person, despite the fact that we have had a positive and professional relationship and he has been a great supporter of my JavaScript career. I think he is on the wrong side of history, and I hope that courts will continue to agree with me.

  3. I had a frank, private, and face-to-face conversation with Brendan about the issue during JSConf. I shared my disappointment, sadness, and disagreement.

  4. I have been dismayed to see this incident interpreted as a statement about the JavaScript community as a whole. This community is made up of so many people who believe so many different things, and yesterday I was reminded that they are all just people, and JavaScript is just a language, not a religion. I shudder to think of a world where there is a political litmus test for entry into the community. Indeed, I am extremely torn about introducing personal politics into my professional life*, as I fear it will encourage professional colleagues to opine about personal beliefs that are frankly none of their business. One of the great joys of working with computers is that they do not care who I am or what I believe; I realize that to ask the same of people is unreasonable, but inviting politics into the workplace is a treacherously slippery slope. Unless my personal belief system presents an imminent danger to my colleagues, I am loath to welcome discussion of it by people who otherwise have no substantial or personal relationship with me.

  5. I believe individual companies must determine how best to address these issues, as their attitude toward them can have a significant impact on their ability to hire and retain talented people. I support constructive pressure on companies to align themselves with or distance themselves from political causes, but I would not support a company that prohibited its employees from participating in the political process. I urge anyone who is hurt or offended by this incident to engage with Brendan and Mozilla personally and professionally. Brendan is wrong on this issue, but he is a thoughtful and intelligent person, and he is also a human being.

  6. Finally: If this incident has made you angry or sad or disappointed, the most effective thing you can do is follow in Brendan's footsteps by putting your money where your mouth is. Money speaks volumes in the American political system, and there are campaigns in progress right now that will impact the rights of gays and lesbians. Your contribution of $50, $100, or $1,000 -- or, in lieu of money, your time -- will have far more impact than yet another angry tweet.

And now I shall turn off the internet for a bit. Comments are disabled. Shocker, I know.

* It bears mentioning that, in certain cases, people making political contributions are required to include information about their employer. The inclusion of this information does not indicate that the employer supports -- or is even aware of -- the contribution.