Stephen Measure

The Unneeded Panic Room
May 10, 2014

Many of us have been following the news of Brendan Eich, who was forced to resign as the CEO of Mozilla due to his past donation in support of Proposition 8 (a 2008 California initiative that declared that marriage should remain the union of a man and a woman). There has been a lot of discussion of this troubling event in the media. Unfortunately, most of that discussion has been completely beside the point. Too many in the media are focusing on the question of whether or not a CEO should be punished for his political views, but that's not the problem behind this story. All of us have a line over which, should someone pass, we will no longer accept them as part of respectable society. So, no, the problem isn't that Brendan Eich was punished for holding an unpopular political view; the problem is that Brendan Eich was punished for holding a view that I myself share. And I'm not alone in this regard. Perhaps we didn't donate to Proposition 8 ourselves, but how many of us voted for it or for equivalent laws? And how many of us would do so without hesitation again? How many of us belong to churches that oppose same-sex marriage? And how many of us would stand by those beliefs no matter the personal cost? The problem is not that Mozilla judged their CEO unworthy of it; the problem is that Mozilla made that judgment about so many of us.

This hits close to home for me because, like Brendan Eich, I work in the tech industry and am therefore at risk of the same rejection. While it's true that I publish my work using a pseudonym, the only permanent barrier that provides is one between my ego and success. The thin buffer in front of my identity is only temporary, and it will be pierced the moment someone is motivated enough to run a few web searches. Ideally this won't happen without a simultaneous interest in my work, allowing me to provide for my family in that way, but there are no guarantees.

It is interesting, however, how everything has come full circle. My novel "The River Is Always Waiting" was conceived in the midst of Proposition 8 and its aftermath. If there had been no Proposition 8, I might have never written it. If Mormons had not been so involved in Proposition 8, I might have never written it. And now, as I've been struggling for a way to explain why my novel matters and to convince people to read it, this belated backlash to Proposition 8 occurs, providing me inspiration for a short story I hope will demonstrate why this topic is important. The short story I wrote and am now releasing is called "The Unneeded Panic Room". Here is its description:

After he is outed as a Proposition 8 donor, Michael and his young family are stalked by a vengeful activist.

This unexpected project interrupted my work on "The Inner Rot", the last short story of "The Ridge Of Earth Collection", and I'm still only partway through the rough draft. But now that I have "The Unneeded Panic Room" off my chest, I'll hopefully be able to return my attention to that story and finish it in a reasonable amount of time.


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