We have made great strides in the policing of thought in this country. Just ask Brendan Eich, one of the founders of Mozilla, developers of the web browser Firefox. Eich had just landed a promotion to the big chair as Mozilla’s CEO. He lasted all of nine days. The reason? Back in 2008 Eich donated a thousand dollars to support Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. The unearthing of this donation led to protests from gay rights activists and the high profile call for a boycott of Firefox by dating site OkCupid.com. Eich, as many people in circumstances such as his, was stricken with the sudden desire to “spend more time with his family” and quietly resigned.
Regardless of your position on same sex marriage, those activists who led to Eich’s resignation should be ashamed. Their basic message? “You’d better be tolerant. Or else we will show you a display of true tolerance. By crushing you.” In fact, it is no longer enough to be tolerant. Prior to his resignation, Eich told tech site CNET “[i]f Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail.” In the same interview, he said that he wished for those who were calling for his ouster to know that “without getting into my personal beliefs, which I separate from my Mozilla work — when people learned of the donation, they felt pain. I saw that in friends’ eyes, [friends] who are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered]. I saw that in 2012. I am sorry for causing that pain.”
Wow. Eich sounds like an intolerant jerk! No, strike that. He sounds like a dedicated and thoughtful professional who was able to separate his work and personal lives–as well he should have been. But to the activist crowd, it’s not enough that people are tolerant. They must offer affirmation of the LGBT agenda or pay the price. Their much vaunted toleration doesn’t extend to those who might have opposing viewpoints, like Eich.
Of course, gay rights activists claim that Eich’s views are not deserving of toleration because he sought to strip them of their rights. This may or may not be the case, but I’d wager that many of them aren’t such dogged defenders of rights when asked about, say, the Second Amendment. And I’m hearing curiously little from these champions of freedom about the fact that 70 percent of California’s African Americans and over 50 percent of Hispanics voted for Prop 8. The uncomfortable fact for the left is that 2008 was the same election in which minority voters pulled the levers in droves for President Obama. Even more uncomfortable? President Obama himself was opposed to same sex marriage in 2008. But, then, it’s not about principle. It’s about ramming through the “right” outcomes.
An Associated Press piece about Eich’s resignation asks “whether the episode undercuts the well-groomed image of Silicon Valley as a marketplace of ideas and diversity of thought, and whether, in this case, the tech world surrendered to political correctness enforced through a public shaming on social media.” Geez, ya think? Andrew Sullivan, the unreliably conservative columnist had this to say:
Will [Eich] now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
The trite knock at the religious right is to be expected from a regular guest on Bill Maher’s show, but Sullivan is right to call the gay rights activists out on their bullying tactics. And the man has skin in the game, as an openly gay man who has long supported same sex marriage. Kudos to Sullivan for recognizing that support for an issue doesn’t require the squashing of all dissenting viewpoints.
Liberals like to mock those who speak of the “gay agenda.” The real agenda, they claim, is for homosexuals to be able to live out their lives in dignity with their loved ones. Such efforts at destroying opposition unfortunately make that more difficult to believe. And activists forget that perhaps next time, they won’t be the ones to define which thought crimes should be prosecuted. In a society which encourages the personal destruction of dissenters, any one of us can develop the desire to “spend more time with family” at any time.