Brendan Eich resigned as chief executive of Mozilla, best known for its Firefox web browser, “after intense criticism over a six-year-old, $1,000 donation he made in support of a 2008 California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The company has profusely apologized to the LGBT community for the offense.
Some had called for a boycott, and some then celebrated their victory, but Andrew Sullivan lamented:
“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 fact is this was a personal donation, and the company has not discriminated against gays, married or otherwise. I can see why some, given a choice, might not want to do business with an individual who doesn’t support their legal equality. But there is something fearsome about the vendetta mentality bubbling up from the LGBT community, manifesting, in this instance, in trying to get a man pushed out of his job for supporting a position that is politically incorrect, rather than leaving him to his personal convictions or engaging with him over the marriage issue.
The now-widespread view that silencing opponents is right and proper, once our side has the power to do so, truly is the liberalism of Robespierre.
More. How many of those cheering Brendan Eich’s forced resignation consider it one of the great national scars that American communists and fellow travelers were blacklisted during the 1950s? Most, I suspect. And hey, all they wanted to do was destroy Western civilization and replace it with Stalinist tyranny.
Furthermore. Many tech companies outscore Mozilla in terms of total contributions by employees in support of California’s anti-gay-marriage Prop. 8, shows William Saletan at Slate. Also, this overview of the controversy by the Washington Post‘s Gail Sullivan.
Plus Jonathan Rauch shares his views in the New York Times, Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance, and writes: “A handful of hotheads forgot what the gay rights movement is fighting for: the embrace of diversity and the freedom for all Americans, gay and straight, to live publicly as who they truly are.”
Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin, Eich Resigned. That’s Not Good: “But at a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act so that companies can’t just up and fire LGBT employees because they don’t agree with them — as they can now in about two-thirds of our states — we need to think very long and hard about we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election.”
Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, Mozilla’s Gay-Marriage Litmus Test Violates Liberal Values: “The rise of marriage equality is a happy, hopeful story. This is an ugly, illiberal footnote, appended by the winners.”
Frank Bruni at the New York Times sums up in The New Gay Orthodoxy: “Such vilification won’t accelerate the timetable of victory, which is certain. And it doesn’t reflect well on the victors.”
Dale Carpenter at The Volokh Conspiracy, A Strange New Respect for Markets: “The gay-rights movement and its supporters are better than this. And hiding behind fictions about the marketplace won’t fool anybody.”
Ross Douthat in the New York Times, The Case of Brendan Eich: “[A]n elite culture that enforces the new norms on marriage this strictly, and polices its own ranks this rigorously, is likely to find reasons (and, indeed, is already adept at finding them) to become increasingly anti-pluralist whenever it has the chance to enforce those same norms on society as a whole.”
Mark Lee, Have we lost the ability to be magnanimous when winning or gracious in victory? “Are we incapable of shedding a victim’s impulse for retribution? If so, that’s sad.”
But the heresy hunters are jubilant, and they’re keen to light more pyres.
Still more. I’m not unaware that Catholic and evangelical organizations (and the Boy Scouts) can and do fire employees for being openly gay and/or advocating gay equality. I just don’t agree that lowering ourselves to their level of intolerance, when we have the opportunity, is somehow fair play.
After a few days, it seems clear that Eich’s forced resignation not only hasn’t advanced the cause of marriage equality, it’s hurt it. Just the way that a public spotlight on using the judiciary to force religiously conservative florists, bakers or photographers to provide expressive services celebrating gay weddings (or be forced out of business) hurts us. It’s the victims becoming the victimizer when they have the chance. We’ve seen it all through history, from Christians to Communists, and it’s always ugly.
And it’s another day, and so — you got it — another scalp.