Mozilla Firefox Founder Removed for “Incorrect Political Views” – How This Will Backfire

Not for the first time, the radical Left is moving rapidly away from any respect for free speech and pluralism and is decisively throwing itself into creating a self-righteous culture of intolerance and intimidation. It’s playing a dangerous game, one that is already alienating its own allies.

I don’t often type this, but I agree with every word Andrew Sullivan says here about Mozilla ridding itself of its independent-thinking CEO:

As I said last night, of course Mozilla has the right to purge a CEO because of his incorrect political views. Of course Eich was not stripped of his First Amendment rights. I’d fight till my last breath for Mozilla to retain that right. What I’m concerned with is the substantive reason for purging him. When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason. If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.

And I say this even less, but I also agree with Michelle Goldberg, writing in The Nation about a different leftist intimidation campaign — the move to cancel Stephen Colbert’s show after he made a lame racial joke:

Call it left-wing anti-liberalism: the idea, captured by Herbert Marcuse in his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance,” that social justice demands curbs on freedom of expression. “[I]t is possible to define the direction in which prevailing institutions, policies, opinions would have to be changed in order to improve the chance of a peace which is not identical with cold war and a little hot war, and a satisfaction of needs which does not feed on poverty, oppression, and exploitation,” he wrote. “Consequently, it is also possible to identify policies, opinions, movements which would promote this chance, and those which would do the opposite. Suppression of the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the strengthening of the progressive ones.”

She continues:

As the radical cultural critic Ellen Willis wrote in 1997, at another moment of widespread left-wing illiberalism, “It’s the general repressiveness of the social climate that encourages moves to ban offensive speech or define any form of sexual oppression in the workplace as sexual harassment. The main effect of these maneuvers is to foment confusion, cynicism and sexual witch-hunts, trivialize sexual violence, and legitimize conservative demands for censorship—while at the same time ceding the moral high ground of free expression to the right.”

No, the radical Left isn’t just “ceding” the free-speech high ground to conservatives, it’s deeding it over — a free gift of one of America’s most important cultural and legal traditions. This is a high-stakes gamble — one apparently built on the idea that generations of leftist-dominated education and pop culture have sufficiently changed our nation so that we’re willing to turn our backs on pluralism and religious tolerance (not just tolerance of other religions but also tolerance of religion itself). It’s an idea born in Leftist urban and campus enclaves so walled-off from the rest of American life that many of these people could honestly declare they don’t know a single conservative Christian. But this new intolerance — as it directly confronts orthodox Christianity — is now colliding not just with free speech but with millions of Americans’ source of deepest meaning and purpose. I had the privilege writing this week’s cover story in the print edition of NR (about the history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the decline of respect for religious liberty), and here is how I described the power of the religious idea:

Religious liberty exists as a core civilizational value not just because pluralist societies profit from it, but because the human heart demands it. If history teaches anything, it teaches that the religious impulse — the sense of eternity set in the hearts of men (to paraphrase Solomon) — is nothing if not powerful. It’s an impulse that can and does change lives and nations. It’s an imperative so strong that even the mightiest of totalitarian governments struggle to suppress it. The desire of many millions to follow God is good, but it also just is — it is a primal force that must be acknowledged and respected to the extent that its exercise does not harm the rights of others. In fact, the very act of suppression in the name of uniformity can perversely fray the bonds of a pluralistic society. In liberty, there is unity. Not in conformity.

Can shaming and intimidation overcome the faithful? It can certainly overcome the casual believer, but that won’t be enough for the radical Left. They simply can’t tolerate even the existence of a coherent dissent. So they roll the dice, lashing out at America’s orthodox believers to drive them from the public square, but at the same time they need to remember: Not every American — not every leftist — loves a bully.

Read more on the Patheos Faith and Family Channel and follow David on Twitter.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • ahermit

    Freedom of speech does not mean consequence free speech; if you piss off enough people with what you’ve said they might decide they don’t want to have anything to do with you.

    And Eich did more than just speak; he took material action in an effort to deny legal rights to many of the people he was doing business with. I don’t see why they should be expected to stay silent themselves. They also have a right to speak.

  • David French

    Who’s saying they didn’t have a right to speak?

  • ahermit

    You just don’t think they should exercise that right is that it?

    I’m just amused by the sight of the bullies whining about being treated badly when the people they’ve been bullying start to stand up to them. The same conservatives who work so hard to keep their GLBT neighbours in second class citizen status, who dismiss them as deviants and compare them to child molesters are now crying about civility. It’s a joke.

    I have plenty of respect for free speech and pluralism; what I don’t have respect for are bigots, racists and homophobes and I’m not going to stop calling them what they are just because it might hurt their feelings.

  • David French

    I don’t care what you call anyone. The question is whether it’s right for a man to lose his job because he donated to prop 8.

  • ahermit

    First of all CEO is not just any job; a CEO is the public face of the whole company; there’s a higher standard there than there is for a janitor or an assembly line worker. If your CEO is alienating big groups of your customers, clients, and business partners you have a real problem. Secondly you’re misrepresenting the situation with your headline here, he wasn’t fired or “removed” from the position; he chose to resign rather than apologize to the people he had hurt with his bigoted action.

    I’m more concerned about his participation in an attempt to deprive his fellow citizens of their hard won rights than I am with him facing criticism for doing so. What he was seeking for his gay business partners and employees was that those of them who were legally married in California have their marriages annulled, that all the legal rights and benefits of those marriages be taken away and any hope of remarrying be forever denied.

    That’s a much bigger violation of the principles of liberty than one wealthy CEO being publicly criticized.

  • mirele

    Some of us remember the absolutely scabrous scorched-earth TV campaign paid for by pro-Prop 8 dollars. All sorts of terrible evils were going to rain down upon California if people didn’t vote for Prop 8. It wasn’t nice, it wasn’t truthful and certainly not Christian.

    Besides, I think that people like you should just be very, very quiet about Brendan Eich, seeing that your ilk had no problem whipping up a frenzy against World Vision a few weeks ago. Your fellow evangelicals were happy to snatch bread from the mouths of hungry children so you could hit back at GLBT persons.

  • jbofsbny

    He donated at the exact same time Obama came out and said marriage is between a man and a woman. He did not believe in same sex marriage. No matter what your position in gay marriage is, why was Obama not called out for being a homophobe? Is it because he “evolved” when the political winds were in favor of “evolving”?

  • Giauz Ragnarock

    You mean to imply that if Obama could currently have it his way that his opinion is the same as those who oppose marriage licenses for gay people?

  • jbofsbny

    Obama had that opinion when it was politically expedient to have that opinion. Obama was against gay marriage. The CEO had the same opinion as Obama at the same time. So if he is forced to resign because of a donation he made all those years ago, then it’s hypocritical to not call out Obama. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s hair about who marries who. But I’m seeing that “CEO” is not just any position and that he should be bullied out of his job because of a personal belief. By that standard, president is not just any position and the same people that bullied Eich out of his job were and are very silent when it comes to Obama.

  • Giauz Ragnarock

    I can’t seem to reply to your post below because of moderation.

    As far as I can tell Eich still holds the same opinions. What I was asking is basically, if both men were stripped down to us average schmoes, would both be, “aggh, unnatural! Dear Jesus, set them on fire and never let them die!” or would that only be Eich?