April 9, 2014
Like polar bears, who have been known in the wild and in captivity to eat their young, we’re watching, stunned, as the holiest-of-the-holy liberals eat their young before our eyes.
Liberals, at least some, it seems, have been shown in the past few weeks to have as little tolerance as their conservative counterparts when it comes to where one stands on the issue of gay marriage.
Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down last Thursday as CEO, just days after his appointment. He left the non-profit maker of the Firefox browser after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution in support of Proposition 8, a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California.
That six-year-old action led to many gay rights activists and liberals demanding Eich resign his position, despite his assurances that his personal beliefs were kept separate from his professional life. He also promised to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness for all at Mozilla regardless of sexual orientation, race or beliefs.
Eich’s assurances, however, did little to pacify his critics and the co-founder of Mozilla finally packed it in.
While conservative organizations, commentators and news sites are in high dudgeon over a perceived attack on the right by the liberal left, one of those who called for a boycott of Mozilla for Eich’s donation is defending his call for protest.
“There was no interest in creating an Internet lynch mob,” OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagun, whose dating service site was among those engaged in online protest, said last Friday. “I am opposed to that with every bone in my body.”
Yagun’s dating site posted a letter on the company blog in such a way that every person who visited OKCupid via Firefox would first see the letter before entering the site.
But Eich’s abrupt departure has stirred the debate over the fairness of forcing out a highly qualified technology executive over his personal views and a single campaign contribution six years ago. And it raises questions about how far corporate leaders are allowed to go in expressing their political views.
Although OKCupid concedes that people can change — after all Eich made the contribution six years ago — the letter went on to say that “Eich’s boilerplate statements in the time since make it seem like he has the same views now as he did then.
“His donation was known to Mozilla at the time of his promotion, and, furthermore, CEOs are rewarded based on their company’s performance,” the letter stated. “The CEO is the visionary for a company and its products. We are sad to think that any OkCupid page loads would even indirectly contribute towards the success of an individual who supported Prop 8—and who for all we know would support it again. We wish Mozilla’s institutional commitment to freedom and openness were better reflected by their choice of leadership.”
OkCupid never demanded Eich resign, it turns out, and after discussing the issue with Mozilla, Yagun ended the call for a Firefox boycott last Wednesday afternoon.
In retrospect, however, Yagun said he wished he had framed the Firefox boycott in a slightly different light.
“I would have loved to have engaged in a debate over what happens when freedoms collide,” Yagun said. “We have freedom of speech, which I would defend to the end. And we have what I believe is a fundamental liberty of people to marry and love whoever they want. We took a stand that matters to us personally and as a business — and I think the world will be a better place because of it.”
Not surprisingly, the likes of Newt Gingrich and other conservative commentators are all over the issue. Former House speaker Gingrich blasted the pressure that forced Eich to resign last week as an example of the “new fascism.”
“If you’re a young faculty member in a lot of places, if you’re a young member of a news department, and you have the wrong views, meaning conservative, you have no career,” Gingrich told ABC’s This Week today.
“This is just the most open, blatant example of the new fascism,” he added, “which says if you don’t agree with us 100 percent, we have the right to punish you, unless you’re like Hillary [Clinton] and like Barack Obama, and you recant.”
But, there are those on the left who decry the resignation as counter-productive to the notion of freedom of expression and freedom to support which ever side of the gay marriage debate one might hold.
“No one had any reason to worry that Eich, a longtime executive at the company, would do anything that would negatively affect gay Mozilla employees,” The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote last Friday. “If that attitude (that CEOs should be judged not only by their professional achievements, but by their politics) spreads, it will damage our society.”
Friedersdorf said he fears that such a precedent could allow hot button political issues to be used as a form of “litmus tests” for corporations and their executives.
“Whatever you think of gay marriage,” he wrote, “the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo.”
Gay marriage advocate Andrew Sullivan, in a blog on The Dish, decried what he called the hounding of Eich from his position by gay marriage advocates such as himself.
“The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists,” wrote Sullivan.
“Will he 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.”
Sullivan followed up with a bang-on post, where he sums it up thusly: “If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.”
But, while the liberal pro-gay-marriage crowd are tying themselves in knots over this issue, some from a ‘never saw that coming’ direction are evolving to soften their stand on the issue.
Rev. Ken Wilson was raised to loathe and condemn any form of homosexuality and to believe the LGBT community, if there ever was such a thing when he was young, was a vile perversion.
According to the Detroit Free Press, when Wilson started his church in the 1970s in Ann Arbor, the evangelical pastor maintained a policy of not allowing gays who were actively sexual.
But about a dozen years ago, the founder and leader of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor started to have some misgivings about his views. Members of his Christian congregation were coming forward to talk about siblings and children who were openly identified as gay.
In 2011, “I got a strong nudge from Jesus,” telling him to write a letter to his congregation about his changing views on gay issues, the 62-year-old minister said.
It was a slow process, one that involved prayer, introspection and scholarship as he pored over the Bible and interpretations of it from various writers. Last month, the long letter he wrote to his congregation was published as a book that embraces LGBT people.
Experts say it might be the first time the pastor of a large evangelical Christian congregation in Michigan, and maybe the U.S., has come out so openly in favor of gay people and same-sex marriage.
“It’s about welcoming previously excluded groups,” Wilson said of his decision. “That’s what it means to be evangelical — to make the good news accessible to those who haven’t had access to it. That’s my task. That’s what a church is supposed to do.”
It’s too easy and, let’s face it, the most easily explained answer, to surmise that those raised in a Judeo-Christian upbringing and a country that purports to be founded on Christian values to use that as the prop for stigmatization of anyone who supports man-man or woman-woman relationships.
Likewise, it has now seemingly become the norm for those who count themselves to be stridently liberal in all thoughts and practices to ostracize and condemn those who adhere to those intolerant moral tenets.
It is, then, why this furor over the Eich dismissal is so damned puzzling. We’re seeing the liberal belief that tolerance is the always correct message challenged by a stunningly intolerant move to cast out someone for not sharing that belief.
There’s no sniff of liberalism in any of this, nor is there tolerance.
We’re watching those who purport to be the most banner-waving liberals eat their young and it’s no more a pretty sight than watching a polar bear in a zoo consume one of its cubs.
Chris Malette is a retired newspaper journalist with 35 years of experience as a reporter and city editor. Over his career, Malette covered municipal and federal politics, military, health and court beats. He has reported from Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti and covered relief efforts in Honduras in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. He now works for SPN News as an editorial columnist.