When discussing the thoughtcrime prosecution and ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich last night, I quoted a passage from a First Things article which appeared to assert that Eich’s donation to the campaign for the Prop 8 gay marriage ban in California in 2008 – the sole reason he was hounded out of his job by a fascist mob – was made public when corrupt agents of the Internal Revenue Service leaked the donor list for the National Organization for Marriage to a gay-rights group. In an update to the post, I mentioned that I had quickly grown doubtful of this claim after quoting it, because I thought the media exposure of Eich’s donation in 2012 was based on a search of public records. I can’t recall where I read it, but I thought Eich himself had said something to that effect.
The IRS connection would be a bombshell revelation, and was treated as such by just about everyone who read these sentences from First Things: “Why, then, the ruckus? Amazingly enough it is entirely due to the fact that Eich made a $1,000 donation to the campaign urging a ‘yes’ vote on California’s Proposition 8. When this fact first came to light in 2012, after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group…”
I see Allahpundit at Hot Air took a thorough look at the issue, and confirmed my recollection: California law requires donations above $100 for ballot measures to identify themselves, and their employers. The L.A. Times published the Prop 8 list as a searchable database. This became a key tool in the triumph of fascism over democracy (and that is exactly what just happened) because, as Allah observes, the Prop 8 donor list has already been used as a blacklist to ruin other lives and careers. Vote the wrong way, and the brownshirts come for you, simple as that.
I’m more convinced than ever that the anonymous poster at First Things (who “works in the technology industry and is acquainted with the Mozilla community,” so you can see why he or she wishes to remain anonymous – it is now necessary to fear for your livelihood, and personal safety, if you exercise your free speech rights to express forbidden thoughts) worded that paragraph clumsily, and was trying to set the stage by saying the Eich disclosure happened after the NOM/IRS scandal, not assert that the latter caused the former. Hopefully this will be clarified over at First Things soon.
Meanwhile, while the NOM donor disclosure scandal isn’t directly related to Eich’s ouster, it’s easier than ever to understand why it was a very big deal that corrupt agents of the Internal Revenue Service handed confidential donor information over to a left-wing activist group. In a better nation with a more universal commitment to free speech and democracy, maybe it wouldn’t matter as much, but Brendan Eich is the face of the ugly reality of American totalitarianism. Intimidation is the order of the day – a major reason for the persecution of Eich was to send a signal to the rest of the population that opposition to the fascists will be punished.
The intimidation factor will be huge with corporations, who don’t want to suffer through boycotts or corporate character assassinations; the path of least resistance will involve quietly checking the politics of high-profile hires, to make sure they haven’t voted or spoken in a way that might touch off the mob. Those who seek such high-profile positions will understand that their political credentials must be kept in good order; the exercise of free speech, or providing financial support to certain issues, will be judged far more trouble than it’s worth.
That’s how fascism works, and while you might be chilled to the bone by reading the previous paragraph, rest assured that Eich’s tormentors are delighted – it describes precisely the environment they wished to create. It will not have occurred to them that some employers will note the way gay-rights activists working for Mozilla played prominent roles in sabotaging their CEO, and conclude that gay employees are more trouble than they’re worth. Of course, such a conclusion would never be expressed in public, but it might quietly influence hiring decisions. Perhaps the activists are convinced they can suss out and punish such behavior, in a way that, say, devout Christians cannot. (If I were running Mozilla and feeling mischievous, I might look for a devout Muslim opponent of same-sex marriage to install as CEO, trumpet the way this appointment highlights the company’s commitment to diversity, and watch the fun.)
At any rate, you can see why the improper disclosure of donor information is so unnerving to groups that oppose the dominant political culture, and why the IRS’ demands for such information from targeted Tea Party and pro-life groups were so oppressive. There is every reason to believe Obama levels of corruption will lead such information to pass from the government to activists groups, sooner or later – and even if it’s four years later, as was the case with Brendan Eich’s little Prop 8 donation, damage can still be done.
Such a level of paranoia is entirely unbecoming a free republic. That’s why it was so important for the Obama Administration to do what it did not do: admit the problems at the IRS and clean house, rather than trying to bury the situation as a fake scandal with a storm of media spin. That’s also why, if Barack Obama was a real leader with a firm grasp of American values, he would have stepped smartly to Brendan Eich’s defense, explaining that he too was a declared opponent of gay marriage in 2008, it’s clear that Eich is no hatemonger, people of good will continue to disagree about the issue (something he explicitly said, when announcing his very recent conversion into a gay-marriage supporter) and in any event, it’s sick and wrong to persecute people for exercising their rights of speech and political organization. It’s too late to save Eich as Mozilla CEO, but it’s still not too late for Obama to make such a bold, historic, pro-American statement to limit further damage to our way of life. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.
Ultimately, the power rests with We The People. We’re entitled to expect leadership from our elected officials, especially on something as basic as this, but we shouldn’t wait around for it. I said last night that I’m not much into boycotts, but maybe there’s no other way to signal our displeasure with Mozilla… and there’s also no reason to believe they won’t get into quietly censoring web content the fascists find objectionable. When they got caught, they would cite their commitment to the free and open Internet to justify censorship, the same way they cited their commitment to “tolerance” when they enabled the persecution of a man for his personal beliefs. It is the destiny of free people to vigorously oppose totalitarianism, even when – no, especially when – the totalitarians hold a position on some issue that we personally agree with. The method is the enemy, not its professed objectives.