A Word In Edgewise: First Amendment: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


When Gay blogger Andrew Sullivan expressed disgust over the ‘forced’ resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for his $1,000 contribution to California’s 2008 Propositions 8, others, including John Becker of the Bilerico Project and Michelangelo Signorile of the HuffPost Gay Voices, begged to differ.

Sullivan asserted Eich was a victim of “left-liberal intolerance,” but Signorile pointed out that much contributed money went to TV ads spreading outright lies, “demonizing gay men and lesbians,” claiming “gays are dangerous to children.”

To Sullivan’s sarcastic comment that Eich “had the gall to express his First Amendment rights,” Becker clarified, “The damage done by those ads is incalculable, turning neighbors in California against one another, empowering anti-gay bullies in schools as well as the bashers on the streets.”

As far as Eich’s donation having been the sole reason for his ouster, Becker pointed out that executives supported Eich through his homophobia, but revelations that he’d backed Pat Buchannan’s 1992 campaign would have left them approving a CEO that also condoned racism and anti-Semitism.

Sullivan concluded, “If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.”

“Wrong,” wrote Becker. “Proposition 8 wasn’t just some random, innocuous ballot initiative, it was a cruel, animus-driven crusade to strip a disfavored minority group of an existing and fundamental right…that relied on lies and gutter-level fear-mongering, flooding the airwaves with images of smiling children accompanied by ominous warnings about how much they’d be harmed if voters didn’t enshrine marriage discrimination into the constitution.”

One has the right to speak one’s mind, but not without consequences. There is also a difference between uttering an occasional racial, ethnic or sexual slur, however distasteful, and donating money with the specific intention of removing citizens’ existing rights (the 9,000 legally married gay and lesbian couples) and of preventing others from ever having a right possessed by all other American citizens.

“None of this is about government censorship,” summed up Signorile. “It’s about a company…that has many progressive employees, as well as a lot of progressives and young people among the user base of its Firefox browser, realizing its CEO’s worldview is completely out of touch with the company’s–and America’s–values and vision for the future.”

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