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April 02, 2014

"Recant Your Heresies," the Freethinker Demanded, Trembling with Religious Fury and Transcendant Ecstasy

I agree with atheists that religion is a serious impediment to clear thought.

This is particularly the case when a close-minded, fire-breathing Religious Zealot does not even realize he's in the grips of a Religious Hysteria.

An anonymous writer -- an insider in the tech world, but unwilling to share his or her name (go figure) -- writes about the Moral Panic burning over the tech industry over the elevation of Brendan Eich to the head of Mozilla.

Eich once made a $1,000 donation to Prop 8, in 2006, shortly before the pro-gay-marriage Senate candidate Barack Obama would be persuaded by the righteousness of the traditional marriage cause, and thus announce his conversion to the proposition that marriage must be as it had been eternally, a union between a man and a woman.

For some reason, the rabid Upper Income White Women (and Feminized White Men) of the tech industry don't seem to think Barack Obama deserves criticism for that position, but they're very sure that Eich should either recant or be fired.

One of the most widely-shared and lauded of the countless statements issued in response to the appointment was written by Owen Thomas, managing editor of Valleywag, a self-described “tech gossip rag.” This is such a remarkable document that I can’t help quoting from it extensively:
You’ve already said that you won’t bring any personal exclusionary beliefs to the workplace. But your actions in 2008 were not personal or private: They were public acts of speech, for which your constituents are rightly holding you accountable now. You did not merely express a personal view on same-sex marriage; you attempted to persuade others to support your point of view. . . .

Stop saying that this was merely a private matter that won’t affect your work as Mozilla’s CEO. That’s disingenuine and beneath a leader of your stature.

Say that whatever chain of logic led you to conclude that your personal views required you to support Proposition 8 was flawed, erroneous, incorrect. You may well maintain those same views—that’s your prerogative—but you don’t have to draw the same conclusions from them today as you did six years ago.

Go further. Say that you support the rights of people to enter into same-sex marriages everywhere. Say that you will not only support employees in the United States who are in same-sex marriages, but that you will also fight for the civil rights of Mozilla employees who work in societies with less progressive views.

Finally, make a donation equal in amount to the money you gave to Proposition 8 and candidates who supported it to the Human Rights Campaign or another organization that fights for the civil rights of LGBT people.” [Emphases in the original]

Grammar and diction unworthy of an editor aside, one of the most striking things about this passage is its tone, or perhaps we should say its genre. The remedies demanded (public recantation, propitiatory sacrifice) are of the sort necessitated by ritual defilement, rather than the giving of offense. It is also clear that Thomas does not merely wish Eich to say that he has changed his views, he truly, sincerely, desperately hopes that Eich be transformed. The key realization is that the howling mob which Thomas has ginned up is only partially an instrument of chastisement. It is also intended to educate. Thomas is in this to save souls.

Whether or not Eich keeps his position, this episode is instructive for those who hold out hope for a détente in the culture wars. The flawed analogy between the movement to end discrimination against African-Americans and the movement to allow gays and lesbians to marry is sincerely believed by many. But it is not merely a convenient piece of rhetoric or a skillful legal strategy. The moral force of the civil rights movement did not permit any sort of accommodation or compromise with bigots, and contemporary social conservatives who believe that they can negotiate more favorable terms of surrender have fallen prey to wishful thinking. What Thomas’s statement and others reveal is that the same-sex marriage movement has inherited that same genuine moral outrage, that same crusading zeal. While supporters of traditional marriage would like to convince the world that they are correct, they may soon find it difficult enough just to establish that they are not monsters. What is certain is that this will not be the last time that a public example is made of a dissenter from the new moral order.

For the moment, Eich isn't resigning, but is instead asking for the same level of tolerance that the New Inquisitors demand for themselves and their ideological allies and identity-favorites.

Good luck on that.

Incidentally, it might make for a good question for the media to ask Obama or Carney -- whether or not they favored the pillorying of Eich for agreeing with Obama on the position he allegedly held on gay marriage from 2008-2011.

It would be informative. It would illustrate what the progressives actually think, or rather, what they feel.

Ergo, it will not be asked.



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posted by Ace at 04:13 PM

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