There's a scene in Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451
in which Julie Christie (playing a bimbo housewife of the dystopian future
) sits on her sofa in spaced-out bliss as she watches her jumbo-sized telescreen. On the screen, a fascistic spokeswoman for the state orders her viewers:
"BE. MORE. TOLERANT! TODAY!"
Those times are these times. I am stunned to learn that the recently-appointed head of Mozilla was forced to leave his spot
because someone found out that, back in 2008 -- six years ago -- he donated a thousand dollars to the effort to make Proposition 8 law. Prop 8 was California's initiative to ban gay marriage; the initiative passed but was later overturned by the courts.
As long time readers know, I did not favor Prop 8. (At the time, I said that the best way to insure marriage equality would be to make heterosexual marriage illegal. While I wasn't being entirely serious, it's true that I'm not exactly a big fan of the institution.) But I sure as hell would never say that those who disagreed with my position should be hounded out of their jobs.
A man should not lose his job just because he donated to the Prop 8 effort. Neither should anyone lose a job for donating the other way. A man should not lose his job even if he funds organizations I consider hideous. Even if someone tosses money at groups promoting Holocaust revisionism or NAMBLA or the Klan or any other despicable cause, that's no reason to strip a man of his job. This is America
(Well, I suppose a NAMBLA supporter should not hold any job involving children. But that's a special case.)
Mozilla was forced into this action by mob pressure. Anyone who joined that mob is a fascist of the most insidious, most self-deceived sort, because the worst fascist is the person who refuses to cop to his or her own domineering instincts.
Among the fascists: Taylor Marsh
Love took down the homophobe, because it’s more powerful than hate.
Taylor, don't you dare claim yourself to be a an exemplar of love
. Your attitude is small and tawdry. You dogmatically insist that everyone believe as you believe -- and if they don't, they must be stripped of their position in society. That, Taylor, IS fascism, whether you care to admit the fact or not.
(with whom I have often disagreed in the past) has issued a response which I consider precisely correct:
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.
This outrage will only give undue credibility to the Fox News propagandists who continually tell their viewers that liberals are totalitarians. That inane proposition seems less inane when we have so public an example of liberals acting in a robustly totalitarian fashion.
In recent days, we saw a similarly infuriating brouhaha over a joke told by Stephen Colbert. Colbert, enmeshed in his usual "Fox News" persona, wanted to make fun of an "original Americans" foundation created by Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. To point out the absurdity of the situation -- a guy who owns a team with that
name starting a foundation devoted to racial sensitivity -- Colbert announced:
"But I’m willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever... I owe all this sensitivity to Redskins owner Dan Snyder."
A number of liberal bullyboys then sent out tweets that gerrymandered the joke, erasing all reference to Snyder and conveying the impression that Colbert had seriously
used the words "Ching Chong Ding Dong" to denigrate Asians. Result: A widespread movement to drive Colbert off the air.
Andrew Sullivan has also written about a gay rights group which -- get this! -- wants to ban all use of the word "homosexual" because the term allegedly denigrates gay people
. Sullivan's response:
As a writer, there are few things that piss me off more than being told which words I can and cannot use. Fuck that shit.
I would also add that Gore Vidal hated "gay" and preferred "homosexual," although he tended to like the term "same-sexer" even more.
So that's where we are today. We have become a nation of outrage-junkies. On both the right and the left, in states scarlet red and cobalt blue, our nation teems with faux-victims willing to propagate and believe any piece of codswallop if doing so sends them into those much-beloved paroxysms of rage-gasm. For many people, hallucinations of victimization seem to fulfill some deeply-felt psychological need.
If Jonathan Swift were alive today, our nation of dimwits and dullards would insist on reading A Modest Proposal
as if it were a cookbook. Our teevee screens would feature a parade of Irish-American protesters all screaming that this Swift fellow is the real-life version of Hannibal Lecter.
I suppose my foray into agricultural journalism
means that I'll never be allowed to run a company the size of Mozilla.