California leads way in emergence of thoughtcrime vigilantes

California leads way in emergence of thoughtcrime vigilantes

big-brother-thought-crimeCalifornia continues its emergence as the base for those who wish to enforce thoughtcrime penalties and launch group-hate campaigns against people with unacceptable political and social views. There have been glimpses of this mindset for years among the academic left and the progressives who routinely depict any criticism of Barack Obama as racist. But in reacting to those who still hold the view of gay marriage that Obama did until summer 2012, some of these folks are bringing a secular version of the fatwa to America.

This was put on clear view this week when executives with the OK Cupid dating site warned users of the Mozilla Firefox browser who came to their site that they were using the product of a company run by an alleged homophobe. The Mountain View-based Mozilla Foundation responded by pushing out CEO Brendan Eich, who donated $1,000 in 2008 to the campaign for Proposition 8. That’s the California ballot measure banning same-sex marriage that was narrowly approved but has since been nullified by federal courts.

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal has more details and some very pertinent Golden State context:

“There has been no claim that Eich, an executive of Mozilla Corp. since its founding in 2005, discriminated against gay employees. …

“Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public knowledge because of a California law requiring disclosure of personal information — name, address, occupation and employer’s name — of anybody who gives $100 or more to a campaign for or against a ballot initiative. The secretary of state’s office is required to post this information online [and does so on] an easily searchable database.

“Which brings us back to Citizens United. It is known as a 5-4 decision, and most of it was, but one part of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion–upholding a provision requiring disclosure of political contributions–was for an 8-1 majority, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting alone.”

‘We have plans for you and your friends’

“Thomas’s argument rested heavily on the facts of the Proposition 8 campaign, and it’s worth quoting at length …:

‘Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. They cited these incidents in a complaint they filed after the 2008 election, seeking to invalidate California’s mandatory disclosure laws. Supporters recounted being told: “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter,” or, “we have plans for you and your friends.” Proposition 8 opponents also allegedly harassed the measure’s supporters by defacing or damaging their property. Two religious organizations supporting Proposition 8 reportedly received through the mail envelopes containing a white powdery substance.

‘Those accounts are consistent with media reports describing Proposition 8-related retaliation. The director of the nonprofit California Musical Theater gave $1,000 to support the initiative; he was forced to resign after artists complained to his employer. The director of the Los Angeles Film Festival was forced to resign after giving $1,500 because opponents threatened to boycott and picket the next festival. And a woman who had managed her popular, family-owned restaurant for 26 years was forced to resign after she gave $100, because “throngs of [angry] protesters” repeatedly arrived at the restaurant and “shout[ed] ‘shame on you’ at customers.” The police even had to “arriv[e] in riot gear one night to quell the angry mob” at the restaurant. Ibid. Some supporters of Proposition 8 engaged in similar tactics; one real estate businessman in San Diego who had donated to a group opposing Proposition 8 “received a letter from the Prop. 8 Executive Committee threatening to publish his company’s name if he didn’t also donate to the ‘Yes on 8’ campaign.”

‘The success of such intimidation tactics has apparently spawned a cottage industry that uses forcibly disclosed donor information to pre-empt citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights. Before the 2008 Presidential election, a “newly formed nonprofit group . . . plann[ed] to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” Its leader, “who described his effort as ‘going for the jugular,’ ” detailed the group’s plan to send a “warning letter . . . alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”

‘These instances of retaliation sufficiently demonstrate why this Court should invalidate mandatory disclosure and reporting requirements.’

Orwell thought it would be government — not interest groups

vigilantismMy references to thoughtcrime and group-hate (or two-minute hate) come, of course, from “1984.” But unlike in the Orwell novel, the government isn’t behind these campaigns. Instead, it’s privatized.

Here’s hoping that California doesn’t again start a trend copied around the world. I voted against Prop. 8 in 2008, and Prop. 22 in 2000, for that matter. I am not a social conservative and find the Jon Fleischmann argument that social conservatives are less likely to be RINOs on economic conservatism hard to buy. During the latter days of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the early years of Bush 43, social conservative GOP House members acted like LBJ circa 1965. Yeah, surrrrre, they were pure. If libertarians and libertarian lites could wield power without having to occasionally go along with social conservative policies, I think that would be a day to celebrate.

But I don’t want to live in a society where behavioral vigilantes hurt people and think they hold the moral high ground as they take wrecking balls to the lives of those with different views.

Good for Andrew Sullivan, the most high-profile pundit who happens to be gay in the English-language media, for making this argument as well.

“[Eich] did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell. No, he wasn’t a victim of government censorship or intimidation. He was a victim of the free market in which people can choose to express their opinions by boycotts, free speech and the like. He still has his full First Amendment rights. But what we’re talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor. …

“It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others’ views as the Christianists? You’ve just found a great way to do this. It’s a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it.”

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