Category Archive 'Freedom of Opinion'

09 Apr 2015

Limits of Coercion

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WednesdayAddams1

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

19 Jun 2014

“Shut Up!” She Argued

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Hillary3

Ann Althouse admires Hillary Clinton’s approach to balancing competing values and making hard choices with regard to public policies impacting Americans’ constitutionsl rights. Evidently, you balance those competing values by defining people interested in the ones you don’t like as “a minority” which you will not allow to terrorize the majority.

Hillary’s “guns” riff… contains [an] amazing assertion. … She begins:

    First of all, I think as a teacher or really any parent, what’s been happening with these school shootings should cause everybody to just think hard.

“Hard” is Hillary’s key word. It’s her book title — “Hard Choices” — and it’s an all-purpose boast and excuse. She’s capable of doing what’s hard and, when things are hard, one can’t be expected to get everything exactly right. And yes, “hard” invites her critics to mock her in a sexual way, as Rush Limbaugh did on his show yesterday: Hard Choices? Hard?!! That’s going to make everyone think of Bill Clinton’s erections. I’m paraphrasing. What Rush said was: “Now, if Bill had a book and the title of that was Hard Choices with the foreword by Monica Lewinsky, then maybe you might have a book that would walk itself off the shelves.”

Back to the town hall transcript. We’ve seen that Hillary has led off with her core theme: It’s hard.
Which seems to say: We all should just first pause and think about how hard it all is. She expands on hardness:

    We make hard choices and we balance competing values all the time.

This might make you think she’s about to give a balanced presentation with careful attention to the opinions and preferences of those who see deep meaning in the right to bear arms. But the values on one side of this values competition dominate:

    And I was disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal background checks after the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook and now we’ve had more… in the time since.

    And I don’t think any parent, any person should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone, for whatever reasons — psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever it means — could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers.

    I’m well aware that this is a hot political subject.

Hot political subject, yes, but I thought you said there were values here and that it was hard to balance them. Are the gun-rights people just political heat you have to face or do you genuinely contemplate their values? …

    But I believe that we need a more thoughtful conversation.

Yes? Do tell. We’re going to balance those competing values? We’re going to cool down and actually think about everything? NO! The next thing she says is:

    We cannot let a minority of people — and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people — hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.

Whoa! That’s the line I was looking for. Read it again and see how shocking it is. Not only did Hillary completely turn her back on “balanc[ing] competing values” and “more thoughtful conversation,” she doesn’t want to allow the people on one side of the conversation even to believe what they believe. Those who care about gun rights and reject new gun regulations should be stopped from holding their viewpoint. Now, it isn’t possible to forcibly prevent people from holding a viewpoint. Our beliefs reside inside our head. And in our system of free speech rights, the government cannot censor the expression of a viewpoint. But the question is Hillary Clinton’s fitness for the highest office, and her statement reveals a grandiose and profoundly repressive mindset. …

Hillary Clinton poses as the coolly thoughtful presider over a national conversation, but if you listen to what she’s saying, she already has her answers and she’s not going to let hold you hold any other viewpoint. The woman who once famously said…

    I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic…

… is now ready to deploy the verb “to terrorize” against those who debate and disagree with her.

Read the whole thing.

07 Apr 2014

Mozilla

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04 Apr 2014

Even Some Lefties Are Outraged by Mozilla CEO’s Ouster for Thought-Crime

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Mozilla to Brendan Eich: “But don’t do it here!”

New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.

On Thursday, Brendan Eich, who has helped develop some of the web’s most important technologies, resigned under pressure as chief executive of Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox web browser, just two weeks after taking the job. The reason? In 2008, he donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a California measure that banned same-sex marriage.
Brendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24. MozillaBrendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24.

Once Mr. Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. …

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” wrote Mitchell Baker, the executive chairwoman of Mozilla. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

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Rather astonishingly, a couple of prominent commentators on the left came out solidly in defense of liberal (in the classical liberal sense) values.

Andrew Sullivan (who I think is often dead wrong) was courageously right on this one.

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.

Andrew deserves one of his own Yglesias awards.

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Conor Friedersdorf, Andrew Sullivan’s former employee, now at the Atlantic, was equally forthrightly on the good side this time.

[N]o one had any reason to worry that Eich, a longtime executive at the company, would do anything that would negatively affect gay Mozilla employees. In fact, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, his longtime business partner who now defends the need for his resignation, said this about discovering that he gave money to the Proposition 8 campaign: “That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” It’s almost as if that donation illuminated exactly nothing about how he’d perform his professional duties.

But no matter.

Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman’s bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership’s political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?

It isn’t difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla’s behavior toward Eich.

Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would’ve argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO’s ability to do his job? They’d have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they’re averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.

Most vexing of all is Mozilla’s attempt to present this forced resignation as if it is consistent with an embrace of diversity and openness. Its public statements have been an embarrassment of illogic, as I suspect the authors of those statements well know. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” the company wrote. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

This is a mess.

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The hell of it is: Google is just as PC totalitarian as Mozilla. This blog was suspended by Google from its advertising program one day, abruptly, and with no prior notice, for having published, years earlier, examples of cartoons criticizing Islamic religious attitudes by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Google’s cryptic communications indicated that I was expected to purge from this blog every potentially controversial item critical of Islam which Google might object to, and then beg them to take me back. I sent Google an email inviting them to kiss my ass.

I’m seriously thinking of going Linux on my next PC.


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