The price of freedom

The saying usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson claims that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. In this post I will share with the readers a startling example of how even in these enlightened times we indeed need to be watchful.

The case in point documents an assault on one of the basic freedoms we all take for granted. The circumstances which make this affair particularly sickening are that the attack was carried out in the public media and involved slandering the target’s professional reputation because of the personal views they held. Tragically, the ambush was successful in that the targeted person ended up losing their job.

In 2008 an IT professional living in the US gave a personal donation of USD1000 (one thousand dollars) to the campaign for legalising gay marriage in California. 5 years later he was appointed to run a company which developed one of the World’s most recognisable internet programs. The opponents of gay marriage then orchestrated an unprecedented media campaign to discredit the software product by heralding the fact that the CEO of the company marketing it supports gay marriage. The users of the program were spammed with unsolicited messages to that effect. As a result of this internet assault and fearing a boycott by the red-neck contingent, the CEO resigned. So the anti-gay marriage activists got their way through intimidation and blackmail.

There are multiple reasons why I am finding this development both disgusting and worrying. Firstly, the man’s personal views on social issues were completely unrelated to his job. Secondly, these views were perfectly legal, protected by the Constitution and actually instrumental in the public debate on the legality of gay marriage which has been going on in the US for a while. Thirdly, the internet spam campaign carried out by the anti gay marriage activists was dirty. If we do not agree with someone’s social views we should debate them on social issues and not seek to destroy their professional career.

Before posting the link to the BBC piece describing the events in more detail I have to confess that, for editorial purposes, I have changed one aspect of the story. It should not take you long to figure out why.


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