Gay marriage. Abortion. Equal pay for women. Display the 10 Commandments. ObamaCare. Keystone pipeline. Gun control. Global warming.
Where do I stand on these issues? I’m not sure I should tell you. As it turns out, we have gotten to a point in America where no one can share an opinion or donate to a cause they believe in without another individual or group crying foul, labeling you with a harsh term, and asking people to fire you or stop doing business with you. Freedom of Speech is one of the foundational elements that this country was built on. We have always held to the idea that any of us can say whatever we want and the listener can take it or leave it. Of course, there are some rare exceptions to this – yelling “fire” in a movie theater, etc.
The news recently broke of the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, having to step down from his position because of the outcry of those who were offended that 6 years prior, he donated $1000 to a California Proposition 8 cause aimed to defeat those who wanted to legalize gay marriage. By the way, Barack Obama held the same point of view as Eich in 2008, so I’m sure he will be resigning soon as well, right? The effort to make Eich pay for his financial support was led by OKCupid – a dating website. They instructed their subscribers to make Mozilla aware of their outrage at making him the CEO. Keep in mind here, Eich has never been accused of any type of discrimination of gay employees or anything along those lines, he just wrote a check 6 years earlier to support a cause that another group was opposed to. Now he’s unemployed after 13 years of employment with Mozilla.
Is this a one time thing? No. We just recently heard endless reporting about Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. He was asked for his opinion of homosexuality during a magazine interview, and he answered with a deeply held and honest answer. I don’t for a second think that the interviewer was surprised by his answer…he likely asked him knowing what type of answer he would get and also knowing that the fire storm around it would generate lots of interest in the article and the magazine. He was right. Organizations were immediately calling for his firing because he dared to share his own personal beliefs and opinions.
Crystal Dixon, a former employee at the University of Toledo, was fired because she wrote a letter to the editor of her local newspaper disagreeing with the characterization of homosexuality being the same as a race issue.
Juan Williams, formerly with NPR, was fired because he gave a personal opinion that seeing people in “Muslim garb” made him feel uneasy on airplanes.
Johnny Cook, a school bus driver in Georgia, heard one of the students talking about how hungry he was because he was denied lunch at school because he owed 40 cents to his lunch account. Mr. Cook posted a comment on Facebook about it and was fired. He stated, ““This child is already on reduced lunch [program] and we can’t let him eat. Are you kidding me? I’m certain there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they don’t have .40 on there account. As a tax payer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than to give food stamps to a crackhead.” The reason he was dismissed is that he openly criticized (to his personal Facebook friends and family members) the school district’s policy on these matters.
While losing your job is of great concern, more troublesome is the labeling of people with whom you disagree. We have seen routinely over the past few years that if anyone on the right disagrees with President Obama, it is often labeled as being racist. It couldn’t be that they just disagree about policy or the direction of leadership. Those on the right are quick to say that anyone who agrees with Obama is a Socialist, Communist, or a Nazi. President Bush was often portrayed at rallies with an Adolf Hitler moustache, a noose around his neck, or with gun sights targeting a shot to his head. Both political parties cry that there should be respect for the office of the President, but political leaders are often the ones who begin the labeling process.
If someone disagrees with gay marriage, then they are immediately labeled as a bigot. If someone takes issue with abortion, then they are sexist and perpetrating a war on women. Nevermind that for some, opposition to gay marriage and abortion are deeply held religious convictions. For some, these are non-negotiable beliefs and they simply cannot change based on popular opinions or polls. From the other side, these are very personal issues and likely reflect acts of hate that have been demonstrated towards them over many years.
America….we are rapidly losing our sense of civility, kindness, and tolerance. We no longer debate, persuade, or influence. Instead, we target, attack, mock and label. I’m curious, if we are only allowed to have a single opinion on the various issues of our lives – who gets to decide what acceptable is? If there can be no debate, if you cannot express altering opinions, then how will the best course of action for a group collectively or for an individual singularly be decided? What if there could be no debate or dissenting opinions in our past? We would still have slavery. Women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Schools would still be segregated. Abortion would be illegal. Alcohol would be illegal. Prayer would still be allowed in schools. Times certainly change – but does right and wrong, good and evil?
Where are we headed? I’m afraid that if things continue as they are, our government will begin to dictate to us all what is acceptable and anything beyond that will be a crime. You may think that’s a good thing, but you likely won’t when they tell you that you must believe, support and verbally praise something that you vehemently oppose internally. This is what the leadership of Hobby Lobby are fighting right now at the Supreme Court. This is not progress. This is tyranny. America used to fight to defend countries that had this type of leadership in place…now we are becoming it.
Employees are cautious about sharing opinions in the workplace already. Now, they must also be afraid to have an opinion period, or to support any cause with which they agree. Is this really how we want to live? Are we really a free society?