Free-Speech War Over Mozilla Ouster Enters Congress

Conservatives are hoping to make Brendan Eich a martyr for free speech, a la Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
April 7, 2014, 11:59 a.m.

Brendan Eich’s resig­na­tion from Moz­illa is quickly be­com­ing a Duck Dyn­asty-styl­ized talk­ing point for con­ser­vat­ive politi­cians prone to de­cry­ing the choice of polit­ic­al cor­rect­ness over free­dom of speech.

As dur­ing the scan­dal late last year that en­vel­oped Phil Robertson, the A&E real­ity-tele­vi­sion star whose in­fam­ously crude, ho­mo­phobic re­marks left his show briefly sus­pen­ded, some politi­cians are at­tempt­ing to lever­age Eich’s de­par­ture, claim­ing it rep­res­ents an iron­ic kind of in­tol­er­ance from the grow­ing gay-rights move­ment.

On Monday, Rep. Frank Wolf took to the House floor to air his griev­ances over Eich’s resig­na­tion.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4873) }}

“Re­gard­less of your views on mar­riage, any Amer­ic­an who val­ues the First Amend­ment should be deeply troubled that this man was es­sen­tially driv­en from his job be­cause of his per­son­al be­liefs,” the Vir­gin­ia Re­pub­lic­an said. “By all ac­counts, he’s a fair and hon­or­able em­ploy­er, yet be­cause of his private be­liefs about tra­di­tion­al mar­riage, which I share, he has been de­mon­ized and his live­li­hood has been com­prom­ised.”

Wolf con­tin­ued: “Pub­lic opin­ion on gay mar­riage has shif­ted since 2008, when both then-pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates Barack Obama and John Mc­Cain sup­por­ted de­fin­ing mar­riage as the uni­on of one man and one wo­man — but Amer­ica has nev­er been defined by mob rule.”

Eich chose to step down as CEO last Thursday fol­low­ing protests against him for his $1,000 dona­tion to a 2008 anti-gay-mar­riage meas­ure in Cali­for­nia. Moz­illa had ap­poin­ted Eich, who cofoun­ded the com­pany, to the ex­ec­ut­ive po­s­i­tion just a week earli­er be­fore its sud­den about-face, which Moz­illa Chair­wo­man Mitchell Baker de­scribed as the best thing “for Moz­illa and our com­munity.”

Wolf went on to say that the the fur­or last week, which in­cluded a de facto ban of Moz­illa’s Fire­fox web browser on the on­line-dat­ing site Ok­Cu­pid, vi­ol­ated the First Amend­ment’s guar­an­tee of free­dom of speech and “was stifling of de­bate, a si­len­cing of dis­sent.”

Wolf isn’t the only politi­cian sound­ing the free-speech alarms so far. Over the week­end, former House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich said Eich was forced to leave Moz­illa due to a “new fas­cism” tak­ing over parts of cor­por­ate Amer­ica that means “[if] you have the wrong views, mean­ing con­ser­vat­ive, you have no ca­reer.”

The Duck Dyn­asty con­tro­versy grew so large last Decem­ber that it evoked re­sponses from pos­sible Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates for the pres­id­ency, in­clud­ing Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as one­time vice pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Sarah Pal­in and, even­tu­ally, even Pres­id­ent Obama.

What We're Following See More »
‘PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE’
Priebus Asks Party to Unite Behind Trump
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
FEELING THE MIDWESTERN BERN
Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.

Source:
TRUMP IS PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE
Ted Cruz Bows Out, Effectively Ceding the Contest to Trump
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."

Source:
TAKES AT LEAST 45 DELEGATES
Trump Wins Indiana, All but Seals the Nomination
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.

Source:
THE QUESTION
What’s the Average Household Income of a Trump Voter?
14 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Seventy-two thousand dollars, according to FiveThirtyEight. That's higher than the national average, as well as the average Clinton or Sanders voter, but lower than the average Kasich voter.

Source:
×