Free speech guaranteed by government, not private organizations; social pressure indicates acceptable views

Ian Zulick and Ian Zulick

Again, a major figure in the public sphere is facing ridicule for his position on marriage equality.

Some months ago, it was “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson for going on a shamefully ignorant rant about both homosexuality and the Jim Crow south and summarily being suspended from A&E; today, it’s the now-former CEO of Mozilla Firefox, Brendan Eich, being deposed for a contribution he made to pass Prop 8 in California nearly a decade ago.

And again, a staggering number of people are rushing to his defense. Newt Gingrich even went so far as to declare his more or less forced resignation “a blatant example of the New Fascism.”

I’ve always been a proponent of free speech, as I would hope everyone else has been; however, my issue with this debate is twofold.

Firstly, this has nothing to do with the first amendment because the government did not fire Brendan Eich; nor did they remove Phil Robertson from the air.

The opponents of marriage equality have become so ensconced in the idea of being an oppressed minority that they seem to have forgotten who the real oppressed minority is.

Now this might seem like an entirely subjective judgment, but bear with me.

Yes, I understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, but I think the aforementioned opponents make a mistake by attempting to equate having to answer for an unpopular opinion before the general populace with a tyranny of the majority.

This is a false equivalency. There is a difference between the social prohibition of a viewpoint and the legal prohibition of a viewpoint.

It is not against the law to insinuate that God is on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side for defending the repression of, and violence against, homosexuals as Pat Buchanan recently did. It’s not against the law for former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann to set up “pray away the gay” organizations aimed at “rehabilitating” homosexuals. It’s not against the law for the Westboro Baptist Church to protest the funerals of dead soldiers and claim that their deaths are some kind of twisted divine recompense for our tolerance of homosexuality; but try to get married and legitimize your love for someone of the same sex in the eyes of society in 33 of our 50 states, well now you’re a law-breaking fascist.

I think it’s pretty obvious who the oppressor is and who is the oppressed. But that’s really only part of the issue.

Enter my second reservation about this debate. I think I’ve been clear about my feelings on the ideological end of the spectrum, but as is often the case, things are rarely what they seem.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think, if the majority of people in America were intolerant of homosexuality, Phil Robertson would never have been suspended and Brendan Eich would never have had to resign; even if A&E’s vaunted support for marriage equality was still present.

When one considers entities as big and wealthy as Firefox or A&E, it’s not about justice or morality; it’s about money.

A&E’s gesture to suspend Robertson was ultimately a hollow one. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last; after all, it would be against their interests to slaughter their golden goose, as it were.

Nevertheless, this proves that A&E doesn’t care anything for justice or marriage equality because they are not willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Unfortunately however, this is the reality of the free market: it does not care about your ideology.

If what you think is not profitable, it will be canned; whether you’re right or wrong.

We may need to tolerate the existence of all viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean we need to hold them all to be equal.

Racists must once have felt oppressed when racial slurs were no longer accepted in mainstream society.

Now, it has become socially prohibitive to be against marriage equality, and rightly so.

If the kind of absolute tolerance existed that the opponents of marriage equality desire, we could never guarantee the security of anyone’s rights for fear of treading on the rights of others.

We have many rights in this country, but among them is certainly not the right to be agreed with.

If you have the ability to keep one group from having the same rights as everyone else, you are, by default, in the position of the oppressor, not of the oppressed.

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