Tagged: Brendan Eich

Speech and counter-speech

Andrew Sullivan has hyperbolized about the resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla.

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.

It’s unclear whether this case has any First Amendment ramifications. But aside from this, what Sullivan (and many other First Amendment absolutists) fail to understand is that no one’s protected speech is protected from other peoples’ equally protected speech. In other words: There is no freedom from the critical speech of other people. You can say/write/express whatever you want, but you have to be prepared to deal with the discursive blowback. Eich apparently decided that the best way to deal with it, from a fiduciary standpoint, was to resign. He is still free to put a soapbox up on any street corner, stand on it, and shout his views to any passerby who stops to listen. He just won’t do it as CEO of Mozilla.