Whatever happened to "I disagree with what you say but I defend your right to say it"?

Consider this scenario:

A man makes a private donation to a political campaign regarding a bill on a contentious subject. For legal and tax purposes, these donations, while private, are recorded by the government. Someone at the government, however, doesn't like the campaign, and leaks the donor list to an activist group which publicizes it and whips up a group of angry protestors to picket outside his house and workplace. Buckling under pressure, the company folds and fires the man for making a private donation to a political cause.

Does that sound just to you?

The man in question was an employee of the Mozilla Corporation who made a political donation in support of Prop 8 in California, a bill opposed to the legalization of gay marraige. The agency which leaked the donor list with his name on it was the IRS. Now, having said that, I'm curious how many people's opinions just changed.

Whatever your thoughts on gay marriage, Prop 8, etc., seriously stop and ask yourselves - is that REALLY what we want this country to turn into? Sign the wrong petition, donate to the wrong candidate or cause - in short, commit thoughtcrime - and the next thing you know, you'll have an angry mob baying at your door and potentially lose your livelihood?

There's a reason we have a private ballot in this country, to prevent intimidation tactics from influencing people's votes. We need to ask ourselves, are we really willing to throw that out the window at the first convenience because it serves a cause we agree with. Curious of others' thoughts on this.

I commented along similar lines in a recent MyTake and the downvotes came piling on. I'm interested to hear one of them say why.



Most Helpful Guy

  • I agree, that's a dangerous precedent to set, basically allowing people to lose their jobs based on the opinions they hold. This is FAR from the only example, this kind of thing has become very common and its not healthy for a free society. I don't care what opinion they held, they should not be fired for it


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What Girls Said 1

  • the right to say it doesn't protect you from social or legally consequences of your words or actions. It protects from prosecution by your government. Everything else is not covered

    I'm sure what happened there was illegal in more than way, but that's a different story. A lot of people seem to think freedom of speech protects them from ever being criticized for their opinions and that's not how it works

    Where I'm from, denying holocaust is illegal. I disagree with that by the way, it shouldn't be but even if i was legal that would mean you can go around telling people it never happened and hitler was great and all but your employer still has the right to fire you for it

    • The only person who ought to have found themselves unemployed here is the IRS agent who broke the law and leaked the donor list. The question I'm asking is in regards to the conduct of private citizens.

      You find out someone privately disagrees with you, votes differently from you. In a free society, the appropriate response to this is not to whip together a rent-a-mob on social media and rally outside their house and workplace, pressuring the company to drop them. Part of living in a free society is acknowledging that not everyone is going to think the same way and tolerating those you disagree with.

    • Show All
    • I've got to ask it, Nalaa.

      If angry mobs can have you fired for who you vote for or what bills you support, then does anyone have political freedom?

      Blacks in the democrat south after the civil war legally had full rights, but no one protected them socially or legally that they could exercise those rights. Did such rights actually exist, then?

    • I couldn't have put it better, @RationalMale. Those rights mean nothing when you're not allowed to exercise them.

What Guys Said 6

  • It's a complex situation.

    Your first paragraph is illuminating, because it highlights the fact that taxation and freedom of speech (or freedom in general) are incompatible. Even if the government had not leaked the list, the legal requirements imposed by the government still would have violated freedom of speech. So, yes, the government is wrong for leaking the list. But, the government is wrong to impose any of these requirements anyway.

    But, that's different from private action. A non-violent protest or a non-violent boycott does not violate anyone's rights, though note that many people don't understand what a non-violent protest actually is: trespass, for example, or fraud (such as in that American case of the pizzeria, which suffered numerous fraudulent pizza orders) is not non-violent. Nor does firing an employee whatever the motivation violate anyone's rights, provided that doing so is not in breach of any contract (such as the contract between the employer and the employee or between the management and the stockholders).

    So, yes, I do agree with that quotation, but many people on all sides of these numerous controversies don't understand what rights actually are.

  • it is sick, if you don't like what ever cause is being pitched you are instantly called a bigot or intolerant. You know what it reminds me of? The French revolution where they were killed anybody that spoke against the revolution

  • Political correctness.

    It's still there, but you always have to defend it.

    Also, people don't like confrontation so they'd rather agree in public/disagree behind closed doors than fight.

  • The problem is everyone is so quick to call anyone bigots for disagreeing with them.(which is hypocritical). They use open mindedness as an excuse to perform medically proven unsafe behaviors.

  • Because no one agrees with Voltaire sadly /: not in action anyways

  • It never existed!