Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are the Salem Witch Hunts Now Occurring in California?

I'm all for the transparency of the internet when it's in the cause of a good deed or when a blogger can relay important information (see, for example, my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post about the USO). But I have serious concerns when the transparency leads to Salem-style witch hunts.

Apparently donors to California proposition campaigns are public record. And bloggers have published the names of those who donated to help Prop. 8 (banned same-sex marriage in California) pass.

Some anti-Prop. 8 supporters have been using this information against the donors to the campaign. And Richard Raddon, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, has fallen victim to the witch hunt. Raddon has resigned in the face of the pressure against him.

People's private political views are their own. And as long as these private views do not affect the job they are performing, these views should remain private and NOT be used to force someone out of a job.


Gayle Carline said...

I agree with you in theory, Phyllis. It's just the reality that sometimes gets in my way. For example, my mechanic can believe anything he wants as long as he fixes my car. But what if he's a neo-Nazi and espouses hatred? I don't want to be exposed to that, and I have the right to go to another mechanic. If we all take our business elsewhere and thus force him out of business, is that fair, or right, or moral? Seriously, I'm asking this question because I don't have the answer.

Claire said...

Interesting point, Gayle. But, we all know the mass consensus isn't always right. Taking your own example of Nazis, the whole public records of those who weren't Nazis in Germany got THEM in trouble too. So, in a way, I'm not sure what's the answer here, only that I see that public disclosure can work both ways: to uphold the public good or to uphold the public madness.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Claire --
You have the right not to be exposed to a mechanic's hate views and you can definitely take your business elsewhere. Presumably the mechanic's business would suffer if he went around ranting his hate views.

So in my opinion of course it's fair not to patronize the business of someone whose views are extreme.

On the other hand, I don't think you have the right to stage a demonstration outside of his mechanic's shop insisting that he sell his business to someone with nicer views.

And, Claire, I'm not sure I agree with your example. Nazi Germany was a country that had no free speech, so in my opinion the comparison isn't apt. I'm talking about an example in a country such as the U.S. that has free speech and then that free speech is used by some people to harass other people for exercising their own right to free speech.