8 Recent Examples of Liberals Behaving Illiberally
Diversity. Tolerance. Open-mindedness. These values have been the benchmarks of American liberalism, until recently.
Liberals are increasingly characterized by demands for homogeneity and intolerance of those who disagree with them. These liberals say that those who do not agree with them, even their fellow liberals, must be silenced, driven from the public square, and forced out of their jobs.
Here are eight recent examples:
1. Swarthmore student is bothered by diversity and tolerance at a liberal arts school
In February, Swarthmore students had the privilege of hearing a debate between two highly esteemed Princeton professors from different sides of the political spectrum – Dr. Robert P. George, a conservative, and Dr. Cornel West, a liberal. (The two men also happen to be old friends.)
In reaction to the debate, one student told the student newspaper that she was "really bothered" with "the whole idea ... that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion."
"I don't think we should be tolerating [George's] conservative views ...," she added.
2. Harvard student denounces academic freedom
In February, Sandra Korn, a Harvard student and editorial writer for the student newspaper, decried the "liberal obsession" with academic freedom. Instead of academic freedom, Korn called for a standard of "academic justice," in which the academic community, which includes students, faculty and workers, decide which research and researchers will and will not be allowed on college campuses.
3. Philosophy professor says global warming skeptics should be imprisoned
Lawrence Torcello, assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, argued in March that there should be criminal penalties for those who are part of a campaign proffering an alternative point of view to those who say human contributions to global warming are causing catastrophic events. In the example he used, the penalty was imprisonment.
4. Stanford students try to prevent pro-traditional marriage speakers from speaking on campus
When the Stanford Anscombe Society announced plans to hold a conference promoting "the values of marriage, family, and sexual integrity," with a list of speakers who support the traditional definition of marriage, students tried to prevent the event from happening.
For those students, the SAS desire "to engage in intellectual and civil discourse about the issues of marriage, family, and sexual integrity," went too far.
After hearing complaints from those students, the Graduate Student Council revoked the $600 funding for the event. After the SAS found other sources of funding, the Council then imposed a $5,600 security fee on the group.
After SAS wrote a letter to the provost calling the fee a tax on free speech, Stanford administrators said they "found more funds to subsidize the full cost of the security."
5. Ezra Klein is criticized for hiring a gay man who has different opinions than most gays
For illiberal liberals, it is not just conservatives who must avoid holding alternative points of view. Ezra Klein, who recently left his work as a liberal columnist for The Washington Post to start Vox.com, was pressured to not hire Brandon Ambrosino.
Ambrosino is a gay man who revealed his same-sex attraction while attending Liberty University, an Evangelical school founded by Pastor Jerry Falwell. He is liberal and supports same-sex marriage, but he should not have his new job, some gay rights activists claimed, because of some divergent viewpoints.
What did Ambrosino write that was so offensive to some? The following:
- He said that opposition to same-sex marriage does not necessarily make one a "homophobe."
- Regarding Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's controversial remarks about homosexuality, he wrote: "Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them?"
- He claimed he is gay by choice, not because he was born that way.
- He said he enjoyed attending Liberty University and wrote some nice things about Jerry Falwell.
6. Denying parents the right to homeschool teaches tolerance and diversity, the Obama administration argued
In court cases involving the Romeikes, a German homeschooling family that was seeking asylum in the United States, the Obama administration supported the reasoning of a German court opinion arguing that banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse viewpoints.
Germany's law banning homeschooling has merit, the U.S. Department of Justice argued in its legal brief, because it brings "people of differing views together to learn from each other and to learn to accept those whose views differ from their own."
"Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen of Germany," the DOJ continued.
In other words, the DOJ believes that the German government's intolerance of homeschoolers teaches tolerance and it values diversity by making homeschooled children accept views that are different than their own.
7. Wedding photographers, bakers and florists are forced to serve same-sex weddings or be put out of business
In three recent cases, a wedding photographer, baker and florist have been taken to court for declining to serve same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs. In all three cases, the service providers said the issue was not with serving gays, but with serving a same-sex wedding ceremony. Also in all three cases, the clients easily found alternative providers.
8. Mozilla CEO is forced out of his job because he supported traditional marriage
In 2008, Brendan Eich gave $1,000 to a political campaign in support of California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
After Eich was hired last month as the new CEO of Mozilla, the company that makes the Firefox web browser, liberals were outraged and demanded that he be fired. A person that would give $1,000 in defense of a position that was held at the time by a majority of California voters and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama should not be allowed to lead an internet company, they claimed.
What is unclear from this episode is whether the protesters believe: Eich should be allowed to work at all; the 35,000 people who gave money in support of Proposition 8 should be allowed to have a job; or the seven million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 should all be fired.
The company announced Friday that Eich was stepping down from his position. In explaining the decision, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that her company has a "culture" that "reflects diversity and inclusiveness," they "welcome contributions from everyone regardless of ... religious views," and their employees hold "a wide diversity of views."
This diversity of views does not, apparently, include views about state recognition of same-sex marriage.