The Softer Side of Show Trials, brought to you by your Friends at Mozilla

When Hollywood folks think of show trials, they automatically relive the McCarthy hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee back in the 1950s.  When a student of Russian history hears the term, she’s apt to think about Stalin’s Show Trials of the 1930’s.  But let’s not go there, right?  Those were nasty affairs that usually ended with executions after perfunctory trials that declared the defendants “enemies of the people.”

There’s a more “civilized and softer” side to the idea of show trials, which was brought to us this week by Mozilla.  It means that when someone carries a belief in his heart that doesn’t meet the approval of the preachers of political correctness, he’s merely forced to resign from his job.  In this case, the person supported the idea — shocking! — that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that he kept quiet about his beliefs, the thought reformers made a point of “outing” him for his thought crimes. That’s what happened to Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.  We know he contributed towards Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage traditionally.  But we don’t technically know how Eich voted on it because we all still technically have the right to a secret ballot.  Or are you beginning to wonder?

Mark Steyn had a great post about this today, called “Celebrate Conformity.”

In any case, the real purpose of Eich’s public smearing is to warn and threaten anyone else who might go against the PC machine.  That’s basically the same purpose of a show trial. The punishment is social isolation.  The reward is having the virtual gun taken from your head — and pointed at someone else’s head.  The instinct is to give in and shut up.

But coercive persuasion is pure poison. We must not drink it.  The more we give in to the urge to remain silent or change our views in order to survive socially, the more we feed the Spiral of Silence.  And that’s a death spiral for freedom.  It tightens the noose and enslaves us further.   The only antidote is to reach out one on one to others — starting with those who like you and trust you — and let them know what you believe.  Even if they don’t agree, they need to hear it from you. And those who do agree are so grateful — and emboldened — to know they’re not alone.

If we don’t speak up, we can’t live free.

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