Manu Fernandez, Associated Press
People gather in the Firefox booth at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.

Mozilla, the computer web browser giant, has company policies strongly supporting diversity and inclusiveness. But apparently this embraces only a narrowly defined sort of diversity, and people not willing to conform to groupthink on certain litmus-test issues will be forced to leave.

How else to explain why company CEO Brendan Eich, whose credentials include the creation of Javascript, announced his resignation this week after protests arose over contributions he made to the campaign for California’s Proposition 8 six years ago? Proposition 8, passed by a majority of California voters, defined marriage within the California constitution as between a man and a woman. It was subsequently challenged in lower federal courts, a challenge the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand for technical rather than substantive reasons.

No one has accused Eich of practicing any sort of discrimination against gay people, nor has he been a vocal opponent of gay marriage in his capacity as CEO. His only “crime," apparently, was to exercise his legal right to participate in California’s democratic processes in support of a traditional policy viewpoint that captured a majority of voters. Not insignificantly, then-candidate Barack Obama held the same position at the time.

That he could lose his job for such a thing is not only shameful, it’s an affront to basic American principles.

It also sends a chilling message to anyone else who might hold opinions that don’t conform to a politically correct creed of conformity. Change your views or your life will be ruined. Joseph McCarthy would be proud.

How bad did it get for Eich? More than 65,000 people signed a petition on a website appropriately named Credo. It contained this ultimatum: “Eich should make an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality. If he cannot, he should resign.” Anyone who tried to enter the OkCupid dating site was automatically redirected to a letter saying much the same.

Mozilla’s executive chairwoman, Mitchell Baker, said the company didn’t handle the situation well. But she seemed to indicate the company should have moved sooner, not that it should have upheld its now meaningless commitment to diversity.

These are the sorts of tactics normally associated with dictatorships and tyrannical governments. That such things could gain a foothold in the United States is an indication of just how fragile freedom and liberty truly are.