Corporate America has a censorship problem

October 17, 2021

Tripwire Interactive CEO John Gibson just became another casualty of cancel culture, which threatens tremendous harm to our civil society and the American way of life.

Gibson’s sin? Expressing support for the Supreme Court’s decision not to block Texas’s recently enacted heartbeat law. For that, he lost his job.

It is a sin of which I am also guilty. As the founder and CEO of a tech, investment, and real-estate firm, I have likewise used my personal Twitter account to express pro-life views, as do millions of people every day.

No one should ever lose their job over such an intrinsically American act. Yet that was the result of Gibson’s tweet stating his opinion. Following his tweet, other companies announced they would no longer work with Tripwire, which led to Gibson’s inevitable exit.

While Gibson was singled out and removed for expressing an opinion that according to Tripwire “disregarded the values of the whole [Tripwire] team,” other companies have decided to take sides on the Texas law regardless of how their actions might conflict with the values of their employees.

More than 50 businesses have signed a letter in public opposition to the law. Bumble is setting up a relief fund for those seeking abortions in Texas. Lyft and Uber announced they would cover legal fees of drivers who might be sued under the new law.

The leaders of these companies are perfectly free to do what they like. They also can be confident they will win accolades from those who share their views.  But what message are they sending to the half of the country that considers itself pro-life? Answer: If you want to work here, keep your mouth shut.

The fact is, when it comes to abortion, the public is anything but monolithic. For me, it is impossible to deny that the life in the womb is a unique human being, and advances in ultrasound technology offer compelling evidence for anyone willing to see. To quote the late left-wing atheist Christopher Hitchens, I believe that “life is a continuum that begins at conception because it can’t begin anywhere else.”

Others have a different point of view and think of the unborn as “uterine content” not worthy of protection. With such a wide range of opinion, we will never reach accommodation on this or any other contentious issue if the public is not allowed to have the kind of freewheeling, robust debate America used to be famous for.

In its statement announcing that Gibson had “stepped down,” Tripwire had the audacity to say it would be “executing a company-wide town hall meeting and promoting open dialogue with Tripwire leadership and all employees.” Open dialogue?

If you were a pro-life employee at Tripwire, how comfortable would you be expressing your opinion at an open company forum after witnessing what happened to the CEO? More to the point, would you bet your job on Tripwire’s commitment to openness?

At my company, we want our people to bring their whole selves to work. Employees are free to express themselves on complex political and social issues.

Indeed, one of the main reasons our company recently moved to Texas was to be in an environment more open to the free expression of individual, social, and political beliefs. I did not want employees, particularly those for whom faith is central to their identity, feeling ostracized in their communities or afraid to express their deeply held beliefs.

Allowing freedom of expression is not just the right thing to do, it is also the right thing for the business. Innovation depends on pushing boundaries. If people find it hard to flourish in any aspect of their lives or worry about what the boss might think about their politics, it is harder for them to reach their full potential.

With today’s deep political and cultural divisions, America needs robust freedom of speech and a good measure of humility in our civic dialogue because no group has a monopoly on truth. It’s time for business leaders from across the political spectrum to fight back and demand that all have the freedom to speak their minds on any issue without fear of retribution.

Peter Rex is founder and CEO of Rex, a tech, investment, and real-estate firm based in Texas.

Washington Examiner

Originally published in

Washington Examiner