Letters: Will Facebook and Twitter kill democracy in the dark?
In 1991, Chuck Colson delivered a speech for the ages at Harvard Business School. During the course of that speech, he talked about the nature of democracy; a system in which each group within a society is given the opportunity to contend for its values in the public forum. Colson identified himself as a Baptist and a Christian. While he would contend for those values, others would contend for theirs. In the end, those who persuaded the largest number of individuals in the forum of public debate would prevail.
Such systems can only survive when freedom of speech exists.
Unfortunately, we are perilously close to reaching the point where groups within the society are provided the entitlement to deny others the right to speak. For example, Twitter, Facebook, and virtually all of the national media refused to print stories about Hunter Biden prior to the 2020 election. They asserted that the stories were false, even labeling them as “Russian disinformation.” More than 50 former national security officials immediately issued a statement, saying that the story printed in the New York Post evidenced all the signs of a Russian disinformation campaign. But the conclusion of those former “intelligence” officials was not born out by the facts.
The New York Post story was largely true. So the few, most of whom had a pre-existing partisan alignment, were able to deny access to important information to the many, prior to the 2020 Presidential Election.
That is not democracy.
If the Hunter Biden story was a rare example of media censorship, it would not be particularly troublesome. But it is NOT a rare example. Rather, it is becoming the NORM for any story which might conflict with the partisan loyalties of our professional media class.
And, now, we are faced with speech which has been criminalized. There are undoubtedly forms of speech which should be criminalized, but quoting the Bible should not fall into that category. Those who quote the Bible do so because they believe, as have several billion others over the past two millennia, that the Bible is not only a source of ethical guidance, it is the ultimate source of truth for ethical issues. When a group exists in such numbers, we usually would not label it a fringe group. For example, if a devout Muslim were to quote the Koran on some issue, such as women’s attire, or the treatment of infidels, we would accept those views as their sincerely-held beliefs. While we would have the absolute right to disagree with those views, no one should have the right to silence such views in a democracy. Each side should possess an equal right and opportunity to try and persuade others that their views capture the elusive truth Plato believed exists on a different plane than our daily reality.
A member of Finland’s Parliament is now facing up to two years in prison due to quoting the Apostle Paul’s writings, in the Book of Romans, on human sexuality. The wife of a minister, she believes those views to have proceeded from God, the source of all truth, through the Holy Spirit.
While I cannot speak to her motive, I suspect she shared her views on the matter not out of hate, but out of love; out of a belief that failure to align one’s life with God’s inspired word is destructive of those lives which fail to heed the message of Scripture. She would have possessed that right in a real democracy, but when democratic principles are overlaid with hate crime statutes, which memorialize the objectives of a strident secular minority or majority, democracy dies in the dark. It dies because voices, which had once been allowed to contend for their values, are silenced. Canada enacted such laws more than a decade ago, causing certain Christian broadcasts to provide Canadian-only broadcasts for selected topics.
We have all heard America referred to as “the land of the free, and home of the brave.” If we fail to put an end to all of this censorship nonsense, the truly brave will soon lose their freedom in the United States.
Let’s pray it never happens.
— Victor E. Thayer,