Thursday, April 15, 2021

Free Speech, Christian Style!

I guess when you get right down to it, "free speech" isn't really free. That's the takeaway from MyPillow guy Mike Lindell's latest statements regarding his "free speech" social media platform that he is working on launching. According to Lindell, the site will be moderated along "biblical principles." What does this mean? Well, it seems pretty clear to me that this will be a social media platform specifically for the Poor Oppressed Christians, since I suspect no "free speech" besides theirs will be allowed.

With his new Frank Speech platform set to launch on April 19, Lindell appeared on Eric Metaxas’ radio program Monday to promote it. During the discussion, Lindell revealed that speech on his new platform will not be quite as free as one might have imagined, announcing that users will not be allowed to swear or use the Lord’s name in vain because Frank Speech will be “a Judeo-Christian platform” founded on biblical principles.

“People asked me, ‘You’re going to let everything go? Porn? Swearing? Everything?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not,'” Lindell said. “We have a thing we found in the Constitution and our founding fathers that defines what free speech is. And Eric, get this, this Judeo-Christian platform we’re going to have here, they go by biblical principles—you know, you get to the Supreme Court, you have the 10 Commandments there—so, in other words, you’re not going to have porn up there, you’re not going to have these sites that contain material that go against our Constitution, go against what our founding fathers put in there.”

So let's say I got on and there and pointed out "America is a Christian Nation" is not true because (A) there is no mention of God in the Constitution, and (B) this was affirmed by President and Founding Father John Adams in the 1796 Treaty of Tripli. Would I be allowed to post that bit of "free speech" according to the guidelines above? If the answer is "yes," I'd be forced to give Lindell some props - which I sincerely would hate to do. But it would also surprise me if it's anything but "no" based on how the Poor Oppressed Christians conduct themselves around dissenting opinions.

I will say that even though I love the idea of real "free speech," evidence from the chans and so forth does show that you probably need to ban porn if you want to have any sort of reasonable discussion. Otherwise your site gets overwhelmed by it pretty quickly. The same goes for extremism that blurs the lines between "free speech" as defined in the Constitution and "inciting speech," which is not protected. Basically, I think you realistically need to prohibit those because too many people out there are awful.

“You’re not going to be able to swear,” Lindell added. “There will be four words for sure you can’t say: You can’t say the C-word, the N-word, the F-word, and you can’t use God’s name in vain. What a concept. Right?”

“Wow,” Metaxas responded. “That’s really puritanical. I like it.”

And presumably that means no discussion of religions other than Christianity, since that would violate the First Commandment. And really, that likely means banning "blasphemy" - like, say, atheism - can't be far behind. If I were to post "Atheists aren't atheists because they're 'angry with God,' because how can they be angry with a being that they don't believe exists" would that be allowed? It's completely true - but the Poor Oppressed don't seem to ever get it.

Lindell then insisted that users will also not be allowed to violate the Ninth Amendment by bearing false witness against others on his platform. “What I’m not going to do is suppress true free speech,” he said. “When someone goes out there and says, ‘I don’t like what’s going down at the border,’ or ‘I don’t like that our country was attacked and nobody’s trying to know you did anything about it or is doing anything about it,’ that’s free speech.

Another thing you can’t do [is] what we define in there is totally defame someone. What’s the Ninth Commandment? I can’t even think now, but in the Ninth Commandment, you’re bearing false witness, I believe it is. So, if you’re putting a complete lie against Eric; if I say, ‘Eric Metaxas did something terrible’ and it’s an out and out lie, that’s not free speech. That is not free speech.”

And yet, it should be pointed out that Lindell and his conservative brethren have been opposed to reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine for all media basically since it was removed during the Reagan administration. The "fairness" part of the law is actually pretty easy for news outlets to get around - Fox News does that all the time. You put together a panel with a reasonable liberal and a totally insane conservative and treat them as if the two sides are "fair and balanced." That does satisfy the "both sides" portion, at least according to the letter of the previous law.

But the other part of the Fairness Doctrine was basically the "truth doctrine" which prevented the media from promulgating lies. This is exactly what Lindell is advocating, at least on his own "free speech" platform. For all his ridiculousness on other issues, he at least seems to understand that, like the paradox of tolerance, it's easier to allow "true free speech" in any media format if lies are prohibited. I'm sure that's not how he's going to actually administer the site, but at least he appears to agree on principle.

Canada, by the way, does have a "truth doctrine" law on the books, and I have heard some reports that Fox News dropped its plans to expand into Canada at least in part for that very reason. Many of the claims made on Fox, especially on its "opinion" shows, are flat-out lies. And it should be noted, there is a difference between "in my opinion, xyz should be done" or "in my opinion, more attention should be paid to xyz," and making up "alternative facts" to support your position. As I understand it, Canada's law allows the former but bans the latter.

If Lindell really wants to eliminate "false witness" in the media, not just social media, why not go all in? Rally the conservatives that still follow him to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Or not even that - how about the Truth Doctrine, like they have in Canada? I think he would find that most if not all Democrats support that law and it would only take ten or so Republicans to join them in order to pass it under regular Senate rules. I'll be waiting to see how that goes...

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: