Family

The Censoring and Silencing of Conservative Speech

The late Democrat senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” 

But not according to Twitter, the social networking service with 330 million users. 

As I mentioned last week, Focus on the Family’s Daily Citizen was blocked from the site and accused of “hate speech.” 

The tweet in question simply stated, “On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he had chosen Dr. Rachal Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of HHS. Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”  

The tweet pointed to an article at our news outlet, The Daily Citizen, explaining the appointment and Dr. Levine’s controversial history in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary.   

Numerous outlets reported on Levine’ appointment – including President Biden’s White House – noting Dr. Levin’s transgender identification. Many of the articles and tweets explained that Dr. Levin was born male, believed he is really a woman, had surgery and opposite-sex hormones, and now identifies as a woman.   

An attempt for clarification from Twitter about what was “hateful” in the tweet has gone unanswered, and so our Daily Citizen account remains locked. 

We’re not the only outlet being targeted, of course, and not by a long shot. 

On Friday, The Catholic World Report was blocked for the same “violation.” It seems stating facts these days somehow makes you a revolutionary. 

In recent weeks, George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, has come to mind. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Orwell wrote – a rhetorical question that rings chillingly true today. 

How should Christian believers react and respond to this attempt to censor and silence? 

First, I think it’s helpful to put this current challenge in perspective. Cultural clashes have posed problems for Christians from long ago and especially in the early Church.  

The apostle Paul, a man on a mission to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, was not tweeting or posting on Facebook, but he was regularly engaged in debates with political authorities.  He wasn’t shy about sharing his deeply held convictions – and neither should we. 

Paul was polite, though pointed:  

“I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years” (Acts 24:10). But he then proceeded to refute the false evidence presented against him and asked Felix to check the facts for himself. 

We’ve appealed to Twitter, and our case was summarily denied. As I noted, we reached back again to ask them how they would like us to state this fact about Dr. Levine, and, so far, we’ve been met with silence. 

Our comments in The Daily Citizen were not hateful or politically motivated in any way. They simply reflected an understanding of gender that has been recognized and embraced for millennia. This view is not only supported by Scripture, but by centuries of biological science and a commonsense consensus of what it means to be male or female.  

Although this view has fallen out of favor with the gatekeepers of big media, higher education, and big tech, it is a view that continues to be embraced and affirmed by millions of people around the world of every religious and political persuasion. From our perspective, it is the height of arrogance for Twitter to assume it has the right or reason to “ban” discussion of this nature. 

Our friends at the Family Policy Alliance have reached out to many of our fellow laborers to offer a word of encouragement and amplify our appeal to Twitter.  We’re grateful for this generous effort. In recent days, tens of thousands of people have expressed their frustration with big tech – and their confidence in the pursuit of free speech. 

They’ve been promoting the hashtag, #AreWeNext? – a good reminder that if Twitter can silence one group, they can silence others.  

And they probably will. 

I’ve always appreciated Rembrandt’s famous painting, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” It dramatically captures the moment right before Jesus calms the turbulent waters (Mark 4:35-40). 

If you count the number of people in the boat, you’ll note there are 14 – Jesus, His 12 disciples – and Rembrandt. His message then is a good message now – we’re all in the boat together. We’re all being tossed about by the waves, constantly confronting the dangerous tide of the world’s sins and imperfections. 

Yet, because Jesus is in the boat with us, we have nothing to fear – as long as we put our faith in Him. 

The same can be said of our current sparring session with big tech. Be bold, remain principled – but don’t panic. The Lord is with us every step of the way. 

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