Archives For Freedom of Speech

Covington student, Nicholas Sandermann’s $250 million defamation case against The Washington Post was dismissed late last month, after a federal judge ruled that the Washington Post hadn’t slandered Sandermann in its reporting of the infamous, so-called “standoff” between himself and Native American, Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Saurabh Sharma of the Dailycaller said, the ‘judge threw out the case’ saying that The Washtington Post didn’t defame the Covington students, but were irresponsible with their use of ‘’loose, figurative,’’ and ‘’rhetorcial hyperbole”. [i]

This is despite The Washington Post, along with some Twitter users and others within the mainstream media, using short viral video clips of the event, to portray the MAGA hat wearing school kids as racists.

Rollingstone, while acknowledging that the incident seemed to have been provoked by members of the Black Israelite movement, were also quick to draw the racist narrative around the Covington School students, stating, ‘the video is a disturbing and eerie echo of angry white mobs yelling at Black Americans for protesting Jim Crow-era discrimination.’ [ii]

While Buzzfeed managed to steer around defaming the students, it’s obvious that Buzzfeed reporters shared similar conclusions. By using viral video clips from the event, they upheld the presumption of guilt, by inferring that racist claims made against the Catholic students we legitimate.

The initial Buzzfeed article made specific mention of the student’s ethnicity, pointing out that ‘nearly all were white and wearing pro-Trump gear, chanting at and mocking Native American, Nation Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.’[iii]

Buzzfeed also appear to have supported interpretations drawn from one of the videos of the students, which claimed that Sandermann was ‘smirking’ in a “racist way” at Phillips, who was branded a peacemaker during the incident. Like many in the mainstream media, this was apparently enough proof for Buzzfeed to spread the newspeak narrative of white privilege, hate, oppression and racism: the Covington students were white, Christian, and Trump supporters, ergo they must also be racists.

Buzzfeed updated their original piece with a link to a video which shows ‘more context’, admitting that the incident ‘was more confusing than the viral clips made it seem’. Buzzfeed also reported that ‘teen’s family will be appealing the decision to dismiss the case, with one of the family’s lawyers saying, “the law must protect innocent minors targeted by journalists publishing click bait sensationalized news.”

The Washington Post, like many of the Left’s leaders on Twitter, did the equivalent of whipping the crowd up into a frenzy, handing them a lynch rope, then when the facts came to light, quietly slipped out the back door. Later to be dismissed from having to take any responsibility because of an appeal to freedom of speech, and literary license.

The case dismissal is good news for The Washington Post. The outcome could also be viewed as good news for the future of freedom of speech.

However, it’s doubtful that the reasons for this “win”, based on an appeal to first amendments rights and literary license, will be allowed as a defense for Pastors and Christian writers when producing literature that criticizes sin from a Biblically Christian perspective.

Especially when their publications involve proclaiming The Gospel in its unique redemptive critique of human sin such as greed, adultery, homosexuality, pride, envy, slander, idolatry – a critique now largely rejected and found “hateful” and “harmful” by the Left, because of its no questions asked embrace of the LGBT religion, Islamism and related regressive, progressive ideologies.


References:

[i] Sharma, S. 2019.  The Washington Post Won Its Case Against The Covington Catholic Kids, But A Federal Judge Had Some Choice Words For The Outlet, Daily Caller, 12th August, 2019

[ii] Wade, P. 2019. Judge Dismisses Covington Student’s Lawsuit Against ‘Washington Post’ RollingStone, 27th July, 2019

[iii] Reinstein, J. & Baer, S.K. 2019.  The MAGA Hat–Wearing Teens Who Taunted A Native American Elder Could Be Expelled Buzzfeed, 19th January, 2019.

Photo by Irina Vinichenko on Unsplash

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th August 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Israel Folau isn’t alone in his struggle against the Leftist establishment and its newspeak. British Philosopher, and Leftist turned conservative, Sir Roger Scruton lost his U.K Government role as Housing Adviser, after criticizing George Soros and asserting that

“Islamophobia was an attempt to control conversation by making any and all criticism of Islam or Muslims a social pathology. (The same is true with all these absurd, politicized -phobias.)”

There have also been calls for Scruton’s knighthood to be revoked.

As Scruton and Muslim writer, Ismail Royer point out.

“[In the minds of the Muslim Brotherhood it’s] impossible for anyone to write critically about Islam, or the deeds of Muslims, in good faith. The only acceptable angle was flattery” (Scruton)

“The Scruton affair illustrates a mindset afflicting many modern Muslims. As @ScholarsInk points out, this is a man who has engaged in substantive dialogue with Islamic scholars. It’s a problem that many Muslims find anything other than flattery to be absolutely intolerable.” (Royer)

While the Leftist establishment’s contempt for Scruton remains high, support for Scruton continues to not only remain consistent, but is on the increase.

Thanking supporters, he took to Twitter writing:

“Thank you to the many people from around the world, who have sent messages of support in this time of persecution. And apologies to the mob for having survived it.”

Scruton is well acquainted with the ‘Leftist vision’, commenting about his time writing with the ‘underground networks of communist Europe’ in his book, ‘Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left’ (2015)[1],

[“My involvement] had brought me face to face with destruction, and it was obvious to most people who troubled to expose themselves to this destruction that leftist ways of thinking were the ultimate cause of it […] We should not be surprised that, when the communists seized power in Eastern Europe, their first task was to decapitate the little platoons – so that Kádár, when Minister of the Interior in the 1948 government in Hungary, managed to destroy five thousand in a single year.
Newspeak[2], which sees the world in terms of power and struggle, encourages the view that all associations not controlled by the righteous leaders are a danger to the state. And by acting on this view you make it true. When the seminar, the troop or the choir can meet only with the permission of the Party, the Party automatically becomes their enemy. In this way, it seems to me, it is not an accident that the triumph of leftist ways of thinking has so often led to totalitarian government.”

Scruton’s argument is confirmed by the Tienanmen Square massacre, which happened, but “officially” never happened. The Hungarian revolt of 1956, and the violent suppression of it by the Soviet Union, and its puppet Socialist Hungarian administration. The violence was downplayed by French Communists, such as Jean Sartre, and was largely ignored or dismissed by the Left in the West.

In response to the violent Communist suppression of the Hungarian people, French existentialist and philosopher, Albert Camus, himself once a golden boy of the French Leftist establishment, wrote,

‘We must admit that today conformity is on the Left.
To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereo-typed replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.
The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless even harmful. None of the evils of totalitarianism (defined by the single party and the suppression of all opposition) claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself.’[3]

Roger Scruton and Israel Folau are high profile examples who should garner support from every quarter, because if they are allowed to be thrown under blade of the guillotine, by the mob and it’s “people’s court”, we all lose.


References:

[1] Scruton, Roger. 2015. Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Bloomsbury Publishing

[2] ‘The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom’s ironical words, has been ‘to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things – fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words.’ (ibid, 2015)

[3] Camus, A. 1961 Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays; ‘Hungary: Socialism of the Gallows’, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1960 First Vintage International Edition

Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

(Also posted on The Caldron Pool, 8th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The LGBT community’s grievances and the reason for their sensitivity regarding the Israel Folau controversy are understandable.

A non-biblical version of sin has been misused over the years to beat people down, not bring them the to faith and repentance. (See Psychiatrist, Karl Menninger’s ‘Whatever became of Sin?’, 1976)

That historical misuse, however, doesn’t justify the unjust writhing and screaming being thrown towards Folau.

None of this justifies dehumanizing a man and taking away his bread and butter.

None of this justifies any corporation such as Qantas, bullying, via economic sanctions, companies they do business with, such as Rugby Australia.

As far as Qantas goes, their double standard is more than a little bit strange.

Alan Jones is right.

“Isn’t Qantas in partnership with a national airline whose government imposes laws infinitely more damaging to homosexuals than Israel’s utterance of his biblical beliefs?”

As I noted a few days back, Folau quoting from the Bible on his own personal Instagram page, is between him, Instagram and those who follow his social media account. It doesn’t involve the R.A, the L.G.B.T lobby or even Qantas.

This event proves the truth of the Galatians quote Israel posted. The biblical doctrine of sin, as a rejection of grace, a rejection of relationship, a rejection of both God and neighbour, is more relevant than ever. Sin divides, destroys and consumes those who entertain it.

The equality of the Biblical doctrine of sin is that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and yet, because of God’s decision to save humanity, in and through Jesus Christ, redemption from that sin is given and found (Romans 3:23). This is the crux of the Easter message heard around the world on Good Friday, Black Saturday and Resurrection Sunday.

As Jean Bethke Elshtain once said, ‘when we start to regard ourselves in our own light, our light dims’.[1]

Michael Horton echoed the same sentiment in his book, ‘Christless Christianity’,

“Coming to God as consumers saved by following the instructions on the product label rather than as sinners saved by grace is not only the essence of human sin, it does not even deliver on its own promises of liberation. Instead it drives us deeper into ourselves […] Keeping us from ever being disrupted by someone greater than ourselves or by something more wonderful than our own half-hearted achievements’[2]
‘It is the false prophets who “dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious” (Jer.18:11). It is not compassion for the people or zeal for God’s house but their own thirst for popularity that renders the false prophets constitutionally incapable of telling the truth about the crisis. Enclosed in our narrow world of personal spin, we are never introduced to the real world created by God’s Word […] Both sin and redemption are trivialized when we write the script.’[3]

This speaks to the left, the right, the up and the down.

Hence, the call to faith, obedience and prayer; the call to repentance; the call to transformation and the call to embrace God’s costly grace that embraces us in, through and with Jesus Christ.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that the sinner should turn from his and her way and live (Ezekiel 18:23)[4].

We hear the Old Testament prophets reminding us that the world must not fall into ignorance and complacency. The pain and suffering of history is broadcasting warnings into the present; warnings about the ensuing calamity caused by ideological crusades that have enslaved men and women, under the promise of establishing ‘God’s Kingdom without God in it’[5].

Of all the current commentary surrounding Israel Folau, including my own, Alan Jones wins the final word:

“If Israel Folau is not free to state his religious views, let alone Christian views, then we are all in trouble. It would be helpful if people analyzed what he said before condemning him to rugby oblivion.”

References:

[1]  Elshtain, J.B. 1995 ‘Augustine & The Limits of Politics’  (pp.11, 66 & 62)

[2] Horton, M. 2008 Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Baker Books Baker Book Publishing (p.246)

[3] Ibid, p.242

[4] Ambrose of Milan, ‘On Repentance’

[5] Johnny Cash & U2, The Wanderer “they want the kingdom, but they don’t want God in it”.

(Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 18th April, 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

In August 1939, the Soviets signed a non-aggression treaty with the Nazis. This treaty was called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and it allowed the Soviets room to explore Stalin’s expansionist policies. Largely hidden behind the grotesque Abyss of National Socialism’s dark reach for Europe in 1940, Stalin’s Communist forces moved into Poland, and Finland.  The Soviet offensive against Poland began in September, 1939; the offensive against Finland (known as The Winter War) began in November.

Unlike, Poland, Finland had the benefit of only fighting a war on one front. ‘The Winter War’ ended five months later. Finland lost some territory, but kept her sovereignty intact. Poland wasn’t as fortunate.

In September of 1939, the Eastern Soviet offensive against Poland was joined by the Nazi invasion of Poland from the West. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop non-aggression Pact, Poland was violently split in two. This was until the treaty was torn up, and the once aligned enemies took to each other’s throats.

Once Poland fell, the Polish people were subjected to the tyranny and brutality of both Nazi and Soviet imperialism.

The suffering of the Polish people is one of the most underrated facts of 20th Century history.

One event that illustrates this was the Katyn Massacre. On the 13th April 1940, Soviet authorities executed 22,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals in Katyn Forest, near Smolensk, Russia.

Throughout the 1940’s the Soviets maintained that the massacre of Katyn was a Nazi war crime. They continued to deny responsibility, despite both, “German and Red Cross investigations of the Katyn corpses that had produced firm physical evidence that the massacre took place in early 1940, at a time when the area was still under Soviet control.” (Benjamin Fischer, CIA Study Centre)

Stuck between two ravenous wolves, the Polish people were torn away from their freedom, and slowly devoured. After the war, and as part of Stalin’s expansionist greed, Poland became a puppet Soviet state, doomed to 44 years of Communist serfdom, and Soviet suspicion, behind the USSR’s “antifascist protective rampart”: The Iron Curtain.

Few remember the massacre of Katyn, and the unprovoked suffering of the Polish people under both Nazi and Soviet rule. Even fewer know about it.

It’s this kind of ignorance of history that invites tyranny. The very thing that threatens to burn the West once again is the asinine denial about how easy it is to be seduced into becoming complicit with evil deeds, by those who command them to be carried out.

The widespread condemnation of Australian footballer, Israel Folau took the headlines this week. Political leaders and journalists, including prominent Christian leaders took to the spotlight and castigated a man for quoting from the Bible on social media.

Tom Decent from the Sydney Morning Herald, was among the worst. His use of   the buzzwords, “duel national” and “anti-gay” stopped just short of adding the words “terrorist” and “extremist”, along with inevitable demands attached to them, such as “remove Folau’s citizenship.”

Hillsong’s, Pastor Brian Houston, also chimed in. He who used the opportunity to preach at Folau about not being judgmental, stating that “Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul, all kept their harshest criticism for those who were religious and judgmental.” This is tantamount to saying that the only people who Jesus called to repentance were the religious and the judgmental.

What Houston and many others have failed to acknowledge is that Falou posted the quote on his personal Instagram account. Had this outrage been about one of Houston’s sermons, or books, it’s almost guaranteed that he would be in public relations overdrive pushing back by appealing to the context of where, when and why his words were said.

What Folau said wasn’t wrong. Where he said it, and how he said it raises questions, particularly about the wisdom behind posting it in an age where victimhood is a commodity, and enabling the perpetually offended, leads to political profit, or professional advancement.

However, serious consideration should be given to that fact that the quote wasn’t posted by Folau to pro-LGBT facebook pages. The quote wasn’t posted as a deliberate attack on any pro-LGBT internet forums, nor was his post part of a manipulative political press release, designed to attack the sexual preferences and lifestyle choice of the homosexual community.

Folau shared the quote from Galatians with his Instagram followers. If he was attempting to remind anyone in particular of Paul’s words, it was the sinner. Of which Folua is among the first to confess that he is one.

Firing Folau for quoting Galatians 5:19-21 on his personal Instagram account is not only a warning sign of things to come, it’s also petty and weak.

As for the Biblical text, Paul’s words and their context, there is nothing more inclusive, all troubling, and all embracing, of every human than the fact that,

‘…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.’ (Romans 3:23-25, ESV)

The true equality of humanity is the condition of the human heart, as it exists before God, in the light of God’s acts in and through Jesus Christ, acts that cannot be reversed, but acts that can be rejected; acts that are rejected by every unrepentant sinner.

The outrage and actions which followed Israel’s post, are a warning, not just to Christians, but to all those who choose freedom of speech, over-against towing the line of LGBT religious dogma. What this tells non-Christians is that their pro-LGBT position will not exempt them from the imposition of new cultural laws in the West, which will see a serious decline in freedom of thought, conscience and speech.

This is evidenced by the dismissing of those who support Israel Folau and threats made against Israel Folau’s wife.

As I said in 2017, a “no” to SSM is a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it. Since then the quest to erode freedom shows that those living in the West may fast be approaching a time when they have to choose between surrendering to tyranny and pushing back against it.

No matter how Pro-LGBT, or how Pro-Islam, you are, if you’re not practicing the lifestyle the ideology of that community preaches, you’re the enemy and they will come for you, your job, your family and your freedom.

Such is the misery behind the masquerade.

The current trajectory is that speech will be policed and thought will be controlled. This is seen in the punitive measures taken against those who publicly disagree with the predominately Leftist way of thinking. Such as the censoring of Conservative voices on social media.

All of which is echoed in historical precedents, such as the 1937 edit of Hans Kerrl, Nazi Minister for Church Affairs:

“The Church’s proclamation [preaching/teaching; Gospel & service] must fall into the correct relationship with National Socialism [or else].”
(Bethge, E. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. p.575)

Few remember the massacre of Katyn or the Soviet treaty with Nazi Germany. Even fewer know that it happened.

It’s this kind of ignorance of history that invites tyranny. The very thing which threatens to burn the West once again, is the asinine denial about how easy it is to become complicit with evil deeds, alongside those who command them.

The consequence of an arrogant society believing that Pride wins, and that somehow, we’ve evolved past the atrocities of Nazi Germany, and the ability to inflict the same kind of suffering experienced by the Polish people, is history repeating itself.

The West is like Poland in 1940. Every year it moves closer to being stuck between two ravenous wolves; one eager to enslave, convert by force and conquer. The other happy hiding its insidious designs behind a veil of tolerance, inclusion, appeasement and false portrayal of those with contradicting opinions.

“The truth has always been the truth, just as 2 × 2 = 4”
(Leo Tolstoy, 1882 A Confession)


(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 15th April 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

American conservative media organization, PragerU, is facing an uphill battle against an increasing trend towards censorship of conservative content.

Founded by Dennis Prager in 2009, and currently run by CEO, Marissa Streit, PragerU provides commentary and information on a wide range of subjects, from prominent thinkers and doers. PragerU also considers themselves to be a platform for the preservation of Judeo-Christian values, and “the concepts of freedom of speech, a free press, free markets and a strong military to protect and project those values.” (PragerU ‘What we Do)

In an official Facebook post from January 26th, 2019, PragerU admins wrote:

“PragerU has officially filed a new lawsuit against Google and YouTube in the state of California [over unjustifiable censorship].

Adding that, streaming service, Spotify:

“has completely banned PragerU from advertising its content. This is clearly in line with the censorship we’ve experienced on Youtube, Google, and Twitter.” (PragerU Facebook)

According to a PragerU Twitter post, Spotify’s reason for blacklisting the organization, was because their content didn’t ‘comply’ with Spotify’s editorial policies. Consequently, Spotify “stopped all existing ads, and stated that they will not be approving any new ones.” (PragerU Twitter) Not only this, but as of the January 26th, PragerU, “still hadn’t received any explanation from Spotify as to which specific policy we didn’t comply with.” (PragerU Facebook)

PragerU’s battle against censorship began in 2016[i], with decisions from YouTube to place some PragerU content in the “restricted mode” category. Videos like ‘Don’t Feminists Fight For Muslim Women?’ and ‘Are the Police Racist?, among 100 others, such as the counter Marxist, Jordan Peterson, information video, ‘Dangerous People Are Teaching Your Kids’ and ‘The Suicide of Europe’, are deemed by Google as being “inappropriate for the younger audiences.”[ii]

Since 2016, PragerU has experienced controversy after controversy, with other social media platforms also restricting PragerU content. Facebook removed videos from PragerU’s three million plus, strong Facebook page, only later reinstating those videos, along with an apology, because “the videos in question were mistakenly removed. While we continue to research what caused this error, we have restored the content because it does not break our Community Standards[iii]

If you’re up to date with the developing concerns over big tech companies threatening to censor conservative content, and big tech companies actually censoring conservative content, you’ll know that an ambiguous reason like, “mistakenly removed”, in all probability means, “removed by an employee, who took personal offence to the content, acted unanimously, making a subjective (highly unprofessional) decision to delete it.”

Although, in this case, Facebook deserves kudos for acknowledging the error and fixing it; the increase in uncalled for restrictions on content that challenges the overarching ideological predisposition of the big tech companies, should be of deep concern to everyone. It is a direct threat to the right to freedom of information, freedom of speech, and the right to come to conclusions independent of those who may seek to make us co-dependent on them.

For now, PragerU, and organizations like Caldron Pool are free to publish content in line with the values and faith that made, and still makes, the West a destination for many.

For now, PragerU stands as a city on a hill, at the forefront of a conflict that is unnecessary, unethical and uncalled-for. Even though doors are being shut on PragerU, as long as PragerU stands by its mandate, as outlined in their mission statement, they will continue to be that city, providing an open door for discussion, which runs against the stream.


References:

[i] The Federalist, sourced 4th February, 2019

[ii] PragerU Petition, YouTube Continues to restrict many PragerU videos, sourced 4th February, 2019

[iii] Business Insider, sourced 4th February, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, 4th February, 2019 under the heading: PragerU’s Uphill Battle Against Censorship As Ads are Permabanned by Spotify

If you’re not really into Information Technology and are not aware of what the Golden Shield project is, you’re forgiven. The majority of Chinese people either don’t care or aren’t aware of its existence either.

The Golden Shield Project is Communist China’s massive firewall. It’s designed to keep a lid on dissent and ward off foreign influence on Chairman Mao’s, carefully constructed Communist culture, which was largely forced on the Chinese people during the Marxist/Maoist Cultural Revolution[1].

Some basic history: ‘The Golden Shield project has been in development since the 1990s’[i]. According to a Tom McDonald field study published by the University College of London (UCL) in 2016, ‘The Golden Shield Project is the best-known mechanism of Chinese state control over the internet…though most Chinese people are unaware of its existence, those who are, are largely unconcerned about it.’ (ibid)[2]

Both the UCL study (p.147) and Stanford’s Torfox, state that the ‘self-censorship[3] by Chinese internet users, is essentially the byproduct of both Government censorship’ and an unspoken social media etiquette within China, which views ‘posts regarding news, politics and current affairs as inappropriate’ (p.148).

Whilst the UCL study and Stanford’s Torfox online articles don’t talk in an outright manner, about the role fear plays in self-censorship, with what has happened to China’s Uighurs (Muslim community), and the continued harassment of churches, and house churches, along with the imprisonment of Christians, it’s fair to assume that fear of the Socialist State, plays a sizeable role. Heavy Government restrictions[4] on internet use, means online dissent against the Communist Regime is rare. (As a side note to reasons for how fear plays a role in self-censorship, Communist Chinese authorities also silently encourage doxing. It’s labeled, ‘online vigilante justice’, called “Human Flesh Search Engines“.)

Of the two reports, only Torfox makes the suggestion that self-censorship is the result of compliance with totalitarian Government:

‘What makes the Great Firewall of China so effective (and controversial) is not only its complex technology but also the culture that the system engenders – a culture of self-censorship.  The Chinese government mandates that companies be responsible for their public content.  In other words, it is the job of these companies to make sure that their online portals do not contain any prohibited topics or obscenities.  Leading online news media in China, such as Xinhuanet.com, Chinadaily.com.cn, Chinanews, and Baidu.com obediently follow the government’s decree, pledging that they “will make the Internet a vital publisher of scientific theories… maintain social stability, and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society” (Torfox, Stanford).

Tom McDonald’s field study published by UCL also hints at this reasoning:

‘limiting users access to social media platforms, and certain types of content appearing within them, in order to promote  a social media aligned to both the state and family interests,  was only one aspect of state control. Another method was by populating these platforms with content – propaganda and ‘patriotism’ (p.151) […] ‘Most social media posts about politics are nationalistic. There were very few posts that directly criticized the central government, or policies and attitudes of the state’ (p.161).

There are three good reasons why you should be aware of The Golden Shield Project. First, the project is “supported” by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies. Second, it’s a Communist tool used not just to suppress free speech[5], but create and police, a culture of total compliance with Government approved thought, speech and content. What makes this second point even more alarming is that the technology used for The Golden Shield Project is now being exported. Third, the Golden Shield Project is promoted as being something that upholds family values, while underneath this the Government enforces the socialist state, through total surveillance, and sleight of hand, statist propaganda[6].

Although I use the word, “supported” cautiously, it may not come as a complete surprise that the Golden Shield Project is supported by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies.

According to Torfox, ‘transnational Internet corporations such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft are also subjected to self-censorship regulations.  Although censorship is very much against Western ideology, the size of the Chinese market is too profitable for the companies to bypass these opportunities.’ (Torfox, Stanford)

This raises the question, does participating in active censorship, and complying with China’s Golden Shield Project, make these Western, and largely Leftist companies, hypocrites? Further, does this active compliance mean that participating companies are profiteering from an oppressive regime?

Put another way, does the active compliance of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, and Nortel Networks, with China’s Golden Shield Project (which is designed to abolish, punish, and silence dissent, ‘and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society’) mean that these big tech companies, are profiteering from oppression?

Or, as Grant Clark from Bloomberg suggests, are these companies to be viewed also as victims of China’s Communist heavy restrictions?

Simple examples of this compliance include, when Winnie the Pooh, was temporarily banned in  2017.

More complex data shows Google actively blocking the use of its search engine to look up words unapproved by the Chinese Communist Government.

As highlighted by Harvard’s 2002 comprehensive list of searches blocked by Google in China, by request of the Chinese Communist Government. (Complete Chart) Top Ten:

1. Tibet
2. Taiwan
3. equality
4. dissident China
5. revolution
6. dissident
7. freedom China
8. justice China
9. counter-revolution China
10. news China/Democracy China

With this evidence, and these examples in mind, Western concerns about Big Tech companies, which are often ridiculed as fanatical, and fear mongering, are justified.

When these same companies choose to block dissent or a different opinion on their servers/social media platforms in the West, they are importing the same political lockout system that they (at least, in the case of Google, as shown above) apply to Chinese citizens, under the satisfied and watchful gaze of the unelected Chinese bureaucratic caste.  When these companies block dissent or a different opinion, they are choosing to restrict freedom of speech. They are picking a side, and imposing their favored form of ideology on those who may have no choice, but to use their technology or social media platforms.

This should be of concern to Westerners, because the technology used in the Golden Shield Project is now being exported[7].

According to the McDonald field study for UCL, ‘in China, while propaganda frequently ends up forming the basis of news, not all news comes from, or is, propaganda […] [However] 80 to 90% of China’s news is fake news’ (McDonald 2016, pp.151 & 155). Since ‘the Chinese government controls all of the national authority name servers’ (source), it has total control over social media and social media companies.

Evidence of propaganda is seen in the defense of the GSP. Advocates say that Golden Shield Project is only a tool for protecting family values.  The GSP, however, was designed to protect the Communist state, not families. Its primary purpose is to guard the state against the ‘use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

Stanford’s Torfox confirms this, stating that ‘the government initially envisioned the Golden Shield Project to be a comprehensive database-driven surveillance system that could access every citizen’s record as well as link national, regional, and local security together.’

Ergo, even if upholding family values is now a small part of the usefulness of the GSP, it was not part of the Golden Shield Project’s original intent.

In conclusion, it’s reasonable to have governance of the internet based on a nation’s laws and boundaries, but that governance should be small, effective, and preferably have at its core classical liberal ethos, anchored by the Judeo-Christian moral compass. It’s important to remember, that ‘human beings do not have to serve causes, causes have to serve human beings’ (Karl Barth, Against the Steam p.35).

If when talking about the GSP, our focus is on protecting family values, than the GSP is an easy sell. Protections that include internet safety for Children and adults with addictions are plain common sense. For true freedom to exist, it has to have a certain degree of parameters to ensure and uphold its existence. Otherwise, we become enslaved to the machine, and land somewhere in the Matrix.

However, if the goal of governance over the internet, such as the GSP, is the protection of an ideology, an unelected bureaucratic caste, the invasion and suppression of citizen’s rights, and that control is masked by propaganda about protecting family values, then instead of being controlled by the Matrix, we enter a land controlled by those who own the Matrix, which is as equally horrifying.


References:

[1] For a full explanation of this, see Jacques Ellul’s, 1965 publication, ‘Propaganda’.

[2] For a deeper reading of the history, see Bloomberg’s article called, Quicktake: The Great Firewall of China by Grant Clark

[3] McDonald, author of the UCL field study further claims that ‘such reactions can be understood as ways that townsfolk form a strategy for coping with inflexible  controls that they are  otherwise unable to influence’ (p.148). However, ‘the controls which receive the greatest attention outside China – the Great Firewall and deletion of social media posts – are the ones that typically concern local people the least […] Other systems of control – such as checking users’ ages and restricting access for young people – that act at a local level are immediately visible and very important to townsfolk. Some of these measures come from people’s own convictions about the appropriate use of social media, rather than just from state- imposed restrictions’ (p.150)

[4] Bloomberg: ‘Critics say China’s Great Firewall reflects its paranoia over the internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule. As well as impeding freedom of speech, China’s approach constrains it economically, they say, by stifling innovation, preventing the exchange of important ideas and cutting access to services used by businesses like Google Cloud.’

[5] Greg Walton: ‘Many people in China have been arrested for Internet-related “crimes,” ranging from supplying e-mail addresses to Internet publications to circulating pro-democratic information or articles that are critical of the Chinese government, in blatant contradiction of international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of speech.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[6] Greg Walton: ‘China’s Internet regulations and legislation are guided by the principle of “guarded openness” – seeking to preserve the economic benefits of openness to global information, while guarding against foreign economic domination and the use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[7]  Stanford: ‘China even exports its technology to other countries such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Belarus.’ (The Great Firewall of China: Background. Sourced, 23rd January 2019)

[i] McDonald, T. 2016 Social Media In Rural China, ULC Press, U.K. Link to a free copy of the PDF  (p.146)

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

(Also published at The Caldron Pool, 24th January, 2019.)

In August, Iranian refugee and former Muslim, Ramin Parsa was arrested for trespassing {*coughs* for breaking blasphemy laws}, while privately sharing his testimony about becoming a Christian, in a Mall of America, shopping centre in Minnesota.

Tyler O’Neil from PJ media reported that while Ramin, now a Christian Pastor living in Los Angeles, was sharing his testimony,

“Another woman who was not part of the conversation went and complained to the security. The guard came and said, ‘You can’t solicit here.’ He then told them “we were not soliciting”. He just said, ‘Bye,’ and walked away.” After Parsa, the pastor, and his son grabbed some coffee, “three guards were waiting for me and said, ‘You must leave now.’ I asked why. They said, ‘You’re soliciting.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ I was explaining to them that I’m from out of state, I’m here as a guest, I’m here to see the mall.”
“That’s when they grabbed my coffee, handcuffed me, and took me to the underground mall gaol,” he recalled. “They patted me down, handcuffed me to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground. They refused to give me water, refused to let me go to the restroom except right before the police came. When I was taken to gaol after 3 hours. I was hungry and thirsty.”

In a video aired on Facebook, Ramin Parsa gave a detailed response about his encounter, talking about the dangers of creeping shari’a law, how Christians should be aware of Shari’a creep and how necessary it is to become pro-active in answering it. Parsa also mentioned his support for Donald Trump’s travel ban on Somalia, saying “Imagine if these people [Somalian Islamists] get into power [in the United States]. They don’t respect the constitution and the bill of rights, and American values. They come here to oppress. So…now I understand why there’s a [travel] ban on Somalia, which is a good thing….I believe that true refugees are Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries living under Islamic Shari’a Law.”

According to Parsa’s website, he was ‘raised in Iran, in a Shiite Muslim family. He lived under Islamic Law and was taught to practice strict religious traditions. After his father died, Parsa began to question Islam and the existence of God.

He heard about the gospel, disagreed with it, but became curious. Parsa gave himself to God, asking to be shown the way forward and came to Jesus Christ as a result. He was later arrested for handing out bibles. Then stabbed, causing him to move from Iran to Turkey.’ He came to America for Bible College and now works as Pastor of Redemptive Love Ministries International.

PJ Media also reported that Ramin Parsa’s pre-trial is for December 11th, where, while hopeful for an acquittal, “if prosecutors don’t drop the charges, his case will go to trial.”


Originally published at www.caldronpool.com 4th December 2018 under the same title.