Though the cancel culture has unfortunately been with us for a number of years, George Floyd’s tragic death, combined with the confusion and fear of a pandemic in the information age, has greatly accelerated its threat to a core American value – the freedom to speak your mind. Historically, protectors of the First Amendment have always kept a watchful eye on government as being speech’s primary threat. However, as in many things, the year 2020 has changed the calculation.
Today, by far, the preeminent threat to free speech is the Internet.
More specifically, the Internet Vigilante Mob. If the Internet Mob is not challenged in its policing of your speech, eventually it will come for your beliefs, because speech is almost genetically intertwined with what you believe.
The drafters of the First Amendment knew how close speech and belief are intertwined. In original drafts, freedom of religious beliefs actually was the First Amendment, while the Second Amendment protected speech of all kinds. But as the drafters refined their thoughts, they realized that speech and belief are inseparable. Thus the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
While the First Amendment is mostly alive and well with respect to government in the U.S., the Mob’s fascist threat to speech is metastasizing, especially in journalism. Last month they came for Bari Weiss, an opinion and culture editor for The New York Times specifically hired to bring more balance to NYT’s progressive drift. She asserts that Twitter has become NYT’s ultimate editor, lamenting that NYT’s editors run for cover every time the Mob seeks another virtual lynching.
Look up the names Andrew Sullivan, Michael Shellenberger, Bjorn Lomborg, Rex Murphy, John Kass, Tucker Carlson, even Michael Mann – all writers (many of them on the left themselves) who had the audacity to speak their own mind, rather than the collectivist, politically correct position, on today’s issues. They have been shouted down, attacked as unworthy to speak. The Times has actually assigned an editor to troll the children of prominent conservatives on social media, in hopes of inciting a Mob attack on political opponents of the left. The Mob has already disrupted one presidential campaign rally, and is likely to continue.
The foundations for a Mob attack on speaking biblically have already been laid. Debate over gender, sexual preferences, parental authority – even abortion – is labeled ‘hate speech’ and attacked until silenced. The freedom to assemble religiously is considered ‘nonessential.’ Honest and sincere efforts to differentiate the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ describing the very real issue of fair treatment for Black Americans (a distinctly biblical issue), from the Marxist-driven BLM movement (a serious threat to biblical teaching), are not debated but shouted down as racist.
It seems only a matter of time before doxing becomes a primary tactic for suppressing religious thought, in particular Christian thought. Modern newsrooms train reporters to inoculate themselves from doxing with certain Internet protocols on the prospect that doxing – i.e. inciting the Mob – can and will be used as a weapon in politics.
Professional sports organizations and national consumer oriented businesses are rolling over in deference to the Mob. Government bureaucrats are teetering. Unions are all in. Even some Christian organizations, fearing the Mob more than veering from sound doctrine, are hesitant to speak out against violence at this critical juncture.
The time for courageously speaking against these things is now. For soon, your courage to speak out on what you believe may be tested. If we remain silent or allow ourselves to be intimidated, we will lose our constitutionally guaranteed, God-given, freedoms of religion and conscience.