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Whatever you think of Trump, this is not the way. I don’t support censorship, which is to say restrictions on freedom of speech, of any kind. (I affirm the well-considered body of law that balances freedom of speech with society's interests in limiting promotion of sex trafficking, pornography and obscenity, or "yelling 'Fire' in a crowded room.")
 
And, Yes, Big Social Media are private companies, but they now function with enormous monopolistic power as public platforms—evident as Apple steps in to shut down Parler. I favor changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that’s protecting them.
 
What if Social Media begins censoring categories of people or ideas they consider unacceptable? Well, they already have: various conservatives, certain Christian content, medical professionals presenting ideas about lockdown or C-19 that elites don’t like. I have 4 friends whose posts or accounts have been blocked because an anonymous committee didn’t like their ideas. Meanwhile, a list of international and domestic bad actors still have accounts.
 
Trump had 89 M followers on Twitter. I’ve been saying for 4 years that whoever owns Twitter should thank the Lord every morning for Donald Trump, who put them back on the map. Now it will be interesting to see how many people leave Twitter over this and what happens to the company. Rush Limbaugh just deactivated his Twitter account.
 
Certainly, putting pressure on private companies is a dilemma. But private companies have been held accountable to society’s civil rights standards in the past. The issue here for Big Tech is monopoly of a public forum. There is no forum if it isn’t free, and Big Tech is not acting simply in fair and equitable interests for all. Actually, they have their own huge biases. So, like railroads, telegraph, and telephone a century ago, like TV in the last 70 years, there needs to be competition and regulation like the FCC.
 
I generally side with free enterprise and no government regulations. But then again, we engage government to protect competition and just practice, like FDA, FCC. T.R. “busted” the monopolies of his day. I think we’re looking at that with Big Tech, particularly when they wield their power in highly biased ways.
 
Yes, Trump was shameful. Now he’s beginning to pay the price. I reject what he did and certainly condemn the violent invasion of the Capitol Building, just like I condemned the violent riots of this past summer. 
 
Trump is an easy target right now. People are cheering him getting a comeuppance. My point here is not about or trying to defend President Trump.
 
A far greater concern is preserving the spirit of the First Amendment in terms of freedom of speech, free access to information, and openness in a democratic society.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Media is laser-focused on the election. 

But I am far more concerned about certain cultural trends than I am about Biden winning the presidency and what Trump will do. These trends are not partisan as such but ideological, and they threaten the existence of the USA as a free country.

1-Suppression of freedom of speech. 

2-Restriction of freedom of religion in the name of tolerance.

3-Interference with freedom of peaceful assembly, even in one’s residence, in the name of public safety.

4-Promotion of sexual progressivism, in the name of tolerance, ironically for all except those with a religious, moral conscience, and at the expense of social order.

5-Rejection of objective truth and rigorous rationality in science and politics, in favor of subjective feeling even irrationality. 

6-Disavowal of historic, orthodox religion, specifically Christianity, and a growing embrace of DIY religion, a pastiche of “whatever” based largely on secular nihilism.

I wish these things were warnings, what-might-happen, but they are not. They’re happening now, promoted by “cultural elites” in universities and public schools, Big Tech, government, and journalism.

Ronald Reagan was right, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

So as not to bury the lead, let me state it outright—

First Amendment freedoms in the United States are under threat from the Left via Big Social Media, on university campuses, and in “news” rooms.

For the first time, I’ve had a video “age restricted” on YouTube. I got the notice this morning. What’s weird is that the video in question is 5-years-old, and also strange is it’s harmless. I took the video standing on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, panning the city while church bells rang on Palm Sunday. It’s beautiful and I was pleased at the time to be at the right place at that hour.

That’s it. No commentary. Somehow this is deemed not suitable for all viewers?

Some have said this is just bots or YouTube algorithms going awry. Maybe.

Some say this is another example of Big Social Media acting like Big Brother, censoring willy-nilly what it finds objectionable based upon a Leftist agenda, and at times with a seemingly anti-religious point of view.

But where there’s smoke there’s fire. Just ask Prager University, a conservative nonprofit organization that’s had several hundred of its videos blocked by YouTube.

“The legal battle by the organization co-founded by commentator and talk radio host Dennis Prager began in October 2017. Prager University, known as PragerU, filed a lawsuit against Google after YouTube placed more than 100 of its videos in “restricted” mode, flagging them as “dangerous” or “derogatory,” according to a press release from PragerU.

“'Restricted’ means that families that have a filter to avoid pornography and violence cannot see that video,” Prager told a Senate subcommittee in a July hearing.”

PragerU said in the press release that it filed the suit because Google and YouTube have restricted 10% of its video content and “maintains that the organization’s videos have been restricted, not because they are explicit, vulgar or obscene in nature, or inappropriate for children in any way, but rather because they promote conservative ideas.”

“The videos categorized as restricted cover a range of topics, including the Ten Commandments, tolerance, climate change, free speech, and fake news, and tend to be three to five minutes in length.”

Religious conservatives have also been censored by YouTube and other Big Social Media.

“Social media sites continue to find new and imaginative ways to censor, ignore, or downplay opinions and facts that dissent from their failed worldview.” Public universities, sadly, are no better, and may in fact be worse.

I don’t know why my harmless little video was age restricted, but I don’t like it and don’t like the trend.

I am far more concerned about the anti-freedom trends I see in America than I am about COVID-19, Trump vs Biden, social unrest, and certainly climate change. Lose America’s First Amendment freedoms and you lose what since 1776 has been known as the United States of America.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.

 

 

Supreme Court denies Nevada church's appeal of attendance restriction amid coronavirus pandemic

You can add Nevada alongside California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, to name a few, as another state discriminating against churches, which is to say religion, in the name of public health. And in this latest instance the Supreme Court of the United States backed Nevada’s constitutionally overreaching state officials.

I’ve been pointing to state government overreach in the name of public health vis-a-vis a percentage of the population at risk short term, i.e., people who contract the coronavirus and need to take precautions.

And I’ve noted a rapidly growing threat to the First Amendment – not just religion but also the suppression of freedom of speech.

This brief “Wall Street Journal” piece, including an excellent short video herein, addresses the onslaught on freedom of speech we’re now seeing nearly every day, often not just from “protesters” but from the lips of foolish opportunistic politicians. 

While the virus is serious and deserves reasonable response—I am not contending otherwise. I just don’t think medical and health evidence indicates the coronavirus pandemic, though clearly a virulent illness, is ultimately any more threatening than the flu or pneumonia. Certainly, it does not justify lockdowns, shuttering businesses and torpedoing economies, creating rampant unemployment and collateral suffering, all while forcing healthy people to quarantine themselves or otherwise live in hysteria.

That said, the demonstrably evident and increasing willingness of state and local political leaders to take actions, i.e. “executive orders,” undermining the first freedoms, including religion, speech, assembly, is a much greater plague that affects not just a portion of the population but 100% of the population now and future. 

This is not a peripheral issue. It is not alarmist. The First Amendment has never been more threatened than it now is. If we lose what the First Amendment protects tyranny wins.

The First Amendment, the foundational and distinctive American ideal for all citizens has never been at greater risk.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Remember Aesop’s Fable about people foolishly killing the goose that laid golden eggs?  The idea is that short-term greed can motivate people to do stupid things that undermine their long-term well-being.

If we think of the USA as the goose, so to speak, then the golden egg is our individual liberty, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion, specifically as guarded by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

So I could make the case that we are in the process today of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. 

    1. Government overreach responding to the Pandemic.

State governors and city mayors ran roughshod over constitutional civil liberties in the name of public health. Of course, not every decision they made was wrong or bad, but some of them were certainly unwise, even tyrannical. For example, in Michigan, churches were forced to close while abortion clinics, marijuana and liquor stores remained open. In Louisville, church attendees were threatened with surveillance. In Kansas City, an official wanted a list of all church members so his department could track them re public health. In Pennsylvania, churches were threatened by the governor, and in Minnesota churches sued a state public health official for that office's draconian and discriminatory treatment of churches. In California recently, churches were told not to sing during services. 

                 2.  Lawless riots overpowering lawful protest responding to racial injustice, police brutality concerns.

While peaceful protestors tried to make their frustrations about racial injustice known in cities across the country, they were soon and often over-run by people more interested in larceny, looting, arson, and destruction. 

In the name of racial justice, lawless agitators destroyed or defaced statues of Confederate officers, but then well beyond obvious connections to race,defaced or destroyed the statues of abolitionists, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, even Abraham Lincoln and Boston’s monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black group of Union soldiers who fought against slavery and the Confederacy. Minority businesses and neighborhoods have been burned or otherwise trashed. In Portland, a statue of an elk was burned, why, no one seems to know, other than anarchy.

Meanwhile, in many cities and states, politicians who earlier had quickly acted in aggressive top-down-power fashion re public health, either stood by helplessly or actually ordered police departments to stand down as mobs trashed their locales.

This kind of arbitrary action or no action vis-à-vis freedom of expression is, to say the least, concerning.

                 3.  Big Social Media Tech: Facebook and Instagram, YouTube and Google, Twitter, and Big Biz: Amazon, positioning itself as arbiter of what’s worthy communications base on its ideological, politically correct viewpoints.

Big Social Media Tech operates with near impunity, blocking content that disagrees with the “accepted” view of C-19 response—in the name of public health calling the blocked material “dangerous” or “misinformation”—block content shared by Christian worship leaders or conservative websites like Prager U, even some of President Trump’s tweets. Certain books that question the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ mantras are rejected from sale via Amazon.

Online communication companies were given protection from lawsuits under the Communication Decency Act, but this assumed they would function as neutral forums and thus could not be libel for what people posted. But of course, now, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and Google/YouTube are not neutral.

               4.  Politicians pandering to special interests, again with little regard for constitutional rights.

Politicians are not having their finest hour. Some think they can wield power without concern for constitutional limitations. Others stand by as rioters destroy their neighborhoods. Some politicians even bowed their knee in a bit of political theater making the photo opp they wanted but also making themselves look foolish. Meanwhile, politicians cannot find it in themselves to condemn rioters, this for fear of angering the mob.

               5.  Major public universities creating “free speech zones” and “safe spaces,” limiting discussion of certain topics to just these areas. 

The great day of the public universities as bastions of free inquiry is over. Today, public universities have been captured by people who really don’t believe in truth or a search for truth, or allowing others to hold views with which they are uncomfortable. Free speech on the public university campuses of America is at grave risk

The USA is not perfect.  Never has been. Its history has been checkered by great nobility and great ignobility, triumph and tragedy in social action. But the US is the “First New Nation,” the first and only country ever formed to advance the cause of freedom, including especially life, religious and economic liberty.

From time to time, I’ve reminded people not to confuse what biblical Christianity is about with how the Church or individual Christians, including me, behave.

America is like that. It’s America’s ideals that make it special, not always what we Americans have done.  

Then again, our forebears did a lot of things right as well as things wrong. They handed us a free country, that like Benjamin Franklin, who after a session at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, was asked by a lady what kind of country we would have. He said America would be “a republic, if you can keep it.”

We’ve been given a goose that lays golden eggs. I hope we don’t kill it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Whatever your view of various state responses to C-19, I hope one thing that comes out of this experience is that we now understand and value our freedom--particularly what it is to not have it--maybe like never before: worship, speech, assembly, mobility for example. 

1-Perhaps we'll be more inclined to learn what civil liberties are and respect what others sacrificed to provide them.

2-Perhaps we'll grasp that civil liberties are not something government grants to citizens, but as noted in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are "unalienable" natural rights people already possess as human beings and as such are something government may not take from citizens.

3-Perhaps we'll be more sensitive to others in our own country or abroad who do not yet possess these freedoms.

4-Perhaps we'll see why every political philosopher who's written about civil liberties has observed how quickly and easily they can be lost.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.