Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Tech Tyranny: Conservative Christian Site Blacklisted by Web Host

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Is being Christian and robustly conservative now against tech companies’ terms of service? It increasingly seems so. A good example is the report that the pro-life, pro-family LifeSiteNews.com was recently blacklisted by its hosting company and given only 12 hours to find a new one — or risk being offline.

LifeSite is a Christian entity that covers a range of issues, with special focus on life, family, and the sexual devolution. Frequent readers also may recognize it as a site from which I sometimes quote. As for its problems, LifeSite reported October 27:

This is extremely urgent. I need to inform you that LifeSite just received an email at 8:30 p.m. EST from our web-hosting company alerting us that they will be taking our website down within 12 hours, if not sooner.

They wrote: “we are implementing our ‘SUSPENSION OF SERVICES’ clause...and giving you 12 hours notice to move your web site operations off of our servers..."

We received absolutely no forewarning whatsoever about this decision.

LifeSite doesn’t mention the hosting company’s name, but according to the former’s DNS record and an LGBT-activist blog (which I won’t publicize by linking to), it’s San Francisco-based Cloudflare.

While LifeSite covers many issues, it was, unsurprisingly, focus on homosexuality that got it in trouble. In particular, the news organ explains, “The [hosting] company told LifeSite it is acting in response to a months-long campaign of complaints against us by Adam Flanders. Flanders is a convicted sex abuser and homosexual activist who is angered over our reports exposing him and his past.”

LifeSite continues, writing that Flanders “has already succeeded in taking down other pro-family websites by targeting their server companies.” For example, the site related in September that the “entire website for Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH.org) was shut down for more than two weeks beginning August 24 after … Flanders … threatened a lawsuit against FirstLight Fiber, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) for AFTAH’s web host company. Flanders claimed his mugshot photo from a 2006 assault arrest against a minor boy was ‘copyrighted’ material.”

According to AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera, Flanders “pleaded guilty in 2008 to ‘Sexual Abuse of a Minor’ involving a boy aged 14 or 15” and had sexual relations with a 14-year-old lad when he was 18. He’s in Maine’s and California’s sex-offender registries, and his registry pages are found here and here, according to LifeSite.

In a Sunday morning update, LifeSite reported that its web developer spent all night working and ensured that the site would remain online. However, the news organ states that it’s only a temporary solution and that it’s currently searching for another hosting company.

Tech-company censorship/squelching of traditionalist dissent is nothing new. Facebook’s cancelling/suppression of conservative pages, Twitter’s “shadowbanning” and closing of conservatives’ accounts, and Google’s leftist manipulation of search results are already well known. Moreover, big tech appears to be intensifying its censorship efforts to sway the midterm elections.

Yet there’s something even more ominous here. Consider: Drawing parallels with our time, LifeSite’s Jonathon van Maren pointed out in a 2015 piece that, counterintuitively, Cold War-era Hungarian communists didn’t outlaw Christianity. But they did enforce a certain standard:

“You could either be a Christian — or you could be successful.”

(The same can increasingly be said of being conservative today.)

We’ve seen this already in North America. Examples include:

• Christian bakers and other businessmen punished — and sometimes forced to shut down — because they refused to service so-called same-sex weddings;

• efforts to force doctors to perform abortions and provide contraception;

• efforts to deny Christian colleges accreditation or prevent their law-school graduates from practicing law;

• laws mandating that adoption agencies — including Christian ones — must place children with same-sex couples;

• California’s erstwhile prohibition against judges participating in the Boy Scouts organization; and

• hate-speech laws in Canada (among other places) used to punish those expressing certain Christian moral positions.

Obviously, if it’s impossible for faithful Christians to enter certain fields or earn a living if they exercise (a word referencing action) their religion — guaranteed under the First Amendment — they won’t enter those fields or earn a living. This is how you disempower a class of people.

As van Maren points out, this extends to politics in Canada where, increasingly, the Christian view of life is a disqualifier from holding office. He writes that this is “a clever tactic, and a dangerous one, as it gives Christians less and less control over their own futures.”

To paraphrase what follows, “If fewer Christians enter politics, our voice in government grows quieter. If fewer Christians enter the field of medicine, the entire field suffers. And if organizations like Legal Leaders for Diversity have their way, there will be far fewer Christian lawyers — which means that as Christians increasingly need legal assistance to defend their dwindling religious freedoms, they will have fewer lawyers to rely on.”

And as Christian/conservative voices are banished from the public square by big (and little) tech, we’ll have fewer opportunities to speak out against the above.

By the way, illustrating tech-company manipulation, I searched for van Maren’s article based on memory using certain terms. His piece was nowhere to be found on Google’s first three pages (and few users go beyond the second page). So I then pasted the same terms into search engine DuckDuckGo.com — van Maren’s article was the very first result. This again underlines how, as I’ve explained, Google is no longer truly a search engine. It’s a propaganda engine.

As for this suppression of speech and beliefs, many will reflexively say there should just be “freedom of expression” with all points of view heard. Yet it’s not that simple.

Our First Amendment only protects against government trampling of speech, and most of the entities effecting this censorship are private. Yet the point almost universally missed is that while you may avoid government laws suppressing speech, social laws are a different matter: All civilizations censor the tongue in some way.

Years ago, for instance, there was a strong social prohibition against using foul language around women and children, and we’ve long had indecency laws. Moreover, espousing ideas considered heretical got you in trouble not just in medieval Europe but in colonial America, where you could be scorned and ostracized. In ancient Greece, philosopher Socrates was convicted and later executed for corrupting the young and “mocking the gods.” And in the 1950s United States, being an avowed Marxist or Nazi meant you couldn’t be successful.

So it’s not a matter of whether we’ll have socially enforced speech codes, but only of what they will be — and, most significantly, of what is censored. Are lies shamed and banished?

Or is the Truth?

It’s clear what is increasingly being banished today. But seldom understood is why: Conservatives fight for political power at election time.

But they generally fail to fight for cultural power anytime.

As philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it, “All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.”

The rule, simply, is that if you don’t control the culture, the culture controls you. To be tolerant of evil is to be visited with, and vanquished by, the intolerable.

Image: baramee2554 via iStock / Getty Images Plus

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