COVID-19 and Censorship
As part of freedom comes freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. As free people, these are long held virtues that we would be reluctant to give up. However, in the internet age, we are increasingly seeing large tech corporations unilaterally decide what is true and what should be censored, thereby digitally erasing our freedom of expression and belief.
Although I agree that there are many theories on social media that don’t hold water when it comes to explaining the pandemic, “trusted” organisations such as Google, Twitter and Facebook have appointed themselves as some benevolent guardians of truth. The reality is, however, that these organisations are somewhat left-leaning and are often opposed to pro-family and pro-Christian views. They also have their own agenda, despite their proclamations of innocence.
Not too long ago, our own Scott Morrison announced that Australia would become the first country in the world to introduce jail terms and multi-million-dollar fines for social media giants that do not quickly remove so-called “extremist” materials on social media. Although many might applaud Mr Morrison for taking the initiative, social media organisations have been aggravated into overreach, particularly against conservative Christian content. Without a clear and precise definition, “extremist material” becomes extremely subjective in the modern world, particularly when ideas are as diverse as the population. For example, we know those on the radical left often label those on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum as “right wing extremist”. This is particularly so when it comes to Christians who dare to express traditional ideas in the political realm. These Christians are often labelled “extreme right” for no other reason than advocating for conservative social values, including the sanctity of human life and the traditional definition of marriage.
But it would be naïve to believe this is only a modern-day problem. For instance, it was taken for granted in the Greek and Roman communities of antiquity that citizens would be formed in accordance with the character and needs of the regime. Of course, this did not preclude the emergence of strong-minded men and women as may be seen in the stories of Homer, Plutarch, Tacitus and of the Greek playwrights. But, in studying history, it was evident that a citizen of, say, Sparta was much more apt to be tough and uncompromising than a citizen of Corinth, with its notorious openness to pleasure and luxury.
In many regions, the “gods of the city” were to be respected by every citizen and a refusal to confirm (at least outwardly) to the recognised worship exercised by the community subjected one to hardships, which included legal sanctions. The force of religious opinions could be seen not only in prosecutions for refusals to acknowledge the gods of the city but perhaps even more in the frequent unwillingness of a city to conduct public business at a time when the religious calendar forbade it.
One of the most famous historical cases of one refusing to honour the gods of the city was the trial of Socrates. In fact, he was met with two charges: he was accused of failing to acknowledge the gods of the city (and further accused of introducing his own) and he was accused of corrupting the youth around him by teaching them his views. We might also point to the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were condemned to the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar.
Like ancient Greece and Rome, organisations like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple Inc. and others have appointed themselves as “gods of the city” and any who dare disagree with them will be banished from the digital realm. Where is all of this leading? Well, it isn’t hard to imagine that come the Tribulation Period and the rise of the Antichrist, these same tech corporations will take great delight in scrubbing the internet of Christian content that opposes the views of the Antichrist. However, we praise God that there will be 144,000 redeemed Jews raised up to take the gospel to the world. Tech corporations may try to eradicate the gospel, but as powerful as they are, they are no match for our Almighty God.