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The ultra-thin line between stopping hateful terrorists and condemning our online privacy

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The ultra-thin line between stopping hateful terrorists and condemning our online privacy

Is online privacy destined to be extinguished? That very well may be the future we’re seeing, and it might not be a distant one. Following the sick terrorist attacks in New Zealand livestreamed on Facebook and widely distributed across the internet, many fingers are being pointed to social media, chat rooms, and other online forms of communication as both the incubating mechanism and inciting element of online hate that resulted in a real-world tragedy.

We’re faced with a conundrum: If certain types of speech are considered hateful, and certain types of hateful speech can breed the type of real-world hatred that results in massacres like the one in Christchurch, then how do we decide what is considered acceptable? Perhaps the better question is to ask who will be deciding? Our knee-jerk reaction may be to start tracking down groups of haters who could turn into terrorists, but is it possible and if so, where is the line between conscientious objection and hateful rhetoric?

I often find myself concerned about posting my own beliefs on many subjects. It’s not that I believe my perspectives are hateful, but I’ve seen instances where they’re labeled as hate speech and resulted in people being banned from social networks. I’ve even heard of cases (one in particular just yesterday from a friend after I asked what happened to his right-leaning website) where entire publications were essentially ghosted on social media sites because someone deemed them to be hateful.

All of this brings about a certain degree of caution about what I post, and I’m not sure if it’s really all that healthy. For example, I refrain from posting articles about certain topics like sharia law or transgenderism because in both cases, the aforementioned bans or ghostings have happened. Do I think my perspective that sharia law is antithetical to the Constitution is in any way hateful of Muslims? Not at all. If anything, I wish to free those who are being persecuted because of sharia law, but speaking out against it has gotten people banned. Unfortunately, I’ve kept my perspectives rather muted, fearing repercussions.

Things have been changing lately, though. Our site has been picking up steam from multiple sources, including search engines, news aggregators, and social media sites. The diversity of our traffic sources has empowered my writers to be more direct with our perspectives. As a crowdfunded publication, we have a responsibility to speak the truth. As a news outlet that promotes individual rights and freedoms, we have a very clear understanding of where we draw the line on hate speech. It’s one thing to believe transgender athletes shouldn’t be competing against biological females. It’s another thing to call for action or violence against transgenders. The line is clearly drawn in a situation like that; violence or any bigoted action must never be allowed.

But that still leaves the question open about whether the internet in general and social media in particular is enabling the type of hatred that was demonstrated in New Zealand. An article on USA Today asked the question that definitely deserves an answer in light of these events:

The answer to the question is, “yes.” There can be little doubt that social media sites, chat rooms, and the “dark corners” of the web played a major role in fostering hatred, bringing together like-minded haters, and encouraging real-world actions.

So, the real question is whether or not this should be censored, monitored, or both. It would be easy to take the liberty-minded stance that such censorship or monitoring harms the masses for the sake of an isolated minority, but instead let’s look at the practical implications. Is it even possible to prevent this?

4Chan went through an awakening some time ago when they became more mainstream. Doing so prompted censorship that yielded 8Chan, the new home for those who felt 4Chan had become too restrictive.

Reddit cracked down on free speech by policing many of the subreddits where people would post offensive, bigoted, or even illegal content. Some of the users and frequenters of the banned subreddits established Voat where free speech is essentially absolute.

Twitter made a similar move by getting rid of offensive accounts. Gab was born as a result.

The trend is very obvious. One could say that the government(s) should step in and go after 8Chan, Voat, and Gab. They could even be more devious and allow these venues to continue unabated, but monitor them closely for activities that were suspicious enough to warrant action by the authorities. In fact, this is probably already the case. But how does any agency make the distinction between a person like the terrorist in New Zealand and an overzealous 10-year-old spouting anonymous threats with no way of actually acting upon them?

Some would argue that we should keep cracking down, driving them further and further down into the dark web where such things are more common and acceptable. But that still doesn’t solve the underlying problems we’re facing. Like-minded haters will find like-minded haters regardless of how deep you force them into the web. The only way to truly stop it is if you eliminate the internet altogether. By its very nature, anonymity and carelessness create a multitude of trolls, among which will be the guy who turned his guns on people worshiping in their mosques.

Every solution yields a new problem.

The real answer

Short of eliminating the internet, the only solution is diligence at all times. This doesn’t just apply to the internet. The San Bernardino massacre could have been thwarted by neighbors who noticed men bringing in suspicious boxes late at night that, as it turned out, contained the weapons used in the terrorist attack.

Sometimes, the signs will be there. Other times, we’re caught completely off guard with no way to know ahead of time that someone was planning an attack. But by remaining diligent, we can thwart many of the potential attacks.

I was acquainted with a lady who operated a flight school where participants in the 9/11 attacks learned to fly. She told me in confidence that she thought something was strange about them, but didn’t see enough to compel her to talk to the authorities. She told me she regrets it every day.

Does that mean we need to report our neighbors every time we think they’re acting strange? Should we be combing the free-speech-absolutist social networks for signs of a terrorist? Where do we draw the line between paranoia and righteous concern? Between seeing what we believe to be fishy and seeing what our prejudices want us to see? There is no set scale for what to report and what to ignore. There shouldn’t be.

In this crazy world in which we live, one that’s getting crazier every day, all we have is our wits and our discernment. As long as we stay diligent, we can help make the world a bit safer. But if we succumb to knee-jerk reactions following heinous acts of terrorism, we’re going to make mistakes in how we address these issues.

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Democrats

Democrats hang all hope on a public release and a bad interpretation of Mueller report

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Democrats hang all hope on a public release and a bad interpretation of Mueller report

Republicans are dancing in the virtual streets of social media today after Attorney General William Barr released a letter summarizing the report he received from special counsel Robert Mueller on his 2-year Russian election interference investigation.

Despite the President’s Tweet, Democrats are pointing out a single line in the document. While there was no collusion, Mueller’s report states that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” on the obstruction of justice issue.

But, as House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows pointed out, exoneration is not the responsibility of the investigator.

Now, Democrats are ramping up their calls to release the entire report to the public. Their hope is that Barr’s letter does not properly characterize what the Mueller investigation found. If it has enough evidence to point to collusion or obstruction of justice in the eyes of the general public, that would be nearly as good as actual indictments.

Their two roadblocks, of course, would be the public release of the government, which the President has called for, and evidence that can be pinpointed and spun in a way that makes it appear as if Mueller was either close to having enough evidence or chose to ignore the evidence in his decision to not recommend indictments.

It’s unclear whether the report will actually be released despite the Democrats’ calls and the President’s Tweet. It’s up to Barr, which most assume means it’s up to the President himself. If there’s evidence in there that can paint him in a negative light, it’s very possible the Attorney General will hold back on releasing it.

A third option, which has already been floated, is for Democrats to subpoena Mueller to testify about the investigation before Congress. This would given him an opportunity to describe the evidence they found in the investigation without the report itself being released. It would be one of the most well-watched testimonies in history, even bigger than Michael Cohen’s testimony last month, because most people have never heard Mueller say anything. He has been very reticent throughout the investigation and has condemned the handful of leaks that hit the press from his team.

For now, the Trump administration and his supporters can breath a sigh of relief. How long that lasts will depend on what’s in the report itself. If there’s not enough to publicly demonize the President or those close to him, then we’ll likely see a release. If there’s more fodder for controversy and ammunition that can be used in the 2020 election, Barr’s summary may be all we ever see.

Democrats are latching onto anything they can in order to justify their loud accusations and false conclusions they made before the report deflated them. Watching mainstream media and Hollywood cry may be the most enjoyable part of all this.

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Culture and Religion

Speculation about ancient human skull in Israel points to unscientific method of modern science

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Speculation about ancient human skull in Israel points to unscientific method of modern science

What does an ancient human skull found in a cave in Israel tell us about the past? It all depends on which perspective you take and whether you want to follow sound scientific practices or manipulated conclusions from circular reasoning.

Modern science can give us a tremendous view of the past. With nearly every discovery, we can see God’s work at play in molding the planets and the stars, the oceans and the lands, the people and the other wonderful creatures. Unfortunately, scientists often distort the findings to fit in with their secular worldview. A clear case of this comes to us from a study published four years ago in the scientific journal, Nature, titled Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans, that is still being erroneously taught today.

First, watch the way that it is being reported. Then, let’s discuss the conclusions.

This is an important discovery, one that clearly points to a Biblical worldview of the roots of man from the garden of Eden working its way from what is now Africa into what is now the Middle East. It jibes with the story of the great flood, stories from the life of Adam through Joshua, and a centralized end point of ancient man in the region along the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa up through modern day Turkey.

Of course, that’s not what the scientists doing the research concluded.

“The is the first evidence that shows that, indeed, there was a large wave of African migrants coming out of East Africa and inhabiting the Eastern Mediterranean region,” said Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University.

One of the biggest problems with modern science is that our society blindly accepts their conclusions. They know, right?

Proper scientific method that we all learn in high school tells us the conclusions of the research are completely unscientific. We know a few things that are truly observable:

  • Humans very likely started in Africa and Neanderthals were in the Middle East.
  • Humans and Neanderthals interbred to form the basis for Europeans. Today, everyone other than purely African people have at least a little Neanderthal DNA.
  • A human skull fragment was found in Israel.

Given this information, it is obtuse to draw the conclusion that this represents a large wave of African migrants inhabiting the Eastern Mediterranean region. One skull fragment does not tell us that there was a large migration. One skull fragment does not tell us that it was a migration at all. Modern science must establish hypotheses based upon observable facts, but it almost always extrapolates too much.

This wouldn’t be a bad thing if it extrapolated based upon the Bible. We are told the general story of everything that happened from creation through the rise of the Greeks within the Old Testament. Every scientific and archaeological discovery in the region supports this general story, but a culture that utilizes far more distant time frames to explain the discoveries has generated the faulty conclusions that scientists present to us today.

The evidence tells two different stories depending on the observer’s worldview. It’s unfortunate that most have pushed aside the obvious and verifiable conclusions in order to perpetuate the paradigm of secularism.

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Military

With fall of the Islamic State’s last stronghold, the real war against them begins

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With fall of the Islamic States last stronghold the real war against them begins

The Islamic State was always destined to fall in the way that it has. If they ever got big enough to demand a more direct response from the military forces of the world, that would have happened. Instead, they were only able to become a regional power that caused widespread chaos and despair before the various forces pitted against them were able to back them into the final corner.

That corner just fell.

Now the real war against them begins.

What most Americans don’t know is that the Islamic State was never really about military conquest for land. That was the focus for most, including many within the ranks of the failed militant organization, but those in the know have realized for years the real threat they pose is on the ideological front. While it’s a great thing that they’ve been eliminated militarily according to most reports, there’s an unfortunate effect this will have. The final stronghold falling will inspire the expansion of their other fronts, most notably the terrorist activities of the various groups loosely affiliated with the Islamic State around the world.

Cyberterrorism, physical terrorism, and persecution against non-Muslims in Islamic majority regions will increase. This has been anticipated for over a year now by members of law enforcement in the United States and possibly in other nations. Now that the end is finally here for their direct military wing, the other factions, groups, and lone wolves are suddenly much more dangerous.

I’m keeping this short to get to the point before losing too many people. Now is not the time for much celebration. Let’s pat each other on the back and then move on to the next phase of the battle, one that has been raging for some time but has been overshadowed by the military successes and recent failures. Now, they’ll become top priority. Lest we forget, most of the top leaders of the Islamic State are still out there and active.

Don’t let your guard down for a moment. Remain diligent. Look for signs, such as those that preceded the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Be mindful that with the ISIS military gone, other threats are only going to be elevated.

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