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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.

Will you help revive the American Conservative Movement?

 


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Culture and Religion

17 years later, Paul Washer’s shocking message still holds true

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17 years later Paul Washers shocking message still holds true

In 2002, Pastor Paul Washer delivered a message to around 5,000 young people. It has become one of the fiery Southern Baptist’s mostly widely-heard sermons because in it, we hear a very disturbing reality to most who proclaim to be Christians. Some simply aren’t doing it right.

He’s been criticized for the sermon. Some say he’s making it too complicated. Others say he’s scaring people away from the faith by making it seem too difficult. But this teaching is based on one of the most important teachings of Jesus Christ in all the Bible:

Matthew 7:13-27

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

I’ve heard many teach on these verses and I’ve taught myself on the strait and narrow. It’s frightening to some because it was intended to be, and Washer’s declarations to these impressionable young people is clear. But it wasn’t nice. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t inclusive. It didn’t fit in with today’s version of common pastoral messages.

The need for constant repentance and ongoing belief must never be understated.

Sometimes, the need to be “nice” from the pulpit must be replaced by the true need to be honest. That’s what Washer does in this famous teaching. I strongly encourage everyone to spend an hour hearing it.

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Conservatism

Why Tomi Lahren’s abortion view harms American conservatism

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Why Tomi Lahrens abortion view harms American conservatism

Democrats are unambiguous and united in their view of abortion. It wasn’t always this way. As recently as a decade ago, there were a good number of pro-life Democrats winning elections and expressing their views as pundits.

Today, they don’t exist.

Republicans aren’t so repulsed by the pro-abortion people in their midst. It’s understandable that as a party that’s less focused on individual issues, one can be a Republican without checking off all the various boxes. This is fine. What’s not fine is for breaks in the ranks of conservatives. There are certain things that must remain universal among those who claim to embrace conservatism, especially among those who speak for conservatives.

Fox Nation’s Tomi Lahren is one of them. She claims to be a conservative, but she’s pro-choice. That fact, by itself, is understandable because the issue is a polarizing one in which people can be swayed to one side based on personal experience. It’s not like taxes which warrant universal scorn from conservatives. There are gun-toting, tax-hating, pro-choice conservatives.

But there’s a bigger problem with Lahren’s perspective. She’s not just attacking the Alabama abortion bill and pro-life perspectives in general. She’s doing so with an argument that flies in the face of reality.

Do we think government is the answer? No. In fact, one of the most appealing parts about the Alabama abortion bill is that it represents the first true opportunity for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. When it reaches the Supreme Court (and it almost certainly will) it gives us the first glimpse of how the current makeup of the court will react. In fact, the makeup of the court could actually be better if one of the left-leaning Justices retires soon.

Once Roe v. Wade is out of the way, we can finally express the truly conservative aspect of federalism that should have never been taken away – the states’ rights to determine their own healthcare laws.

If Tomi Lahren doesn’t like the abortion ban, that’s fine. Her choice. But to defend her choice by insinuating a challenge to Roe v. Wade is somehow an attack on limited-government tenets is false and harms conservatism.

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Guns and Crime

Thomas Massie exposes the many problems with Red Flag Gun Laws

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Thomas Massie exposes the many problems with Red Flag Gun Laws

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) has been a staunch proponent of the 2nd Amendment throughout his career in Washington DC. This makes him an opponent to Red Flag Gun Laws which are spreading across the states. Colorado recently passed their version, bringing the total up to 15.

As we’ve documented numerous times, Red Flag Gun Laws are a direct attack on the 2nd and 4th Amendments. Depending on the version of the law, citizens can have their firearms forcibly removed from them by law enforcement when a judge decrees they may be a threat to themselves or others based on requests by people who know the victim. It’s important to understand that these laws are not based on anyone committing a crime. They are based on a feeling that someone may commit a crime.

It’s like the movie Minority Report, only without psychics. Gun owners’ liberties can be encroached based on the government’s “future crimes division.”

In this video, Massey gets to the heart of the matter by talking to Colorado Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams and Dr. John R. Lott of Crime Prevention Research Center. This is an important video for #2A proponents across the nation.

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