Discrimination against conservatives and traditionalist Christians is becoming increasingly normal and acceptable amongst our elite and institutions. Under a rubric of opposing ‘hate’ and ‘discrimination’ (for which read ‘conservative’ and ‘traditional morality’), institutions and online platforms are clamping down hard on the expression of views outside of progressive Leftism favoured by our political and cultural elite.
The latest illustration of the online bias against conservatives is the closing down this week of a GoFundMe page for Israel Folau, the Australian Rugby star banned in May by Rugby Australia for a tweet that included ‘homosexuals’ in a list of people for whom it said ‘hell awaits’.
Now you don’t need to endorse Folau’s views or how he expressed them to see the free speech and religious freedom issues at stake here (the tweet is a loose paraphrase of a Bible verse, 1 Cor 9.10-11). Folau isn’t being targeted for his clumsy and crude form of words but because he expressed a negative moral view of homosexuality.
Anyone not fully signed up to the latest progressive orthodoxy or who cares about freedom of speech and freedom of conscience should be very concerned about this.
Folau set up the GoFundMe page last week to raise funds to fight his ban, which he says is a result of religious discrimination. By the time it was taken down on Monday it had raised A$760,000 (£414,000, $530,000), which the site says will now be refunded to donors.
Folau is being targeted because he expressed a negative moral view of homosexuality.
A spokesman for GoFundMe said: ‘While we welcome GoFundMe’s engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.’
Here again we see a supposed commitment to free debate overridden for conservatives because such views are regarded by Leftists as promoting discrimination or exclusion. Given that Leftists tend these days to regard all views to the Right of Karl Marx as promoting discrimination or exclusion of some kind this is clearly a recipe for extreme censorship of anything with even a whiff of conservatism.
Not that we should be surprised. In 2015 GoFundMe gained notoriety among conservatives for closing down fundraisers for Christian businesses Arlene’s Flowers and Sweet Cakes by Melissa fighting anti-discrimination lawsuits from hostile Leftists.
The site claimed at the time that the campaigns fell foul of its policy banning ‘campaigns in defence of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.’ Shortly afterwards it added ‘discriminatory acts’ and ensured the ban also expressly covered defences of ‘claims’.
Given this history some might question Folau’s wisdom in using GoFundMe to resource his campaign. But the truth is that almost the whole internet, and the whole of the American-led corporate world, is ranged against conservative causes and views.
In August, for example, Visa and Mastercard withdrew services from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, preventing it from processing donations from major credit card companies, after those companies had come under pressure from the notorious anti-conservative smear group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Conservatives are running out of options. As Breitbart technology expert Allum Bokhari observes: ‘Want to raise money for a conservative cause online? Sorry, Patreon and GoFundMe won’t let you. Want to build a free-speech friendly alternative to Patreon and GoFundMe? Sorry, PayPal and Stripe won’t process your customers’ payments. Want to build a competitor to PayPal and Stripe? You still need Visa and MasterCard to play ball.’
The problem arises at every level: ‘Even the underlying architecture of the internet, meant to be free and open to all, is now at risk of political censorship,’ Bokhari continues. ‘DNS registrars, which are responsible for website addresses (e.g. breitbart.com), have the power to effectively kick a website off the internet.’
‘And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing over the past two years, first to neo-Nazi websites like the Daily Stormer and Alt-Right.com, and then to mainstream conservative ones like the Rebel Media. Gab, too, faced the loss of its DNS registrar over a single anti-semitic post on the platform. Note the double standard: Mark Zuckerberg is allowed to keep Holocaust deniers on Facebook without any blowback from DNS providers, but the same leeway isn’t extended to a competing social network.’
The anti-conservative bias is endemic within social media.
The anti-conservative bias is endemic within social media. As Calvin Freiburger reported in 2018: ‘Several former Facebook employees admitted in 2016 that the platform “routinely” manipulated its trending news feature to exclude topics of interest to conservatives. Multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes instituted at the beginning of the year have disproportionately impacted conservative politicians and websites. The social media giant has been forced to apologize for numerous instances of improperly flagging conservative or Christian content as “hateful” or otherwise inappropriate.’
The selective partisan banning of Twitter users on PC grounds is now business as usual.
The Left often say they want an inclusive and diverse society. But their idea of inclusion does not include conservatives, or even fellow Leftists not fully on board with the latest progressive cause celebre. Their idea of diversity, like communist Russia and China, has no place for diversity of viewpoint, with even the police in Britain making a priority of prosecuting ‘hate speech’. If it sounds totalitarian, that’s because it is.
Prospective PM Boris Johnson has in the past declared himself a friend of free speech. We may well get to see how that works out when the rubber hits the road, and PM Boris finds a Leftist mob at his door baying for conservative blood.
How would he have responded to the Roger Scruton fiasco in April, when the eminent conservative philosopher was rudely sacked by a Conservative government after a New Statesman smear piece? Let us hope very differently to Theresa May and the appalling James Brokenshire.
Perhaps he might start his premiership with a powerful show of commitment to liberal-conservative values, by sacking Brokenshire and reinstating Scruton. Doesn’t seem likely though, does it?
(Dr Will Jones is a maths graduate with a PhD in political philosophy and author of Evangelical Social Theology: Past and Present [Grove, 2017]. He blogs at Faith and Politics)