If you haven’t copped a warning or a temporary suspension for a Facebook post that supposedly violates the platform’s arbitrary Community Standards, chances are you know somebody who has. You might even know someone who’s had their account permanently disabled, especially if they dared to contradict the three-year-long Covidiotic narrative or challenge the prevailing rainbow ideology of the day.
But imagine if the penalties for wrong-speak became far more costly. Hefty fines and prison time for communicating the wrong thought might sound like something out of the pages of an Orwell novel. But as is becoming increasingly evident, Orwell appears nearer to prophecy these days than mere fiction.
According to the Daily Mail, a sweeping law could see Australians jailed for three years for posting content deemed ‘offensive’ on Facebook.
In a draconian move said to be “protecting minority groups,” the Queensland Labor government has introduced a bill that would “dramatically increase the maximum prison sentence for racist, anti-gay, anti-trans or seriously bigoted statements.”
The Criminal Code (Serious Vilification and Hate Crimes) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 proposes an increase in the penalty for “bigoted public statements” from six months in prison to three years.
Inflammatory Facebook posts would be a criminal offence with legislation covering “any form of communication to the public, including by speaking, writing, printing, displaying notices, broadcasting, telecasting, screening or playing of tapes or other recorded material, or by electronic means.”
While the harsher penalties may be welcomed by those who subscribe to the current, protected zeitgeist, it’s crucial to recognise that all we have here is a secular form of blasphemy laws that lay the groundwork for a system with the potential of becoming far more oppressive and authoritarian than any “religious” alternative.
Social media giants, with all of their billions of dollars, have demonstrated that wrong-speak cannot be policed with either a fair or consistent approach. A prevailing ideology always ends up punishing religious dissent while pardoning the sins of their own.
It’s inevitable. Without the restraint of an established standard beyond itself, speech laws can be enforced without any limiting parameters beyond the arbitrary and subjective judgements of those with the power to wield them.
What’s deemed punishable “bigotry” will inevitably vary depending on the ideological convictions and religious beliefs of those in power. The guilty will, therefore, be determined by the prevailing state religion. And yes, that includes the religion of secularism. This is the ultimate end.
The powerful only need to slap a “bigotry” label on an unapproved opinion, and suddenly they have justification to silence, or potentially jail, their opposition without even having to engage with their arguments.
While that may work in the favour of some at present, there’s no sure guarantee of the future. Precedent matters. Once the state religion changes, so too will the standard of socially acceptable speech, so that what is lauded today could just easily be regarded punishable tomorrow.
This is the folly of forming policy in response to social trends rather than objective truth. Trends eventually become unfashionable, and laws established to punish today’s unfashionables can then be wielded with as much force, if not more, to squash today’s trends once they’ve exhausted their appeal.
For this reason alone, folks on either side of the debate should think long and hard about punishing wrong-speak. Especially when those enforcing such measures have no coherent standard for pronouncing such moral judgments. Those who push for laws that privilege one group over another, could find themselves like Haman, hanging on the very gallows they constructed for their enemies (Esther 7:10).