Political activists on the left are calling on Mark Zuckerberg to assume the role of censor on Facebook. Facebook has the right to allow or prohibit any content Facebook wants. The left can call on Facebook to do this, but it is a bad idea. Both Facebook and Zuckerberg are right to refuse. By way of disclosure, I am holding my annual Resurgent Gathering in a few weeks and Facebook is a sponsor.
The left is starting out with the most notorious cause — Nazis. These groups have no legitimacy and should be shunned in society. But the left’s calls for censorship go beyond that. I am no fan of the website Infowars and its conspiracy theory nonsense, but it is a place many people go to for “news” and information. Forcing Facebook to take a side against Infowars may seem easy, but then Facebook is getting directly into the role of determining whose content is good and whose content is bad when InfoWars unquestionably has an audience.
Remember, there are 300 million Americans with 400 million handguns in private ownership, and the left wants Apple, Roku, etc. to ban the National Rifle Association’s internet streaming service because they disagree with an organization that supports an explicit constitutional right. They are playing censors and demanding others do the same. If they get Facebook to take down InfoWars, what about the NRA?
Then what about climate change skeptics? The left has spent more than a decade trying to convince people that 99 percent of scientists agree the climate is changing, but even that stat is rather fraudulent. Among those who agree on climate change, there is a vast array of diversity in opinions, but the left has worked overtime to clamp down on that diversity. There is no public consensus on the issue in the United States, but already some newspapers in the country refuse to run views skeptical of climate change. Once the white supremacists are gone, legitimate scientists who do not go with the herd will be targeted on this issue.
Then there are the Christians. Two would-be mass murderers in the United States were both fans of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it directly inspired one of those murderers. But Amazon just relied on the SPLC to ban a Christian legal group from its Amazon Smiles program. Should Facebook also shut down the Alliance Defending Freedom?
What about targeting the Catholic Church because of its views on gay marriage? What about the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention because of its views on homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. — views shared by more than a billion people worldwide, but not by the left in the United States?
When will they demand Facebook shut down faith-based crisis pregnancy centers? They’ve already tried to force those organizations to advocate for abortion, and the Supreme Court had to step in. Should Jack Phillips have his Facebook account suspended because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission equated him to a Nazi?
Facebook and Zuckerberg are not saying they agree with or that they like Nazis. What they are saying is that they are providing a platform open to everyone, including opponents of Nazis, to share their views. It is not Zuckerberg’s problem than anyone fails to evangelize more effectively than Nazis. The free marketplace of ideas that Facebook encourages should be open to all. Just because you and I do not like the view does not mean we should shut it down. And we should not confuse providing a platform or service with an endorsement of those who take advantage of the platform or service. To take that position will only more badly fracture the nation.
The hysteria of the left over this issue and their demands that some views be silenced will only suggest to some that those views should be explored as some bit of gnostic knowledge. We should expose the world to what Nazi hate looks like and why it is terrible, not drive it into the shadows where it can more fully fester unnoticed.
Erick Erickson is a prominent conservative writer, speaker, and radio talk show host. You can find more of his writing at The Resurgent.