Stop the porn, they’ll say, but it’s the Christian sites they’re really out to silence
A column that appeared in the Financial Post last week over the signature of the Harvard law professor Noah Feldman is of direct concern to any Christian conscious of the Culture War that has engulfed our faith in the opening years of our 21st Century. It is a war that we, who live in the western world, have very definitely been losing. One of the reasons is that we too often don’t see the implications of such articles as Mr. Feldman’s.
What he discusses and effectively describes is the efforts of various governments, particularly the Canadian and German ones, to gain control over the content of the Internet. (His article is reprinted in this edition of The Christians.) My concern is that all Christians when reading it should be aware of two realities.
One is the fact that Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, have learned how to effectively use the web. It’s the one front on which we are beginning to score some major victories. Through the web we gain access to vital information that the mainstream news media either ignore because they don’t understand it, or deliberately suppress because they do.
The other is the fact that the reigning attitude in the news media, reflecting as it does the reigning attitude among public educators, is essentially hostile to the basic tenets of the Christian religion. This becomes blatantly apparent in the conflicts surrounding sex education. But it extends far beyond that — shaping the teaching of social studies, literature, the sciences, even mathematics. The bias will become plain when (if ever) the Alberta’s promised revolutionary curriculum is made public by our socialist rulers.
But in the meantime, consider what a convulsion the web has caused to the prior status quo. Things had been so cosily arranged. First, the lobbies took over the education system– women’s rights, native rights, sodomist rights, animal rights, clean air rights. It took years, but slowly these causes gained universal approval, faithfully reflected in the practitioners of the media. Soon scorn fell upon the defenders of the Old Order. They went from being out-of-date, to merely irrelevant, to “hate-mongers.”
The views of the lobby groups became the views of the government, the judges, the news anchors, the fashionable columnists and most of the literati. One was horrified to see sometime champions of “traditional values” prancing at the head of gay pride parades. Very bold and honest of them, some people said. Others saw them as gutless wimps. Meanwhile even the Conservative party endorsed gay marriage.
Religion had been safely silenced, or so it was assumed, and governments were headed and university boards chaired by persons, not that long ago known as “fags,” All was going so well for the New Order of mankind. But then things began going wrong. Chief among them was “the web.”
It didn’t arrive overnight. Its entré was measurable, but it was also overwhelming. Hardest hit were the big dailies– fat, flourishing, heavily over-staffed and dependably liberal, they had been, with 16 or more pages of classified advertising yielding annual revenues in the tens of millions of dollars. Swiftly, the web all but wiped the classified ad out of existence. Soon the number of pages were being reduced, then slashed. Editorial staffs were being cut by as much as 70 percent. The “hard news hole,” as it was once called, shrank, to be replaced by soft human interest stories, which were safe against libel, cheap to cover, and very soon tedious to read.
Television was hit just as hard, but for a different reason– at first, anyway. It was known as audience fragmentation. When TV arrived in strength, after years of experimentation, there was one station in each of the big cities. Very rapidly, almost every home acquired a TV, set and the lone station became a revenue gold mine. But then came the second station, then the third, fourth and fifth, and then cable with one or two hundred more. Finally the web arrived, challenging the entire TV and movie industry. The gold mine was gone.
The thing to note, however, is that the status quo of public communication has fundamentally changed. Where before in a mid-sized city there might be one or two newspapers, a dozen or so radio stations, and a small local presence of the big TV networks, there are now hundreds if not thousands of independent bloggers, vloggers, and a myriad of of social media hubs, all luring away the audiences of the former media big-timers, and many of them run, and run competently, by Christians. Understandably, the big-timers don’t like this, and the lobby groups liked it even less. How can you gain control of such a huge clatter of voices? They can’t, and this gravely erodes the political power of these lobbies.
Nowhere was this new situation made plainer than in the last American election. Whatever one might think of Mr. Trump, we must give him credit for one great achievement. He smashed the media game, and he did it chiefly through the web. How are the mighty fallen, and how fully did they deserve it. So no, we don’t have to wait for CNN to tell us what Mr. Trump did or did not do. He’ll tell us directly on Twitter. The exasperation of the media giants and the lobby giants is almost palpable. He’s bypassed them. You can almost feel their rage, and it leads them to one conclusion. They must somehow get control of the web.
It is exactly here that the Christians might become involved. Their enemies will seek their support in bringing the web under “sensible” control. Something must be done to prohibit the omni-presence on the web of pornography, they will say. This will be a lie. It’s not the pornographers they want to control. It’s the adverse voices who question Political Correction, and seek to reassert the values upon which the western world was built. In other words, it’s the Christians themselves they want top silence. So when the call comes for our support in controlling the web, our answer should be an unmistakeable NO!
Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.