Last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg slipped a fresh, new suit over his trademark t-shirt and for two days sat stony-faced in front of Senators twice his age at a Congressional hearing.
The conversation touched on a lot of things, but what got my attention was the discussion about “hate speech.”
The catch all phrase, “hate speech” seems to be the new bogeyman. It’s been used by Facebook, college campuses, online forums and other entities to remove racially insensitive speech, terrorist-inspired discussion, and personal threats.
But the term is defying definition and widening its net. Sen. John Thune asked Zuckerberg to define Facebook’s idea of “hate speech.”
Zuckerberg acknowledged that hate speech is a challenge for artificial intelligence, though, calling it “linguistically nuanced. You need to understand what is a slur and whether something is hateful, and not just in English,” he said.
He said Facebook has 15-20,000 security and content “reviewers” scattered around the globe. And the company is developing Artificial Intelligence to scan for content that is not acceptable.
The devil is in the details. And in this instance, in the reviewers. Whose to judge the judges? What standards will they use?
Once AI starts scanning, will they look for key words? Will there be a lexicon of what’s permissible and what is to be banned?
And what will this mean for Christians?
Is Christianity intolerant?
So that brings us to Christianity, which is increasingly being framed as a religion of “intolerance and hate.”
Why would they say this? The vast majority of charitable works, money and deeds are fronted by Christians in the US and around the world. The very tenants of our faith are the basic building blocks of human decency that respectable societies have been modeled after.
Love. Faith. Hope. These are the three things that will remain. We cling to a higher standard, care for the oppressed and a firm belief that we can make a difference on this planet.
But the world hates us because we have standards. We have expectations for those who wear the name of Christ. For 2000 years we have preached a lifestyle that is free from adultery, bestiality, pedophilia, polygamy, polyandry, pornography, and other societal norms that are being promoted in the name of tolerance.
Right now, our stand for traditional marriage – the same marriage that has been the norm throughout every society in the world until a mere 10 years ago – is being labeled “hate speech.”
In Sweden, a pastor was jailed for a month for preaching a sermon against same sex relationships.
Sen. Cory Booker in a disgusting display of bigotry, grilled Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, on of all things, his personally held views on gay marriage and even gay sex.
He went after him because Pompeo has been very clear regarding his faith. How a man feels about gay marriage has nothing to do with his duties in the Department of State.
Facebook is already being accused of censorship of conservative voices – and it won’t be long to trim out Christian voices.
Jesus said it would be like this
I think we need to buckle in – because it’s coming. Our every belief will now be twisted and turned. What we think is honorable and true will be flipped.
We should double down on peace. When we are slapped, we should offer the other cheek. We should be peacemakers in our communities. We need to offer the olive branch. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
But we are also told that the world won’t understand us. We will be mocked. We will be isolated. We be scorned.
The day may come when we will be further oppressed or even persecuted for our faith. It seems Christians are holding dear to the Constitution, believing it will protect them. But I think we should hold even closer to the Bible and its promise of persecution.
Opposition to our way of life, to our faith, is a certainty, a little-quoted promise of Jesus. He said we would be brought up on charges, that our very way of life would be called into question.
“On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings because you are my followers,” said Jesus. “You will be hated by everyone because of me.” (Matt 10.20-23)
So, make your choice right now.