As we’ve all heard, Twitter and other social media platforms are intensifying their crackdown on any Wrong Opinions that might be expressed on their platforms. I decided to test Twitter’s policies by making the following tweet:
Read closely: I’m simply stating my own beliefs, which, although they are considered controversial today, are all simply statements of Catholic teaching or common sense (and for those not on Twitter, “@jack” is the handle of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey).
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Well, Leftists are nothing if not predictable. A few days later I received a notice that this tweet had caused my account to be locked for “hateful conduct:”
Now, before I go on, I want to be clear that I’m not claiming victimhood or persecution. In fact, the very morning I received this notice I read the following passage from the Roman Martyrology:
At Spoleto, the passion of St. Pontian, Martyr, in the time of the Emperor Antoninus; whom Fabian the judge ordered to be beaten with rods for Christ’s sake, and to walk barefoot upon hot coals; but as he was in no way hurt by the hot coals, it was ordered that he be tortured on the rack and hung from iron hooks and so cast into prison, where he merited to be consoled by the visits of an angel. Afterwards he was exposed to the lions, boiling lead was poured over him, and he was at last smitten by the sword.
Now that’s persecution, and it puts into perspective the unseriousness of a sentence to Twitter Jail. If anything, what Twitter did to me was a favor, giving me an enforced 12-hour break from the social media behemoth.
Yet Twitter’s actions are a bellwether for the direction of our culture. For a long time, the Left demanded tolerance. Now it demands conformity and obedience, and it seeks to use the levers of power—both governmental power and corporate/media/educational power—to silence dissent. No longer is it possible to “live and let live;” even an expression of Catholic belief is classified as “hateful conduct.” A sentence to Twitter Jail might not be so bad, but what happens when that expression of Catholic belief runs into existing hate crime laws? Now we are talking about real persecution.
Let’s look for a minute at what I tweeted. Note that nowhere do I encourage people to take action of any kind. Nor do I urge or ask people to agree with me; I’m simply stating my personal beliefs, beliefs shared by millions of people worldwide. However, it is now considered “hateful conduct” by our betters to believe the wrong things publicly.
Further, the four points I state have been believed by all faithful Catholics since the founding of the Church. Heck, the first three points have been believed by all rational people in history until about five minutes ago. Yet now, just stating those beliefs is verboten.
(An aside showing how quickly our culture has fallen: the 1990’s popular sitcom Frasier had a running joke in which the main characters—both psychologists—would refer to men who dressed as women as obviously disturbed. The writers used this joke because they understood everyone watching would immediately agree that such behavior was a sign of mental illness. Imagine the howls of protest from the woke mobs if a show made such a joke today.)
The irony is that Twitter’s attempt to restrict dissident voices goes against its own history. The use of Twitter was influential in amplifying the dissident voices of the Arab Spring back in 2012, and Twitter’s role in turn helped establish the social media company as a force to be reckoned with against the Establishment. Now it is the platform used to crush dissenting voices for the Establishment.
I’ve heard the argument that Twitter is a private company and can regulate its use however it wants. While there’s some truth to that, it ultimately misses the bigger picture. First, Big Tech is very much in bed with Big Government. To pretend that Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and other tech titans aren’t working in union, either explicitly or implicitly, with government leaders is naive at best. So to say that Twitter is a “private” company might technically be true, but it ignores the interweaving of government and corporation in our modern crony capitalist economy.
Further, our national conversation today happens primarily on the Internet, especially since COVID-19 lockdowns on social gatherings (other than liberal-approved protests) were put into place; restricting speech on the major platforms can have a tremendous impact on the direction of our country. To ban people from this national conversation on the basis of Wrong Opinions is Orwellian to the extreme, even if it’s not explicitly the government restricting speech.
Twitter’s crackdown on dissident voices (and yes, repeating Catholic teaching makes you a dissident voice in America today) reflects the shrinking freedom Catholics are experiencing in society that goes beyond technology platforms. The Twitter police are merely reflecting what more and more people—especially influential people—believe: that practicing Catholicism is hateful conduct, period. Sure, Vichy Catholics such as Cardinal Wilton Gregory and Fr. James Martin will always be welcomed in our Brave New World of woke oppression, but those who actually express Catholic teaching that contradicts the cultural narrative will be silenced.
This anti-Catholic ideology impacts far more than just our ability to post memes to strangers online. Employees at most Fortune 500 companies realize that they can’t publicly express opinions like my banned tweet, even during off-hours, for fear of disciplinary action. Catholic churches and saint statues were vandalized last summer, simply because representations of Catholicism needed to be expunged from society. It’s likely that faithful Catholics will continue to get squeezed into smaller and smaller ghettos.
When I was young, I looked with pity at citizens of the Soviet Union or East Germany because they could not speak freely, often even in their own homes. Now that atmosphere has reached our shores. Whether the silencing comes directly from the State or from State-sponsored Big Tech, Big Media, Big Medicine, or Big Education doesn’t matter. What matters is that the freedom to proclaim the Gospel is diminished.
But this does not mean we should lose hope. Although Jack Dorsey may seem at times all-powerful (or at least more powerful than the President of the United States), we know there is One far more powerful than the bearded Twitter CEO. Throughout history the Church has been able to spread her message of truth and salvation to the ends of the earth in spite of forces arrayed against it. And always those enemy forces eventually fade into history while the Church remains. We may today face an increased censoring of our voices, but we can have faith that the message of Christ will never be silenced.
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