The Gift of Gab

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I want to take this occasion to write a bit about free speech, the importance of free speech, and the consequent importance of Gab. I am writing as one who has already transferred over to Gab, and I would encourage you all to do the same. Get your thinking sorted out on these free speech issues, and the biblical basis for it, and then make your way over. There may be some sluggishness in the sign-up because of how many people are getting woke to the woke and who are trying to do the same thing. But if you decide to migrate to this new refuge, this cyber Cave of Adullam, come on by and say hi. My handle there is @dougwils.

Just so you know, at the same time, I intend to remain here in the Jurassic Park of Dinosaur Big Tech Media until I am escorted off the premises by their Free Speech Bouncer, not to mention their Mixed Metaphor Bouncer, or until they fall into a tar pit. You know, sometimes when I write a sentence like that, I just have to sit down and rest for a bit.

But when they do fall into a tar pit, we can start calling them Gob, and your stark choice then will be between Gob and Gab. If this actually happens, we may utilize it as yet another proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

My Bona Fides

The question of censorship is not an academic one for me. I have been censored so many times, to Sunday and back, and so I think I can consider myself something of a journeyman in the craft of getting myself censored. I have been censored in straight-up-the-middle ways, the kind of censorship that is easily recognizable, even by liberals, and I have been censored by the Purveyors of Woke Uplift, those enlightened ones with necks full of righteousness These are the kind of folks who can bend the English language into any gumby pose you might suggest. For an example of the former, I have had the privilege of having Muslim extremists in Jakarta demand (and successfully) that one of my books be withdrawn from circulation, accompanied with abject apologies, and then burned. For an example of the latter, I have had Amazon Prime refuse to show an episode of a conversation I had with the redoubtable Peter Hitchens about COVID. There we were, just sitting there, spewing all kinds of wrongthink. One recognizes their concern, of course.

I have had the exquisite privilege of standing in a university classroom with a mob of endearing young cancel collegians yelling about how much they believed in free speech, but that this speech, the speech that I had not yet given mind you, was deemed by them a priori to be hate speech, and therefore not to be tolerated. I was able to give my talk, but only because the cops were present in force.

So I know whereof I speak. I have been repeatedly shut down, disinvited, censored, slandered, embargoed, yelled at, threatened, and canceled. Not only so, but I have gotten the treatment from bad guys and good guys both. Like Linda Ronstadt, I’ve been cheated, been mistreated. But unlike Linda, at least in that song, I do not feel sorry for myself. This is simply the cost of doing business anymore. At least if your business is true. This is what gospel witness looks like in a world gone bonkers.

Incidentally, when the good guys have pulled their skirts away from me, it has usually been because they do not want to be associated with my whole “white supremacy” and “misogyny” program. But now, lo! They too are now white supremacists and misogynists, and welcome, friends. Let me show you around the camp . . .

How Pinch Points Work

One of the central arguments against allowing the government to regulate the economy is that, in the final analysis, you are not regulating dollars and goods and transactions, but rather you are regulating people. And once you have obtained the right to regulate people, in the most rudimentary aspects of their lives, which right was originally granted to you because you were going to do something nice “for the children,” it turns out that you are actually going to use that authority to make it impossible for a critic of your administration to buy milk or bread, open a checking account, keep their job, and so on. There are people out there who believe that mankind is basically good, and this keeps happening to them.

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Revelation 13:17 (KJV)

Let me simplify things somewhat. An editor of a samizdat newsletter can just go into hiding. But Safeway can’t really go into hiding, and so the authorities can just head on over to Safeway—on the theory that even dissenters need to eat—and wait for him there. Or they can threaten Safeway with all kinds of unsavory consequences if they don’t cooperate with the authorities in helping them to secure the Public Safety.

Good old public safety. And no, I am not saying that masking up against COVID is the mark of the beast. I am a preterist, and Nero was the beast. But I am saying that tyrants always resort to the same kind of playbook. And if you don’t recognize this whole masking stunt as a giant beta test being run by tyrants, skunks, and scoundrels, then you may be a very nice Christian, but you have no business in the leadership of the coming resistance. You might be the sweetest Christian I know, but you can’t be a linebacker if you can’t read an offense.

These same techniques are used on people who are a free speech hazard. Shut them up, and one of the best ways to do that is to cut them off. One of the principles of war is communication, and that includes the supply lines. That means your adversary wants to cut your supply lines. If you have a microphone, they want to cut the electricity to it. If you have a platform, they want to cut your access to that platform. If you have a magazine, they want to cut off your ability to pay for paper and ink.

And if you are Andrew Torba of Gab, they have a desperate need to discredit you, deplatform you, demonetize you, and, if they get going good, disembowel you.

And so here comes the odd exhortation. You people need to act more like an Italian restaurant. All the restaurants in Italy recently decided that it was enough with the lock down nonsense already, and so they all opened on the same day. And the government said, “um, okay.” They can’t arrest everybody.

Ask yourself this. What do the voracious despots not want you to do? Then ask yourself why you haven’t done it already. Get over to Gab. Sign up already.

Handling the Obvious Objection

But what do you say when you are discussing this “radical” move at church with the little old ladies of both sexes? They express some concern over your testimony.

What the forces hostile to liberty are doing is plain enough to see. They are criminalizing decency, and then they are attacking the decent for hanging out with unsavory elements. They chased us all out, and then blamed us for leaving.

So . . .

“If you go over to Gab, you will be associating with white supremacists.” Well, apart from the fact that we are all white supremacists now, including the blackest of us, which is a separate issue for another time, let us limit our discussion to the fact that there are some genuine white supremacists out there in the world. And we all know they shouldn’t be like that. But if you create a free speech zone, within the first fifteen minutes somebody is going to show up in order to test your commitments.

Has anybody over at Gab said anything that was unsavory? I would be disappointed if they hadn’t. But wait, I’m not done. Read to the end.

The catacombs of ancient Rome, for example, were the haunt of runaway slaves, dangerous criminals, and outlawed Christians. So think about it for a minute. For the authorities to chase the Christians down into the hole, and then to blame the Christians for hanging out with slaves and criminals is, as Clement of Rome once put it, “a bit thick.”

So let us envision the time when preachers of the gospel have become denizens of the dark web, down there with mountebanks, child pornographers, renegades, and web developers. Am I going to feel bad about it? Am I going to shuffle my feet, staring down at the carpet in an abashed frame of mind? Not even a little bit. I would much rather be down in the catacombs with the criminals than up on the board of Facebook with the criminals. That is because the criminals in the catacombs will let me witness to them, while the criminals at Facebook would demand that I participate in their crimes. All the Pharisees are at Phacebook.

So to put it all into modern parlance, the hookers and proud boys are closer to the kingdom than are the compromised members of our evangelical Sanhedrin. This is because they know how desperately sinful they are, and the legacy custodians of the Glad Tidings, Inc. have no idea. To resort to a classic literary allusion, they are too busy running their gospel blimp.

And with reference to the Orwell quote above, sometimes the people do not want to hear it because the speaker is a nutcase and a nuisance, and other times they do not want to hear it because they are steeped in their sins and want their Jeremiah to shut it. And if they figure out a way to shut everybody up, then they won’t ever have to worry about which is which.

The Stakes

I have here on my desk a bulletin from the National Terrorism Advisory System. If you think we are playing poker with counters, you should think it through again.

The bulletin shows that the federal government still has a way with words. They have thus far identified Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs), and then, because the muse was still apparently resting upon them, Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs). What did these nefarious DVEs and HVEs do? Well . . .

“Throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment protected, non-violent protest activity.”

In some ways, you might think that this is just standard issue bureaucratic boilerplate, and that the government should protect individuals engaged in non-violent protest activity. Yes, they should, but remember that we just came out of an extended season in which cities were being burned down by mostly peaceful protesters. So why don’t I trust the government with a term like HVE?

Let me count the ways.

Our dictionaries are drunk, our lexicons are loopy, and our glossaries are grogged.

We live in a time when boys are girls and girls are boys. We live in a time when violence is speech and speech is violence. We live in a time when fascists are anti-fascists and anti-fascists are fascists. We live in a time when microaggressions are assault, and assault is the prerogative of the left. We live in a time when our white supremacists are color blind and anyone who claims to be color blind is a white supremacist. We live in a time when everybody gets to pick their own personal pronouns, and so grammarians are haters, and haters are grammarians. So then, our dictionaries are drunk, our lexicons are loopy, and our glossaries are grogged.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; That put darkness for light, and light for darkness; That put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Is. 5:20 (KJV)

In addition to all of that, those who have taken the hallucinogens of this brave new world are firm believers in their own right to enforce whatever thought has a grip on their minds at the time. Their rule is absolute, but it is also arbitrary and capricious.

As Schlossberg points out in Idols for Destruction, a lawless people will have to live under a multiplication of laws. A lawless people will need to be controlled, and the people struggling to be at the top will conduct themselves in an ad hoc and arbitrary way—which means countless laws. Chesterton made a similar point: “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

And in our day, these laws are not only tedious and petty, but they are also insane.

Laws will always reflect the character of the God who gives them. The God of Scripture is immutable and holy, and this means that the laws based on His nature and character will also be unchanging and holy. He is holy and so His laws are holy. He never changes, and so His moral code is fixed. But when Demos, the people, have been allowed to become god of the system, what happens then? When laws are based on the nature and character of that jitney god, what is the consequence? Man is fickle and constantly changing, and man is also manifestly unholy. Mankind is as unstable as water, and because of our sins, it is also dirty water. And that means that laws based on the character of this god will be constantly changing, and they will also be unholy.

Our laws are tedious because we are tedious.

We have declared ourselves to be our own gods, and this explains everything about our times. Our laws are stupid because we are stupid. Our laws are insane because we are insane. Our laws are corrupt because we are corrupt. Our laws are tedious because we are tedious. Our laws are unholy because we are unholy. Our laws are lame because we are lame. Our laws are fickle because we are fickle.

And, as I never tire of saying, there is only one way out. There is only one possible deliverance. There is only one Savior. If you want salvation, you will have to come to the one who has it. But you will have to speak His name. This is the promise. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32; Rom. 10:13).

And lest anyone distort my meaning, which has on occasion happened before, I am not setting Gab before you as any kind of salvation. But I am saying that Gab is a place where you will be allowed to speak the name of the one who is that salvation. Moreover, you will allowed to repeat and teach the things He taught.

And if you meet someone over there in need of the gospel of forgiveness, so much the better.

The Law and the Prophets

The last time I wrote about this issue of free speech, I was challenged by someone who was not persuaded by my case that free speech is a distinctively Christian and biblical value. They wanted to be persuaded, but I hadn’t gotten them there yet.

He agreed with me that free speech was not consistent with secularism, and could not be derived from secularist premises. The thing that was catching him up was the fact that “free speech” seemed like it was some kind of Enlightenment mantra. The very phrase makes it sound like it is an end in itself. Like art for art’s sake, this sounds like it is free speech for free speech’s sake, and that sounds like the kind of neutrality that no thinking Christian should be comfortable with.

So let me come at it from another angle. The proclamation of free grace results in free men. And free men bring freedom with them, wherever they go. Free men go into the marketplace and they create free markets. Free men go into the public square and they bring free speech with them.

The reason they are able to do this is that the genius of the gospel is that it internalizes the law. When the author of Hebrews is describing the great features of the new covenant, the two things he singles out are the forgiveness of sin (Heb. 10: 17), and the internalization of the law (Heb. 10: 16). Now far from being an exception to the freedom of the Christian man, the internalization of the law is the cause of freedom in the Christian man.

“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6:22–23 (KJV)

And when the gospel comes to a people, and a large number of people are converted, the end result is a Christian consensus. This is the Christian consensus that Francis Schaeffer saw breaking down in our time, and it is why he saw tyranny waiting in the wings. But when there is a Christian consensus established, and people are self-governed and self-controlled, it is not necessary to walk about with a cudgel monitoring what everybody says. They are, by and large, self-restrained. They are self-restrained because they know the meaning of propriety. They know that slaves to sin have not built a free society yet. Moreover, slaves to sin have not preserved a free society yet. Our disintegrating society is a case in point.

So if you start from a baseline of anarchy, where “free speech” is defined a priori as including lap dancing and whatnot, you have an “anything goes” atmosphere, and if there is one thing the depraved human heart is not to be trusted with, it is an anything goes atmosphere.

I have argued before that there is no such thing as absolute free speech. Our society has its blasphemy laws, like every society does, but we have a different name for it. We call our restricted speech hate speech instead of blasphemy but we are restricting speech every bit as much as the mullahs do. We just don’t see it because we are restricting things that seem self-evidently in need of such restriction. If you doubt what I say, rest assured that I know for a fact that I could go downtown in any major American city, stand on a park bench, and get arrested within fifteen minutes on the sole basis of what I was saying. I wouldn’t even have to leave Leviticus.

This whole thing is Rushdoony again, and the inescapable concept. It is not whether, but which. It is not whether we will have restraint on speech, but rather what kind of restraint we will have. The two basic choices are internal and external. Shall we have internal restraint on the things we say? or external? Internal restraint is only possible if the Spirit has given us new hearts, with those hearts connected to new tongues. John Adams once famously said that our constitution presupposed a moral and a religious people. It was, he said, wholly unfit for any other.

Restraint really is necessary, and if the people are given over to their lusts, then the restraints will of necessity be external. And if external, then coercive.

But the grace of God in the heart, wrought by the Spirit, is not coercive. It is inexorable, but not coercive. He brings life to the soul, and a living soul does not want to be mucking about with the putrid off-scourings of the world. All things are lawful, but not all things are necessary.

So once you have a Christian framework, a Christian consensus, the Christian can proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, and hear the unbeliever out when he replies. The preacher appreciates it when he is listened to courteously, and so within this framework created by the gospel, he is happy to return the favor. This is the law and the prophets.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 7:12 (KJV)