July 30, 2018
Phil Johnson, Ph.D.
Free speech is one of my core issues – I often speak about the importance of liberty to groups that I’m working with. Personally, I believe that the freedom to express ideas, to think, to speak, to write and to believe are essential to the human experience. Those freedoms lead to the ultimate freedom – the freedom to believe, worship and enter into a life-changing relationship with God.
But every time I turn around, free speech seems to be at the mercy of the politically correct narrative that the progressive media, liberal institutions and societies want to tell. Even when one is simply trying to relate facts.
Last week, I published an article titled, “The Truth About Iran’s Role in Syria.” You can read it here. The information came from a confidential source of Global Next’s in Syria – it was an eye-opening account of Shiite Militias operating in Syria, backed by Iran. The article includes information about where these militias are trained, how they are financed and what their goals are in the wake of ISIS’s political defeat. The article was read by people in at least 18 different countries – and yet, when I tried to promote the article further, I was told by several online media outlets that the content of my article was unacceptable, controversial and violated their policies. My “offense” in their view was that “I was advocating for or promoting a specific religion or political view.” It’s called INFORMATION, folks and NEWS, and SCOOPS and CONTEXT to situations. Who am I offending? Terrorists? Iran? Violent militiamen? People who hold anti-American and anti-Western ideology? Was I banned because I simply told the truth about what’s happening in the world?
Even to promote the post on Facebook, I was told that I did not have authorization to promote “information related to politics and issues of national importance,” unless I submitted myself to a lengthy “identification” process. As the president of Global Next and a full member of the International Federation of Journalists as well as the United States Press Agency, what have I been researching, teaching, writing and reporting about for the last 15 years? Why the obstacles now? Why on this particular piece of writing?
Supposedly this is all in the name of limiting “fake news” and making sure people are not misinformed. In reality, it is a complete limitation on promoting verifiable information from a first-person source regarding an important geopolitical issue that affects humans, governments and U.S. interests. In other words, it’s an attempt to block content from people like me who are independent, not controlled by other sources or governments and who have vital perspectives to share.
Anyway, for their new efforts to reign in free speech, Facebook’s stock plunged about 20% this past week, losing about 120 BILLION dollars in value. I’m not feeling very sad for them.
But none of this should come as a surprise – freedom and liberty have been under attack for a long time and individual leaders would be wise to speak up and speak out while they still can. Maybe you won’t like everything you hear – and maybe freedom of speech is messy and allows others to share ideas you won’t agree with. But I’d rather live in a society where ideas get to be expressed and defended than in a world where “incorrect thinking” (according to the powers that be) is punished.
I will embrace the example of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6, where he asked for continual prayer so that, “…words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”