No platforming is ancient. [Acts 13]

When the lectionary breaks a sermon in half, you have a choice. Do you look at other scripture, or do you continue from yesterday’s post? Which was about the need to use reason with those who are reasonable.

This is important, and it is a filter. Consider the response to the end of Paul’s sermon. It was aimed at Jews who were waiting for the Messiah. It was discussing what was known: Josephus talks of the Nazarene, as does the Talmud. Jesus was and is an important figure in Jewish news then, and history now.

The people who would consider reason wanted to know more. Those who did not managed to take away the platform for preaching — they cast (not in this text) Paul, Barnabas and the believers out. This was a pattern that continued throughout acts.

No platforming is ancient. It is a form of censorship, and it used to work.

And when you are doing it to your allies, you have lost the argument.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the termites have spread to Berkeley, and have dined well on the wooden heads of the Deciders. Although there are undoubtedly a few authoritarian Dawkins-bashing atheists who will be pleased at this, it’s a terrible blow for free speech, and likely a big disappointment for those who hoped to see Richard. I’m sure that some of the Perpetually Offended, with perhaps Muslims among them, complained to the radio station, and KPFA caved.

I asked Richard about what happened, and what KPFA was. He emailed his response, which I reproduce with permission:

KPFA is a liberal radio station in Berkeley. When I lived there, they were the good guys and I listened to their station almost every day. They were scrupulous in their fact-checking in those days – how sad that they have come to this: if they had done any fact-checking at all, they couldn’t possibly have come to the conclusion that I used “abusive speech” against Islam. The only only one of my tweets I can find this year, which could possibly be called abusive, is nothing to do with Islam. As follows:

“Ashamed to be American?” Don’t be. The majority of you voted against this narcissistic, xenophobic, vainglorious, ignorant 2-year-old. [JAC: This was of course about Trump.]

Not only did KPFA fail to fact-check. They didn’t even tell me before cancelling the event and refunding tickets.

KPFA, like so many, is guilty of confusing free speech with “abusive speech”, banning a talk, and thus depriving people of the chance to hear Richard–and probably ask him questions or even criticize him. Here’s the station’s inevitable “but”:

While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech.

Give me a break! Criticism of ideas is not criticism of people, nor is it “abuse.” Shame on KPFA for not realizing this, and for their craven behavior in canceling the talk.

With the reasonable you can use reason. There is an irony in all this: Dawkins invented memes.

But he does not understand that memes are compressed rhetoric and you use them against your enemies. He does not understand that this is a spiritual war. And therefore he failed with “bright” and he cannot fight the tactics of the master of lies.

Acts 13:26-43

26“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead; 31and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
‘You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.’
34As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’
35Therefore he has also said in another psalm,
‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’
36For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; 37but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. 38Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:
41  ‘Look, you scoffers!
Be amazed and perish,
for in your days I am doing a work,
a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’”

42As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. 43When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

With the reasonable, the argument for the gospel depends on one, crucial fact. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Paul was correct to emphasise this. He noted it was a way to salvation: for the Jews of the dispersion, it was the only way to salvation, for the temple was far away and one’s sin and guilt needed to be covered in blood.

Christ took that away, and through him the law of Moses and the law of nature no longer damns us. For all of us damned are.

For the unreasonable, we have to confront. This is the place of memes. This is the place for rhetoric. And this is what they fear.

But the real reason, as we all know, is that Godfrey Elfwick did the thing the totalitarian cry bullies of the liberal-left fear even more than facts and reasoned argument: he ridiculed them.

It is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has spent more than a moment glancing at social media that SJWs can’t do jokes. Or banter. Or memes. Given that social media is mostly about jokes, banter, and memes, this means that SJWs spend their every moment on the internet in a state of near-impotent pique. They cannot strike back with wit or charm or facts or evidence or amusing images of Pepe the frog, for these are all things they singularly lack. So every time they are forced to resort to the only weapon in their armory: censorship.

The reason they can do the censorship thing is because, by unhappy accident, most of the dominant tech sites – not just Twitter, Facebook, and Google but also ones like Patreon which recently cancelled Lauren Southern’s account because she’d committed the crime of being a conservative – are run by liberals who want the whole world to think and act like liberals.

This explains their appalling double standards.

Anyone who defends truth and gives freedom voice allows us to decrease the volume, subvert the liberal justice worriers who monitor social media, regulate banter, and muzzle the gospel. For if you trigger shame and guilt you may get self reflection. This may lead to godly sorrow, and if the Spirit moves, repentance.

This is why in older generations we preached about sin and hell. In this time, when sin is seen as anything not politically correct, and hell a worthy goal, we mock the preachers of the narrative of this age.

And we will be called evil, for we look to beauty, truth, righteousness, and a risen Christ.

But we like our leaders, who are taking away our platforms, we will not be. We shall pray that God is merciful and allows them to repent. For their path leads, with great reliability, to their doom, which is pain, horror and destruction.