Aside from the fact that they operate in cyberspace, Facebook and other such social networking sites are no different than theater complexes, trade shows or other establishments whose “operations… affect commerce.”
Federal law addresses such entities.
42 U.S.C. §2000a (a)All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. (Title II of the Civil Rights Act (Public Accommodations)
As that term is defined in 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(c), ‘commerce’ specifically includes “communication among the several States, or between the District of Columbia and any State, or between any foreign country or any territory or possession and any state or the District of Columbia, or between points in the same State but through any other State or the District of Columbia or a foreign country.”
Lately Facebook appears to be making particularly aggressive moves against freedom of speech by conservatives. Particularly targeted are those who express views that offer facts and reasoning which contradict the specious Constitutional jurisprudence that demands respect for various gender claims, and equal public regard for a variety of sexual practices. Yet these demands deny or disparage God-endowed unalienable rights, attributes of humanity (like the sexual distinction for purposes of procreation) that are necessarily antecedent to all human laws and constitutions. Moreover, as the term “unalienable” plainly requires, people retain such rights no matter what human laws or edicts purport to gainsay them.
The British Monarch’s violations of God-endowed unalienable right, attested by facts set forth in the Declaration of Independence, were the lawful grounds on which the people of the United States moved to dissolve their ties to the people of Great Britain. They did so in order to defend their exercise of God-endowed rights. So, it was on God’s authority (i.e., as the result of their obligation to Him) that the American people claimed independent sovereignty over themselves, pursuant to “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God.”
Without the use of words to analyze and ponder issues of right and wrong, it is impossible for human beings to make the choice between them that our nature requires. This use of words, for purposes of moral reasoning and judgment is the indispensable adjunct of a capacity inseparable from our distinctively human way of being (nature). It falls within the sphere of unalienable right, as the necessary means to a lawfully required end. That end is to do right according to God’s provision. Interfering with the operation of the means must prevent the end from being attained. So, respect for God-endowed right forbids such interference.
Freedom of speech is essential to right reasoning. So is consideration of the standards of right and law informed and upheld by God’s authority. Isn’t this why freedom of religion and of speech are the first rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights? Obviously, this is not to assure or contribute to the prevalence of wrongs. But human understanding requires that we ponder facts and possibilities in light of God’s provisions for right action, i.e., for acting or not acting in this way or that. This process of deliberation is essential to responsibility. Responsibility is required for accountability. And accountability is required so that laws may be applied for good reason, under the right circumstances, in the right way, and to the right persons.
Contrary to the ideologically driven spew coming from various quarters these days, freedom of speech is not some contrivance of human power intended only to serve the self-interest of those who invented it. Rather, it is a demand of human understanding, which suspends the operation of material human powers so that people and facts can be reviewed and considered in light of standards of right and justice. Such standards give and take account of what is due to the existence of each person, thing and action according to the information of the ultimate power, the one that determines how each thing exists, both in and of itself and in relation to the others. For this accounting to take place, each must be allowed, to speak of, if not always for, itself.
The failure to make this allowance leads to judgments made without empirical examination and analysis, based on pre-existing opinions, ideas or conceptions. In a word, it leads to prejudiced and preemptive conclusions. It’s ironic that the present clamor for restrictions on freedom of speech is mainly coming from precisely the quarters—in the media, education and politics—whence the loudest denunciations of racial, ethnic, gender and other prejudices are to be heard. Obviously, their aim is not to eliminate prejudice. Rather, it is to secure the triumph of their own prejudices.
Such are the forces now at work at Facebook and other such social networking businesses, whose commerce is, or else includes, communication. They mean to suppress speech that challenges any prejudices not their own. But isn’t the United States still governed by its laws and Constitution? Aren’t businesses that accommodate public exchanges and conveyances still subject to the Civil Rights Act? Instead of just publicizing Facebook’s growing abuses, isn’t it long past time for the victims of its attacks on free speech to seek such justice as that law provides?
Nor is it coincidental that that attack on free speech appears to be an aspect of the assault against the free exercise of religion. People who follow the example of Christ rely on speech, guided by his mind and loving heart, as the main instrument for spreading Christ’s Good News of salvation. Once speech has been proscribed, material power regains its age-old preeminence. Instead of changing hearts with compelling speech, power uses fear and deceit to force people into servitude. Is Facebook bidding to be in the vanguard of this turn toward anti-Christian, totalitarian despotism—not just in the United States, but around the world?
Two things are urgently needed: 1) An avalanche of formal complaints to appropriate Civil Rights Offices if the US Government, and attendant lawsuits against Facebook’s attacks on freedom of speech; and 2) promotion of a competitive alternative(s) to Facebook committed to respecting the logic and purpose of the U.S. Constitution’s enumeration of freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights, as well as the Ninth Amendment’s language prohibiting any construction of the enumeration of rights that denies or disparages rights retained by the people. These latter include, foremost of all, the God-endowed, unalienable rights whose surrender entails the loss of humanity itself.
Alan Keyes is a political activist, a prolific writer and a former diplomat.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.