Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 6

Previous Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 4 & 5

“Lord, if it is you, withdraw your glorious light into yourself so that we can stand it,” the disciples said. “Otherwise our eyes are blinded, and the whole world will be disturbed by the great light which surrounds you.”

Jesus drew the glory of his light into himself, and when this was done, all the disciples took courage, came forward to Jesus, fell down all together, and adored him, rejoicing greatly.

“Rabbi, where did you go, and what was the mission on which you went?” they asked him. “What were all these confusions and all the earth quaking which has taken place?”

“Rejoice and exult from this hour on, for I have gone to the regions from which I came,” said Jesus, the compassionate. “From this day on I will discourse with you openly, from the beginning of the Truth to its completion. I will speak to you face to face without similitude. From this hour on, I will not hide anything from you of the mystery of the heights12 and of the region of Truth13. For authority has been given to me by the Ineffable14 through the First Mystery of all mysteries to speak with you, from the Beginning right up to the Fullness, both from the inside out and the outside in. Listen, therefore, so that I may tell you all things. When I was sitting a little removed from you on the Mount of Olives, I thought about the order of the ministry for which I was sent, that it was completed15. The last mystery, which is the twenty-fourth mystery from the inside out to those in the second space of the First Mystery16, had not yet sent me my Vesture17, which I had left behind in it until my ministry was completed.

12 Heaven

13 Reflecting the Gnostic belief that the heavenly realm is pure and true, and the material world is a cosmic accident.

14 The creator

15 Jesus’s ministry, i.e. the preaching of the gospel

16 ‘The second space of the First Mystery’ is another name for the heavenly realm.

17 Vesture literally means “robe”, but Christ is referring to the light he was emitting. His robe of light, which during his incarnation as Jesus he had left in heaven, shows that he has returned as a heavenly being, the Word incarnate.

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Review: “The Little Things”

* D

The Little Things is a crime drama that stars Denzel “McCall” Washington as a damaged ex-homicide detective who stumbles onto the return of the serial killer who ended his career. His successor, played by Rami “Mercury” Malek, invites him to the crime scene, and they end up partnering to find the killer.

The pace of the film is slow, the plot uninteresting. One would expect, then, that the characters would be interesting. Unfortunately, they are not. Washington plays a depressing shadow of the golden boy he once was. Malek is unlikable as the overachiever who replaced him. Jared “Joker” Lito delivers a quirky, disturbing performance, but we get little insight into why he does what he does.

If you expected a redemption story, you will be disappointed. If you expected a horrific twist ending like “Seven”, you’ll also be disappointed. There is no cat and mouse. Washington’s character is no Will Graham, Leto’s is no Hannibal Lecter. The writer seems to be going for “the real world has no heroes”. All in all, this film was a huge disappointment.

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Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 4 & 5

Previous Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 3

The disciples sat together in fear and were exceedingly agitated and afraid because of the great earthquake which, and they wept together.

“What will happen?” they said. “Will the Saviour will destroy the entire world?”

While they were wondering this and weeping together, on the ninth hour of the next day, the heavens opened, and they saw Jesus descend, shining most brilliantly, and there was no measuring the light which he emitted. He shone more radiantly than at the hour when he had ascended to the heavens, so that men of our world could not describe the light which came from him. It shot forth rays of light in uncountable abundance, and its light was not uniform, some rays being more excellent than others9; the whole light consisted together10. It was of three kinds, and the each kind was more excellent than the last. The second was more excellent than the first, which was below, and the third, which was above them both, was more excellent than the first two. The first glory, which was placed below them all, was like the light that had come over Jesus before he had ascended to heaven, and was like only itself in its light.

When the disciples saw this, that they were exceedingly afraid, and were agitated. Jesus, the compassionate and tender-hearted, when he saw his disciples were greatly agitated, spoke to them.

“Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”11 he said.

9 There are several lacuna (missing words or phrases) in this chapter, this being the first.

10 There are three kinds of light, and they are all different, yet at the same time, the whole light ‘consists together’. This is reminiscent of the paradox of the Christian trinity: There are three beings, none of which are the same as the others, but all of which are God.

11 This is exactly what Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 14:27 when they are frightened by him walking on water.

Next Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 6

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Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 3

Previous Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 2

When the light had come down over Jesus, it gradually surrounded him entirely. Then Jesus ascended or soared to the heights, shining brightly with an immeasurable light. The disciples gazed after him and none of them spoke, until he had reached heaven; they all kept in deep silence. This came to pass on the fifteenth day of the month Tybi, the day on which the moon was full.

Three hours after Jesus had reached heaven, all the powers of the heaven fell into agitation, and were set in motion against one another, they and all their æons, regions, and orders, and the whole earth shook, and all who dwelled upon it6. All the men in the world fell into agitation, and also the disciples, and all thought that perhaps the world would end.

The agitation of all the powers in the heavens did not ceased, and the whole world shook, and all were moved against one another, from the third hour of the fifteenth day of the moon of Tybi until the ninth hour of the next day.7 All the angels, their archangels, and all the powers of heaven sang praises to the interiors of the interiors, so that the whole world heard their voices8, which did not cease until the ninth hour of the next day.

6 Surely an earthquake felt around the world would have been recorded by the Romans. This claim is much more fantastic than the claim in Matthew 27:51 that upon Jesus’s crucifixion, the veil of the temple was split into two from top to bottom by an earthquake, and that the rock hills could be seen dividing.

7 The quake is said to last for thirty hours.

8 Topping off these extraordinary claims, the entire world are said to have heard the heavenly choir. Though this book was likely written at least 260 years after the date in question, and probably a century or more later, it’s hard to believe that this chapter was intended to be taken as literal truth.

Next Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 4 & 5

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Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 2

Previous Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 1

The disciples were sitting together on the Mount of Olives, speaking of these words and rejoicing in great joy, and exulting exceedingly.

“We are blessed before all men on earth, because the Saviour has revealed this to us, and we have received the Fullness and the total completion,” they said this to one another, while Jesus sat a little removed from them.

A great light descended on Jesus5. It was the fifteenth day of the moon in the month Tybi, which is the day on which the moon is full. On that day, when the sun had risen, there came forth behind him a great light, shining most brightly. There was no measure to its brightness. For it came out of the Light of lights, and it came out of the last mystery, which is the twenty-fourth mystery, counting from within to without those mysteries that are in the second space of the First Mystery. The light came down over Jesus and surrounded him entirely, while he was seated away from his disciples, and he shone most brightly, and there was no measureing the light which was on him.

It surrounded him entirely. The disciples did not seen Jesus because of the great light that was about him. Their eyes were darkened by the great light that surrounded him. They saw only the light, which shot forth many rays. The rays were not like one another; the light was of all kinds, each ray more excellent than the last. The great immeasurable glory of light stretched from beneath the earth right up to heaven. When the disciples saw that light, they fell into great fear and great agitation.

5 Compare this to Mathew 17:2, where Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, and his face shone like the sun, and his cloths were as white as the light.

Next Chapter: Book 1, Chapter 3

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Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 1

The Pistis Sophia is a Gnostic treatise that puts Gnostic teachings into a Christian framework. It is a much harder read that The Hypostasis of the Archons and The Secret Book of John. I’m going to attempt to make it easier to read for modern audiences, without changing the meaning of the text. My modern English version is based on G. S. R. Mead’s translation, which is available from the Gnostic Society Library. Mead based his translation on a Latin translation of a Coptic translation of a Greek original.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent eleven years discoursing with his disciples, and instructing them only up to the regions of the First Commandment and up to the regions of the First Mystery, that within the Veil, within the First Commandment, which is the twenty-fourth mystery without and below–those twenty-four which are in the second space of the First Mystery which is before all mysteries,–the Father in the form of a dove.

“I have come forth out of the First Mystery, which is also the last mystery, which is the twenty-fourth1 mystery,” Jesus said to his disciples.

His disciples had not known nor understood that anything existed within that mystery. They thought that mystery was the source of the universe and of all existence. They thought it was the completion of all completions, because of what Jesus had told them concerning it: that it surrounded the First Commandment, the five Impressions, the great Light, the five Helpers, and the whole Treasury of the Light.

Jesus had not told his disciples of the total expansion of all the regions of the great Invisible, the three triple-powers, the twenty-four invisibles, and all their regions, æons, and orders, nor of how they were extended–those which were the emanations of the great Invisible–and their ungenerated, self-generated, and generated, and their light-givers, their unpaired, their rulers, authorities, lords, archangels, angels, decans, servitors and all the houses of their spheres and all the orders of every one of them.

Jesus had not told his disciples of the total expansion of the emanations of the Treasury of the Light, nor their orders, nor how they were extended; nor had he told them their saviours, according to the order of every one, how they were; nor had he told them what guard was at each of the gates of the Treasury of the Light; nor had he told them of the region of the Twin-saviour, who is the Child of the Child; nor had he told them about the regions of the three Faithful2, nor in what regions they were expanded; nor had he told them into what region the five Trees were expanded; nor what the region the seven Faithful2 known as the Voices was, nor how they were expanded.

Jesus had not told his disciples of what the types of the five Helpers were, nor into what region they were brought; nor had he told them how the great Light had expanded itself, nor into what region it had been brought; nor had he told them of the five Impressions, nor as to the First Commandment, into what region they have been brought. He had discoursed with them generally, teaching that they exist, but he had not told them their expansion and the order of their regions, how they are. For this cause they have not known that there were also other regions within the first mystery.

Jesus did not tell his disciples that he had gone forth out of such regions before he entered into the first mystery, and until he came forth out of it. For this reason, they thought that the first mystery was the completion of completions, that it was the source of the universe, and that it is the total Fullness3.

“The first mystery surrounds the universe that I have spoken of to you from the day when I met you until now,” Jesus said to his disciples.

For this reason, the disciples thought there was nothing within that mystery.

1 According to Acts, Jesus remained with his disciples for only forty days after his resurrection before ascending to Heaven.

2 The first is the last, which is the twenty-fourth. In the old testament, Yahweh, the heavenly father, declares himself to be the alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and the omega, the last and twenty-fourth letter.

3 I’ve replaced the Greek word Amēns with Faithful.

4 Fullness is almost certainly Mead’s translation of the word Pleroma.

Next Chapter: Pistis Sophia – Book 1, Chapter 2

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Series Review: “Prodigal Son” (season 1)

* * * B

This surprisingly good series is from Berlanti, the producer of the CW Arrowverse series. Malcolm Bright, the son of the serial killer “The Surgeon”, trained by the FBI as a profiler, consults with the NYPD major crimes division. Bright is brilliant, but is tormented by his past, to the point where he has to chain himself to his bed to sleep.

Michael Sheen is brilliant as Dr. Martin Whitley, AKA The Surgeon. Tom Payne is great as his damaged son, Malcolm. Lou Diamond Phillips leads a good supporting cast, with the gorgeous Bellamy Young playing Malcolm’s rich controlling mother.

While no “Hannibal”, the series mixes interesting cases with the ongoing revelation of Malcolm’s past and buried memories. While some of the side stories exploring Malcolm’s family are tiresome at times, they are woven in to the main plot arc enough to make them worth watching.

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My Most Anticipated Films in 2021

Update: Morbius has now been delayed again, and won’t be released until January 2022.

2020 was a weird year for movies. I expect 2021 will be a bit more normal, but time will tell. Looking ahead to the year to come, here are the top ten films I’m interested in, from least to most anticipated:

10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Tom “Bane” Hardy returns as Eddie Brock/Venom, this time going up against Woody Harrelson as serial killer Cletus Kasady, AKA Carnage. Andy “Gollum” Serkis directs. I really liked the first film, especially the dynamic between Brock and Venom. Here’s hoping this one’s as good.

9. Boss Level

Groundhog Day redone as an action pic. Mel Gibson is the baddy. I really liked Edge of Tomorrow, which was Groundhog Day as a science fiction film. I’m not sure Boss Level will be as good, but it looks like it should be fun.

8. Tomorrow War

Science fiction film with Chris “Starlord” Pratt and Yvonne “Sarah” Strahovski.

7. Bliss

Selma Hyack is a scientist experimenting with drugs/virtual reality. Owen Wilson is the subject of her experiments. Looks trippy.

6. Nobody

Bob “Saul” Odenkirk is a family man with a past in this action flick written by the writer of John Wick.

5. Chaos Walking

Daisy “Rae” Ridley lands on a planet of men. Tom “Spidey” Holland is a man whose thoughts appear outside his body. Mads “Hannibal” Mickelson is the baddy.

4. Antlers

Guilermo De Torro horror film about a wendigo. Looks creepy.

3. The Matrix 4

I love the Matrix, like Reloaded, and find Revolutions watchable. Lana Warshowski returns for this forth instalment, as do Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, though sadly neither Lawrence Fishburn nor Hugo Weaving. I hope this is good.

2. Morbius

Jared Leto plays the Spider-man villain, the “living vampire”. Jared Harris costars, with Matt “The Doctor” Smith as the bad guy.

1. Dune

The greatest science fiction novel of all time returns to the screen for a third time. Denis Villeeuve, who directed the gorgeous but somewhat unsatisfying sequel to Blade Runner directs. I hope this is better than the David Lynch version, which I like, but is a pale reflection of the book.

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Debunking the “All Time Best Arguments Against Faith”

Youtube suggested I watch the video The All Time best arguments against religion/faith. This includes clips of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Ricky Gervais, and Michael Shermer. I’m going to comment on what they have to say.

Michael Shermer: What is the probability that Yahweh is the one true God, and Amon Ra, Aphrodite, Apollo, Bal, Brahman, Ganesha, Isis, Mithras, Osiris, Shiva, Thor, Vishnu, Wanton, Zeus, and the other 986 gods are all false gods. You guys are atheist just like me of all the gods I just rattled off. Some of us just go one God further. Where Christians believe that the Bible is an inherit gospel handed down from the deity, Muslims believe that the Koran is the perfect Word of God. It’s unfortunate that the creator of the universe wrote more than one holy book.

Comparing belief in Yahweh and Brahman, who can be thought of as anthropomorphic conceptions of the creative impulse of the universe, to deities who represented the powers of nature in pantheistic religions (Amon Ra and Apollo the sun, Aphorodite beauty, Thor the thunder, etc.) is disingenuous bullshit. If Shermer had confined this question to Yahweh, Allah, Brahman, and Buddha, it wouldn’t have the answer “obviously zero”. I agree that no precise conception of the Creator is likely to be exactly right. Scriptures were written by people, not the Creator. This is a good argument against fundamentalism, but says little about the existence of a Creator.

Ricky Gervais: We’re all born atheist. Then that gets changed or enhanced. There shouldn’t even be a word for atheism. There’s not a word for not believing in fairies. If people didn’t keep inventing these weird impossible deities, we wouldn’t have to go around denying them.

We’re all born without consciousness. Like consciousness of self, awareness of the spiritual realm develops over time. Belief in fairies (the Tuatha De Danann of the Celts) is vastly different from modern spiritual beliefs. If people keep coming up with explanations of a phenomenon, you need to explain the true cause of the phenomenon. In the case of thunder, we understand that it’s caused by lightning. We don’t currently fully understand the spiritual experience. If you go around denying that there is a spiritual experience that many of us have, you are deluded.

Michael Shermer: World wide there are about ten thousand distinct religions each one of which may be further subdivided and classified Christians for example may be apportioned among about thirty four thousand different denominations. What are the chances that these guys got the right God and the right religion and the billions of other people that don’t believe what they believe got it wrong? The tens of billions of people that lived before Jesus never heard of [him]. The tens of billions of people that lived since then who don’t believe that just happen to be wrong. Or is it more likely that all of these religion and God beliefs are socially constructed–psychologically constructed–and that none of them are right in any reality sense and in the ontological sense.

Shermer again drags out his argument against fundamentalism. But arguing that because no religion is exactly right, all religious beliefs are socially constructed, is bullshit. In the same way, a scientific theory that is not 100% true, like Newtowian physics, which breaks down at the quantum scale and at speeds approaching that of light, is not 100% incorrect.

Sam Harris: This to me is the true horror of religion: it allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own. If you wake up tomorrow morning thinking that’s saying a few Latin words over your pancakes is going to turn them into the body of Elvis Presley, you have lost your mind. But if you think more or less the same thing about a cracker and the body of Jesus, you’re just a Catholic.

Some religious beliefs are untrue, just as some current scientific theories are doubtless untrue. Effects like quantum tunnelling, which allows a particle to instantaneously disappear on one side of a barrier and reappear on the other and quantum entanglement, which allows information to be transferred instantaneously, faster than the speed of light, are both phenomena that contradict “facts” that had been held true until they were discovered.

Michael Shermer: Christians believe that Christ is the latest prophet, Muslims believe that Muhammad is the latest prophet, and Mormons believe that Joseph Smith is the latest prophet. Stretching this tract of thought just a little bit more, Scientologists believe that the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was the latest prophet so many prophets so little time.

And science has paradigms that people cling to. Freud’s theories have been shown to be overly simplistic. Many of Jung’s ideas have passed out of vogue. Yet both of these men’s schools of psychology still have their adherents, and both made real contributions to psychology.

Ricky Gervais: The human brain, when it’s young, is a sponge. It has to take in all the information and to trust its parents and its elders without question to survive. “Don’t touch the fire.” “Why not?” “Don’t go near the wolf. Don’t touch that spider with a red back.” “Why not?” “Just don’t. There is a god and if you’re bad you go to hell.” If that’s constantly confirmed like all the other things–wolves eat you, black widows kill you, fires burn you– if it’s given that same level of credence and truth, you’re never going to get over it. It’s going to be a lot harder to undo that.

Gervais’s argument is that since our parents give us many truths when we are children, our minds become almost incapable of thinking critically about anything they’ve told us. While it is true that the source of information has huge influence on how we perceive it’s reliability, the idea that people can’t overcome the beliefs they were indoctrinated with as children is patently false. If all of Jesus’s disciples were unable to overcome the Jewish beliefs they were raised with, how did they come to believe something so radically different?

Richard Dawkins: When you say that your that your wife loves you, you’re getting evidence from looks in the eye and catches in the voice. That’s the way religious people feel about God–they feel that about God, but there’s no evidence that they’re getting any cues at all. Their God is an imaginary God inside themselves. Why should we believe them, since we can’t see or hear any evidence to that effect?

If a psychopath is told that there is are phenomena known as emotions, why should he believe in them, since he can’t see or hear them? Just because you haven’t had a spiritual experience doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Sam Harris fully acknowledges the value of the spiritual experience, though he disagrees with religious interpretations of it. Before Galileo, most astronomers refused to believe that there were heavenly bodies that didn’t orbit the Earth, even though Copernicus had shown scientific evidence for heliocentrism a century earlier, and Aristarcus 18 centuries before that. Refusing to believe in anything you can’t see or hear makes you a simpleton.

Richard Dawkins: When we’re talking about moral philosophy, the origin of the cosmos, the origin of life, or why we all exist, there is no reason whatever why we should treat the the writings of scribes in 800 BC as being particularly wise. We could listen to Confucius. We could listen to the Buddha. There all sorts of people we can listen to. We could listen to modern philosophers, and modern scientists as well. There is nothing special about the Bible.

The fact that the New Testament (which was not written in 800 BC) has withstood the test of time and remains a source of insight and wisdom that millions of people find valuable means that not treating it as particularly wise makes you a fool. You should listen to Confucius and the Buddha as well, and many Christians do. Saying there is nothing special about the Bible is like saying there’s nothing special about Newton because he didn’t understand relativity or quantum mechanics.

Michael Shermer: You can make the argument God planted the God module in the brain so he could talk to us. How come we all seem to talk to different gods then? Are there just a bunch of them out there competing for our brains? Why is it as as Dan Barker pointed out there’s very little agreement amongst believers?y It’s obvious that all these other gods are made up. You already know that. You agree with me on that. You’re all atheists for all those other gods. I implore you to go one God further.

Not all Christians are staunch disbelievers in all other religions. The entire study of comparative religion, an effort to look for commonalities in religious beliefs and gain a deeper understanding of them, while pioneered by Muslim scholars, has in recent times been driven by Christian academics.

The spiritual experience, discovered in the mists of prehistory by tribal Shaman, has been a powerful tool for humanity ever since. Whether it is truly a conduit to a higher power, or is merely an artifact of the brain, dismissing it as imaginary is foolish. The power of prayer and meditation to improve life is undeniable. Though raised an atheist, I’ve come to believe that there is a power behind all things that is inherently good. None of these arguments come remotely close to convincing me that’s untrue.

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Censorship Won’t Work

Alexander Panetta, editor of Politico Canada, writes Twitter ban on Trump signals escalating debate on online speech that will be one for the ages. I agree with his headline. What does he have to say on the subject?

Moves to regulate social media are swiftly taking shape in what could produce a generation-defining policy debate with consequences extending beyond the United States. The obvious catalyzing force for this intensified discussion is the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that illustrated how unfiltered conspiracy theories might threaten even the oldest of democracies.

Conspiracy theories are a symptom, not the cause, of the MAGA protests. The cause is distrust of the establishment. Will establishment regulation of social media improve trust in the establishment? Certainly not. In fact, it will only increase distrust.

At pro-Donald Trump rallies this week in Washington, a common thread among participants was universal distrust in mainstream news and a desire to find information elsewhere. One rally-goer fumed that she had to seek out her own information when news organizations failed to cover stories about Democratic president-elect Joe Biden’s son’s laptop during the campaign — and, in her view, they’re still ignoring, along with most politicians, allegations of election fraud.

And she is correct. The corporate media completely failed to report on these stories, instead poo-pooing them as “unfounded” over and over again, without deigning to back up the claim that they were unfounded. This makes them look as though they are covering for the establishment. Why don’t they debunk claims of election fraud with facts, rather than smearing those who made the claims? Ad hominem attacks indicate that the attackers don’t have the facts on their side.

“They’re asking for a civil war. Why? It all started with the media,” Tina Hewitt said in an interview. “[They say], ‘There’s nothing to see here,’ ‘Don’t look,’ ‘Don’t ask,’ ‘Shut up,’ ‘Look away,’ ‘Sit down.'”

And Hewitt is correct. The corporate media do exactly this. Take the fact that when my Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, gave a speech laden with the globalist rhetoric of the World Economic forum, but went on to claim that their “Great Reset” was a conspiracy theory, the media uncritically ran with his claim. A simple look at the WEF web-site reveals that the Great Reset is in fact their policy, and not a conspiracy theory. When people see the leader of a county openly lie and the media cover for him, is it any wonder that they don’t trust the media?

Members of the Ohio group cited unfounded theories about impossible 140 per cent voter turnout rates or ballot-stuffing caught on video, and when it was mentioned that these claims had been debunked even by Republican officials who control swing states, one scoffed: “Traitors.”

I follow the news closely, yet I haven’t seen anyone debunk any of these claims; they merely assert that they are untrue. The fact that the MAGA crowd don’t trust Rebublican party watchdogs shows how far their trust in the establishment has fallen.

It goes beyond politics. A speaker at one pro-Trump rally this week called the coronavirus scare a hoax and demanded that members of the almost entirely unmasked crowd hug each other in order to prove it.

This is the same phenomenon. Whenever anyone claims that the media’s narrative on Covid-19 is flawed, rather than bringing the facts to bear, the media simply claims dissenters are anti-vax conspiracy theorists. Today, Dave Cullen, an Irish anti-vax YouTuber, was banned from the platform. Do you think that will make his fans believe that the vaccine is safe? Do you think the Streisand effect won’t make his channel on Bitchute and other platforms even more popular than his YouTube channel was?

This was on Wednesday, right after the Capitol riot had cost the life of one of the people involved. Ashli Babbitt, a San Diego veteran, was shot and killed by police while charging into the building with other rioters. The immediate fallout has already triggered consequential debates — about corporate liability, free speech and regulation in the Wild West of online communication. 

And yet when the BLM riots led to the deaths of innocent bystanders, the media largely failed to report on them, and did not condemn the protesters for them. This double standard unsurprisingly feeds the conspiracy theories.

Twitter suspended the personal account of the president of the United States; the platform where Donald Trump launched 1,000 controversies now says it’s worried about some violent chatter it’s seeing on the upcoming presidential transition and fears Trump will stoke it.

This is a foolish move on Twitter’s part. They have gone from being advocates of free speech to banning the sitting president of the US. As recently as May, media pundits were claiming that Twitter was not violating Trump’s freedom of speech. It’s pretty hard to argue that now. And when “conspiracy theories” have such predictive power, they become more believable.

Meanwhile, a rival social media company, Parler, that prides itself on being a free-speech alternative and is awash in calls for violence, has been deleted or threatened with deletion by Google and Apple, the dominant phone-app stores.

Parler has now been removed by Apple, and their service shut down by Amazon. While Google has removed them from it’s app store, the Parler app can still be loaded from alternate sites. In Apples case, Parler uses will have to resort to a web interface, which may require some development effort by Parler and will likely deliver an inferior user experience. As for Amazon’s ban, if Parler are not prepared to move to another host, they are fools indeed.

That has prompted a free-speech outcry. Republicans say these companies should be stripped of legal immunity that helped them flourish and be treated like traditional publishers, such as a newspaper, which can be sued for an editorial decision.

And this is a sound argument. Twitter is not acting as an unbiased carrier.

The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, issued a warning on the website Politico that social media companies need to prepare for consequences after Wednesday’s events: “This is going to come back and bite ’em because Congress, in a bipartisan way, is going to come back with a vengeance.”

The establishment closes ranks and threatens more censorship. Big surprise.

“It’s like we’re talking past each other. It’s really hard to have common facts,” said Savannah Boylan, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations who now runs an Atlanta-based pro-democracy NGO and has written about news polarization.

All facts are common. Clearly Boylan is talking about beliefs.

Policing the online world risks having a whack-a-mole quality, where one crackdown effort leads to a resurfacing elsewhere. Take the case of pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood, whose social media feeds are cesspools of slander. He was kicked off Twitter after accusing Pence of being part of a child-abusing pro-China cabal and suggesting he be executed.

The appropriate response to such claims is to sue their maker for libel.

Another politician, a Republican lawmaker from West Virginia, was arrested Friday for allegedly invading the Capitol.

This statement seems out of place in an article about free speech.

A former Pennsylvania state politician who narrowly lost a U.S. congressional race and now traffics in online conspiracies was forced to resign his teaching position after posting on Facebook about storming the Capitol.

This is as it should be. The right to free speech doesn’t free one from the consequences of said speech.

Fox News has come in for verbal tongue-lashings at Trump events for not backing his false fraud claims enthusiastically enough.

So what?

The emerging celebrities at at a Trump speech in Georgia were people with hundreds of thousands of social media followers who accept donations on their personal websites and who are activist-commentators.

Again, so what?

They have been aggressively pushing false stolen-election narratives and threatening to end the career of Republican politicians not fighting on Trump’s behalf.

As long as they aren’t threatening politicians with physical harm, they have every right.

After this week’s events ultimately degenerated into a deadly debacle, the organizer, Ali Alexander, said he did not support the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

Good for him.

But he made a defiant prediction that click-generating, pro-Trump activists like him will continue to exist in an inexhaustible supply. “If you hurt me, 1,000 more will rise up,” Alexander said in an online video statement. “I am not the king of the movement. I am simply the avatar for the spirit of 1776.”

And I don’t doubt him. It remains to be seen what will happen to the anti-establishment voters who swept Trump into power. They may merely serve to split the vote, keeping the Republican establishment out of office, which is no great loss IMO. On the other hand, they may unite behind a new populist leader before 2024. Trying to suppress them with censorship is unlikely to work. They will simply move from Twitter and Parler to Telegraph and Gab.

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