On the 26th of February in the year 1401, an English priest named William Sawtrey was hauled before his Archbishop to learn whether he would live or die.
Sawtrey wasn’t a witch or satanist, or even a criminal. He was, however, an early leader in a breakaway religion known as Lollardism, which both the Church and the English government viewed as a major threat.
The Lollards followed the basic plotline of Christianity. But they criticized the heavy taxes that people paid to the Church, and they questioned the ways in which the Church spent its riches.
More importantly, the Lollards believed in the separation of church and state. They also strongly opposed war and preached that all Christians should live in peace.
Those last points were enough for the English government to treat the Lollards as subversive enemies of the state. And in 1401, parliament passed a law authorizing heretics to be burned at the stake.
Sawtrey was the first victim of this law. He was charged with heresy, convicted on February 26, and burned at the stake days later.
The government hoped that Sawtrey’s death would silence the Lollards and scare everyone into submission. But it actually had the opposite effect; support for Lollardism grew, and many people spoke out against Sawtrey’s unjust punishment.
In fact, little by little, people started having the courage to speak out against the harsh treatment of heretics.
Erasmus of Rotterdam was one of the most famous intellectuals of the Middle Ages, and he wrote later that heretics should be treated with “gentleness, courteous language, softness,” and that Catholics should “not be feared with cruelness”.
Martin Luther similarly wrote that heretics should be engaged with logic and reason rather than violence. If you have to burn someone at the stake just because he disagrees with you, your argument doesn’t have much merit.
The last heretic to be burned at the stake was executed on July 26, 1826. It’s been nearly two centuries since then. And while heretics are not longer burned alive, the practice of persecuting certain individuals for their ideological convictions still runs deep today.
We’ve all seen the ridiculous cancel culture over the past few years. Heretics who participated in Canada’s Freedom Convoy were practically erased by the financial system, and by state, with the Prime Minister musing, “do we tolerate these people?”
During America’s Summer of Love in 2020, blasphemers who said “all lives matter” lost their jobs, lost their friends, and had their lives turned upside down by ravenous mobs.
And of course, anyone who disagreed with Tony “the Science” Fauci was canceled right off the Internet, (even though many of his critics were ultimately proven right).
There’s never any due process with cancel culture. There’s no public debate, no discussion. Offenders are marched straight to the proverbial stake.
One of the most prominent prosecutors of this new faux-justice over the past few years has been Facebook– now known as Meta– and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg jumped into bed with Tony Fauci early in the pandemic and tasked his organization to stamp out all ‘misinformation’ as defined by Fauci in his sole discretion.
This is no conspiracy theory; there are reams of emails showing the cozy relationship between Facebook (along with other tech companies) and the US government, leading a federal judge to write last week that “the government has used its power to silence the opposition” and engaged in the “targeted suppression of conservative ideas”.
Zuckerberg has been a willing champion of that suppression, whether it was the Hunter Biden laptop story, Wuhan lab leak theory, random “hate speech”, or any number of blasphemous ideas.
Bear in mind, Zuckerberg is also a guy whose organization has a history of destruction: election interference, devaluing the self-esteem of highly impressionable young people, etc. Not to mention he’s hijacked everyone’s data, much of which without our consent.
You might be surprised to know that, even if you don’t use any Meta products (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), they’re still tracking you.
Their tools and infrastructure are embedded deep in the Internet, so they still know what sites you visit, what you’re buying, who you connect with, etc. And their profile on you goes on for literally thousands of pages.
It’s bizarre that this isn’t a crime.
Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg were following children around in the real world with the same voyeuristic intensity as he watches them online. At a minimum he’d be slapped with a restraining order and criminal trespassing. In more conservative jurisdictions he would probably have a hole in his head.
This is what makes the popularity of Zuckerberg’s new ‘Threads’ app so bizarre.
You’ve probably heard that Threads is Zuckerberg’s attempt to rival Twitter; and at the moment of this writing, it has surpassed 100 million signups only a few days after its launch.
Twitter, of course, is now owned by Elon Musk, who up until recently was one of the most popular people on the planet for his brash, unfiltered, antihero personality. Even many people on the left adored him for making electric vehicles sexy.
But after referring to himself as a “free speech absolutist,” Twitter users revolted.
Apparently they can’t simply unfollow someone with whom they disagree, or attempt to engage ideological opponents as Erasmus suggested– with kindness, civility, and reason.
Nope. The Twitter mob isn’t happy unless the heretics are canceled and all non-woke blasphemy is expelled from the platform. And Zuckerberg has now swooped in to scoop all the whining, hysterical Twitter users into Threads where he has already started censoring the wrongthinkers.
So… 100 million people hate Free Speech so much that they just jumped into the arms of Mark Zuckerberg, i.e. the guy who stalks our children across the Internet.
That’s like asking Jeffrey Epstein to come over and watch the kids because you had an argument with your regular sitter.
It’s also the perfect example of why America can’t manage to solve its problems: millions of Americans are so wimpy now that they refuse to engage with the opposing side.
Instead they whine and cry for their opponents be censored and shut down. They don’t even want to see an opposing argument because it might be ‘offensive’.
This concern about not being offended is so great that there can no longer be any rational discussion of problems… let alone talk of solutions.
247 years into its history, America is plagued by enormous, gargantuan problems. For the most part these problems are still solvable, and there is still a narrow window to fix them.
Nothing will happen, however, without a frank and open discussion of priorities, resources, and realities.
In joining Threads, millions of people just made a statement that they’re not interested in open discussion. They’re interested in censorship… because not being offended is more important than freedom, more important than solving enormous problems.
It’s nice to hope for the best. And perhaps a day may come when rational people are once again able to discuss problems civilly and reach responsible compromises.
But until that happens, it’s critical to have a Plan B.