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Big Lies Can Have Big Consequences
in the news: On Monday May 3 former president Donald Trump issued a statement that read, "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!" Whereupon Republican Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney responded, "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system." As Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy renewed efforts to oust Ms. Cheney from House leadership, yesterday the Wall Street Journal editorial board offered "Purging Liz Cheney—GOP leaders shouldn't have to lie about 2020 to keep their job."
commentary and analysis (by Stephen P. Cook, founder and manager, project Worldview, www.projectworldview.org): The last issue of this blog "Pulling the Plug on Those Spreading Big Lies" identified the key choice (choice #43) facing Republicans: "Spreading Disinformation / Tactical Deception" (theme #4) or standing—as Liz Cheney, the Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney, etc are—with the truth, honesty, and Cultural Evolution—Yes! (theme #3). Cheney's statement points to another (choice #29) choice: between those Authoritarian Followers (theme #20B) who back the authoritarian former president, versus those wanting to keep the poison of lies and disinformation out of American democracy and instead embrace Education for Democracy (theme #31).
These choices are very simple compared to the decision facing Facebook's Oversight Board: whether to uphold or reverse its earlier ban on former President Trump's use of Facebook and Instagram. In banning Trump for months of spreading disinformation that culminated with the January 6 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great." Here the issue is where to draw the line on a fundamental Human Rights (theme #32A) freedom of speech question. American arbitrators of such questions have generally ruled that freedom of speech does not extend to include speech that is imminently harmful to people, such as the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire.
Facebook's Board will essentially decide* whether such statements as the blatantly untrue one Trump issued on Monday are metaphorically capable of burning down the American democratic institutions theater. The broader choice involved is one between (choice #40) Freedom From Limits (theme #204A) and Limits and Ethics (theme #204B) Sadly, those who value American freedom to the extreme of allowing unlimited freedom of speech may be promoting—if Donald Trump's big lies are not muzzled—the end of American democracy. Connecting Trump's Big Lie to Adolph Hitler's, and American democracy going the way of 1930s Nazi Germany—as the previous issue of this blog did— provide historical evidence supporting our claim "Big Lies Can Have Big Consequences."
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