The media is attacking President Trump, this time for the administration’s refusal to sign the Christchurch Call.
A project of the New Zealand government in response to the mosque shootings there, the Christchurch Call has been widely endorsed by governments and tech companies. It contains various general statements about the importance of combating terrorism, violent extremism and extremism.
It never actually defines extremism.
It claims that its agenda is in keeping with various human rights measures. But, again, it never defines its terms.
The Christchurch Call to have companies remove terrorist material is sensible. But that doesn’t involve the government. And since major social media companies have already agreed to do it, there’s no actual point in the administration signing on. The larger initiative however is freighted with issues of free speech and with a troubling obsession with obsessively policing the internet.
Civil rights should not be a casualty of this war.
The Christchurch Call urges the media to report on terrorism responsibly. Like so much else in the Christchurch Call, the term hasn’t been defined. And it is unclear just what exactly it’s urging the media to do. Or how it would change the media landscape.
We already exist in a world in which the media is reluctant to call terrorism by its name. This could make it worse.
Finally, the New Zealand PM pushing the Christchurch Call appears particularly obsessed with removing the video of the mosque shootings from the internet. The reaction is understandable, but it’s important to know what has been done, whether it’s ISIS videos or photos of the Holocaust.
Atrocities can be used for propaganda, but they’re also historical documents. Fighting to censor them is unwise and unconstitutional.