Facebook recently placed a 24-hour ban on Christian author and former professor Robert A. J. Gagnon for a post he made criticizing a Canadian children’s video celebrating gay pride and LGBT icons.
The catalyst for Gagnon’s “hateful” Facebook post was a video put out by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the beginning of June.
In this video, Jessi Cruickshank, a Canadian actress and media personality, sat at a table with four young children and asked them all kinds of questions about the LGBT community, such as “what does it mean to celebrate gay pride?” and “what do you think about gay marriage?”
Cruickshank also discussed the advantages of having two moms or two dads and talked to the children about what it means to be a “gay icon,” arguing that when she was growing up, Jodie Foster helped her question her own sexuality when she saw the actress appear naked in the film “Nell.” “Not that I remember watching it several times as a child,” Cruickshank said to the camera.
While meant to be a harmless “celebration of sexual diversity,” this video sparked outrage among conservatives and Christians nationwide, Gagnon included, for its tone of indoctrination and its decidedly adult subject material. As Gagnon told The Western Journal, it was a case of “classic indoctrination from beginning to end” filled with “leading questions” to get the children to answer in a certain way. “I thought it was appalling, quite frankly,” he said. “This is an actual example of educational pedagogy, of what should not be done.”
Shortly after the video was released, Gagnon made a post on his own personal Facebook page strongly criticizing the CBC for airing this content using public funds.
Gagnon’s post read as follows: “This clip is about celebrating sexual perversity, not ‘sexual diversity.’ Brought to you by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian equivalent to our PBS, paid for by tax dollars. No indoctrination or recruitment going on here (or on PBS), right? Any resemblance to Orwell’s Big Brother (or Kim Jong-un) is purely coincidental? It is a measure of how corrupt things have become that this woman is not vilified throughout Canada and legislators are not threatening to remove funding from the CBC. By the end the woman is talking to little children about Jody Foster (sic) helping her to question her own sexuality as a child and about Foster’s nudity in a film.”
On June 14, Facebook notified Gagnon that his post from June 6 “had violated their community standards on hate speech” and that he had been placed under a 24-hour ban, with more serious consequences to follow if he continued to violate their standards. Gagnon told The Western Journal that he had no knowledge of what exactly in his post was considered hate speech.
“Like Big Brother here, the weird thing is, they don’t tell you what specifically in your remarks constitutes hate speech,” he said. “You’re not having a dialogue with any one person, it’s just this anonymous source, and you can’t make a case.”
“There’s no space for me to say ‘here’s my argument,’ which would be tough to make anyway because they didn’t tell me what specifically I did that constituted the hate speech,” he continued.
Gagnon said that he had previously received a warning from Facebook for sharing a friend’s post that was critical of a lesbian political candidate, but he also expressed his uncertainty as to whether or not that prior warning was a reason behind his ban on June 14.
After appealing Facebook’s ban, Gagnon finally heard back from the Facebook Help Team just 22 minutes before his 24 hours were up. “We’re sorry we got it wrong,” the email said. Gagnon said he wasn’t exactly sure what made Facebook reverse their decision, but he did say that many of his friends and colleagues were spreading the word about his ban on social media during those 24 hours.
Gagnon shared his thoughts behind his comments about the video as well as some of his concerns regarding Facebook’s censorship of Christian views in a recent interview with The Western Journal.
When asked why he used the word “perversity” to describe the video in his Facebook post, Gagnon responded that the word just came to him through “creative wordplay,” because of its assonance with diversity. He said to himself, “Here’s a good rhyme on (Cruickshank’s) exultation of sexual diversity: it’s really sexual perversity.”
Gagnon continued, “I mean, the irony of the whole thing is: if you want to celebrate sexual diversity, then there’s no reason to limit yourself simply to same-sex unions. You might as well include everything. Diversity is diversity — viva la diversity!”
He made the argument that if the CBC really wanted to celebrate true sexual diversity, then they should also celebrate things like incest and polyamory, both of which are included under the umbrella of sexual diversity and both of which — he hopes — the CBC would actually have a problem with openly promoting.
When considering the cultural stigma surrounding these taboo relationships, Gagnon’s point becomes clear: none of this material is at all appropriate to be discussing with children. “It’s promotion of sexual diversity without thinking about what that implies,” he said, adding that the conversation in the video was “corrupting their young minds unnecessarily.”
In a world where children are being exposed to mature topics at younger and younger ages, Gagnon emphasized why it matters whether or not kids are included in discussions about sexuality. “It matters because there ought to be a space in a child’s life where they don’t have to think about sexual intercourse … to develop with some degree of innocence with regard to sexual acts.”
“You don’t want to corrupt children too early with explicit sexual discussions over things that they’re not prepared at this point to handle,” he added.
Gagnon said he stands by his decision to call the video a perversity and won’t apologize because same-sex unions are “a violation of something that’s creational.” He argues that one essential aspect of Christianity is the “male-female foundation to sexual ethics,” because “God deliberately created us as a binary sexual pair, complementary to each other.”
He explained that by categorizing his post as “hate speech” for criticism of a homosexual lifestyle, Facebook is “essentially saying that adopting the Christian position here is itself intrinsically or inherently going to promote violence against persons who engage in this behavior. That’s just idiotic from the get-go.”
“Of course, part of the irony is one of (Facebook’s) protected classes has to do with religion. And yet still, now they’re saying that I cannot publicly proclaim something that’s central to the self-definition of the Christian faith,” he said, later adding, “I do have a 500-page book on the subject. It’s not like I’ve hidden in a corner on this viewpoint.”
He continued, “I’m able to publish and all this stuff; I have the freedom to do that. None of my works have ever led to anybody committing violence or anything, I’ve never promoted violence in any of my works. How is it that I can’t have a discussion — a rational, reasonable discussion — on social media about this issue? How is it that that has to be attributed to ‘hate speech?’ The whole thing is ridiculous.”
“It’s not like I’m some guy out of the wahoo somewhere who’s saying these awful, tremendous things, has not even given any ounce of intellectual thought to the issue whatsoever. I mean, I actually do have reasonable arguments, on the religious and philosophical basis for the position that I do hold,” Gagnon said. “It’s not just me. I mean, there are millions and millions of people likewise.”
Gagnon also criticized the hypocritical “tolerance” of liberals in today’s culture, arguing that things used to be different. “Who are they going to keep eliminating until they finally close off all speech? I mean, these are the people who are supposed to be quote-unquote ‘liberal!’ Remember when ‘liberal’ actually did mean tolerance? Actually did mean legitimate diversity? I mean, I’m old enough to remember a period of time when liberals actually believed that rhetoric. Most of them don’t believe that anymore.”
He continued, “It’s such a level of intolerance; it has this whole Orwellian, Big Brother-quality to it: ‘We’re gonna define what you can say and think in any public discourse and you’d better not deviate one iota from that doctrine, from that indoctrination that we’re using.’ It’s a Soviet-style thing, in the old Soviet Communist regime or even the current Communist regime in China.”
Gagnon’s comments on censorship focused on the “kind of lunacy that is now taking hold” of the culture. “It’s like, if you commit X act or you say Y thing, you are psychologically imbalanced. It’s foolishness, it’s complete foolishness.”
He argued that Facebook seems to be considering the Christian viewpoint “disturbed” and that such a bias allows the social media site to discriminate against Christians’ posts without reason or proof of wrongdoing.
“We now have to be disturbed to take the viewpoint that we have, and if they say that we’re disturbed, they don’t actually have to argue a position anymore. Facebook administrators are not interested in arguing with you or debating with you over whether this is hate speech. You simply are. You’re imbalanced, you’re somebody that’s an evil individual, no dialogue need be had at this point.”
He concluded, “In fact, that’s what they’re trying to do with these kinds of ‘community standards,’ so-called, is close off any debate or discussion on the issue.”
Gagnon said he is glad his situation has reached the attention of so many, arguing that the coverage sheds light on Facebook’s hidden agenda. “My point is: if you’re gonna do it in secret, do it in darkness, this evil that you’re doing, I’m going to give you all the bad publicity I can possibly give you, accordingly, to say ‘look, you are singling me out.’”
Gagnon is a former associate professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and has long been vocal about his opposition to same-sex practices. His book, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics,” published in 2001, is an in-depth analysis of how and where the Bible affirms that homosexual intercourse is a sin.
Although he addresses controversial topics in his work, Gagnon told The Western Journal, “I try to stay as non-controversial as possible, but I seem to fail repeatedly in my efforts.”
Editorial Note: The video in question is linked here. We do not advise watching with children in the room.
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