The unreliable 'facts' of a fact-checking site

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
 | 
Robert Knight - Guest Columnist

Robert KnightSnopes.com plays fast and loose with the First Amendment and makes Christianity a target.


Snopes.com is handy at times.

The "fact check" site is useful when vetting a news story that favors a progressive take. If even the left-leaning Snopes finds it false or mostly false, that's pretty persuasive. But not so much when it comes to something involving conservatives or conservative causes.

This past week, Snopes jumped the shark. In a post about California Assembly Bill 2943, a frightening piece of pure-grade totalitarianism, Snopes belittled a conservative opponent and misrepresented the legislation.

The anti-"conversion therapy" bill sponsored by San Jose Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low basically forbids provision of counseling, books, advice, referrals, etc. aimed at helping someone overcome same-sex desires or transgender identification. In other words, it criminalizes the sexual morality code of every major religion and especially Christianity – the real target.

It should chill every freedom-loving American that this spectacular violation of the First Amendment passed the California House by a vote of 50-18 on April 19 and is now before the state Senate.

Snopes.com logoSnopes focused on a response by Republican Assembly member Travis Allen to One America News Network's Liz Wheeler, who asked, "if this bill were to pass, would this prohibit the sale of the Bible, that teaches these things about sexual morality?"

Mr. Allen replied, "Well, literally, according to how this law is written, yes, it would. This is, you know, PC culture, politically correct culture, gone horribly awry."

Snopes smugly informs us that, "California Assembly Bill 2943 does not mention the Bible, Christianity, or religion at all, so when Allen claimed that the legislation would 'literally' prohibit the sale of the Bible, he was stating something that is demonstrably and clearly false."

Really?

In a brilliant takedown in The Federalist, author and academic Robert Gagnon explains why Snopes – not Mr. Allen – is dead wrong.

"That the bill doesn't explicitly mention these things is irrelevant if the wording of the bill is broad enough to encompass them," Mr. Gagnon writes. "Sure, it is virtually impossible that California will immediately attempt to ban the sale of the Bible itself. Not even the hard left in California has that kind of chutzpah. But citations of Bible verses in the context of declaring homosexual practice and transgenderism to be morally debased could indeed get one into serious trouble with the law if it comes in the context of selling or advertising a product or service.

"Snopes," he continues, "heavily shades the truth: 'What is clear is that [Assembly member Evan] Low's bill does not seek to outlaw all religious or moral instruction regarding sexuality and sexual orientation.'"

Mr. Gagnon: "Read the bill. There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. This is not simply a 'gay conversion ban.'" Which would be bad enough.

I read the bill. It is sweeping in its breadth. Mr. Low's legislation follows a current California law barring parents from procuring pro-heterosexual licensed counseling for minors, even those who have been molested. Pro-homosexual counseling is OK, of course. Opponents accurately call it the "must stay gay" law.

Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver says the Low bill is "a dramatic infringement on First Amendment rights and is a classic viewpoint discrimination. It declares certain kinds of speech as consumer fraud."

He notes that, "The Bible specifically refers to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9. Then verse 11 states, 'And such were some of you,' thus clearly stating that through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, people with same-sex attractions or who engaged in same-sex behavior can change. Advertising this passage or quoting it in a brochure would be considered fraudulent business practices under this bill."

Meanwhile, Snopes is doing its best to persuade Christians not to worry enough to band together to stop these egregious violations.

The fact-checking site was originally founded in 1995 by David and Barbara Mikkelson, who divorced in 2015. In December 2017, Forbes ran a piece that concluded Snopes has major credibility problems such as: David Mikkelson's "responses regarding the hiring of strongly partisan fact checkers and his lack of response on screening and assessment protocols present a deeply troubling picture of a secretive black box that acts as ultimate arbitrator of truth, yet reveals little of its inner workings."

By the way, did you know that in December 2016, Facebook began relying on Snopes to weed out "fake news?"

On the Snopes website, the "About Us" section lists David Mikkelson solely as founder, with no mention whatever of co-founder Barbara Mikkelson, who has been tossed down the memory hole. One of many inconvenient facts omitted by the "fact checker."


Robert Knight is a Washington Times contributor and the author of "A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like if We Followed the Law"" (djkm.org, May 2018). This column first appeared on The Washington Times' website.

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

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