Chilling Effect


Knowledgeable Web denizens know Google’s motto: Do no evil.

Cute, right?

Well, that motto was put to the test when Google opened in China and conformed to the Chinese Communist government’s wish to censor search result. But that’s China. You expect that out of China.

Recently, a site opened here in the States that should bother any sane person. It’s not a Google site per se, but it uses Google’s Map API to a chilling effect.


What eightmaps does is correlate required political donation data to pinpoint the houses and businesses of each person or company that donated money to support Proposition 8 in California. A roadmap to vandalism--or worse...A yes vote on 8 demanded that California enforce the statewide ban on homosexual marriage that voters enacted a few years ago, effectively eliminating the recent localized rulings in favor of such marriage, such as those in San Francisco.

It doesn’t take a genius to extrapolate the message sent by the posting of these names, home and business locations, and donation amounts in such an easily accessed image.  Nor is there any need to ask why these maps only feature donation info for those who voted in favor of Prop 8.

Rather scary, isn’t it?

Regardless of where you stand on Prop 8, the reality is that many Prop 8 supporters are Christians. As I cruised through, I could envision the maps becoming the names and locations of people who preach such wacky truths like “the Bible is true,”  “Jesus is the only way to heaven,” and “unless you repent of your sins and turn to Jesus, you will be eternally separated from God and cast into hell.” You know, hatemongering. Or at least that’s what the kiddies call it nowadays.

Think how easily the inhabitants of two ancient towns (no longer on the map, by the way) could have tracked down the house of that Lot fella if they had a cool tool like eightmaps, powered by Google. Do no evil, indeed.

Get ready people, the persecution is coming. Perhaps sooner than we think.

23 thoughts on “Chilling Effect

  1. Dan,

    This is scary. I live in Orange County so I was very interested in seeing my next of the woods. Part of me didn’t want to believe this until I saw a few people’s names that I know!

    It’s a wake up call for the church, to be sure. I will post something about this on my blog as well. We need to get the word out and not bury our heads in the sand. The agenda is clear.

    Thank you and God bless,


    • Joe,

      It’s a short trip from listing Prop 8 supporters to listing “those awful Christian bigots.” And it’s a trip that’s coming to us rapidly.

      And how is the Church here preparing for this inevitability? (“Preparing? What is this ‘preparing’ thing you speak of, Dan?”)

      Yeah, I thought so.

        • Dave,

          I think we need to start crafting our lists of who has what skills, who has what connections, who can fight what battles, and how we start thinking about these trials. Christians thought about ways to hide Jews during the Holocaust. Our mindset needs to be the same for our own community.

          I’ve written about this elsewhere. If I find time, perhaps I’ll toss in some links.

  2. David

    I’m not sure how scary it is, but it is interesting to see just how many people were willing to put their money where their belief is. I just wish it was advancing the kingdom, rather than maintaining the external evidences of our christian culture. If we are facing persecution, it would be nice to be persecuted for our faith in Christ, rather that our attempt at maintaining a cultural structure.

    • David,

      You are right on the cultural thing. I personally don’t believe that Prop 8 should change how the Church does its work. No matter how far the culture falls, the Church should be about its same business.

      Still, our country affords us a voice, and that political voice should reflect our beliefs as Christians. This eightmaps thing works to gut that. No matter the state of our culture, if I am given a voice and expected to exercise that voice, it would not make sense for me to walk into a voting booth and vote against the things I believe are offshoots of my faith in Christ, whether they are cultural extrapolations or not.

      One could argue that giving money to support a particular stance and simply voting for that stance are not necessarily the same thing, but they are close enough to make this eightmaps thing a cudgel against those who express a differing opinion, whether they do so by vote or by financial support. And like I noted, it is a short trip from eightmaps to christianmaps.

      It also amazes me how far some people will go and how much free time they seem to have on their hands to do stuff like this.

      • David

        It also amazes me how far some people will go and how much free time they seem to have on their hands to do stuff like this.

        You don’t think someone did this for free do you?

        • Scott

          Actually I see no compensatory means to the site so they are gaining nothing financial. It is an absolute attempt to promote hate and negative action possibly bearing on violence. Whats amazing is that is a blatant violation of the hosting companies terms yet the site remains. Godaddy, HumDomains, and Wild West Domains should remove the site from their servers or face boycott.

  3. I looked at it. There’s a Mr. ZZZ who donated 500 dollars. He’s a professor at UCSF. And what happens if you end up with a student who looks at this, finds his name, and calls his University Department to tell them?

    The fact that someone is actually able to do this is astounding. At some point in time I’m sure they’ll be able to get records on all the Registered members of the Churches (at least the ones who refuse to bow down to the state and culture) and show were they live and what their jobs are as well. I didn’t think it could potentially happen this quickly.

    • Josh,

      For privacy sake, at least here on my blog, I edited out the name of the man.

      It’s going to be quick, this kind of scrutiny. We need better prep, but our leaders are not doing the prep.

      • Yikes, thanks for catching that, I didn’t even think of it. And that’s probably part of the problem, I don’t know how many other Christians would either. We don’t take it seriously enough. The Chinese Church (and all persecuted churches really) do. Isn’t that a horrific twist of Irony? We’re too open with those who will someday persecute us, and we’re too private when it comes to our own faith communities.

  4. It will happen quickly. This is just the beginning. But our great joy is this:

    1 Thessalonians 5
    1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

    Our Savior will come quickly one day! Glory to God!

    • Cheryl,

      Yes, there is a kind of joy found in bearing the name of Christ to the point of persecution. Still, we can be wiser and better prepared for it than we are. The problem? Our leaders are clueless on these matters. Nor are they listening to the few voices out there who are asking them to wake up. That’s too bad.

  5. “It doesn’t take a genius to extrapolate the message sent by the posting of these names, home and business locations, and donation amounts in such an easily accessed image. Nor is there any need to ask why these maps only feature donation info for those who voted in favor of Prop 8.”

    Then change the law. You live in a democratic republic. Good for no on Prop 8, they dropped the ball and let the yes people attempt to bribe, lie and intimidate.

    Think again if you believe mainly Christians voted yes.
    You’re too smart to believe everything you read.

    You people in the US have to sort out your own stuff. But humour me and name me any heterosexual who has been beaten or killed because they voted yes.

    Since I know we disagree I’m not going to argue with you. I’m asking what you ask. Wake up.

    You are going into a depression.
    GLBT anarchy will be the least of your problems if that is what you fear.
    If you think you have bad electoral laws, then change them, but enough with the GLBT boogey-people. It’s like American Christians can’t survive without having perceived ‘others’ to quake and shake about.

    Economically boycott any business owner that denies basic rights to a GLBT citizen of your country.
    I would hope so.

    The fear rings hollow Dan. You’ve fled to the hills, you don’t have to let gay people into your church, your life, your home. All you have to do is villify them using the application of freedoms you decide are fine when they suit you.

    Seriously, if you are that scared, change your law.

    Obviously not all Christians agree with you, and if this Canadian Christian opinion is too threatening, delete me.

    • Bene D,

      I specifically noted in the post that it didn’t matter to me how one voted on 8. Nor am I all that interested in “GLBT anarchy.”

      The chilling effect I see here is the eventual use of this kind of tech to stifle dissent from Christians, regardless of the larger issue, or to attack us physically. While the Bible tells us to expect persecution, making it easier for any crackpot off the street to do so is disconcerting. I have talked with bloggers who have been stalked. They rightfully fear for their wives and children’s safety. Making it easier and easier for unbalanced individuals to go after a person of a certain belief system does not help our social order.

      That the Web has obliterated the security that comes from being relatively anonymous is a problem in itself. The Bible is filled with tales of flights from enemies. That the enemies can now know where you are at just about any moment of a day is not the kind of things that David or Paul faced when their enemies came against them. Even they had a few places to run. That luxury is dying for us with every day that goes by.

      As for my beliefs on homosexuality, I lay most everything out in the post “Sex and the Created Order.” Please read the whole thing or else you will not see how I present the issue from both perspectives.

  6. Susan

    I live in China and I don’t like internet censorship, but I recognize the necessity of censorship in a country with 1.3 billion people where a significant percentage of people are not ready to receive this kind of “free” information. If you count the number of people that did not go to college, finish high school or middle school, that number would be greater than the population of the U.S.

    If Google released a map that’s of the opposite nature of eightmaps, whether in China, in U.S., or anywhere else, the results would be even more devastating.

    Or consider the fact that we already have maps (in the U.S.) that tell the location of child molesters, “sexual predators”, and anyone with “bad” history. What’s the purpose of these maps? To keep people safe and away from these “sinners”?

    Or…if our entire life history was an open book for everyone to see, the chilling effect would be times infinity.

    Thankfully (or perhaps a chilling thought), there’s only one Person that sees our life has an open book and does not discriminate the way we discriminate others.

  7. Thanks for not derailing the debate.

    I’ve been stalked, it was the price I paid for my job.

    As for online the worst most vile stuff I get comes from brothers and sisters in Christ.

    “The chilling effect I see here is the eventual use of this kind of tech to stifle dissent from Christians, regardless of the larger issue, or to attack us physically. ”

    That same technology also helps persecuted Christians Dan you worked the industry, you get the tradeoffs.

    Of course we’re going to be persecuted for righteousness sake, that has happened since Jesus ascended and it is happening all over the world. That’s vastly different than parachurch ministries or sects buying political votes.

    If as a tech person you are that scared about what Google is capable of, write them. Encourage your California friends to get the law changed.

    I object to the way you used the example, not what you believe.

  8. calwatch

    From a technical standpoint, it doesn’t appear they have access to the addresses, only zip+4 information, which goes down to the block level (and usually requires access to a database of several thousand dollars to transmogrify zip+4’s into street locations, since Google Maps does not geocode zip+4’s). Zip+4s go down to the street level, and a few checks from the downloadable database on the Secretary of State’s web site show that they did not bother to convert the contributions with just regular zip codes into the map. The solution in the future for the address coding is pretty simple: stop publishing zip+4 data, much like addresses are not posted online. Zip+4 data goes down generally to the block and side of the street level, which usually narrows down the target to just a handful of homes.

  9. Dan, you have not named one Christian harmed.

    Nor do you name anyone else harmed.

    I think what IMonk said about this gives far better perspective.

    “If Prop 8 supporters are Christians, and they are †˜outed they should rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for Christ, and should love their enemies. True?”

    • Bene D,

      The Volokh Conspiracy, a respected legal site on the Web, has fielded reports of harm. I suggest you check there. That’s where I first heard of this.

      Notice my title for the post: “Chilling Effect.” No one has to be bashed in the head with a brick or have their car vandalized to be a victim. The chilling effect shuts people down. It may not show as obvious harm because it harms in a much more subtle way. By it’s very nature, a chilling effect is tough to diagnose in the short term, too. The results of it take time to grow.

      My purpose in posting this was to alert Christians so that they would be ready. It is one thing to suffer for the faith, and another to suffer for the faith with the support of the faithful. No Christian in the early church suffered alone. Today, many Christians do. That’s why I am warning people that we should be ready for the fallout of this and future “outings.”

      For instance, if Christians as a whole do not know about this, then it because much harder to plead one’s case before them when one loses a job through this kind of targeting. If people do know about it, then rallying to the aid of the one who lost the job may be more of a reflex.

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