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The Persecuted Flat-Earth Minority

The Denver Post headline reads: These Coloradans say Earth is flat. And gravity’s a hoax. Now, they’re being persecuted.

That's truly unfortunate. Regardless of what people believe, they should have the right to freedom of expression. The state should not censor any point of view, even views that can be objectively demonstrated to be factually incorrect. Nobody should be imprisoned for holding an unpopular opinion. And employers should not base hiring decisions on what people think or do in their own time.

So let's look into the article at the ways flat-earthers are being persecuted, and consider what those in power could do differently.

In Colorado, Ptolemaic-science revivalists have lofty ambitions: raising $6,000 to put up a billboard along Interstate 25 broadcasting their worldview. A GoFundMe site quickly raised more than $400 but has recently stalled.

Well, that's not really a form of persecution. If flat-earthers want a billboard, they ought to pay for it themselves. For the same reason the government shouldn't censor unpopular views, it shouldn't be forced to support them financially either.

But what about people losing their jobs over their views? Mark Sargent was a software analyst for 20 years before he started doubting the globe.

But something changed around the summer of 2014, when he stumbled upon a YouTube video contending that Earth is flat.

"It was interesting, but I didn’t think it was real," he says. "I started the same way as everyone else, saying, 'Oh, I’ll just prove the earth is round.' Nine months later, I was staring at my computer thinking, 'I can’t prove the globe anymore.' "

He remembers the date — Feb. 10, 2015 — when he took the plunge and started creating Flat Earth content of his own. To his surprise, the daily videos he had begun churning out ignited a firestorm online. The 49-year-old now devotes himself to Flat Earth propagation full time. He has made 600 YouTube videos and been interviewed more than 120 times.

So…did Sargent lose his software job, or did he just leave it? Either way, it sounds like he's got enough work to keep busy.

Still, what about the ways this movement has been suppressed by those in power? For example, the way YouTube has systematically handled flat earth videos. Sargent explains:

"Before I did the first few videos back in 2015, if you typed 'flat earth' into YouTube you'd get 50,000 results," he says. "Now, you’ll come in with 17.4 million. That’s more than a 30,000 percent increase. And we’re growing."

What!? That's the exact opposite of persecution! So what are these guys whining about?

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