Facebook removes a post critical of Islam

I’m now a moderator of and contributor to the Global Secular Humanist Movement (GSHM) Facebook Page, the page of an organization founded by Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar (an Iraqi activist), with the FB site run by both him and biology grad student Melissa Chen at MIT. It reaches a lot of people, and on the GSHM FB page I link to those posts from this site that I consider appropriate, as well as occasional other items. You might consider “liking” it since the content is up our alley (there are biology and science items as well).

At any rate, when I tried to sign in to my own Facebook page this morning, I received this notice:

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.35.47 AM

Now I didn’t even post that—somebody else did, and on the GSHM page. But because my personal Facebook page is linked to the that one, I got the notice as well.

I looked up the Facebook Community Standards, which this photo apparently violated, and found the only “standard” that this could have violated:

Hate Speech

Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

Is that picture really “hate speech” that constitutes bigotry, or does it challenge an idea: the idea that one should not kill people over jokes (or cartoons)? It is not attacking Muslims for their religion per se, but a tenet of their faith that leads to violent behavior.

I suspect that a Muslim complained, but of course it could have been any of the many folks who bandy about the term “Islamophobia.” Now I can see how the cartoon could be interpreted as saying that all Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people, but that is a stretch—and of course untrue. But that is clearly not what the caption means. Let me spell it out: it means that some Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people. And that is true. Further, the slogan is clearly an appropriation of the old pro-gun-lobby mantra, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You don’t see a lot of objections to it on the grounds “only some people kill people”!

The photo and caption make a serious point: it is not, as some apologists assert, the cartoonists or satirists who mock Islam who are responsible for their own deaths, or for other murders propagated by “offended” Muslims. Rather, the responsibility lies with the Muslims who commit the murders out of “offense.”

I didn’t realize that Facebook was this ridden with an anti-free-speech mentality (masquerading, as usual, as a banning of “hate speech”). Perhaps this is widely known, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Let this be a lesson, though, that what some people see as free speech—speech that makes a serious point in a pointed way—is construed by others as “hate speech.” Is this cartoon the kind of thing that should be banned on college campuses? Is it the kind of thing that is prohibited in “safe spaces”?

Well, at least I can put this on my own website. But be warned: if you try to put it on Facebook, it will be removed, and you might be subject to a temporary ban.  For that reason I’ll have to remove this post from this site’s automatic feed to Facebook.

 

168 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Oh yes, FB is very much on the side of censorship. There have been instances of atheist material or sites being disabled when people complained. But it’s ok to do hateful things to atheists (I’ve seen lots of stupid memes aimed against atheists on FB) because we eat babies and such.

    • John W. Loftus
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      I just took a snapshot of this and put it on my Facebook wall. I suggest everyone does this, everyone!

      • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Agreed – and anyone who has a blog/website should also consider posting the picture.

  2. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Pshaw to Facebook. That won’t have been removed by a human being but by a computer, and if you try to complain about it you’ll find yourself talking to a computer.

    A year or more ago Facebook’s computers decided I wasn’t a real person, and stopped my account. Ironic, no?

    • johnmatthews
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      it’s the same on twitter, accounts get suspended merely for being reported. Can often spend weeks in suspension b4 any human responce comes back.

  3. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Twitter refuses to allow me to post certain messages.

    I tried to tweet this message

    @EndBlasphemyLaw “Hands Across The Water”: http://is.gd/eg2oGb @CFIOttawa @atheistie @cficanada

    and got this message

    “This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can’t complete this action right now. Please try again later.”

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Fwiw – I just tweeted that message with no problems. So maybe it wasn’t the message that caused problems but the way it was posted? Just a thought …

  4. johnmatthews
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Not sure on this one. What bothers me is the use of Muslim. It would’ve been much better to use something like Islamist or Jihadist then I would have no problem.
    It just uses to big a paint brush.
    If we were to say Jews chase money I think we would all be very critical.

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      If I had constructed that, I would have put the word “Some” in front of Muslims. But I suspect that Facebook would have removed that, too.

      • johnmatthews
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        That would’ve helped. It’s just the sort of picture I see trotted out by far right groups on twitter. Which does not make wrong but just very unhelpful to any debate. If we want liberal muslims on our side I don’t see this helping.

        • Yiam Cross
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Liberal +Moslem = Oxymoron?

          If a person truly held liberal views then theycould not sensibly call themselves a moslem.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

            I know liberal Muslims. It may seem like bullshit to atheists because we will say, “you aren’t being true to your murderous holy books” but though we are technically correct about bullshit holy books, it is a good thing when people ignore them. So, I support all Muslims who embrace the same liberal values as I do.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

              I agree with Diana – what many don’t realize is that Muslims cherry pick their scripture just as much as Christians. There are liberal Muslims, and in my experience, they are mostly great people.

      • Filippo
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps something like the following would pass the computer’s scrutiny:

        “No muslim could possibly be easily offended by a joke or cartoon.”

        • rickflick
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          I like it.

      • Henry Fitzgerald
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        I think putting the word “some” in is overkill, and humour-draining overkill. (Although, please pardon the use of “overkill” in this context.)

        I presume he slogan being parodied is “Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.”

        Everybody knows, without needing to be told, that the implicit quantifier before each of these nouns is “some”. The NRA, for all their faults, aren’t saying that all people are killers, or that all people get killed.

        Similarly here.

    • JoanL
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I was thinking along the same lines – perhaps “Extremists” instead of “Muslims”?

      • johnmatthews
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Well extremists is the lingo of choice by Obama. By only using that word and not islamists you don’t identify the problem and the rest of society will fill in the gaps and blame all of islam instead of the ideology.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          In the last episode of John Stewart that I have seen, Stewart ridicules Obama for always saying ‘extremist’ instead of ‘Islamist’ in reference to ISIS.
          So there is some broader recognition of the need for the president to come out and just say what many of us are thinking.

        • Delphin
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Nonsense.
          First, using a word that severs the logical connection to Islam misses the point. The criticism is of a particular effect — the religious feeling entitled. And it is important because no-one would dream of excusing any “extemist” EXCEPT a religious one. The joke is valuable because it challenges that implicit exemption.
          Second, why wouldn’t your proposed word just as easily apply to all extremists of any sort? Are you impugning marathon runners? No. The phrasing is quite clear. It’s the echo of the NRA aslogan, and in that slogan no-one thinks “people kill people” means ALL people. Neither does “muslims who” mean all muslims.

          • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            John Matthews is actually arguing here against using an ambiguous term like “extremists”. He suggested “Islamists”.

            Did you mean to reply to Joan instead?

            • johnmatthews
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

              I think he’s arguing against both Joan and I.

              I think a lot of people will see this as the message any muslim is capable of killing a cartoonist. Especially if you don’t know the context.
              Again I would say its then fine to post “Jews chase money”. Some do the vast amount dont but by your logic I could make a funny out of that.

              I would also say to some extent the logic does not matter. We should be aiming to get liberal muslims on our side and this would be more likely to send them to extremist groups.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

                Any Muslim who would join an extremist group because they saw an ill-considered bit of satire can hardly be considered a liberal Muslim.

                Or… if that’s what a liberal Muslim is, then the meme isn’t really ill-considered, is it?

    • $G
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      I think I agree with you, johnmatthews. The ‘punchline’ is a huge blanket. But any more nuance and the riff wouldn’t be snappy enough – and this obviously affects the message. I can understand why a Muslim, offended by a joke or cartoon, who responds with words might feel accused by the meme.

      Whether or not it should be taken down is one thing (and subject to FB rules), but while the image DOES emphasize the absurdity of “[killing] people over jokes” (as Dr. Coyne says) it also has some problematic wording that casts an unfair net.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I can just about agree that inserting the word ‘some’ would’ve improved it(although the more qualifiers you add in the less elegant it becomes and the less point there is in using the NRA slogan’s structure).
      I guess…well I’d like to see a modified version posted up on Facebook and see if it gets through. It’d be a nice little experiment to see what exactly it is about it that constitutes ‘hate speech’.
      Where I agree with you is that, since we constitute a tiny sliver of the dialogue on Islam, most of which is made up of Muslims and left-wingers(I’m finding it harder and harder to describe them as liberals too) on the one hand and often genuinely xenophobic, genuinely agenda-driven right-wingers on the other, and since both sides seem to loathe this tiny sliver with equal passion, it’s crucial that we distinguish ourselves very carefully from those genuine racists who would post that exact same image with different motivations. I don’t think it’s fair that we seem to be held to a higher standard than others, but at the moment the only way to prevent our arguments from being automatically dismissed by both sides is to be extremely, unfailingly precise in our language(I don’t mean any kind of self-censorship – I believe that our arguments are perfectly sensible and there’s nothing to censor). The absence of a qualifying ‘some’ on that image is more than enough reason for some tediously opportunistic media pundit to dismiss everything we say as racist. This is obviously ridiculous, and it’s hypocritical, but if liberal criticism of Islam is to make any headway it really has to be blemish-free. Jerry said he would have altered it given the chance so I don’t see how this is an error(and I don’t think it’s hate speech anyway) – but the way Facebook reacted is a signal of how incredibly careful we have to be in order to outmanoeuvre the increasingly desperate smearing tactics that our opponents use. It’s unfair, and it’s hypocritical, but the only reason we haven’t yet been entirely written off is down to the precision and clarity of purpose of people like Jerry, Dawkins, Maajid Nawaz, Irshid Manji and others. They’ve hardly given their opponents an inch and yet some have still taken a mile. It really is like walking a tightrope.

    • eric
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      What bothers me is the use of Muslim

      What bothers me is the use of Facebook, but hey, I’m probably tilting at windmmills on this issue.

      • Kirth Gersen
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        LOL!

      • Kevin
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, it does tend to suck intelligence out of people, no matter how intelligent they once were.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          I think what it actually does is make the stupidity of stupid people more visible. They may not go around promoting anti-vax or alt-med garbage in meatspace, but FB is their outlet.

          The stupidity was there all along, however.

      • Filippo
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if FB removes photos/captions critical of FB.

    • Mike Paps
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      What bothers me is the use of Muslim.

      Yeah and the guy in the middle could only be more of a Muslim stereotype if he were carrying a scimitar.

      • Mike Paps
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        And I don’t mean the cuddly Aladdin stereotype, but the ugly fat lipped easy to hate stereotype. It seems excessive to me. If one of the usual suspects tw**ted this as “how atheists perceive Muslims” it would gain some traction.

    • Michael Johnson
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      I have to object. Are you a native English speaker?

      In English, bare plurals get three readings, depending on the predicate:

      1. Firefighters are brave.
      2. Firefighters are in the back yard.
      3. Dinosaurs are extinct.

      (1) gets the “all or most firefighters” reading, because “are brave” is an individual level predicate, characterizing the nature of firefighters. (2) gets a “some but not all” reading because “are in the back yard” is a stage-level predicate, specifying a temporary state of things.

      “Muslims are offended” gets the “some” reading because being offended is not like a personality trait that persists through ones life. “Jews chase money” necessarily gets the “all, most, or generically” reading because “chase” is an eventive verb and used in the simple present it gets a generic or habitual interpretation. (Cf. “John is smoking” to “John smokes”.) There are some contexts where there are exceptions (“he shoots, he scores!”), but English usually doesn’t use eventive verbs in the simple present to describe one-off events.

      • Michael Johnson
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        Actually, I posted without thinking hard enough. I was only thinking about the simple case of “Muslims are offended” and “Jews chase money”.

        When you look at “Muslims kill people” we once again get a generic reading (I’ve been calling it “all or most” but it’s far more complicated. “Mosquitos carry the West Nile virus” is gets a generic reading and is true even though most don’t. There’s a large literature on this). The generic reading comes about, as I mentioned, because “kill” is eventive and is used in the simple present.

        “Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people” would then say roughly “The subset of Muslims who are offended by jokes is itself typified by a behavior of killing people”– which is indeed too strong. You can’t say with Jerry that this is OK, because no one thinks it means “all”– sentences of this form have a generic reading which as I mentioned is not a matter of “all or most” but something closer to “typified by”.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted March 3, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

          Is your day job training Cyc?

  5. GBJames
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I just posted this page on from my Facebook account. I’ll report back if it gets blocked.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      (and this time… the check box…)

      • rickflick
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        sub

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      My post above which automatically appears on Facebook didn’t this one time. It can’t be an accident. . .

      • GBJames
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        I wonder if you can see it on my FB page and what would happen if you tried to share my copy.

    • Peter
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      I posted the link from this page, on FB, and it has been up all day. I guess the difference is that although FB took the image from this site, it doesn’t actually have the photo as being uploaded to its own servers.

  6. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    This is another issue for the “Free Speech vs. Free Expression” dichotomy. Technically, Facebook is a private service and have the right to restrict what content they allow. On the other hand, in doing so, they create a chilling effect, a media bias, by restricting certain messages by policy.

    A thorny issue every time it is raised, and one which is often oversimplified into just “free speech”.

    • eric
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Its not particularly thorny: they have every right to do it, they’re just jerks for doing it (and they have enough market share to make their private standard impact a significant amount of internet speech).

      • Filippo
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if the FB corporate tyrants support the sentiments of the “PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING” bumper sticker I saw yesterday.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Technically, exactly this. Anyone who thinks that Facebook (or any other publicity-generating service, e.g. from times in my past, Compuserve, any random USENET server, MySpace,BeBo … And a myriad of other services of varying degrees of ephemeral-ness ) has any attachment to “free speech” has clearly not read their ts&cs.
      At least, their UK ones. If the American ones were different, I don’t know if that would affect me if I had signed up in America then posted from the UK. As is, this post may be variously under the jurisdiction of Turkey (originated in their territorial waters), Liberia (flag nation of the vessel ), America (vessel owners), Norway (ground station location), …. And several others, completely disregarding who is actually doing the posting. Its a minefield so no wonder that FB and the like try to dodge the mines. Their obligation to their shareholders to make maximum profit does of course override all other considerations.

  7. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    FB’s policy is really strange and inconsistent, to say the least.
    Last summer they closed several pro-Israeli pages on grounds of violation of community standards.
    When I complained about a few, all my complaints were rejected. In one case, I was told that a page titled “Hate the Jews” is not hate speech…

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Seriously????

      • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Yes.
        Last summer, during Operation Protective Edge and immediately afterwards, there were many of those.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          Are the Hate Israel pages still up? If so, could you post the links here?

            • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

              I don’t remember which pages I reported back then, but the ones I linked to here are not nearly the worst, which Facebook does not consider “hate speech”.

              • johnmatthews
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                hating israel is not hate speech. Plenty of people living in my country hate it. Are they then committing hate speech against them selves?

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

                Check these pages and then tell me it’s not hate speech

            • Greg Esres
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

              “Hate israel” is different from “hate the Jews”; all the links appear to be groups that hate the country, so that probably isn’t hate speech.

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

                1. “Hate Israel” is definitely an attack on others based on their national origin, which is defined by Facebook as a hate speech.
                2. I couldn’t find any “Hate the Jews” page now, but there were quite a few last summer.
                3. Is this antisemitic enough for you? https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Untold-History/907175725981913 trust me, there are plenty of this kind

              • Greg Esres
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

                ““Hate Israel” is definitely an attack on others based on their national origin,”

                It definitely is not.

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                Yes, it is.

              • Greg Esres
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                “there are plenty of this kind”

                So you say. That one link is indeed anti-semitic, but the question is how would they respond if it’s reported.

                We only have your testimony that Facebook tolerates “Hate the Jews” pages, but since you see no difference between “Hate Israel” and “Hate the Jews”, your testimony is unreliable.

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

                If you don’t trust me, try it yourself.

            • Gordon
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

              Not exactly pulling in the fans are they – of the few I looked at the most ‘likes’ was just over 2000 which I assume is pretty pathetic in FBland.

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                So Facebook allows unpopular hate speech?
                If the community standards don’t allow this, the number of likes has nothing to do with it.

              • Gordon
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

                My point was that allowed or not these pages seem to be largely ignored. I was not, as you seem to imply, making any point about FB’s policy.

    • eric
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      I believe their policy is consistently pro-profit. They’re going to censor where they think that will bring in more money and not censor when they think free speech will bring in more money.

      • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        I cannot see how any censorship can create them profit.
        At this point, the only alternative to Facebook is leaving it, and most people wouldn’t do that.

        • Greg Esres
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

          I did.

          Plus, it’s not about leaving, it’s about the frequency of visits.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

            Odd. I thought that it was about the frequency of following advertising links. Which is why I never follow any advertising links on FB, except to report them as being sexually explicit in blocks of 25 consecutive adverts. It probably doesn’t do anything but mark my account as being useless for judging adverts, but that is still a small victory.
            OK. I have followed a couple of adverts from FB. By opening a new private instance of a different browser in a sandbox, searching appropriately, then destroying the sandbox without saving. Why help them?

        • eric
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          You can’t? Really?

          • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

            Now I can. I was not aware of that.
            This is very disturbing, because it gives nations the power to censor Facebook.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

              If you weren’t aware of that then it’s probably not wise to leave the borders of your home country. The world is a different place to home, wherever that is.

              • Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

                Well, I knew that some countries partly or completely block access to the internet.
                What I was not aware of was that American companies are cooperating with this.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

                Oh you’d be surprised how many western democracies restrict parts of the Internet. Often it is about stopping kiddy porn but I am suspicious when countries do that.

  8. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    “Is this cartoon the kind of thing that should be banned on college campuses?”

    Given most of the recent news on that subject, including the post here yesterday about the safe space flier from Columbia University, I think that, sadly, yes, it would be banned as hate speech on most campuses. It is very disturbing to me that the people cheering most loudly for the attacks on free speech and due process rampant on college campuses today refer to themselves as liberals. Since when is watering down the bill of rights the cause celbre of liberals?

  9. Jeff Rankin
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others

    How could this post be considered an “attack”?

    And oh yes, Facebook (and Twitter) are very much on the anti-free-speech bandwagon, even though it’s a simple matter on both platforms to block content and users who offend (or “attack” I guess in this case).

  10. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I see lots of posts on FB that I consider hateful but which don’t fall into their categories – lots of “jokes” about lazy husbands and bitchy wives and so forth. Also plenty of right-wing memes about Presudent Ibama (AutoCorect did not fix; leaving it alone!) or people on public assistance; I’m sure Hillary memes are coming to my feed soon. Eye of the beholder, I guess.

    I will “report” the next anti-atheist slur I see. Fun!

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I see lots of posts on FB that I consider hateful

      Yeah, me too. I simply ignore them and move on.

      There’s a large group of vigilant and constantly offended people who seem to equate their offense with some type of “ism” or *phobia.

      • johnmatthews
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        I have a phobiaism.

      • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        Oh yes, a friend from high school is on a one-woman mission against people who spell Xmas with an X or say “Happy Holidays” during December – both of which are major affronts to you-know-who. You’re right, one has to ignore it: if I were similarly militant I would be blocked for sure and there would be no more pictures of people’s dinners and grandkids for me.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          MOOT – it’s interesting that the X has 1000-year roots in Christianity!

          http://blog.dictionary.com/xmas-christogram/

        • Draken
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          both of which are major affronts to you-know-who

          Lord Voldemort?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 25, 2015 at 12:43 am | Permalink

          ” I would be blocked for sure and there would be no more pictures of people’s dinners and grandkids for me.”

          … and the downside is…?

          😉

          • Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:32 am | Permalink

            Funny! The downside would be losing contact with someone I’ve known for 30-odd years, of course – lots of people I love are deluded fools!

  11. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Well, I can add this to the list of reasons why I deleted my Facebook account (and Twitter account) several years ago.

    • Gordon
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and me too, although the real reason is I got sick of hearing which of my great nieces/nephews did number 2s on the way to kindergarten or threw up at a party.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink

        Arrgh. One of my wife’s sisters had a husband who was inordinately proud of his offspring. One could guarantee that one would get a full and detailed account of the progress of offspring’s toilet training. People could be observed unobtrusively but determinedly edging away from him at parties.

  12. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Well, that’s Facebook for you. Animals catching Frisbees, good. Thoughtful or provocative photos and commentary, bad. Perhaps FB’s not the venue for sagacious commentary, but it certainly has reach. I suspect there will be many more such incidents in the future.

  13. Benjamin Branham
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Though it could mean ALL offended Muslims kill people, I see that as being only one interpretation. It can also be interpreted as people that are Muslims and who are offended by jokes kill people, which would be a fact. No different than if we say smoking causes cancer. But seeing as it’s ambiguous, I suppose I can see why they took it down as a violation. In business settings at least, whether something is considered to be hate speech or not is determined by the victim, not the perpetrator (similar to sexual harassment).

    • JohnH
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      I agree with the ambiguity, maybe more so with the photo. How about the picture with: Extreme Religiosity or Extreme Dogmatism kills people. Maybe more encompassing and less selective?

      • Benjamin Branham
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        I agree. But it would still be ambiguous since not all extremists actually kill people. Though I’m sure the percentage is much higher than non extremists!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        Extreme Dogmatism kills people

        That’ll have the extreme wing of the Cats Protection League up in , ummmm, paws about you proselytising for their opponents.

  14. JohnH
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Jokes don’t kill people…unless you die laughing (ala, not allah, Monty Python)

  15. rodgerma
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    OK, let’s go with the POTUS:
    “Jokes don’t kill people.

    Thugs following a perverted Islam
    and are offended by jokes kill people”

    And re Saudi Arabia:
    “Free speech doesn’t hurt people.

    Thugs following a perverted Islam
    and are offended by free speech
    imprison, flog and hurt people”

    Our work is far from done….

  16. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Whenever the censorship starts banning the truth it heads for big trouble and this, as anyone knows is a truth statement. Certainly a problem for facebook.

    On this site, part of the mission is to point out and highlight the problems with religion. This is usually part of what atheist do. If it is offense as the truth can be, then don’t go there. Just like TV, change the channel.

    When Facebook starts doing this, I think they are in big trouble. Soon there will be no discussion of religion on facebook because it might/will offend someone.

    • $G
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I’m a little bit distressed by this post and some of the ones above it. I can agree with you in spirit that banning “the truth” is trouble – or, hell, that banning ANYTHING is trouble.

      However, if we’re talking about the truth: the meme only contains a kernel of truth. The vague accusation of the careless ‘punchline’ is objectively untrue. It makes no careful distinction at all of the vast number of people who do not murder even though they’ve taken offense (which, in a reply above, Dr. Coyne recognizes and suggests a fix).

      I see exactly what the meme is *trying* to say (or, at least, what I *hope* it’s trying to say) – but that is not, in fact, exactly what’s written.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        You want to squeeze down every verb, every idea that might be in the statements. That is fine, please do that. But who are you to decide what gets in and what does not based on your fine interpretations. Facebook can do whatever it wants but it is still bad censorship.

        • $G
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Randy, I’m not deciding anything about what can’t be said and nothing in my post said so. I’m pointing out the inherent flaw in the language used – in its attempt to be funny or poignant or whatever. It’s bad work. It’s a poor, inaccurate statement immediately at face value. The “verbs” I’m “squeezing down” are exactly what’s written. This is not a “fine interpretation” I’m making.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        I think I agree. While I am a strong free speacher, it is the sloppy language that makes it seem overly broad and mean spirited. Also, the rather unflattering image of an angry face wearing a turban. It is so stereotyped.
        I’m talking myself into thinking, these kind of posters that fly around the internet are really a rather poor form of communication and criticism. I’ve never posted one myself. Give me an essay any time.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          Well, someone should try using the same idea but slightly different language. I’m not that bothered by the angry guy (unless he’s angry about something else), as I’ve seen many demonstrations in which Muslims advocate the return of Hitler or beheading apostates or the like, and the faces are just as unflattering, believe me.

          Ten to one even a somewhat sanitized post would be banned. One of my friends posted a cartoon she drew of Muhammad on “Draw Muhammad Day,” and her Facebook account was closed for a while for the same reasons. And there were no words on it! It was just a cartoon showing the “Prophet.” Let’s face it, Facebook will shut down anything construed as anti-Islam.

          • Filippo
            Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps she should draw another with the caption, “This is not a cartoon of Mohammed.” After all, who possibly knows what Mohammed bloody looked like? Why not have a “Do NOT Draw Mohammed Day”?

            Why don’t these easily-offended people take offense at what must be the millions of male children named “Mohammed”? Does that not cheapen that precious name? In Catholic Latin America there is a multitude of male children named “Jesus.” One doesn’t see it in Protestant North America. Did one so see, there would be a stink raised by conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical religiosos.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        I have no problems with this picture and slogan. It is undeniably accurate, though limited. I think that many of the people who you are worried, rightly, will interpret it to be offensive because it could be construed as “painting with too broad a brush,” will interpret it that way merely because they want to take offense.

        I get tired of that, I think it is unethical, and sometimes I just don’t give a shit if they want to be offended by something like this. Many such people will be offended no matter how many words you add trying to clarify precisely what you mean.

        Not to mention that things like this should make people uncomfortable.
        They should cause some controversy.

        Every time a statement remotely like the one in the OP is made, even when it is obvious, or should be, that the author doesn’t need to be told it, one of the very first comments will be a “too broad a brush” comment. While the thing being cautioned against is indeed something to guard against, so often it seems these days it is taken too far, to the point where it inhibits and stigmatizes legitimate criticism.

        • $G
          Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          You misunderstand. I don’t care that it’s offensive. I care that it is incorrect. There is a kernel of legitimate criticism but it’s buried in a blanket statement.

          “Every time a statement remotely like the one in the OP is made, even when it is obvious, or should be, that the author doesn’t need to be told it, one of the very first comments will be a “too broad a brush” comment. While the thing being cautioned against is indeed something to guard against, so often it seems these days it is taken too far, to the point where it inhibits and stigmatizes legitimate criticism.”

          “Too broad a brush” is a legitimate criticism of the punchline, which makes a sweeping statement that is objectively wrong as written. If one looking to provoke, fine. But if one wants credit for writing legitimate criticism of a dangerous thing, it better be a lot clearer and more pointed than what’s written in that meme.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            Yes, that is where we disagree. There is no kernel, it is more like a giant sequoia.

            Before a claim like “it is objectively wrong” can make any sense you first have to have interpreted the statement. You are apparently claiming that the only valid interpretation is something like “it is only muslims who kill people when they are offended,” or all muslims kill when they are offended.” Those are not the only valid interpretations. There is a pretty standard interpretation of the statement that is objectively accurate. Similarly constructed statements regarding myriad other subjects are used regularly everyday and people aren’t confused by what is meant.

            And it isn’t without context. The context is right there in the first line. People 50 years from now may rightly be excused for not understanding the context, but people today have no excuse.

            • Gordon
              Posted February 24, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

              Spot on comment,I can’t see given the overall context in which this appears, that anyone would not see what is intended unless being perverse in order to be offended. However this is pretty much par for the course these days-take one line out of context, construe an ‘offensive’ meaning and go global to attack whoever said it until they have to issue some vague non-apology or burst into public tears with a fake apology in to placate the baying mob.

              • $G
                Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

                I honestly don’t know what to say to either of you if you don’t think that the phrase,

                “Jokes don’t kill people, Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people”

                isn’t a completely unfair blanket statement. I know Muslims who were offended and, guess what, haven’t killed anybody or even wanted to.

                The statement is incorrect and inaccurate. This is a fact. Please do not start with the “interpretations” defense. I don’t care what sequoia you see in the centre of this; the statement is not accurate. It is no different than the quote mined memes meant to slander Sam Harris. It is a distortion of reality. Dr. Coyne already produced what he believes is a more accurate statement: “SOME Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people”.

                There are a million and one things to criticize about Islam (everything in the Quran) and the behaviour of Muslims (500 attendees at the Copenhagen killer’s funeral, among other things), but this meme skates straight into outright lying. If it just wants to be a slander piece, fine. If it wants to be treated as a poignant criticism, then it’ll have to actually make a completely accurate statement first.

              • darrelle
                Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

                Your opinion is of course your own.

                I honestly do know what to say to you.

                I have said it. I’ll say a bit more. Your claims are verging into hyperbole.

                “. . . isn’t a completely unfair blanket statement.”

                It is not completely unfair no matter how you wish to interpret the semantic content of it, or the intent of whoever authored it. Similar for blanket. May be, may not be.

                “I know Muslims who were offended and, guess what, haven’t killed anybody or even wanted to.”

                I thought you didn’t care if people were offended by it? I am rather relieved to find that you do as, actually, I do care if people are offended also. But, I am one of those people that don’t think anybody, myself included, should be afforded any particular rights to not be offended. Oh, and, I know some Muslims too.

                “The statement is incorrect and inaccurate. This is a fact.

                You’ve already said that, I’ve already replied. Repeating it all over and over again won’t help.

                “Please do not start with the “interpretations” defense.

                It appears you are refusing to acknowledge the obvious, likely due to a prior committment to an ideal.

                “Dr. Coyne already produced what he believes is a more accurate statement: “SOME Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people”.”

                That you think this statement is a refutation of anything I’ve written suggests to me that you have misunderstood me. I couldn’t agree more with Jerry, and apparently you, about that. I have never said that I think the statement is unambiguous, right on the money, tasteful, something I’d write, etc..

                “. . . but this meme skates straight into outright lying.

                I understand you are passionate about this, and I don’t blame you, it is a good thing to be passionate about, I think. But this claim is as hyperbolic as the statement you are criticizing.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Whenever the censorship starts banning the truth it heads for big trouble and this, as anyone knows is a truth statement. Certainly a problem for facebook.

      It might be a problem for FB or it might not. The only way I can see for certain that it would be a problem would be if they depended on indefinite corporate lifetime for a return on investment. If they (or their investors) intend to get return on a 10 year time frame and then either rake it in or pump and dump, then what do they care about year 11?

  17. Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    “We do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”

    What stands out to me is how different religion is than these other items listed…one can freely CHOOSE their religion, thus it seems obvious that it should be open to criticism. It’s like saying you can’t make fun of Cubs fans (not that I would).

    • GBJames
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      “…one can freely CHOOSE their religion…”

      … although it might result in a death sentence.

      • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        You beat me to it. And as long as toddlers can be indoctrinated, people do not “choose” their religion.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          There are obvious qualifications to this like the indoctrination of children or the location of the believer, but compared to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability…religion is clearly more of a choice than the items listed.

      • Filippo
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        As would choosing to attempt to freely leave that religion.

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Well, I could accept that if this policy was applied fairly and consistently.
      But when the slightest criticism of Islam, which is not really hateful, but deals with serious subjects, is removed as “hate speech”, but pages like “Hate the Jews” or “Death to Israel” are not, because, as Facebook puts it, it is a political opinion, then I am upset.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the key word is “attack”. From someone’s point of view a criticism can seem like an attack. If they had used the term “criticize” it would read:
      “We do not permit individuals or groups to criticize others…”
      This makes the proposition ludicrous.

    • jay
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      People don’t choose their religion any more or less than they choose their culture.

      If you can joke about one (and I support this) then you can joke about the other.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      Cubs fans make fun of themselves.

  18. Sean
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The reason someone was offended by this joke is because it points at a an obvious truth.

    It hurts when your cognitive dissonance is insulted perfectly.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I agree, but if this had been posted by some far-right blogger would you still have no trouble with it? It’s a slightly imprecise message, and that imprecision is more than enough for CJ Werelman or Reza Aslan(or even someone reputable) to seize upon.

  19. Lowen Gartner
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Facebook has a right to censor anything they wish…remember nursing mothers?

    And I have the right to stop using Facebook.

    I don’t miss it.

  20. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    It would appear, from some of the comments above, that FB is suffering from the double-standard that anything ‘edgy’ about Islam is verboten hate speech. Other things critical to atheists or Isreal? well, that is OK.
    Islamophobiaphobia is what I guess this is could be called.

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      I think that the explanation is that notorious paternalistic attitude that Muslims are somehow more sensitive than others.
      Maybe I am just over sensitive, as an Israeli, but I think that this page (https://www.facebook.com/Death.to.Israel?ref=br_rs) is quite “hate speech” by any standard. Try reporting it and see what response you get.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        This is precisely the reason the censorship done by Facebook is poor judgement and will come back to bite them. Like some of the people commenting on this post, they do no fully understand the importance of free speech and the harm done by censorship.

        If Jerry Coyne could not put this on his site, there would be no discussion and no comments. We could not have an opinion period. If anyone has to run the thought around in their mind for half an hour and decide how they think about the comment or cartoon before banning it, they probably just made a mistake.

        Facebook has to explain why death to Israel is in and this picture statement about jokes is out. They cannot do it.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          I think that blueollie is right in his comment below.
          Facebook know that their offices in Israel are safe, no matter what antisemitic and anti-Israeli disgusting propaganda they allow. They cannot feel the same about criticism of Islam or Arab nations on Facebook.

    • Filippo
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Apparently FB does not suffer from Islamofascistphobia.

  21. Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I think that this is a case of “heckler’s veto”.

  22. Rob K
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I think this is a pretty nasty little cartoon. Two aspects of it are unpleasant – firstly the text, which makes a completely incorrect implication. The great, great majority of muslims who are offended by jokes do not, in fact, kill people. This text is crude, judgemental, inaccurate and not even funny. The second problem is the nasty picture which of course perpetuates the stereotype of the bearded, turbaned extremist as being representative of muslims worldwide. Why not use an Indonesian lady in a hijab instead? That would be more accurate. Of course, the Charlie Hebdo killers did not look like the people in the picture but I guess that is beside the point. Nasty, unenlightened and unlikely to serve any purpose other than to cause distress in some parts of the population and reinforce prejudice in other parts.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Agreed.

      • Pete T
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. But should still not be censored regardless of my personal distaste.

    • Larry Cook
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t state that every Muslim who is offended by jokes kills people and it doesn’t imply it. It states that “Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people” and that is true. It also doesn’t state or imply that all Muslims look like those in the picture. And yes, it’s judgemental. It’s judgemental of those who kill people. You are worried about stereotypes, but there are many many Muslims who dress and look like the guys in this picture and recently Indonesian woman haven’t been killing any cartoonists. Why would the person who put this poster together use that image?

      • Rob K
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        I stand by my comments. It’s a sweeping and crude generalisation. With regards to the image used, yes there are many muslims who have beards and turbans but (to use your words) recently they haven’t been killing any cartoonists – The Charlie Hebdo killers, which is what I assume this is a reference to, did not conform to your beardy turban look anymore than (say) I do. So why use this image instead of say a picture of Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, or one that’s just typical of French Algerians (the vast majority of whom just look like any other French person), or one that’s representative of muslims generally which would be something like the Indonesian woman I suggested. The only reason I can think of is to perpetuate stereotypes and reinforce prejudice.

  23. Trace Headstone
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    “Jokes don’t kill people…..” –wait a second –unlike guns, jokes really don’t kill people. We are not advocating a 30-day waiting period before you can tell a joke. Even though I agree with the sentiment here & have been impatient with Pres. Obama’s refusal to mention Islam in connection with the recent terrorist actions, I think the attempt to construct a parallel slogan using that old NRA chestnut was misguided.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Criticism doesn’t kill comments.

    Websites that are offended by criticism kills comments.

  25. jay
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Once again NPR comes out on the wrong side of free speech:

    http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/11/nprs-departing-ombudsman-thinks-the-firs

    • Kirth Gersen
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      People can never seem to understand why I’m not a fan of NPR. Maybe from now on I can just link that article…

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Both morning and afternoon NPR news reports today prominently featured a quote from a (moderate) Muslim group, upset by recent extremist rhetoric. “You can’t just declare another Muslim to be kafir (apostate), just because you disagree with something he says, which is what ISIS does!”

      It was not lost on me that this also describes exactly those moderates who want us to label ISIS as “Not Really Islam”.

  26. Greg Esres
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I’m a bit offended by the cartoon. First, it isn’t funny. Second, it really moves from criticizing ideas to criticizing people. Third, it serve no purpose other than to inflame passions. Seriously, whose sense of humor is improved by ridiculing them that they have no sense of humor?

    As someone else pointed out, it’s really the sort of thing you see on the far right websites. I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that rationalists should be associated with.

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I agree that this iamgery could improve A LOT. But I am not sure that that it’s Facebook’s place to decide and if it is, it should be done fairly and consistently.

      • Greg Esres
        Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Facebook has an obligation to make this judgment call to 1) protect its reputation, and 2) protect itself from any legal liability.

        If you get pulled over for speeding, you can’t whine that others are speeding too.

        • Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          If they have this obligation (which I doubt), they have it for all kinds of hate speech, not only those which offend certain groups.
          They don’t remove antisemitic and anti-Israeli pages when they are reported.
          The problem is not “others are speeding too” but double standards.
          I don’t know about the U.S., but in my country, selective enforcement is a reason for dropping charges (i.e. if a defendant proves that he was accused of something that others who did the same were not accused of, without reasonable justification, then the court may drop the charges and acquit him).

    • GBJames
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Is “hate speech” defined by whether rationalists should be associated with it?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I also felt it made uncomfortable, but should FB remove it and deprive us of the chance to say so?

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      “Seriously, whose sense of humor is improved by ridiculing them that they have no sense of humor?”

      Interesting viewpoint, but I have never before heard this rationalization listed among the many reasons people create and share cartoons.

  27. Posted February 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Manjeet Kumar.

  28. Posted February 24, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Here’s where the FB post went wrong — it’s too ambiguous. Not all Muslim who are offended by jokes kill people. We here all know that of course. Understandably, I think the Facebook gods want to cover their asses too, and not invite any attacks.

  29. RD
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Sooner or later, the Liberals always turn on themselves. That’s what happens when free speech is determined by the government and not an inalienable rights of the human race.

  30. Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a meme that even FB couldn’t object to (surely?):

    But we know what its memes, right?

    /@

    • Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      * its *sigh*

    • rickflick
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Great idea. All right everyone, put it to the test. Can I haz it?

  31. Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I agree 100% with this: “Let me spell it out: it means that some Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people. And that is true.” I think it would be more accurate to say “some Muslims who want to kill people use jokes as a justification.” That is, the Muslims who are one joke away from killing people are already pretty close to the edge.

    • Simon
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:02 am | Permalink

      Don’t agree at all. You are underestimating the role that dogmatic belief plays. Contrary to what the apologists would have you believe, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who believe that death is the appropriate punishment for apostasy and insulting the prophet. There is a direct causal relationship here and it plays out within the Islamic world even more so than between it and the west, which gives the lie to the usual apologist explanations for the violence.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        That’s a good point. Thinking of the Islamic problem as just a handful of psychotics lets a lot of Muslims off the hook. Maybe a broad brush is needed. Or, at least one a little wider than an Utrecht Series 600 Watercolor Brush.

  32. Larry Cook
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I re-posted this on Facebook and I wrote the following to introduce it:

    “This was removed from another FB page as if it was “hate speech”. It threatens nobody. It simply points out that a cartoonist who mocks Islam or anything about it is not the cause of any subsequent violence. The perpetrators of the violence are to blame. There’s no law that says that which is sacred to you must also be sacred to others.”

    I’ll let you know if Facebook does anything. I think it would be wonderful if hundreds of us re-posted this for FB to deal with. I agree though that someone will probably have to complain about it for FB to remove it or take any other action. Since I’m an individual with a relatively small number of “friends”, I doubt anyone will complain. My christian “friends” who comment like clockwork on every anti-religion post I make will be the suspects if Facebook removes this or suspends my account.

  33. Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Trouble is, it’s not strictly true, is it. ‘Moslems’ don’t. A very small minority do. A very large majority most certainly don’t. So the pic tars all Moslems with the same brush.

    From that angle it could be argued that it is defamatory to Moslems in the majority. Perhaps that was FB’s thinking in this case.

    In passing, it’s sloppy thinking anyway. We only need to stick to the facts to get our point across. That what we critical thinkers are supposed to do, aren’t we?

    • $G
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Completely agreed. I’m no stranger to criticism of Islam or Muslims but I cannot in good conscience endorse this meme whose one statement is factually untrue.

      We, as atheists posting on a science website authored by a prominent figure, should hold ourselves to a higher standard of criticism.

      We can’t let factually untrue statements slide through the filters just because their targeted at opponents. This is dishonest.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 25, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Why is it so hard for people to focus on the actual question at hand here. It isn’t whether this meme is “true” or not. It isn’t if it is defamatory or sloppy thinking.

        The question is… Is it hate speech? Is the definition of “hate speech” so broad that it covers sloppy thinking and not-completely-accurate statements?

        • $G
          Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          There is plenty of discussion of hate speech in this thread. I and several others are concerned with the shoddiness of the meme’s message because some posters, in their defense of the right to post the meme, have overstated their case by claiming that a “truthful” thing has been banned. We’re not missing the focus of the discussion; we’re picking up on a troubling thread that’s frayed from the initial purpose of the discussion. Please don’t just assume we’re missing the point.

          • GBJames
            Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            I didn’t assume it. I concluded it. Not the same thing.

            • $G
              Posted February 25, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

              Then you concluded wrong.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 25, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                I don’t think so. I reviewed your comments and find nothing addressing the question of hate speech. I find lots of angst about whether it is wrong, etc., but nary a word on the central question. If it is there and I missed it then I’m sure you’ll point me to it.

              • $G
                Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

                James,

                I have nothing to point you to. My responses, as I stated, were to a tangential issue that cropped up in Randy Schenk’s post way up in the thread:

                “Whenever the censorship starts banning the truth it heads for big trouble and this, as anyone knows is a truth statement.”

                This is the sentiment I responded to and which I didn’t feel should go unaddressed within the rest of what I felt was an adequately developing discussion of the hate speech issue. It eventually involved me in a handful of back-and-forths. If this is enough for you to conclude that I missed the entire point of the article and much of the comments (to which I nodded in silent assent), there’s nothing I can say to convince you otherwise.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

                Well I apologize for over-reacting to you specifically. I really was reacting to what I think is a tendency for many of us to pull away from direct confrontation of obvious facts… that Islam in today’s world is a disproportionate source of extremist violence and intimidation. The FB removal of the meme under that pretense of “hate speech” is a reflection of the completely unwarranted “respect” offered to religion in general and Islam in particular.

                Arguing over the correctness of the meme struck me as such a diversion. Perhaps it wasn’t intended as such.

              • $G
                Posted February 25, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

                I am completely in agreement about diversion tactics (which I’ve railed against in other forums). I realized that my posts might have been contentious before I posted them given the nature of internet chat, but decided it was worth the risk because I was very displeased with some of what I saw to be overboard support of the meme. That is, not simply defending its right to be posted (cool, IMO), but going full bore in defending its message to the absolute letter (a bit of a problem, IMO).

                Anyhoo, I’m genuinely glad we cleared this up.

  34. Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi there,

    It’s my first time commenting although I’ve always lurked around the comments section. I’m the one who posted the meme on the page and I thought it be obvious what this was getting it, but of course, it turned out not to be so.

    I think there’s something to be said for the calls for more precise language, because it will help our cause to not be lumped into the same group as the right-wing bigots with an agenda. I simply saw the obvious (to me) parallel to the NRA slogan and thought it’d be a good idea to post it!

    See, this is the kind of healthy discussion that enables me to see the nuance in why this might not have been such a good idea. Sadly, Facebook is depriving people of such possible enlightenment when it censors things.

    One of the commenters in the thread literally said, “this person who posted this cartoon is no different from ISIS.”

    I stopped reading after that. Thank you all here for participating in the debate.

    -MC

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for commenting! I agree completely; FB prevented meaningful discussion. I’m glad we were able to have it here.

    • $G
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      This is a very nice post. Much respect from me for accepting criticism. Seriously. It’s easy during internet disputes to just plant a flag and stand by it, but you didn’t and that’s very cool of you.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 2:29 am | Permalink

      MC, I completely agree with $G above. Very big of you.

  35. Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Shashank Patel.

  36. Rich
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I just posted it on my pace. F*ck FB


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