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:
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 SpeechFacebook 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.