OHATCHEE, AL. July 9, 2011 – Last month, I posted on Facebook a segment of Jason Mattera’s Human Events exclusive interview with Ann Coulter. The subject of the interview was Coulter’s latest book Demonic: How The Liberal Mob Is Endangering America.
It’s a provocative title, to be sure. But it’s nothing personal, and attention-grabbing one-liners happen to be effective vehicles in media and academia. The interview certainly didn’t contain anything obscene.
About 15 hours later, a Facebook friend informed me that he was blocked from being able to view the video because it had been reported as “abusive”. “Hmmm. Are liberal videos warned of as abusive?” he commented in reaction to it.
(Ann has a hard time with Facebook anyway. That same day, another interview came out in the Atlantic Wire in which she quipped, “I tried to get on Facebook, but they said I couldn’t have the name ‘Ann Coulter.’ Facebook won’t let me have my own name. They told me it’s like when college basketball had to ban dunking because of Lew Alcindor. I’m that good.”)
The next morning, the video was viewable again. Since Facebook has seemed to be in cahoots with Obama and company, conspiracy imaginations can run wild with that little glitch. But I suspect it’s more likely that simply enough offended liberal Facebook users flagged Coulter’s commentary to get it worth being temporarily suspended.
Users are supposed to have the discretion required to only report real abuse.
A couple of years ago, a similar incident happened to a friend’s blog on the Google-owned blog hosting website Blogger.com. Lindy Abbott’s blog was called “Coloring People” and featured articles based on clean, friendly exchanges from a white woman to a black woman about a range of topics comparing white and black culture, from ethnic backgrounds to political views (both women happened to be conservative).
The theme of the blog was “People are uniquely created by God with a purpose and designed in His image. God loves color - simply look around to see. All people are one race - the human race - though we live in many places and Nations!”
Sometime after political discussion about Barack Obama appeared on the blog, Blogger shut the blog down.
“It probably got flagged,” Lindy told me, “I NEVER ever got a response from blogger and I contacted them every way I could.” She has since started the blog anew, but her previous posts were lost with the old one – simply because (apparently) a person or two in cyberspace felt offended.
On a more public scale, an example of exaggerated offense is the story of “Seven in Heaven Way,” a street in New York City with a sign titled in honor of seven firefighters who perished on 9/11. A group of atheist New Yorkers cried foul, saying that such road nomenclature was – you guessed it – a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, told Fox News Radio, “People died in 9/11, but they were all people who died, not just Christians. Heaven is a specifically Christian place. For the city to come up and say all those heroes are in heaven now, it’s not appropriate.”
Actually, heaven is not a specifically Christian place in concept.
But regardless, an excellent point was made by Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Liberty Commission: “There are cities that have religious connotations in their names, why not a street? Do they want us to rename Los Angeles, Corpus Christi, and St. Joseph? In a country where 85 percent of the people say they are Christian or claim to be Christian, should it be surprising that you name cities and streets with religious terminology?”
Let us consider the relevant part of the First Amendment for a moment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
In essence, constitutional separation of church and state means that you can’t be thrown to the lions in a state-sponsored arena on account of your beliefs.
If much ado about nothing is made repeatedly, the cry-wolf syndrome kicks in. If you waste accusations of “abusive” and “racist” on material that really isn’t such, you risk making society indifferent to real dangers. If you complain about separation of church and state being violated when in fact it isn’t, you run the risk of making people so numb to the concept that when a real threat to it comes along, nobody will bother to listen anymore.
That’s just a little something to reconsider before clicking the “Report” link next time.
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
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