Bizarro is brought to you today by Big Brother.
I’ve been in Facebook exile for the past 24 hours because I responded sarcastically to a childish insult left on my page.
This has nothing to do with the fact that today’s cartoon happens to be about Facebook; that’s just a coincidence. Evidently, one of the words I used in my reply to a comment left on my site is banned by the FB gestapo and I was given a “time out.” My response was removed, even though the reason I used the word was because I was sarcastically repeating a childish reference that the original commentator used. His openly belligerent comment, with the so-called offending word, was not deleted. The message I saw yesterday said I was banned for 12 hours. This morning, 24 hours later, I can view my page but I cannot “like,” comment, or post on it. They don’t say how long this particular punishment will last. (UPDATE: I’m back to full functionality on FB as of today, more than 48 hours later.)
There is no list of approved words, you just have to intuitively know what might offend The Almighty. I’m not making more of this than it is, but it is worth noting that the very first thing a totalitarian regime does is limit speech.
Here is a screen shot of the comment left on my page. My original, sarcastic reply was this: “Even retards need comics, Donald. I hope you’re enjoying them.” My comment was removed and resulted in a ban of indeterminate length. Meanwhile, Mr. Russ’s comments remain.
I think it is worth noting that the allegedly offensive word I used––retard–– is not violent or hateful in the context in which I used it, as a callback to the childish insult of Mr. Russ. This word is on the invisible list of banned words purely because it may hurt someone’s feelings, regardless of context, apparently.
In the larger scope of things, perhaps the most popular bragging right of the United States is our freedom of speech, and it is worth all the hullabaloo. But as a free nation, we’ve imposed upon ourselves language restrictions in the form of “political correctness.” Ask yourself if you really want to live in a country where you are not allowed to say anything that might risk hurting the feelings of anonymous someones, somewhere out there. I find this notion childish and offensive, especially as a humorist and artist, whose job, as I see it, is to push social buttons and challenge the thinking of the populace. This is exactly the value of freedom of speech and it is utterly disabled when we try to regulate what others say, no matter how distasteful we may find it.
Companies like Facebook and Google are fun and useful, but if you think they are not in a position to control the world, you’re not paying attention. Just saying.
Should the Facebook Taliban decide to reinstate my right to use my page, I’ll be posting again. If not, I hope you’ll remember to check my blog without my FB reminders.