Sunday, July 11, 2010

Facebook vs. Muslims?

Facebook announced recently that it intends to get rid of virtual “gifts” – news that I welcome. I have always thought it was a stupid part of Facebook. When I went to the Facebook blog post about the end of gifts I read the post and then scrolled through the comments. What I discovered bothers me.

The post says it has several thousand comments. A very large portion of those comments say the following:

“Facebook Admins, Moderators, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Sheryl Sandberg, and Matt Cohler;

Although you have attended the world's best communication skills courses you have been most successful in growing great hatred and hostility between you and Muslims around the world, but seriously this time you have caused an almost unrepairable damage.

Only a few weeks after your irresponsible behavior during the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day events you most aggressively removed four of the largest Islamic Facebook Pages of total fans/likes over 2.5 million Facebook members. That happened on the morning of Thursday 8th July, 2010.

These four Facebook pages were totally peaceful and free of any hate speech, but you removed it ignoring the feelings of more than 2.5 Million Facebook Muslims and disrespecting over 1.5 Billion Muslims worldwide.

And now since that is what it had come down to you, with your irresponsibility and fake preach of freedom of speech, have left us no other choice other than permanently boycotting Facebook. And now we are giving you a 2 weeks notice - ending at midnight of 21st July, 2010 - to fulfill our demands or else we will leave Facebook for

Our demands are:
1- Reactivating the four pages that have been disabled
2- Adding a Facebook Term that illegalizes disrespecting Islamic religious symbols
3- Disabling any Facebook Page, Group, or Event that shows direct or indirect disrespect towards Islamic religious symbols

The pages that were unfairly removed are: - About 1,600,000 Likes - About 600,000 Likes - About 200,000 Likes - About 70,000 Likes”

Now, I have no idea why the four pages were disabled, but there very well could be a good reason for it. If there wasn’t, perhaps they should be reactivated. I do not have much to say about that first term since I feel entirely unaware of circumstances surrounding the removal of the pages.

The second and third demands, though, are highly disturbing. That anyone thinks they should be able to demand that no disrespect be shown toward a religious symbol (or just a religion) is ridiculous. There should be no rule specifying that no disrespect can be shown. Whether or not to disrespect something is a decision that should be made upon personal morals and thoughts. For example, while I would normally think that drawing Muhammad is unnecessary and perhaps disrespectful to Muslims, there are circumstances in which I think that it is highly important.

One such circumstance is to protest death threats received by certain well-known people for drawing Muhammad. No single person on this Earth should find it acceptable to send death threats to another human being for something that they drew. When such death threats come to light, all people regardless of religion, origin, or dogma should immediately condemn those that offered the threats. When that condemnation is absent, one of the most obvious courses of action is to get as many people as possible to draw Muhammad. The drawing is not meant to offend or insult even if it does. It is meant to make a statement that it is never okay to threaten to kill someone for drawing a picture, no matter how offensive and that we stand with the cartoonists, even if we don’t particularly approve of the drawings.

I take issue with the part about “direct or indirect disrespect” as well. That phrase is so incredibly encompassing. If you really wished to, you could claim other religious groups disrespect Islamic symbols solely by existing and not following Islam. It may be a stretch, but it’s not impossible to make the connection. Basically, the demands of the Muslims behind this campaign are ridiculous. They want a protection afforded to their feelings that does not exist for any other entity (at least not in the United States).

Freedom of speech is important. Many people say it, but a lot of people seemingly don’t mean it. Even if you dislike what someone is saying, it is important to protect their right to say it. The right to criticize and even satirize anything and everything must be protected. When you make any type of free speech against the rules, you step onto a slippery slope and the bottom of that slope is a hellish 1984-like world that few would ever want to exist in. Freedom of speech is in the United States’ FIRST Amendment for a reason. It is a right that protects all other rights and a right that must be protected.