Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Pride and Prejudice

September 22, 2019

I saw this meme posted on Facebook.

I don’t actually subscribe to the point of view expressed in this meme. To begin with, I do not believe that expressing pride is actually a good thing. Pride, according to Roman Catholic doctrine is considered to be one of the seven deadly sins. Many Christian thinkers have viewed pride as the worse of all the sins, the sin that caused Lucifer to rebel against God and become Satan. As C. S. Lewis put it in Mere Christianity:

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the center of Christian morals did not lie there.  Well, now, we have come to the centre.  According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.  Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

If pride in oneself and one’s own accomplishments is a vice or a sin, what about pride in one’s race or ethnicity? None of us have had any choice about the race in which we were born. It seems to me to be more than a little silly to take pride in something over which we had absolutely no control over. Why should I be proud to be White? I did not choose to be White. If other White people have accomplished a great deal to be proud of, they are not my accomplishments. Race pride is both foolish and pernicious.

If I do not agree with the sentiment in this meme, I cannot deny the logic expressed.  Why is race pride considered to be a good thing in every case except for Whites? Perhaps the answer is that Whites have committed horrible crimes against people of other races in the past and present and therefore being White ought to be a cause of shame rather than pride. But this only raises another question. If every White person ought to feel a collective shame and guilt for the admittedly considerable injustices and atrocities of other White people, then why should they not also feel pride in the considerable accomplishments of other Whites?

The idea seems to be that encouraging greater collective identification among people belonging to groups, racial or otherwise, who have been discriminated against in the past will help to eliminate discrimination against them. Highlighting the particular accomplishments of each group will help to alleviate the lingering effects of past discrimination. Shaming Whites, particularly While males for being the perpetrators of past discrimination against other groups will help to eliminate present and future discrimination. Dividing everyone up into groups and encouraging everyone to be proud of their group, except White males will help everyone get along better.

I think this emphasis on race pride will have the opposite effect. I think that encouraging everyone to identify with and take pride in their race will only encourage racism. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, pride is essentially a competitive sin.

Now what you want to get clear it that Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.  Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If someone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.  That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not.  The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.  Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

You cannot really be proud of your group without eventually distaining members of other groups. A person who is proud of his race is proud because he believes his race his better than others. He can only take pride in his own race by believing that other races are inferior. The net effect of encouraging race pride can only be to set people of different races against each other.

I also do not believe that treating Whites as though white skin were the mark of Cain is going to be very effective at reducing White racism. In the long run, it is more likely to increase racism among Whites. No one wants to be the villain of the story. Over time, Whites are going to become more conscious of the hypocrisy of rewarding expressions of race pride among other races while condemning any expression of racial pride in their own race. They are going to feel as if they are the ones being discriminated against. Whites will be all the more susceptible to racist demagogues who tell them that they have no reason to be ashamed of their race. In fact, they will say, Whites have more reason to be proud than others. It will not end well.

If we must be proud of our race, why not be proud of belonging to the only race that really matters, the human race. If we want to fight racism, we shouldn’t be driving people of different races apart by emphasizing what makes us different but bringing ourselves together by focusing on what makes us alike. To quote C. S. Lewis again, this time from Prince Caspian

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

Let us be content.

Infowars Banned

August 7, 2018

Facebook, YouTube, and Apple have decided to remove content from Alex Jones and Infowars. Here is the report from CNN.

YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its Alex Jones.

Each social media platform said Monday that it had removed content from Jones or InfoWars because it had violated their policies. The companies’ moves shut down key distribution channels that had given the controversial media figure easy access to millions of internet users.

The most dramatic action came last, from YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL). It removed many top channels associated with InfoWars, including The Alex Jones Channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers and videos that were viewed over 1.5 billion times.

“When users violate … policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,” said a spokesperson for YouTube.

 

But in a message posted Monday on Twitter, Jones encouraged users to access live streams directly from the InfoWars website. He described it as “the one platform that they CAN’T ban.”

Earlier on Monday, Facebook removed four pages associated with InfoWars and Jones for repeated violations of its policies.

The social media platform said in a statement that it had “unpublished” the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.

 

BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday that Apple (AAPL) had removed five podcasts associated with InfoWars from iTunes and its podcast app.

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” it said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Apple confirmed the accuracy of its statement to CNN.

This is not a First Amendment issue and technically it is not censorship at all. Apple, Facebook and YouTube have every right to decide who can and cannot use their services and if they decide that Alex Jones is not someone their want using their platforms, they do not have to host him. Having said all that, however, I really wish they had not made this decision.

To begin with, there is already a growing perception that the tech industry is heavily biased towards the political left. Many conservatives are starting to fear that such social media giants as Facebook and YouTube are beginning to use their near-monopolies to systematically marginalize and deplatform conservative voices. For Facebook, YouTube, and Apple to almost simultaneously shut down a right-wing crackpot conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones does nothing to allay such fears, particularly when there are any number of left-wing crackpot conspiracy theorists spewing just as much hatred that the tech industry apparently has no problem with hosting on their platforms. It doesn’t seem as if there is really any objective standard that has been applied. Perhaps no standard can be applied. The whole problem with banning hate speech is that there isn’t really any kind of speech that can be objectively defined as hate speech, beyond speech one happens to dislike. One person’s hate speech is another person’s speaking truth to power.

This leads to another reason I really wish they hadn’t done this. For three separate companies to decide on the same day that Alex Jones is unacceptable looks like collusion. I have no idea whether executives from Facebook, Apple and Google were working together on this, but there is no way this doesn’t look like some sort of conspiracy to shut Alex Jones up for speaking out. If it was their desire to silence Alex Jones, they have miscalculated badly. They have managed to validate all of his paranoid rantings in the minds of his audience and have made him a free speech martyr. A quick visit to Infowars shows that Alex Jones is making the most of this perception of persecution, referring to his radio show and website as banned. I wouldn’t be surprised if the traffic to Infowars hasn’t tripled in the last twenty-four hours.

The truth is that this kind of censorship, okay, not really censorship but you know what I mean, doesn’t work all that well, unless you have a totalitarian government enforcing it by not allowing any dissent at all. The sort of half-way “its technically banned but somehow still available” kind of censorship only makes the censored material more attractive because it is forbidden and the people seeking it out feel brave and rebellious. There was is a reason Banned in Boston used to be considered an endorsement by makers of risqué films and why the Streisand effect is a thing.

Although this attempt by leading tech giants to silence Alex Jones is not technically censorship because they are not government agencies, in a way it really is a kind of censorship. If the owners of the printing presses, broadcast stations or internet social media platforms collude to exclude certain political or social viewpoints, then they are practicing censorship. This is a more insidious kind of censorship than throwing a dissenter in prison where he can become a sort of martyr but of simply quietly denying the dissenter any means of disseminating his views. He may have freedom of speech, in theory, but without the means to make his speech heard, he does not have freedom of speech in practice.

This seems to be the goal of the left. They cannot pass laws against speech they dislike, at least not yet, because the First Amendment forbids it. They can mobilize private institutions, such as businesses, to censor dislike speech. They will not succeed with this rather crude attempt to silence Alex Jones. They are likely to succeed in creating a climate of intolerance throughout our society. Their goal is to fundamentally transform this country into the sort of place where you are always looking around to make sure you are not overheard, to keep your mouth shut except to say accepted platitudes, to be on the lookout for the Thought Police. We ought not to let them get away with it, even if it means standing up for the rights of people we would rather not be associated with, like Alex Jones. After all, as the saying goes, first they came for Alex Jones and Infowars…

Ben Carson and Evolution

November 9, 2015

I got this meme off of Facebook. I think it originally came from the left-wing blog Daily Kos.

Carson Evolution

Why is this an issue in any presidential campaign? Since the duties of the President of the United States do not include teaching a science class, how is any candidate’s opinion on the theory of evolution particularly relevant? I would be more concerned with a candidate’s opinion on the theories of Marx than of Darwin. Marx’s ideas have contributed to the murder of millions and has caused more misery than any opinion on evolution ever has, yet candidates with ideas derived from Marx never seemed to be questioned by the media. The fact that Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist or that Barack Obama had as mentors such left-wing Marxist radicals as Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall Davis seem to me to be of far more concern than Dr. Ben Carson’s thoughts on evolution.

I suppose that the people at Daily Kos would argue that Dr. Carson’s beliefs about evolution disqualify him for the presidency because they show that he is anti-science. If that is the case, that Carson really is against science, what do they imagine he will do as president? Cut all funding for research? Insist that universities that accept federal funds teach creationism? Even if he wanted to do this, and there is no indication that he did, President Carson would find it very difficult to impose creationism on the scientific community. The President of the United States is not a dictator, at least not yet, and cannot single handedly control the education policies of the entire country. I think that science is safe from a president who does not believe in evolution.

But is Ben Carson really anti-science? For that matter are creationists really anti-science? They certainly do not believe that the theory of evolution is a valid explanation for the origin and adaptation of life on Earth and they disagree with current ideas about the age of the planet and the universe, but is this being anti-science? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the definition of science is:

The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science can also mean “an organized body of knowledge on a particular subject”, so one might argue that Dr. Carson and creationists  are not knowledgeable in the sciences of biology and geology but that is not the same as saying that they are anti-science in the first sense. In fact, hardly anyone is actually anti-science in the sense of being against the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world. Even people people espousing wildly unscientific ideas try to assume the mantle of science. Creationists like to say they have scientific evidence for their position, even when it really boils down to, “The Bible says it”. Disbelief in evolution does not necessarily imply disbelief in the scientific process.

The real importance of evolution to the left does not seem to be its status as a scientific hypothesis subject to falsification but as a means to differentiate between the elite intellectual elite and the bitter clingers in flyover country. To them, belief in evolution is a sign to show that you are on the right side of science and history. It, along with climate change is sacred knowledge, not to be questioned or doubted. By demonstrating a disbelief in evolution, Dr. Carson shows that he is lacking in intelligence and should be disqualified from the presidency.

The irony here is that Dr. Ben Carson is probably a good deal more intelligent and educated than the person who put together that meme. He is certainly more accomplished, being a gifted neurosurgeon. It is even possible he is more scientifically knowledgeable, even about evolution. I wonder how much that that person who created that meme really knows about the theory of evolution or can explain why it is accepted as an explanation for the development of life by nearly every scientist knowledgeable in the relevant fields. I would guess that he believes in evolution because it is what was taught in school and that it is what all of the smart people believe. Well, that is not the same as actually investigating the matter for oneself and actually trying to understand why a given theory is believed to be true. You don’t get to give yourself credit for being in the intellectual elite for simply remembering what you learned in school twenty years ago and you don’t get the right to sneer at people better than yourself.

 

 

Some Are More Equal

May 26, 2013

In the wake of the brutal murder of a British soldier by Islamic fanatics in London, it is good to learn that British law enforcement agencies are cracking down, on “racist”, “anti-religious remark”s made on Facebook and Twitter. As the Daily Mail reports,

A 22-year-old man has been charged on suspicion of making malicious comments on Facebook following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.

Benjamin Flatters, from Lincoln, was arrested last night after complaints were made to Lincolnshire Police about comments made on Facebook, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.

He was charged with an offence of malicious communications this afternoon in relation to the comments, a Lincolnshire Police spokesman said.

A second man was visited by officers and warned about his activity on social media, the spokesman added.

It comes after 25-year-old Drummer Rigby was brutally murdered on a street in Woolwich, south east London, on Wednesday.

The father-of-one, from Manchester, had fought in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Flatters has been remanded in police custody and will appear before magistrates in Lincoln tomorrow.

The charge comes after two men were earlier released on bail following their arrest for making alleged offensive comments on Twitter about the murder.

Complaints were made to Avon and Somerset Police about remarks that appeared on the social networking website, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.

A 23-year-old and a 22-year-old, both from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred.

Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: ‘On Wednesday evening, we were contacted by people concerned about comments made on social media accounts.

‘We began inquiries into the comments and at around 3.20am two men, aged 23 and 22, were detained at two addresses in Bristol.

‘The men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Our inquiries into these comments continue.

‘These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.

‘People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.’

Police confirmed the two men were later released on bail pending further inquiries.

 

If the British authorities are really interested in stopping the inciting of racial or religious hatred, perhaps they should begin monitoring what is being preached in British mosques. I am certain that the men who committed the atrocity against Lee Rigby did not just decide to commit murder for no particular reason, nor did they research Islamic scripture on their own and decide that killing infidels was the right thing to do. Someone with some religious authority taught them. In fact, according to the Telegraph, one of the men, Michael Adebowale was a convert to Islam. His mother feared that he was becoming too radical so she sent him to a mosque for religious instruction in his new faith.

Michael Adebowale, the 22-year-old son of a Christian probation officer and a member of staff at the Nigerian High Commission, was filmed holding a bloodied cleaver in his hand after Drummer Lee Rigby was butchered in a London street.

Friends said he had been a “lovely boy” but became involved in some “serious trouble” as a teenager and then turned to Islam. He started mixing with some “bad people” and became increasingly extreme in his views.

His mother Juliet Obasuyi, a 43-year-old probation officer, went to her friend and neighbour, a 62-year-old security officer, for help about nine months ago after her son dropped out of university.

She told him: “Michael is not listening any more. His older sister is a good Christian with a degree but Michael is rebelling as he has no father figure, dropping out of university and handing out leaflets in Woolwich town centre.

“He is from a strong Christian family but he is turning to Islam and turning against the family. He is preaching in the streets. He needs spiritual guidance before he radicalises himself.”

His mother was advised by a neighbour to take him to the head of the Woolwich mosque for spiritual guidance. He was converted to Islam by the head Imam, and taken for weeks of “further training” at a centre near Cambridge.

When he returned, however, he was even more “radicalised” and his mother could no longer “get through to him”. A spokesman for the mosque said they did not know if he attended or been converted there.

What exactly was Michael Adelbowale taught during those weeks of further training? Will there be any sort of investigation into whether or not imams at British mosques are preaching hatred against the infidel? Will the imams be arrested and the mosques closed if this proves to be the case? Or, do the laws against inciting hatred only apply to dhimmis and not to Muslims? Are all the people in the United Kingdom equal, but Muslims more equal than others?

 

 

 

Giving it Up for Lent

February 25, 2012

I mentioned last Wednesday that it is common for Catholics and others to give up something for Lent. Most people choose to give up some luxury or maybe a favorite snack. Some choose to make real sacrifices, like this woman has by giving up Facebook. This story is from the local Chicago CBS affiliate.

One Chicago woman decided to give up more than the usual when Lent began on Wednesday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, some people might be inclined to give up sweets, pastries, candy or alcohol during Lent. But Christine Melendes has decided to give up Facebook.

Melendes says she has been used to using Facebook every day for the past five years.

She says she has been very active on the social networking site since 2007, posting status updates and pictures and checking what others have posted.

“I kind of feel like I forget to do something every morning before I go to work, but I’m doing pretty good,” Melendes said. “I haven’t cheated yet.”

Melendes thinks she will learn something about herself by going without Facebook until Easter.

“Probably how much I use it, and how much I use it to stay connected to my friends and my family,” she said.

Melendes is not giving up all social media, however. She says she cannot stop using Twitter along with Facebook.

“That would be impossible,” she said.

What did we do with ourselves before Facebook and Twitter?

 

Blacking Out the Internet

January 3, 2012

I read in this story in Fox News that Amazon.com, Facebook, Google, and others are planning a blackout of their sites to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online — Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations.

No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No Amazon.com shopping. Nothing.

The action would be a dramatic response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill backed by the motion picture and recording industries that is intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. HR 3261 would require ISPs to block access to sites that infringe on copyrights — but how exactly it does that has many up in arms. The creators of some of the web’s biggest sites argue it could instead dramatically restrict law-abiding U.S. companies — and reshape the web as we know it.

This is an extreme measure and normally these companies wouldn’t want to inconvenience their customers, but they feel that the dangers to freedom on the Internet is worth it. I agree. This is a bill that has to be killed.  While I agree that the entertainment industry has legitimate concerns about the theft of copyrighted materials, I feel that this bill is overkill. I’m sure that the real pirates will find ways around it while only the law abiding user will be inconvenienced.

For more information about SOPA go to Stop American Censorship.

Is Facebook Playing Favorites?

May 26, 2011
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

It’s hard to tell, according to this article. Facebook is putting out a software upgrade that will require groups to have a key or their administrators will not be able to have access to the lists of members. The problem here is that so far some groups, like Pamela Geller‘s Stop Islamization of America, with 15,000 members, has not received a key yet, while the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, with 1000 members, has. There seems to be a trend of left-wing groups getting the key while right-wing groups have not. Facebook has refused to explain how this upgrade is being handled or why some groups seem to have an easier time getting the key than others

According to the article, the switch has barely begun, so perhaps there is nothing to this. Given the fact that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg is a big Obama supporter, it is not, perhaps too outlandish to suggest that Facebook might indeed be favoring the left.

I think the lesson for Conservatives, is that we should not assume that we will always have access to social media, given the left’s eagerness to shut down and censor any opposing viewpoint. We need to have as many lines of communication as possible.


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