Facebook & Freedom of Speech

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On the one hand fuck the nazis (neo-nazis and associated related groups), there’s a part of me that is satisfied their outlets of communication are being reduced. Truly the way that hateful rhetoric can be disseminated, the way that the impressionable can be influenced by social media is something I don’t think we as a human society has yet to come to terms with, whether against bullies, or having others use the platform to groom them as a victim for a sexual predator or to groom them for cults and extremist groups. It’s something as a society we’re going to have to figure out how to combat.
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Already this policy has taken down the personal account of controversial leader Stephen McNallen of the Asatru Folk Assembly (the screenshot below has been shared via various online outlets: from facebook, to reddit and more).
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For those unfamiliar with McNallen, here’s a good summary on his background over at PoliticalResearch.org :

 

Stephen McNallen, who became interested in Heathenry as a college student in Texas in the late 1960s, formed the Viking Brotherhood circa 1972 with Robert Stine. This group in turn became the first American Ásatrú organization, the Asatru Free Assembly, about four years later. By 1978, McNallen sought to lessen Odinism’s association with Nazism, even though he expressed sympathy for the “‘legitimate frustrations of White men who are concerned for their kind.’” He ultimately shut down the Asatru Free Assembly in 1987 before founding the folkish Asatru Folk Assembly in 1994. (McNallen is most recently responsible for forming the Wotan Network, a White nationalist Odinist group dedicated to spreading White nationalist Heathen memes.)

More recently McNallen tied himself to the events of the march in Charlottesville.

 

Am I personally upset that he has lost his Facebook account, no. I have no desire to have any dealings with him. So Facebook is definitely following through (for now) on their new policy. But policing their entire platform of 2.32 billion users globally across a variety of languages isn’t realistic. We are at an intersection of rights versus the terms of a service. We blame them for fake news, yet at the same time if those people were US citizens on the street with signs and pamphlets that said the same thing, that would be free speech, unless you can prove slander/libel in interactions with them and have the funds and wherewithal to take them to court.

 

Freedom of speech is something that is nuanced, and intricate. And something I believe staunchly in. When someone says things that are vile, it’s appropriate to use your words to counter theirs. Or ignore them. I alway loved the counter protest against a White Supremacy rally, where the counter protestors mocked them with WIFE POWER, WHITE FLOUR, and more.

 

History shows when you throttle rights for one group, protections of other groups are worn away too. Yes even in America, look at McCarythism, Japanese Internment Camps (and yes there were forced relocation by German-Americans and Italian Americans, though never to the extreme the Japanese-Americans faced), how African Americans have been treated, or Native Americans, or attacks against those who aren’t the mainstream, including for pagan religions, etc. The Matreum of Cybele (a pagan religious organization) fought their local community council for years about tax status that the state and federal government affirmed as their right as a religious organization, while over a period of 8 years the town of Catskill, New York wasted by some estimates hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money trying to deny those rights and foreclose and kick out the group. In another time, another place, for being a woman I could have been denied so many rights, others for their ethnic and cultural heritage.

 

Mark my words, this policy will eventually be used to start discriminating against fringe religions even with people who are staunchly against hateful rhetoric.

 

I could be banned simply for having an avatar that shows me as wearing my Thor’s hammer if someone felt so inclined to interpret the act as being one aligned with hate and white supremacy. Afterall the symbol is listed as a hate symbol by organizations that counsel government and law enforcement like the Anti Defamation League (who at least points out some wear it for non hate reasons) and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

So as much as it might bring you a bit of glee to see cretins of their caliber blocked by the platform (and yes, it really, really does), just remember it’s a slippery slope before others are too. Facebook does not have a good track record in protecting the rights and safety of pagans and polytheists. They forced people to use names other than online pseudonyms which in some areas put the users at risk of being killed, and there was a problem with an anti-pagan hate group for some time as well.  Also it’s real easy for people to be trolled, by other religious groups (Christians, and other groups have long flagged pagan friendly content), or even your co-religionists who just don’t like you.

 

I will always shy away from thought police, and actions that police our thoughts. History shows us how that worked out for the ancient pagans afterall: badly.

 

One thought on “Facebook & Freedom of Speech

  1. Pingback: FACEBOOK & Freedom of Speech | True Pagan Warrior

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