Offensive? Really, Facebook, You've Got to Be Kidding!

Well, this was a first for me:  Today Facebook deleted a post I’d written, telling me that I’d offended community standards, and warning me that I should delete any other offensive content on my wall, or risk being permanently removed from Facebook.

It’s been a few weeks since the post in question, so I am no longer able to go back and retrieve the conversation—but this is exactly what I said in my “hateful, offensive” post:

Just poppin’ in here a little late– but I want to understand what I’m reading. Diane, did you just say that you are Catholic, but that you believe the child of a rapist should be murdered? I’m having a bit of trouble squaring that with what I know about our laws. If I rob a bank, steal a car, even commit murder, can you kill my child? That’s abhorrent to even consider.

The way I see it, I was respectful, low-key, willing to engage on the issues.  I did not call her names.  I did not come out swinging.  I gave her an opportunity to clarify, in case I had misunderstood.  I feel a bit like the honest, hardworking kid who’s been accused of cheating on a test; if there is anything disrespectful or untoward about my post, could you please explain it to me so that I won’t say anything so horrendous again?

I remember the conversation stream into which I brazenly interjected my insolent pro-life message.  There were a bunch of folks shooting their mouths off on medical and political issues, hurling specious accusations against people of faith.  They were an “Occupy Humanity” gang, flying their flag of abortion rights and taking no prisoners.  It just didn’t seem right that their slanderous accusations should go unchallenged.

By the way, a quick check of just a few friends’ walls turned up the following posts which Facebook has NOT deleted:

  • f**kin love this :D
  • Being an a**hole is all part of my manly existence.
  • Even “LMFAO.”

The Facebook administrators warn me that people who use Facebook can and do report content that they find questionable or offensive.  Their policy protects Facebook users from abuse in nine different areas including:

  • Threats
  • Promoting self-harm
  • Bullying and harrassment
  • Hate speech
  • Graphic violence
  • Sex & nudity
  • Theft, vandalism or fraud
  • Identity and privacy
  • Phishing or spam

Hmmph.  Looking over this list, I guess I committed hate speech when I (sans obscenities) dared to question the opinion of the woman named Diane.

One of the really great things about Facebook and other social media is that it permits an exchange of ideas across the political spectrum.  If I, in placing value on all human life even in cases of rape or incest, am guilty of hate speech, then perhaps we should hang this whole “social networking” thing up and go home.

*     *     *     *

I am reminded of another story which you may have read over the weekend, involving Bishop Philip Boyce, bishop of the Raphoe diocese in northwestern Ireland.  Bishop Boyce has been accused of a “hate crime” by outspoken humanist John Colgan, who complains that the bishop’s remarks in a homily delivered at Our Lady of Knock shrine “are an incitement to hatred of dissidents, outsiders, secularists, within the meaning of the (Incitement to Hatred) Act, who are perfectly good citizens within the meaning of the civil law.”

According to Colgan, the bishop’s sermon implied that non-believers will “end their lives in emptiness”—and that this constitutes abuse of atheists, humanists and skeptics.  The bishop, says Colgan, was “picking on” unbelievers.

The case against Bishop Boyce, which appears frivolous on its face, is nonetheless being taken seriously by Irish officials.  The office of the Garda (Police) Commissioner has referred the complaint to the Director of Public Prosecutions.  Should the case proceed through the courts, an offense against the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act of 1989 carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Bishop Boyce’s sermon, titled “To Trust in God,” can be viewed in its entirety at the Irish Bishops’ website.

  • Bem

    Hi Kathy,

    I love your writing! For the avoidance of doubt, there is nothing wrong with your post. I would say whoever reported the post should have his/her head examined (hoping that won’t be pulled out!!!).

    I’m not in anyway advocating for facebook, NO! But in your case, I think the number of people who may have reported it as offensive may have caused to automated application to delete your post and send the generic message. As it turns out, it happens all the time. But you may also want to take it up with them (that is, Facebook, if you have the time) – they would respond!

  • Allison

    This is an upsetting line in the sand against Pro-lifers. I shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

  • From The Pews


    The 8th Beatitude…that is what we have to look forward to! ♥

    Funny how when we are called Religous Freaks, and much, much worse, it is not Hate Speech…Hmmm, makes you wonder ;)

    God Bless You!! And Keep Up the GOOD FIGHT!!!

  • VC

    I find that n this so called tolerant society the only views that are not tolerated are those of orthodox Christians.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad they removed your offensive reply

    • deMOAOC

      Re: Anonymous, “I’m glad they removed your offensive reply” [sic]

      Good. Then I’m sure you would never say or write anything that would be offensive to anyone else, pro-lifers included; and if you or anyone else ever do then I’m sure you would support them/you being censored also. Right? So, of course you would never support anyone saying or writing that it’s acceptable to kill pre-born children, because that is highly offensive to many people. In a just society, we must all live by the same rules.

  • Maryanne Meyerriecks

    I saw your post copied on Social Media for Catholics’ FB page.

    And I just performed a test, because I thought this may be the problem.

    The person whose post you commented on probably removed your post, and FB didn’t have to have anything to do with it.

    I took a FB post I’d made on my own page and removed someone’s random comment–and off it went into oblivion.

    It is frustrating that “Diane” removed your post and cut off the dialogue you had going, but I think that “Diane” was the one who did it, not FB.

  • C. Osborne

    Well, here we go…
    About being warned on Facebook, it will become even obvious to nonbelievers the bullying that goes on against Christians. If we stay strong it WILL be fuel for conversion of others. They will think ,”What is this “truth” these people are willing to be humiliated for?”

  • Ann

    Thought your post was most reasonable. We can look forward to more of the same, much worse than Facebook censorship. Cardinal Francis George said that he will die in his own bed; his successor will die in prison, and that successor will die a martyr. I am in my 70′s and wonder if I will escape the roundup of Christians who stand up for their Faith, which means they take it seriously enough to be willing to die for the love of Him who died for us. Reading history, particularly since the Church was founded (never mind the israelites and all they suffered for their sins) I don’t see how people of faith in this nation can escape persecutiion and death for much longer.

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  • Fr. JP

    Didn’t someone try to delte Jesus?

  • Dennis Embo

    Those obscene, potty-mouth posts you quoted sound just like one of my grand-nephew’s typical FB posts. I thought for a second you’d been visiting Jake’s FB page .
    But among the under 25 male group that sort of thing is not uncommon. They also seem to have a tremendous admiration for Ron Paul. Coincidence?

  • Sheri M.

    Those who rabidly oppose or better, detest, conservatism are like spoiled children playing by very selfish standards. They stomp their feet, throw tantrums and demand all exhibit sensitivity and tolerance. Your comments were a challenge but were not offensive except, predictably, for the aforementioned intellectually dishonest.

  • J. Kubus

    Well said Kathy. I tried posting something on the Huffington Post regarding a study by Dr. Spitzer who found that homosexuals can become functioning heterosexuals. Homosexuals are always saying they’re born that way, and the study shows that they can change if they want to. Needless to say, that study pokes holes in their argument so the liberal Huffington Post didn’t post it.

    It’s very telling when the only way you can “win” a discussion is by censoring the opposing view points.

  • Shanrock

    Thanks for sharing this Kathy…now I have another good reason to skip the whole Facebook phenomenon. Feedom of speech has become so relative to whether the thing being said is in agreement or at odds with the secular humanist philosophy of the liberal left.
    Forget it and keep up your work here of enlightening those who walk in darkness!

  • Kristen

    Did you ever think that Diane maybe didn’t like being called a murderer? That’s essentially what you told her… Also, I am personally against abortion but I’m pro-choice, not pro-life. I feel that you are welcome to any opinions that you have but it is not our job to try to force others to the same beliefs. As a side note, I realize that you may delete this comment but then you would be as wrong as the person who deleted yours… although they had more of a right.

    • deMOAOC

      Re: Kristen, “I’m personally against [killing pre-born children] but I’m pro-choice….”, “…it is not our job to try to force others to the same beliefs.”

      Then you believe that it is acceptable for others to choose to kill Jews or to enslave people with dark skin, even though you might not do these things yourself? And of course you don’t feel that there should be laws to protect Jews and ‘blacks’ from this happening to them, right, because “it is not our job to try to force others to the same beliefs.” (No, of course you don’t!)

      As you know, Kristen, the truth of the matter is that although we cannot force others to SHARE our beliefs, we nonetheless have an obligation to PROTECT the INNOCENT from the hurtful actions of others, and I think you would agree with that. That is why we all have an obligation to enact laws to protect pre-born children…the most innocent of all.

  • Leo Ladenson

    This is another reason I would never use Facebook. The Internet is wide open. Why would I let the children at Facebook dictate to me what I can and cannot post?

  • MP

    Kathy, I don’t see where “Diane” said anything that would lead a reasonable person to believe she “believes the child of a rapist should be murdered”. What is “respectful, low key” about your interpretation / belief / expression that she said — much less believes — such an absurd thing? To even doubt of Diane’s goodness from slight indications would be sinful. Perhaps you had sufficient reason to think she believed such an absurd thing, but as I said, I don’t see it. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, when “a man thinks ill of another without sufficient cause, he injures and despises him… and, consequently, unless we have evident indications of a person’s wickedness, we ought to deem him good, by interpreting for the best whatever is doubtful about him.” You say you “gave her an opportunity to clarify, in case [you] had misunderstood”, but what exactly was the “opportunity” you gave her? Did you interpret for the best whatever was doubtful about her and then give her an opportunity to correct your charitable interpretation? Or did you not interpret what she said for the best and then obliged her to correct your uncharitable interpretation for you? I can’t tell. Anyway, you talk about “our laws”, but under our society’s laws, “legal” abortions (if that be the subject that was under discussion) are not considered “murder”. In fact, under our society’s laws, even the illegal killing of a person with full rights to personhood is not always “murder”. For example, there is also involuntary manslaughter, which is not “murder” in the sense that we distinguish between these charges. Is there some reason you chose the word “murder” rather than involuntary manslaughter, or voluntary manslaughter, or homicide? Or do you always go for the maximum charge when trying to be “low key”?

  • Mark

    Let’s put having your post deleted aside for the time being. I don’t understand the reasoning behind Diane’s post. She thinks any child of a rapist should be killed right? Why? Does that mean that any child he may already have (and they often do) with a wife, girlfriend, etc. should also be killed as a pre-emptive move. ‘Just in case’. Kind of reminds me of certain eugenics programs that I read about years back. Just shows where we are headed. I really don’t like what the future holds.

  • E

    While I myself am certainly pro-choice (which, might I add is NOT “pro-abortion.” Please be careful with using that terminology as I would never personally have an abortion, but I would also not condemn Diane as a murderer for choosing to terminate the results of a violent sexual assault).

    Sorry, as I was saying, though I myself am certainly pro-choice, I am still upset by the removal of your post. Though your analogy is grossly misinformed in my opinion, I certainly wouldn’t classify it as hate speech. Incredibly insensitive to victims of rape, yes, but not hate speech.

    May I ask how you square your Christian values with the condemnation of rape victims who choose to terminate their pregnancy? You are not choosing to care for these women who have been brutalized with a loving heart and share Jesus’s love (and your interpretation of his word), but instead you are quite insensitively labeling them murderers with little justification other than a poorly constructed analogy. To me this seems very un-Christ like and a poor representation of Christianity.

    I’d appreciate your response to this question as I myself worship Christ, am encouraged by his love, and strive to be ever more Christ like in my daily walk.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Dear E:
      See, from where I’m standing, your terminology looks a lot like Newspeak in Huxley’s “Brave New World.” You say “terminate the results” when what you really mean is “kill the child.” You tell me that I am “insensitive to victims of rape,” but I think you are “insensitive to the unborn child”—to the child’s inalienable right to life, the plan that God had for his life, the pain the child feels in the abortion.

      “Not a person,” you might say? But on what grounds could you make that point? The human being who resides in the womb has all the DNA that he/she will have in adulthood. Only the real estate is different.

      As for my insensitivity to rape: I serve on the Board of a local crisis pregnancy center, Mother and Unborn Baby Care. They provide assistance, medical referrals, clothing, diapers, cribs and strollers and car seats, blankets, counseling, and all sorts of assistance to help a mother who is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy. They will help whether the woman decides to keep her baby or give it up for adoption. There is also a local residential program, Mary’s Mantle, for women who need a place to stay during their pregnancy and post-partum.

      And I have a bit of personal experience. I once had an unplanned pregnancy, and I was asked by my doctor whether I wanted an abortion. Thank God, as little as I knew of the issue back then, I had seen a slide presentation showing the four methods of abortion which were then in use; and I knew that I couldn’t do that to a rabbit. My daughter, now 35, has been a great blessing; and I know that God had a great and wonderful plan for her life, and that I would have been gravely wrong had I accepted the doctor’s offer to reject that life.

      • E

        Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. Though I still feel your verbiage was insensitive, you have thoughtfully explained your position. Should you wish to have your interpretation of when life begins not fall on deaf ears by those who may not support your ideas, you might try taking the approach of intelligently sharing your faith as you just did in this post. It is in stark contrast to your Facebook post which appeared very passive-aggressive and strongly condemned physically and emotionally damaged women who are struggling through the most difficult choice they are likely to ever make. If you feel you are God’s representative to bring as many unborn children into this world as possible, speak with care and love, not accusations and hate (which is how I interpreted your Facebook post). Your results may be better.

        Though our opinions and interpretations of the Bible, our mission as Christians on earth, and our definitions of what it means to be Christ-like are about as different as can be, I appreciate your willingness to devote so much of your life to promoting God’s love. May He bless you in your journey.

        • Kathy Schiffer

          Well, I’m glad at least we’re talking! One disadvantage in this conversation is that none of you can see the vitriol to which I had responded in the earlier post– The person whom I was addressing could certainly dish it, so I think she should have been able to take it, too.

          I am interested in talking further with you. May I suggest that you visit me over at Facebook, where there is a lot more conversation going on? Your choice: Friend me, or just subscribe.

          Wishing you God’s abundant blessings.

  • alicja

    Im on your side that is the evil world we live in thrut is not comftable for many people they like to live in darkness we have to look at Jesus all the ti me

  • Betty in VA

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m pro-choice and a feminist activist. I’ve started having posts blocked or deleted also. Posts that contain no curse words, no threats of violence, just discussion on current laws regarding abortion and birth control. Maybe they have software that looks for certain words and the topic itself tends to get a threshold? I don’t know, but it certainly feels big brother-ish and makes me uncomfortable. I think in this country both you and I should be able to express our opinions.

  • Petar Jarnevic

    I would like to comment of that sermon which Bishop Philip Boyce offered at the shrine of St. Mary in Knock, Ireland. It is a beautiful, uplifting, consoling sermon offered to believers. He never mentions unbelievers at all. Anyone who draws the conclusion that his words implied something or other about unbelievers must be deficient as regards understanding the English language, or is lacking in ordinary logic, or is malicious, or perhaps there is another possible explanation which my wretched mind cannot fathom.