About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Hate Censorship

I hate censorship.  I may disagree 1000% with what you stand for or what you believe, but I’ll defend to the death your right to *say* or *write* it, as well as my right to respond to you.

I'm totally pissed off right now because somebody deleted a post of mine on a private Facebook page, presumably because she didn’t like the political nature of it.

Let me explain:   A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to join this group "Random Acts of Kindness Eugene." Basically, they are a bunch of do-gooders – NICE people – who go around the city doing random acts of kindness.  Sometimes, their acts are organized – as in dozens working together to spruce up the yard of a woman who was recently widowed.  Sometimes their acts are totally random – as in leaving bottles of bubbles in parks for people to find, or distributing flowers to anonymous people.  Always they leave their "RAKE" "calling cards" without their names.

I think what they're doing is fabulous.  Kindness is always the right thing to do, and performing these acts randomly is one good way to show our kids that our lives can impact others’ in positive ways.

The local news even did a little piece about the group.

But, of course, these acts do nothing to change underlying sources of oppression or injustice. Giving a sandwich to somebody who needs it is undeniably a good act, but working to change a system where so many are unemployed or homeless is arguably just as (or more) important.  “Random” acts do not challenge underlying systems and do little more than make the givers feel better about themselves, and the receivers momentarily cared for, which is of course not insignificant.

So...naively I thought it would be OK to leave a message on their private FB page, that if anybody wanted to join me in working on a political campaign, I think that would be great.  I explained the difference between changing systems versus random acts...

Two people responded: "I don't combine politics with personal acts of kindness" and "this group isn't for that."   I responded that I didn't want to change the group, just was hoping to find people to work on campaigns. (I had also mentioned I have signed myself onto Obama's campaign.)

THEY – or, more likely, the woman who started the group and who had responded “this group isn’t for that” –DELETED MY WHOLE POST, so that now NOBODY ELSE GOT TO SEE WHAT I WROTE. 

Isn’t it true that, had she left the post up, people could have either a) responded or b) ignored it?  Why did it have to be deleted?

There is hardly another way to interpret her action other than it challenged her to recognize the FUTILITY of *only* doing random acts of kindness without also acknowledging the hard and necessary work of politics.  Or, perhaps she is convinced that the personal is not political (don’t get me started…) or that “being nice” means “being apolitical.”  I don’t really know for sure, because she booted the conversation off the page.

I made her uncomfortable.  That much is obvious.  And perhaps she worried that I would make *others* uncomfortable, too – she may think that she’s being the “responsible one” to keep such political riff raff off her page of "do good-feel good."

But rather than LIVE with that discomfort – think about it and discuss it in an intelligent, mature way, or ignore it and let others discuss it – she deleted the post that spawned it, so that nobody in the group would be asked to struggle with this reality or consider that perhaps actions *in addition to random acts* might be warranted by the privileged.  (This group has over 400 members and while I cannot say how many are privileged, the ones that *I* know are VERY privileged, and I count myself in that group.)

I certainly didn’t expect that everyone would want to be involved in politics; most people either do not understand how it is NECESSARY for a democracy for all to be involved, or are so disillusioned that they (wrongly) believe that their acts won’t make a difference.  Some – perhaps most – would claim they simply don’t have the time.  (Yet – if they have time to spruce up somebody’s yard or pass out flowers, they DO have time to make a few phone calls or pass out fliers or stuff envelopes…)

I DID expect not to be censored, because I had posted something true and polite and didn’t ask the group to change.

Apparently, THAT was too challenging.