Oh my. Apparently, people don’t take kindly to pictures of Ganesha with his…

I’ve had a surprising amount of pushback about my posting a link to this The Onion article, and about my surprise that Facebook would censor a post with this link because somebody reported it as, I don’t know–obscene, offensive, blasphemous, take your pick. Which brings me back to: oh my. People really don’t take kindly to pictures in which “the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fives Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist.”

[Edit: Picture removed. It was an editorial decision.]

I’ve made a list of people’s complaints. If you’ve been following along on Facebook, this isn’t new.

Here’s Saikishan:

I actually think it is not inappropriate to curtail free speech till people get open minded. A riot /people getting killed/ inciting violence/ increasing communal tensions is too big a price to pay for someone being able to post random stuff online or write a controversial novel or make a outrageous movie. While we should work towards tolerance and liberty in every sense, that has to be gradual & systematic.. creating awareness and open-mindedness over time without offending people… and people who argue for freedom to expression should behave with more maturity. With great power / liberty should come great responsibility.

And a random-dude:

It got blocked because it shows penises, pubic hair and arseholes. Free speech curbing does not enter into it. Be responsible and post such links on 18+ forums if you must.

fb Statement of Rights and Responsibilities(section 3.7): You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

Random dude’s supporter:

The link you posted was just obscene… and maybe deep down they had a motive to avoid any probable reaction to your link (which might happen, even when you are only “advising” that it should not happen etcetera)… However you just gave them a legitimate reason by posting a link that violated the section [random dude] has mentioned above…

and btw… don’t you think “purpose is to point out that people should learn that in a free world, people have no right against being offended” is an oxymoron in itself..??

And the guy who got the post censored:

Croor – I have the right to TELL you NOT to call me an idiot… or protest against it to the moderators of a forum like facebook ( Which btw i did to prove a point to you ) you of course have the right to continue to ignore my request, till you can’t, like in this case, or find a way to express your views elsewhere.

Facebook did nothing on its own account anyhow. It just listened to the requests of other individuals converging on the nature of your article.

My point is that this was still a democratic removal of your article. There is a difference between this and China removing pictures of Tiananmen Square. People rated your post, and it fell below the troll line. This is moderation in ‘good faith’.

And btw, you were asked to fill in security information because facebook was polite enough to assume that maybe it wasn’t you and your account was hacked. How do i know this ? It asks me before reporting if i thought your account was hacked. Again.. ‘good faith’, not Mamata Banarjee

I leave as an exercise to you the reader to deal with random dude and his supporter. The other two made one or two points worth addressing.

Free speech is a line-drawing exercise, sure. The line is usually drawn at anything that poses a ‘clear and present danger’. Like yelling ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre. Or Advani or Uma Bharathi telling an assembled mob that god wants them to break down the mosque. “Increasing communal tension”, whatever that means, should not be covered. It isn’t ‘clear and present danger’. It happens over time. Which means people have time and brains to think about what was said, how much it offended them, and most importantly how they don’t have the right to ask somebody else not to offend them.

Comparing a post at The Onion (or indeed on my Facebook) to Tienanmen Square is a bit much, no? Can anybody say Godwin? More importantly: free speech trumps “democracy”. Especially if we’re talking about MY facebook wall, where democracy doesn’t apply at all.

You don’t like what’s on my wall? Don’t read it. Nobody is making you.


5 thoughts on “Oh my. Apparently, people don’t take kindly to pictures of Ganesha with his…”

  1. Religious people are stupid, period. There is no point engaging in rational debates with them, since if they were amenable to such debates in the first place they wouldn’t be clinging on to such ridiculous practices as worshiping monkeys, elephants, cows or any other deity for that matter. The only solution it seems is a Soviet or Chinese style total crackdown on religion and freedom of religion. People can do that crap in their homes but should not be allowed to push that crap in public forums.

  2. Indians are pretty much as spoilt as the Muslim world in this regard. Blasphemy laws and things such as forcing MF Hussain to take refuge in another country, and litigation against Sanal Edamaruku are unfortunate precedents for the future. Our blasphemy protests aren’t exactly non-violent either. Unless the law is changed to place blasphemy under protected free speech, things are only going to get worse from here.

  3. Aurko and Raziman, absolutely. I’ve been following Sanal Edamaruku’s case off and on. We aren’t the only democracy that has a blasphemy law in the book, but we might be one of the very few ones that actually apply the law and put people in jail.

  4. “… and most importantly how they don’t have the right to ask somebody else not to offend them.”


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