I know that this is my platform for writing about the real estate industry, bt today I just want to use this for a quick rant.
In his blog TechCrunch, Michael Arrington recently wrote a great post about Facebook‘s refusal to deny a platform to Holocaust denial. The post is well written and cogent, and I hope that you already took a moment to read it via the link I provided above.
Though I agree with Arrington’s position and the points he makes, I didn’t start writing this just to parrot those points, but to express something that occured to me as I was reading the post. I think that I understand why an organization would not want to feel that they were limiting the right of an individual to to express their opinions, no matter how bizarre, or outright wrong those opinions might be. After all, we live in a country founded upon the precept of free speeech. But does that mean that you are obligated to provide a platform for someone to express an opinion you find reprehensible? To paraphrase and old cliche, “If someone were shouting “fire” in a crowded theater are you obligated to provide him or her with a bullhorn?”
I respect Facebook’s desire to rise above the issue, but should they do so at the expense of their own moral values. As Arrington points out so eloquently “Holocaust denial is a seed. A seed that will grow into a fully bloomed second Holocaust if ever allowed to germinate. And Facebook is providing the fertile ground and watering needed to do just that.”
I understand the dilemma on a theoretical level – If we ban holocaust deniers, should we not ban the flat earth society or groups that think we didn’t really walk on the moon or even groups that think there was a federal/mob/communist conspiracy to kill JFK? I don’t think those are really the same thing. I do think we can ban hate grops of ay sort from platforms that are privately owned, even if they are accessed by the public. In fact, I think that we have an obligation to ourselves and our society to do so.
My father-in-law was one of the American troops that liberated the death camp at Dachau. My Uncle’s mother was killed at Auschwitz. My Great Aunt died during the holocaust in Jedwabna Poland. I don’t need anyone to assure me that the Holocaust happened. And painful though it may be, I do agree that Holocaust deniers have the right to express their misguided bigoted opinions. But I don’t think that anyone is required to facilitate the replication or proliferation of those lies. And I don’t think that Facebook is provided any moral high ground when they do so.