So, here I go with one of those probably not so popular opinions again, but you know how I am, so there you have it…
On with the show…
There I was this morning, working on cup ‘o java number 3 and watching the news. Well, not the news exactly because the local broadcast had officially handed off to the network, so I was watching The Early Show. For me, that particular bit of news/feature programming is preferred over any of the others. It’s really all a matter of personal taste, I suppose, but I happen to think Harry Smith is a real kick in the ass as well as a good reporter. Dave Price is downright funny, and probably the most honest nationally broadcast meteorologist out there. Russ Mitchell is a hell of a newsman too, and on top of that I used to rent movies to him when he was a local anchor and I managed a Video Concepts store at Northwest Plaza, so I also happen to know he’s a hell of a nice guy – or he was back then, anyway. If that weren’t enough, there’s Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen. Very good interviewers who also happen to be a visual bright spot in my day, if you get my meaning… But, that’s another story I suppose.
Anyway, back to the impending opinion. As I sat watching this chosen bit of media, I was greeted with a story about Facebook. Yes, I realize that is probably a dirty word around here, what with this being my Myspace blog and all, but hey, they exist. No two ways about it. And, as it happens my publicists insist that I have a page there too, so I do. But, I digress. You see, it seems that Facebook has had the unmitigated gall (in some folks opinions) to remove from their site, pictures of women breastfeeding. Not ALL of the pictures mind you. Just the pictures that show an entire breast being bared.
But no, apparently there are a bunch of people up in arms about it. All good too. Disagree if you want, just remember that it doesn’t mean Facebook has to listen.
So anyway, The Early Show had a couple of folks on this morning to “debate” this issue. Well, I’m all for healthy debate so I watched. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. You see, it seems that the debate was really no more than a couple of folks with some creds (the kind which would mean virtually nothing to your average Joe on the street under any other circumstances) spouting why Facebook is “wrong” by removing these images. Okay, so not much of a debate where debates are concerned…(as we know, an actual debate requires that both sides of an issue be represented) But, that really isn’t my point here. (Yeah, you know me and my tangents…) What is my point, however, is the fact that these “debaters” seemed to be missing the overall picture here. Kind of a “can’t see the forest for the trees” thing. Move that big rock sticking out of the ground so I can see the mountain. Can’t see the sunset because of that big ball of fire in the sky.
Get what I’m saying? Good.
To boil it down, they more or less based their case on a few convoluted points, which on the surface were sound, but in the grand scheme of things left out the real questions behind the issue. And, in one instance, the “point” didn’t even make sense (at least to me it didn’t).
In short, here is what they had to say, and more importantly, where it got kind of weird – in my eyes, anyway:
1) Apparently the estimated 1.4 million folks who have Facebook pages “feel” that they OWN Facebook.
2) We cannot allow the opinions of a few to dictate the morals of the masses.
3) Breastfeeding is a natural act.
Number One: Let’s start with the fact that they might want to make that estimate 1.4 million MINUS one, because I know for a fact that I do NOT own Facebook. I have never paid their light bill. I have never maintained one of their servers. I haven’t swept their floors. In fact, I have never even been to their offices. All I have is a page on their server. That’s it. What’s more is that it is a page – storage space and bandwidth – they provide to me, free of charge. Free. I don’t pay anything for it. Nada. Nothing. I am getting to play in THEIR sandbox on a complimentary ticket. Sure, they make money by tossing web ads at me, but hey, they have to make money somehow… If they didn’t there wouldn’t be a sandbox for me to play in… for free. By the way, Myspace does the same thing – free page, toss ads at you. Oh, and just so everyone is aware, I don’t own them either. I’m also pretty sure that unless you own stock in the parent company, those of you with a page here are in the same boat with me. We use their service. We don’t own it. It ain’t rocket science.
Now, I will give you that these 1.4 million deluded souls may think they “own” Facebook because they feel they created the content. But, here is the fundamental flaw in that thinking – your content doesn’t appeal to the masses. Just to your little social clique, and not even all of them. This is also not to mention that just because you have eleventybillion friends on Facebook or Myspace, doesn’t mean they look at your page on a regular basis. Here’s a newsflash and y’all may hate me for this but guess what? Of my “Myspace Friends” there are only around a dozen whose pages I have visited more than once. You see, I actually have a life and stuff, as I am sure 99.9% of the rest of you do… So, give me a break. The folks who created, finance, and maintain Facebook own Facebook. Not 1.4 million souls using it as free hosting for their personal webpage.
Hence, Facebook makes the rules, you follow them when you are there. That simple.
Number Two: Anyone reading this ever hear of the FCC? We are already letting a handful of folks dictate morals to the masses – but, be that as it may, let’s get real – Facebook isn’t dictating any morals. They are saying, “my sandbox, my rules.” It’s really that simple. I know… Friggin’ amazing, isn’t it?
The “debater” bringing up this particular point went on to say something about Facebook being caught in the middle between the few people who complained about the images and the gazillion people who protested them being removed. He said that if anyone can complain about anything, then everything becomes taboo. Well, not really. That only happens if you listen to the complaint and act on it. He may have a PhD that I don’t, but hey, sometimes you need to cut the crap with the Piled High & Deep and just use a bit of common sense.
Now, yes, I will admit that the listening to and acting on the complaint of a small group was probably the point he was trying to make about Facebook, but honestly, it doesn’t look like that is what happened to me. It looks like someone violated the rules and someone pointed it out. Kind of like, “Hello, police department? There’s someone cooking up meth in the garage across the street.” Yeah, I know, that example is a bit extreme, but you get the idea.
Let’s look at this logically – If I have 5 people complaining about something, and 100 people complaining about the folks who are complaining, and I am trying to run a business, I am going to make the 100 people happy. The five people aren’t paying my bills. The 100 people are. There is a rule in the business world of which some folks are not aware and it is this – sometimes your best course of action is to not try to please a customer who is costing you money. You cut them loose. Send them somewhere else. So, why would Facebook kowtow to a small group? It’s not really likely that they would. They are simply enforcing rules that were already in place to begin with… Were they maybe a bit lacking in enforcing them before the issue was called to their attention. Who knows? With 1.4 million pages, that’s a lot of real estate to police. Perhaps they just hadn’t gotten to it yet, but eventually would have. That is why, just like our local police, they depend on the citizens of the community be vigilant.
Now, do I think the people reporting this infraction are a bunch of idiots who have nothing better to do than screw with other folks? Yeah, pretty much. But, that’s not the point. Whether we like tattletales or not, the rules were broken and action was taken. ‘Nuff said.
Number Three: You are correct. Breastfeeding is, in point of fact, a natural act. It is healthy for the baby, healthy for the momma, and an all around great idea. Hell, my wife breastfed our daughter for the first 18 months. I highly recommend it (no dads, it won’t get you out of those midnight feedings – they have these pump things and human breast milk refrigerates and even freezes just fine… But, you want a healthy kid, right?)
But, guess what? Taking a big ol’ nasty crap is a natural act too. Bowel movements happen. Poop there it is. Everybody poops. I could go on, but I won’t…
Now, I am sure that at least one person is out there saying, “But, Murv, you’re comparing apples to oranges.”
Granted, taking a dump isn’t quite the same as breastfeeding a baby, but using the argument, “it’s a natural act” doesn’t fly. Just because it is a “natural act” doesn’t mean it is necessary to display it.
That particular debater also went on to ADAMANTLY qualify her statement with,. “It’s a natural act. It’s not sexual.”
Did I miss a memo? Last time I checked sex was considered a natural act too. So how does that play into this whole equation?
Okay… So before anyone gets up in arms about anything, let me just say this – Y’all know me – or at least my blogs. You know that I am all about free speech. I will defend to the death a persons right to free speech. I have already made it clear that I have absolutely NO PROBLEM whatsoever seeing images of a woman breastfeeding. Sex is good too. I’m not really all about the images of someone taking a dump, but hey, if that’s your thing more power to you.
But, here’s the thing… Freedom of speech is NOT what most people seem to think it is. It does NOT mean that you get to say whatever you want, to whomever you want, whenever you want. It does NOT mean that you get to display whatever you want, to whomever you want, wherever you want.
Freedom of speech protects your right to believe what you want to believe, and to disagree with others, AND more importantly disagree with your government.
It does NOT guarantee you that anyone has to listen, or that you don’t have to obey the rules. It simply means that you cannot be punished (i.e. incarcerated, beaten, tortured, or otherwise jailed) for dissenting in an orderly and peaceful fashion. By that same token, it also does NOT guarantee you that if you call someone a big doody head that they won’t punch you in the nose. Yeah, punching you in the nose was wrong, but guess what? Freedom of speech cannot protect you from an individual you just insulted. To put it simply, the first amendment does NOT grant anyone the right to be an asshole.
Okay, back to the boob thing…
Facebook made some rules. You had to agree with them in order to set up your page. If you didn’t bother to read them before clicking the “I agree” button, well bad on YOU, not them.
Now, they are enforcing those rules. So what?
Buy a vowel. They have every right to do so. If you are so dead set on displaying pictures of you breastfeeding your kid, no one said you couldn’t. They just said that you couldn’t in THEIR SANDBOX. You are NOT entitled to make them bend to your will. If they were in some way truly discriminating against you, adversely affecting you, creating undue hardship on you, or even making funny faces at you and saying nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I would have a different take on the whole situation. But they aren’t. This is NOT the federal government – or anyone else for that matter – restricting your freedoms. This is a private company with rules telling you that you can’t break them while you are using their service (for FREE mind you).
It’s no different than going to grandma’s house and not putting your feet on the furniture. Her house. Her rules. You follow them.
Oh, and by the way… To the debater who said breastfeeding isn’t sexual – basically you are correct from a purely clinical standpoint. But, you are dealing with individuals here and not everyone shares that opinion. You might try looking up galactophilia – it is a fetish centering on lactating women. All of a sudden, for a particular segment of the population who harbor this paraphilia, the images DO become sexual.
But, as can often happen, even I have gone a bit off track… The real question in my mind is this:
Why is it so important that you display to the world a picture of your bare breast with a baby attached to it? Once you are done breastfeeding do you plan to show us pictures of your breasts just for the hell of it? I mean, we’d get a clearer look at them if the baby wasn’t in the way. Or, if you are just trying to show us the baby then don’t you think we’d get a better look if the boob wasn’t obscuring his/her face? Do you plan to show us 57 pictures of junior having strained peas shoved into his face? How about when he/she pukes up the mashed banana all over the dog?
Again, I want to reiterate, I don’t find pictures of women breastfeeding to be offensive at all. I don’t find them embarrassing. And, I don’t find them to be a turn on either. But, I think this whole “you have to let me do what I want even though it violates your rules” thing is all a bit silly.
In my mind, the fact that boobs are at the center of it could be said even if it wasn’t…well…all about boobs.
More to come…