I keep thinking about how the Obama administration had to publicly promise Russia that the United States would not torture Edward Snowden even though it really, really wants to. It would be hilarious, if only torture weren’t so grim. I’m positively misty-eyed for the good ole days when the U.S. inspired horror in liberals for shipping prisoners off to “black sites” for that nasty wet work. Now, we openly admit to being a black site!* Plus, the sleazy supplication gave extra oomph to our public shaming by Putin, aka pillar of human rights. That egg runneth long, sticky and stinky on Obama’s face.
In any case, that miserable failure of a pas-de-deux with Russia led me to ruminate on how we human beings unwittingly give ourselves away, or simply discover facets of our nature when cornered or desperate.
Like the time I said to a boyfriend, who was threatening to leave me:
“If you give it one more month, I won’t go to the schoolyard down the street and shoot all those kids with my AK-47.”
Just kidding. I didn’t really say that (I leave that kind of talk to White House officials). But to my everlasting shame, I probably did say something awful like, “No one will ever love you like I do!” I hope that only indicates how hopeless I was in my twenties and is not a blueprint for the person I am today–although it does point to a penchant toward dramatics, and some have accused me of going there at times. Those are my former friends.
And I thought back to that time when everyone was getting tested for HIV back in the eighties. I suggested to my new boyfriend that we get tested too.
“Why?” he said testily.
“Because you’re bisexual and you told me you used to do heroin, and that you occasionally sold yourself to guys in New York when you were broke,” I said.
“Well, you’re Haitian!” he hissed.
It is true that, back then, some were trying to blame the AIDS epidemic on Haiti because of purported visits by gay men to the island for sex. Only problem is, while it is true that I am Haitian, I was not a gay man, and had not lived in Haiti since the age of eight. This theory was invented by racists without answers to a scary puzzle, and I didn’t expect my boyfriend to embrace it! That was the day I realized he had racist leanings, and he more than proved it by the end of our liaison.
More recently I was shocked, I tell you, shocked to read about a page on Facebook called “How To Violently Rape Your Friend Just For Laughs.” When the activist group, Women, Action & the Media wrote an open letter to Facebook about the page and about the preponderance of hate speech directed at women on the social media platform, this was its official response, as reported by ThinkProgress.org:
“…While it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies…”
However! Once advertisers started pulling their ads, Facebook reversed course, pulled the page, and made a great show of vowing to do better next time by revising their hate speech policy. According to The Boston Globe here’s what Facebook said (among other things):
“While we already have rigorous review and removal policies for content against our terms, we recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups.”
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that no, Facebook doesn’t give a damn about the treatment of women on their pages–a cursory glance reveals plenty of pages promoting violence against women, along with porn, pedophilia and other highly questionable content; and that yes, they care a lot more about their advertisers.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m no fan of Facebook and its insidious ways, where our privacy is concerned.** I worry just as much, if not more, about the corporations than the government on this issue. I even started a non-profit called Big Data Watchdog, a repository for 1) up-to-date information on the subject and 2) ideas on how to take back our internet. So, I wasn’t surprised at this behavior on the part of Facebook. But, for anyone who still thinks it is nothing more than a fabulous way to connect with friends and expand one’s community, this episode more than revealed Mark Zuckerberg and his cohorts’ darker nature.
Ah, those pesky secrets we hope to keep hidden from public view. Even without the likes of Facebook–which sells our personal information to whomever, whenever–and Edward Snowden, they usually make their way to the light of day. And when that happens, the most important thing we can do is stop and listen up.
**Yes, I do have a [mostly inactive] Facebook page for business purposes, as anyone in the 21st century must, which is another thing that really burns my bum.