By Sandy . . . I read with interest “Facebook block riles advocates of sex crime survivors.” Racheal Gonzales of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has posited an interesting position: Governmental officials and representatives should not be able to block constituents who disagree with them on their Facebook pages because it prohibits the critics’ ability to make their positions known and exercise their right to free speech.
Emboldened by a ruling that said our president could not do that, Ms. Gonzales says she wants this policy extended to all.
Ms. Gonzales may be unaware, although I doubt it, that Facebook itself blocks those who are on a sexual offense registry from using its services. These citizens are prohibited not only from expressing their own political views via this medium but are also refused the ability to read the opinion of others. Does Ms. Gonzales find this practice equally reprehensible? Will she speak up for the rights of all to have the same access to their elected officials for which she advocates for survivors of assault?
What if Facebook denounced its policy of blocking its services from citizens who are on sexual offense registries? Does Ms. Gonzales believe that they should have equal access to the Facebook pages of the representatives of their government in order to advocate against laws with which they disagree?
Or what about me? I have unfettered access to Facebook as I am not a registered sexual offender. However, based on years of research and examination of legislation aimed at registered persons, and in spite of my sincerest empathy with Ms. Gonzales as a former victim of sexual assault, I am opposed to Racheal’s Law. I have found that legislation based on one specific situation or person will ultimately, in umbrella fashion, be applied and used to limit the rights of many, most of whom are not in the same situation or circumstance. I further believe that the constitutional guarantee of the accused having the right to face his accuser is not something that should be taken lightly.
Therefore, had I taken to the Facebook pages of the legislators who favor Racheal’s Law to protest against it, making clear and supporting my reasons, would Ms. Gonzales defend my right to do so? If I has persisted in a “polite but pointed” way to express my opinions, to the point that the owners of the pages grew weary of my rhetoric and blocked me, would Ms. Gonzales make known to all that I had every right to continue access in order to express my opposition?
Or if I, a strong opponent of the public sex offender registry, besieged the Facebook pages of legislators whose votes reflect support of the current system, appealing to them to support only fact-based legislation and printing links to research studies showing those facts, and they blocked me, would I find a champion in Ms. Gonzales? Would she file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office on my behalf?
I call upon her to work with us. If the noble goal of free and open discourse with ones’ elected officials is not only a desirable commodity but also a protected right, surely that applies to all, even to those whose opinions and stances on the issues do not mesh with her own.
So join your voice with us, Racheal Gonzales. Speak out for true equality and justice for all. Show that you really mean what you say.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.