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Nudity vs. content

A world famous photographer said, when answering an anti-nudity critic at a museum opening of his nude photography, “Dirty is when seen through dirty eyes.” In a way, what’s on the Internet these days fits that model. You can replace “dirty” with “violent” or “biased” or even “fake” when it comes to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others.

The interesting thing is this: Facebook will remove an image of a naked nipple within minutes of posting. They see the human nipple as offensive. Even a close-up of a man’s nipple. Okay, that’s not the worst thing Facebook does, but here’s a question: If you put up an image of a neo-fascist, heck if you put up an image of the Nazi flag, or Q anon members violently screaming ... these never get removed until someone actually complains. 

Facebook — and all the other purveyors of Internet connectivity — make a song and dance about how hard it is to spot violent images, fake news, propaganda photos and text, yet within minutes a nipple is removed as being terribly, terribly offending for our baby sensibilities? I think it is pretty clear that American puritanism for sex outweighs our tolerance for offensive, violent, fascist propaganda images.

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Some things seem to me to be pretty clear. A Nazi flag is immediately offensive around the world. There are image algorithms that could deal with that, no humans needed. A screaming demonstrator with a swastika on his or her arm, similarly, could be spotted. 

If they can profile passengers in an airport by studying human facial characteristics, they can surely spot a swastika, no? How about other body parts? Currently a penis image is gone within seconds (and that includes cookies, drawings, jokes, even sidewalk chalk art), but Q anon images and propaganda of hate? That gets branded as free speech.

More than 60 million people died during World War II, 420,000 of them Americans fighting Nazism, fascism and supremacy. In the Civil War, we lost more than 600,000 Americans — some on the side of treason, some fighting against racism. Every time we allow “free speech” to be perverted allowing the promotion of hate and racism, promoting violence and fascism we are forgetting those soldiers’ sacrifice, we are overlooking common sense. 

Promoting these evils is exactly the same as falsely yelling “Fire!” in a crowded room and then saying the wounded in a stampede were not your fault, you had the right of free speech. And what do we care about more deeply? A naked nipple? That’s simply pathetic.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.