To all the pro-statehood Puerto Ricans who dream about having 51 stars on the United States flag, we say the following: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. AND READ THE US CONSTITUTION WHILE YOU ARE IT.
In a bizarre game of political Facebook censorship, the official public Fan Page of Puerto Rican Pedro Pierluisi—a non-voting member of the US House of Representatives—admitted to us that they had indeed blocked us from their page and that they were sorry.
The censorship incident occurred on June 14 around the time that Pierluisi was flying into San Juan on Air Force One with President Barack Obama. Yes, when we went to Pierluisi’s official page to post about the US flag that was burned by a small group of Puerto Rico independence supporters, we quickly found out that we could not post os share any content on Pierluisi’s public page. YES, it was clear that our politics—which do not support statehood at all for Puerto Rico—were not welcome on the page, which has over 9,000 followers (on a side note, Commissioner Pierluisi is about 16,000 fans behind the amazing Fernando Varela, but that is another story for another day).
After 36 hours, and after calls to both Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), we received a statement from Pierluisi’s office. You decide if this makes any sense:
Dear Mr. Varela,
I have been informed that you are concerned about your access to the Resident Commissioner’s congressional page on Facebook. I have been advised that you believe you were removed from the user list after you made a comment on the page.
The standards regarding participation on this page–no different than anywhere else on the social network–are clear and unambiguous. We respect the freedom of expression that this medium provides, while at the same seeking to ensure that posted comments are not disrespectful of the discussion and of other participants.
I am not aware of the substance of the comment that you posted. While we have an excellent relationship with our followers, naturally we do not always agree with the content of every message that is posted. Nevertheless, a simple examination of our page should give you confidence that posted messages remain viewable regardless of their content–again, so long as they adhere to the basic standards of respect and courtesy cited above. Differences in opinion are not merely permitted, they are welcomed.
If your comment met this standard, we apologize and in the next few hours will unblock you if you so desire. We benefit from your participation and hope you will continue to participate.
Thank you for writing.
As you can imagine, this non-answer from Pierluisi’s staff did very little to answer our concerns. At no point could they actually pinpoint what I did (NOTHING) or what I said (NOTHING). So we called them. Here is the audio of the conversation:
In the meantime, we were unblocked from the page and began to post again on June 16. Granted, even though all Facebook Pages according to Facebook are “official public pages,” the paradoxical logic that is Puerto Rico appeared on the pages after we thanked Pierluisi’s staff for admitting its UNAMERICAN error, even though they have no clue who actually blocked us. (NOTE TO THE RESIDENT COMMISSIONER: Let’s talk about this.) Here is just one example of what we dealt with:
Um, Pedro, you are wrong there. Facebook Pages ARE PUBLIC. In fact, Facebook themselves calls them “public” and “official.” And then Pedro continued:
And one again, Pedro, YOU DON”T GET IT. The Resident Commissioner’s Facebook page is a PUBLIC PAGE. And Pierluisi is AN ELECTED OFFICIAL in the UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Also, Pedro, Pierluisi’s own office admitted to their error! So we decided to let Pedro know a few things. Here are just some of the responses:
One final point about this and I will be quiet: the Resident Commissioner’s staff admitted to blocking me and they have apologized for this oversight. They regret making this error, which goes against the UNAMERICAN principles all pro-statehood proponents so cherish. Practice what you preach, Pedro. Welcome to the United States of America. It is what makes us great!
Totally disagree bro, I never said anything here that was disparaging. You are so off on this it is not even debatable. AMERICA= FREE EXPRESSION. For example, I find it sickening when the American Nazi Party marches in US towns, but guess what? They can. BTW, bro, Pierluisi’s OWN PEOPLE ADMITTED THAT THEY BLOCKED ME AND APOLOGIZED. Welcome to America, mano. Peace out.
To quote Facebook: Facebook pages are “official, public pages” also do your homework. All US CONGRESSMEN have pubic Facebook pages like the RESIDENT COMMISSIONER. When I talke with my own Rep and other Congressmen, they were appalled by Pierluisi’s actions here. Sorry, bro, you are in the minority on this one. Stay free. VIVA LA DEMOCRACIA. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND PUERTO RICO
that would be “public” LOL
So to the Resident Commissioner’s staff, thank you for the apology. However, we will leave you with this advice: IN AMERICA, WE EMBRACE DEMOCRACY. WE DON’T CENSOR IT. Next time, think about it.
We will be watching.