When is freedom of speech not freedom of speech? This is what one restaurant manager must be asking himself after posting some very insensitive comments on Facebook and getting an extreme backlash in return. The man, Eddie Nimibutr, runs a Thai restaurant in Austin, Texas. After the Newton, Connecticut shootings, he reportedly posted:
I’m failing to give a damn about the CT shooting. I don’t care if a bunch of white kids got killed. When Israel launched missiles at the school on Gaza, everybody was too busy j------ off. Why should i care about people who don’t give a damn about me?
A Facebook page was set up dedicated to boycotting his restaurant and demanded that he pay homage to the Sandy Hook victims for the next 20 days on social media. He also received death threats. But Nimibutr remained unbowed. He reportedly wrote on Facebook:
If you don’t like me or my opinions, I suggest you to unfriend me and ---- off. I am pretty much sick of some people telling me what to think, how to think, or how to feel today, and if you don’t like my foods, ---- off and eat someplace else.
I believe in freedom of speech -- however, if you're going to indulge in freedom of speech, that can lead to consequences you don't like, depending on what you say. Say something like what he reportedly posted in a bar, and maybe you get punched. Say something like that on Facebook and anything could happen.
But I don't think that anyone exercising freedom of speech -- no matter how dreadful -- deserves death threats. And the Facebook page dedicated to ranting on him could be better spent doing some good in the world. (This being the Internet, Eddie also has a fan page -- albeit one much smaller than his non-fan page.)
Nimibutr seems to be backtracking a bit now. He recently told a local TV station that maybe his remarks were a "little insensitive" and that he was just "trying to cope and decompress" from the news of the massacre. Strange way of coping, indeed, but oftentimes people spew their thoughts on FB without giving them a lot of consideration.
There's a lot of passionate feeling going around the Internet these days. Maybe you don't care about Sandy Hook. But express that -- and in such blunt terms -- and be prepared for the fallout. As for myself, I prefer to ignore hateful people -- or ask them about their deluded opinions, or speak back, but not in a name-calling, hate-spewing way. You'd be surprised at how you can change people's opinions if you talk to them without hate.
Have you seen any Sandy Hook hate online? Do you think people have the right to say whatever they want on their page?
Image via Facebook