Over the weekend, this appeared in my Twitter feed.
Evidently, a user was attempting to tweet out a link to a cover image of the upcoming November 11, 2013 edition of The New Yorker magazine. I was on my mobile phone at the time and was intrigued when a warning popped up after I attempted to click the link.
The text of the tweet reads “New Yorker Mag Cover Slams Obama and Sebelius” and certainly implies that the image and cover story was likely critical of the Obama Administration’s botched rollout of Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act.
I went to my laptop to view the tweet and was warned once again that the media I was about to view “may contain sensitive material.”
Sensitive material? What could it be? Clearly, it must be something so awful, offensive, inappropriate or unsuitable for a mass audience that it merited extra warning to all those who wished to view it. Right?
Perhaps, it was similar to the controversial cover image that Rolling Stone chose for their cover story about suspected Boston bomber Jahar Tsarnev.
Well, here it is. You decide.
OK, here is a quick list of potentially offensive aspects of the cover art:
- President Obama with his jacket off in the Oval Office on an antiquated cell phone, perhaps a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X circa 1983. Curious, who is he talking to?
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius standing by with fingers crossed hoping for the best? Whatever.
- Stereotypical pint-sized nerdy computer technician complete with glasses, pocket protector and a “five and a quarter” inch floppy disk in hand.
- An IBM 5150 style computer from the early 1980s with hammer and screwdriver close by.
Anyone offended? Seriously, anyone?
As far as I can tell, the only thing sensitive here is the fact that the cover was poking fun at the president, Secretary Sebelius and Healthcare.gov. Funny and sad, yes, but offensive?
How does this merit a warning? I assume that a handful of Obama supporters reported the image as “offensive” within the Twitter user community which likely started an automated flagging process that relies on crowdsourcing to police such activity. The question is, should it?
Did they think that by reporting the image, it would be removed and maybe people wouldn’t notice the massive failure of Healthcare.gov and buy the “glitch” narrative? What are they afraid of… criticism, blame, failure, incompetence, lack of accountability? Nice try, but no administration is impervious to such condemnation.
I am proud that we live in a country where our Constitution provides for free speech and freedom of the press. Granted, I certainly didn’t enjoy the barbs lobbed at us when I served in government, especially when they were deserved. However, as frustrating as it was at times, I almost always felt motivated to learn from mistakes, work harder, move forward together and do better.
I don’t think we should be so sensitive or treat politicians with kid gloves because of who they are or what hyper-partisan views they hold. Rather, we should judge them equally based upon individual leadership qualities, effective job performance and results. Those attributes transcend time, political party, race, religion, geography, age, gender, etc.
However, the path we are currently on only leads to division and censorship — and that’s something that *should* be flagged.