Arthur Christopher Schaper
One month after his reelection, Rep. Mike Chippendale (R-Foster) published on his personal Facebook page a picture of an atheist holiday display in the Smith Hill state house, citing it as “tasteless”
On a December 4th post, Chippendale’s comments included the following:
So I was in the Statehouse this week to assist with the Freshman orientation for the incoming legislators. While there I took some time to walk around on the 2nd floor where groups are invited to erect Christmas Displays. There were beautifully decorated trees with traditional decorations and explanations of national traditions from countries such as Venezuela, Norway, Holland, etc.
And of course there was this one... the atheists just can't keep their non-beliefs to themselves. To enhance their message of hatred, they even insulted my religion by printing a stained glass window border around their hate-filled message. The only reason they could possibly go to these lengths is to spread hatred and to insult people who celebrate Christmas.
Responses from one constituent criticized this post. A little later, Chippendale noticed that a large number of “Friend” requests were coming to his page, and they all shared only one friend in common: a liberal progressive with whom the state representative had differed frequently, but in a respectful manner.
Come December 8th, Rep. Chippendale could no longer access his Facebook Page. “I got a message that says: ‘This account has been permanently disabled.’” Blocked from his own Facebook page, the Foster assemblyman already had an idea who was behind this break away from his page: the same progressive liberal, though he acknowledges there is no certain who was behind the shut-down of his Facebook page.
Despite clear rules about Facebook etiquette in the past, Chippendale acknowledged that he often discussed heated concerns with constituents who did not agree with him. Never willing to silence dissent on his webpage, Chippendale permitted liberal progressives and all other voters to post their thoughts, provided that they refrained from foul language and false attacks. Although he had disagreements with some constituents, Chippendale maintained a cordial, open dialogue on issues through his Facebook page.
Speaking with other individuals savvy about Facebook usage and tactics (including his own children), he learned that if enough people flag a Facebook page as containing inappropriate content, then Facebook shuts down the page permanently. The damage? Five years’ worth of pictures, conversations with constituents, and other district-related news and posts have disappeared because of this development, although state Rep. Chippendale did recover seven photos. “It gave me one last chance to make a public “Like” or “Public Group” page. That’s what they allowed me to set up. About 10% of it is functions.”
At this time, Rep. Chippendale is not sure who is behind this sabotage, and he has set up different Facebook sites, including a public forum over which he has far less control then the initial site, the Foster assemblyman has decided not to let this setback rattle him. Recognizing that Facebook is a free as well as public utility, Chippendale stated deeper concerns:
“The really frustrating thing, though, is that I had no opportunity to find out why I was shut down, and what people were complaining about. Now, we’ll never know, and I can’t prove anything, since I have lost the Facebook page.”
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.