Body Cam Video Shows Cops Kill Grandma During Raid Over Marijuana Possession


Bartlesville, OK — Michael Anthony Livingston, 50, was suspected of selling a plant that is legal in some form in well over half the country. Because the other half of the country still violently and callously kidnaps, cages, and kills people for this plant, however, Livingston is in jail and his mother is now dead. The entire incident was captured on video and paints a disturbing picture of America’s war on drugs.

Geraldine Townsend, 72, was shot and killed earlier this month as a Bartlesville SWAT team executed a search warrant to bust Livingston for the alleged sale of marijuana. Body camera footage of the raid was released today.

When the heavily armed and militarized men kicked in the door to their home, Townsend, likely not knowing who her home invaders were, picked up a pellet gun and fired off two pellets. A Bartlesville officer then shot and killed her.

As the video shows, police did announce themselves. However, Townsend, who was asleep when the raid began, may not have believed they were the police or may not have heard them and chose to defend herself against her home invaders—with a BB gun.

“While taking Livingston into custody officers heard shots, and two officers were struck with some type of projectile,” Bartlesville Police Capt. Jay Hastings said.

Despite knowing it was a BB gun—because they were hit with the BBs—police opened fire on the elderly woman.

In the disturbing video, we can hear Livingston, who was complying with officers and on the floor at the time, tell police that it is indeed a BB gun. However, police opened fire anyway.

“You killed my mother,” Livingston. “It’s a BB gun.”

“Officer down,” says one of the officers referring to his fellow cop who was struck with a BB.

The officers then go outside to check on their injuries and the cop who took a BB to the face said he was fine.

“Looks like she stopped and shot Steven (sic), and then I come back around to cover him and she point it at me again and blam,” the officer states in the video. “And then I fucking shot.”

When police enter the home again, Livingston is on the floor with an AR-15 to his head pleading with them to help his dying mother.

“She didn’t know,” Livingston said, suggesting that she had no idea it was police in her home. “She was asleep.”

“You killed my mother man!” Livingston yells several times at the police, to which the officer responds, “She shot me, shut up!”

Townsend was struck in the chest and later died at the hospital.

Livingston, the subject of the search warrant, was arrested as he watched his mother get shot in the chest and bleed out on the floor of their home.

As Tulsa World reported at the time, 

Four officers had entered the house in the 1600 block of South Maple Avenue in Bartlesville to serve a drug-related search warrant when the shots were fired about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Livingston and the address were allegedly tied to the sale of drugs.

One officer returned fire, striking Townsend in the upper body. Bartlesville police did not identify the officer who discharged a service weapon. Townsend allegedly shot one officer in the leg and another in the face with the pellet gun.

Emergency responders transported Townsend and one officer she shot to a local hospital. Police initially said her condition “appears to be critical.” Townsend died there from her injuries, Hastings said.

The investigation of the shooting has now been turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

As TFTP reported at the time, after the raid, the only drug recovered by police was marijuana. According to court records, Livingston was booked into the Washington County Jail on complaints of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of eavesdropping equipment.

Because police killed his mother, an upset and distraught Livingston allegedly threatened to kill the officer who did it, so police tacked on another charge of threatening to perform an act of violence.

While many people will justify the death of the 72-year-old woman by claiming that her son was breaking the law and she also broke the law when she fired at the officers in her house, it is important to examine the scenario objectively by looking at the morality of the situation versus the legality of it. Legality does not equal morality.

If we look at the original charges brought against Livingston—not a single one of them involves a victim. Had this man actually harmed someone, rest assured it would have been listed. However, all of these charges stem from the sale of a plant.

Had Livingston lived in Colorado, he could have had the potential to be considered a model citizen who is aiding the local economy by selling a plant that is revolutionalizing the state. Instead, because he was in Oklahoma—where marijuana is viciously attacked by drug warriors—he is sitting in a cage with a $500,000 bail and his mom is dead.

This is what the drug war does. It turns entrepreneurs into criminals, puts cops in harm’s way while turning them into home invaders, and kills otherwise entirely innocent grandmas who try to defend their home from would-be burglars. Every minute that this failed and immoral war continues is a travesty of justice and an insult to humanity. The time to end it is now.

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89-Year-Old Grandma Loses Appeal, Sentenced to Prison for Questioning the Holocaust


Detmold, Germany – An 89-year-old German woman was sentenced to 14 months in prison for incitement of racial hatred after losing an appeal on a prior conviction.

Ursula Haverbeck, often referred to in the German press as the “Nazi Grandma,” is known for extremist views that have run afoul of German hate speech laws in the past—with courts having previously given her fines and another suspended sedition sentence, according to Fox News.

In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler’s regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail for incitement of racial hatred.

Wikipedia explains German hate speech laws as:

Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”, is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population. It is often applied to, though not limited to, trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany.

According to a report by German state-run broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW):

A German court in Detmold has sentenced Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck to 14 months in prison, after the 89-year-old woman lost her appeal to a prior conviction on Tuesday. However, four months were shaved off her original conviction of 18 months. Prosecutors wanted the sentence upheld, Haverbeck’s lawyers were seeking exoneration.


The Detmold court had initially sentenced Haverbeck to eight months imprisonment in September 2016, after she sent a letter to the town’s mayor, Rainer Heller, claiming that Auschwitz was not a concentration camp.


Following the trial, the octogenarian handed out pamphlets to journalists, as well as the judge and prosecutor, entitled “Only the truth will set you free,” in which she once again denied the Nazi atrocities. Haverbeck was handed an additional 10-month sentence for the stunt.

In the United States, incitement of violence is criminal but “assaults against human dignity of others by insulting, malicious maligning, or defaming segments of the population” are considered an exercise of free speech, and thus protected under the First Amendment.

Essentially, German law has criminalized speech as a means of controlling political discourse—meaning the government will tell you what is acceptable to say, and who is fair game to malign, and what groups and classes are protected.

While some speech may be extreme and repulsive, the prohibition on certain ideas, even the most repugnant, being put into the public marketplace of thought is a fast track to totalitarian governmental control—essentially legitimizing the “thought police.”

According to DW:

Haverbeck and her late husband Werner Georg Haverbeck, who was an active member of the Nazi party in the run-up to and during the Second World War, founded a right-wing education center called Collegium Humanum, which has been banned since 2008. She has also written for the right-wing magazine Stimme des Reiches (Voice of the Empire), which she also used to express her views that the Holocaust never took place.

Haverbeck has been sentenced on similar charges on five other occasions but has not yet served any jail time as she appeals the cases.

In October, she was sentenced to six months in prison by a Berlin court after being found guilty of inciting racial hatred for claiming the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp “were not real.”

Prior to that, in August, she was given a two-year prison sentence by a regional court in Lower Saxony, according to DW.

The 89-year-old has appealed the rulings passed down against her in each case and claims she has been merely been repeating an opinion.

The most recent appeal verdict is not final, either, as Haverbeck’s attorneys plan to take the case to the Higher Regional Court in Hamm – which will serve as the final opportunity to challenge the prison sentence.

As Hall wrote in The Friends of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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A Norwegian grandma’s approach to dealing with family heirlooms

My Norwegian grandmother’s approach to distributing the family’s treasures may have been a bit morbid, but it makes a lot of sense.

As minimalism and simple living become more and more the norm, many young adults are shying away from the family heirlooms. Sure, a piece of jewelry might be lovely, but where to put the crates of fine china and bulky armoire in the tiny home? Or really, even in the medium-sized home?

Katherine recently wrote about Swedish Death Cleaning; part Scandinavian noir and part totally pragmatic taking care of business. The idea is that decluttering as you age will save the next generation from having to figure out what to do with your spoon collection and grandfather’s taxidermied moose head. Prior to that Lloyd tackled the issue of family stuff in two articles on sister site Mother Nature Network.

And the whole thing has made me think a lot about my Norwegian grandmother, Marguerite.

Marge (a stumpy nickname at odds with her eccentric elegance) had a beautiful, magical spirit that completely enchanted me. She was an artist with a houseful of cuckoo clocks and heavy European antiques. She would walk down the dark halls singing to wake us up in the morning; she’d dress us in scarves and jewels so that we looked like exotic princesses, then delight us with unusual (ok, strange) delicacies from her kitchen; with her long braids wrapped around her head and dressed in peacock blue and Bohemian gems, she would sneak out to the patio to feed the raccoons.

She was the perfect grandmother in my eyes, but she was nothing if not cliché in her dark Nordic side.

“Honey, just remember you were born to die,” she would tell 5-year-old me in her melodic singsong voice. Just one of her many morbid bon mots, this one borrowed from Shakespeare I would later discover; little macabre nuggets wrapped in rainbows.

But it was her real-time will that remains one of the things I marvel at most. One could peek underneath treasures in her house and chances were there would be a small scrap of paper with a name on it, taped to the bottom. Any compliment on something in her home would lead to a “put you name on it!” The idea was, as you might be able to guess, that when she gave up the ghost, we’d all know what was going to whom.

In a way, it was just more of morbid Marguerite. We were all regularly reminded by these claim tags of the fact that she would die (since of course, we were all born to die!). It may have been a bit manipulative (as in, appreciate me now ‘cause one day I’ll be gone), but you can’t deny the pragmatism of the idea. Everyone gets exactly what they want; family isn’t burdened by stuff they don’t want; there’s plenty of time to negotiate over the more desirable things; and unclaimed things could be offered to friends to put their names on.

But the best part was that it gave her time to tell us about the things that were destined to become ours. We heard tales of the wedding trunk that came from Norway holding a few generations’ worth of bridal gowns, about the cuckoo clock that came from the Black Forest, about the watch purchased in Switzerland while traveling with my pregnant mother and me in the womb. It was an opportunity for us to make even more meaningful connections between the things we would receive and the person who was bestowing them.

In our “let’s not talk about death and dying” western culture, I’m not sure that Marguerite’s method would go over so well – even I think it’s a bit brazen. But it really makes so much sense. As new generations start rethinking the desirability of family heirlooms, it’s time to rethink how we pass things from one generation to the next. And while I haven’t asked my kids to start marking their requests, I’m guessing by the time I have grandchildren my Nordic side will prevail and the paper and scotch tape will emerge. I have stories to tell about a Swiss watch and a Norwegian grandmother with a wonderfully pragmatic morbid side; you want the cuckoo clock? Put your name on it!

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Cowardly Cop Fears for His Life, Tasers 81-Year-Old Grandma with Dementia


Greene County, TN — Greene County Sheriff Pat Hankins is standing up for his deputy this week—noting that he supports his deputy’s decision to deploy his taser on an 81-year-old woman on Sunday. Apparently, 81-year-old women with dementia holding gardening tools are now cause for cops to fear for their lives.

The family of Beunos Erwin has now hired an attorney after police showed up to their home responding to a 911 call for help and ended up tasering the very old woman in the street.

The sheriff said he supports his deputy’s decision because the officer was forced to think fast and only had 14 seconds to decide what to do. According to Hankins, the deputy’s only options were to kill the woman or take a chance risking his life. Naturally, bravery was out of the question—apparently, so was walking backward.

As WJHL reports:

Some Sheriff’s Office reports we obtained claim she suffers from dementia and often sees things that aren’t there.

On Sunday, September 24, Greene County deputies responded to a home on Wilkerson Road in Mosheim.

Erwin’s son called 9-1-1 telling dispatchers his mother was being combative.

According to an incident report, Erwin was using a broom to beat on cars and was yelling.

That report, says she has dementia and says she often sees things that aren’t there.

According to reports, there have been more than 40 calls for help from Erwin’s home in just the last year. By all measures, police were familiar with the elderly woman. However, the deputy who responded was apparently unfamiliar with showing any type of courage in the face of the very tiny amount of danger—if it can even be referred to as such—presented by an 81-year-old woman holding a rake.

Many of the calls to 911 from Erwin’s home were actually made by her. Her dementia often caused her to see people on her property who were not actually there. However, when the deputy came this time, she could see him and so she demanded he leave her property.

According to the report:

This past Sunday, deputies left the scene but were called back about 40 minutes later.

The report says when they arrived back on scene they saw Erwin had a garden rake in her hands.

Sheriff Hankins said Erwin had already knocked out several windows with the rake when they arrived.

According to the deputy, Erwin started walking toward him saying “get off my land.” However, the deputy claims he was 50 feet from her, in the road, not on her land.

Clearly in a mentally diminished state, however, Erwin began walking toward the deputy holding the rake. To justify deploying the taser—which could’ve easily killed the 81-year-old—the deputy said she was holding the rake in a “threatening manner.”

Instead of backing up, walking away, grabbing the rake, or doing anything that required even the smallest amount of bravery, the cop made sure he wouldn’t have to risk a single little hair on his body and deployed his taser.

Erwin was 10-12 feet away when this deputy felt the need to take her out—because he thought an attack was imminent—from an 81-year-old grandma with a garden tool.

When the taser hit her, she fell to the ground. Only then did the officer move in to place her in handcuffs.

According to WJHL, EMS took her to the hospital for evaluation. The report indicates charges are pending.

Every day, in assisted living facilities across the country, elderly men and women with dementia lash out at what they perceive as a threat. And, every day, unarmed health care workers calm them down without having to taser them.

A police officer deploying a taser on a harmless 81-year-old woman illustrates the ominous training of police departments today. Do not be brave, do not risk injury, swiftly and immediately escalate force to avoid having to employ any heroic action to help an 81-year-old woman with dementia—god forbid you take a tiny risk to remove a rake from an elderly woman.

After all, when your only tool is a hammer—everything starts looking like a nail.

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87-Year-Old Grandma Sentenced to Prison For Saying Auschwitz was Just a Labor Camp

Revealing exactly why the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment is so crucial, an 87-year-old woman was sentenced to 10-months in jail after being convicted of violating German hate speech laws after claiming that Jews were never exterminated in Auschwitz.

According to German state-run broadcaster, Deutsche Welle:

A court in Detmold on Friday sentenced Ursula Haverbeck to eight months in jail on charges of sedition. The presiding judge ruled out the possibility of parole and said that Haverbeck had a lack of “any kind of respect” and that she had made more offensive comments in the courtroom.

Haverbeck is expected to appeal against the sentencing. In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler’s regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.

Haverbeck was found guilty of writing a letter to Detmold’s mayor, Rainer Heller, saying it was “clearly recognizable” that Auschwitz was nothing more than a labor camp. She wrote her message at the time when the Detmold court was trying Reinhold Hanning, a former guard who served at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

It should be noted that Ursula Haverbeck is well known for her extremist right-wing views, and has run afoul of German hate speech laws in the past—with courts having previously given her fines and another suspended sedition sentence, according to Fox News.

Just last year Haverbeck went on trial for proclaiming that the Holocaust was “the biggest and longest-lasting lie in history.” However, even if her speech is wrong and hateful, this woman, like everyone else, deserves not to be silenced.

Wikipedia explains German hate speech laws as:

Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”, is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population. It is often applied to, though not limited to, trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany.

In the U.S., incitement of violence is criminal, but “assaults against human dignity of others by insulting, malicious maligning, or defaming segments of the population” are considered an exercise of free speech, and are protected under the First Amendment.

Essentially, German law has criminalized speech as a means of controlling political discourse—meaning the government will tell you what is acceptable to say, and who is fair game to malign.

For example, during Carnival in Germany political satire and fancy costumes are common themes, with many German cities holding float parades, of which many depict political themes. Floats maligning U.S President Donald Trump were common, and in one instance depicting him with a decapitated head held up high by the Statue of Liberty.

There were numerous other floats making fun of nationalist European leaders and right-wing parties. One float in Düsseldorf, showed President Trump standing next to a blond Hitler, along with France’s Marine Le Pen, and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.

Germany tradition prides itself on Narrenfreiheit (“jesters’ freedom”) to mock the powerful—with Germany’s state-run Deutsche Welle news agency proclaiming, “German jesters take on kings for 2017 Carnival.”

For those that found the violent depiction of right-wing politicians objectionable, prominent German journalist Christian Thiels was quick to remind the public that, “It’s called ‘freedom of satire’. You don’t have to like it or find it tasteful but it is part of free speech.”

Yet, when the residents of the small German town of Bad Bergzabern attempted to mock Chancellor Angela Merkel and her refugee policy there was a starkly different response.

A non-political group of locals showed up with a float of German Chancellor Angela Merkel behind prison bars, with the caption: “This is how traitors end up.” Essentially, the German equivalent of the popular U.S election slogan used by many Trump supporters for Hillary Clinton: “Lock her up.”

The very next day a police complaint was filed, and police, along with the State Attorney of Landau district opened an investigation against the subversives who dared poke fun at Merkel.

Interestingly, the same German police and legal system that took weeks to open an investigation in the wake of mass sexual assaults in the city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve, and eventually closed most of the cases after a year-long investigation, immediately began a criminal investigation into the group of locals.

Germany’s state-run Südwestrundfunk broadcaster wrote:

“The float showed the head of the Chancellor behind the prison bars. According to a police statement, by Tuesday many residents had complained about the float and a case had been filed. The State Attorney’s office in Landau is examining if the depiction of the Chancellor is a punishable offense.”

“The float was registered by a private group from South-Palatinate Kapellen-Drusweiler. The office-holders of the group told SWR that they do not belong to any right-wing group, and only wanted it to be a thought-provoking exercise.”

Before German law enforcement could make any assessments, the mayor’s office of Bad Bergzabern issued a statement that from now on, all Carnival floats were first to apply for mayoral approval.

If you make fun of people, or groups, that the government approves of maligning, it is considered political satire and free speech applies. Yet if you make fun of, or disrespect, someone within the elite power structure of Germany it is considered a criminal offense.

While some speech may be extreme and repulsive, the prohibition on certain ideas, even the most repugnant, being put into the public marketplace of ideas is a fast track to totalitarian governmental control—essentially legitimizing the “thought police.”

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Hall in Friends of Voltaire

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. For when you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche.

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“You Need to Beat this Boy!” Cops Force Grandma to Beat Disabled Grandson With Belt


They made me do it. They said, ‘You need to beat this boy.’

Tacoma, WA – Two cops with a fondness for corporal punishment are under criminal investigation for possible child abuse, after telling a woman to beat her 9-year-old grandson with a belt.

As The News Tribune reports, the officers not only urged to do it — contradicting the advice of Catholic Community Service workers who were present — but showed her how. They suggested she could use a small extension of her hand, since she was physically limited, and said it was her legal right to beat the boy.

Even more astonishingly, the boy was bleeding from broken glass after a panicked rage episode, and had a diminished mental capacity – which the officers knew about from a previous encounter. The boy had been committed to a hospital in April, and then in May was choked and abused by a babysitter.

On June 5, the boy had a breakdown when his grandmother went to get prescriptions following a back surgery and asked two therapists to watch him for the brief period. When she returned, he had broken all the glass he could find and locked himself in the house.

The grandmother was able to enter the home, calm down the boy and take away the knives he was holding. But it was too late, as one of the therapists had already called police. The cops showed up, forcing the woman to beat her 9-year-old mentally ill grandson.

He came to me as a broken child…completely disabled. And I promised my boy that I would never hurt him or hit him.

I told the policeman that I promised my boy that I would never hurt him. They told me I had to. They weren’t going to call an ambulance or anything, and my boy was bleeding and he was completely out of control and he was completely terrified.

And I screamed at my therapist, ‘I can’t hold his wrists and kiss him, but I can beat him with a belt?!’

And I looked at [the therapist], and the police officer said, ‘Don’t look at him. He’s nothing. He means nothing to us. We’re the ones with the guns, with the power. We’re the ones who you need to listen to.’

One cop grabbed the belt and slapped it loudly on the table. The cops threatened that they’d have the boy taken away by Child Protective Services if the woman did not beat her grandson. The volunteer social workers, whom the cops disparaged in their report, were frozen in disbelief as they looked on.

“And I did it,” she said. “I hit him with the belt. Of course my boy fought with me, because why wouldn’t he? I will never forgive myself. They told me to wait until he was sleeping and beat him in his sleep. They told me to hit him for every window that was broken. It was absolutely the worst day of my life.”

As a result of this ‘discipline,’ the boy became furious and violent toward his grandmother, even threatening to kill her. The cops then decided to involuntarily commit the boy to a children’s hospital, where workers saw the red marks on the boy’s arms and back.

“They told me they would bring me up on child abuse charges,” she said. “I’ve never hurt a child in my life, ever. I told the social workers what (the police) made me do.”

The first police report from June 5 made no mention of the belt beating, but a second report filed at a detective’s request describes the incident from the cops’ self-righteous perspective. The officer states in the report that he “gives out hundreds” of copies of the law on physical discipline to parents, in an apparent crusade for corporal punishment.

“The law, RCW 9A.16.100, refers to use of force on children. It states that physical discipline is permissible, if it is “reasonable and moderate and is authorized in advance by the child’s parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.”


The law goes on to list a series of unauthorized actions, such as striking a child with a closed fist. It closes by saying the list is “not intended to be exclusive.” It doesn’t mention belts.”

Even when a child is sitting amidst piles of broken glass, bleeding and holding knives after a mental breakdown, these cops felt compelled to tell this grandmother to beat the boy with the belt from his Sunday suit.

I will never call the police again, the woman said. “They tried to convince me that this wasn’t violence. I said, ‘That wasn’t violence? Then what was it?’ They said, ‘It’s just discipline.’ These guys were really prehistoric.

The two officers are on administrative leave while the criminal investigation begins. Cops have no business telling parents to carry out corporal punishment, which science overwhelmingly tells us doesn’t work – and, in fact, contributes to increased aggression and antisocial behavior.

This disturbing case is another insight into the mentality of violence that infests too many of those sworn to protect and serve.

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Unfriending God on Facebook


It wasn’t the first time I woke up to something like this on my Facebook newsfeed: “Grandma is sick and we’re not sure how long she has… Please keep her in your thoughts and send prayers our way.”

Maybe I was just cranky from the 6 a.m. back-to-school schedule we’re on, but I wondered if Grandma would be upset that her privacy had been violated. I also wondered if Grandma had an active presence on social media. Is it okay to ask 500 friends (mostly strangers, if we’re being honest) for such personal favors? Maybe it’s no big deal? Even at this early hour of the morning, several followers pledged their prayers for grandma, and I wondered why I wasn’t doing the same, which was already too much pre-sunrise thinking for me.

I don’t know the friend who asked for prayers very well. In fact, like many of our friends on Facebook, I haven’t spoken with her in about 30 years. But there we are liking each other’s photos and pretending we have some semblance of a grasp on each other’s lives. If comments and “likes” on a prayer request make someone else’s day, why not oblige? Sending my prayers seemed kind of personal, especially because I tend to reserve them for private matters, but it probably wouldn’t hurt… Generally I avoid asking too much of God, as I know that he/she is already cutting me way more slack than I deserve.

Facebook is used in many valid as well as ridiculous ways, and each of us has a rigid opinion on what’s appropriate. But I think we can all agree that our hundreds (sometimes thousands) of friends, are not really “friends.”

On the morning of Yom Kippur eve, a global pre-holiday apology flashed across my Facebook newsfeed: “Dear Friends and Family: On this day of atonement, I’m asking for your forgiveness for anything hurtful that I may have done in the past year…”

And she was not alone. I saw several such posts throughout the day. For Jews, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. It’s the day that we are closest to God and ask forgiveness for our sins through reflection, repentance and fast. I’m pretty sure that regardless of how observant we may or may not be, a Facebook post that resembles a chain letter, does not absolve us of sin or discharge our obligation to sincerely repent. I almost expected to see a line promising seven years of bad luck if you don’t repost…

Have we gone too far?

Before Facebook became a bulletin board for repentance, I thought prayer requests were taking it too far. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s no harm in asking strangers for good karma, especially, if it hurts no one and makes the recipient feel good. Contrary to my public blogging persona, I’m intensely private, and would have a hard time asking hundreds of people for prayers. Just because I don’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong and I understand that in times of need, this easy access to others serves a purpose. I also believe in the power of collective consciousness — I’m just not convinced that Facebook comments can stir the desired divine effect.

This is the first time I’ve seen public apologies on Facebook, and I can’t shake the feeling that now I’ve seen it all. Public apologies not only take it too far, but distort the meaning of dedicating ourselves to atonement. Jews are commanded to fast for 25 hours on Yom Kippur — it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be personal and sincere. A Facebook post makes a mockery of the human interaction, reconciliation and earnest reflection that should be taking place. An apology should not be a global one-way message — it should be heartfelt and maybe hurt a little. If you really think you’ve wronged someone, shouldn’t you deliver the message personally and accept the consequences of the response? Maybe they have something to say? Maybe, also, you should be good to yourself and be present to accept and embrace the forgiveness that may be offered? Otherwise it’s nothing but a distorted perception of a discharged obligation.

Mass spirituality on social media is a dilution of true reflection. Perhaps it’s time to unfriend God on Facebook and keep him in your soul where he belongs.

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