In a NYT op-ed on Sunday, Sudhir Venkatesh wondered where all the protesters have gone. With all the righteous anger up for grabs in our great nation, why aren't the mobs taking to the streets? Well, for one thing -- they all seem to be on Facebook.
You'll remember that Pope Benedict recently stirred up headlines, and a little righteous indignation in these parts, by declaring that condoms not only didn't help the AIDS epidemic -- they made it worse. "Nothing short of evil," is what my colleague Tracy Clark-Flory called the statement when she wrote about it, and plenty of op-eds echoed that sentiment.
Recently, about a dozen Facebook groups formed to protest the Pope's statements, making their fury known with an oldfashioned gimmick: They sent condoms to the pope. A story on Saturday' CNN reported that the Facebook groups planned to send "millions" of condoms; on Monday, the most recent post from the 11,000+ member, Belgium-based "Condoms for the Pope" group claimed 70,000 had been sent.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the mass condom mailout sparked its own protests among Facebook users, who felt the display, though fabulously well-intentioned and dramatic, was a tad wasteful. Why not send the condoms to people who distributed them? Wouldn't those condoms just end up in a landfill? (Meanwhile, the debate over the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS continues as well, as the head of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Center surprisingly defended the Pope's statements, using logic the Geneva's chief of UN AIDS Prevention Unit called "ludicrous.")
No word on how the Pope has reacted to his special delivery, though I have a feeling there's been an increase in water balloon fights near the Vatican.