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YouTube’s War on InfoWars: Forced Speech And The First Amendment

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YouTube is reportedly going to take down the channel for the controversial website InfoWars on Monday, reports right-wing investigator and provocateur James O’Keefe.

I won’t delve into (nor link to) the content of InfoWars. Readers can access it (and often do so without warning) by going to The Drudge Report, which lists it twice (once as InfoWars, once as Alex Jones) among its newsfeed channels.

Presumably, this action is taken because of some violations of the YouTube terms, guidelines, etc. YouTube is a private service and as such, has its own rights to set its terms. Let’s simply look at YouTube’s stated policies, which I found with some difficulty.

First, from the Policies and Guidelines webpage:

You might not like everything you see on YouTube. If you think content is inappropriate, use the flagging feature to submit it for review by our YouTube staff. Our staff carefully reviews flagged content 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to determine whether there’s a violation of our Community Guidelines.

And those Guidelines say, in relevant part:

Our products are platforms for free expression. But we don’t support content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics. This can be a delicate balancing act, but if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line. (Emphasis added.)

Now, from a lawyer’s perspective,

Within the Guidelines is YouTube’s Hate Speech policy:

We encourage free speech and try to defend your right to express unpopular points of view, but we don’t permit hate speech.

Hate speech refers to content that promotes violence against or has the primary purpose of inciting hatred against individuals or groups based on certain attributes, such as:

race or ethnic origin
religion
disability
gender
age
veteran status
sexual orientation/gender identity

There is a fine line between what is and what is not considered to be hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation-state, but if the primary purpose of the content is to incite hatred against a group of people solely based on their ethnicity, or if the content promotes violence based on any of these core attributes, like religion, it violates our policy.

Also, under the heading of “Threats” is the following:

Things like predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people’s personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts or to violate the Terms of Use are taken very seriously. Anyone caught doing these things may be permanently banned from YouTube.

Now, taking all of this language, there are some flaws. In short, its because the terms and guidelines are too brief. They fail to give enough warning to users as to what “crosses the line.” That’s because there is too much ambiguity in a lot of single words.

You can criticize this as “overlawyering” and criticize me for being one of those subhuman lawyers. However, almost every subject, verb, adjective and adverb in the terms requires a definition. Look again at just this one sentence. I’ve put in bold what I think is each and every term which has an unclear or ambiguous meaning.

For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation-state, but if the primary purpose of the content is to incite hatred against a group of people solely based on their ethnicity, or if the content promotes violence based on any of these core attributes, like religion, it violates our policy.

Each term I’ve highlighted is susceptible to multiple meanings, which in turn exposes YouTube to criticism that it is being arbitrary, unfair or “political” in exercising its own rights.

But here is what you’re missing. YouTube has its own rights of free speech, including the right of free association. Remember the infamous-on-the-Left Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United?

Before the “right wing” cues up the faux outrage machine and further embarrasses conservatives, let’s remember a few general principles.

YouTube is a private company. YouTube is an affiliate of the Google empire, which includes the publicly-traded company known now as Alphabet. But that doesn’t mean the customers, the public, or the government get to tell a private business how to run its business.

The people saying that “YouTube has no business…” or accusing it of “censorship” don’t realize they are arguing for a private business to be controlled by an outside group. Rational people have to think about two questions: First, who would that group be? Second (and more importantly), who decides the first question?

This, my friends, is the road to government oversight and control. Under the rubric of “free speech,” this is the march towards Soviet-style Marxism. Not because YouTube is “censoring” content which is both within its right

So, the critics of YouTube and defenders of (in this case) InfoWars, who want to force YouTube to carry certain content are not defenders of free speech here. They are its attackers. This confusion, and deception are the next steps in paving the road towards authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Public Citizen

    March 4, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    The question must eventually be dealt with:
    “At what point does an “internet service” that has a virtual monopoly in a popular area become a defacto “Public Utility” that must of public necessity be regulated as a public utility or else broken up under the Anti-Trust Laws?”
    This question must be dealt with, and soon, in a number of areas of the internet.

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Democrats

In threat to Pelosi, 16 Dems say they’ll back new leadership

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In threat to Pelosi 16 Dems say theyll back new leadership

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen Democrats who’ve opposed Nancy Pelosi’s quest to become speaker released a letter Monday saying they will vote for “new leadership” when the House picks its leaders in January, underscoring a significant threat to her effort to lead her party’s House majority in the next Congress.

The letter’s release suggests that rather than spending the next six weeks focusing on a fresh agenda to present to Americans, House Democrats could be consumed with a bitter and attention-grabbing internal leadership fight.

The battle pits the party’s largely liberal and diverse membership backing Pelosi, D-Calif., against a small group of mostly moderate male lawmakers. Of the 16 Democrats who signed the letter — which stops short of explicitly saying they will vote for an opposing candidate for speaker — all but two are men: Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York and California’s Linda Sanchez.

“We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the authors wrote, referring to campaign pledges by a number of Democratic candidates. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House Floor.”

Pelosi has activated an aggressive campaign for the job involving House colleagues, prominent outside Democrats and party-aligned interest groups. Her office distributed endorsements Monday from nine House Democrats who are military veterans and UnidosUS, a Hispanic civil rights organization.

Known as a precise vote counter with a keen sense of her caucus’ leanings, Pelosi is aided by the lack of a declared opponent and many weeks during which she can dangle choice committee assignments, rules changes and other goodies to help attract support.

“Leader Pelosi remains confident in her support among Members and Members-elect,” spokesman Drew Hammill said in a written statement. He said 94 percent of House Democrats declined to sign the letter, though Pelosi opponents said they expect others who didn’t sign to vote against her.

Though the mavericks’ numbers represent a handful of the 232 House Democrats elected, plus five races still undecided, they could still garner enough opposition to thwart her.

Pelosi seems certain to have enough support to become her party’s nominee for speaker when House Democrats vote by secret ballot on Nov. 28. She will need only a majority of Democrats in that contest.

But when the full House elects its new leaders Jan. 3, the speaker will need a majority 218 votes, assuming that no one votes “present” or misses the vote and Republicans oppose her en masse, as seems likely. At 232 seats, Pelosi could afford to lose just 14 Democrats and still become speaker.

The rebels’ letter to their Democratic colleagues praises Pelosi, 78, as “a historic figure” who helped win major victories. Pelosi was speaker from 2007 through 2010 when Democrats held the majority and has been the party’s leader since 2003.

“We also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran and won on a message of change,” they wrote. “Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington.”

Pelosi’s critics say the party’s long-serving top leaders must make room for younger members. They say years of Republican ads portraying her as an out-of-touch liberal have made it hard for moderate Democrats to win in swing districts.

Pelosi allies counter that the party just won House control with their biggest gain of seats since the 1974 post-Watergate election. Many bristle at dumping her at a time when President Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement have helped attract female candidates and voters to the party.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland has been No. 2 House Democrat since 2003 and South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn has been No. 3 since 2007. Both are in their late 70s and are running, unopposed so far, for those posts again.

Of the letter’s signees, five are incoming House freshmen or hope to be. Two of them — Anthony Brindisi of New York and Ben McAdams of Utah — are in races in which The Associated Press has yet to call a winner.

Pelosi critics assert there are more Democrats who’ve not signed the letter who are prepared to vote against Pelosi. That includes Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who’s said she’s considering running for speaker.

Trump has tweeted his respect for Pelosi and offered to round up GOP votes to help elect her speaker. Pelosi’s office has said she will win with Democratic votes, and it seems a stretch to expect Republicans to help elect her speaker — a vote that could open them up to primary challenges in 2020.

Others signing were incumbents Jim Cooper of Tennessee; Bill Foster of Illinois; Brian Higgins of New York; Stephen Lynch and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Ed Perlmutter of Colorado; Tim Ryan of Ohio; Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Filemon Vela of Texas. Incoming freshmen were Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Max Rose from New York and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.

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Guns and Crime

Suspect dead, 4 critical after hospital shooting

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Suspect dead 4 critical after hospital shootinga

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on a shooting at a Chicago hospital (all times local):

5 p.m.

Police say the suspected gunman is dead and four people are in critical condition following a shooting at a Chicago hospital.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says a police officer and at least one hospital employee are among those hospitalized in critical condition following the Monday afternoon shooting at Mercy Hospital.

Guglielmi says the gunman was killed, but it’s unclear if he took his own life or was killed by police.

The department issued a statement earlier on Twitter saying there were “reports of multiple victims” after shots were fired near the hospital on the city’s South Side. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the mayor and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson are monitoring the situation.

___

4:15 p.m.

Chicago police say an officer has been shot during an active-shooting incident at a hospital on the city’s South Side.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the officer is in critical condition. He says one “possible offender” has also been shot, and that officers are now searching the hospital.

The department issued a statement on Twitter saying there were “reports of multiple victims” after shots were fired Monday afternoon near Mercy Hospital. Police are asking people to avoid the area. No other details were immediately released.

A message left for hospital officials wasn’t immediately returned.

Television footage shows several people, including some wearing white coats, walking through a parking lot with their arms up.

___

4 p.m.

Chicago police say officers are searching a hospital after a reported shooting and that one “possible offender” has been shot.

The department issued a statement on Twitter saying there are “reports of multiple victims” after shots were fired Monday afternoon near Mercy Hospital on the city’s South Side.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says officers are searching the hospital. He says at least one “possible offender is shot,” but no details were immediately released. Police are asking people to avoid the area.

A message left for hospital officials wasn’t immediately returned.

Television footage shows several people, including some wearing white coats, walking through a parking lot with their arms up.

___

3:50 p.m.

Chicago police say they are responding to a shooting near a Chicago hospital with “reports of multiple victims.”

A department spokesman issued a statement on Twitter saying officers are responding after shots were fired near Mercy Hospital on the city’s South Side. The department says there are “reports of multiple victims.”

The police department says it didn’t immediately have more details. A message left for hospital officials wasn’t immediately returned.

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Guns and Crime

Legislators tell Allen West: Next version of First Step Act will cut loopholes

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Legislators tell Allen West Next version of First Step Act will cut loopholes

Last week, a handful of conservatives, including Lt. Col. Allen West and Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz, went after the bipartisan First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that has the backing of the President and many conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Our complaint: why would the GOP support a bill that releases violent criminals and illegal immigrants?

According to legislative proponents of the bill, protections and benefits for both of these groups of felons have been eliminated in the next version of the bill that will reach the Senate floor. They reached out to West over the weekend to let them know they heard the concerns and are addressing them.

First Step Act: Response and Reassurances

https://i0.wp.com/theoldschoolpatriot.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/prison-553836_640.jpg?w=200&ssl=1The First Step Act is supported by many conservatives and law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National District Attorneys Association. There are other proposals offered by those on the far left under the same banner of “criminal justice reform” that would release people from prison without regard to the danger they pose, including illegal immigrants and serious violent offenders. We must remember that there are some folks who are, well, as the ol’ folks would say, “just bad.” Additionally, some left-wing professors even propose abolishing all prisons partly based on their notion that the system is racist in nature. Hmm, I tend to believe that skin color or race has nothing to do with a person deciding to break the law. I just do not want us to go down the path of having criminals believe that there are no consequences, ramifications, for their actions and behaviors.

The legislators echoed our concerns and said the version that is currently available doesn’t reflect the changes that cut the loopholes. They say it will be impossible for these two groups – serious violent offenders and criminal illegal immigrants – to get the benefits of the bill. Many felons will be released early. Future felons will be given lighter sentences. That makes sense for many, but by no means should anyone in either of the two most dangerous groups receive sentence reductions, according to the letter to West.

My Take

Call me cynical, but lately I’ve changed my general rules regarding promises of politicians. It used to echo President Reagan’s stance on nuclear disarmament: “Trust but verify.” I now have to go with a more adversarial stance on political promises: “Show me proof, then we’ll talk.”

When the legislation is made available to the public, many will take a close look at it. I’ll personally be checking to see if there are any loopholes that would put violent offenders or criminal illegal immigrants back on the street sooner. If so, it’s a no-go for me.

 

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