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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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Culture and Religion

Houston library had Alberto Garza, a registered child sex offender, read stories to children for Drag Queen Storytime

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Houston library had Alberto Garza a registered child sex offender read stories to children for Drag

Conservatives know the LGBTQ community has their say in most aspects of life in America today. Their political and cultural influence is unquestionable and public organizations jump through hoops to appease the various groups. Many libraries have even embrace “Drag Queen Storytime” as a way to teach tolerance to children by allowing transvestites to read stories to children.

Houston Public Library is one such progressive public organization that has embraced the practice. Unfortunately, they didn’t do anything to protect the children that visit the library by allowing “Tatiana Mala Nina” to read for the children. The problem arose because”Tatiana” is actually Alberto Garza, a 32-year-old child sex offender.

My Take

Houston Public Library has apologized. Is that really enough? Mistakes happen, but there are certain situations and jobs in which extra special care must be taken. Our public libraries, which are often considered to be truly safe places and popular venues for children to learn, should be able to give a reasonable expectation to parents that registered child sex offenders are not given explicit access to children.

This is gross negligence. I may be in the minority on this one, but this is a terminable offense in my books. Someone’s head should roll.

Keep in mind I rarely call for anyone to be fired for a single offense, but this is literally the worst case scenario for a library administrator. When you give someone access to the children that come to the library, they cannot be convicted child sex offenders. That’s sort of a no-brainer.

Nothing will likely happen beyond the apology, but here’s hoping.

So many exceptions are made for “alternative lifestyles” for the sake of tolerance. But when this tolerance allows a convicted child sex offender to have access to small children, the exceptions have gone way to far. This is absolutely unacceptable.

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Conspiracy Theory

Roswell, NM: Home of alien conspiracy theories, protector of preborn babies

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Roswell NM Home of alien conspiracy theories protector of preborn babies

When many Americans think of Roswell, New Mexico, the first thing that comes to mind is their history as a hub for extraterrestrial conspiracy theories. That’s where the infamous Roswell spaceship crash occurred, which the government unrelentingly denies.

But the city has a new claim to fame. It’s unofficially a “fetal life sanctuary city” after the city council passed a resolution claiming “fetal life” should be protected. This news is fresh, so the city has not had to face questions about what that means or lawsuits form the ACLU at this time, but both will happen soon enough.

My Take

This is the type of limited-government federalism that should be happening all across the country. Most federalism-minded folks like to talk about states’ rights, but counties, cities, communities, and individuals have their own place in government, and this seems like a perfect example of federalism in action.

Kudos to Roswell. We are a crowdfunded pro-life site, so it’s wonderful to see a victory with so many defeats in recent years. New Mexico is notorious for being very loose with their abortion laws, so having a city fight back against the overreach of state and national laws is wonderful.

The fight to promote a pro-life society often gives too much emphasis to DC. States and even cities have battles we can win if we’re willing to fight with everything we have for preborn babies.

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Culture and Religion

Muslim leader in Ilhan Omar’s district: ‘When David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan agrees with you…’

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Muslim leader in Ilhan Omars district When David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan agrees with you

The controversy over Representative Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) antisemtic statements and Tweets have garnered the freshman Congresswoman criticism from some unlikely sources, including many of the Muslim leaders in her own community. They, along with Jewish Democrats in the district that voted for Omar, are uniting to condemn the way Omar has been handling her first few months in office.

“When David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan agrees with you, you’re not doing something right,” said Mohamed Ahmed, a Muslim activist who spoke with a panel of other local leaders.

The Congresswoman came under fire for her statements, but the response from Congress was muted. Rather than focusing on antisemitism or even including her name in an “anti-hate” resolution, they watered it down to include essentially any form of hate and refused to note Omar’s role as the catalyst for the resolution in the first place.

In other words, she got off without even getting a slap in the wrist.

But the words are still out there and thus far the antisemitic Congresswoman seems more concerned about other people’s reactions than whether or not her words were wrong. Apparently, she still sees no problem in what she said, but will refrain from saying them in public for political expediency.

My Take

As noted here before, one of the goals of the Democratic Party is to normalize antisemitism. While everyone seems to be focused on whether or not Omar is sorry for her words, nobody’s wondering why the Democratic Party as a whole seems to be perfectly fine with her feelings.

It’s getting harder and harder for conservative news outlets to speak out against such things. It’s not that there aren’t enough willing to say it, but between social media and search – the two primary traffic drivers for many conservative sites – they have to tone down their news so as not to get banned. This is just one of many reasons it’s so important for our readers to support us so we can continue bringing these stories to light.

The last thing we need is for someone like Ilhan Omar continuing to spread her feelings unabated. It’s clear the Democrats are unwilling to do something about it. Perhaps it’s time to help a moderate Democrat win a primary election against her. She was endorsed by the Justice Democrats, so it’s pretty clear how her radical ideologies emerged.

The world needs to know that Ilhan Omar doesn’t represent American perspectives. More importantly. voters in her district need to know this. We need to keep spreading the truth.

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