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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.

Conservative corporate lawyer, commentator, blockchain technology patent holder and entrepreneur. Headquartered in a red light district in the middle of a deep blue People's Republic.

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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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Guns and Crime

Shafeeq Sheikh, doctor convicted of rape, should be in jail. He got probation instead.

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Shafeeq Sheikh doctor convicted of rape should be in jail He got probation instead

Shafeeq Sheikh raped a heavily sedated patient while working at the Baylor College of Medicine. After a rape kit matched his DNA, the jury convicted him of 2nd degree sexual assault with a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. For whatever reason, the jury decided to give him 10 years probation instead.

Indian-American Doctor Convicted For Raping Patient Won’t Serve Jail Time

https://www.ndtv.com/indians-abroad/indian-american-doctor-shafeeq-sheikh-convicted-for-raping-patient-wont-serve-jail-time-1903083Sheikh will have to register as a sex offender. Unlike most states and the federal government, Texas grants juries the power to set criminal punishments.

The punishment has surprised defense attorneys, disappointed law enforcement and raised concerns from a victims advocacy group, according to media reports.

The jurors had recommended the sentencing, to which visiting Senior District Judge Terry L Flenniken was required to follow by law, according to local media report.

Generally, I like the way Texas handles criminal sentencing. Every now and then, justice is not served and this is clearly one of those cases. Here is a victim who has been permanently changed, having been raped by someone she should have been able to trust in a place where she should have felt safe. He is a predator who the victim believes has committed similar crimes before.

Violent criminals must be punished. While the maximum term may have been too much, to not serve at least a decade in jail after what he did is sickening.

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Guns and Crime

ICE gets media beating for taking illegal immigrant into custody over Mexican homicide warrant

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ICE gets media beating for taking illegal immigrant into custody over Mexican homicide warrant

It’s the type of story the media craves. An illegal immigrant, Joel Arrona-Lara, who “hasn’t done anything wrong” was detained by ICE agents while transporting his pregnant wife to the hospital. She ended up having to drive herself the rest of the way before delivering their son.

The spin is predictable. They skim over the fact that he has an arrest warrant in Mexico for homicide while putting all the focus on his wife’s dilemma. They even attempt to cast doubt on the warrant because the lawyer for the family says he couldn’t find a record of the warrant. This last part is most peculiar because it would be simple for a major media outlet to confirm the existence of the warrant. They did, of course, but they won’t report that when they have a better quote from the lawyer denying its existence.

Eventually details will emerge about the warrant, but not until the media inflicts as much damage as possible on ICE and anyone in favor of legal immigration being the proper way to enter the country.

Here’s the story. If you click through, you’ll even get a link at the bottom to the family’s new GoFundMe page:

ICE Detains Man Driving Pregnant Wife To Deliver Baby, Says He Is Wanted For Homicide In Mexico

https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/08/18/joel-arrona-detained-by-ice-san-bernardino-driving-wife-to-deliver-baby/Her husband Joel Arrona-Lara was driving his wife to the hospital for a scheduled Cesarean section Wednesday afternoon when they had to stop to get gas. That’s when their car was approached by two SUVs. Maria said they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The mother of five was then asked to show her identification and complied. When the agents asked Arrona-Lara, the couple said he didn’t have the ID on him, but that they lived nearby and could go get it for them. The agents then asked Arrona-Lara to exit the vehicle, searched the car for weapons, and put Arrona into custody, leaving Maria alone at the gas station.

My take

There’s no doubt the circumstances surrounding all of this are unfortunate. Pregnant wives should not have to drive themselves to the hospital for a scheduled C-section. On the other hand, suspected murderers shouldn’t be entering the country in the first place. That point won’t be mentioned by mainstream media.

ICE has a responsibility to take people like Arrona-Lara into custody so it can be determined whether or not they should be deported. There may have even been a certain degree of leeway given had there been no records other than his status as an illegal immigrant, but being a suspected murderer with an arrest warrant took away any chance at leeway. The ICE agents did the right thing.

As a legal immigrant, I have no sympathy for those who cheat the system and break our laws. Blaming the ICE agents for doing their job correctly in order to keep us safe is the type of insanity mainstream media loves to sell us.

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Democrats

The real reason Ocasio-Cortez is afraid of the press

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The real reason Ocasio-Cortez is afraid of the press

For at least the second time, reporters were barred from covering an event featuring Socialist Democratic darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The campaign’s reason: we want attendees to feel comfortable since there’s so much national press covering her.

This is an absolutely ridiculous excuse, of course. Nobody goes to a campaign event without knowing the press will (should) be there. It doesn’t make them less comfortable and may actually give some a sense of security knowing the answers to their questions will be judged by more than the audience at hand. That’s one of the reasons for the press in the first place, to give information about an event to people who cannot attend.

Instead, the press is getting another roadblock:

Ocasio-Cortez bans press from covering campaign event

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/17/ocasio-cortez-bans-press-from-covering-campaign-event.htmlAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist star running for New York’s 14th congressional district, is facing criticism after her campaign banned journalists from covering a town hall meeting with voters this week.

The Queens Chronicle, a local news outlet, reported that the campaign for the 28-year-old progressive prevented reporters from attending a campaign event in Corona on Sunday, even though it was open to the rest of the public. The campaign reportedly barred reporters from a prior event as well.

It’s conspicuous that a local publication was barred because it runs contrary to the narrative the campaign is trying to sell. So why is she being hidden from reporters at these types of events?

My Take

It’s clear that her exposure is her best friend and worst enemy. Being talked about is a politician’s best friend on the campaign trail, but it also offers a risk of failure. This is most common in events like the town hall meetings she is holding because she’ll be forced to think on her feet.

What if she can’t think on her feet? What if her answers when placed in an unscripted situation the type of answers many would expect from an inexperienced socialist?

Until she’s ready to handle the pressure of having press cover these events, she won’t be ready to hold public office at this level. The House of Representatives isn’t for people who need to be protected from their own answers.

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