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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

The real reason Scott Wallace yelled ‘f*** off’ in a synagogue during a debate

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The real reason Scott Wallace yelled f off in a synagogue during a debate

Democrats have been claiming every Republican in the nation wants to eliminate the pre-existing conditions requirement in health care laws. It doesn’t matter whether they actually do or don’t (most do not). Public polling shows if you can convince voters the Republican candidate is going to take away their healthcare, it’s a winning message.

Scott Wallace, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 1st district, has been participating in spreading the leftist lies about healthcare. Specifically, he’s been running ads claiming Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) attempted to vote down the pre-existing conditions clause.

He didn’t. Even left-leaning Washington Post had to acknowledge that Wallace’s claims were a lie, giving him four Pinocchios for the outrageous claim.

Democratic attack ad falsely knocks Republican on preexisting conditions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/15/democratic-attack-ad-falsely-knocks-republican-preexisting-conditions/The DCCC really crosses the line here. Fitzpatrick bucked his party to vote against one of the president’s top priorities, the repeal of Obamacare, specifically because he was concerned about the impact on people with preexisting conditions. His reward? Being attacked for selling his constituents out on the issue because of his minor procedural votes, when just about every member of Congress sticks to party lines.

The vote that really counted on preexisting conditions was the tough one — on the proposed law itself. You would think the Democrats would at least applaud him for his courage, but apparently that’s not how the game is played these days. The DCCC earns Four Pinocchios.

When Fitzpatrick tried to question Wallace about the blatantly false ad and the continued claims by his campaign that Fitzpatrick tried to vote down pre-existing conditions, Wallace erupted. In the middle of debate. In a synagogue.

Dem Congressional Candidate Tells Republican Opponent To ‘F*** off’ During Debate

https://freebeacon.com/politics/dem-congressional-candidate-tells-republican-opponent-f-off-during-debate/Scott Wallace, a Democratic congressional candidate in Pennsylvania, lost his composure and told his Republican opponent to “Fuck off” during a debate on Sunday. Wallace, who is running against Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), unleashed the expletive during an event at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

The candidates were standing on the synagogue’s bimah, an elevated platform used for reading the Torah during services, when Wallace made the remark, according to WBCB News. The outburst silenced the room and left Fitzpatrick “stunned.”

My Take

Wallace is a proud man who doesn’t like the fact that his entire campaign is built around a blatant lie. How would you feel if you had to destroy another person’s reputation by pretending they did something they did not do? His frustration over the lies his campaign is built upon are the real reason his frustration came out.

Wallace realizes he cannot win based on his ideologies or his accomplishments. His only path to victory is by continuing to lie in hopes the people of Pennsylvania are as stupid as he thinks they are.

Voters in Pennsylvania need to get this unhinged guy as far away from weapons, synagogues, and political office as possible. He’s a liar and a loose cannon. Keep Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in there to continue working for the state and the nation.

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Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves, not because of midterm elections

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Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves not because of midterm elections

Saudi Arabia is extending their investigation into the murder Jamal Khashoggi by at least a month. This has brought further condemnation on the Kingdom from the press and some world leaders, including President Trump.

President Trump says he’s ‘not satisfied’ with Saudi response on journalist’s death

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/10/22/donald-trump-khashoggi-response-saudis-am-not-satisfied/1731094002/As he departed the White House for a campaign rally in Texas, the president said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey this month.

“I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

The president specifically reacted to Saudi requests to extend the Khashoggi investigation for another month. That would mean most of the investigation’s findings would be released well after the November midterm election.

“I think it’s a long time,” Trump told reporters. “There’s no reason for that.”

My Take

Talking heads on mainstream media bug the tar out of me, as do activist news reporters passing of biased stories as factual reports. It took a while to find this story on USA Today. Most tried to tilt the story to claim Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of President Trump to extend the investigation until after the election. USA Today only implied it.

The sad part is that it’s far from the truth. Saudi Arabia hasn’t taken the timing of our elections into account at all with anything associated with the mess they created. They have much more important issues of their own to deal with and the inconvenience of this all happening around American election time is no concern of theirs.

If anything, the President would love for this to get resolved sooner rather than later. The beginning of October would have been nice. He could have scolded them, slapped sanctions on them, and made it a non-issue during the election. Now, the actions of a foreign government are going to have a minor impact because of the association between the two governments. Voters won’t recall that President Obama was cozier with the Saudis than just about any American President. That’s ancient history to mainstream media.

If the left tries to make this an election issue, the American people should rebuke them. The press is already doing it for them. We’ll see if it has any impact at all. I doubt it.

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Economy

Dear America: The GOP tax cuts have helped nearly all of you

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Dear America The GOP tax cuts have helped nearly all of you

It really shouldn’t be the job of a small news outlet to tell the American people they are saving a lot of money because of the tax cuts the GOP enacted last year. It also shouldn’t just be us reminding people that job growth, pay increases, and those unexpected bonuses they’ve been receiving have been a response by corporate America to the tax cuts.

Unfortunately, one of the Republican Party’s biggest weaknesses is rearing its ugly head with two weeks left before election day. Their inability to educate the people about something as basic yet important as tax cuts is the second biggest reason (hatred by the left for President Trump is the biggest) a blue wave may be on our horizon. I’m leaning away from believing the blue wave will manifest anywhere near the degree that many analysts are anticipating, but the fact that there’s a potential for a blue wave at all is a direct result of the GOP not knowing how to explain tax cuts to the American people.

The tax cuts were far from perfect, but they had a dramatic effect on many aspects of the vast majority of American families. This was the thunder the GOP needed for these elections and they’ve squandered them. The saddest part is that their quiet roll out last year was because even Republicans underestimated the impact. They downplayed it all because they didn’t know corporate America’s response would be so powerful.

Roll back the clocks. It’s a month after the tax cuts were signed and at that point dozens of major companies had announced some variation of “giving back” to their employees. Some gave bonuses. Others gave raises. It was a welcome bit of extra cash just before the holidays. Mainstream media couldn’t help but report most of it because they were that significant.

Most Republican law makers and analysts said, “See, told ya so!” Unfortunately, they moved on. They fell into one of two camps with their assumptions. Some thought the American people were aware because the news they were watching was filled with talks of the tax cuts’ effects. The others assume the American people will never really understand it.

Both were wrong. They’re always wrong when it comes to understanding what the American people know and how to make them know more.

Now, we’re two weeks away from the election and many Democrats are actually running on REPEALING the tax cuts.

Tax cuts a bust for Republicans in midterms

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/22/tax-cuts-republicans-midterms-921903“Had they done what the Bush guys did by making it advance-able and giving everybody a ‘Trump check,’ then maybe people would have had something a little more tangible,” said one Republican on condition of anonymity. “Otherwise, it’s like, ‘Take a look at the third line down on your paycheck every other week.’” And Democrats, to the surprise of some, remained unified against the law.

They’ve pilloried the cuts as a gift to the rich and to corporations. Even an internal Republican National Committee poll leaked last month to Bloomberg News conceded has been effective at shaping perceptions of the law as a giveaway to the rich.

There were many ways to educate the people, but they lost the “information war” to the Democrats. Now, tax cuts are being painted as a gift to corporate America with no benefit to the people.

The GOP expected people would understand the benefits of cutting their taxes. They thought they’d look at their paychecks and see a difference. They thought the people would attribute job growth to the tax cuts. They even through people would read the news thoroughly and properly translate quotes from obscure CEOs.

Some Republicans gave the people too much credit for researching this on their own. Others didn’t give them enough credit and didn’t even attempt to explain the tax cuts. Both groups have failed their party and left Americans in the dark.

Whether through direct increases in take-home pay or through trickle down effects of business growth, the tax cuts have helped Americans and the economy. If the GOP knew how to communicate that, talk of a blue wave would have died from the start.

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