Update: YouTube is going after Crowder and others anyway.
We live in a hypersensitive society in which certain words, when said as a humorous insult, really get some people angry. I’m not talking about hate speech. I’m talking specifically about labels that are only acceptable when not used to poke fun at someone. Examples of these words are descriptions of race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Let’s be clear. Intent is extremely important. One can definitely use words such as “gay” and “Mexican” or “Latino” when referring to someone who is gay and/or Mexican/Latino. When it’s said in the context of making fun of someone, it is considered inappropriate to some and there may even be some social media platforms that would ban an account that uses protected-class identifiers in such a manner.
YouTube is, based upon the fact that it’s a platform and not a content producer, compelled to protect free speech that isn’t dangerous. It can be offensive, inappropriate, and politically incorrect, but unless someone is making threats, encouraging violence, or otherwise breaking the law, it behooves YouTube to not ban users over touchy subjects. If they did, they’d lose a huge chunk of their content.
This is why all the outrage over Steven Crowder’s humorous jabs at Vox Media’s Carlos Maza is misplaced. Many are speaking out about YouTube itself when they should be applauding YouTube for not succumbing to political pressure and mob rule. Personally, I’m downright impressed they did what they did. I actually expected Louder with Crowder to be toast.
But it’s not.
(3/4) As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) June 4, 2019
This is the right decision.
Does Crowder go after Maza and pretty much anyone else? Yes.
Can it be offensive, even hurtful to the subject? Absolutely.
Is it illegal? No.
Should it be illegal? Absolutely not.
Crowder has a right to call Maza a gay Latino. In fact, Maza is a gay Latino. But accuracy isn’t even an indicator in regards to the validity of free speech. The only real criteria is whether or not harm was intentionally encouraged.
Is it illegal harassment to call someone a white supremacist? Maza does.
Keep in mind, I do not believe Maza has no right to be upset. I’d say he has actually had thick skin over the period of time, approximately two years, that Crowder has made Maza the butt of his jokes. But what he wants YouTube to do to Crowder would force them to cross a line they don’t want to cross and we shouldn’t want them to cross, either.
Have you ever seen a video of a gay person making fun of straight people, especially straight white people? There are plenty of those on YouTube. What about movies with jokes that are considered to be inappropriate today. Should the scene in Beverly Hills Cop that has Eddie Murphy pretending to be gay and discussing “herpes simplex 10” be removed? No.
But Maza’s complaints aren’t necessarily about the insults but about the targeting itself. Crowder wasn’t making fun of gay Latinos. He was making fun of a specific gay Latino, so shouldn’t that be grounds to ban him for harassment? Again, the answer is “no.” Crowder gets pretty darn close to the harassment line, but not enough for YouTube to act. Crowder wasn’t attacking Maza over his race, religion, or sexual orientation. He was attacking Maza over his views and actions and framing them behind Maza’s status as a gay Latino. There’s a difference. We see it fairly regularly in videos talking about “gay-hating white racist Donald Trump” or whatever variation of vitriolic language the President’s detractors like to use about him on YouTube.
If someone makes fun of a gay Latino for their words or actions and refers to them as a gay Latino, that is not harassment. If Crowder said, “Someone needs to hunt down and harm the gay Latino Carlos Maga,” then he’d be in real trouble and having his YouTube account banned would be a no-brainer.
Progressives can be upset with Crowder all they want, but there’s no need to be mad at YouTube for making the right decision to keep his channel up. Being offended is not grounds for suppressing speech.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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