Why YouTube is wrong to censor Nazis and demonetize Steven Crowder – Washington Examiner

YouTube has lost the plot on free speech.

As my colleague Brad Polumbo explains, YouTube was absolutely right to allow Steven Crowder to maintain his channel. Crowder’s insults to Vox.com journalist Carlos Maza were deeply unpleasant, but Crowder framed those insults within a broader political narrative. But YouTube made a terrible mistake in its later decision on Wednesday, following a social media uproar mob, to demonetize Crowder’s channel.

It is embarrassing that a media publication such as Vox supports this censorship of Crowder’s speech. Vox’s supposedly liberal writers should know that subjective interpretations of offensive speech mean that truly objective judges of acceptable speech are near-impossible to find.

Sadly, YouTube on Wednesday made another bad move. It announced that it will start:

prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status. This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.

This is a big mistake.

As a private company YouTube has the right to choose which content it hosts. But YouTube also has a moral and social responsibility to the maximal exchange of information and ideas. History tells us that it is a bad idea to censor ideas most of us consider bad, Nazis included.

Consider some of the risks YouTube entertains here.

For one, the loss of otherwise valuable historical scholarship by individuals who hold some idiotic views. As Christopher Hitchens noted, the Holocaust denier historian David Irving has produced important research into the Third Reich. Irving’s delusions aside, should YouTube remove all Irvine’s scholarship because of his delusions? What of future flawed historians?

In preventing viewers from witnessing the evil absurdities of neo-Nazi videos, YouTube will also obstruct those who know little about the Nazis from knowing why Nazism is so bad. Remember, the source of Nazi power is the ability of its agents to present its immorality as a cause of necessary virtue. The best weapon against that effort is maximal public debate of Nazism. Its nature, unveiled, is rightly repellent to most.

Finally there’s the concern that comedy and satire might soon depart from YouTube. The risk here is probably more centered in algorithms and automatic removals, but it is real nonetheless. Take the Nazi jokes, for example, as offered by Ricky Gervais, or even humorous creations from the Jewish genius Larry David.

So don’t listen to YouTube and authoritarian censors who cloak themselves in moral language. Freedom of speech is sacred in and of itself, but also in the cause of defeating the worse ideologies.

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