This past week, there was a great disturbance in the conservative Force, as though millions of voices cried out in anger and were silenced. Turns out YouTube just demonetized Steven Crowder’s videos after a Vox reporter got mad at some of the “harassment” he received from Crowder’s fans. That Vox reporter, Carlos Meza, refers to himself as queer and, surprise surprise, got upset when Crowder called him one! (Granted, there were other statements made to deride Meza, but the point is still the same.)
After YouTube initially said Crowder didn’t violate their Terms of Service, they reversed field like an NFL running back and demonetized his videos, meaning they wouldn’t be promoted and he wouldn’t receive ad revenue from them. Had it not been for Meza’s complaining to YouTube about their allowing Crowder a platform, we might not have the chance to analyze this relatively new Leftist tactic to shut down conservative speech: deplatforming.
What the Left thinks it means – not allowing hateful or potentially dangerous speech an audience
What it really means – a Leftist tactic to discourage discourse they don’t like
There is a key concept central to understanding deplatforming: this isn’t directly a free speech issue. Our right to speak doesn’t guarantee an audience. This principle is backed up by the fact so many talk shows get cancelled after the first season. Complicating matters in Crowder’s case is the fact YouTube is a private company and can set its own rules for use.
That is as long as those rules are enforced equally. And in YouTube’s case, they make Barney Fife look like Sherlock Holmes. Put simply, YouTube’s enforcement is all over the board, with conservatives and those perceived as conservatives (i.e. hateful according to Leftists) bearing the brunt of the punishment. Channels that promote racism, homophobia, and general hatred are struck down while those that promote racism, heterophobia, and general hatred go untouched.
And it’s not just on YouTube. Leftists on college campuses (or would it be campusi?) have found ways to prevent people from Ben Shapiro to Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus through the use of procedural roadblocks, false security issues, and general overall whining, while they allow more radical left-leaning speakers a free pass in spite of outrage at what these speakers have said and done in the past.
As a side note, I’ve created a pretty reliable test for parents and students to determine the best schools. It’s called the Mumia Test. If the college your son or daughter wants to attend has had or would consider infamous cop-killer and Leftist icon Mumia Abu Jamal speak via telephone or other communication method, don’t send him or her there because it’s too far gone.
Anyway, the Left is able to have its cake and eat it too through deplatforming. They can still portray themselves as champions of free speech (that they approve of) while making a case that not all speech is worth hearing. And it’s consistent with the letter of the First Amendment, but not the spirit. Back in the Founding Fathers’ day, their remedy for bad speech was good speech. They didn’t run to George Washington whenever something bad was said about them (and, believe me, a lot was said about Thomas Jefferson that would make TMZ look like the New York Times before Leftists took it over and turned it into, well, the print version of TMZ.
The reason Leftists rely on deplatforming conservatives whenever they can is simple: they can’t hang in the marketplace of ideas. Leftist ideology is all about control: what you see, what you hear, what you do, what you think. If they eliminate the competition, they have more control over all of that. Part and parcel of that approach is they don’t have an answer for what conservative rhetoric outside of name-calling and forcing platforms to abide by its own rules, even when it would require using situational and biased decision making.
This is why YouTube demonetizing Steven Crowder (and many others who are being caught up erroneously by YouTube’s algorithms) is such a big deal. Crowder’s comments/insults were crude and over the line, but others who have said far worse have been given a lighter punishment…if they’ve been punished at all. And if you think this is “whataboutism” to defend Crowder, check out fellow YouTuber Gazi Kodzo, whose nickname in some parts of the Interwebs is “Black Hitler.” He has been just has hateful as Crowder (if not moreso, given his open hatred for whites and straights), but there does not appear to be any attempt to demonetize him on YouTube.
Yes, I know the tech giants went to Capitol Hill and swore up and down they were enforcing the rules right down the middle, but that’s as believable as Joe Biden writing his own material. The truth is YouTube, Google, Facebook, et al, lean left and apply the rules with that in mind. Hence, Crowder gets deplatformed and Kodzo gets ad revenue. Unfortunately, those tech giants are pretty much the only games in town if you want an online presence.
That’s why it’s important to fight back within the rules, and that starts with your mindset. If you express any opinion to the right of Che Guevara, no matter how reasonable it may be, Leftists will attack you, often personally as a means to get an emotional reaction out of you. As someone who’s been at the receiving end of such vitriol, it’s hard not to fight fire with fire, but I’ve learned to fight fire with sugar water. Don’t sink to their level, address the meat of their concerns (provided they have any meat), and let them keep escalating. In time, they will either get frustrated you aren’t taking the bait or will act in a way that even the Leftist gatekeepers can’t ignore the bad behavior of their online allies and drop the hammer. Most of the time, it will be a Nerf hammer, but the goal isn’t to get them deplatformed because you complained. It’s to protect yourselves and let the haters deplatform themselves.
It’s harder to do the same on college campuses than it is online, but it’s not impossible. Demand to hear other speakers from all sides of the ideological spectrum. If the colleges and universities can’t or won’t fulfill that need, find ways around it. Nothing says a college conservative club can’t have an off-campus event with a famous or semi-famous figure in conservative circles. Plus, the added bonus is if there are any threats of violence from Leftists or actual violence and property damage from Leftists, the police can get involved, thus bypassing campus security altogether. And I’ll bet there would be more than a few members packing heat (check local CCW/open carry laws before attempting), so security shouldn’t be an issue. Just serve cake and punch and you’re set!
Although deplatforming isn’t against free speech, it’s certainly a corrosive force that undermines it. With a little intellectual judo, though, it can be overcome while maintaining a true appreciation and love of free speech.
Plus, there could be punch and cake involved, so that’s a win-win!