Well, I can’t complain too much; it’s been a while since a news story propelled my brains through my skull to the ceiling. However, the trigger this time demonstrates that several developments are even worse than I thought—or believed they would get—such as…
- The Left’s embrace of historical airbrushing and censorship as part of its strategy of controlling thought and knowledge.
- Social media’s meat-axe approach to policing online content.
- The perilous state of the First Amendment as both the Left and its allied media seek to control art as well as speech.
YouTube released new policies regarding “hate speech” yesterday to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube.” Since the new policies almost immediately resulted in the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,” I can confidently conclude the the policies are far too broad, and also that those executing them have the perspective of the average person who has grown up in a cave, and the judgment of the PTA scold who wants to ban “Huckleberry Finn.”
After all, to the virtue-signaling pharasees at YouTube, “Triumph of the Will” falls under the rubric of “videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” as YouTube explains one prohibited category. That’s a nice, reductive, stunningly simple-minded way to describe an indispensable work of film art that has educational and perspective value for anyone seeking to understand such topics as documentary film-making techniques, women in cinema, the life and career of Leni Reiefenstahl, black and white movie composition and film editing, and, of course, the history of World War II and the rise of Adolf Hitler.
Just wait until YouTube decides to focus on race in the arts, and such topics as blackface and slavery. I assume this will mean good-bye to such film classics as “Top Hat,” “Gone With The Wind, “Trading Places,” Holiday Inn,” and, of course, the immortal comedy trio of “Airplane!” (“I speak jive!”), “Animal House” (“The Negroes stole our dates!) and “Blazing Saddles.” Hate speech, don’t you know. Down the memory hole with it all. Good riddance.
YouTube had become an invaluable cultural archive with which any enterprising individual could educate himself or herself on 20th Century history, culture, art forms and biography. Apparently–what am I saying “apparently” for? Obviously—that matters less to the platform than making sure all users are only exposed to RightThink, or their facile, arrogant interpretation of what that is.
At a climax in “Judgement at Nuremberg”—an anti-Nazi film that is quite a way down the slippery slope, but one I could see eventually being banned by YouTube as including too much “hate speech” for society’s safety—the accused Nazi judge Ernst Janning, watching as his own defense attorney cruelly badgers a prosecution witness, a broken woman, rises to his feet and demands, “Are we going to do this again?”
The same question needs to be asked of our society as we watch the wave of cultural, intellectual and historical airbrushing wash over the nation. Haven’t we been down the path of book-banning and censorship “for the public good ” before? Have no lessons been learned? YouTube is engaging in nothing less than video-burning based on content, and it is being shrugged off as acceptable because, after all, YouTube isn’t the government, so there’s nothing we can or should do about it. That is an expression of wilful ignorance, however.
We know YouTube is executing the desires of powerful, anti-democratic political forces. It is a national online library, and libraries foster thought. YouTube is now leaving the business of facilitating thought for the business of deciding what thoughts are acceptable, and, eventually, they hope, possible. I have seen opposition to abortion, radical climate change measures, illegal immigration and affirmative action being referred to, in high places, as “hate speech.” How long do you think it will be before YouTube kowtows to its progressive masters and includes those positions, and others, in its category of ideas that cannot be “promoted or glorified?”
My head explosion wounds are somewhat balmed by the fact that YouTube was at least flagrant in its first public display of censorship under its new standards. Now that we know that even videos with unquestionable relevance to history, art, politics and culture will be withheld from public view based on what the platform unilaterally declares is safe, we have been alerted to the danger ahead.
The question is, what can we do about it?