If your 12-year-old son goes on YouTube, he can watch a porn star giving a lap dance to a happily surprised young man. He can see nubile, naked girls spooning with a naked male and frolicking in Las Vegas hotel pools. Your 14-year-old daughter can watch videos on how and why to transition to the male gender.
Both your son and daughter can learn how to become an “antifa warrior.” Under the tutelage of an anarcho-communist YouTube host, they can celebrate the fiery destruction of a Minneapolis police precinct during the recent anti-police rioting in that city, a conflagration the anarcho-communist deems the “high point” of the rioting to date. They can get tips on how to suit up for further anti-police action — with helmets, water bottles and, of course, personal protective equipment.
Yet your children can’t watch a livestreamed speech on policing I gave Thursday, arguing that US law enforcement isn’t engaged in systemic violence against blacks. YouTube has deemed the speech inappropriate for children under 18 and blocked access to minors.
I suppose I should be grateful — at least it’s on the Web at all. YouTube had initially wiped the speech off its servers entirely on the ground that it violated the site’s “community guidelines” for keeping YouTube a “safe place.” No further explanation was given.
YouTube’s community guidelines ban content that “encourages others to go to a particular place to commit violence” or that incites “violent acts against individuals.” Far from encouraging violence, I had condemned the rioting and had warned that the ideological war against the police was leading to a tragic loss of black life, as cops backed off from proactive enforcement in high-crime communities.
The host of my speech, the Center of the American Experiment, a Minneapolis-based think tank, appealed YouTube’s censorship. The company relented and put the livestream back on the Web but slapped the age restriction on it — again, without explanation. (A subsequent uploaded version on the center’s Web site has escaped detection.)
YouTube’s age-restriction policy lists vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities as factors that could lead to an age restriction. None of those categories has any bearing on my talk. I used federal data to show that the claim that police are wantonly killing black men is a product of selective coverage by a politicized press and an elite establishment dedicated to the idea that racism is America’s defining trait.
There was nothing racy or incendiary about the talk — unless you find criminological research titillating — unlike the soft-pornographic and anarchist videos that YouTube allows on its site without age restriction.
Last week, YouTube’s parent company, Google, along with Amazon, Apple and Facebook, were grilled on Capitol Hill about their market power. The mainstream media scoffed at the charge from Republican lawmakers that Big Tech is more inclined to suppress conservative viewpoints than liberal ones. “Republican politicians’ complaints about political bias aren’t backed by credible evidence,” wrote The New York Times. Slate sniffed that GOP lawmakers presented “questionable and often nonsensical examples of censorship.”
My speech is hardly the first example of heterodox opinion that has been burdened by the Silicon Valley gatekeepers, of course. The list of innocuous but conservative Prager U videos that have been age-restricted and demonetized reads like a satire of academic paranoia about allegedly lethal right-wing thinking.
For now, my talk, “The Truth About Crime, Race and Policing in America,” is still available to consenting adults (though who knows whether it will be pulled again, likely in the face of ongoing staff revolt of the kind that got New York Times editorial-page editor James Bennett pushed out for running an op-ed on a federal response to the recent riots).
Until videos promoting the Black Lives Matter movement and denouncing America’s alleged endemic white supremacy and murderously bigoted cops start getting age-restricted or yanked from YouTube entirely, the conclusion seems unavoidable that the battlefield of ideas favors an ever more powerful progressive consensus that is pushing the country further apart — even towards civil violence.
Heather Mac Donald is author of “The War on Cops.”