To be honest when I first got the take down notices, about 6 of them in an hour or so (4 content inappropriate with no chance of appeal, and two privacy complaints) I thought,
‘another harassing and minor annoyance in running the channel. A quick email to YT should sort it out.’
I was then simply stunned when youtube claimed these videos had been reviewed by professional and impartial moderators and were removed for either hate speech or privacy violation. The more so as some of these videos constituted some of the milder things I’ve said about religion. The bottom line was, if this really was the new bar for hate speech, not only would it in an instant render the Thunderf00t channel unviable, it would render virtually every rationalist channel unviable. Youtubes actions were simply unintelligible. Indeed if someone had told me these were youtube actions, I simply wouldn’t have believed them. But there were the words on the screen in black and white.
I had no option but to make the video “Youtube starts banning ‘religiously offensive’ videos“. There were simply no other alternatives. A fairly high stakes game given that youtube could easily have said my action violated the terms of service and just killed the account. But then again, if the words I had in black and white on the screen were correct, then channel was already dead, and the only thing left to do was give a good accounting of itself before the inevitable banhammer.
By coincidence this happened about one week after the Hamza Kashgari incident.
Kashgari made about 3 vanilla tweets mildly critical of Islam only to find himself in fear for his life. He fled Saudi, only to be arrested in Malaysia. There he was deported back to Saudi with no due process to face a potential death sentence over three tweets. That’s fucked up beyond ALL recognition. But it really underscores the problem that religions find arbitrary things offensive. Given this simple observation, having a clause in the Terms of Service about not offending religions is simply incoherent.
If youtube really is willing to give religion this latitude of freedom, and to further scale what they consider ‘hate speech’ by how offended people are, then youtube would inevitably find itself in thrall to the Imams. Many of them find anything that is not Islam offensive beyond comprehension, as was demonstrated by the Imam crying over the three tweets of Kashgari calling them ‘the worst thing he’d ever read’.
So it was that I wrote potentially my last email to youtube asking them to apply whatever policy they had uniformly, which, taking ‘The Best emotional PORN‘ as the benchmark, would mean either about 7/10 of my videos would be hate speech, and they should delete them and ban my account, or reinstate the videos (which are vanilla compared to some of the videos on my channel).
The BEST emotional PORN, the new bar for ‘hate speech’, Really?
Thankfully, some 48 hrs later, with over 17000 thumbs up, well over a thousand mirrors and ~160k hits Youtube had a change of heart over what constituted hate speech.
Now I have mixed feelings about this. The Churchill quote about ‘The United States will always do the right thing…. once all other options have been exhausted’ kept coming to mind.
Sure Youtube had done the right thing, and had the humility and plasticity to correct their previous mistake (a fairly honorable and humble act), but only once all other options had been exhausted. You then look at what other options youtube had on the table (banhammer, ignore or stick to original judgment), and this is BY FAR the most dignified thing they could have done.
So all things considered, I think this is as happy an outcome as could have been hoped for. For the strong response of the community (and yes, it was the communal action that made this possible, for I as an individual had tried to take this to a sensible resolution and failed (I have the gut feeling it was not my email that swung the balance here)) ensured that free speech is maintained on this forum.
Many Thanks to all who made this outcome possible!