YouTube Places Dangerous Target on Platform’s Pro-Gun Users

A newly updated policy on firearms on the popular video sharing platform is sure to backfire.

YouTube, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., announced a new policy that’ll adversely affect channels for those who hold pro-Second Amendment views. These changes will impact the many individuals, companies, and advocacy groups who rely on YouTube to reach their large audiences.

Per Bloomberg, YouTube announced it’ll ban videos that promote the sale of firearms or bump stocks. Additionally, it’ll ban videos instructing people on how to assemble firearms. These changes are set to go into effect in April. They offered this revision to their firearms policy:

YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t allow content that:

Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).

Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.

Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation had this to say about the move:

“We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales,” the foundation said in a statement. “We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech.”

This change in policy even led one channel to suggest they’ll move to PornHub, which is a bit drastic if you ask me. Don’t resort to desperate measures, guys.

Undoubtedly, YouTube continues to land itself in hot water with this embrace of targeted censorship against those aren’t liberal or anti-gun. The platform has also censored videos from PragerU, which led them to file suit against Googlelast fall. In January 2017, YouTube removed a channel belonging to Cornell University law professor and Legal Insurrection founder William Jacobson. The egregious examples of censorship against conservatives are innumerable. While YouTube is a private company, them taking the wrong side on the gun debate will cost them countless users.

Prior to these swift changes, some so-called conservative YouTube stars were raking in big money from the platform. A change to its monetization rules has led to many in conservative and firearms circles to find other avenues to rake in money. Demonetization has specifically targeted conservative and independent video makers.

Will a viable alternative to YouTube arise? Time will tell. There are some variants to choose from, but a serious competitor to the popular video sharing site has yet to emerge. Perhaps a legitimate competitor can arise amidst this problem—one that doesn’t lead gun enthusiasts to PornHub.

Is “Big Tech” too big to fail? Some are arguing breaking up these companies will ameliorate these problems. (Like many out there, I’m torn but am more skeptical about this and corresponding government regulation being tossed around.) More realistically, competition is the best antidote to companies engaging in divisive corporate advocacy.

PragerU Demonstrates The Proper Way To Take On The Left

For more than a year, a strange thing has been happening to Prager University’s YouTube videos. These popular videos convey a conservative message on topics from Israel to health care to gender issues.

Dozens of its videos have been flagged as “restricted” on YouTube.

Now some conservatives (and liberals alike) have been calling for companies like Google, Facebook, and YouTube to be regulated as utilities, or public media. That means applying all kinds of fairness and equal access tests to ensure they aren’t biased against particular groups. That’s exactly the wrong approach.

On YouTube, PragerU has over a million subscribers, and hundreds of videos. “Restricted” mode is used by public libraries, educations institutions and many parents to filter videos that are inappropriate for younger people. But that’s exactly for whom the videos are made.

Now PragerU has filed suit, alleging discrimination, against YouTube and its parent, Google (part of the Alphabet Inc. family). They are seeking to force YouTube to unrestrict 37 videos. That’s the right way to handle this.

From The College Fix:

“It’s David versus Goliath,” PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said in an interview Tuesday with The College Fix.

“This was a very difficult decision for us. We are not as wealthy and big and powerful as Google,” Streit said. “We are not only doing this for PragerU, we are really doing this for America, and even the world.”

PragerU is accusing YouTube of illegal discrimination against them for their conservative perspective. They cite examples of videos from left-leaning producers that are also targeted at young people, which do not bear any restrictions. YouTube, under pressure from liberals, even reversed restrictions on controversial LGBT videos.

“The lawsuit is about discrimination,” Streit said. “We just want to be treated the way other channels and other producers are treated.”

The restrictions do not appear to be against the videos themselves–if other users repost a PragerU video it remains unrestricted–but against PragerU’s account.

Though Google is certainly a Goliath, PragerU has a pretty talented legal team behind its suit.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson’s law firm is representing PragerU, with Alan Dershowitz advising.

“We have a strong case and we have an amazing counsel,” Streit told The College Fix.

If PragerU wins, it could free up hundreds of videos that have similarly been marked with the “restricted” flag. Christian academic and author Dr. Michael Brown has battled Google over content restrictions.

Google also “demonetized” hundreds of thousands of videos by conservatives dealing with certain topics, especially God. Brown had “the vast majority of our 900+ videos” demonetized. That’s not part of the lawsuit, but it does demonstrate Google’s sensitivity to left-wing advertisers who don’t want their names associated with conservative content.

We don’t need more regulation. We don’t need to allow the government to write rules for markets that in ten years will have evolved to new companies and new challenges. This is not the phone system from 100 years ago. Twenty years ago, Google was a raw startup, while Twitter and Facebook didn’t even exist. AOL was king then, and now AOL is no more.

In twenty years, we don’t know what companies and technologies we’ll be dealing with. But what we do know is that government cannot adapt as fast as business.

Finally, we also know that any regulations the federal government writes end up getting challenged in federal court. And federal court challenges typically–eventually–end up at the Supreme Court. The massive growth of federal regulations and control has already given nine black-robed justices almost dictatorial power (Erick said Justice Kennedy has crowned himself king–I’m paraphrasing).

Do we really want to give them more power over us?

At the same time, we really need Google to stop its blatant discrimination. The proper place for that argument is in civil court. That’s where PragerU has chosen to take its fight. Kudos to them and let’s hope they win.

When Does Typical Rudeness Become a Microaggression?

Oh, please shut up.

Yes. I went there, because it was necessary.

Let me first say, I was the only girl, raised in a house full of brothers. I know what it is to be interrupted. I compensated by becoming the loudest and most opinionated.

That was back in the days before words like “microaggression” were a thing. People were tougher. Being the most victimized wasn’t something to aspire to, and we tended to see excessive whining as a weakness, not a fashion accessory.

Now, let me say this: Being the CEO of an internet behemoth like YouTube is an accomplishment.

With that in mind, why is YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki complaining about microaggressions? She’s obviously done quite well with getting her thoughts out there.

In an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Wojcicki says:

Whenever you have a culture that is — whenever you have a majority and a minority, it’s gonna be harder for that minority. You know, even in a culture where people are really well-meaning … there are sometimes microaggressions, right? Like people who will just cut you off, and you’ll be talking and then someone will interrupt you.

So that’s actually become, like, a big pet peeve of mine. So, whenever somebody, like, interrupts me, I’ll be like: “Wait, I was talking. Do not interrupt me.” But I enjoy it even more, actually, when I see them interrupting someone else, and then I’ll be like: “Wait! She was talking. Don’t interrupt her.” And I think [every time] I’ve done that, people have been like: “Oh, thank you. I didn’t realize I was doing that.” And so I think just making people more aware of it is really important.

Ugh.

No, ma’am. That’s not a “microaggression.”

Is it rude? Yes, it is.

And that’s all it is. Just rude.

Sometimes, people just have ideas that they want to get into the mix and they don’t stop to think about how inconsiderate it is to cut off another person.

That’s just human nature and it happens, but to call it a “microaggression” is assigning some insidious motive that doesn’t always fit, and that is counterproductive to creating an environment for open, honest discussion.

What Ms. Wojciciki also did with her statement was suggest that women are victims, rather than equal members of society.

By equal, I mean equal in capabilities, as well as personality flaws.

Let’s be honest: Women can be total jerks, to men, as well as to each other.

I’m honestly curious to know if Ms. Wojcicki has the same reaction when she hears a woman interrupting a man? Is she equally peeved to hear women rudely cut off a man who has a legitimate idea that he’s trying to present for consideration?

Bottom line: Human nature is flawed, and it is not gender-specific. We’re all pretty awful, on some level.

The idea that something as common, albeit annoying as being interrupted while we speak should be put on some list of “microaggressions” is taking this new age of weakness to ridiculous heights.

Just. Stop.

The Circus Is Dead, YouTube Murdered It

Like many baby boomers, I grew up with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I have memories of me as a child sitting with my family in the Boston Garden to watch “The Greatest Show on Earth.” My children, unfortunately, won’t be able to share those generational memories.

The circus is dead. As of the end of May, the Ringing Bros. show will shut down forever. The ripples of this generational and cultural loss cannot easily be expressed or measured. It shouldn’t be understated, either.

“The competitor in many ways is time,” said Feld, adding that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children— are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price. So you’ve got all these things working against it.”

Maybe time is one competitor, but people find ways to pay for entertainment, and most media evolve to fit the various models–even traveling by train and living in RV’s. I think the real competitor is the little rectangular objects we hold in our hands and check compulsively every five minutes. I think it was YouTube and Facebook and Twitter that killed the circus.

My kids’ favorite YouTube sensation is called the “Hydraulic Press Channel.” They like watching this (Russian? Eastern European?) guy with a hydraulic press crush stuff. People send him things to crush. He’s made so much money from Google on his views that he can afford new cameras, new rigs, and probably a new press. For all I know, filming himself crushing things is now all he does; doing shop work is too banal and unproductive, finance-wise.

I suppose the circus could bring in YouTube stars, Parkour, and a hydraulic press show to satisfy this itch, but the problem is YouTube moves faster than a century-plus-old circus made up of tight-knit performers who see each other as family.

Social and technological evolution is not part of the circus DNA, because that belongs to outsiders who don’t live the circus life. Bringing in new people is a careful and very social process. YouTube is–well, to say it plainly: antisocial. Circuses have audiences within feet of them, applauding. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have followers and views and comments from thousands of miles away.

As our society has become more technologically connected, we’ve become more socially isolated. There’s just no room for the circus to mold into that structure without breaking its unique circusy-ness. And there’s no room for the YouTube generation to fit two or three hours of sensory overload, amazing acts, popcorn and animals into a family tradition–at least not without a the full theme-park destination.

Unfortunately, Circus World has been tried, and failed miserably. (I have memories of it, one of the last “Old Florida” quirky attractions of the 70’s, that morphed into the truly terrible Boardwalk & Baseball, and is now a residential subdivision.)

Now I know some will say that there are still circuses in America. There are shows that travel to county fairs, and some smaller shows that play other venues. But there was really only one big show, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The others are midway sideshows compared to Ringling Bros.

I knew the show’s days were numbered when the elephants departed last year. Without elephants, the plug holding the magic in was pulled, and inevitably it drained out. We wave goodbye to an American institution and one of the last cultural markers of a time gone by. Now back to the hydraulic press.

New Documentary on Brexit Vote Should Be Watched By Every American

All eyes are on Great Britain as the island nation votes on Thursday whether to leave or stay in the European Union.

The vote has garnered immense global attention. From flotilla wars on the Thames River to celebrity endorsements, those involved in the “Leave” and “Stay” campaigns have certainly drawn the rest of the world in.

For us American conservatives, it’s intriguing to see Britain desire autonomy once again in spite of the European Union–the Brussels-based statist governing entity that dictates continent-wide policy for 28 different countries.

Not sure how you feel about Brexit? Nate Madden of Conservative Review has an excellent write-up explaining the nuances of the Brexit vote. Our EIC Erick Erickson also wrote a nice ditty about the upcoming vote, which can be read here.

A new documentary “Brexit: The Movie” was released last month to explain the importance and significance of the Brexit vote being brought before voters on June 23rd. It makes a compelling case for the “Leave” campaign. The full-length documentary has been released on YouTube and is free to watch.

Below is the link:

Enjoy!