"Free Speech" on the Internet?: YouTube Reinstates David Duke's Account, Suspends MEMRI


Despite YouTube taking the proper action to remove David Duke's YouTube channel, it was quickly reinstated after his antisemitic, anti-Israel, neo-Nazi, and racist supporters wrote to YouTube in protest.  It now appears that all but two of his videos are now gone. That could be because of an internal server issue.  The majority of his antisemitic/racist videos might slowly re-appear, over time.

In other news, YouTube suspended the MEMRI Channel today. MEMRI is an organization that takes samples of hateful rhetoric happening throughout the media of the Arab/Muslim world and translates them.

While some in the blogosphere are reporting their speculation about what happened as fact, the actual details with regard to suspension of the MEMRI channel have yet to emerge. 

In the meantime, many ignorant people have written to us in response to our original piece about the removal of David Duke's account, claiming that we are guilty of censorship.  They bring up the typical "first amendment" and  "freedom of speech" arguments that we have always heard. 

YouTube is a private company, with private rules.  Thus, the First Amendment does not apply to content there.  We've discussed this ad nauseum on this website, but many people still remain clueless.  Those who cite the First Amendment with regard to moderated speech and communities hosted on private servers of private companies are an insult to the Constitution of the United States of America.

As a friend of the JIDF has noted:

"The first amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, is a guarantee against government infringement of individual rights. Without it, one would not be able to criticize the government, an essential necessity in any democracy. As such, there needs to be some state action in order for first amendment rights to be implicated. However, we're talking about private companies like Facebook and YouTube.  Again, they are private entities; not owned, controlled, or funded by the government. Thus, there is no state action. As such, YouTube and Facebook are free to set their own rules and restrictions, and can therefore define free speech differently from the courts..."
While people are on their high horse preaching their ignorance about "free speech" and the "first amendment" it's important to note that defamation and libel are not protected under the first amendment guarantee to free speech. In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court set out:
“There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting" words those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”

Hate speech can also be regulated and, in fact, restricted altogether in certain circumstances. R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992).
And again, YouTube is a private company with private rules.  It fosters a community which encourages people to flag material which people feel is against those rules. That's the same with Facebook and other sites.  These are the mechanisms for people to report this material.  These mechanisms are the internet equivalent of reporting a crime to the police.  Unfortunately, they give the internet companies a lot of power to be judge, jury, and executioner in response to these reports, but being private companies, with private rules, they are free to enforce, or not enforce them however they see fit.  That is why we see things happening like this---the deactivation of the MEMRI account while David Duke gets reinstated.

Ultimately, the companies themselves decide what they allow or do not allow on their websites.  We have every right, and even an obligation to report material which is against the rules.  However, our enemies have been guilty of erroneously reporting our material as well as material of others who are on our side. 

Just because our enemies abuse these same mechanisms to erroneously report our material, it does not mean that we shouldn't be responsible and report material which actually does break the rules.  To not do so would be similar to not reporting a crime.

While we're all for free speech, the promotion of Jew hatred and violence online is going viral.   It's a massive concern and none of the mainstream Jewish organizations have stepped up to do anything about it.  We're not sure if it's because they lack the chutzpah, or if it's because they profit off of these problems, but we have done what we could to establish and mobilize the largest network of its kind to try to do proactively do something about it.



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