Glenn Greenwald, Tucker Carlson Agree: Gay Guy Should Stop Gaybashing Bully's Knuckles With His Face
Lazy hate comic Steven Crowder has spent years harassing Vox's Carlos Maza on YouTube for reasons only his therapist knows for sure. Crowder thinks it's either very funny or very uncomfortable that Maza is gay, so he's targeted "The Strikethrough" host with vile homophobic slurs we won't repeat here. That's entertainment! Or at least that's his excuse for behaving like a grade-school bully. Crowder's fans join in on the "fun," and Maza endures constant harassment on social media. Maza detailed the daily ordeal on Twitter last week, and YouTube investigated the matter as thoroughly as Bill Barr read the Mueller Report.
You know how the cable company's automated recording claims "your phone call is important to us" while keeping you on hold for an hour? That's how seriously YouTube took Maza's complaints. TeamYouTube even responded directly to a thread where Maza concedes that YouTube probably won't do anything, because it hasn't before, even though YouTube has explicit policies against harassment and bullying.
The problem is that YouTube, like Twitter and Facebook, defines itself as a public square where there's a free exchange of ideas. But this isn't 1776 or an episode of "West Wing." Bad actors use the platform to disparage others and set them up as targets for abuse. When the platform owners turn a blind eye, the public square becomes Central Park in the 1970s. No one dares enter without a can of mace and an updated will.
This is the shuck and jive special YouTube served The Independent:
"As an open platform, it's crucial for us to allow everyone – from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts – to express their opinions [within] the scope of our policies," YouTube added. "Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don't violate our policies, they'll remain on our site."
Hate speech isn't an "opinion." Ad hominem attacks hinder discourse rather than promote it. Minorities are at an inherent disadvantage if their very existence and basic humanity are up for debate. Crowder has at no point legitimately criticized any of Maza's opinions. He's just attacked Maza for expressing them while gay.
When YouTube finally -- and temporarily -- removed ads from Crowder's videos, which is perfectly within its rights as private company, the usual suspects rushed to defend Crowder from the "anti-free speech" left. BlazeTV called Maza a "fascist gaywonk" among other gross things. Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire claimed that all of Vox Media had conspired to take down Crowder. David French at the National Review condemned this as another example of "social media censorship" even though no censorship occurred. Oh, and frequent guest Ted Cruz defended Crowder's constitutional right to a YouTube channel.
We've played God, by the way, and it's totally different than YouTube's mild slap on the wrist. Cruz, as you'll recall, opposed net neutrality. Now he claims YouTube is "silencing" Crowder even though it still provides a platform for his bile. It just chooses not to run ads on content that is deliberately polarizing and offensive. Does Cruz not know how advertising works? Most reputable companies are better off promoting their products on Binging with Babish.
It's always embarrassing when Greenwald turns up on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" as the token liberal who agrees with Carlson that the Left mostly sucks, but what Greenwald did last night was repulsive. It shouldn't take a post-graduate degree in English literature to identify the actual villain of this story. Yet Greenwald stood on his desk for Crowder like the end of Dead Poet's Society.
GREENWALD: YouTube caved in defense of the powerful. That's what they will always do. Defend the mob and the powerful at the expense of those who are marginalized.
CARLSON: That is such a good point!
It is not a good point. Crowder has roughly four million subscribers to his YouTube channel (about 5 million too many). His site has amassed more than 833 million views. Maza has 120,000 followers on Twitter to Crowder's more than 800,000. Crowder is not in any way "marginalized." Greenwald blithely acknowledges that Maza is gay and Latino, but then he empowers him with all the corporate might of NBC/Universal. That's absurdly unfair. Maza's corporate bosses haven't even made a public statement of support.
GREENWALD: I find Crowder to be a contemptuous cretin. I think he is a bully and bigot. He did not just criticize Carlos, he mocked him for being gay and Latino and sent a lot of harassment his way. That's the point. Censorship advocates want our brains to just go to the first level of: "Do we hate their person and are we glad they are being censored?"
We don't think enough of Crowder to hate him, but YouTube hasn't censored him. He still has a platform for his garbage. He just can't monetize it. That's a business decision. Why does Greenwald think corporations, who like selling things to gay people, would want to associate their goods and services with a "contemptuous cretin"? It's also bad for YouTube's corporate image to embrace Pride Month while actively enriching (and being enriched by) an anti-gay bigot.
There is no "slippery slope" here, as French fears. We almost wish people defending Crowder would just admit that they don't GAF about gay people and stop pretending they're nobly standing up for "free speech."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.