So there’s this extremely offensive-to-Muslims 14 minute video and riots are breaking out and people have been killed in parts of the world where (1) people don’t have the same understanding of “free speech” that we have in the US, (2) may be misinformed about free speech in the US (for example they may believe we limit some speech like Holocaust denial which we don’t, and are purposely allowing this offense against Muslims), and/or (3) have a fixed belief (based not only on stuff they’ve read, but maybe stuff they’ve experienced) that the US is the Great Satan and responsible for all their suffering.
I understand why the US can’t and won’t apologize for its Constitution, and why it can’t stop Google/YouTube, which is not the US Government, from showing the video. I also get how the middle of a riot is not a great time for a teachable moment about our wonderful freedoms. Here’s what I don’t get: Why hasn’t Google (which now owns YouTube) followed the US government’s request to take down the video?
I get that Google doesn’t want to be told by a government what it can or can’t do although I believe they put up with this in China for quite a while. However, there are guidelines for YouTube, and YouTube as a private entity has the right to decide what material goes on and what’s “offensive” to the community to the point where it should be banned. Granted there could be a floodgate with every group that feels they’ve been “attacked” by a video clamoring for banning. God knows it’s easy to find hate of every kind all over the Internet, and if Google started to ban hate, what would be left?
However, real people are being killed over this goofiness. Certainly there is no artistic merit or any case other than “free expression” for this material’s still being shown. And if taking it down means a bunch of complaints about other stuff like the racist garbage or the anti-Semitic crap, so what? If homophobes start to complain about please for marriage equality, and fundies of all creeds get incensed by scantily clad ladies, what the biggie? Google/YouTube is free to go back to its policy of ignoring these complaints and defending its freedoms, but just because you have the right to show whatever you want, doesn’t mean you have to.
(Please feel free to disagree.)