The Somewhat Free Flow of Information

From IBD:

For years, Google has called for “the free flow of information” on the internet. How does that square with its YouTube subsidiary’s apparent bias against conservative content? Answer: It doesn’t.

YouTube promises that it is “a community where everyone’s voice can be heard.” But that promise doesn’t seem to apply if the voice espouses conservative viewpoints.

The latest evidence of this comes from Dennis Prager, a conservative talk-show host whose syndicated column appears regularly in IBD and who also runs Prager University. PragerU produces hundreds of educational videos from academics and other experts on various topics, ranging from the history of the Korean War to Israel’s founding. There’s no profanity, no nudity, no calls to violence. But the videos do give conservatives a voice.

On Monday, PragerU filed suit against Google for singling out dozens of PragerU videos for censorship only because they are conservative. YouTube did this, the suit claims, by labeling the videos as “inappropriate” for younger or sensitive viewers — making them unavailable to anyone in a “restricted” viewing setting — or by “demonetizing” them, which means PragerU doesn’t get ad revenue, even if the videos are widely viewed.

PragerU says it tried to work with YouTube for a year to get its videos off the site’s “restricted” list, and ended up receiving conflicting, vague and unhelpful answers from the company.

The complaint argues that singling out conservative voices for such treatment “is speech discrimination plain and simple” and says by doing so Google violated PragerU’s First Amendment rights, engaged in “unlawful discrimination under California law,” and violated its own terms of use.

Prager himself put it more simply: “Google, and their wholly owned company YouTube, apparently believe they can pick and choose who has free speech in this country.”

We can’t comment on how solid the legal ground is under the lawsuit, but it’s painfully obvious that Prager has a point about YouTube’s arbitrary and capricious handling of its videos.

One of them deemed inappropriate, for example, is a discussion with esteemed Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Another is about e-cigarettes, and another is titled: “Ten Commandments: 6, Do Not Murder.”

How exactly is a video admonishing against murder “inappropriate” for sensitive viewers?

One of the “demonetized” videos was a PragerU Live talk with Bret Stephens, who is now a New York Times columnist.

PragerU also has compiled a long list of its videos that YouTube has restricted, along with similar videos that aren’t.

The best one: YouTube labeled a PragerU video titled “Why America must lead” as inappropriate, but not a video by Sen. John McCain titled … “Why America must lead.”

It even found instances where the exact same video was restricted when it appeared under the PragerU label, but not when it was posted by someone other than PragerU.

Prager is hardly the first conservative to complain about YouTube censorship, and such complaints aren’t limited to YouTube. Twitter has been accused of applying double standards to conservative speech, as has Facebook.

Yet all of these companies piously proclaim that they are dedicated to “net neutrality.” As Google put it on its own website, the internet must be a “level playing field” where people can “reach users on an equal footing.”

Of course, by “net neutrality” Google and others are talking about banning ISPs from charging different prices for different kinds of content as a way to manage the load on their networks.

But at the very least, Google should apply the same principle to itself that it demands from ISPs. Google can’t claim to be for a “level playing field” if it’s financially punishing those who don’t conform to its liberal orthodoxy.

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William Harvey Carney vs. Ingrate NFL Millionaires

Dear Ingrate NFL Millionaires,

Here is what a real man, William Harvey Carney, did back when America actually oppressed blacks:

Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in March 1863 as a Sergeant. He took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. (The attack on Fort Wagner is depicted in the film Glory.) It was in this attack that Carney’s actions ultimately earned him the Medal of Honor. When the color guard was fatally wounded, Carney retrieved the American flag from his comrade and marched forward with it, despite suffering multiple serious wounds. When the Union troops were forced to retreat under fire, Carney struggled back across the battlefield. He eventually made his way back to his own lines and turned over the colors to another survivor of the 54th, modestly saying, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!”

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Totalitarian Narcissism

From Mark Steyn:

I did my best to keep my spirits up on Tuesday while guest-hosting America’s Number One radio show, but actually I was near overwhelmed by an awful sickening sadness, which is not the best disposition for broadcast entertainment. I woke up to the news that, during the night, in Baltimore, Maryland, the oldest monument to Christopher Columbus in the United States had been destroyed by someone called “Ty” and his chum:

A 225-year-old monument commemorating Christopher Columbus was vandalized early Monday amid the nationwide debate on removing Confederate statues and monuments.

A video posted on Monday shows the monument being smashed. It shows two unidentified people taping a sign reading “The future is racial and economic justice” on the monument. One of them then hits the monument with what appears to be a sledgehammer while the other stands next to the monument holding a sign that reads “Racism: Tear it down.”

“Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere. Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas,” the video’s narrator, who identifies himself as “Ty,” says.

As you can see at right, almost every word painstakingly engraved on that obelisk has been obliterated. It stood for 225 years, and it was destroyed in the blink of an eye. Julia Manchester, The Hill’s reporter, continues:

This comes amid a heated debate across the country over removing Confederate monuments…

That’s one way of putting it, but not an honest one. Mark Steyn Club member David Elstrom left a comment here that deserves to be more widely distributed:

Mark,

I notice that the left media and even Fox News talk about the “discussion” on statues, or opine on the “conversation” concerning public monuments.

This Newspeak is apparently supposed to con the plebes into thinking something civil or democratic is happening. All I’ve seen is politicians or other apparatchiks rushing to remove statues (fearing the wrath of the mob) or actual mobs tearing things down.

If this is discussion, or conversation, then rape must be a “social event,” and sticking up the local convenience store a “financial transaction.”

Indeed. It’s hard to have a “conversation” with a guy wielding a sledgehammer. I was just sent a link to an Ohio newspaper purporting to report that one municipality was now “exhuming” the bodies of Confederate soldiers. I’m relieved to report that website appears to be fake. But it’s getting increasingly hard to tell. We live in a decadent age of totalitarian narcissism.

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California’s Woes

From VDH:

With poor education, a budget deficit, and crumbling infrastructure, Californians shouldn’t be focused on idealistic social programs.

Corporate profits at California-based transnational corporations such as Apple, Facebook, and Google are hitting record highs.

California housing prices from La Jolla to Berkeley along the Pacific Coast can top $1,000 a square foot.

It seems as if all of China is willing to pay premium prices to get their children degreed at Caltech, Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, or USC.

Yet California — after raising its top income tax rate to 13.3 percent and receiving record revenues — is still facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. There is a much more foreboding state crisis of unfunded liabilities and pension obligations of nearly $1 trillion.

Soon, new gas tax hikes, on top of green mandates, might make California gas the most expensive in the nation, despite the state’s huge reserves of untapped oil.

Where does the money go, given that the state’s schools and infrastructure rank among America’s worst in national surveys?

Illegal immigration over the last 30 years, the exodus of millions of middle-class Californians, and huge wealth concentrated in the L.A. basin and Silicon Valley have turned the state into a medieval manor of knights and peasants, with ever fewer in between.

The strapped middle class continues to flee bad schools, high taxes, rampant crime, and poor state services. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients reside in California. Approximately one-fifth of the state lives below the poverty line. More than a quarter of Californians were not born in the United States.

Many of the state’s wealthiest residents support high taxes, no-growth green policies, and subsidies for the poor. They do so because they reside in apartheid neighborhoods and have the material and political wherewithal to become exempt from the consequences of their own utopian bromides.

Blue California has no two-party politics anymore. Its campuses, from Berkeley to Claremont, have proven among the most hostile to free speech in the nation.

A few things keep California going. Its natural bounty, beauty, and weather draw in people eager to play California roulette. The state is naturally rich in minerals, oil and natural gas, timber, and farmland. The world pays dearly for whatever techies based in California’s universities can dream up.

That said, the status quo is failing.

The skeletons of half-built bridges and overpasses for a $100 billion high-speed-rail dinosaur remind residents of the ongoing boondoggle. Meantime, outdated roads and highways — mostly unchanged from the 1960s — make driving for 40 million both slow and dangerous. Each mile of track for high-speed rail represents millions of dollars that were not spent on repairing and expanding stretches of the state’s decrepit freeways — and hundreds of lives needlessly lost each year.

The future of state transportation is not updated versions of 19th-century ideas of railways and locomotives, but instead will include electric-powered and automatically piloted cars — all impossible without good roads.

Less than 40 percent of California residents identify themselves as conservative. But red-county California represents some 75 percent of California’s geographical area. It’s as if large, rural Mississippi and tiny urban Massachusetts were one combined state — all ruled by liberal Boston.

Now, a third of the state thinks it can pull off a “Calexit” and leave the United States. Calexit’s unhinged proponents have no idea that they are mimicking the right-wing arguments of the Confederate states that prompted the Civil War. Like South Carolina residents in 1861, Calexit advocates seem to assume that federal law should apply everywhere else except in California. Many of these California residents also believe that the federal Environmental Protection Agency should always override local ordinances, but not so with another federal bureau, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

South Carolina started the Civil War by shelling and capturing federal property at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay. Calexit wannabe secessionists similarly assume that thousands of square miles of federal property — from California federal courtrooms and post offices to national parks such as Yosemite to huge military bases such as Camp Pendleton — belong to the state and could simply be confiscated from the federal government.

Calexit proponents assume California can leave the union without an authorizing amendment to the Constitution, ratified by three-fourths of all the states. And they fail to see that should California ever secede, it would immediately split in two. The coastal strip would go the way of secessionist Virginia. The other three-quarters of the state’s geography would remain loyal to the union and become a new version of loyalist West Virginia.

Buying a home on the California coast is nearly impossible. The state budget can only be balanced through constant tax hikes. Finding a good, safe public school is difficult. Building a single new dam during the California drought to capture record runoff water in subsequent wet years proved politically impossible.

No matter. Many Californians consider those existential problems to be a premodern drag, while they dream of postmodern trains, the legalization of pot-growing — and seceding from the United States of America.

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