YouTube has been under fire for a while over its massive failure to purge its platform of bigoted and conspiratorial content that clearly violates its own terms of service. White nationalists in particular have more or less free rein and can capitalize off their hate through the website’s Super Chat function.
Recently YouTube has been criticized for allowing right-winger and alleged comedian Steven Crowder to produce scores of videos in which he singles out Vox writer Carlos Maza for homophobic harassment. Crowder, who sells a “Socialism is for Fags” T-shirt at his online store, has called Maza a “lispy queer” and a “sprite” among other slurs:
In response, YouTube doubled down and refused to remove Crowder’s content, offering the weak justification that Crowder was really engaging in debate. Then, the day after publicly announcing that a suspension was out of the question, YouTube slightly reversed course, and announced a new ban on “supremacist content.”
In theory, this would ban Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other bigots who have produced content on the platform for years. In practice, it was as haphazardly carried out as one might expect from the video-sharing giant. Some white supremacist channels were banned outright, including ones run by black metal musician Varg Vikernes and white nationalist Jared George.
Others, belonging to Red Ice hosts Lana Lokteff and Henrik Palmgren, white nationalist James Allsup, Marcus “the Golden One” Follin, and the extremist podcast Revenge of the Cis were demonetized. Angelo John Gage, Jean-François Gariépy, Bre Faucheux, and E. Michael Jones had numerous videos removed between them.
As for Crowder, the person whose videos precipitated this convoluted policy, he was merely demonetized, and only temporarily so. Not only did this drive more subscribers to Crowder’s channel, it only exacerbated the harassment Maza had been receiving from Crowder’s bigoted fans. By any metric this PR stunt failed to achieve its stated objective.
And, of course, white nationalist content continues to flourish on YouTube. Richard Spencer still maintains an account for the National Policy Institute, his racist think tank. On the June 3, 2019 episode of his online show The McSpencer Group, Spencer and his guest Jim Goad repeatedly disparaged the LGBT community by spouting offensive slurs and stereotypes.
Spencer, now sporting a creepy Paul Snider mustache, lamented how “that word ‘pride’ has been taken over” by the LGBT community, and that “the only kind of pride that is allowed is basically, yeah, pride in being a homo.” “Well, pride on what you used to, supposed to be, ashamed of, I guess,” Goad added. Goad also complained that the World Health Organization removed gender nonconformity from its list of mental disorders.
Recycling the same tired argument used against gay and lesbian rights by Christian fundamentalists for decades, Goad predicted that “it’s gonna be bestiality and pedophilia and everything else” next.
At one point Richard Spencer remarked that “we do live in Globohomo, in gay world,” which somehow inspired Goad to reference gay celebrities like Elton John, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Paul Lynde — the latter of whom Goad called the “faggiest guy” and “funny as hell.” He also cited an unnamed study to imply that childhood molestation causes homosexuality.
Later, Spencer downplayed the history of discrimination against the LGBT community by pointing out that “gays as a group were never enslaved” — which no one claimed to be the case — and asserting that they were never “kept out of society.” (Ignoring America’s history of sodomy laws, police raids on gay bars, and other forms of state-sanctioned discrimination, that is.)
Spencer insisted that all gays and lesbians had to do was simply live a “double identity,” and called it “a little bit funny” that, deep down, most people knew Elton John was a “flaming queer.” Goad also criticized gays and lesbians for abandoning these double lives, telling Spencer, “I thought part of the thrill of being gay was of the threat of being fag-bashed, and I liked them a lot better when they were outsiders.”
Hardly anything that was said on this episode was more offensive than Steven Crowder’s own hackneyed “jokes” about gay men. Perhaps that’s why this McSpencer Group episode remains live on YouTube. It’s also the reason why we shouldn’t take YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at her word when she told the LGBT community how sorry she was for this fiasco.