The recent decision by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Reddit founder Steve Huffman to make the world safe by removing “gun-related content” from their sites, represent a politically-driven censorship effort to remove opposing views on hot-button issues and may have unintended consequences.
These Internet video-hosting services are venturing on to a very slippery slope which could lead them unwittingly into strict content regulations by government agencies and agenda-driven bureaucrats based upon First, Second and Fourth Amendment grounds, depending upon which political party is in power.
Like Prohibition, blocking or restricting “gun-content” streaming videos will simply create an underground market for those wanting to share dangerous information. In the wrong hands (and minds) any information can be dangerous. Efforts to keep bomb-making books such as “The Anarchist Cookbook” out of public libraries quickly spawned an underground market for the DVD/CD and text-only versions now shared digitally by tens of millions of subversives, terrorists and high school chemistry students.
In a 2011 Reason Magazine article discussing banned books, Jesse Walker wrote:
“At the time of its publication, one Federal Bureau of Investigation memo described The Anarchist Cookbook as “one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted “
How comfortable do college professors feel having the FBI acting as literary critics? Should other “how-to” books teaching reloading techniques, restoring antique weapons or how to make a firing pin with 3-D printer also be restricted? Should chemistry information be restricted to medical and law enforcement “experts”?
How do we “unlearn” about dangerous chemical combinations such as nitric acid+glycerine, sulphur+potassium nitrate+charcoal, vinegar+baking soda+plastic bottles, water+sodium, gasoline/turpentine or acetone+glass bottles, match heads+plumbing pipe and the thousands of other lethal mixtures, all of which are readily available on E-Bay, Amazon or your local hardware store.
Let’s not forget the thousands of Wikipedia pages and blogs discussing and/or describing the 9th century Chinese discovery of gunpowder, Alfred Nobel’s contribution to warfare, weapons, TNT, the 1836 patent by Frenchman Sorel for galvanized pipe, the history of Dennis Papin and his 1679 invention of the pressure cooker, and Parisian chemist Jean Chancel for his 1805 magical medley of sulphur, sugar, rubber and potassium chlorate which produced the strike-anywhere match. As most country boys know, match heads are a common substitute for firecrackers and gunpowder.
In his book, “Records of the Unworldly and the Strange,” Chinese author Tao Gu, describes in 950 AD, a miraculous “light-bringing slave” created when little sticks of pinewood are impregnated with sulphur. Should this ancient book, sticks of pinewood and sulphur (a primary component of gunpowder) be banned? Should YouTube and Reddit discussions of this book, and related topics, be blocked or shut down?
With health and safety as justification for halting “gun-issue” discussions, let’s not forget that the demonic NRA was founded in New York City in 1871 for the purpose of defending the rights of former slaves to own firearms. It was the NRA which battled “Jim Crow” laws and the KKK. The NRA is also singularly responsible for two very successful firearms safety programs, “Refuse to be a Victim” and for children, “Eddie Eagle.” These inconvenient and historical facts can found in David Kopel and Joseph Greenlee’s “The Racist Origins of Gun Control Laws” and in most of John Lott’s best-sellers.
YouTube coincidentally removed two “gun-issue” video links mentioned in Mr. Lott’s books “At The Brink” (page 269) and “The War On Guns” (page 10) and with a Disney animation teaser for “Wreck-It Ralph 2”
We’ve been reassured that YouTube and Reddit will be recruiting “unbiased experts” to monitor content for unsafe, dangerous “gun-issues” and hate speech from radical and terrorist sources. These “censors” will also likely be promoting and endorsing “common sense gun solutions” like those enacted by David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District of Harrisburg, Pa., by supplying each classroom to have a 5 gallon bucket of river stones for defense.
To be fair, YouTube and Reddit need to consider banning all unhealthy, unsafe and politically incorrect video content including, how to make a banana cream pie (promotes heart disease), how to mix drinks (enables drunk drivers), how to make your own auto repairs (non-professionals can turn vehicles into deadly weapons), how to sharpen knives (turning a butter knife into a serrated assault weapon) and how to throw river stones against teachers who assign too much homework.
As the peace-loving candidate, Barack Obama rhetorically said in Philadelphia on June 14, 2008, ” if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun “
• Dale Lowdermilk is founder of Notsafe.org.