Wow! I totally missed the Lieberman confrontation with YouTube (owned by Google) until it was mentioned in an email exchange I had today.
In a Monday [May 19, 2008] letter to Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, Lieberman asked that YouTube “implement its own policy against this offensive material,” by removing the videos. Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also wants YouTube staffers to have a system that will prevent the video from reappearing.
I am a bit amazed, as I did not think he would advocate this kind of censorship. If I understand his position, I think heâ€™s wrong. I like Lieberman mostly because of his willingness to stand up to his party and be his own man. I suspect he is trying to get on conservativesâ€™ good side with this approach, but I think he will find heâ€™s barking up the wrong tree. Iâ€™m glad that YouTube reacted the way they did.
Again from CNN:
YouTube said Monday on its blog that it had removed a “number of videos” from its site after examining several videos that Lieberman‘s staff said “violated YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
The videos that were removed “depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech,” YouTube said.
However, “Most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.”
It deeply saddens me to see such horrific violence or gratuitous sexual content so readily available to children and adults in our world. I do believe that the easy availability of this kind of content will have a deteriorating impact on our society. However, I donâ€™t think the answer is to use the government to control it. As a society, we can choose to manage it in ways that are not destructive, convince adults of the undesirable personal and societal impacts of the content, and train our children to be discerning about what they consume.
This is not the governmentâ€™s responsibility. Quite the opposite. The minute we allow the government to decide what is appropriate content to view, we slide down the path of political censorship and government media management.
Probably the one distinct exception is Child Pornography. Only because in order to produce it, you need to be exposing a child to abuse.
That said, we at The Conservative Reader reserve the right (as others do as well) to censor our web site to ensure it is suitable for visitors of all ages. That means we watch for the use of offensive words, we donâ€™t intentionally link to a site with pornography or gratuitous violence or the kind of language we restrict on our site. This is not censorship… it is our own right under the First Amendment to exert this type of control over the content we provide here.
And YouTube has the same right. Take that away and you might as well chuck the whole Bill of Rights.
My thanks to Richard Perlman for pointing this story out to me.