YouTube Shuttered Brownell’s Channel Over Weekend

Who needs government censorship when we’ve got plenty of it from our lovely silicon valley monopolists …

Who needs government censorship when we’ve got plenty of it from our lovely silicon valley monopolists. No word is forthcoming on what triggered the deletion. I’m so old I can remember when Internet pioneers would have thought a rule like this was stodgy and naive, like something those clueless fogies in Congress would come up with. Information wants to be free, right? The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it, right? Can’t stop the signal? I remember all these ethoses (ethoi?) from back in the freewheeling days of the early internet, before the oligarchy descended.

If you’d have told me back then that it wouldn’t be the Government screwing up the Internet, I wouldn’t have believed you.

28 thoughts on “YouTube Shuttered Brownell’s Channel Over Weekend”

  1. I honestly didn’t expect the culture wars to break out to this extent.

    1. I think you are making a mistake equating firearms issues with the “culture wars,” unless you can successfully define the “gun culture” as a stand-alone culture, which it is and should be, despite some correlations with what is now popularly defined as the “Culture Warriors.” Though, the Culture Warriors certainly love riding on the gun issue.

      In fact, I’d even submit that what greased the ways for Youtube’s shutdown of Brownell’s was, the NRA’S open embrace of the broader Culture War, and issues not related to gun rights at all. “Brownell” is now strongly associated with “NRA”, and NRA is strongly associated with, for example, whatever comes out of Ted Nugent’s pie-hole, or whatever Culture War pronouncements someone makes on NRATV.

      In all seriousness: How many other purely “gun” channels on Youtube have been shut down so far? I really haven’t heard.

      1. Gun control is most certainly part of the larger culture war in America. Just as Abortion and Gay Rights are part of the culture war. Pretending otherwise reveals much about the pretender.

        The NRA didn’t start that war. In fact the other side has been warring against the NRA for more than fifty years. The recent higher profile of the NRA is merely a decades late recognition of that war. has recognized since 2012 that gun ownership is about the strongest indicator of partisan leaning, “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.”

        The fact is, that big outfits like Twitter and YouTube and Facebook have been employing a double standard when censoring content; they have chosen sides in the culture war rather than remain neutral. Brownell’s is hardly the first YouTube channel with gun related content to have suffered inexplicable sudden banning, with no warning and no appeal allowed.

        So then: Do you think YouTube should be shutting down gun related channels like Brownell’s?

        1. “Gun control is most certainly part of the larger culture war in America. Just as Abortion and Gay Rights are part of the culture war.”

          Like so many other things these days, that has only been made true by someone saying it often enough.

          Certainly pro-lifers and gay-bashers have prospered by giving lip service to the gun rights they don’t care about for a minute, because gun owners are such saps. Their candidates can get gun owners votes and undying love in return for learning a couple dozen gun rights keywords.

          Gun rights were a political issue when virtually no one but a few Catholic bishops were talking about abortion, and gays were still contained safely in the closet. The Culture Wars only associated with gun rights when their opportunists needed a preexisting issue to leverage their way to partisan political power. Beyond a doubt though, it has worked famously, though not necessarily to the benefit of gun owners.

          1. Just because the battle for gun rights have lasted long before these other fronts in the culture wars doesn’t mean that gun rights isn’t a part of the culture wars.

            The gun issue has been catapulted into the culture wars just as much by the Left as the Right, though: the same people who are in favor of killing babies and pushing gayness into our faces (even in the faces of their allies) also, more often than not, support banning guns, even to the point of limiting guns from the very people who need the extra protection. Our only saving grace is that the Left is even *more* incentivized to giving lip service to their constituents over the issue, considering their constituency is even less motivated about gun bans, than our side is about preventing them … which ought to give us something to think about, as to why Leftist types are so eager to push the issue ….

            Sure, there’s no reason why guns should be tied to these other issues — there’s only one set of issues they should be tied to, and that’s the rights to life, liberty, and property, and preserving the same from tyrants — but the environment is what it is, for better *and* for worse.

      2. I’ve been less than thrilled by the NRA’s flirting with other Culture War issues.

        But over the past 10 years or so, Gun Rights has absolutely turned into a Culture War issue – it didn’t start with the “bitter clingers” quote, but that was an early marker.

  2. The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it, right?

    It does.

    Non-YouTube video hosting platforms exist. Hell, Brownell’s could run their own on AWS or Azure or something.

    “One company’s easily monetized and popular platform” is not the Internet.

    (The point would be stronger if they were delisted from search engines, since those are arguably the working internet’s real backbone.)

    1. Youtube is, for many purposes, the video search engine; and Google prefers Youtube for video results (for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain?)

      It’s not censorship in the traditional sense, but it is gatekeeping. Is it a full-blown return to The Studio System?

      1. If people go on to YouTube to search for videos, that sounds like their problem, not the Internet’s, or the Government’s.

        (I don’t think it’s even gatekeeping; searching for “things” videos on Google gets me non-YT content first.

        Searching for “music videos” gets me all YouTube … and I think that’s simply correct even without a “prefers”.)

        1. I have a terrible tendency to argue for the fun of it.

          Youtube certainly can’t put up walls to extend their gatekeeping function; but they ARE a gatekeeper.

  3. Since the #1 and #2 search engines are Google and Youtube owned by Google (respectively), I think it’s high time for some anti-trust action. Monopolies are tolerable to an extent as long as they don’t harm the citizens…

    1. Monopolies are only tolerable if they aren’t acting as “Political Agents” for a specific Political Party.

    2. So … “anti-trust as soon as someone gets too successful even though they played fair and won on merit”?

      Yeah, how about no?

      (Nobody’s stopping anyone from using Bing, or Duck Duck Go.

      An unenforced “monopoly” of being genuinely popular is not the State’s job to “bust, for our own good”.)

        1. That may be the effect, but it’s not the underlying theory; the underlying theory of antitrust is that by being a monopoly the trust uses its ECONOMIC power to squash competitors.

      1. Come, I will conceal nothing from you: I do not care, not even a little bit, that Google “played fair and won on merit.” That’s not the relevant consideration, here.

        The relevant consideration is that they’re leveraging their control of the dominant video hosting platform to censor user content based on politics while (a) lying out their asses about what they’re doing and (b) continuing to enjoy various liability protections premised on the notion that content hosts are passive conduits of information for whom such censorship is impractical, if not impossible.

        I don’t even care that their politics are left-wing. The simple fact that they’re censoring user content at all makes it entirely acceptable, in my view, to use the force of law to raze their business to the ground and salt the earth where it stood, pour encourager les autres.

        I’m way, way past libertarian arguments about what is and isn’t the job of the State, here. Our political enemies have absolutely no qualms about using every tool at hand to crush us. So we have two choices:

        (1) Use every tool at hand to avoid being crushed, or

        (2) Sit around being gigantic chumps whining about muh principles.

        I pick #1. YMMV.

        1. Indeed. I’m sick and tired of arguments that amount to “But they are private entities, they can ban people without it being censorship!”

          They also claim to be neutral platforms — banning videos (particularly when they do so subtly and secretly) means that at a minimum they lose their claims to neutrality. As others have observed, this means that they lose their ability to be immune from copyright and libel/slander lawsuits: they claim that they can’t possibly police their content, yet here they are, policing their content.

          They also claim to provide services for everyone, subject to terms and conditions — yet when they decide we run afoul of said terms and conditions, they don’t give chapter and verse as to what were violated, and what needs to be fixed. Furthermore, they clearly only punish one political side, when the other side is clearly making the same alleged violations, and doing even worse

          Why shouldn’t there be legal consequences for this behavior? They clearly aren’t acting in good faith. They have chosen sides, let them defend it!

  4. This is another illustration how as corporations grow, the lines between them and the state become blurred. At least to the extent that they will begin doing the same things as a state.

    Someone has said the failing of right-libertarianism and “anarcho-capitalism” was in seeking to “substitute markets for states” while assuming – against all historical evidence – that markets would be conducted in a more ethical and altruistic way, and that “competition” would solve all remaining problems.

    So, I’d advise all who believe that to go out and start an online service to challenge Youtube/Google.

    Actually for this example that may be doable. I.e., maybe Brownells can take their business somewhere else, or create their own video service (as suggested above), and maybe gun owners’ patronage will make a new service happy to have us and afraid to lose us. But for an arguably more extreme example, check into the travails of the white power and neo-Nazi movements, some of which have been reduced to using obscure services, or creating their own, out on the dark web because no one will host them. That example of privatized censorship doesn’t particularly offend me, but “on principle” it is something worth pondering.

    1. I would observe that (1) that there is historical evidence (however difficult it is to find) that anarcho-capitalism can work, and it can be surprisingly stable, but that (2) many libertarians forget that America has not, nor ever was, a libertarian State, except by great stretches of the imagination. We merely have a State that sometimes respects freedom, sort-of.

      I can’t help but wonder just what kinds of competitors can arise to challenge the likes of Google, if it weren’t for the regulations that make starting new businesses, and competing with other businesses on their merits, so difficult.

    1. Yes, they are back. Supposedly Brownell’s was one of several gun-related YouTube channels that were all banned without warning over the weekend.

      YouTube’s only explanation so far of what happened to Brownell’s, boils down to ‘oopsy!, nothing personal.’ Which, considering YouTubes opaque and unresponsive SOP, sounds like boilerplate nonsense.

      No one trusts YouTube any more to act fairly.

      1. While I usually don’t buy it myself, I’m thinking of all the variations of that old phrase that goes something like “never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple human stupidity.”

        It well could be that someone at Youtube over the weekend saw an opening to impose their personal agenda, and acted way above their pay grade. We don’t know, and probably never will, but someone at Youtube may have gotten their ass reamed this morning. Let’s wait and see if a pattern emerges, given that Youtube appears to have reversed themselves in surprisingly short order after relatively little effort on the part of gun owners.

        1. Bingo. This was what I thought as well. Reminds me of that rogue Twitter employee deleting Trump’s account.

  5. This is why I cancelled my YouTube subscription this past weekend. And, I made sure they knew it was why. I’m weaning myself off of YouTube and letting YouTube content creators know while presenting them with alternatives.

  6. Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” has been privatized. That’s how they’ve gotten around the First Amendment. Government isn’t allowed to make us nonpersons, but YouTube can. The First Amendment needs bigger teeth, and for that matter, so does the Second.

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