YouTube Censors a Bob Dylan Song for Defending Israel

Nowadays, there is hardly a song one can’t find in one form or another on the Internet, and most of them can be found on YouTube. But when Jacob Siegel sought out Bob Dylan’s 1983 “Neighborhood Bully,” he realized that it had “vanished”:

I can assure you that Googling “Neighborhood Bully” was in no way intended by me as a political statement or gesture. “Neighborhood Bully” is assumed to be a song about Israel being singled out and maligned among the world’s nations, but Dylan has rejected this interpretation just as he always denied narrow political readings of his work. “I’m not a political songwriter,” he told an interviewer shortly after the record came out. “‘Neighborhood Bully,’ to me, is not a political song, because if it were, it would fall into a certain political party. If you’re talking about it as an Israeli political song—in Israel alone, there are maybe twenty political parties. I don’t know where that would fall, what party.”

Further investigation led Seigel to evidence that YouTube’s administrators, or their algorithms, had removed the video after classifying it as hate speech. Here are some of the lyrics that were somehow deemed offensive:

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully. . . .

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him.

Siegel concludes:

A platform like YouTube is not just a “content provider,” like a digital jukebox. It’s not an artist, who can choose which versions of which songs he chooses to make available to whom and when. It’s a ledger, on which the shared events and references that together add up to something like a social or cultural whole are recorded. Instantaneously altering that shared database based on nothing more than the half-formed political whims of whatever cadre of censors has been appointed to control the “hate speech” algorithms is the first step to controlling memory itself. I see it, and it scares me.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Zionism, Censorship, Internet, Political correctness


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus