YouTube Censors a Bob Dylan Song for Defending Israel

Dec. 23 2020

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.

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Read more at Tablet

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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter