Free Speech: Prejudice online is the answer
Having been in the online marketing business for nearly a decade, I think I pretty much know the score. You get good interesting content and people click on it. The advertising revenue and publicity, as well as the occasional sales, make it all worthwhile. I have actually made a good living from the internet so I cannot complain about that score. My beef is that one of my videos that features the young LGBT Gen-X has been turned down by 5 out of the 7 platforms I normally advertise on. I thought it was a great video and had a rather uplifting message. My metric searches had shown that there was definitely an audience for the material.
Why turn me down?
To be honest, I did not really even think about it at first because I just thought they had not understood the message I wanted to convey. But then I realized that many other videos that I actually consider to be of inferior quality were being accepted. Out of interest, I started doing some internet research about LGBT themed videos and the market for them. That is when I realized what was actually happening. This was nothing more than yet another incident of anti-gay bias on the net. I know we are used to epithets and trolls going after our kind but I thought that the online platforms were better than this.
It appears that they are not better than this. In fact, there is some uproar about online hosting companies refusing to upload LGBT-themed content. Some give a myriad of excuses including that old chestnut that LGBT content is always “adult” content and that young children can be protected from it. Interestingly, there is a lot of what I consider to be hate speech online. Religious nuts telling the world how we ought to be extinguished because we are sinners. That is hate speech right there, but the videos are making it to some of the most influential and respected platforms online.
The Liberals Who Are Not Always Liberal
I used to think that the tech industry was really going to lead the way on LGBT issues. To its credit, the Silicone Valley has not shied away from inclusivity and many have come out to challenge some of the more outlandish anti-gay stuff coming out of the White House. However, on this one, it seems that they are still going back to the old traditional prejudices that see LGBT people as a threat or an abomination. Just to be absolutely clear on this, there is nothing remotely offensive or “adult” about my video. It just shows a group of LGBT people going about their daily lives and talking about what they would like to do. There are some adverts for support groups for those that are having suicidal thoughts or who have run away from home.
Even worse, I am not really going to make money on this because the proceeds had been pre-donated to an LGBT rescue charity. That is the puzzling thing about prejudice. You never really know what it means because there is no logic to it. Someone somewhere decides that they are offended by the mere existence of LGBT people and the business world follows suit. I can totally understand why the platforms would not want to offend their viewers… but LGBT people are also their viewers. Do we not matter or is the pink pound only important when nobody else will buy your stuff?
My own limited research and a lot more experience show that many of the people that come to the channels where I post my videos are far from close-minded. These are invariably young people, with the millennials being the absolute upper limit of my audience (although I have met a few older people who came on the channels out of curiosity). I am therefore puzzled why the platforms would be so hung up on this. Young people are generally more accepting than the older generation (of course with some notable exception who like to spread the hate around). It seems like such bad decision making.
Free Speech: The Calculus of Insidious Prejudice
It seems that the owners of these platforms do not really respect their audiences, content providers, and even customers. Otherwise, they would not be making negative assumptions about them and their attitudes towards LGBT people. America has changed quite a lot over the past few years. We now have a majority of people supporting gay marriage and voting against discrimination. This was something that was virtually unthinkable in the Reagan era. It seems that the platform owners have not yet got the memo that people are no longer struck onto bitter prejudice. This is modern America where people are judged on what they do rather than who they are.
I know someone is going to tell me that I am living in cloud land if I think that America has really changed. That is a debate for another time but I definitely think that the young people who visit my channel tend to be far fewer prejudices that the older generation or even the wider American society. I have never had a problem with my videos online although I confess to being a liberal. In fact, when I did a sample sharing with my focus group of mainly “straight” clients; they found the clip quite good. Some were wondering why I had not uploaded it.
The bottom line is that I am being frustrated by an industry that seems to be unable to move on from their learned prejudices. It seems that they continue to presume prejudice on the part of their viewers so that they engage in pre-emptive censorship. In fact, this has always been the case with the moralists. They believe that the gays are going to corrupt everybody in sight so they suggest that any pro-LGBT content is brushed aside. Meanwhile, the virulent bigots are given the leeway to spread their bile on the net.
Free Speech That is Not so Free
I do not really believe that those who preach about free speech are all that concerned that voices are not silenced. On the contrary, they come across as the type of people that would be absolutely delighted to censor everything apart from the content that speaks to their prejudices. The cry of “free speech” is normally raised when the said bigots have been corned by the intellectual and moral challenges to their illogical way of thinking. They then respond by saying that it is their free speech to offend anyone that they like. The “snowflakes” (a favorite epithet) can go to hell as far as they are concerned.
I personally would love to have a few words with these bigots and give them a piece of my mind. However, I am actually restricted by the posting rules. In any case, I am not disrespectful unless provoked. Now, it seems that is not enough. The implication of my little incident with the platforms is that they do not want me to share my content because it is going to offend someone else. I hate the “moral majority” politics of this because it consigns people to subjugation under the whims of a dictatorship by numbers. In any case, I think the science of the “moral majority” is very faulty. As I have stated before, the real majority in America actually want everyone to have freedom and peace.
What is happening on these platforms is not unique to me. It seems that many other forms of LGBT-themed content are being turned down for publication. By contrast, the so-called “haters” are having a field day. They can post all manner of rubbish and have a ready-made retort for anyone that dares to challenge them… free speech. This is a game that has been played out many, many times and I am personally sick of it.
Is There Any Way Forward From This?
Yes, I think there is a way forward if the platform owners are courageous enough to take it. First of all, they must decide whether this is a free speech issue or commercial issue. On both counts, my side wins. We have a self-sustaining business with willing customers and there is no scientific evidence that my content was offending anyone who had a right not to be offended. It is not X-rated material and actually has an uplifting message. If the platforms want to have a free for all, then they should do just that.
Let the posters post and the viewers will decide what is acceptable. On the other hand, if they want to censure…they should censure everything. Not just allowing the haters to post their bile while perfectly harmless clips are struggling to get a home. I am disappointed in my traditional platforms and I am getting together with friends to see whether we can launch our own LGBT-friendly channel. There is nothing I would like more than to leave them to their nasty “moral majority” politics.