What the Conservative Media is Fighting For
Steven Crowder, a hipster-serving “conservative commentator,” has been demonetized by YouTube, meaning that he is banned from receiving advertising revenue from his YouTube videos. This sort of thing has become one of the great conservative rallying points over the past couple of years, for the simple reason that the people at risk of losing money are the same people writing today’s conservative chatterbox talking points. In short, they are distracting their listeners and viewers from the important matters of political principle and civilizational decay, in favor of obsessing over whether these profiteering used car salesmen themselves are making enough money.
Here, in outline, is the ongoing Crowder story, as I understand it. An angry communist blowhard (aka social justice warrior) who writes for Vox — don’t ask me, I just report this stuff — and who uses the online nickname “gaywonk,” is offended because Crowder is mocking said communist blowhard’s views and statements on YouTube. And naturally, since Crowder is trying to make money from his commentary, he is mocking the communist in the most provocatively insouciant way possible, which in this case means highlighting the Vox writer’s radical homosexual rights agenda. (They don’t say “homosexual,” of course, but I do, because I actually like the English language.)
Following a social justice complaint — i.e., self-important infantile whine — from said communist, YouTube, “upon review” (read “while quivering in fear of two-bit communist thugs”), has demonetized Crowder’s video content.
Is this fair? Is it right? Actually, it is simply what happens when leftists (such as YouTube’s proprietors) make decisions on their own turf, concerning their own property; they cave in to the radical vanguard of their own ideological movement, for fear of becoming the next victim of the social justice assault, i.e., of being excommunicated from the left by the communists. And if history teaches anything, it is that there are few fates worse than being excommunicated from the progressive movement by the communist vanguard. An insufficiently-progressive progressive is most likely to end up a dead progressive.
And, apropos of that last point, the Vox communist, along with several of his comrades, has responded to YouTube’s decision to bar Crowder from making money on YouTube with this line of attack (which I quote, rather than paste his Twitter posts directly, so that I can censor the punk’s language):
So the f— what. Basically all political content gets “demonetized.”
Crowder’s revenue stream isn’t from YouTube ads. It’s from selling merch and “Socialism Is For Fags” shirts to millions of loyal customers, that YouTube continues to drive to his channel. For free.
Demonetizing doesn’t work.
Abusers use it as proof they’re being “discriminated” against. Then they make millions off of selling merch, doing speaking gigs, and getting their followers to support them on Patreon.
The ad revenue isn’t the problem. It’s the platform.
YouTube drives millions of new customers towards Crowder’s high-engagement content, which he then uses to sell “Socialism Is For Fags” shirts for profit. It’s a business, and YouTube’s technology provides bullies and bigots with an endless supply of news customers.
Speaking of “bullies and bigots,” it seems to me that what the communist is saying here is that it isn’t enough to prevent Crowder from making money through YouTube itself. Rather, YouTube ought to prevent Crowder from making money at all, by removing his means of reaching his customers in the first place. And why should YouTube deny its platform to Steven Crowder, while providing that platform for pornographers to destroy people’s souls and families, the entertainment industry to post its taste- and mind-dissolving popular music, and social justice warriors to post content smearing all political speakers of a non-communist orientation as evil troglodytes who ought to be denied a platform to speak on any issue? Because the social justice warriors do not believe in the open exchange of ideas. They believe in silencing politically incorrect voices, meaning voices not in line with the most radical progressive attitudes of the moment.
Let’s return to the communist’s tweet barrage, quoted above, for a moment. There is one sentence in this hate speech monologue that seems to me to reveal the heart of the writer most completely: “Demonetizing doesn’t work.”
What does “work” mean in that judgment? What does the communist think YouTube’s demonetizing of Crowder was intended to accomplish, such that he can claim this method “doesn’t work,” i.e., will not achieve its proper aim? Or rather, since it is obvious from his tone that he doesn’t care a tick what YouTube was actually intending, what, does he believe ought to have been the intention here?
Demonetizing doesn’t work for what? It certainly prevents Steven Crowder from earning ad revenue from his YouTube videos. So what’s the problem? The problem, in the communist’s mind, is that Crowder should continue to have the opportunity to make money at all. If he is still allowed to state his opinions, and specifically to criticize the social justice warriors’ positions, then he will still have the opportunity to cash in on the popularity of his views by selling merchandise connected with his opinions and his videos. This extracurricular profiteering obviously lies outside the jurisdiction of YouTube’s own platform rules, within which one could certainly argue (as I would) that they have every right to demonetize a user’s content in accordance with their internal policies. In other words, the communist is objecting that since Crowder’s non-YouTube income is directly tied to his political expression, Crowder should therefore be prevented from expressing his political views on YouTube at all. And of course it follows, mutatis mutandis, that if Crowder should find another means of disseminating his views, he should be barred from speaking on that platform as well, inasmuch as the ultimate goal (the essence of what “working” means in the sentence, “Demonetizing doesn’t work”) is to prevent Crowder from saying what he says, period; in other words, to outlaw politically incorrect speech from gaining a public hearing altogether.
On the other side of the story, we have the conservative media profiteers themselves, who have their own version of the concept-slippage problem implied by the social justice warrior’s complaint that demonetizing “doesn’t work.”
Hence, for example, in response to this drama, Ben Shapiro, another of the hip young conservative profit-seekers du jour, offers this profound comment:
If @YouTube is now going to police insulting speech — not violent speech, not incitement, not actual fake news — because a virulently censorious, radical activist masquerading as a journalist complains about being insulted, they’re a joke.
A joke as what? What is YouTube supposed to be, such that its kowtowing to radical activists masquerading as journalists constitutes becoming “a joke”? Why use the deliberately incendiary vocabulary of “policing” speech? We’re talking about YouTube, for god’s sake! Their decisions about who is allowed to make money on their site owe no deference to sound natural rights theory — they are not the government — let alone to the whims of conservative media salesmanship, if they, YouTube’s proprietors, happen not to like conservative opinions.
And that, at the end of the day, is the lesson of this little soap opera that conservatives really need to absorb, since they already know the social justice warriors are cretins.
The conservative media, whatever you might have hoped it could be, whatever certain low-level participants in the industry might wish it could be, is in the final analysis nothing but a bunch of back-scratching businessmen trying to make money off of your sincere political enthusiasm and your concerns about the future of your society. When push comes to shove, which is to say whenever they have to choose between the principles they pretend to espouse and their ability to keep making money, they will drop the principles faster than Mark Levin can convert from liberty-loving constitutionalist and Trump critic to Trump apologist and dogged defender of progressive nationalist demagoguery. Whatever works, where working, in this case, means winning audience numbers and bringing in the dollars.
As long as the conservative “message” is controlled and manipulated by people whose goal is primarily personal gain, and only secondarily (if at all) liberty and the survival of civilization, the progressives will keep making strides toward ever-more despotic restrictions of individual life and thought, while the people who pretend to be the last bulwark against tyranny lead the naïve on a buggy ride to fame and wealth for themselves, with nothing in return for their addicted “followers” but self-contradictory political positions, false hopes, and a subtle indoctrination to an intellectual malleability no different in principle from the ever-changing mobocracy of the progressive mainstream.
Ask yourself this question: Why is an issue like demonetization on YouTube so important to the conservative media?
To answer that one, ask yourself this one: How many of these supposed leading voices of the modern conservative movement would continue to devote their time and energy to disseminating their political ideas, if they were denied the ability to gain any income from those efforts?
And to answer that one, ask yourself this one: Why did so many of these principled warriors — like Shapiro, Levin, and even Crowder — take a highly critical stand on Donald Trump during the 2016 primaries, but then, either suddenly or gradually, shift toward a sympathetic, defensive, excuse-making position on Trump once he became the nominee and president, ignoring all their own previous concerns about the likely long-term impact of a Trump presidency on the conservative movement?
And if you need help answering that one, then ask yourself this one: What has happened, practically-speaking, to those members of the “conservative media” who decided to stick to their pre-Trump principles come what may, rather than bend to the popular and populist will of a mob of virulently censorious, radically protectionist-progressive cult-worshippers masquerading as patriots?