A quick anecdote by way of introduction.
I am currently teaching some of the more riveting bits of VaYikra (Leviticus), particularly the ins-and-outs (or more like “ins”) of the sacrificial process… which animal, which internal organs, which blood, which fats, etc etc ad nauseam.
So… in the opening of Chapter 1 of End Of The Jews, I allude to a YouTube video about the Korban Pessah, or Passover Sacrifice. In ten not-that-bloody minutes, one gets a quick overview of the process from lamb grizzle to sizzle.
And… as a student had asked to actually see what was involved in offering a korban, I decided to screen that YouTube clip for my students. After all, it’s Hanukkah!
So… I fired up the ol’ interwebs, typed in “korban” in Hebrew in the YouTube search window and, as I had written in the book, expected that 10 minute clip to be the first hit.
But it was not the first, nor the tenth nor the thirtieth hit. It was gone. Removed.
And why, you may ask, would its creators, the fine, dedicated men of the Third Temple Institute, remove it from the site?
Well… it seems they did not remove it.
It seems that someone else did. Or, more to the point, someone flagged it as inappropriate and the fine, dedicated folks at YouTube took the clip down.
And… here’s the rub, the “404” message informing would-be korban aficionados (or, in my case, a group of very disappointed junior high students) of the clip’s absence did not simply flag the content as “inappropriate”. The clip was removed as it violated YouTube’s policy on…
Yep, that’s right. Shocking and disgusting content.
Mulling over what YouTube users (and by extension, YouTube) considers shocking and disgusting about the nature of animal sacrifice, I considered what other kind of content might be remove-able if flagged by users. What could I achieve with this new-found power? Could I get Rebecca Black’s execrable Friday clip taken down because, as content, I was concerned that it just sucked too hard? Could I apply the same standard to Rick Perry’s Strong clip and get that flagged too?
A quick click later, I discovered that YouTube does take into account many, many concerns users might have about content … Unfortunately, just sucking too hard was not one of them. However, I could flag content that is sexual, as in (a) graphically sexual, or (b) just too nudie, or (c) too suggestive without nudity, or (d) (my personal favourite) “other”.
Or I could flag clips whose content I deem violent, as in (e) adults fighting, or (f) youth fighting, or (g) animals fighting, or (h) terrorists fighting.
Or I might express concern about content that is hateful and (i) promotes hatred or violence, or (j) abuses vulnerable individuals, or (k) bullies.
Or I could kvetch about content that is harmful and dangerous which may portray folks (l) playing with drugs, or (m) playing with fire or fireworks, or (n) (my second personal favourite) “other dangerous acts”.
Then, of course, there is (o) SPAM (which some folks object to for reasons of kashrut or culinary snobbery), or (p) content promoting child abuse.
However, the last category was truly my favourite: I am empowered to flag content which “infringes on my rights”. Which rights, you say? Dare I say Speech? Religion? or Bad Lipsynching? No, sir or madam! YouTube will act and act swiftly to protect my right to (q) privacy, or (r) copyright or (s) (wait for it) any “other legal claim”.
Thank goodness YouTube is looking out for me and my rights! Amen selah!