Discover more from Glenn Loury
I Was Censored by YouTube
with Nikita Petrov
Many of you know that, a few weeks ago, YouTube deleted my conversation with John McWhorter and Mark Goldblatt, claiming that it contained hate speech. We entered an appeal requesting that they review the decision and put the video back up, but the deletion was upheld. I think I know what section of the video YouTube believes to be hate speech. But it’s speculation on my part, since they offer no explanation whatsoever as to the specific reasoning behind their decision.
The following clip and transcript come from a longer conversation about censorship between me and my creative director, Nikita Petrov. We’ll make the whole thing publicly available on Sunday. For now, though, I wanted to bring this section to your attention, because it highlights how capricious YouTube’s policies seem from the outside, and how dire the consequences can be for those of us who have no interest in violating rules for the sake of violating rules but simply want to speak our minds.
YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms on the planet. Arguably, it is the most powerful. We should be very worried that, when controversial opinions emerge there, YouTube’s default mode is to censor them and to offer no real way to appeal. That’s why Substack has become such an important part of my show’s online presence. When I was alerted that YouTube took the episode down, my team immediately re-uploaded it to Substack’s video player, and you can still find it here, in the form I originally intended.
We cannot afford to rely solely on a platform that can turn our lights off with barely a word of explanation. So if you like what I do here, if you like that The Glenn Show is a place where voices from all corners of the public discourse can get a fair, uncensored hearing, please consider becoming a paying subscriber on Substack. Not only will you get access to all the content we have—past, present, and future—but you’ll help ensure that we’re able to keep doing what we do. I can’t do it alone. But together, no one can stop us.
This is a clip from a forthcoming episode. To get early access to episodes, as well as an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.
NIKITA PETROV: So we want to talk about censorship and moderation and self-regulation online, regulation of speech online. And there are a few reasons for us to talk about this. One is we've been censored just now. YouTube deleted an hour-long episode of The Glenn Show and gave us a warning to go with his decision.
There's no elaboration on what exactly—like there's no timestamp. “Here's a phrase or a sentence or a paragraph that was said that YouTube censors see as hate speech.” But that's the charge. Somewhere in that hour long conversation, something was said that they think is hate speech.
We appealed this decision very quickly. The appeal got rejected again. There's no correspondence, no back and forth, and there's no further appeal. This first warning doesn't have any consequences, except that the next time is going to be a strike, which I think prohibits us from posting anything new on YouTube for a week. And after the first strike comes the second, and then the third. And the third strike is a permanent deletion of the YouTube channel, which is a big deal. That's the first reason we might want to talk about censorship.
GLENN LOURY: Well the episode in question was an interview with Mark Goldblatt, who's the author of a book called I Feel Therefore, I Am: The Triumph of Woke Subjectivism. That's Mark Goldblatt's book. You can find the episode at our Substack page, because we have posted it there. But YouTube has taken down our video of that conversation.
I think I know why. I think I know what they objected to, which is Mark's discussion of transgenderism and his opinion. It's his opinion—actually, it's not my opinion, but I think it's an interesting opinion—that the disjunction between the reality of biological gender and the subjective experience of a person's identifying in one or another way with respect to gender is an affront to reason. This is in my summary of Mark's position. I mean, he said this explicitly, he thinks that gender dysphoria is a kind of mental illness that should be treated with sympathy and respect for those that are subject to it but not with deference to their false claims about their gender. He thinks that that's a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion or subjective feeling.
So he could be right or wrong about that. But it's a view, and I think that that was what triggered it. But I don't know. I agree that this is very eerie. You put something up, you think you're having a discussion that's based on thoughtful engagement with a sensitive question, and then the word comes that you've been warned that you violated community standards, that you're fomenting hateful speech that could possibly give license to violence. And you don't know exactly what you did that was supposedly transgressing in this way. You're left to surmise, you're left to have to guess at what the censors are not liking and what they are liking. That's very Orwellian. That feels to me like something out of 1984.
And this business: you've been warned. Next comes a strike, and the strike will come with penalty. We'll suspend you for a period of time, then comes a second strike, and you'll be suspended for a longer period, and then a third strike. And it puts me in this really weird position where I don't know if I go on talking about what has happened, for example, as we've done just now, explaining what Mark Goldblatt thought—which wasn't necessarily my thought, but it was a thought that he voiced in the show—would constitute yet another violation. In which case I'm moving on this escalator toward being completely removed from being able to post at my YouTube channel, Glenn Loury Show.
Ultimately this is people's livelihood. This is the way that, if you're a podcaster or an internet personality, that you have something to offer that you hope to attract people's support, including their financial support, and you are using this medium as a way of being in touch with your audience. These censors have the power to take that away from you without having to explain themselves. We appealed. Our appeal is denied. No good reason is given. There's no actual discussion of the substance. It's infuriating and very disquieting.