As part of a little social media experiment, I would like to request that you do something for me.
First, visit YouTube… specifically, any random clip showing a scene from Steven Spielberg’s brilliant 1993 film Schindler’s List. After that, watch the video of the trailer for Terry George’s masterful 2016 film The Promise provided below:
Now, here’s what I’d like you to do: Read the comments that appear under both of these clips. Scroll down. It won’t take long.
That’s right. The comments sections for both of these clips are infested with genocide deniers.
Holocaust-denying anti-Semites pervade the Schindler’s List area, while racist Armenian-genocide-deniers spout their venom on the one for The Promise.
And YouTube hasn’t done a damn thing about it.
Why? What purpose does this kind of hate speech offer except to hurt people? There are vicious idiots making, in all their ungrammatical glory, comments such as “it’s clear that armenian genocide is a big lie”… and they haven’t been removed. Nor have the anti-Semitic posts been deleted by YouTube from the Schindler’s List section. As such, I have to ask a question:
Who’s minding the store?
For the record: YouTube is owned by Google. I worked at Google in New York City when I was a senior editor at Zagat. The mantra at Google then was “Don’t be evil.”
Um… question for Google: Aren’t these hateful comments, well… evil?
Denying the Holocaust is evil. Denying the Armenian genocide is evil. Both are being done on YouTube.
That’s gotta stop.
What YouTube needs is a serious attempt at moderating comments. It has to deploy a team to take a good look at this content, which, in general, not only amounts to hate speech, but also frequently is abusive in nature, as well as threatening. People who disseminate such hate speech do so to hurt other people. It’s as simple as that. Consequently, any offensive garbage that comes from their keyboards and is posted publicly should be deleted right away. That YouTube hasn’t been doing this rigorously enough is absurd. This issue is pervasive. The site has the power to remove such content and ban those who create it from posting on its pages. It should take steps immediately to address this situation. For doing little to mitigate the prevalence of these comments just gives bigots a chance to harm other people.
We don’t want that.
The Promise was a great film. So was Schindler’s List. But both are being used as troll fodder by prejudiced nincompoops who have nothing better in their lives to do besides claim that genocides didn’t happen. They hate Jews. They hate Armenians. They are, as Gene Wilder’s Jim says to Cleavon Little’s Bart in Mel Brooks’ seminal 1974 Western comment on racism Blazing Saddles, morons. Sadly, they’ve found an outlet for their moronic viewpoints: YouTube. And they won’t stop unless the site does something to — and again, I must quote from Blazing Saddles… this time from Slim Pickens’ Taggart and Harvey Korman’s Hedley Lamarr — head them off at the pass.
Will YouTube address this problem? It definitely should. Otherwise, it runs the risk of appearing to condone the offensive behavior exhibited on these pages, and that would be a very disturbing idea to think about. So it’s obvious that the site must do the right thing. It has to boot the offending comments and those who made them off YouTube. They contribute nothing. They won’t be missed. And the Internet would be a heckuva lot safer without them.
Wouldn’t that be an ideal situation? Certainly, the amount of hate speech directed at Jews and Armenians would be lessened greatly. Perhaps the idiots who still despise these groups would still retain their irrational, bigoted feelings. But they wouldn’t be able to broadcast them on YouTube. Taking away their collective voice in this regard would be a veritable coup. It would mitigate their vitriol considerably.
Still, it wouldn’t change the fact that denial of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide are inextricably linked… in more ways than one. The latter, perpetrated under the auspices of the Ottoman Turkish government at the beginning of the last century, resulted in the murders of 1.5 million Armenians, as well as Greeks, Assyrians, and other groups. The former, conducted by the Nazis during the Third Reich, ended with a count of six million Jews murdered, along with thousands of Romani, homosexual individuals, disabled persons, and political prisoners, among others. Both events are disputed by ignorant people who hate folks who are different from them and ignore the countless documents, photos, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence proving the existence of these horrors. Many of these bigots are posting their repellent nonsense on YouTube as responses to clips from Schindler’s List, a movie about the Holocaust, and The Promise, a film about the Armenian genocide.
Let’s head them off at the pass.
The phone number for Google at its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is (650) 253-0000. I’m going to reach out regarding the offensive comments on YouTube. It may not do much, but at least it would constitute a try.
I hope anyone who reads this will try, too.