Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Go Broadcast Yourself You Tube

An exercise in freedom of speech.

A few weeks ago I uploaded to YouTube a slideshow of images I took in America of the Westboro Baptist Church. It was a photojournalism essay on the lives of the family.

I got this email from YouTube over the weekend:

YouTube | Broadcast Yourself˙
Regarding your account: gazcook
The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violating the YouTube Community Guidelines http://youtube.com/t/community_guidelines

  • God Hates America - The Westboro Baptist Church - (gazcook)
Your account has received one Community Guidelines http://youtube.com/t/community_guidelines warning sanction, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the termination of your account.

The YouTube Team
Copyright © 2009 YouTube, LLC

This church has what can be called extreme views about god and homosexuality. My journalism aims to raise awareness of issues. This is how the media works at its best.

These are some of the photos:

In Britain, the BBC and Channel 4 have aired documentaries on the Westboro Baptist Church. I often see and hear members of the church on Radio and TV in this country. I know they are in the media regularly in the US, having sat through one of Shirley's radio interviews.

So why have YouTube taken away my toy and made me sit on the naughty step?

There is nothing shocking about the YouTube video, of which some images are attached below. If my photos had included profanities, outrageous violence or hardcore sex then I would expect to be kicked out of mini-video land.

YouTube's Community Guidelines state:
We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we do not permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity).

My photos do not do this, they merely highlight an issue. Do a YouTube search for the Westboro Baptist Church or God Hates America and you will find hundreds of videos of the WBC, many of which include speeches which could be deemed offensive. They have not been withdrawn.

My short slideshow is part of a serious, considered piece of journalistic work. I certainly don't think it's as bad as this sexual-innuendo packed episode of children's TV classic Rainbow:


I could not even contact YouTube until I clicked their I ACKNOWLEDGE button which was blocking my account, forcing me to accept their rather unreasonable reasoning for removing my video.

YouTube have not yet responded to my complaint.

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