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Patreon Is Not Waging War on Free Speech

January 14, 2019 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson and
political commentator Dave Rubin recently announced that they would follow the
example of neuroscientist and atheist author Sam Harris and close
their Patreon accounts. The announcement came shortly after the
fundraising platform removed Carl Benjamin — who goes
by the moniker Sargon of Akkad – for hate speech.

The news is the latest battle in the online
‘censorship’ war, with those alleging bias among online
giants such as Google, Twitter and Facebook taking steps to try to
reform platforms or establish platforms of their own. But those who
value free speech and markets should defend
Patreon’s right to boot off Benjamin, and welcome Peterson
and Rubin’s call for a Patreon competitor. They should also
be sceptical of accusations of censorship and bad analogies.

Patreon banned Benjamin last month, explaining that the decision
hinged on his comments in a
February interview
with another YouTube creator. In that
interview, Benjamin used derogatory language to describe some white
supremacists in an apparent cockeyed attempt to portray them as the
people they hate. Benjamin’s comments breached Patreon’s community guidelines, despite the fact that Benjamin
did not make the comments on his channel.

Patreon is and should remain free to disassociate itself from
whomever it wants. Like all companies that have guidelines and
content-moderation policies, Patreon is open to accusations of
hypocrisy and inconsistently applying its speech standards. Anyone
looking for a company that has been entirely consistent with its
own content guidelines will be persistently disappointed.

Patreon’s decision to sever a relationship with someone
who uses foul language is not unreasonable on its face. If an
advocate of Islamic terrorism wanted to use Patreon to fund origami
YouTube videos that have nothing to do with terrorism, it would be
reasonable for Patreon and YouTube to remove the content and close
the terrorist’s accounts.

Rubin, Peterson and Harris believe that Patreon is too
discriminatory and should be more tolerant of certain kinds of
speech. On a recent appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News
show, Rubin described the situation facing internet users as a
choice between a ‘free internet that respects dissenting
opinion’ or a ‘controlled internet’ that is
‘basically controlled by the social-justice mob’.

Rubin and Peterson have announced that they are building a
fundraising site in the spirit of a ‘free internet’.
Presumably, it will be tolerant of users whose writing and
commentary includes homophobic and racist language along the lines
that Benjamin used. This is the market in action and should be
welcomed. Those who want to fundraise on a site with community
guidelines …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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