A funny thing happened to me today. I had been waiting by the inbox for my invitation to the new crowd-funding site, Hatreon. After feeling the all-powerful hands of YouTube squeeze a little too tightly around my neck, I was seeking out a new home for my video content which, by all accounts, is mostly comedic with some political lecturing thrown in for fun. My YouTube channel also contains a historical record of all the rabble rousing I’ve done over the years in various suburbs in opposition to various elected bad actors. It’s not as shocking or groundbreaking as I’d like to believe it is. It’s pretty tame. But according to YouTube, it’s becoming advertiser unfriendly. This is the death knell for any YouTube channel — demonetization. And so I went looking for somewhere I could still get paid for the thousands of hours I put into creating content. I researched Patreon but realized that content creators to the right of Bernardine Dohrn are now getting booted off for “hate speech” as outlined in their draconian terms of service (TOS) which enforce speech codes. A few people suggested Hatreon, the so-called “alt-right” answer to Patreon. I immediately liked the name. If they’re going to label us haters, we might as well laugh about it.
So my invitation to join Hatreon finally came (and why wouldn’t it? After all, I am deplorable), but the joy quickly faded as I clicked the login link to find this waiting for me.
Are you freaking kidding me?
How is this happening? It’s like the entire tech universe is conspiring together to keep us offline. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what’s happening. I confirmed on Twitter that this was a deliberate booting of Hatreon’s account off DigitalOcean servers complete with self-serving virtue signaling from DigitalOcean crowing about what a good deed they did by denying service to a paying customer.
PJ Media reached out to Hatreon’s founder Cody Wilson and interviewed the man Wired magazine once listed as one of “The 15 Most Dangerous People In the World 2012.” He was the opposite of how I would expect someone to sound whose new project had just been tanked for no reason other than left-wing hysteria. Wilson’s good mood and light tone made me feel a little bit better about being under the Big Tech Boot of Censorship. He seemed undisturbed. He cracked jokes. He made them seem ridiculous.
“What if I owned a bakery and someone asked me to make a transgendered, Islamic, gay-themed wedding cake and I said no?” He chuckled. “I think you know the answer.”
Wilson was sure Hatreon would be operational again later that day, and as of 10:15 p.m. the site appeared to be back online. Clearly not a beginner in the highly censorious tech world, Wilson didn’t put all his eggs in one basket. He counted on DigitalOcean’s small profile to keep them safe from public scrutiny. What he didn’t know was that the alleged white supremacist Daily Stormer website housed some data on DigitalOcean’s servers, which made them the target of SJW lynch mobs on Twitter. (I say “alleged” because Google deleted them from the internet before I ever had a chance to see what they are or aren’t. Having never read Daily Stormer myself, I refuse to take CNN’s word on the matter as truth. They might be a white power news source or they might be just a poorly written weather fan site. No one knows now because they’ve been disappeared by Google and its henchmen.) When the SJW outcry began to take down Daily Stormer after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that ended in inexcusable violence and mayhem, everyone raced to the control room to start flipping the switch to “off” on any bogeyman they could find (or invent). Hatreon got caught up in the mad dash to purge the Internet of “Nazis.” DigitalOcean shut off their service overnight with no notice and later claimed Hatreon had violated their TOS, but offered no proof of the violation. The TOS they supposedly violated was 3.2 and is so overbroad it might be a good test case for an enterprising lawyer who wants to get it declared void for vagueness.
“Did you hear about the attacks in Barcelona?” Wilson asked. “If it turns out this was a Muslim who killed all those people, do you think we will wake up tomorrow and all Muslims will be removed from the internet?”
That’s an unthinkable scenario! But everyone knows that Google and CloudFlare and GoDaddy are private companies that can deny service to anyone for any reason, right?
“That’s a neat piece of rhetoric!” Wilson laughed. “All culture is carried on these platforms. If they can shut you out, then there is no platform for free speech.”
Wilson talked at length about seeing a need for a censorship-free environment and being able to fill that need. For Wilson, it isn’t about ideology but speech in general. Hatreon has not only attracted white separatist Richard Spencer, but libertarian atheists, and even occultists like styxhexenhammer666 who don’t identify with either left or right. Wilson was clear that accepting controversial Richard Spencer on the platform was important to send a signal that there would be no speech policing on Hatreon unlike the other big tech platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
“They are motivated ideologically. Whatever your opinion is, if it’s not the right one you’re a Nazi,” continued Wilson.
For the record, I’ve listened to hours-long debates with Richard Spencer and as wrong as I think he is about the way he sees the world, he is not violent. He is soft-spoken, well-mannered, and there seems to be no good reason to silence him. If a country values free speech it must value it for everyone, including the ones whose speech is the most unpleasant to us. Spencer is a kook! But kooks have a right to speak in America and live their lives according to their values. And make no mistake, in 2017 speech is the Internet. This is the predominant way thoughts and ideas are shared and trends are made. It is no longer plausible to suggest that someone still has the right to free speech if they are banned from the online community.
Not only was Daily Stormer kicked off GoDaddy and Google, but CloudFlare also is denying them service. CloudFlare protects websites from DDoS attacks. This kind of action is unprecedented in America and feels like something that would only happen in censorious Communist China!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has strong words for big tech companies who are engaging in speech policing.
“But we strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous. That’s because, even when the facts are the most vile, we must remain vigilant when platforms exercise these rights. Because Internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors, control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world… Companies that manage domain names, including GoDaddy and Google, should draw a hard line: they should not suspend or impair domain names based on the expressive content of websites or services…It’s notable that in GoDaddy and Google’s eagerness to swiftly distance themselves from American neo-Nazis, no process was followed; CloudFlare’s Prince also admitted that the decision was “not CloudFlare’s policy.” Policies give guidance as to what we might expect, and an opportunity to see justice is done. We should think carefully before throwing them away.”