I mentioned in a post some time ago that I was disappointed that a video with a bit of swearing in (Nick’s epic bowling movie, for example) could be banned from YouTube.com whereas videos from the BNP which solicited almost explicitly racist comments are left untouched. This situation is symptomatic of a problem with the far-right in online communities: they’re far better organised than the left wing are. So, for example, a video during which a Socialist party member reads from a selection of BNP literature and describes them as racist is met with responses like ” Can you explain the non-stop HATE I see every day in the eyes of black men…?”.
Later, the comments devolve into opposing sides referring to eachother as “Moron” and later, “C*nt”. Intriguingly, this last word is banned from videos on YouTube but not from the comments people leave. Check out the abuse this user gets on his profile page. Interestingly, I only stumbled upon that user’s profile because he, in turn, had been sending me offensive and threatening messages because he thought I’d posted a video spoofing homophobic reggae ‘star’, Buju Banton. In turn, a video of fellow reggae performer Shabba Ranks saying the bible supports Buju’s positon features the comment “Heah i aint famous so f*ck it, all queers should be shot dead it aint right and should be dealt with by aggression and plenty of it cut there cocks off if they cant use it properly f*ckin sick bastards.. [sic]”.
I recognise that in the US, where YouTube is registered, there exists a stronger belief in freedom of expression, whatever offence is caused. And yet, YouTube’s Community Guidelines state “We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality”. The advice given by YouTube is that if you’re not happy with something, you should flag it as inappropriate and it will be dealt with. I know, however, that this is just not applied to offensive comments.
So what should be done? Some people will say that frankly, freedom of speech should be upheld above all other rights. I disagree when it comes to hate speech as categorised in YouTube’s own rules. YouTube really needs to make more of an effort to moderate debate on its pages. There’s no stopping stupid thugs making unpleasant videos like this but YouTube should be checking the content that gets uploaded to its site.
Those who live in Catalonia, along with those who are simply interested in the region’s struggle for self government, will be watching the next few weeks with interest.
Catalonia’s government, the Generalitat (or rather Parlament), has proposed a series of changes to the statute that enshrines the autonomy of Catalonia. The new Estatut basically sets out to reinforce the concept of the Catalan nation as a separate entity to that of Spain. Anyone who’s still reading this will probably be aware of the huge importance Catalans attach to their nationality and difference from Spaniards, and will probably be aware of my opinions on the subject.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I consider myself to be a sort of non-Catalan Catalan republican. I have read the history of the issue and certainly side with the Esquerra Republicana when it comes to their most basic aim: the independence (and republicanism) of Catalonia. Indeed, I support a Spanish republic… but I do feel that Spain could slip into civil unrest (if not war) if a republic were declared.
Anyway, the Generalitat has sent their new Estatut to the Spanish government in Madrid where it will meet skepticism from Spanish Socialists (the ruling party) and out right damnation from the Partido Popular – that bastion of fascists and the nemesis of Catalonia (I’m not misusing the word fascist here… just take a look at the origins of this young political party, and you see that it is absolutely the creation of the crumbling fascist dictatorship). There’s going to be a big fight over this Estatut which some commentators are saying could lead to a split in the ruling Socialist party.
What (mostly right wing) people are worried about is that the 1978 Spanish Constitution will somehow be cancelled out if Catalonia is referred to as a nation. They feel that if Catalonia is referred to in this way, it will mean that legally, the Spanish nation is not really a nation. For me, this is one of the reasons why the Estatut is a great idea. The 1978 Constitution was forced on a nation still rightly fearful of a re-establishment of the former dictatorship – the parliament had recently agreed an ‘Act of Forgetting’ which absolved all fascists from any crimes they had committed during the civil war they started, and the 40 year dictatorship they imposed afterwards. For this reason, the Spanish Constitution needs to be reformed anyway. L’Estatut is just the start of a range of changes needed to address the modern idea of what Spain is. That and the fact that Catalans want to control their own finances. And it’s going to be debated in Madrid starting this week, I believe.
What we can look forward to is a Socialist party divided along lines of nationality, but essentially not unhappy with L’Estatut. They will be forced to make changes to the document, but how far they are forced to move is still not clear. Which makes the next few weeks of great importance when it comes to the movement for rewriting the Spanish Constitution.
The English text of L’Estatut is available from the Generalitat’s webiste here. More information about these issues can be found in the Catalunya section.