At this point it’s become abundantly clear that the alt-right’s penchant for absolute free speech is a flimsy cover for the proliferation of white supremacy and the widespread intimidation of oppressed groups. It’s just what they do. If you’re one of these liberals defending the fascists’ First Amendment right to assemble and odiously comparing antifa to neo-Nazis—currently the most blitheringly idiotic example of false equivalence in a very crowded field—put down your sheetcake, because I have a highly instructive example for you.
PewTube was created as a haven for alt-right keyboard kommandos who found their accounts deleted from YouTube for violating community guidelines. They describe their new platform as “a free speech YouTube alternative for video, audio and images, which won’t censor you for wrongthink.” Their Twitter banner depicts the Google logo clumsily morphed into a Soviet hammer and sickle, ham-handedly shoehorning an obsolete national symbol into one of the most capitalist ventures ever created.
But free speech works both ways. We’ve seen this at the recent Patriot Prayer rally at Westlake Park, in which a handful of militia-looking dudes in generic Oakleys and fake tactical gear were vastly outnumbered by outraged counterprotesters, and in the cancellation of last week’s event by the same organization in San Francisco. In the wake of the murder of an anti-racist counterprotester in Charlottesville, dozens of “Unite the Right” rallies have been called off. Proud Boys who once wielded tiki torches and publicly chanted fascist slogans are losing their jobs, and the “crying Nazi” sits in jail declaiming his essential humanity. Newly emboldened white supremacists are experiencing a swift devaluation of their brand in the marketplace of ideas. They’re being washed back down the gutter in a human tide of righteous resistance.
Yesterday, the valiant right-wing culture warriors at PewTube responded to this effect in the online arena by removing its five most-watched videos for being leftist, including clips of the Soviet anthem, white supremacist Richard “Punch Me” Spencer getting decked and the Red Army destruction of a giant swastika.
So much for free speech, eh?
But it gets much, much richer. Despite their claims to “zero censorship” and their stated policy to “not take anything down unless it’s illegal,” PewTube began booting suspected leftist users, claiming that they were being “attacked” by “far left bots.” PewTube quickly halted signups so they could build “security features.” They urged subscribers (approximately a paltry 1,000 accounts) to follow them on Twitter for updates on when the flag of freedom could be flown once again. (Definitely check out this hilarious Twitter thread, where I learned about all this.)
That was yesterday. Today when I visited their Twitter page, it was set to “protected,” allowing only approved followers to see their tweets. The actual website now bears an announcement that it’s “moving to invite only while building security.” These once-bold combatants have beat a quick retreat to their safe spaces.