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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I've Been an Outspoken Critic of Censoring Conservatives, But I'm Not Leaving Patreon Over Sargon of Akkad's Ridiculous Remarks

By: Wes Messamore
The Humble Libertarian

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Jordan Peterson Is Building An Alternative To Patreon

Jordan Peterson announced along with Dave Rubin Sunday that the two leaders of what has been called "The Intellectual Dark Web" are building a Patreon alternative, set to launch "hopefully before Christmas," Peterson said.

"I’ve been working on a system to allow authors and other people who engage publicly on intellectual issues to interact more effectively with their readers and viewers and listeners. What we’re going to try and do as fast as we possibly can is to set this system up on a subscriber model that’s analogous to Patreon. It will have a bunch of additional features, which I don’t want to talk about right now, and I don’t want to overpromise because the system is new." -Jordan Peterson

Sargon of Akkad Patreon Deleted

The move is in response to the removal of Carl Benjamin, who styles himself "Sargon of Akkad," from Patreon's platform, for violating the subscription donation crowdfunding company's Community Guidelines.

If Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin want to create their own platform for creators, I am quite enthusiastic for their endeavor, but after Patreon published the transcript Monday of the video that led them to give Carl the boot, I certainly hope they will put a lot of distance between themselves and Sargon.

The offending content was from an interview Sargon gave on another creator's YouTube channel, in which he said:

“I just can’t be bothered with people who chose to treat me like this. It’s really annoying. Like, I — . You’re acting like a bunch of n*****s, just so you know. You act like white n*****s. Exactly how you describe black people acting is the impression I get dealing with the Alt Right. I’m really, I’m just not in the mood to deal with this kind of disrespect.”

“Look, you carry on, but don’t expect me to then have a debate with one of your f**gots. ...Like why would I bother? ...Maybe you’re just acting like a n****r, mate? Have you considered that? Do you think white people act like this? White people are meant to be polite and respectful to one another, and you guys can’t even act like white people, it’s really amazing to me.”

The Video That Got Carl Benjamin ("Sargon of Akkad") Banned From Patreon:

Now I hear you, the ones who are saying he was expressing the viewpoint of the Alt Right commenters he was addressing, and not his own viewpoint, but that is not very clear from what he said.

It sounds like that's his viewpoint too. You'd think a professional Internet pundit would be able to come across more clear, and have a level of awareness that someone else outside this most disreputable, parochial slice of society might be listening.

I'm not saying I endorse Patreon's decision to deplatform Sargon of Akkad (in fact I'll tell you why I think they should not have below), but I can't blame them for thinking he's a racist over these comments and I understand why they would feel the pangs of their conscience telling them not to keep serving his cause.

The Dangers of Social Media Censorship

I find the rash of purgings of almost entirely right wing creators from social media platforms this year very disconcerting, as you can tell from the three posts about Alex Jones I have pinned in the right sidebar of this blog under the Media heading.

My fear is that it will be impossible for these massive utility platforms to police content without evincing a political bias, and without making decisions that are inconsistent, and ultimately arbitrary and unfair to their creators and audiences.

I also see the danger to progressive thinkers whose views are considered too controversial and unacceptable by most people at the moment, but whose voices we need to hear most.

Why Free Speech on The Internet Is So Important

It is not only the straggling reactionaries of an appropriately discarded point of view or belief system that offend the sensibilities of most people, but also the artist, the reformer, the abolitionist, the visionary, the inventor, the pioneer, the scientist, the discoverer of new things–– who is reviled as a heretic.

Views that most people in the main stream find unacceptable often truly are, as in the case of Sargon of Akkad's vicious racializing of human virtues and vices. But sometimes...

It's everyone in the main stream whose views are repugnant and unacceptable– and the heretics are heralding progress, and the mainstream just hasn't caught up yet.

And that's why our steely commitment to free speech has been of such great benefit to America and Western civilization. If we merely censor speech instead of engage with or ignore it, I fear good heretics we need will eventually get swept up as well.

Why I Think Platforms Should Remain "Content Agnostic"

For these reasons if I had started a platform like Twitter or Patreon, it would be my policy to keep these utilities content agnostic, and let the user community decide for itself what kind of speech it finds acceptable and what kind it doesn't.

I would be very conscious of how much power I had, and loathe to set any precedent for its potential misuse.

Yet Why I Understand Content Standards Enforcement

But I can also quite easily understand Patreon deciding to take a pass on profiting from putting money in the pocket of someone who says what Sargon of Akkad said, and continuing to profit from funneling Sargons' followers' money to him would also burden my conscience as a misuse of the power of these platforms.

It seems to me like a tough choice to have to make, and that Sargon has put Patreon in a difficult position.

Either way these platforms choose to go (content agnostic vs. content standards enforcement) will be fraught with risks.

Advice for Maintaining A Platform's Integrity and Fairness When Enforcing Content Standards

So if Patreon is going to go the route of enforcing content standards, my advice to the platform (and they are surely already thinking about this amid the current controversy) is:

When you remove someone from the platform, include the reasons why up front instead of waiting days later, and you may avoid this level of outrage and boycotts in the future.

On this matter I was inclined to side with the "Intellectual Dark Web" of which I am a big fan, until the specific reasons why Sargon of Akkad was removed from Patreon were revealed.

I think transparency behind all these decisions is absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of your platform.

Exactly what an account holder did or said that prompted their removal should be held up to public scrutiny.

If you're not able or willing to be transparent up front about why an account was deleted, that seems to me like a warning flag of arbitrariness, unfairness, and abuse.

Finally, the enforcement of content standards should not be too swift, decisive, rigid, and final.

Creators should be given the opportunity to explain / defend themselves and have some form of adjudication. I know this is costly, and difficult, and time intensive, but you're the one choosing to go this route as a matter of conscience.

Also, people make mistakes and say and do things they later regret, and they can learn from their mistakes and change.

None of us would be able to stand up under the tyranny of being defined forever by something we did wrong once, not merely defined by a past transgression, but refused the exchange of goods and services with the rest of the world.

This way you may damn someone, and turn the worst within them into something even worse. There must be a place for forgiveness in content standards enforcement, by giving creators a chance to apologize and remove the offending content instead of dropping the ban hammer on them without notice.

And actually finally–– if you're going to take this approach, you've got to be fair and stop doing business with left of center creators that persist in spreading bigotry about white people, men, and other broad categories of human beings, and there are plenty of these out there, and some of them do have Patreons.

Why I'm Not Leaving Patreon

I find what Sargon said so objectionable that there's just no way I'm going to leave Patreon for refusing to do business with him over it, and if Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin don't swiftly condemn Sargon's statements that precipitated this controversy, I am going to begin to seriously question their judgment.

Though if some left of center account removals are not forthcoming, Jordan Peterson's platform might be very tempting.

And hey by the way–– visit my Patreon here.

I've got neat rewards for my supporters!

Thank you!

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