The video sharing site YouTube, just recently purchased by Google, has once again allowed a band of determined users to censor something they don't like.
The latest casualty is a a controversial spoof political ad by a Republican filmmaker David Zucker (producer of such films as "Scary Movie 4," "Airplane," among others) which depicts former secretary of state Madeline Albright, a Democrat who served in the Clinton administration, acting as a maid, servant and cheerleader for Islamic terrorists and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. After the Republican party declined to run with it, the ad was sent to Matt Drudge who splashed it worldwide by embedding it in a page on his site.
The story doesn't end there, though. After Drudge picked it up, Democratic YouTube viewers used the site's software to "flag" the video as "inappropriate," a designation usually reserved for extremely violent or sexually explicit video clips. There is nothing even remotely sexual or violent in the clip. The closest thing to an explicit image in the ad is a scene in which "Albright" bends over and her skirt tears a bit in the seat, hardly the stuff that sets FCC commissioners' hearts aflutter.
While you can still view the video if you watch it embedded on another web site, if you try to watch it on YouTube, you'll be greeted with the message: "This video may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community. To view this video, please verify you are 18 or older by logging in or signing up."
This isn't the first time YouTube's editorial buzzsaw has dismembered conservative and politically incorrect speech. The site has repeatedly pulled videos critical of Islam, and even gone so far as banning popular conservative blogger Michelle Malkin from posting videos. No similarly high-profile liberal or anti-Christian censorship has been reported.
Questions also remain about YouTube's editorial process. It appears that the site allows anything (including sexually suggestive content and entire episodes of television shows) to be posted initially but if too many complaints about a particular clip come in, the software will automatically censor it. Almost certainly what happened with the Zucker ad is that liberal users complained it was "offensive" and managed to get the clip censored automatically.
I'm certain that the site allows administrators to override user votes for and against video clips. Will they do so in a patently obvious case of "flag spam" or will YouTube once again allow angry activists to censor speech they dislike? Will YouTube put controls on disingenuous users who aren't looking out for objectionable content but instead trying to stifle those with whom they disagree?
Here's a link to Hot Air's embedded version of the ad. Decide for yourself whether the ad is "inappropriate."