Monday, February 20, 2017

Pewdiepie did nothing wrong

YouTube user Pewdiepie is the single most popular content provider on YouTube. Having had his videos monetized, he has made millions of dollars per year for making videos. His subscriber count is over 50 million. For comparison, the Wall Street Journal's YouTube channel has almost 500,000 subscribers. He is so influential on the site that the owners of YouTube actually listen to his opinion, and he is aware of this. He will actually speak up for less popular and influential users when the issues don't directly relate to him but he feels it is important for the site as a whole.

Most of his videos are lighthearted, made simply for general entertainment value. Recently, upon finding a vendor who offers to make a video of themselves holding up a sign with any message, he decided to see if they were sincere. He commissioned them to hold a sign with an anti-Semitic message. He did not do this because of personal beliefs in anti-Semitism, but because he wanted to see if they would actually do it. Upon being called out on anti-Semitism, he went further. He stated that his accusers would take clips of his videos out of context, and inserted a clip of him watching a speech by Adolph Hitler, to dare them to take the clip out of context.

The Wall Street Journal rose to the occasion. Someone at the Wall Street Journal decided to accuse Pewdiepie of being an anti-Semite based on these out of context clips. These people at the Journal also pressured both YouTube and Disney to stop doing business with him, costing him a large amount of revenue. His YouTube channel still exists, but videos have been demonetized.

Rather laughably, when people started reacting to the smear campaign by the Wall Street Journal, they offered to give him a platform from which he could respond to allegations by the Journal, even though they had already cost him revenue. His subscriber count is more than one hundred times theirs, and they offered to give him a platform.

The print media is losing importance. One person with a YouTube channel, without any bosses to tell him what videos to make, may have more influence than the entire Wall Street Journal. Not in all areas or in all ways, but at least in some areas this one person is more influential. When the media lashed out at him, he was able to respond, able to get his version of event out. This goes beyond the old model of the internet keeping alive a story that the media wants to bury, this goes to a direct challenge against a media narrative. This is a direct challenge by someone who isn't even a politician, such as when Donald Trump bypasses the media and speaks directly to the public through Twitter. This one person who has gotten wealthy by making YouTube videos, has sufficient influence to counter the chosen media narrative directly.

This fight that the Wall Street Journal picked with Pewdiepie is the old media lashing out at the new media, in a manner akin to an injured animal thrashing wildly. And the way they chose to do it is so pitiful, because unlike in the earlier era of media dominance, anyone can see the source videos under discussion. They are still on YouTube. Anyone even mildly curious, even if their curiosity is "I want to see what that bigot said so I can hate him too" can go see the videos and see they are not what the Journal said they are.

This actually serves as a well deserved humiliation of the mainstream media. Between the election of Donald Trump, the vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom, and the possible election of Marine Le Pen in France, the media is already losing control of the narrative. Choosing to fight with someone who is actually harmless, and losing because he is more influential in some areas, and more influential in the long run, is actually pitiful. To do so after the media recently embarrassed itself by having a discussion about fake news is humiliating. Pewdiepie did nothing wrong.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Progressive Stack

During Occupy Wall Street, and one of the reasons it eventually fizzled out, to determine who would get priority to speak a technique known as the Progressive Stack was used. This was to give "underprivileged" voices a greater voice. In order, the progressive stack is:

1. Race
2. Heteronormativity
3. Gender
4. Sexuality
5. Ability
6. Class

Missing from this list is religion, and there is no listing of which races are prioritized over others. Unofficially different races are ranked differently based on how dark the race is, so an African American ranks higher on the stack than a Hispanic - George Zimmerman was considered to be white because the person he shot was Trayvon Martin. Heternormativity refers to gender expression, as opposed to gender or sexual orientation.

This is highly correlated to the Social Justice Warrior belief in privilege, a modern political equivalent of original sin. A person is born with privilege and never able to expunge it, the only way to account for it is to admit and apologize for it, and spend the rest of one life atoning for it. There is no proof that the person did anything wrong, other than being born, but still the person is considered to be saddled with a lifetime of guilt.

Assuming a black man and a black woman both wish to speak, they both get first place due to race. Then going down the stack eventually the third determinant is reached where the black woman speaks first. There is no indication if any stack rankings are cumulative - would a transgender female rank higher or lower than a straight black male? Or could it be considered a point system where one might have several lower categories that place a final higher rank?

The problem is, as much as this was done for progressive purposes it is ultimately divisive. Every person is judged not on individual merit but on innate characteristics of the person. People are not judged as people, but are judged entirely by their demographic. This is what ultimately drove many white men away from Occupy, to the detriment of the safety of those remaining at the Occupy locations.

This also contributes to why Hillary Clinton eventually lost the 2016 election. Her campaign was focused on appealing to demographics, various groups based on innate characteristics. She forgot to campaign to everyone, believing wrongly that she could hold the Obama coalition together by focusing on many of its component parts. In a way, the election of Donald Trump could be considered a revolt against identity politics.

Given the concept of privilege, the progressive original sin, rejection of identity politics IS racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. That is why, even though Donald Trump was the first person elected president to be in favor of Gay Marriage while entering office, there is a lot of rhetoric about how he is against the very ideas he is in favor of. Not being a bigot is the new form of bigotry because that is a denial of privilege.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017


In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected to president, Governor Rick Perry discussed the possibility of Texas seceding from the United States. He was rather roundly denounced and ridiculed by the mainstream press for even speculating on the topic. In 2017, now that Donald Trump has become president, there is an actual movement for California to secede from the United States, called "Calexit."

Given the recent riots at Berkeley where violent agitators forced the university to "uninvite" Milo Yiannopoulos as a guest speaker, President Trump has threatened to cut off federal funds to the university. There is also a move to make California a "sanctuary state" in response to President Trump's plans to enforce immigration laws, again with a threat to cut off federal funding to the state (as well as any other states or cities that may declare themselves "sanctuaries").

An independent California would be no libertarian paradise. Unrestrained by the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, the first thing to be eliminated would be any and all firearm rights. Still, if this were to go forward, the prospect for liberty as a whole look promising due to the ramifications outside of California.

The first thing to notice is the electoral balance. It is possible for Democrats to be elected to the presidency due to the 55 electoral votes provided by California, just as it is possible for Republicans to be elected due to the 34 electoral votes provided by Texas. Absent California, the Democratic Party would be at a serious loss, and not just in the electoral college. Removing California would remove two Democrat senators and a significant block of Democrat representatives. This would swing the rest of the country strongly Republican. That is not necessarily good for liberty in itself, but the eventual result could become a cascade of secession from other heavily Democrat states finding themselves in a country that has just swung strongly Republican.

Calexit would also mean that, for the second time, it is the Democratic Party leading secession. Due to the War Between the States, the concept of secession is highly tied to the idea of slavery and racism. Allegedly the parties have reversed roles on the subject of race, so if California were to lead a new wave of secession by the Democratic Party it would lead to untying the concept of secession from the racism. That would make secession a more available option for any state, whether predominantly Republican, predominantly Democrat, or fairly well mixed.

Then there is the subject of which states subsidize the others, known as red state socialism. If true, this would be an opportunity for the heavily Democrat states to stop subsidizing other states. A secession movement would actually decrease wealth transfers between states, leading to a necessity to reconstruct state budgets.

An independent California would not be beholden to the foreign policy of the United States. This would enable local solutions to the question of migration of people with Mexico. Also, in 1999, the California Public Employees' Retirement System considered divesting from Turkey for political reasons. This created opposition on the grounds that California was creating its own foreign policy contrary to United States foreign policy. Were an independent California to make such a move, there would be no similar controversy.

Ultimately this would weaken the federal government as a whole, as concessions will need to be made to prevent states from leaving when the federal government takes actions contrary to state wishes. This may be the key to finally recognizing legalized marijuana in several states, and the first step towards ending the drug war as a whole. This would also lead to greater competition between the states, especially the newly independent ones, in order to provide the best climate for people to want to live or work in those states.

That leaves just one major issue, should voters in California actually vote in favor of Calexit (not a likely prospect given the current polls). What would be the response from a Republican-led federal government? Would they allow California to leave? Would they risk looking like hypocrites given Governor Perry's musings in 2009? Would they stay true to Lincoln and attempt to stop the secession? It is difficult to determine exactly what would be the response.