On Thursday, Carlos Maza, who writes Vox's "Strikethrough" video series, launched a campaign to pressure YouTube to ban conservative commentator and comedian Steven Crowder. Crowder's crime? Producing a series of rebuttal videos to "Strikethrough" that include mocking references to Maza's identity.
In response, YouTube says its now looking into Crowder's channel and has reportedly already begun demonetizing some of his videos.
On Friday, Crowder responded by condemning this as yet another example of "corporate censorship" of a conservative voice and making clear that "this is a war ... we will fight to the absolute bitter end both legally and publicly."
Maza — whose Twitter handle is "GayWonk" and whose self-description on his account reads "Marxist pig. Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist." — issued a series of tweets complaining that YouTube is allowing Crowder to poke fun at his identity and effectively giving a "megaphone" to "a***holes" by not enforcing their harassment policies thoroughly enough. Maza also suggests that Crowder is to blame for him getting doxxed last year, which resulted in his phone getting "bombarded with hundreds of texts at the exact same time" calling on him to "debate Steven Crowder" — an accusation Crowder expressly denies in a video response to Maza's ban campaign posted Friday (video below).
"Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video 'debunking' Strikethrough," Maza wrote in a series of tweets. "Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity." As an example, Maza includes a clip of Crowder referring to him as "gay," a "gay Latino," and a "lispy queer." "I've been called an anchor baby, a lispy queer, a Mexican, etc. These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter. Last year, I got doxxed, and it scared the f*** out of me. My phone was bombarded with hundreds of texts at the exact same time. The messages? ['Debate Steven Crowder.']"
Maza then turns up the pressure on YouTube to ban Crowder: "I'm f***ing pissed at @YouTube, which claims to support its LGBT creators, and has explicit policies against harassment and bullying: [see policies here]. Crowder, claims Maza, is protected because he has 3 million YouTube subscribers, "and enforcing their rules would get them accused on anti-conservative bias." Maza insists "this isn't about 'silencing conservatives,'" but rather YouTube "helping incredibly powerful cyberbullies organize and target people they disagree with." Maza then calls on his supporters to organize and target Crowder by going to his videos and flagging them as harassment.
In response, Crowder fired back in a video on Friday arguing that despite Maza's insistence that he's not trying to silence a conservative, that's exactly what this is about — and YouTube appears to be complying. While Crowder acknowledges that he's made fun of Maza, he says he didn't do so maliciously and notes that he's a comedian who "ribs" everyone. Crowder also stresses that he has always condemned any form of doxxing online and challenges Maza to find proof.
In the end what this is really about, says Crowder, is "corporate censorship": Vox and YouTube working together to silence voices and opinions they don't like. "This is corporate censorship, and this is yet another giant company trying to lean on this channel, your channel, and the content that you've created," he says. "And this is a war ... we will fight to the absolute bitter end both legally and publicly."
Crowder has also created a page that provides all of his "Strikethrough" rebuttal videos. "Watch them in full context for yourself, and please note our pesky habit of citing sources to support our facts," he notes.