If you've never watched one of Pat Condell's YouTube rants, you haven't lived. Month after month (fortnightly sometimes) Condell lays into religious extremists and multicultural appeasers with magnificent lack of concern. His opinions aren't subtle, and his arguments tend to repeat themselves after a while, but at his best Pat is fearless, life-affirming, cathartic and very, very funny.
Yesterday, YouTube withdrew his latest video after just a few hours. It's not clear why. True, he was very rude about Saudi Arabia, and the version of Islam that emanates from there, which he described as "just about the nastiest belief system on this faith-obsessed planet, and it's a cowardly one as well, enforced by cowardly men who are afraid of women and whose only language is ultimately violence". But then he was equally rude last month, when he referred to moves by the OIC to outlaw religious defamation in these terms:
Their first order of business was to pass a resolution banning criticism of Islam and Sharia, and by extension of their own barbaric regimes, with all the stonings and beheadings and female genital mutilation that so disgusts everyone in the civilised world. It other words, they've tried to make it illegal to criticise evil, a bit like banning penicillin because the bacteria are offended.
That video is still up.
So if it isn't criticism of Islam that got Condell's video removed, and it wasn't criticism of Saudi Arabia, what was it? Some have suggested that, by supporting a petition against Sharia on the UK government's website, Condell was being inappropriately political. But overtly political messages abound on YouTube. The US election is largely being fought there, or so it sometimes appears.
It surely can't be the case that this is the first time one of his rants has been complained of. I'd be amazed if the army of Condell-haters out there in YouTube land didn't make multiple complaints against him every day. They certainly send him tons of personal abuse. And his videos invariably generate several equally or more impassioned responses, from Muslims and from those who find his views offensive. This, of course, is what YouTube is for. "We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view," they claim. Have they received death threats, I wonder?
Happily, YouTube's latest foray into net censorship seems to have backfired spectacularly, with literally hundreds (possibly by now thousands) of Pat's fans uploading the banned video to their own accounts and daring YouTube to take them down. As of the time of writing, it's unclear whether this was a rogue decision that will soon be reversed or evidence of a new, cowardly policy to clamp down on forcefully-expressed disdain for religious hardliners. Will they bar all Pat Condell's videos? Will YouTube become as tightly monitored as Comment is Free?
Here it is, anyway, from a link beyond YouTube's control.
And if that whets your appetite, have a look at Condell's YouTube channel, which has more, much more, of the same.
UPDATE: MediaWatchWatch draws attention to this report from the Arab Times:
Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) Chairman Dr Adel Al-Damkhi has asked the government to put pressure on the officials of ‘YouTube’ — a video sharing website — to delete all derogatory statements about Islam and Muslims from the site, reports Al-Seyassah.
Urging the authorities to take the necessary legal action in case the website fails to erase the statements, Al-Damkhi stressed “uttering profanities against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the worst form of human rights violation in the world. Attacks on the values and tenets of Islam are extremely dangerous and unacceptable.”