About a year after writing a defense of hatred, I have changed my mind.
Hatred is morally wrong, and incompatible with a just and functional society. It only divides, and it dehumanizes the other. In a polarized world like ours, we don’t need more division. We need connection, and mutual understanding.
That is why it is important to protect the connections we have with others, especially those with whom we vehemently disagree—perhaps especially with them, and even if it comes at the cost of what we value most highly. Because nothing is more important than not hating things.
In pondering this, however I came across a disturbing case of systemic hatred; an edifice of structural dehumanization and isolation. This, I found in YouTube’s own Hate Speech policy.
The policy defines Hate Speech as “content that promotes violence against or has the primary purpose of inciting hatred against individuals or groups based on certain attributes.” Their list of sample attributes includes such things as race, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation.
However, this policy has recently been used to promote a dehumanizing pattern of ostracism, which constitutes social violence, and even monetary assault, against certain individuals whose unpopular points of view make YouTube a more diverse and vibrant community.
In fact, this policy’s primary purpose must be to legitimize hatred against certain people based upon attributes that are at least partially beyond their control.
To begin with, the list is an aggregation of traits that are beyond the control of the individual, yet it conspicuously leaves out one trait which has been used to justify oppression: political affiliation.
We know from recent neuroscience research that there are neurological differences between conservatives and liberals, and the PEW Research Center has found that political beliefs appear to be hereditary with a genetic correlation of about 0.55. In statistics, this is considered a strong correlation. By comparison, the well-known and broadly accepted heritability of intelligence is between 0.6 and 0.7.
It is perfectly moral to refuse to judge people for aspects of their nature that are beyond their control. In fact, judging someone based upon inborn traits is positively monstrous. This, clearly, is why religion was included in the list, since there is a 0.6 – 0.7 correlation between the religion that a person was born into and the religion that they practice as an adult. When we look at religiosity on any scale that is meaningful for determining policy, religiosity is clearly an accident of birth, not a choice. Statistically, it is literally no more reasonable to expect someone to change their religion than it is to change their intelligence quotient. But the demand that YouTube content creators change their political worldview or face demonetization and censorship is as monstrous as any form of Islamophobia or Antisemitism for the same reason: it denies people their identity, and condemns them for their inborn nature. Yet the hate speech policy of YouTube promotes hatred in exactly this fashion.
We know from the brave and courageous Muslim advocate Daisy Khan, speaking on behalf of her Jewish friend, that the dehumanization which comes in the form of mockery, ostracism, and systematic disenfranchisement is always a potential antecedent to genocide. This is not merely a point about the effects of YouTube’s dehumanization of politically controversial YouTubers like Baked Alaska, Razorfist, and Tim Pool, but also evidence of an underlying motive.
Dr. Jordan Peterson—a clinical psychiatrist and prominent professor of psychology at the University of Toronto—has said that “if you can’t understand why someone is doing something, look at the consequences of their actions, whatever they might be, and then infer the motivations from their consequences.” Given the inconsistency in the application of YouTube’s policy for removing videos, one can only infer that YouTube’s primary purpose is to incite hatred against those who they demonetize, ban, throttle, and otherwise unperson.
This is further confirmed by the demographic pattern of who gets removed. I have not been able to find any data on the matter (why isn’t this public?), but from what I have seen, YouTube’s policies inordinately affect young white men, constituting a pattern of systemic hatred and oppression based upon age, race, and gender. Needless to say, age, race, and gender are largely beyond an individual’s control. The fact that this audacious hatred and bigotry has gone unchallenged for so long often leaves me literally shaking with rage.
Although the idea that hatred can be a good thing is clearly immoral and preposterous, the link between love and hatred is nevertheless a strong one. Videos that make people strongly attached to certain people and ideas will inevitably result in more division, hatred, and ultimately, violence. In short, serving as a platform for content about things that matter is contributing to a culture of hate.
All is not lost for YouTube, however. There are some things that they can do to mitigate, and perhaps even reverse, the effects of their hateful policy:
- Replace All Cat Videos With Videos About Tax Law. The neural circuitry involved in love—the putamen and the insular cortex—is the same as that involved with hate, and this is almost certainly causal. If we are to help make our global community safer and more inclusive, the best way to do this is to replace all videos that inspire amusement, fondness, joy, or anything else that can lead to love with content that is practical and ideally, as boring as possible. YouTube should begin with cat videos, which are notoriously cute and lead to feelings of fondness and attachment, and replace them with videos about tax law. While people may disagree over the details of tax law, it is almost impossible to have an emotional volatile reaction to it. As a side benefit, YouTube will almost certainly never run out of content.
- Celebrate Violence. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” In this way, hatred cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. How then can we drive out hate if we do not promote and celebrate it? YouTube should feature videos of violent hatred in its trending sections, perhaps including videos of ISIS executions, or content from Colin Flaherty. By loving and celebrating violence, we can defeat hatred.
- Viciously Attack Political Advocates. There is a worrying trend among Millennials that is even worse than eating Tide pods, and that is caring about politics. Expressing a political opinion is necessarily oppressive and hateful towards people who hold different political opinions, because politics is by definition concerned with wielding the monopoly of force held by the state. As discussed earlier, people by and large cannot help their political affinities, and so the right thing to do is to go after the life and livelihood of anyone who expresses a political thought. Getting them fired is a good start, but ideally, they should be made miserable to the point of suicidal ideation. If they actually commit suicide, then interpersonal violence is prevented by achieving what would have been the desired effects of violence without needing to actually engage in it.
This is a win against hatred.
On the surface, this may sound like a contradiction with the primary complaint, which is the suppression of particular political views. However, if all political views are suppressed, then we cannot be guilty of hating any group in particular.
- Remove Age Restrictions. It may also be prudent to remove age-restrictions on videos, which is of course an obvious form of age discrimination.
With these recommendations in mind, I hope that YouTube will apologize for and correct for its shocking bigotry, and together we can work towards a world without hatred. It is in YouTube’s power to help create a world with nothing to kill or die for, and with enough time and effort, perhaps one day we can achieve a world of peace.