10/04/2018
Dieuwe de Boer
Opinion
Back to top

Fury of a Woman Scorned

The news-cycle in NZ and the US are closely linked, so when a woman opened fire at YouTube HQ in California, it was news over here just as fast. Social media was hoping that the elusive "Trump supporter, NRA member, and Alex Jones fan" mass shooter had finally been discovered. Early reports indicated the shooter was a woman and that it was a "domestic dispute", but the truth turned out to resemble something closer to "workplace violence", since the woman was a YouTuber who felt slighted by the company.

Mark Steyn comments on why the story fizzled out so quickly:

In fact, the shooter was subsequently revealed to be Nasim Aghdam. What kind of name is that for a psychologically disturbed white-loner NRA gun-nut? Well, Miss Aghdam turns out to be a Persian vegan who came to the US in 1996. She made the first vegan Farsi music video. Is that as big a breakthrough as it sounds? Well, if you haven't already seen it, you'll never know: her entire social-media presence has been vaporized, in part because a mass shooter who's female, vegan, immigrant and Iranian is not helpful to the narrative - which is why CNN, MSNBC and the rest have done to this news story what YouTube did to her vegan video.

The NZ media tried to push a different angle the day after the facts cam out, with the following tag-line from Newshub:

Hitler-quoting vegan practiced at gun range before attack

This is a beautifully crafted piece of click-bait that leaves out some key details. When she quoted Hitler, she did not do so in agreement with him. She was criticizing perceived fascism at YouTube. Then of course, there is the media's well-crafted insertion of the fact that she practiced at a gun range. That sounds like a rather mundane activity. She owned a gun, so she practiced at a range. Doesn't everyone do that? The idea behind using this as a prominent feature is to programme the readers into associating "gun range" and "attack", by putting one before the other. It allows to demonise gun sports by associating it with mass shootings.

YouTube has been similarly waging a war on gun videos, by banning some channels, banning the promotion of companies that sell firearms, and now banning instructional how-to videos. There has been much noise from the right-wing that YouTube is censoring them, with some even bringing court cases against them. We now know that these policies affect not also conservatives, but also crazy people. Mark Steyn goes on to say that discrimination cases against the company won't be ever winnable:

But YouTube will now be able to respond that they don't just discriminate against conservatives, they discriminate against all sorts of people, including Iranian vegans - and they have the bullet-holes to prove it.

There is of course a glaring problem with YouTube's policies. Their censorship, perceived and real, has left the relationship they have with their content creators in tatters. Steyn closes off by highlighting the convergence that has taken place with this incident:

The San Bruno attack also underlines a point I've been making for over a decade, ever since my troubles with Canada's "human rights" commissions: "Hate speech" doesn't lead to violence so much as restraints on so-called "hate speech" do - because, when you tell someone you can't say that, there's nothing left for him to do but open fire or plant his bomb. Restricting speech - or even being perceived to be restricting speech - incentivizes violence as the only alternative.

...

What happened yesterday is a remarkable convergence of the spirits of the age: mass shootings, immigration, the Big Tech thought-police, the long reach of the Iranian Revolution, animal rights, vegan music videos... But in a more basic sense the horror in San Bruno was a sudden meeting of two worlds hitherto assumed to be hermetically sealed from each other: the cool, dispassionate, dehumanized, algorithmic hum of High Tech - and the raw, primal, murderous rage breaking through from those on the receiving end.