YouTube Censors Pro-Pot Parody

Last week, for our Friday Film Festival we pointed you toward comedian Steve Berke’s campaign song in support of California’s Proposition 19, “Should Be Legalized,” a satire of Eminem’s music video for the song, “Love the Way You Lie.” His campaign – legalizing pot – is supported by NORML (the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), and was generating fabulous buzz on the internet, with 108,000 views in two days.

Then, YouTube flagged it as “offensive,” which requires users to log onto the site in order to watch the video, negating its ability to become viral.

Berke told Cannabis Culture magazine, “We were on pace to reach 1 million views within a week, and our video was rallying supporters of Prop 19 and decriminalization in every state that had it on the ballot. Then YouTube flagged us for being offensive and killed any chance we had at reaching our potential audience. Their censorship of this video is similar to the Internet censorship that takes place in repressive countries like North Korea and China.”

He also said that YouTube didn’t give any reason for marking the video as offensive, explaining, “The flagging system does not have a system of recourse and re-review.”

Outrage is the most common response. Norm Kent, a Florida-based attorney on NORML’s board of directors said in the same CC article, “We will not let YouTube squash a vibrant political campaign the week before the historic November 2nd elections. Videos of rapper Snoop Dogg smoking marijuana are not flagged as offensive, but a song that merely names him as a marijuana user is? YouTube is effectively freezing a viral political movement as it gains momentum in time for a critical vote. They must remove the flag. If they do not, we will pursue the matter further until they do.”

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre weighed in as well, adding, “YouTube’s building a wall around Steve Berke’s video makes no sense in light of dozens of other videos that depict normal cannabis use. YouTube, whether it means to or not, is stifling legitimate political discourse regarding an important initiative vote in California next week that seeks to legalize and tax cannabis.”

And Berke said that he didn’t understand the decision, pointing out, “People smoking marijuana in videos on YouTube go unflagged, but our video, that involves actors merely pretending to smoke marijuana as political satire, is flagged immediately.” He continued, “In Eminem’s video, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, arson and murder are all prevalent and the video is not censored in any way. In fact, YouTube runs ads against it, not only profiting off the video, but also making it viewable to all ages at all times.”e

The link to Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uelHwf8o7_U&ob=av3e

The link to Berke’s “Should Be Legalized” is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdIYVWA0dr0

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