The Soph Shut Down

Joe Bernstein, Buzzfeed writer and left-wing activist, knows one thing about the political landscape: if you write a short blogpost about someone you don’t like, corporations will instantly cave in to your demands. The latest subject of his posts is YouTuber Soph, formerly known as Lieutenant Corbis. Receiving massive cosigns from prominent YouTubers like Daniel Keem and Pyrocynical, she reached over 800,000 subscribers reacting to cringe videos. This year, Soph turned her attention towards satirizing a left-wing culture that she identifies as plaguing every aspect of public schools and corporate institutions.

Largely as a consequence of Bernstein, her channel’s now restricted from uploading and is on the verge of being banned for hate speech. Joe Bernstein’s blog post can be neatly summarized in two words: concern trolling. He writes “YouTube has taken no ownership over what is happening to kids who grow up inhaling its trademark stench…” He’s right, there really is a moral crisis at YouTube. By now, we’ve all seen the overt and widespread efforts from YouTube to glorify sexual depravity to children. From child drag queens to James Charles whose primary demographic is 14 year olds, YouTube’s “kid problem” really is “well known” as Joe Bernstein points out, just not in the way he wants his readers to believe. He suggests that YouTube is silently, yet actively cosigning the spreading of reactionary viewpoints:

The video is called “Be Not Afraid,” and it may be the clearest manifestation yet of the culture the executives of Alphabet’s video monster are delivering to millions of kids around the world, now via children incubated in that selfsame culture.

The plain reality is that executives at YouTube do everything within their power to do the opposite. Their clear goal is to deliver social justice tinged content to its users, while maintaining a shoddy veneer of neutrality. Their hate speech policies, statements made by CEO Wojcicki, and all their promotional videos make this no secret. Take the classic example of Akilah Obviously, a creator constantly promoted by YouTube executives. She publishes a video directly and explicitly calling for violence against anyone who deviates from a hyper-left racialist perspective, labeling them Nazis. In the description, she ensures everyone understands that she’s not joking and it should be interpreted as a direct call to violence, writing that it ‘goes for anyone thinking their hate speech should be protected.’ We can also turn to similar cases like Steven Bonnell, a popular livestreamer, who’s unironically claimed he wants people to carry out violence on conservatives.

After awhile, you begin to realize pointing out these countless instances of double standards is fundamentally useless. Journalists’ clear goal is simply to give the public false information and they’ll continue to do so. An obvious example is his claim that Soph is “threatening to murder the executive of the video site that has made her famous” as if the joke wasn’t obvious. The ridiculous image of a little girl in a suburban neighborhood posing a threat to the CEO of a massive global conglomerate is a comedic trope utilized by movies regularly. It’s understandable that this type of humor may not be advertiser friendly, but that isn’t the conversation we’re having. Bernstein’s clear and achieved goal is to have this child’s life ruined with accusations of racism.

We’ve seen this pathological behavior before. Just a few years ago, he fabricated the story that comedian Sam Hyde included subliminal Nazism in his Adult Swim show World Peace--which literally didn’t happen. Despite the show receiving widespread acclaim, it was taken off the air.  There really isn’t a possibility that Joe Bernstein believes what he’s writing. We’ve all seen journalists use this gaslighting tactic before and it will continue to be used. After all, no real world punishments will be meted out for those who make it their mission to lie to the public.

Someone like Dave Rubin may suggest that if only the far left were more open to dialogue, we’d be able to come to a reasonable compromise. But it’s important to recognize these people for what they are. What’s being acted out isn’t simply a struggle between conservatives and a wacky liberal left gone wild. It’s a struggle between normal people and legitimately evil people with a fundamentally different moral framework. That description isn’t some sort of rhetorical hyperbole: it fits the behavior journalists act out against  figures like Brett Kavanaugh, the Covington Kids, and now Soph. In the case of Soph, we can turn to Talia Lavin, a far left journalism operative at Media Matters. She writes to Soph, under the guise that it’s nothing more than a good faith attempt to learn more about her. When Soph refuses to engage seriously with her, she finds her father’s phone number and begins harassing him, calling him a ‘white supremacist, nazi, and racist.’ NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute hired her this year teach a course on “Reporting on the Far Right,” describing her as a “far-right extremism and social justice” expert.  

Joe Bernstein concludes his blog post about Soph with this: “She's been publishing on YouTube for years with no consequence other than becoming famous." Consider the gross irony that there’s not been a single consequence for the middle aged man contorting a child’s joke, permanently blemishing her name with accusations as serious as advocating violence and holding racist beliefs. Joe Bernstein and Talia Lavin, along with hundreds of others, will continue to sit comfortably in their extravagant metropolitan offices in universities and blogrooms, deciding who gets to speak. When you fully recognize these malicious actors control every consequential pathway of digital communication, the idea that this will be resolved with more conversations becomes all the more wishful.