More than a million-and-a-half people watched Shirrako the outlaw stroll up to a feminist on the street, exchange a few words about women’s suffrage, and then proceed to punch her square in the face, all to the tune of fans whooping “LIBTARD DESTROYED” and “Ok, this is epic.”
The poor lady tried to flee, but the villainous Shirrako continued his assault, lassoing her to the ground before dragging her across cobblestones on horseback, feeding her to an alligator, and throwing dynamite at the corpse, after which the implacable fiend presumably hit the red “X” button, rolled back his GTRacing chair complete with headrest and spine support, and microwaved himself a celebratory pot pie.
Because you see, none of this happened in real life, either in the Wild West or on a modern city street. Shirrako was, in fact, playing a computer game.
But you wouldn’t have known it from Google/YouTube’s utterly unhinged response. The tech titan first removed eight of the ten YouTube videos in which Shirrako tortured the Red Dead Redemption 2 suffragette character -- again, character, as in, not an actual person. It then, as “progressive” despots are wont to do, took things a step further for no good reason whatsoever, deleting the gamer’s entire account, instantly snuffing out the nearly half-million-strong subscriber base he had taken almost a decade to build.
The content creator’s ban came about a week after he uploaded the videos portraying the aforementioned acts. Why so late? Well, that was simply around the time professional pearl-clutchers at Telegraph, The Guardian, and Motherboard, et al. took notice of Shirrako’s criminal pixel abuse.
"YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit among other things, gratuitous violence, nudity, dangerous and illegal activities, and hate speech," the company replied to a British Busybody Corporation request for comment on possible policy violations.
Allow me to translate. “Just seeking comment” is journo-mafia-speak for “we’re going to gin up hysteria about this thing you allow that we don’t like, but we’re giving you a chance to do something about it before we sound the siren.” As one of Shirrako’s fans noted, it’s no surprise to see NPCs siding with NPCs. Remember that this is an industry totally not cluttered with agenda-setting activists, but merely truth-seeking messengers.
Well, listen, I’m not asking to shoot the messenger, but can I at least play a video game in which I open-carry an RPG around a coastal city populated solely with unsuspecting blogger charlatans? Make sure to join the livestream and place bets on who shuts me down first: YouTube or CNN’s Andrew “If-You-GIF-Me-I’ll-Find-You-And-Threaten-To-Doxx-You” Kaczynski.
But back to the disingenuous media circus surrounding Shirrako. One look at the dude’s YouTube channel dispels the risible myth that he was using RDR 2 to act out some depraved, misogynist fantasy and shows that, when it comes to virtual punishment, the gamer is, in fact, an equal opportunity employer.
He has -- in the simulation -- punched an avatar styled after Adolf Hitler off of a cliff, saved a character’s uncle from savages, and, in a particularly fascinating eight-video sequence, employed a Molotov cocktail, a massive train, and good old-fashioned fists in the service of brutalizing KKK members.
“How are you looking at his YouTube channel?” you may be asking.
Well, a little later on the same day the company banned Shirrako, it changed its mind and reinstated his account, simply age-restricting the objectionable videos. Was the conscience of the employee responsible for the suspension simply awash with guilt over that one decision in a high-paying job filled with countless similar others? Did YouTube have an epiphany and discover that this is exactly the road it should not go down if it wishes to avoid regulation?
Probably not. No, what seems to have happened is that YouTube fell victim to a digital adaptation of Newton’s third law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
The same company that was buffeted so effectively into the straits of censorship by the fourth estate’s herd of high-pitched hellions found itself nudged back into the waters of free expression after Shirrako caught the attention of some of YouTube gaming’s biggest stars.
Boogie2988, KEEMSTAR, and PewDiePie, the guy with more subscribers than anyone else on the entire platform, all shared or made videos about the RDR 2 player’s plight. Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s global head of gaming, replied to KEEMSTAR’s post a few hours later with the news that Shirrako would be re-personed, so to speak.
“Sometimes we make mistakes, which is why we have multiple escalation paths for reviewers to raise tough decisions and we give creators the right to appeal,” Wyatt said. “The reviewer will be educated on this outcome and on how to avoid repeating this mistake.”
Well, you know what would ensure the mistake isn’t repeated? A pink slip.
Readers and viewers of mine might recall that I have almost never even suggested that a subject of one of my stories be fired, but I’m sure we can imagine exactly the kind of YouTube censor who nixed Shirrako. This was either a chap who speeds up instead of slows down at the honking of some teen late for lacrosse practice, or a nut who enjoys chowing down on some Ben & Jerry’s Pecan Resist ice cream. This was either a coward who caved to media goons or, more plausibly, a hack who acted out of petty and vindictive political animus. Spite, spinelessness, or a synthesis -- who cares? All are unacceptable in such a mighty tech arbiter.
Social media martyrdom doesn’t always end so well. Sure, YouTube unsuspended Jordan Peterson in August 2017 after a Daily Caller article I published -- yes, me saving the savior of the West was the gist there -- and okay, the professor had maybe tweeted about it too, but there was no such reprieve for right-wing independent journalist Ethan Ralph.
Ralph had utilized the YouTube “Super Chat” feature in September to allow his viewers to donate money to St. Jude’s Hospital in exchange for having their comments, some of which were inflammatory, but none of which the streamer could preemptively vet, displayed on-screen for others to see. Over a month later, The Wall Street Journal published a piece pertaining to YouTube, Ralph, and “hate speech,” the same day the company banned the content creator.
Just a couple of days before the WSJ piece, St. Jude’s allegedly gave the $26,000 the livestreamer had raised back to donors. If the lives of some cancer-stricken kids must be sacrificed, well, that’s just the cost of fighting hate speech. I’m glad some of us have our priorities straight.
It’s a sobering tale, but just another instance of social media gatekeepers appeasing left-wing activists digital news competitors -- as well as all of their ideologies -- at the expense of political dissidents, apolitical mischief-makers, or even third-party beneficiaries.
But it’s a short-lived ploy. If #GamerGate, Brexit, Trump’s election, etc. are any indication of the cultural barometer, winter is coming for progressive elites. And unlike RDR 2, reality has no “sign out” option.