Last week, comedian Steve Berke launched an online political campaign in support of Proposition 19 in California with the recent release of his latest music video, “Should Be Legalized” , a political commentary on Eminem’s music video “Love The Way You Lie.”
The campaign, supported by NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) was generating huge internet buzz, and had amassed 108,000 views within 2 days, when YouTube flagged it for being offensive, thus requiring users to login to view the video, killing the video’s chance at becoming viral.
“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.”
YouTube failed to give any reason to Berke for flagging the video and it is presently inaccessible to the vast majority of worldwide. “The flagging system does not have a system of recourse and re-review,” stated Berke.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent, on the Board of Directors at NORML, is among those who are outraged. “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 adds, “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.”
“I just don’t understand it,” said Berke. “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.”
“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,” Berke added.
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