Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul had a video removed from YouTube and his channel suspended for seven days after posting a COVID-19 related video deemed in violation of the media giant’s rules. Paul slammed YouTube in a response, calling them an “arm of the government.”
“I’m not sure when YouTube became an arm of the government, and I’m not really sure it’s good for journalism to also be an arm of the government without any repercussions or push back,” Paul said during a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Daily Wire.
He added, “As a libertarian-leaning Senator, I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, but I think it is really anti-free speech, anti-progress of science, which involves skepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth.”
Paul added, “We realize this in our court systems that both sides present facts on either side of a question and complete an adversarial process to reach the truth in each case.”
Paul concluded by arguing, “I will try to channel my anger, not in breaking these companies up but by publicly expressing my disagreement with them and publicly promoting other channels that offer free speech alternatives.”
The senator’s approach is somewhat unique among conservatives. Many GOP leaders have called for the breakup of big tech companies. Several have also argued for social media outlets to be regulated similar to public utilities like phone companies in order to require equal free speech rights.
Paul instead argues for encouraging competitors who support free speech rights. The option holds some weight, as newer outlets like video-platform Rumble and social media alternatives like Gettr, Gab, Parler and MeWe emerge.
However, it remains concerning when the media outlets most used by Americans can easily regulate views it personally deems inappropriate. The biggest example was former President Donald Trump’s bans across social media. They included a permanent ban from Twitter, along with a multi-year ban from Facebook and Instagram, among others.
One interesting twist in the “banning wars” remains the popularity among those who are booted from platforms. It seems Trump has only increased in popularity among many Americans who see his removal from social media as a badge of honor. Being kicked off of Twitter or having a post removed from Facebook has almost become a joy among some conservatives.
In a nation that values free speech, being removed from a platform over free speech is more celebrated than condemned. YouTube would probably make less noise by allowing Paul’s video to remain than by removing it and giving him a seven-day suspension.
Paul’s background as a medical doctor has positioned him as a leading voice among conservatives in response to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s increasingly political coronavirus advice. Their ongoing battles have also made Paul a target among some in big tech.
The big question is why does a senator’s questions about a pandemic virus warrant removal from media? If Paul can be removed, so can the rest of us. And that little fact is a growing concern among all Americans concerned about the future of free speech.