After all of the hoopla surrounding Rev. Terry Jones first wanting to burn Korans on September 11, and then strongly backing away from the event, the news media must have been itching for something to cover this weekend. The memory of the largest criminal act of terror against the United States of America and the death of 3000 Americans simply wasn’t enough to garner the ratings they need to survive against anonymous internet bloggers and non-journalists. When an unidentified man near Ground Zero decided to burn pages from the Quran, the media had their weekend news story.
Though we wouldn’t personally take to lighting a Koran on fire, we fully support this American’s right to do so in public (or private), just as we support what most Americans what consider to be outrageous and unnecessary acts of burning a Christian Bible, Jewish Tanakh or the American Flag. All of these acts are offensive and inappropriate to large numbers of people. As Americans, many of us have grown accustomed to being regularly offended, and this perhaps explains why desecrating an American Flag or burning a Bible is not considered to be a big deal by mainstream media companies – including those based solely on the internet such as Youtube.com.
A most interesting sign of the political times is that the media, in this case Youtube, one of the largest media companies in terms of content distribution, chose to play the apologist and has attempted to distance themselves from the Quran burning incident with a disclaimer, presumably for the benefit of those from the religion of Islam who may be insulted. Incidentally, no such disclaimer is present for similar acts relating to sacred symbols belonging to other groups of people.
Those accessing the video via Youtube were greeted with the following disclaimer:
“The following content has been identified by the Youtube community as being potentially offensive or inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.“
Once a user acknowledges the disclaimer, they are redirected to the following video, linked from Drudge Report:
Curiously, we explored other potentially inappropriate and offensive content on Youtube, and found that, although hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide may find the burning of a Bible to be a despicable act requiring a pre-viewing disclaimer, no such disclaimers were present for the following two (of over several hundred ) bible burning videos:
Algerians burn Christian Bible prior to soccer match versus Sudan:
Here, a bible is burned by Satanists:
In the following video, a US flag is burned in Mexico City. As you may have guessed, it’s been deemed as appropriate by the Youtube community:
In the following appropriate and non-offensive video, followers of Islam burn the US and British flags in London, while chanting “Democracy you will pay.” (Approximately 2:45).
After the Muslim world’s outrage over a series of Muhammad cartoons published in a Danish newspapper, and the death threats voiced against South Park creators over one of their episodes making comedic remarks (and pictures) of Muhammad, we were surprised to find that the following video was not marked as offensive or inappropriate.
There are tens of millions of Youtube viewers around the world, which begs the question, how does Youtube determine which content is offensive and/or inappropriate?