Comedian Steven Crowder is known for his comical – and, often times, edgy – viral videos. Keeping up with current events as he typically does, the performer posted a video on Facebook last week surrounding the George Zimmerman trial. Little did he know that the social media platform would inevitably ban the clip, citing a “hate speech” violation.
Before we get into the specifics of the removal, let’s first take a brief look at the video, which meshes media footage from Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the much-covered court trial with Crowder’s perspective on her comments.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that during questioning, Jeantel made some curious and noteworthy comments. When asked about whether Trayvon Martin might have lied to her, she said, “That’s real retarded, sir. That’s real retarded to do that, sir” – a response many found quite odd. Then there was Jeantel’s refusal to admit that the term “creepy ass cracker” was a racial statement.
Crowder took these moments and ran with them, poking fun in the viral video in question, which he titled, “‘Retarded’ Racist Zimmerman Trial Witness.” In assessing footage of Jeantel making these statements, the comedian made numerous quips that were laden with sarcasm about how “creepy ass cracker” obviously isn’t racist because white people use it all the time as a term of endearment.
He then turned to the term “retarded.”
“Now initially that [Jeantel using the word 'retarded'] could seem offensive… but I understand in this instance its different, because, according to the records, the star witness, Rachel, as you’ve seen, would appear to be a special needs person – and so she can use the word,” Crowder joked. “She can say that something is retarded. See, you and I can’t use the word. But only people with special needs can call people retarded.”
This may be what landed Crowder in hot water with Facebook. But considering that he regularly stretches boundaries for the sake of comedy – and taking into account that he has never seen one of his videos removed from the platform – the conservative performer was perplexed.
Watch the edgy (and heavily sarcastic) video, below:
After realizing on July 1 that the clip had disappeared from his Facebook page, Crowder contacted the company’s sales department, noting that he had paid to advertise the clip and that it subsequently disappeared without reason.
“The video is… centered around Rachel Jeantel repeatedly using the word ‘retarded’ as well as ‘creepy ass cracker’ in her testimony on national television,” Crowder said in an e-mail to a Facebook contact named Bryce Dahnert.
After sending numerous messages demanding to know why it was removed, the company responded and looked into the matter, determining that the video was “removed for violating [the] policy around hate speech.” Dahnert explained that, even if Crowder didn’t intend to discriminate, Facebook deemed the clip’s contents unpalatable.
“While your post may not have been intended as hateful, or discriminatory, the content itself contained speech that is hateful,” the response read, in part. “The guidance I have been given by the policy team states that you could re-post this content as long as you also post a message condemning or clarifying the actual hate speech.”
The letter concluded by noting that Facebook would not be able to publish the video in its original form, but that a denunciation of the commentary “or clarification on the quote containing hateful speech” would bring the clip back into compliance.
What’s unclear, though, is whether Crowder’s commentary was the problem, or whether Jeantel’s statements were flagged by Facebook as being inappropriate.
The letter from the company doesn’t definitively determine what exactly violated its policies. If it is the latter, there would be clear issues with any other clip uploaded by media outlets or others that highlight the same testimony. While it seems more likely that Crowder’s assessment was deemed inappropriate, TheBlaze reached out to Facebook to clarify; we are awaiting a response.
We also reached Crowder by phone. He remains perplexed over a few elements associated with this story and wonders whether the ban was political in nature (he regularly produces conservative content).
To begin, he explained that he had paid to advertise the clip and that Facebook took the money and then later removed the video. This causes one to question why it wasn’t rejected from the beginning, as the company seemingly made a profit from what it later deemed “hate speech.”
“They advertised it Thursday through Friday and then removed it Sunday… or Monday,” Crowder said. “They took the money, advertised it and then took it off.”
The comedian also said that he found the subject matter violation surprising. After all, his video about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad was extremely controversial and much more likely, in his view, to be flagged and removed (but it wasn’t).
Crowder also noted that pages are currently live and active on Facebook that encourage killing Zimmerman. Here’s one. And here’s another. Why these are operational, yet his video, which used the word retarded in reference to Jeantel, isn’t allowed surprises the comedian.
“They allow pages like ‘Kill George Zimmerman’… they allow those kinds of things,” Crowder noted. And for him, removals based on political reasoning create a “hostile environment.”
You can get more of Crowder’s comments on his official Twitter account. This story follows another over the weekend about Fox News’ Todd Starnes, another conservative whose “politically incorrect” content led to him temporarily being blocked on Facebook.