Good decision to Censor

Shane Francis


The opposition can say it until he turns blue; this isn’t an issue of free speech. This is dropping the n-word at the DNC. This is “Sieg Heil” at the downtown synagogue. This should be protected under freedom of expression as much as a burning cross on a black man’s yard should be.

The purpose of the “Innocence of Muslims” video was to make the targeted group feel unwelcome. The New Republic mentioned that the video “included not a single artistically redeemable aspect.” The anti-Islamic video had no intent beyond stirring a boiling pot. And yet, here’s the case I’m asked to make.

I apologize for the next bit of exposition, but context is needed to help dispel any notion that this video or its intentions were moderate.

To begin, it’s necessary to understand that the relationship between Egyptian Copts and Muslims is volatile. There have been many recent instances that would suggest that a bridge is being built between the followers, but to understand the deep-rooted animosity, Copts and Muslims are somewhat similar to the Shiites and the Sunnis or as the Sharks are to the Jets. The tension between the two, however, is seeing a historical deflation, which makes this video all the more destructive.

This video was produced and edited by a man named Sam Bacile, who is actually a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Under his pseudonym, ‘Sam’ claimed to be an Israeli-Jewish real estate developer when in actuality he is an Egyptian-born Copt who hates Islam and has a knack for the theatrics. The point of this isn’t to slam Coptic Christians. The blame of this falls on one man, and that’s Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who almost unraveled a decade of improving relations between two of Egypt’s largest demographics. YouTube’s move to block this wasn’t censorship; it was damage control.

However, few people who have viewed this video sing of its laurels or virility. The most important detail in this is that the censorship was not a litigious mandate. YouTube had made the decision that it was not suitable material for certain demographics and censored itself accordingly. In this, civil unrest, animosity and violence were undoubtedly softened. In the end, the goal of avoiding conflict justifies the means of censorship, and the commonwealth always trumps principles.