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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

I got the notorious white nationalist Richard Spencer kicked off of his podcast platform.

Spencer, the leader of the white nationalist so-called “alt-right” who has made it clear he believes people of color are inferior to whites, is a lightning rod for controversy. He advocate what he calls “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and claims that Latinos and African Americans have lower average IQs than whites. Auburn University initially canceled a speech he was set to give in April, but a court ruled that he must be allowed to speak. Hundreds of people protested outside the event. In January, he took a flying punch in the neck from a masked person in the middle of an interview, immediately falling out of the view of the camera.

Recently, the Virginia gym Spencer belonged to revoked his membership after a university professor confronted him in the weight room and outed him as a vocal white nationalist. “This is our December 1932. We have a choice,” wrote the Georgetown professor, Christine Fair, in a column for the Washington Post explaining her actions. “We can refuse to treat this hateful, dangerous ideology as just another way of being, and fight it in every space we occupy.”

Last Monday, I noticed that the podcast Spencer produces with his alt-right website had a paid account at SoundCloud, the popular streaming website. The “AltRight Radio” account didn’t have many followers, but some of the podcasts themselves, which one can embed on most websites, had been listened to roughly 12,000 times.

I wondered whether Spencer’s hate-filled podcasts were violating SoundCloud’s terms of service. Sure enough, SoundCloud’s community guidelines were clear: The company forbids “content that promotes or encourages hatred, discrimination or violence against others based on things like race, cultural identity or ethnic background, religious beliefs, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

Here’s just one exchange on one AltRight Radio episode called “You Say You Want a Revolution,” in which Paul Kersey, founder of the racist Stuff Black People Don’t Like website, makes it clear that he’s a racist white supremacist. And Spencer agrees with his bigoted assertions.

KERSEY: Make America Great Again…That’s a synonym for Make America White Again.

SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

KERSEY: Because wherever America isn’t white, it’s not great. Wherever America is great, it’s white.

SPENCER: Yeah.

KERSEY: And wherever America is not safe, it’s not white. Wherever America is safe, it’s white.

There are more choice quotes from white nationalist Jared Taylor, whose “Beyond Conservatism” speech was uploaded to SoundCloud by AltRight Radio, and anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, a guest on a podcast episode.

Per its terms of use, SoundCloud can suspend or terminate an account if it violates its community guidelines. I did a tweetstorm about the AltRight Radio account and the racist, anti-Semitic ideologies of its creator, urging SoundCloud to terminate the account. The next morning, the company did just that.

All we’ve heard from Spencer on the matter was this tweet from last Tuesday

An associated account, Radix Radio, from the journal published by Spencer’s racist National Policy Institute appears to be terminated as well, although it’s unclear when it was taken down. Several podcasts that AltRight Radio promotes, including This is Europa, Kulturkampf and Red Ice Radio are still online.

Embedded links to podcast episodes from the AltRightRadio and Radix Radio accounts no longer work, and as of Friday, the white nationalist sites hadn’t replaced them with an alternative. The latest Alt-Right Politics episode hosted by Spencer was uploaded directly to the Alt-Right website.

I got plenty of support for what I did, although as expected, the neo-Nazi trolls came out in full force. Overwhelmingly, the most frequent responses from these almost unanimously anonymous users came in three categories: 1) assumptions that I was Jewish, with mentions of yellow stars, gas chambers and the size of my nose; 2) assertions that I’m “gay” or a “faggot”; and 3) revelations that I’m a “cuck” and a very skinny, slight and generally weak person.

But many of the replies also protested that no-platforming Spencer was a free speech issue—an allegation that is false.

The First Amendment protects against government-imposed restrictions on speech. (There are exceptions including “advocacy of illegal action” and “fighting words.”) But SoundCloud is not the government; it’s a private company that has every right to a terms-of-use document that its users, including Spencer, agree to when creating a SoundCloud account. And the terms of use does not discriminate against any group of people; in fact, it prohibits such discrimination.

For some people, freedom of speech has come to mean “freedom to discriminate.” The “campus free speech” movement is led primarily by far-right conservatives who feel that their voices are underrepresented on college campuses, when the more likely scenario is that their ideas just aren’t very popular, and many of those ideas are both hateful and extremely poor scholarship. Charles Murray’s failed argument that black people are inherently less intelligent that whites has been panned in the academic community, yet he continues to make college tours, funded by the far-right, Koch-backed American Enterprise Institute. I have written extensively about right-wing funding for hate speech on campus, much of the money coming from the Koch and DeVos families and distributed by AEI and the Young America’s Foundation.

Many of the same wealthy figures are also bankrolling an assault on dissent, with a Goldwater Institute-written bill making its way through state legislatures around the country, imposing harsh penalties, including expulsion, on students who disrupt campus speakers. For some, freedom of speech applies only to guest speakers, not to the hundreds of others in the audience.

Actual hate speech, which Richard Spencer actively engages in and promotes as both a career and a personal ideology, has no place in mainstream society, nor does it deserve the services of any company that rejects racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate in its terms of use or community guidelines. Revived Nazi terms, blatant racism against black and Latino people and calls for ethnic cleansing should not be tolerated. This type of speech is not an argument or an opinion; it is hate, plain and simple.

Fighting against hate isn’t discrimination, as the alt-right will feebly argue; it’s social justice. Good people should, any chance they get, no-platform cowardly alt-right provocateurs, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and other detestable groups of insecure, angry people.

Someone who cries, “Hail Trump!” at a white nationalist conference or organizes a tiki-torch-lit nighttime rally defending Confederate monuments reminiscent of KKK rallies, deserves no platform. Let white nationalists build their own servers, their own infrastructure, so they can yell “white genocide” from the rooftops. But no honorable company should accept white nationalists’ cause, or their money.

Alex Kotch is an independent investigative journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @alexkotch.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.