One court in Istanbul has caused YouTube to go dark in most of Turkey. The reason? Greeks and Turks acting out hundreds of years of conflict via the fun of user generated video. Most of it is classic 7th-grade school boy insults (i.e., You're gay! No I'm not, you're gay!) The BBC says these comments caused the ban. Another source says what really got to the Turks was a video of Greek soldiers singing warm and fuzzy tunes like:
"We will break off the Turks' heads and plant a cross in Hagia Sophia."
Of course, Greek soldiers have probably been singing this same marching song for so long that most current soldiers don't even understand half the lyrical references, but no mind, the London Times reports:
It is illegal to criticise either Ataturk or Turkishness in Turkey and the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul acted despite YouTube’s agreement to take down the offending videos....
...A spokesman from the Turkish Embassy in London said: “The videos included parts which insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, our founding father. There is no explanation from the Turkish government, it was a court verdict. English profanities were placed on top of the Turkish flag and pictures of Ataturk.”
We are disappointed that YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. The Internet is an international phenomenon and while technology can bring great opportunity and access to information globally, it can also present new and unique cultural challenges. We respect the authorities in Turkey and are committed to working with them to resolve this. We should note, however, that the video in question is no longer on the site.
This comes weeks after there were calls in India to ban YouTube because of pole-dance by a NY Indian-national comedian dressed as Gandhi. YouTube never went down in India and the video is still up. Yet, paradoxically, YouTube took down a video of someone quoting violent text in (a version of) the Koran.
The bottom line on all of this is....
All this stupidity existed before YouTube, before the TV and before electricity. The 2007 version of the mirror is merely allowing society to see the best and worst of people much easier. Theoretically, seeing truth is better than denying it.
Those Greek soldiers mindlessly singing an old anti-Turkish song that they probably were forced to learn in basic training would still be singing the racist anthem if it weren't for some zealot posting a video of them. Now, there is an investigation in Athens and red-faces all around.
Yet, some Turkish and Australian leaders prefer the See No Evil approach that equates to See Nothing for an entire country and millions of kids.
All this tip-of-the-spear online video regulatory talk reminds us that copyright battles can be settled over time in reasonable business forums. Yet, content battles will live on and get more divisive as the impact of a pervasive online video medium grows and as vocal minorities exert attempts to shape content to meet their own standards.
See our post: It's the Content, Imbécile! for more.