Outrageous: YouTube yanked Ondrasik's "Blood on My Hands" protest song video

Outrageous: YouTube yanked Ondrasik's "Blood on My Hands" protest song video

It’s back now, perhaps because of the criticism on social media — but not news media — that erupted over its removal. Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik followed up his protest song “Blood on My Hands” with what he called a “docu-music video” that contained images of atrocities committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, along with embarrassing reminders of the disgraceful and incompetent actions by Joe Biden and his team. John’s song and video reminds viewers and listeners of the abandonment of Americans and our allies to the terrorists, an abandonment that continues to this day.

The video went live on YouTube on January 2nd, with all of the requisite warnings about graphic content and age limits. Five days later, despite playing by YouTube’s rules, YouTube notified John that the video had been taken down due to a supposed violation of its “graphic content policy”:

The Daily Mail followed up last night, alone among all media outlets in doing so as of 11 am this morning, and noted that John’s social-media pushback might have had an effect already:

Grammy-nominated Five For Fighting singer John Ondrasik said his new music video that shows footage of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been censored and removed by YouTube.

A search for the song on the video service shows a lyric video and a still image video that plays the tune, called ‘Blood on Your Hands,’ but does not appear to feature the controversial video Ondrasik posted. …

The song finishes with a direction at President Biden: ‘Got blood on our hands/Hey Joe, just one American/Asking what’s happening.’

A Twitter account for YouTube said: ‘We’ve passed this along for review. Hang tight!’

By this morning, YouTube had relented … somewhat. The video was once again available, but viewers now have to click a special warning box to access it, one that hints that YouTube got suckered by an online campaign against the video:

What does “identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive” mean, anyway? The video has over 2100 likes; YouTube disabled the “dislikes” counter last year, but it seems as though they’re still tracking it internally after all. The clips used by John in the video have been broadcast on news outlets, and John took care to blur the faces of the dead out of respect. The video doesn’t come from a violent video game, but instead depicts what’s actually happening in Afghanistan. And as John notes, YouTube has plenty of other videos with similar imagery live without this gatekeeping.

Absent a better explanation — which thus far YouTube has not provided — it looks like this is only “inappropriate or offensive” to Joe Biden apologists. Even if people don’t share John’s point of view on the Afghanistan abandonment (I certainly do), isn’t the role of art and public speech to call into question the policies of representative government for serious debate? Isn’t the art form of protest music designed to start those conversations?

Imagine, pun intended, if YouTube applied a gatekeeping click to access “Imagine” for being offensive to religious sensibilities. What if YouTube took down a music video for “Four Dead in Ohio” for using footage of the Kent State massacre? The outcry from media and pop culture — and especially the entertainment industry — would be massive. Instead, YouTube’s attempt to smother and then absurdly gatekeep “Blood on My Hands” gets nary a peep except in the UK-based Daily Mail.

John offered me this statement for Hot Air readers:

I am grateful for all those who’s outcry was critical in YouTube reposting the Blood on my Hands music video. I’m grateful to Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, and Hugh Hewett, who allowed their major platforms to embed the video once YouTube took it down. It is disappointing that Jack Mallon, YouTube’s spokesman, is not being forthcoming in implying that the video was restored due to an added “child restriction” warning, when that (appropriate)warning had been implemented by YouTube since the initial publishing of the piece.

Interestingly, Twitter still hasn’t touched John’s initial upload of the video, so you can still feel free to enjoy it here without the gatekeeping. For now, anyway. Keep checking at the Five for Fighting website in case that changes, too.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023