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 a** 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 a** 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.”
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.
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.”
What’s unclear, though, is whether Crowder’s commentary was the problem, or whether Jeantel’s statements were flagged by Facebook as being inappropriate.