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Circular firing squad scores a hit: Real reason Michael Moore’s film axed from YouTube is climate wrongthink, not copyright

Helen Buyniski
Helen Buyniski

is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

Circular firing squad scores a hit: Real reason Michael Moore’s film axed from YouTube is climate wrongthink, not copyright
Michael Moore’s popular yet controversial exposé of the “green” movement’s corruption has finally been knocked off YouTube by a tactic that’s as cowardly as it is underhanded. Nothing upsets a cult like a successful apostate.

Planet of the Humans,” posted to YouTube for free viewing on Earth Day, to the horror of the climate-change industrial complex, was removed from the platform on Monday, after a British environmental photographer filed a copyright claim. The deplatforming represents a triumph for the deep-pocketed “green” superstars who’ve been tearing their hair out over the film for the past month, livid over the unflattering portrayal of their crusade by the once-beloved liberal filmmaker, but unable to shut him up.

Also on rt.com ‘Blatant act of censorship’: Michael Moore green energy doc taken off YouTube after copyright claim by environmentalist opponent

Photographer Toby Smith claimed the film – which had been viewed more than 8.3 million times before its removal – used “several seconds” of footage he’d shot of rare earth elements being mined without his permission. Unlike previous attempts to get the film taken down – which targeted its distributor with claims the film was packed with falsehoods and “fossil fuel industry talking points” – this angle of attack was successful, concealing the iron fist of censorship within the velvet glove of copyright law. 

Smith could have gone directly to the filmmakers and complained, rather than running directly to YouTube. But the photographer made no secret of his true intentions. “I wasn’t interested in negotiation,” he told the Guardian on Tuesday, sniffing that he didn’t “agree with its message” and condemning “the misleading use of facts in its narrative.”

Heaven forbid facts be used to support a narrative one disagrees with! That’s “disinformation,” in the Orwellian Newspeak parlance of centrist-liberal orthodoxy. Indeed, Smith and the rest of the film’s critics have tried every disingenuous trick in the book to get Moore’s film taken down, from guilt by association (it’s “endorsed by climate skeptics and right-wing think tanks!”) to shaming celebrity pile-ons. Documentary-maker Josh Fox even briefly convinced the film’s distributor to pull it by claiming it was “dangerous, misleading and destructive to decades of progress in environmental policy, science and engineering” – only to see it reinstated so as not to trigger the Streisand Effect (in which the backlash to censorship sees the offending work skyrocket in popularity as people flock to see what the controversy is about).

However, a copyright claim lets the haters memory-hole the film while maintaining plausible deniability around the censorship issue, allowing YouTube to dodge the thorny issue of deplatforming an Oscar-winning documentarian. 

Never mind that Smith, like his climate-bigwig fellow critics Bill McKibben and Michael Mann, has an ideological motivation for silencing Moore. The film eviscerates the hypocrisy of the green movement, depicting the self-styled saviors of the planet as money-grubbing opportunists in bed with the same Big Oil interests they claim to oppose. The “renewable energy” that’s supposed to solve the climate crisis is revealed to be as environmentally devastating as the fossil fuels we’ve been taught to revile. Copyright lets YouTube claim they’re “just following orders.

Jeff Gibbs, director of “Planet of the Humans,” recognized the spurious copyright takedown as an “act of censorship by political critics,” calling it a “misuse of copyright law to shut down a film that has opened a serious conversation” about “green capitalism” and Wall Street profiteering within the environmental movement. “This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech,” he told the Guardian, adding that he was working with YouTube to get the film back up.

But Big Climate doesn’t want a serious conversation. They’re accustomed to knocking heretics off social media – or at least marginalizing them – with minimal effort. Well-funded online activism group Avaaz has been engaged in a full-frontal assault on “climate misinformation” on YouTube for months, implicitly threatening both the video platform and the brands whose ads appear on climate-skeptical videos with the wrath of millions of armchair inactivists if they don’t suppress the offending content. Just last week, Facebook’s fact-checkers squelched a PragerU video debunking the “climate change is killing the polar bears” meme, even though it was backed by expert science.

Also on rt.com Whose alternative facts? Facebook consigns PragerU to ‘reduced visibility’ purgatory after challenge to polar bear myth

But convincing platforms to take down a one-time liberal darling – especially one with an Academy Award under his belt – is a tall order. Now that the “wrongthink” voices of climate skeptics have been silenced and “climate-change denialism” equated to Holocaust denial in the popular imagination, thanks to a full-bore media demonization campaign of all who question climate orthodoxy, the environmental movement has turned to seeking infidels in its midst. 

Given his one-time status in the movement, Moore can’t be dismissed as just another Koch brothers shill, no matter how loud his detractors shout that “right-wingers” have embraced his latest film. But they won’t hesitate to resort to underhanded tactics to take him down. Whether this film escapes censorship under false pretenses remains to be seen, but other liberal celebrities should watch out – they might be next.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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