Around a week ago, we were going to write about a 14-year-old YouTuber named Soph. She’s funny, extremely articulate, and problematic as hell. We decided not to because of her age. Like is the case with Greta Thunberg or Desmond is Amazing, there is something weird about propping up children to deliver adult messages. However fascinating and strange the case of Soph is, she is still a kid.
We decided that signal boosting her in order to deliver a message regarding free speech would be much the same as the way Thunberg’s supporters use her for climate change activism and Desmond’s supporters use him for LGBT activism.
But now BuzzFeed’s resident woke scold, Joe Bernstein, (famous for slandering PewDiePie as a white supremacist and Jordan Peterson as a gateway to the alt-right) has written a hit piece on her. Hilariously, BuzzFeed pixelated Soph’s face to protect her in an article that trashes her and directs people to her social media profiles.
Why is it okay to signal-boost minors so long as mainstream media is into their message? Children climate change activists, setting off on their own, noble crusade, get co-opted into advertising messages. Pre-pubescent drag stars get lauded as heroic and brave for allowing themselves to be sexualized for adult consumption. Little girls in beauty pageants, with caked-on makeup, tottering around on high heels, are given their own reality TV shows. But let an opinionated 14-year-old turn the camera on herself and speak her own words, and the some woke BuzzFeed writer with a hipster moustache will try to rally the internet to get her cancelled.
This shouldn’t be surprising, of course, because cancelling is all the rage. But progressives who are pissed about the things Soph has said on her own channel should take a step back and examine their ethical perspectives. Do they really want to be on the wrong side of history for having punched down against a teenager for speaking her mind?
Soph is young, vocal, vibrant, and yes, incendiary, but she is thinking critically and speaking profanely about everything that comes across the internet, from school shootings, suicide bombings, trans ideology, toxic masculinity, child brides, psychopharmaceutical therapy for children, bullying, cancel culture, and anything else that catches her ire. Her current opinions are not going to be her final opinions, but for the love of God, just let the kid be a kid and make mistakes she can learn from.
Let us be clear: Soph says some pretty harsh stuff, including racist, vulgar, Islamophobic, and homophobic language. The worst of what she has said can be easily found online in screen shots from a Discord server, and it’s not pretty. (But who hasn’t said edgy things at the age of 14?) This article is not an endorsement of her views. But agreeing with her views isn’t the point. Advocating for her right to have them, and to use the platforms at her disposal to express them, is.
Tamping down the unruly youth is never a good look, and appearances, according to Soph, are the only thing these woke fear-mongers care about anyway. You can think Soph is a hateful little creature with toxic opinions, but she must be afforded the right to express them. Comedy legend Ricky Gervais put it perfectly when he said: “If you don’t believe in free speech for people who you hate, fear and disagree with, then you don’t believe in free speech.” This is how to ensure that we remain living in a free society.
In BuzzFeed’s warped reality, it’s totally okay for adults to monitor and harass children in the name of “progress.” After all, all Bernstein really wants us to contemplate is whether or not “YouTube has an obligation to protect such users from themselves.” Of course that’s what he’s interested in. Censorship is always proposed under the guise of safety. And BuzzFeed isn’t alone. Apparently Talia Lavin of the Washington Post was also on the case.
If they do succeed in eliminating her from the internet, then what happens to her? Will she sent to a BuzzFeed-approved YouTuber reeducation camp where she will be reprogrammed to only say “safe” things? There’s great precedent for leftists to resort to these kinds of measures when merely compelling speech and banning content proves ineffective. When we were growing up, any time our parents told us to stay away from something in culture, it basically guaranteed that we would head straight toward that thing.
Soph and other edgy kids are a result of the pendulum of culture swinging back the other way. What they’re mostly doing is making fun of dopey people like Joe Bernstein. These kids are tired of being told to think within the lines, and they want to scribble in the margins. Preventing this young person from expressing her opinions will achieve nothing other than radicalizing her. If she is booted off of YouTube and Twitter, she will move to corners of the dark web where real bad players congregate.
In a video that YouTube removed due to her threats against a YouTube CEO (yeah, she went there), Soph declared, “I’ve got a Luger and a mitochondrial disease.” Perhaps if Soph adhered to the script of sick children, wasting away in Children’s ICU’s with visits from clowns and Make-A-Wish afternoons at the ballpark, she would play in Peoria. But she’s an edgy comedian. A little George Carlin in the making. Bernstein portrayed her comments in the now-removed video as “a far-right child comedian threatening to murder the executive of the video site that has made her famous, for trying to protect her from pedophiles: the state of YouTube in 2019.” Of course, Bernstein is being disingenuous, completely ignoring the consistently satirical nature of her content.
Much of her content advocates for children to be heard, not boxed, packaged, and sold back to themselves. Plus, she’d like less homework.
You can’t expect them to end up fine when you let your kids consume toxic food, have free access to all types of hellish entertainment, be in school and away from you for unhealthy amounts of time, and have overwhelming amounts of homework. And when your kid finally goes off the rails, you just throw Ritalin or Adderall down their hatch, disabling them chemically, just so they don’t bug you anymore. I know it’s convenient for you to virtually take the batteries out of your kid so he’s a little less spastic than his usual self, but that’s not very ethical, is it? Soph, Suicide Bomb
In the end, we suspect that BuzzFeed’s attempt to ruin this young person’s career and life will backfire. BuzzFeed has a right to their opinion, but they don’t have the right to demand she be silenced.
Which brings us back to Joe Bernstein, the author of Soph’s hit piece. It appears Bernstein has expressed some extreme views of his own online, including this 2014 classic: “KILL a straight white man on your way to work tomorrow.” How typically hypocritical. I guess it’s okay to be edgy if you work for BuzzFeed.
In the end, Bernstein’s efforts to harm Soph will most likely have the same result as his previous cracks at PewDiePie. It’s called the Streisand Effect and it never fails. She will appeal to more and more fans as BuzzFeed continues their downward spiral toward moral and literal bankruptcy.