YouTube Removes Mr. EBT's Welfare Parody Video
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Editor's Note: A YouTube spokesperson had this to say regarding the removal of the "My EBT" video
All videos uploaded to YouTube must comply with our Community Guidelines. The Guidelines prohibit, among other things, spam and misleading descriptions, tags, titles or thumbnails designed to increase views. With 48 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we count on our community members to know the Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them. Essentially, the community is the first line of defense. We review all flagged videos quickly, and if we find that they do violate the Guidelines, we remove them quickly.
YouTube has found itself at the center of a heated debate concerning free speech, a dysfunctional welfare system and the power of the conservative blogosphere. And you thought you were here for the puppy that couldn't roll over.
The controversy began when a music video for the song, "My EBT" by rapper Mr. EBT went viral after being posted on the Drudge Report earlier this week. The music video depicts Mr. EBT (real name Stanley Lafleur) attempting to buy marijuana and beer with his Electronic Benefit Transfer card, and its explosion of popularity has reignited Reagan-era debates about abuses of the American welfare system.
Conservatives bloggers became outraged by this portrayal of the welfare system as the music video made its way around the internet. Ben Shapiro of Townhall.com wrote that Lafleur is "the sort of leech who is bankrupting our society."
Now, YouTube has taken down "My EBT", likely citing the clause in the Community Guidelines that forbids portrayals of drug abuse. Requests for comment from YouTube were not immediately returned. However, Lafleur has come out defending his video, insisting that it was conceived as a parody and attempted to poke fun at the current state of welfare. Lafleur is quick to point out that there are abuses within the system and proclaims that such acknowledgement has been the purpose of "My EBT" all along.
"That's the whole point of my video and that's what I'm trying to stop," he told the Daily News, "There's a lot of people who really need help but aren't getting it while too many are abusing the system." He continued, "I couldn't believe people are hating on me like I'm rubbing the benefit card in the face of taxpayers. They don't get it. My video is a parody."
Mr. EBT faced additional scrutiny after admitting in an interview with Russia Today America that he is "not on food stamps at the moment," but he was quick to point out that the song still represented legitimate social commentary and that his video's popularity offered an opportunity to discuss the issues at hand.
You can view the video that YouTube removed below and watch Mr. EBT defend his song here.
CORRECTION: We originally stated that Story Balloon interviewed Mr. EBT, but it was, in fact, Russia Today America that conducted the interview.