Hasan Minhaj Patriot Act episode ban – a frightening vision of things to come?

04 . Jan . 2019
Reading Time: 2 minutes

An episode of Hasan Minhaj’s The Patriot Act was pulled down recently by Netflix for Saudi Arabian viewers. It was a result of Saudi Arabian government making a legal request alleging the particular piece of content violated anti-cybercrime rules. The interesting part is that the episode is available for free viewing on YouTube. After all, that is the power of the internet.

Also Read | Hasan Minhaj’s The Patriot Act, Review 

In response to the ban, Hasan Minhaj tweeted:

Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.
Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now. Please donate: https://help.rescue.org/donate/yemen

We love Hasan Minhaj, The man doesn’t just joke, he also makes us aware of what is going on in the world around us. What Hasan said in the episode was not made up. It was a fact. All Hasan did, was state it. He talks about the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi being killed right inside the Saudi Arabian consulate. He also goes on to talk about the crown prince, and how he did not do anything for the war in Yemen apart from giving a cheque for the victims’ aid. Couldn’t he have stopped the war in the first place?

Did Hasan make up things in his head? No.

Was Jamal Khashoggi killed in the Arab consulate? Yes

Did Jamal walk into the Saudi Arabian consulate to never come out alive? Yes

Did Jamal write articles criticising policies of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS? Yes.

Netflix refused to back down when a petition was filed regarding a dialogue in Sacred Games. So, why did it give in when the Saudi Arabian government asked them to remove content? Can we call it a form of cyberbullying by a country? Bullying is not cool – be it offline or online. However, it is upto us to throw in the towel or fight for what is right and for freedom of speech.

Hasan Minhaj does not mince words and he is a self confessed ‘child of the internet’. He has become what he is today, because of the power internet gives everyone – the power to not just be seen by billions across the world at the click of a button, but the ability to be able to communicate one’s opinions sans any kind of censorship.

This act by Netflix has set a dangerous precedent against free speech, where any person or country can approach a content platform and ask them to pull down a piece of content because it supposedly does not adhere to rules created by them to support their not so legal or illegal ways. Well, the web should not be governed by rules.

Pulling off the episode won’t stop anything. The fact is out there. Truth cannot be silenced. Isn’t that what Jamal would have wanted? When porn survived (as Hasan rightly said), the truth definitely should. The curb on free speech online, might be a frightful possibility, but it is up to the industry giants to let truth prevail.