US Army is Violating the First Amendment by Banning People For Asking About War Crimes

The US Army has always used pop-culture as a way to engage with the country’s youth. The US Army eSports team is the latest iteration in a cluster of recruitment tools under the pop-culture tag. Started in November 2018, the US Army eSports team has paved it’s way to the limelight with officers and soldiers streaming on the official Twitch channel.

Recently, the team has found itself amidst a controversy revolving around war crimes committed by the US Army. It all started with the Tweet “UwU” followed by two hearts on the official Twitter handle of the team. Originating within the weeb community, the term “UwU” is an acronym to an extremely cute expression. In the modest of terms, “UwU” is everything that doesn’t come to mind when one envisions one of the most powerful armies in the world.

Soon enough, trolls found their way to the official Twitch chat room and started spamming “UwU” during the stream. Soon enough, the subject of war crimes was brought up and the moderators weren’t happy about it. The US Army Esports team maintains its own set of guidelines beyond the official Twitch guidelines. While there is explicit mention of a policy against inquiring about the US Amry war crimes, I supposed that was an unsaid rule as anyone who brought up anything against the US Army, say the My Lai Massacre or the Kunduz hospital airstrike, faced a permanent ban.

During the stream, David characterized the viewers reminding others of documented U.S. atrocities as “internet keyboard monsters” and said, “I’m bigger than you.” Shortly after, the stream stopped. When the stream restarted, only those who were subbed to the official channel for at least 24 hours were permitted to comment.

The official Discord server of the US Army Esports team was also a liberal place where all opinions were welcomed unless the opinions questioned the US Amry’s war crimes. A Discord user made a record by getting banned within 20 seconds for sharing a Wiki link to a page on “United States War Crimes.”

The US Army Officials stated the following about the whole fiasco; “This user’s question was an attempt to shift the conversation to imply that Soldiers commit war crimes based on an optional weapon in a game, and we felt that violated Twitch’s harassment policy.” Well, perhaps the US Army assumes shooting down innocents in the Middle East is not harassment or a crime, but sharing a Wikipedia link is. At the moment, the official Discord server of the team has been taken down until the situation is resolved.

By banning people for questioning and speaking against the war crimes, the US Army is effectively breaching the first amendment of the US constitution which protects the freedom of speech. This begs the question of the liberality of esports.

Esports and video games have been historically seen as a free medium for people to express their views. However, as more and more people are joining in on the trend, the scrutiny is rising. Take the Chinese esports scene for instance. The Chinese esports teams are considered one of the best in the world and esports looks head to head with regular sports in China. However, all the games have to be localised and censored before they’re allowed to enter the Chinese market. Nobody can speak against the Communist Party, lest they risk their lives.

As such, developers and streaming services have to abide by the Chinese laws in order to gain a stronghold in such a huge market. On the contrary, the US is seen as the land of the free. However, if other esports organizations take inspiration from the US Army Esports team, then the spirit of freedom that was otherwise found in video games would be nothing more than a glare of mist in the past.

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