Amos Yee

Insults Don't Create Change

People who followed me on Youtube in the past knew that I was notorious for making these really vulgar and insulting political videos. Calling political leaders 'dogs', saying they are 'fucking the citizens in the ass', ripping the pages of the Bible, humping the Quran.

I justified such behavior by arguing that I was 'bringing attention to an important issue', or I'm 'showing my honesty'. My closest fans (who were mostly teenagers, supported and egged me on, praising how logical and funny I was.

Looking back at my older videos, I feel embarrassed. Even though my videos had an important message, the rude, mean-spirited way I presented that information, didn't really influence anyone, and might have even caused harm.

I realised this character flaw I had was actually very common, just take a look at many young activists that support Feminism, Black Lives Matter or Animal Rights. These people have valuable ideas that could literally save millions of lives. But instead, they are known forĀ putting others down, calling meat-eaters 'murderers', and white men 'sexist' and 'racist'.

Psychological evidence shows that insults not only doesn't influence people, it makes them more defensive, and less open to listen to you. A person who insults also reveals deep mental issues like lack of self esteem, fear, or unreconciled trauma they once had from physical or verbal abuse.

Many justify their anger by shining light on the oppression they faced: 'I've been sexually exploited by men in the workforce all my life', 'my family and I feel anxious and unsafe in our neighborhood', 'my friend was beaten and shot by a white cop'. While I definitely sympathise with these people's sorrow, two wrongs don't make a right. If you actually want to create change and stop the injustice you've had from ever happening to others, we have to fix our behavior, and speak with respect.

Tie this with what I wrote on the importance of having a good political purpose: are you trying to spread your ideas out of revenge and hate, or out of care and love? There's a reason this maxim has a form in almost every ethical tradition, 'Don't do unto others, what you don't want done unto you'

Read More:

Specific: Attention Doesn't Mean Change

Related: Why We Should be Anarchists