On Friday, December 14th a Twitter user, whose display name is listed on their profile as Rissian, uploaded a concerning video to his personal account. The video, which has currently been viewed 1.33 million times, appears to depict an alleged teacher at Rissian’s school condemning students for promoting bigotry and ignorance if they happened to follow and support PewDiepie, aka Felix Kjellberg:
Our history teacher told us that by supporting @pewdiepie, we are supporting anti-Semitism, racism, ignorance, etc. He also said that @WSJ is a very reputable news source. How ignorant can you get? The political arguments are more and more ironic daily. @ChrisRayGun @benshapiro pic.twitter.com/qg6BtrOhek
— Rissian (@Rissian9) December 15, 2018
In the video, which began recording partway through the alleged teacher’s rant, the teacher can be heard saying:
[…] and by every time you re-tweet one of these things or any time you promote this idea, you are promoting ignorance, racism, genocide, anti-semitism. These are all things you are putting forward when you are doing anything that promotes pewdiepie. So be careful about this. If PewDiePie were to be sued for this, you could be complicit. If you retweet it, they could make you pay a fine as well, because you have officially published anti-semitic things. So, if you are republishing this stuff, you could get in trouble for it. Be very aware that that is a real thing.
At the time of writing, the teacher and school have not been identified.
Though it is unknown what particular content the teacher is referring to when pointing to PewDiePie, it may be related to the recent media attacks on Kjellberg. These reports have attempted to paint Kjellberg as an anti-semitic bigot due to the appearance in one of his videos of another players’ offensive username and icon, and his shout-out to the E;R YouTube channel whose videos critics assert promote bigotry and racism.
Though the teacher asserts that the students could face punishment for their retweets, said assertion is categorically false. According to Title 47, Section 230 of The United States Code, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” A user cannot be sued for a simple retweet or ‘like’, as they were not the party who created the content.
The claim that Kjellberg is a racist or bigot is an example of a false yet widely spread and unfortunately accepted characterization. Kjellberg has removed the shoutout to E;R from his video, committed to distancing himself from Nazi jokes, and raised funds for a children’s help organization in India named Child Rights and You, to name a few of his actions which would be absolutely baffling if performed by a legitimate racist. While Kjellberg has indeed made jokes some found to be questionable and has used a particular racial slur during a livestream, despite his apologies and clarifications, the mainstream narrative consistently chooses to promote the idea that Kjellberg is a dangerous and hateful boogeyman.
In response to many members of the public calling for the teacher in the video to be fired, Rissian tweeted in defense of the teacher, stating that the teacher is excellent despite a momentary lapse of emotion and opinion:
To everyone that’s saying the teacher should get fired: I don’t think he should, he’s a very talented and interesting teacher when he is teaching and not trying to force his opinion on people.(and he rarely try’s to)
— Rissian (@Rissian9) December 18, 2018