Gosnell filmmaker accuses Kickstarter of ‘outright lies’ and censorship of pro-life message
BROOKYLN, NY, April 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life video producer is accusing the nation's largest crowdsourcing website of censorship and "outright lies" for dumping his effort to make a $2.1 million made-for-TV film about Kermit Gosnell, as well as another pro-life film.
According to producer Phelim McAleer, who created the movie FrackNation, he was excited to use the crowdsourcer Kickstarter.com for a movie about Kermit Gosnell. McAleer, who had used Kickstarter for "Fracknation," claims that the company engaged in discrimination against him because of CEO Yancey Strickler's "prejudices" against the pro-life film.
In the end, McAleer and his wife were forced to shift their fundraising efforts to Indiegogo.
In an interview with National Review Online, Strickler defended his company's policies, saying that "we’re proud to promote an environment that respects all beliefs and gives them a voice. In exchange, we try to preserve a tone that’s appropriate for a broad, general audience."
"In other words," said Strickler, "you can raise money for an R-rated film on Kickstarter, but we just ask that you do it in a PG-13 kind of way."
In e-mails provided to LifeSiteNews by McAleer, Kickstarter.com had two issues with the description of the Gosnell film.
According to a Kickstarter employee, "we ask that the phrase '1,000s of babies stabbed to death' and similar language be modified or removed from the project" description.
Since Kickstarter is "a broad website used by millions of people,” the employee said the phrase would violate its Community Guidelines, which instruct users, "Don't post obscene, hateful, or objectionable content."
The Kickstarter Help Guidelines note that "offensive material" such as hate speech is not allowed. The site also denied the filmmakers' claim that their movie would be the largest amount of money raised in the history of Kickstarter.com.
The employee's response came after three days of silence from the Kickstarter staff about what changes would be needed for approval for the project. Later that day, March 27, McAleer and his staff decided to forgo working with Kickstarter, shifting to Indiegogo.
Eight hours after McAleer pulled the project, Kickstarter sent an e-mail announcing the request had been approved.
McAleer told LifeSiteNews that Kickstarter is "very often disingenuous or outright lies. And I use the word 'lies' very carefully."
"If you look at Strickler's comments to National Review Online, he said, 'projects can be R-rated, but descriptions must be PG-13.' And we failed on that rule, according to him. This is patently, and provably, a lie," McAleer said.
He noted that the site currently hosts "44 projects about rape" and "28 projects with f--- or f---ng in the project headline."
USA TODAY columnist Kirsten Powers added that the website approved projects entitled Incest is the Highest Form of Flattery and Die Sluts Die.
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Rejecting the Gosnell movie "is [Strickler's] right as the owner of a private business," McAleer told LifeSiteNews. "I don't think that he has the right to lie about it in the media. He should be honest about his prejudices."
"Kickstarter is refusing to bake me a cake," McAleer continued, a reference to Christian bakers who were sued for refusing to provide a cake to a same-sex “wedding” ceremony. "Strickler claims Kickstarter is diverse, but when he hears about a project that offends his political viewpoints, his reaction is to censor and ban."
McAleer's crowdsourcing effort at Indiegogo does not include the phrase "1,000s of babies stabbed to death." Instead, it says that "(i)n a 30 year killing spree, it is thought he killed 1,000s of babies."
As of press time, McAleer's crowdsourcing effort has raised more than $1.37 million, a new Indiegogo record. The effort has drawn support from many national figures, including former Hercules star Kevin Sorbo.
This is the second time Kickstarter has been accused of showing discrimination against pro-life activists. The movie Stolen Moments was rejected in early April, on the basis that "projects on Kickstarter cannot offer self-help."
After the controversies came to light last week, Strickler offered an apology for the rejection of Stolen Moments. "I took a look at the project, and think you’re right: we made a mistake,” he said. “Your project is not in violation of our rules, and we would welcome it on the site."
A Kickstarter spokesperson said that "we have a number of employees who review projects against our guidelines...Sometime we make a mistake, and when that happens, we own up to it."
At least three pro-life projects have made it past the Kickstarter description editors. They were entitled The Choice That No Longer Haunts, Survived a Choice: A story of Love, Life and Adoption, and Finding Grace.
The pro-abortion movie After Tiller was also crowdsourced through Kickstarter. IMDB describes the movie as portraying the nation's late-term abortionists "confronting harassment from protesters, challenges in their personal lives, and a series of tough ethical decisions."