Shane Dawson is in some hot water after clips surfaced of the YouTube star that critics believe is trying to justify pedophilia, though he claims they are just jokes being taken out of context.
On Wednesday, a video circulated on Twitter in which Dawson made sexualized comments about minors, including describing a young girl he knew as “sexy” and questioning why people would be persecuted for looking at inappropriate images of young children.
The site We The Unicorns had a partial transcript of the audio, in which Dawson compared pedophilia to other sexual preferences.
“Here’s my thing. People have foot fetishes, people have fetishes about… everything. Fine, everybody do your thing… So why is it when somebody looks at naked babies on Google and [masturbates] to it they can get arrested?” he asked in the audio clip.
Dawson went on to talk about the hypersexualized 14-year-old Danielle Bregoli, known as the Cash Me Outside girl, and appeared to call a 6-year-old girl “sexy.”
The YouTube star responded to the controversy on Wednesday afternoon, saying that the video circulating had taken his statements out of context and failed to show that he was not seriously advocating for pedophilia. He also claimed that it “is illegal to claim someone is a pedofile [sic] and use 6 year old jokes as ‘proof.’ “
The account from We The Unicorns seemed to back up Shane Dawson’s claims, noting that when the videos are presented in the proper context, “it’s clear that Shane isn’t making these comments seriously.”
The Shane Dawson controversy comes as YouTube has come under greater scrutiny for lack of control over the content of its creators. YouTube star Logan Paul recently stirred up major controversy for a video he posted showing the body of a man who had taken his life in Japan’s “suicide forest.” Though Logan Paul eventually apologized, the flap sharpened attention on whether YouTube should be taking stricter measures to monitor what is being posted. Paul’s video was not taken down by YouTube, though Paul himself later took it down after the controversy started.
The video circulating on social media claiming that Shane Dawson advocates for pedophilia can be seen here, but be warned that it contains some adult language and mature subjects.