Carl Benjamin

Carl Benjamin (born 1979)[2] is a British anti-feminist YouTuber who is also known by his online pseudonym Sargon of Akkad. A former member of the Eurosceptic right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP), he was one of its unsuccessful candidates for the South West England constituency in the 2019 European Parliament election.

Carl Benjamin
Carl Benjamin 2018.png
Benjamin in 2018
Personal information
Born1979 (age 40–41)
NationalityBritish
OccupationYouTuber
YouTube information
Also known asSargon of Akkad
Channels
Years active2013–present
Subscribers
  • Sargon of Akkad: 951,000
  • The Thinkery: 426,000
  • Akkad Daily: 343,000
Total views
  • Sargon of Akkad: 305 million
  • The Thinkery: 137 million
  • Akkad Daily: 100 million
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2015[1]

Updated: 14 August 2020

During the Gamergate controversy, Benjamin promoted a conspiracy theory that accused feminists of infiltrating video game research groups to influence game development according to a feminist agenda. Since Gamergate, his commentary has been largely devoted to promoting Brexit, and criticising feminism, Islam, identity politics, and what he views as political correctness in the media and other institutions. For his political views, Benjamin has been described as "right-wing" and "far-right" by multiple outlets, a labelling that he denies instead calling himself a "classical liberal".

In 2016, in response to politician Jess Phillips's complaint that she frequently received rape threats from men online, Benjamin tweeted to her: "I wouldn't even rape you." Criticism of this comment—and a later remark in which Benjamin said he might rape Phillips but for the fact that "nobody's got that much beer"—dominated press coverage of his European Parliament candidacy.

YouTube career

Benjamin's YouTube channel drew attention during the Gamergate controversy in 2014.[3][4] Inside Higher Ed said his videos on the topic advanced a conspiracy theory in which he argued members of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) were actively plotting to influence video game development, saying DiGRA "became co-opted by feminists to become a think tank by which gender ideologues can disseminate their ideology to the gaming press and ultimately to gamers."[5][6][7]

In June 2015, YouTube took down one of Benjamin's videos when it received a copyright claim from The Guardian.[8] Benjamin contested the claim against the video which used substantial portions of The Guardian's video. The Guardian said it was offering "advice on how to engage with Guardian content without breaching copyright." The video was restored later the same day.[8]

At VidCon 2017, media critic Anita Sarkeesian appeared on a panel discussing online harassment directed towards women. A group of YouTubers who had frequently criticised Sarkeesian in the past, including Benjamin, filled one half of the first three rows of the audience and filmed Sarkeesian as part of a targeted harassment campaign against her.[9][10][11][12] Sarkeesian singled out Benjamin as a serial harasser of hers, calling him a "garbage human."[12][13][14] VidCon founder Hank Green issued a statement that the group's actions were clear "intimidating behaviour" and apologised for the situation "which resulted in [Sarkeesian] being subjected to a hostile environment that she had not signed up for."[9][10] Benjamin later said he was not present with the intention of harassing Sarkeesian, stating he would like to know how she "would like to be approached."[10] Patreon also investigated the claims of harassment, but determined that although they considered his actions "distasteful", Benjamin had not violated their code of conduct.[9]

Patreon banned Benjamin in December 2018, when he was earning over US$12,000 a month.[3] According to Patreon, Benjamin violated the site's rules on hate speech by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual."[15][16] A number of users, including Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and Dave Rubin left the platform following the ban of Benjamin,[17] with Benjamin and Rubin moving over to Peterson's Thinkspot.[18][19] Harris stated that he did not "share the politics of the banned members," but objected to what he described as "political bias" on Patreon. As part of their explanation for why they dropped Benjamin, Patreon published a transcript of a YouTube video in which Benjamin stated that members of the alt-right were "acting like white niggers" because "[e]xactly how you describe black people acting is the impression I get dealing with the Alt-Right." He added that: "White people are meant to be polite and respectful to one another."[17] Later in the video, Benjamin stated: "don’t expect me to have a debate with one of your faggots."[20] In response, Benjamin has said that his targets were not black or homosexual, and he claimed that the word "nigger" is not offensive in Britain as it is in the United States.[20] Benjamin also claimed that the comments had been taken out of context.[21]

In 2017, comedian and YouTuber Akilah Hughes filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Benjamin for using of portions of her video We Thought She Would Win in his video SJW Levels of Awareness. In February 2020, the case was dismissed with prejudice and Hughes was later ordered to pay Benjamin's legal fees after her claims were found to be "objectively unreasonable".[22]

Political career

In March 2018, North London Antifa protesters broke into a scheduled discussion between Benjamin and Yaron Brook by King's College London's Libertarian Society at the school. Masked protestors attacked security guards, set off smoke bombs, broke windows, set off a fire alarm, and allegedly attacked other attendees. The event organisers called the police, cancelled the event and evacuated the building. The organiser reported that two security guards were hospitalised.[23][24]

In May 2018, Benjamin was a speaker at a right-wing "Day of Freedom" rally in support of Tommy Robinson after Robinson was banned from Twitter for hate speech.[25][26]

In June 2018, Benjamin joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP), along with YouTuber Mark Meechan, better known by his online name Count Dankula, and far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson.[27] The trio's membership has been described by political analysts as part of a shift to the far-right in UKIP under Gerard Batten's leadership.[27][28][29][30] In the European Parliament's 2019 elections in the United Kingdom, Benjamin was second on UKIP's list for the South West England constituency.[31][32] Benjamin was not elected, with his party getting only 3.22% of the vote in his native South West England constituency (a drop of 29.1% from 2014) and losing both of its seats in the region, as well as all twenty-two of its seats across the rest of Britain.[33]

Rape comments

In response to Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament Jess Phillips' statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said in May 2016, "I wouldn't even rape you #AntiRapeThreats #FeminismIsCancer" in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter.[24][34] He has since declined to apologise for the comment.[35] He was investigated by West Midlands Police for the comment and a police spokesperson said he was "dealt with by way of words of advice".[36][37]

At a UKIP press conference announcing his candidacy for the 2019 European Parliament election, Benjamin once again refused to retract his comments about Phillips, and said she was being a "giant bitch" by "laughing about male suicide" and so he was justified in being a "giant dick back."[38] It was unclear what Benjamin's comments referred to; Phillips had critiqued the idea of a "men's day" but said that male suicide is a serious issue.[38][39] The chairman of the Swindon branch of UKIP called for Benjamin to be deselected, which was rejected by Batten.[40] Later in the campaign, he made additional negative comments about Phillips, saying he might rape her but "nobody's got that much beer".[37] He said this was a joke and was empowering to victims of rape because "it's a lot more empowering to not be controlled by jokes".[41][42] The University of the West of England cancelled a hustings event for fears of disturbances and Exeter Cathedral banned him a few days later from a separate election event it was hosting.[43]

Political views

Benjamin is an anti-feminist[3][17][44] and a critic of identity politics.[3][17][44][45] He has opposed online feminist movements such as the British group Reclaim the Internet, which he called "social communism."[35] Following the 2014 Isla Vista killings, Benjamin said that social justice feminism was a "disease of the modern age" that had disenfranchised and radicalised young men causing a rise in the number of mass murders.[46] While on a panel in New York City in 2018, he said: "Jewish people, unfortunately for them, have got to drop the identity politics. I'm sorry about the Holocaust but I don't give a shit. I'm sorry."[47] Vice has criticised Benjamin for a "sense of purist thinking and a logic-before-all attitude" that ignores the complexity of topics related to race and gender.[48]

News outlets and journalists have described Benjamin as right-wing[49][50][51] and far-right.[52][43][53][54] Vox has described him as anti-progressive.[55] He has been described as alt-right by The Times and The Jewish Chronicle,[47][56] and he has been linked to the alt-right by other news media and researchers, including Newsweek, Salon, The Guardian, Vice, and Data & Society.[28][57][54][58][59] The Daily Dot compared Benjamin to the alt-right due to his anti-feminism and criticisms of Islam and Black Lives Matter, frequent subjects for criticism by the alt-right.[4] Vice and PC Magazine have described him as a conspiracy theorist.[60][61] The Spectator has described him as a "leftist libertarian whose schtick is simply to question the received wisdoms of our time."[62] Benjamin has described himself as a "classical liberal"[63] and has said that he opposes the alt-right.[17][64] He has argued that the alt-right's authoritarian and collectivist thinking is a reaction to comparable racism against white people from the left.[4] He is an advocate for Brexit.[21][24]

Personal life

Benjamin is married and has two children. He lives with his family in Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom.[35] He has stated that he is an atheist.[65]

References

  1. ^ Benjamin, Carl (25 April 2015). "100,000 Subscriber Vlog and Recommendations". Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ Benjamin, Carl (27 May 2019). Exactly as Expected. Event occurs at 4:25. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019 – via YouTube. This graph from the BBC shows you how the Conservative and Labour vote share has fallen since the year of my birth until now.
  3. ^ a b c d Bowles, Nellie (24 December 2018). "Patreon Bars Anti-Feminist for Racist Speech, Inciting Revolt". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Rozsa, Matthew (7 September 2016). "A Deep Dive into the Alt-right's Greatest YouTube Hits". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. ^ Straumstein, Carl (11 November 2014). "#Gamergate and Games Research". Inside Higher Ed. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017. Sargon of Akkad, a YouTube user who regularly discusses “gaming, anti-feminism, history and fiction” on his channel, has fueled that conspiracy theory.
  6. ^ Chess, Shira; Shaw, Adrienne (5 April 2016). "We Are All Fishes Now: DiGRA, Feminism, and GamerGate". Transactions of the Digital Games Research Association. 2 (2): 21–30. doi:10.26503/todigra.v2i2.39. ISSN 2328-9422.
  7. ^ Mortensen, Torill Elvira (13 April 2016). "Anger, Fear, and Games: The Long Event of #GamerGate". Games and Culture. 13 (8): 787–806. doi:10.1177/1555412016640408. ISSN 1555-4120.
  8. ^ a b Healey, Jon (11 June 2015). "The Guardian uses copyright to shush a critic of its cultural criticism". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016. Sargon used seemingly every frame from Anyangwe's 3-minute, 49-second video. He found fault with most of the points she made, as well as the way she made them. After watching his piece, it's clear that there's no point in going to the Guardian's site to see the original because he's just shown you the whole thing.
  9. ^ a b c Mulkerin, Tim (28 June 2017). "Exclusive: Patreon investigated YouTuber "Sargon of Akkad" over VidCon harassment". Mic. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Vasquez, Vanna (27 June 2017). "VidCon apologizes for panelist clash involving activist Anita Sarkeesian". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
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  12. ^ a b Marwick, Alice E.; Caplan, Robyn (26 March 2018). "Drinking male tears: language, the manosphere, and networked harassment". Feminist Media Studies. 18 (4): 543–559. doi:10.1080/14680777.2018.1450568. ISSN 1468-0777.
  13. ^ Aghazadeh, Sarah A.; et al. (2018). "GamerGate: A Case Study in Online Harassment". In Golbeck, Jennifer (ed.). Online Harassment. Human–Computer Interaction Series. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. pp. 179–207. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-78583-7_8. ISBN 978-3319785820. LCCN 2018939005.
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  15. ^ Coulter, Martin (15 December 2018). "PayPal shuts Russian crowdfunder's account after alt-right influx". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  16. ^ Goggin, Benjamin (17 December 2018). "Top Patreon creators, of the 'Intellectual Dark Web,' say they're launching an alternate crowdfunding platform not 'susceptible to arbitrary censorship'". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d e Goggin, Benjamin (18 December 2018). "Crowdfunding platform Patreon defends itself from protests by 'intellectual dark web,' publishes slur-filled posts from banned YouTuber". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  18. ^ Kassel, Matthew; Im, Matthew (24 July 2019). "Jordan Peterson's Starting A 'Free Speech Hub' – And Extremists Are Intrigued". The Forward. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  19. ^ Weaver, Matthew (13 June 2019). "Jordan Peterson launches anti-censorship site Thinkspot". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  20. ^ a b Feder, J. Lester. "Steve Bannon Met A White Nationalist Facebook Personality During London Trip". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  21. ^ a b Halliday, Josh (12 July 2018). "Anti-Islam activists get key roles in 'family-friendly' Brexit march". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  22. ^ "YouTuber Wins Attorneys' Fees in Clinton Party Copyright Case" (4 August 2020). Bloomberg Law.
  23. ^ Turner, Camilla; Horton, Helena (6 March 2018). "Violence breaks out as protesters storm King's College London event featuring controversial YouTuber". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  24. ^ a b c Busby, Eleanor (6 March 2018). "Fights break out at King's College London as masked anti-fascist protesters storm talk". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  25. ^ Gayle, Damien (6 May 2018). "Thousands march in 'free speech' protest led by rightwing figures". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
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  28. ^ a b Lemon, Jason (25 June 2018). "Controversial alt-right linked social media activists welcomed as members of Britain's UKIP". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  29. ^ Sommer, Will (26 June 2018). "Far-Right YouTube Stars Plan Takeover of UKIP". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  30. ^ McTague, Tom (19 December 2018). "The rise of UKIP's YouTubers". Politico. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  31. ^ Bloom, Dan; Milne, Oliver (12 April 2019). "Everything you need to know about European Parliament elections". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  32. ^ Barnes, Tom (12 April 2019). "Anti-feminist YouTuber Sargon of Akkad selected as Ukip election candidate". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  33. ^ Bloom, Dan (27 May 2019). "European election results in full as Tories suffer worst result for 200 years". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  34. ^ Macwhirter, Jamie (23 September 2018). "'Racist' troll who sent rape tweet addresses Ukip members". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  35. ^ a b c Daubney, Martin (5 June 2016). "I set out to troll her – why all this fuss about 600 rape tweets?". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  36. ^ Seaward, Tom (17 April 2019). "Wiltshire Police investigated MEP candidate over 'rape' tweet". Swindon Advertiser.
  37. ^ a b Gray, Jasmin; Demianyk, Graeme (7 May 2019). "Man Tells MP Jess Phillips 'People Should Be Able To Joke About Raping Her'". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  38. ^ a b Hossein-Pour, Anahita (18 April 2019). "Ukip candidate brands Labour MP Jess Phillips a 'b*tch' and doubles down on rape comments at chaotic campaign launch". PoliticsHome. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  39. ^ Syal, Rajeev (18 April 2019). "Ukip leader attacks Farage party at EU elections launch". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  40. ^ "UKIP candidate not sorry for rape comments". BBC News. 18 April 2019. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
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  43. ^ a b Dalton, Jane (19 May 2019). "Carl Benjamin: Milkshake thrown at Ukip candidate for fourth time this week". The Independent. Archived from the original on 19 May 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  44. ^ a b Zadrozny, Brandy; Collins, Ben (30 October 2018). "How a right-wing troll and a Russian Twitter account created 2016's biggest voter fraud story". NBC News. Archived from the original on 7 March 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
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  47. ^ a b "Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin accused Jewish people of 'identity politics' over the Holocaust". The Jewish Chronicle. 25 April 2019. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  48. ^ Bish, Joe (20 November 2016). "Examining the Right Wing British Blowhards Using YouTube to 'Prove Everybody Wrong'". Vice. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  49. ^ Ryan, Padraic (22 May 2017). ""Who's your 4chan correspondent?" (and other questions Storyful thinks newsrooms should be asking after the French election)". Nieman Journalism Lab. Archived from the original on 27 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
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  64. ^ Menegus, Bryan (27 February 2017). "Prominent YouTubers Find Great Anti-Semitic Hill to Die on". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 17 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  65. ^ Akkad, Sargon Of (27 October 2020). "Macron vs Islam". YouTube.

External links