Benjamin in 2018
|Born||1979 (age 39–40)|
|Also known as||Sargon of Akkad|
|Updated 10 March 2019|
Benjamin grew to prominence through the Gamergate controversy, during which he promoted a conspiracy theory that feminists were 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 political correctness, feminism, Islam, and identity politics.
Benjamin is also known for his 2016 remarks about rape and a female Member of Parliament, Jess Phillips. In response to her 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 Benjamin's unsuccessful 2019 candidacy for the South West England constituency of the European Parliament.
Benjamin's YouTube channel first drew attention during the Gamergate controversy in 2014. Inside Higher Ed said his videos on the topic advanced a conspiracy theory in which he argued that members of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) were actively plotting to influence video game development, saying that 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."
In June 2015, YouTube took down one of Benjamin's videos when it received a copyright claim from The Guardian. 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. One Los Angeles Times columnist wrote of the incident calling it "alarming to see copyright law used to stifle debate in the public square."
At VidCon 2017, 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. Sarkeesian singled out Benjamin as a serial harasser of hers, calling him a "garbage human." 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." 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." Patreon also investigated the claims of harassment, but determined that although they considered his actions "distasteful," Benjamin had not violated their code of conduct.
Patreon banned Benjamin in December 2018, when he was earning over US$12,000 a month. According to Patreon, Benjamin violated the site's rules on hate speech by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual." A number of users, including Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and Dave Rubin left the platform following the ban of Benjamin. 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." Later in the video, Benjamin stated "don’t expect me to have a debate with one of your faggots." 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. Benjamin also claimed that the comments had been taken out of context.
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 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.
In June 2018, Benjamin joined UKIP, along with other social media activists Mark Meechan and Paul Joseph Watson. The trio's membership has been described by political analysts as part of a shift to the far-right in the UKIP under Gerard Batten's leadership. In the European Parliament's 2019 elections in the United Kingdom, Benjamin was second on UKIP's list for the South West England constituency. 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.
In response to Labour Party politician Jess Phillips' statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said in May 2016 that "I wouldn't even rape you #AntiRapeThreats #FeminismIsCancer" in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter. He declined to apologise for the comment and later made additional negative comments about Phillips. Benjamin has said these statements were jokes, and claimed that they were empowering to victims of rape because "it's a lot more empowering to not be controlled by jokes". Benjamin is under investigation by West Midlands Police for the comments.
At a UKIP press conference announcing his candidacy for the 2019 European Parliament elections, Benjamin once again refused to retract his comments about Phillips, and said that she was being a "giant bitch" by "laughing about male suicide" and so he was justified in being a "giant dick back." It was unclear what Benjamin's comments referred to; Phillips has critiqued the idea of a "men's day" but has not mocked male suicide, which she believes to be a serious issue. The Chairman of the Swindon branch of the UKIP called for Benjamin to be deselected, which was rejected by Batten. In May 2019, during his candidacy, 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.
Benjamin is an anti-feminist and a critic of identity politics. He has opposed online feminist movements such as the British group, Reclaim the Internet, which he called "social communism." 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. 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." 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. 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. Vice and PC Magazine have described him as a conspiracy theorist.
News outlets and journalists have described Benjamin as right-wing and far-right. Vox has described him as anti-progressive. He has been described as alt-right by The Times and The Jewish Chronicle, and he has been linked to the alt-right by other news media and researchers, including Newsweek, Salon, Vice, The Guardian, and Data & Society. The Daily Dot described the targets of Benjamin's criticism — such as Black Lives Matter, feminism, Islam, and the concept of white male privilege — as the same as those of the alt-right. Benjamin has said that he opposes the alt-right. He has argued that the alt-right's authoritarian and collectivist thinking is a reaction to comparable racism against white people from the left. In a campaign video, Benjamin described himself as a "centrist Liberal".
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