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Carl Benjamin (born 1979)[2] is a polemic anti-feminist British YouTuber with the online pseudonym Sargon of Akkad.[3][4] He is a member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Carl Benjamin
Carl Benjamin 2018.png
Benjamin in 2018
Personal information
Born1979 (age 39–40)
NationalityBritish
OccupationYouTuber
YouTube information
Also known asSargon of Akkad
Channel
Years active2013–present
Subscribers
  • Sargon of Akkad: 960,000
  • The Thinkery: 430,000
  • Sargon of Akkad Live: 170,000
  • (as of 5 July 2019)
Total views
  • Sargon of Akkad: 300 million
  • The Thinkery: 120 million
  • Sargon of Akkad Live: 25 million
  • (as of 5 July 2019)
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg100,000 subscribers 2015[1]
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.[5]

Contents

YouTube career

Benjamin's YouTube channel first drew attention during the Gamergate controversy in 2014.[4][6] 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."[7][8][9]

In June 2015, YouTube took down one of Benjamin's videos when it received a copyright claim from The Guardian.[10] 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.[10] One Los Angeles Times columnist wrote of the incident calling it "alarming to see copyright law used to stifle debate in the public square."[10]

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.[11][12][13][14] Sarkeesian singled out Benjamin as a serial harasser of hers, calling him a "garbage human."[15][14][16] 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."[12][11] 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."[12] Patreon also investigated the claims of harassment, but determined that although they considered his actions "distasteful," Benjamin had not violated their code of conduct.[11]

Patreon banned Benjamin in December 2018, when he was earning over US$12,000 a month.[4] According to Patreon, Benjamin violated the site's rules on hate speech by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual."[17][18] 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."[19] 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]

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 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.[22][23]

In June 2018, Benjamin joined UKIP, along with other social media activists Mark Meechan and Paul Joseph Watson.[24] 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.[24][25][26][27] In the European Parliament's 2019 elections in the United Kingdom, Benjamin was second on UKIP's list for the South West England constituency.[28][29] 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.[30]

Rape comments

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.[23][31][32] He declined to apologise for the comment and later made additional negative comments about Phillips.[31][33] 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".[34][35] Benjamin is under investigation by West Midlands Police for the comments.[33]

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."[36] 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.[36][37] The Chairman of the Swindon branch of the UKIP called for Benjamin to be deselected, which was rejected by Batten.[38] 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.[39]

Political views

Benjamin is an anti-feminist[19][3][4] and a critic of identity politics.[40][19][3][4] He has opposed online feminist movements such as the British group, Reclaim the Internet, which he called "social communism."[31] 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.[41] 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."[42] 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.[43][44] 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.[45] Vice and PC Magazine have described him as a conspiracy theorist.[46][47]

News outlets and journalists have described Benjamin as right-wing[48][49][50] and far-right.[39][51][52][53] Vox has described him as anti-progressive.[54] He has been described as alt-right by The Times and The Jewish Chronicle,[55][56] and he has been linked to the alt-right by other news media and researchers, including Newsweek, Salon, Vice, The Guardian, and Data & Society.[25][57][52][58][59] 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.[6] Benjamin has said that he opposes the alt-right.[19][60] He has argued that the alt-right's authoritarian and collectivist thinking is a reaction to comparable racism against white people from the left.[6] In a campaign video, Benjamin described himself as a "centrist Liberal".[61]

He is an advocate for Brexit.[23][21]

Personal life

Benjamin is married and has two children. He lives with his family in Swindon, Wiltshire, England.[31]

References

  1. ^ Benjamin, Carl (25 April 2015). "100,000 Subscriber Vlog and Recommendations". YouTube. Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Exactly as Expected". YouTube. 27 May 2019. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "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.
  4. ^ a b c d e 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.
  5. ^ Di Stefano, Mark (27 May 2019). "Tommy Robinson And Carl Benjamin Have Failed To Get Elected To The European Parliament". Buzzfeed News. Buzzfeed. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Straumstein, Carl (11 November 2014). "#Gamergate and Games Research". Inside Higher Ed. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  8. ^ Shaw, Adrienne; Chess, Shira (5 April 2016). "We Are All Fishes Now: DiGRA, Feminism, and GamerGate". Transactions of the Digital Games Research Association. 2 (2). doi:10.26503/todigra.v2i2.39. ISSN 2328-9422.
  9. ^ Mortensen, Torill Elvira (1 December 2018). "Anger, Fear, and Games: The Long Event of #GamerGate". Games and Culture. 13 (8): 787–806. doi:10.1177/1555412016640408. ISSN 1555-4120.
  10. ^ a b c 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.
  11. ^ a b c Mulkerin, Tim (28 June 2017). "Exclusive: Patreon investigated YouTuber "Sargon of Akkad" over VidCon harassment". mic.com. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "VidCon apologizes for panelist clash involving activist Anita Sarkeesian". The Daily Dot. 27 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  13. ^ Lockett, Dee. "The 10 Biggest YouTube Dramas of 2017". Vulture. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Aghazadeh, Sarah A.; Burns, Alison; Chu, Jun; Feigenblatt, Hazel; Laribee, Elizabeth; Maynard, Lucy; Meyers, Amy L. M.; O’Brien, Jessica L.; Rufus, Leah (21 July 2018). GamerGate: A Case Study in Online Harassment. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 179–207. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-78583-7_8. ISBN 9783319785820.
  16. ^ Campbell, Colin (27 June 2017). "Anita Sarkeesian's astounding 'garbage human' moment". Polygon. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  17. ^ "PayPal shuts Russian crowdfunder's account after alt-right influx". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  18. ^ Goggin, Benjamin. "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.
  19. ^ a b c d 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.
  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. ^ "Violence breaks out as protesters storm King's College London event featuring controversial YouTuber". The Telegraph. 6 March 2018. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  23. ^ a b c "Fights break out at King's College London as masked anti-fascist protesters storm talk". The Independent. 6 March 2018. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  24. ^ a b Walker, Peter (25 June 2018). "Ukip welcomes social media activists linked to 'alt-right' into party". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ McTague, Tom (19 December 2018). "The rise of UKIP's YouTubers". Politico. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Bloom, Dan (27 May 2019). "European election results in full as Tories suffer worst result for 200 years". Mirror. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  31. ^ a b c d 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.
  32. ^ 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 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  33. ^ a b "Man Tells MP Jess Phillips 'People Should Be Able To Joke About Raping Her'". HuffPost UK. 7 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  34. ^ Thursday; May 16; Pm, 2019-12:51 (16 May 2019). "British MP 'sick' at interview with Ukip candidate who joked about raping her". www.irishexaminer.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Carl Benjamin claims survivors of sexual assault have thanked him for joking about raping MP Jess Phillips". uk.news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ 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 – via www.theguardian.com.
  38. ^ "UKIP candidate not sorry for rape comments". BBC News. 18 April 2019. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Bromwich, Jonah Engel (3 March 2018). "YouTube Cracks Down on Far-Right Videos as Conspiracy Theories Spread". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  41. ^ Walker, Peter (22 April 2019). "Ukip MEP candidate blamed feminists for rise in misogyny". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  42. ^ "Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin accused Jewish people of 'identity politics' over the Holocaust". Thejc.com. 25 April 2019. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Coulter, Martin (6 May 2018). "Milo Yiannopoulos expected to speak at controversial far-right rally in central London". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 16 December 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ Gilbert, David (7 December 2018). "Crowdfunding site Patreon is purging far-right figures". Vice News. Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  47. ^ Smith, Adam (17 January 2019). "YouTube Bans Tommy Robinson From Making Money Off His Videos". PCMag UK. Archived from the original on 18 January 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Croucher, Shane (21 May 2019). "The British have made throwing milkshakes at the far-right a thing". Newsweek.
  50. ^ Smith IV, Jack (20 March 2017). "YouTube's LGBTQ restriction isn't censorship. It's laziness". Mic. Archived from the original on 16 April 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  51. ^ Birnbaum, Emily (26 April 2019). "Twitter suspends EU election campaign accounts for two candidates who were previously banned". The Hill.
  52. ^ a b Bedingfield, Will (21 February 2019). "Five of the top far-right figures are British. We're world leaders in hate". Wired UK.
  53. ^ Di Stefano, Mark (27 May 2019). "Tommy Robinson And Carl Benjamin Have Failed To Get Elected To The European Parliament". BuzzFeed News.
  54. ^ Romano, Aja (30 June 2017). "Gorilla memes, YouTube trolls, and McMansion copyright fights: this week in internet culture". Vox. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  55. ^ Bennett, Rosemary (6 March 2018). "Smoke bomb protest halts 'alt‑right' speaker 'Sargon of Akkad' at university". The Times.
  56. ^ "Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin accused Jewish people of 'identity politics' over the Holocaust". The Jewish Chronicle. 25 April 2019.
  57. ^ Rozsa, Matthew (15 February 2017). "How PewDiePie 'fudged the labels' to avoid anti-Semitism claims because of his YouTube videos". Salon. Archived from the original on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  58. ^ MacDonald, Keza (9 May 2019). "We've seen Carl Benjamin's rank misogyny before – remember Gamergate?". The Guardian.
  59. ^ Lewis, Rebecca (18 September 2018). Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube (PDF) (Report). Data & Society.
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ Mills, Jen. "UKIP leader dismisses candidate's 'I wouldn't even rape you' tweet as 'satire'". Metro. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.

External links