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Carl Benjamin (born c. 1979) is a British YouTuber, political commentator and polemicist better known by the online alias Sargon of Akkad. Benjamin grew to prominence through the Gamergate controversy and early videos supporting antifeminism. Since Gamergate he has covered topics such as identity politics and the alt-right, and is a critic of political correctness, feminism, and Islam.

Carl Benjamin
Personal information
Bornc. 1979[citation needed]
NationalityBritish[1]
OccupationYouTuber
YouTube information
Also known asSargon of Akkad
Channel
Years active2013–present
Subscribers
  • 864,541+ (Sargon of Akkad)
  • 160,769+ (Sargon of Akkad Live)
  • 333,831+ (The Thinkery)
  • 74,308+ (Ancient Recitations)
  • 1,433,449 (total)
  • (as of December 13, 2018)
Total views
  • 254,298,620+ (Sargon of Akkad)
  • 23,094,729+ (Sargon of Akkad Live)
  • 82,457,374+ (The Thinkery)
  • 5,743,478+ (Ancient Recitations)
  • 365,594,201 (total)
  • (as of December 13, 2018)
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg100,000 subscribers 2015[2]
Subscriber and view counts updated as of December 13, 2018.

In December 2018, Benjamin was the object of a widely-publicized controversy, when he was banned from Patreon for violating the site's terms of service by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual".[3] Benjamin's supporters, and public figures such as Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin, have called the ban a violation of free speech and an expression of political bias by Patreon.[4]

Contents

YouTube career

Benjamin's early YouTube videos often promoted antifeminism.[5] His channel first drew attention during the Gamergate controversy in 2014,[6] when he argued in one of his videos that members of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) were actively plotting to influence video game development to conform to their "ideological feminist agenda".[7] He stated that the research produced by DiGRA board members was "sloppy and unprofessional and absolutely overrun by people who have an ideological agenda that they simply cannot leave out of their research".[7] An Inside Higher Ed article described these allegations as a "conspiracy theory".[7] Benjamin has been described as a "conspiracy theorist" by Vice magazine.[8]

In June 2015, YouTube took down one of Benjamin's videos when it received a copyright claim from The Guardian.[9] 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.[9] One Los Angeles Times columnist wrote of the incident calling it "alarming to see copyright law used to stifle debate in the public square".[9]

In May 2016, in response to Labour Party politician Jess Phillips' statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said "I wouldn't even rape you" in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter.[1][5][10][11] Benjamin declined to apologise for the comments.[11]

In early 2017 Benjamin created a YouTube video and a Thunderclap with 13,165 supporters in defence of YouTube personality PewDiePie following a controversy about allegations of antisemitism against PewDiePie.[12][13]

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, coordinated to fill the first three rows in the audience and film Sarkeesian as part of a targeted harassment campaign against her.[14][15][16][17] Sarkeesian singled out Benjamin as a serial harasser of hers, calling him a "garbage human".[18][17][19] VidCon founder Hank Green issued a statement stating that Benjamin's and his allies' 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".[14] 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".[15] Patreon also investigated the claims of harassment but determined that although they considered his actions "distasteful", Benjamin had not violated their code of conduct.[14]

Benjamin described some of Harvey Weinstein's sexual abuse accusers as "gold-digging whores".[20]

His videos have been credited with popularising Kekistan, a fictional country and political meme originated on 4chan.[21]

Benjamin has other YouTube channels where he has hosted live streams with various online personalities such as JonTron[22][10] and Dave Rubin.[23] He appeared as a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience in June 2017,[24] and on The Rubin Report.[25][non-primary source needed]

Patreon ban

Patreon banned Benjamin in December 2018; at the time he was earning over US$12,000 a month.[26] According to Patreon, Benjamin violated the site's rules on hate speech by using "racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual".[8] A number of users, including Sam Harris, left the platform in protest of the ban of Benjamin and other right wing figures. 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 "Exactly how they describe black people acting is the impression he gets dealing with the Alt Right" and "White people are meant to be polite and respectful to one another."[27] Benjamin has defended himself saying "he was trying to use their own language against them"[28] he also emphasized that his targets were not black or homosexual, and also claimed that the word "nigger" is not offensive in Britain like it is in the United States.[29]

Political views

Benjamin identifies as a classical liberal.[25] The New York Times said that Benjamin criticises feminism and identity politics.[30] Vox has described Benjamin as anti-progressive[31] and Nieman Journalism Lab,[32] Vice,[1] and Mic[33] have described him as "right-wing", while Redbrick[5] and Salon[13] have described him as "alt-right" and an "alt-right sympathiser", respectively. Benjamin has denied associations with the alt-right.[12] He has criticised the alt-right for "collectivist" and "authoritarian" thinking, and argued that the movement is a reaction to comparable leftist racism.[6] A piece in The Daily Dot said that, although Benjamin does not describe himself as part of the alt-right, his videos concern frequent targets of the alt-right such as "feminism, Islam, Black Lives Matter, and the notion of straight white male privilege".[6]

Benjamin has opposed online feminist movements, such as the British group 'Reclaim the Internet', which he called "social communism".[5][11] He has been characterised as "deliberately provocative",[6] "unabashedly politically incorrect",[9] and "anti-progressive."[31] In a November 2016 opinion piece, Vice criticized Benjamin for what they characterized as a "sense of purist thinking and a logic-before-all attitude", that ignores the complexity of topics related to race and gender.[1] Vice has also likened him to Paul Joseph Watson, a writer for the American right wing conspiracy site InfoWars.[34] Breitbart London editor James Delingpole describes him as a more "erudite and polite" version of Paul Joseph Watson who targets "identity politics, Social Justice Warriors, and third-wave feminism".[35]

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.[36][37] In June 2018 Benjamin joined the UK Independence Party.[35]

Personal life

Benjamin is married and a father of two children. He and his family live in Swindon, England.[11]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Bish, Joe (20 November 2016). "Examining the Right Wing British Blowhards Using YouTube to 'Prove Everybody Wrong'". Vice. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ Benjamin, Carl (25 April 2015). "100,000 Subscriber Vlog and Recommendations". YouTube. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  3. ^ Sommer, Will (18 December 2018). "Stars of 'Intellectual Dark Web' Scramble to Save Their Cash Cows". The Daily Beast – via www.thedailybeast.com.
  4. ^ "Jordan Peterson claims he's building an alternative to Patreon". The Daily Dot. 17 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Moore, James (2 June 2016). "Birmingham MP in Epicentre of Twitter Abuse Storm". Redbrick. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Rozsa, Matthew (7 September 2016). "A Deep Dive into the Alt-right's Greatest YouTube Hits". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Straumstein, Carl (11 November 2014). "#Gamergate and Games Research". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Gilbert, David (2018-12-07). "Crowdfunding site Patreon is purging far-right figures". Vice News. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Healey, Jon (11 June 2015). "The Guardian uses copyright to shush a critic of its cultural criticism". Los Angeles Times. 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.
  10. ^ a b Tamburro, Paul (14 March 2017). "The JonTron Controversy and Why Parents Should Be Wary of YouTube". CraveOnline. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  11. ^ 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. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  12. ^ a b Menegus, Bryan (27 February 2017). "Prominent YouTubers Find Great Anti-Semitic Hill to Die on". Gizmodo. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b Rozsa, Matthew (15 February 2017). "How PewDiePie 'fudged the labels' to avoid anti-Semitism claims because of his YouTube videos". Salon. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Mulkerin, Tim (28 June 2017). "Exclusive: Patreon investigated YouTuber "Sargon of Akkad" over VidCon harassment". mic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  15. ^ a b "VidCon apologizes for panelist clash involving activist Anita Sarkeesian". The Daily Dot. 2017-06-27. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  16. ^ Lockett, Dee. "The 10 Biggest YouTube Dramas of 2017". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Campbell, Colin (27 June 2017). "Anita Sarkeesian's astounding 'garbage human' moment". Polygon. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  20. ^ Walker, Peter (2018-06-29). "Ukip's new guard: web agitators threaten to swamp struggling party". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  21. ^ Cheong, Ian Miles (May 29, 2017). "What is Kekistan? The Internet's Most Controversial Political Meme Explained". Heat Street. Archived from the original on July 4, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  22. ^ Tamburro, Paul (13 March 2017). "JonTron: 'Wealthy Blacks Commit More Crime Than Poor Whites'". CraveOnline. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  23. ^ Sargon of Akkad Live (2015-08-14), A Conversation with Dave Rubin, retrieved 2018-06-19
  24. ^ Tamburro, Paul (27 June 2017). "VidCon Controversy Continues YouTube's Descent into Drama". CraveOnline. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Sargon of Akkad: Classical Liberal or Libertarian? (Part 2)". Youtube. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  26. ^ Bowles, Nellie (December 24, 2018). "Patreon Bars Anti-Feminist for Racist Speech, Inciting Revolt". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  27. ^ Goggin, Benjamin (December 18, 2018). "Crowdfunding platform Patreon defends itself from protests by 'intellectual dark web,' publishes slur-filled posts from banned YouTuber". Business Insider. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  28. ^ Benjamin, Carl, You Cannot Trust Patreon (#PatreonPurge 1), retrieved 2018-12-27
  29. ^ Feder, J. Lester. "Steve Bannon Met A White Nationalist Facebook Personality During London Trip". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  30. ^ Bromwich, Jonah Engel (3 March 2018). "YouTube Cracks Down on Far-Right Videos as Conspiracy Theories Spread". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  31. ^ a b Romano, Aja (30 June 2017). "Gorilla memes, YouTube trolls, and McMansion copyright fights: this week in internet culture". Vox. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  32. ^ 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. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  33. ^ Smith IV, Jack (20 March 2017). "YouTube's LGBTQ restriction isn't censorship. It's laziness". Mic. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  34. ^ "Examining the Right Wing British Blowhards Using YouTube to 'Prove Everybody Wrong'". Vice. 2016-11-17. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  35. ^ a b Delingpole, James (14 July 2018). "Ukip's on the verge of a spectacular comeback – and it's all thanks to Theresa May". The Spectator. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  36. ^ Gayle, Damien (2018-05-06). "Thousands march in 'free speech' protest led by rightwing figures". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  37. ^ Coulter, Martin (6 May 2018). "Milo Yiannopoulos expected to speak at controversial far-right rally in central London". Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 December 2018.

External links