Public condemnation of arseholes doesn’t amount to censorship

A spectre is haunting us: the spectre of a new and evil form of censorship driven by the reverse tyranny of mob rule!

We know this, for it has already resulted in the immoral silencing of the pickup artist, otherwise known as a PUA.

The first victim was Britain’s own Dapper Laughs, whose ITV2 show On The Pull was cancelled after its commissioners needed the public to point out that his tired act of cheesy chat-up lines and rape jokes was even more unfunny than it was sexist.

But now American PUA Julien Blanc – notorious for his racist and misogynistic online videos which teach desperate and entitled men how to be racist and misogynistic – has also been mercilessly gagged after the UK Home Office responded to a petition to bar him from the UK.

Because, according to the Guardian, telling this brazen arsehole to piss off amounts to “censorship”.

“Freedom of expression always has exceptions, for example legally proscribed hate speech, but allow too many and it suffers death by a thousand cuts,” argues one of the paper’s imperiously rational commentators. “While many ideas are offensive, only a few should be deemed so unacceptable that they can’t be heard.”

Except Julien Blanc has been heard, far and wide. He earns his money touring the world with expensive seminars and “bootcamps”. He uses his self-made pulpit to tell his creepy fanbase that, for example, Japanese women enjoy rape. To go out on a limb: that sounds very much like racist, misogynistic hate speech which ought to be legally proscribed.

Regardless, the backlash is counter-intuitive as Blanc could morph into something unstoppable – a giant dickhead, say – by “turning it to his advantage”, as if the Streisand Effect were an immutable law of nature. There are better arguments against a kind of collective Frankenstein complex and the outrage industry it partly fuels, but in this instance they don’t apply. In reality, of course, Blanc’s bid to go mainstream is ruined.

The author goes on to lament the cancellation of the Barbican gallery’s Exhibit B as more evidence of a growing “draconian censorship”. White South African Brett Bailey’s ‘art’ installation was to feature black actors chained in cages, purportedly to depict the horror of slavery (rather than, say, the gratification of white guilt as redemptive mental masturbation).

That the Barbican bowed to 200 black people exercising their right to protest strikes some in the bubble of the media commentariat as somehow anti-democratic when it is plainly the opposite.

The contradictions in the argument are glaring. “If you poke too many holes in the fabric of freedom of expression,” the piece adds, “then you cannot complain when the bigots, authoritarians and fanatics pour through them.”

Well, of course you bloody can. Unless allowing (relatively small) sections of the public to freely express complaints about fanatical bigots already pouring forth is somehow authoritarian, then this kind moral panic remains frankly risible.

A little less contempt for your audience is usually advisable, too.




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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