UPDATED: Minds IRL free speech event will take place despite smear tactics and threats of violence
UPDATE: The Broadway Theatre in Pitman, NJ has cancelled Minds IRL. The event, however, will take place at an undisclosed location in the Pitman / Philadelphia area.
Minds CEO Bill Ottman provided The Post Millennial with a statement: “We are currently in the process of modifying contracts and the event will still take place next Saturday 8/31 as scheduled in the Pitman, New Jersey area. We will have an update for ticket holders in the next couple of days with a permanent venue.”
Emerging social media platform Minds has received threats of violence in advance of its upcoming event in Pitman, NJ. Minds IRL is billed as an event about “ending racism, violence, and authoritarianism.” The one-day conference will feature speakers including Tim Pool, Blaire White, Andy Ngo, Carl Benjamin, Lauren Chen, and Meghan Murphy to name a few.
Minds is a new social media platform that endeavours to pick up the threads of free speech, open mindedness, and thoughtful discourse, where Twitter and Facebook have failed. With account suspensions, shadowbanning, and algorithm manipulation, the social media giants have misled users. New social media platforms like Minds are springing into that void, and they’re not content to simply commune in a virtual space. That’s why Minds is hosting this conference.
Ngo in particular has been the subject of several hit pieces lately that allege that his motivations in covering Antifa protests and tactics are less than pure. He has had many defenders, and has not backed down from his commitment to covering this off-shoot of authoritarianism on the left, nor their alt-right counterparts.
In addition to phone calls and messages, threats came in the form of a hacked Twitter account for the Pitman Theatre, the chosen venue for the Minds IRL conference. This message was released.
The account is now protected.
Another tweeter with the handle @BreadAndRoses suggested that Minds was going to fight racism by taking the diverse group of people assembling for the event and “locking them in and lighting a fire.”
A Twitter account called @NoHateNJ appears to be at least partially responsible for targeting the Minds conference with the aim of shutting it down.
After the threats, Minds issued a statement that the conference would not be deterred.
Tim Pool, a speaker and co-sponsor of the event, launched a live cast on YouTube to address the threats, and the upcoming conference. This was the most effective way to talk openly about what’s going on, which is the point of this project.
“None of our speakers are more controversial than Ann Coulter,” who spoke in the area last year without incident. “Yet somehow this is coming down on all of us … A couple of journalists put out fake news that we are cancelled. That is not true… The event is not cancelled… We will be in the Pitman / Philadelphia area. It will happen no matter what,” Pool said.
The event has been in the planning stages for months. “In the beginning, when this harassment came in, everything was fine, we expected it,” Pool said, “everything was fine for five plus months.”
Pool and the organizers aren’t sure what drove the sudden threats. “Something happened in the middle of the night and we got an alarming email … We have worked really hard to create an event to end racism, to end violence … how do we get past this point in our political world?”
The Post Millennial reached out to Minds CEO Bill Ottman, who told us that, “There are some who want to shut down free speech and others who want to open the conversation.” Ottman told us that deplatforming is not effective—that it causes a Streisand effect and brings more attention to the issue at hand. “All peer-reviewed studies disagree with the course of action taken by this group. I would be curious to see what data they would use to justify their course of action. We are still in conversations with the theatre. [The theatre’s] Twitter was hacked, which I believe is illegal.”
Giving social media platforms ultimatums, hacking accounts, and threatening real world violence is not an effective way of getting a non-violent message across. If Antifa or Antifa supporters are actually in opposed to fascism, then why do they consistently behave in fascist ways? Banding together as many voices against one voice, with the entire motivation of drowning out opinions you don’t want to hear, is the opposite of anti-fascist.
Minds is hosting a conference to promote dialogue. The organizers posit that “America seems to be a culture divided. Polarized. On edge,” and ask “Want to be part of the solution? Want to take a trip out of the proverbial bubble? Dare we talk honestly to others who may disagree with us?”
These are questions that are not being asked by mainstream social media platforms. Either they have too much to lose, or are simply drunk on their own power, or afraid of their own shadow. The mainstream narrative is that independent journalists and creators radicalize people. A situation like this confirms that the opposite is true.
Mainstream media and big tech radicalize: they create fear and paranoia by pushing divisive identity politics. A handful of hardworking, independent dissidents have organized to engage in conversation. The paranoia that the mainstream continues to inspire has led, once again, to threats of violence. Ideas that provoke barbarity need to be interrogated, not engendered. That’s what an event like this sets out to do. The irony is that those who would seek to destroy this platform would be welcomed with open arms within it.