On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has room for improvement
Monday, December 10th marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
Significantly, this took place just three years after the Allies had defeated Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and other regimes which had violated human rights on a colossal scale.
“A major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it’s sufficiently woke. Social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media,” Andrew Doyle explains in a new video lecture recorded at the National Liberal Club in London on 13th October 2019.
The 25-minute video is a brilliant explainer on how satire and hoaxing work in 2019. With major platforms and publications getting woker by the minute, it’s imperative that people who haven’t succumbed to the woke moral panic to call out the many hypocrisies and incoherencies of social justice. For the few who don’t know, Andrew Doyle is the genius behind the internet’s greatest troll, Titania McGrath.
In 2019, feelings outweigh facts at every turn. And when op-eds read like fabricated drivel, it’s no wonder that the public has a hard time discerning truth from fiction. It takes comedians and satirists to point out just how insane this whole thing is. Doyle points out that “the woke are the establishment” and he couldn’t be more right. Those who are in the powerful cultural positions, in academia, media, arts, entertainment, and most importantly, advertising, are the ones with the batons and horses to push these ideas onto the public.
This is the kind of influence that matters, not politicians and legislators, but those who control the media. And they are being fooled by their own unwillingness to address their woke bias. It is this bias that veers us into the realm of complete absurdity, where people hate themselves for their skin colour, language is colonialism, words are violence, and disagreement is fascism.
“The mainstreaming of social justice is also evident in the fact that even respected, national newspapers don’t seem to understand the basic definitions of phrases like fascist, alt-right, and even far-right,” Doyle remarks. “They no longer know what these words mean, and they are just bandying them about promiscuously, which is really damaging. Now if you claim the right to define the word Nazi as just anyone who disagrees with you politically, then, of course, you can also claim that there is an epidemic of Nazism. But in doing so you are also inadvertently, acting in the interests of the worst kinds of people.”
Doyle notes that the reframing of the conversation to mark those who disagree with the mainstream social justice movement as alt-right Nazi fascists, cedes the argument in favour of free speech to those very people you are trying to silence.
The last five minutes of the speech is where Doyle truly shines. He points to three specific pieces published by major platforms. “In August of last year, The New York Times ran an anonymous letter. It was called ‘How Can I Cure My White Guilt?’ It was just signed ‘Whitey,’ and it was a person who described themselves as being riddled with shame for being white. Now the whole thing was obviously ridiculous, and obviously a hoax. So, Titania claimed that she had written it. And she provided screenshots, of the letter, on her hard drive, with the date, just to prove that she was the author.”
Doyle claims that the authorship doesn’t really matter. Maybe he wrote it, invoking the spirit of Titania, maybe he didn’t. The point is that “a major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it is sufficiently woke. The social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media. And irreparably degraded its standards.”
Finally, Doyle mentions the crown jewel of hoax columns—a breathless op-ed published by The Independent. “In February of this year, Liam Evans wrote a piece for The Independent, and he cited a number of extremely talented comedians, people like Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, Finn Taylor, and he said that their jokes about sensitive topics amounted to hate speech. He said that these kind of jokes ‘should be subject to investigation. It simply isn’t good enough for comedians to cry free speech after every hateful joke, as if the laws that govern the rest of us don’t apply to them.’”
Who is Liam Evans? Well, he’s clearly an authoritarian, censorious monster. But he’s also clearly not real. Doyle asks why The Independent would run such clearly fabricated nonsense and points to the fact that a number of prominent comedians complained to the publication. Doyle asks, “What is happening to our media? Why is a respected national newspaper publishing drivel by a writer that no one has ever heard of just because it’s pushing a woke agenda? What does that tell us? And the other question they should have been asking is why is the left publishing these kinds of censorial articles that used to grace the pages of the right-wing tabloids? And if it takes a hoaxer to provoke a little self-reflection, then surely that’s a good thing.”
“Again, I do not want to speculate as to the authorship of that article,” Doyle says. “But I will point out one thing which I do find just a little bit curious… You might be interested to note that if you take every fourth letter of every sentence, it actually spells out the phrase, ‘Titania McGrath wrote this, you gullible hacks.’”
When asked if he was indeed behind the hoax article, Andrew Doyle remained playfully cagey, telling The Post Millennial: “So many of the opinion columns in the woke press read like satire already, so in a sense I shouldn’t be surprised that such an obvious hoax would be published.”
The truth is if it weren’t for geniuses like Doyle, Gervais, Chappelle, CK, and the handful of other comedians brave enough to stand up to the woke mob, the culture wars might be a lost cause. As Doyle has pointed out numerous times, hoaxing and satirizing the woke establishment is actually punching up. Every major platform and publication is woke in 2019. Those who issue social justice diktats have all of the power and influence. Doyle’s work is vital.
News hoaxes are as old as news itself, but what news outlets can get pranked about is very revealing. In this case, media wanted to believe that a young woman hated her whiteness, that Sam Harris is a gateway drug to the alt-right, free speech doesn’t matter, and off-colour jokes must be investigated by the authorities. The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Independent wanted to believe these things. In fact, they were desperate to believe these things. That’s why they published these hoax stories. And that’s why we need to keep making fun of them.
Prominent YouTuber Dave Rubin has introduced a new platform called Locals.com which intends to give “power” back to the creators, rather than to organizations like YouTube and Patreon who have often been criticized for being censorious and manipulative.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, Rubin described Locals.com as a “subscription-based community network for creators … I fully believe that the future of the internet is bottom-up instead of top-down.”
Rubin went on to say that content creators are “frustrated by these giant tech platforms and the way they manipulate the algorithm, the way they shadowban, the way they de-platform, and what I realized was that for me as an independent content creator, I needed to make sure that all my digital assets, my videos, my audios, the way I can communicate with fans, is protected”
Rubin wanted to build Locals.com so that content creators had the power to “put up ad-free videos, ad-free audio podcasts, so you can communicate directly with your fans. Ultimately, we will build web-communities, and also apps for independent creators.”
There will also be a social element to Locals.com. Creators, for instance, will now be able to communicate with other like-minded creators on the backend of the site—creating their own networks. “The future is about creators, not these big tech platforms,” Rubin stated.
Locals.com will allow creators to set their own rules within their community—meaning that there won’t be a universal term of service. “You will set your rules about what type of people you want, and what speech is allowed. We will empower creators to actually own their content.”
Rubin also has a solution to the bots and trolls that content creators often have to deal with on the larger tech platforms, as these people won’t pay to access the content.
On top of this, creators won’t be beholden to tech companies or the government. “The government is not the solution, usually the government is the problem,” said Rubin.
“The idea behind a big platform is that somehow everybody should be on there, and everybody should be able to say what we want, except we know that these big tech platforms treat different content and different people differently. Why not hand that power down to the creator: so if you want to build a community where it is a free-for-all then so be it; but if you want to have a community which is much more guarded and moderated, then you can have that.”
“These are gated communities that interact with other gated communities, to start creating real, mature conversation which is what’s been lost of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.”
Rubin also emphasized the ability for creators to communicate with their audience: Big tech platforms have “created a situation where there are creators with millions of followers and you can’t even directly communicate with your people because the algorithm stops you from doing that. So, for example, I have over a million youtube subscribers, but my videos get out to very few of them. So we’re gonna ensure that there is no algorithm manipulation.”
Rubin has made clear that Locals.com will not sell data. As well as this, if a creator leaves the platform, they will be allowed to take the audience data they collected with them so that creators are in no way dependant on Locals.com. In other words, Rubin is “trying to think of the internet in a whole new way.”
Next week, Locals.com will begin to announce a batch of prominent creators who will be posting their content on the site.
A popular parody account has been suspended from Twitter following outrage by one of the largest media outlets in the world. The man behind Shaniqua O’Tool, an account that had over 15,000 followers at the time of suspension, says The Guardian forced Twitter to censor comedy.
He spoke to The Post Millennial to reveal details on the campaign waged by The Guardian against his satirical tweets. While his identity is known to The Post Millennial, it is being withheld for reasons of privacy.
Starting as a Godfrey Elfwick-styled account, the account owner says the Shaniqua O’Tool character was meant to “poke fun at both the far-left and the far-right.” He says the name was inspired by the 2003 single “Shaniqua don’t live here no more” by Little T and One Track Mike.
The account’s owner points out the existence of a Twitter account dedicated to compiling the Guardian’s most meme-able headlines, including one where Guardian columnist Abi Wilkinson suggests the “tears of joy emoji” mocks human suffering.
“Some of [The Guardian’s] headlines bordered on insanity, so I felt it was worthy of satire.” He says. In 2017, he began posting edited Guardian headlines with Shaniqua’s face photoshopped in as the columnist.
Some of Shaniqua’s antics were so indiscernible from authentic Guardian headlines that they attracted the attention of outraged media outlets. Gateway Pundit wrote an article decrying Shaniqua as an “ISIS sympathizer” for her headline on police needing to learn the importance of spotting a “fake suicide vest” before shooting. The Gateway Pundit article, which claimed to have read the non-existent Shaniqua column, was quickly deleted.
“I mocked [Gateway Pundit] for it,” the account owner says, “and when my headlines caught conservative commentator Katie Hopkins off guard, I mocked her for it too.” He says, asserting that his satire was bipartisan. However, he notes that there was a difference in how people of different political orientations handled being the target of his comedy.
“It is a consistent and recurring pattern over the last few years that if you poke fun at conservative or right-leaning people, they tend to just go with the joke or ignore you. If you poke fun at left-wing people, my experience is very different. They report you, verbally attack you, mobilize their followers to report and block, and ensure your name is added as a ‘Nazi’ to block lists.”
On November 29th, 2019, the account received a copyright strike notice from Twitter. The claim was apparently filed by Guardian editor Tom Stevens, who wrote that Shaniqua’s infringement was “pretending to be a Guardian writer. The tweets are fake and offensive.”
The claims were made through Twitter’s copyright system, which is intended to protect the rightful owners of intellectual property. Prior to completing a claim within this system, a complainant must acknowledge that they considered “Fair Use” laws, and accept responsibility for damages in the event they misrepresented fair use material as infringement.
Fair Use is a provision which states that copyrighted work can be utilized if the use is sufficiently transformative. According to the University of Minnesota, transformative content uses original work in a “completely new or unexpected way,” and lists parody as being the clearest example of “transformative content.”
In the case of Shaniqua, the account was not utilizing anything more than the template of Guardian headlines. The headlines themselves, lede, and photo were original.
In 2017, Buzzfeed called Twitter’s copyright system “hair-trigger,” and stated that “a copyright violation from a major media company is the surest way to lose access to one’s account.”
The Guardian filed two subsequent copyright claims on December 2nd, and the account was suspended the same day. In the claim, Guardian editor Tom Stevens writes “Becoming a serious problem now. Please take appropriate action.”
After the news of the Guardian‘s apparent campaign against Shaniqua surfaced, Twitter users began posting their own parodies of Guardian headlines using the hashtag #trollingtheguardian
Prior to getting suspended, the man behind Shaniqua attempted to open dialogue with Guardian media editor Jim Waterson, but his direct messages were not returned.
“He never replied, presumably, because he knew my days on Twitter were numbered.”
While appeals on copyright strikes are possible, the account owner says he was discouraged from doing so as it would mean providing consent for Twitter to share his personal information with The Guardian. Fearing harassment or a lawsuit, he did not appeal.
“It’s clear they don’t like being mocked,” he says, “I was followed en mass by Guardian journalists [the day of my suspension]. Being followed suddenly like that was deeply unnerving. It felt like they were letting me know they were watching me.”
The account owner has filed an appeal with Twitter over the account’s suspension but has not heard back as of publication.
The Post Millennial reached out to The Guardian but has not heard back by the time of publication.
The keynote speech Sacha Baron Cohen gave at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Never Is Now conference showed that he is in favour of not only censoring others but unwittingly censoring himself. Cohen has been a funny, irreverent, offensive comic for some time. His entire brand is based on saying the wrong thing to the right people. Yet this man, who has made his name and his money pushing the limits of tolerable speech, wants to silence the social media speech of those he doesn’t agree with. Doesn’t he know that when free speech rights are curtailed, no one’s voice is spared?
At issue for Cohen is the political landscape of Facebook. While Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has curbed political ads on his network, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has refused to do so. Cohen blames the way people communicate for the evils in the world, but the methods of speech are not the problem. The problem is the same as its always been: bad actors who use whatever means necessary to spread lies and misinformation.
“Think about it. Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others—they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged—stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear,” Cohen said. “It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times. It’s why fake news outperforms real news because studies show that lies spread faster than truth.”
We didn’t need studies to tell us this. Lies have been spreading faster than truth even before the Mark Twain saying about how a lie can get around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. Hell, it’s even a lie that Mark Twain said it! Lies and propaganda are not new. Prior to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, there were newspapers, magazines, and television news, which were also susceptible to falsehoods.
While Cohen is concerned that Hitler could hypothetically buy a 30-second ad on Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Ashe Schow of The Daily Wire points out that Cohen fails to address the fact that Hitler was given a platform by none other than The New York Times in 1941. The New York Times Magazine ran excerpts from “Mein Kampf,” headlining it “The Art of Propaganda.” And they ran articles both in favour of and against intervention.
The rise of anti-Semitism is one of the most pressing threats to our civil society. It is tempting to say that this alone is a reason to block, ban, or censure. But it is not that easy, that simple, or that solvable. Cohen’s call for regulation and censorship will not curtail hate—it will just cause it to flourish in darker, more radical places. The internet is boundless, and we cannot monitor it all. His proposed solution—to grant power to a select few arbiters of right-speak who would attempt to monitor it—would make things worse.
The ADL has long provided leadership in the essential fight against anti-Semitism, but it has not been without its own stumbles along the way in recent years. Critics have argued that the ADL has “betrayed its mandate” by taking a hard-left turn and focusing on the much more amorphous issue of “hate.” Take, for example, their recent labelling of the children’s “bowl haircut” and the classic “OK symbol” as “official hate symbol.”
Even the great Stephen Fry, who has dedicated considerable effort to combatting anti-Semitism on a global scale, was quick to point out how counterproductive and preposterous such an overreach was:
Another flaw in Cohen’s thinking is in his assumptions that the fact-checkers he is calling for will be non-ideological. One need look no further than the current incarnations of Wikipedia or Snopes to see that deploying a team of fact-checkers does not solve the problem of partisanship. Most fact-checkers have a left-wing bias, and this ideological creep has led to Wikipedia blacklisting many conservative news sources and Snopes embarrassingly “fact-checking” satirical articles.
Which brings us to Cohen’s own work. Cohen had been an effective satirist for so long because he played the role of a trickster who eventually told on his subjects’ and society’s own biases. Through characters like Ali G and Borat, he exposed the preposterous assumptions, values and beliefs that surround us. It was never great comedy, but it certainly achieved the effect he was going for.
In his unscripted Showtime series Who Is America, he duped Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Koppel, Senator Bernie Sanders. He posed as an interviewer, asked them questions in order to reveal their flaws, and made them look foolish. Is posing as a reporter in order to access and exploit information for entertainment a reasonable thing to do? The answer should be yes, sure, why not, all’s fair in love and comedy.
But those who favour Cohen’s style might find themselves less on board with a guy like Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp in order to expose, Acorn, a government home mortgage lending scheme. O’Keefe’s methods were roundly criticized by the left at the time as disingenuous. But perhaps that’s just the kind of work that Cohen would like to see disallowed from the platform, the kind that’s so like his own.
The greatest satirists in the current cultural age are ones like Titania McGrath who dupes an unsuspecting public into believing her identity-based personae is real. Titania taunts her audience with inconceivable calls to action in the name of wokeness, blurring the already blurry line between reality and mockery. That’s what good satire does.
It’s no surprise that Titania has been twice suspended on social media based on the misunderstanding of her satirical project. This is what Cohen is unintentionally advocating for—the silencing of satirists, comedians, and provocateurs.
The truth is Cohen’s own work would not survive the censorious cull he is calling for. It would be removed for reasons of “hate speech”—almost all of it. And the messages or lessons Cohen has hoped to convey with his work would be gone too.
It’s been said many times that the solution to bad speech is more speech. It’s disconcerting and depressing as hell to see that in 2019, those who made their careers by living this truth are now abandoning it.