Welcome to our off-topic Monday series! I’ve got a treat for you today. It turns out that one of the worst-of-the-worst alt-right “good little skeptic” personalities, Sargon of Akkad, finds himself in very big trouble. And it’s trouble anybody could have seen coming. Best of all, it might be trouble he can’t hand-wave away. Today, Lord Snow Presides over a potential downfall. It can’t possibly happen to a more deserving guy, either!
The Trouble With Mascots, Redux.
I’ve noted before that groups made up of awful people who follow awful ideologies have a lot of trouble finding decent mascots. Like they find one, and then it turns out that their choice is a stone-cold racist. Or of an orientation they despise. Or they’re lying about key points of their testimonies. Sometimes, their mascots reveal that they’re simply too good for the group, as Alex Malarkey and Eugene Peterson did (as did a bunch of Creationist scientists who researched themselves right out of their belief in Creationism!). However it happens, awful groups just can’t find decent, honorable mascots.
Enter Sargon of Akkad (real name: Carl Benjamin, which we’ll be using from here on out). RationalWiki’s writeup of him covers many of his errors and misbehavior.
He could well be the poster child of good little skeptics. He doubts that women’s rights are all that important, that racism really represents any problem today, that Elliot Rodger did anything really unjustified, that 9/11 really happened the way it happened, that the 2016 election really occurred without voter fraud as Donald Trump alleges, or that white male privilege exists.
Notice a trend there? Yes. His self-serving doubts center only on topics that reinforce white male supremacy–and, of course, feed his own narcissism. (It reminds me of martyrbation.)
Carl Benjamin is what happens when someone rejects religion but not the underlying programming that makes religion so harmful to humanity.
And like we see in religious groups, awful ideology and awful people inexorably lead to scandal.
News sites give Carl Benjamin screen space every so often. I’m sure he loves that.
See, he’s trying to break into politics in the United Kingdom (UK). He joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Now he campaigns for election as a Member in the European Parliament (MEP) in their upcoming May 23 election. And the leaders of UKIP are horrified about his befouling presence there. Sure, they’re hard-right, nationalistic, alarmingly-populist, and frequently accused of sexism and racism, but apparently Carl Benjamin represents a bridge too far even for them.
For example, a few years ago, he broke into the news because he tweeted a response to a politician who noted that online discourse often featured rape threats against women. He told her, “I wouldn’t even rape you.”
Boy howdy, he and his pals sure thought that was a hilarious response to her concerns. Even today, Sky News tells us, he considers anybody upset by that comment to be childish as well as incapable of having “a sensible conversation about the issues.”
Like he can.
Cuz he’s a good little skeptic.
The story broke all at once a few days ago from multiple sources.
Sky News uncovered a video Benjamin released in 2015. In it, he uses various racist and ableist slurs. (He also reveals therein that he does believe in privilege, just apparently not that white men like himself might enjoy it.) When Sky contacted him for comment, he provided a tellingly self-serving response:
First, he said, he gets a lot of views on his YouTube channel. (Wait, wouldn’t a good little skeptic know that popularity doesn’t imply correctness?) He directed people to go watch his odious videos themselves to “see the context of them for themselves.” Clearly, he expects good little skeptics like himself to know that “context” can make his slurs acceptable.
Second, he said, “I find racist jokes funny.” Y’all, he’s so evolved as a good little skeptic that he can mine for humor anywhere–even in disgusting, unfunny, punching-down “jokes” told solely to perpetuate white male supremacy and enforce systemic injustice upon the groups he despises and fears. If someone else takes offense, that automatically marks them as less-evolved than himself.
Just reading about his mental gymnastics makes my back hurt.
A couple of days ago, the Daily Mail news site published its own story about Carl Benjamin.
According to them, UKIP recently provided a “dossier” to local police about Benjamin. In this dossier, Benjamin discusses child sexual abuse in bizarrely approving tones, requests “triggering” ammo containing child porn, and makes disgustingly racist and sexist comments.
I’ve heard some juicy rumors besides these, even, including this: he seems to be tangled up with an alt-right channer group called Kekistan. Both Benjamin and the group were, it seems, fanboyed hard by a weird cringelord kid who murdered his mother last winter.
Also, enjoy the Discord leaks you probably already suspected were coming. On Benjamin’s server, his users openly discuss murdering “Eurocrats” and branding the clothes of people they hate to dehumanize them. Boy, the fun never ends around there, does it? (/s)
Point being: dude’s in a lot of trouble, and he has only himself to thank for it all.
I don’t use that wording by accident, either!
The Outrage Machine.
As a good little skeptic, Carl Benjamin feasts on drama. He loves annoying, angering, needling, and causing pain to others for the exact same reason that dickheels everywhere love harassing women on public transportation. When he arouses negative attention, he feels secure in his position as an angry, petulant white dude. The anger he stokes reassures him that he must be correct about whatever he said. The angry people must be wrong. Or else why would they be angry at all?
There’s no difference at all in the outlook or behavior of a hard-right atheist nutjob and a hard-right fundagelical one. Regardless of where they land on the extremist-politics scale, the language authoritarians speak–and the goals they pursue–remain identical. Whether it’s religion or everything else but that, awful people find ways to excuse themselves and grant themselves permission to mistreat others.
Carl Benjamin represents, at heart, a potent reminder to us–not that we needed or desired this one. He reminds us that coming to one correct conclusion about the supernatural doesn’t mean that all of our conclusions about everything will also be correct. Without compassion, grace, integrity, and humility, it seems easy to fall into those same errors.
Hopefully, in the upcoming election those qualities will come out to the polls in high enough numbers to destroy the aspirations of this hopeful politician.
Today, Lord Snow Presides over what might become a very satisfying downfall. Let’s hope!
NEXT UP: What might rekindle my own belief. Then, we have a hilarious new “study” to examine. See you tomorrow!
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Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic weekly chat series. I’ve started us off on a topic, but feel free to chime in with anything on your mind. Pet pictures especially welcome! The series was named for Lord Snow, my recently departed white cat. He knew a lot more than he ever let on.
H/t for today’s story: Steve Shives. BY THE WAY: If any of this guy’s fanboys come sniffing around here, as well they might, just flag their comments. The ROE applies in full force here as it does everywhere.