Tuesday, February 14, 2017

PewDiePie, Offensive Humor, and The Importance of Context

PewDiePie, Offensive Humor, and The Importance of Context

         A lot of people will say that, in comedy, nothing should be off limits. You should be allowed to be as raunchy, edgy, offensive, or crude as you like. Other people will say that you should never try to offend anyone in comedy; you should always be clean, “family-friendly,” or “politically correct.” I belong to neither group of people.

            I don’t believe you should have to censor yourself in comedy, but I do believe you to be careful when your style of humor is offensive or edgy. I’m a big fan of edgy humor, personally, I’m a big fan of George Carlin, Louis CK, Sam Kinison, as well as the films of Mel Brooks, and shows such as South Park. I believe that in most cases, if you find a joke offensive, it’s your choice. Voice your grievance, but don’t expect my sympathy. You’ll find that it’s easier to go through life with a thick skin.

            Notice how I said in most cases, not all cases. There are a few exceptions to the rule. I believe that jokes about really young children are off limits if they’re extremely offensive. I also believe—and this is the case in ALL scenarios involving offensive comedy—that context is absolutely crucial. You need to be careful when communicating with your audience. If your joke is sexist, racist, homophobic, or “politically incorrect” in any way, you have the responsibility to convey that what you are saying is in jest, and that it is not a genuine endorsement of bigoted or hateful attitudes.

            The line between being humorously offensive and being genuinely offensive can be a blurry one. The line gets even blurrier when you’re a famous YouTuber with a predominatelyyoung audience. Because kids aren’t as adept at distinguishing between offensive comedy and actual hate speech as adults are. It’s a murky pool. And right now, the number one YouTuber, PewDiePie, is at the middle of controversy centered on his edgy sense of humor.

            To give you some background, PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has over 53 million subscribers, has guest starred on South Park, and has even appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He was listed in Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People of 2016,” in article written by South Park creator Trey Parker. This is all quite impressive considering his humble beginnings. Before his YouTube fame, he was a kid from Gothenburg, Sweden, the son of two tech company CIOs. In High School, he was into art and gaming, much like a lot of teenagers.

He mentioned in an interview with Rolling Stone that he was incredibly shy and he spent a lot of his free time playing video games. Is he talking about himself or me?

He went to college at Chalmers University of Technology to pursue a degree in Industrial Engineering. While in college, he had a love of Photoshop and enjoyed working on photo manipulation and making art in Photoshop during his spare time. Wow, he could be talking about me, because I love doing that as well. I actually did not know this about him when I set out to write this article, but as I did my research, I watched a YouTube video he made about two weeks ago where he revealed that he entered several Photoshop competitions. He almost earned an apprenticeship at “one of the best advertising agencies in Scandinavia,” but was ultimately turned down.

It was quite cool to learn this about him because I did not realize you could enter Photoshop competitions or get employment opportunities out of it. I’ve been doing Photoshop art for months now, and while I don’t sell anything, I post them regularly on my Instagram account.

I’d like to take a moment to get a little personal here. I may not have become famous by any stretch, but I’ve grown as a person in the past seven or eight months that I’ve made PhotoShop art. I’ve met and interacted with several people online because of it. They’ve given me feedback on my posts, they’ve commented, and a few other people have even put me on their social media contacts and have told me that if I needed emotional support whenever I was feeling lonely, they’d be there for me. A few of these people have DMed me, asking for advice and help whenever they were having family problems, and I’ve always done my best to be supportive. I’ve had the opportunity to donate some money to a Kickstarter campaign to help start up a family business. This is the thing I’m most proud of doing. Because even though I’m broke and could only afford to donate $5, it clearly meant a lot the family. The project owner DMed me personally to thank me, and it was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had in my life. I felt like I made a difference in someone’s life, that I’ve impacted the world in some way. It was the first time in my life that I’ve ever felt like that. I’ve always wanted to help out—to improve the world in some way, no matter how small. And by donating to that Kickstarter—no, not just that, but also by making the very PhotoShop edits (and some video compilations) I talked about earlier—I am doing what I wanted.

The experience has been so immensely healthy for me as a person. It’s making me more confident, more assertive, and it’s also inspired me to be more responsible with my own life. If I want to improve my diet, it’s up to me. If I want to get an education and the job I want, it’s up to me. But a little help from other people goes a long way, and learning to be more outgoing—learning to make friends—is a huge part of that. As long as my Instagram account continues to grow, I will post more and more. And come to think of it, entering a PhotoShop contest might not be a bad idea.

Why am I telling you this? Because I see a slight parallel between my life experience and Kjellberg’s. He took a lot of college courses that bored him, as have I. He eventually dropped out of the University altogether. I’ve dropped out of college twice so far. But he didn’t give up on his ambition or his hobbies. He had another hobby in making content on YouTube, which is where his explosion to fame would come from.

Felix Kjellberg may not have gotten an apprenticeship, but he did get to buy a gaming PC from the money he made by selling some of his Photoshop art. Industrious and self-sufficient, I like it. In 2010, he made a YouTube account called PewDiePie. The inspiration for the name was the sound of lasers shooting (pew), the act of dying (die), and pie (pie). Yeah, that last one seems kind of random. But it fits with Felix’s persona on YouTube, that’s for sure. Kjellberg’s first videos were of him playing around in Minecraft, which was still in its beta phase at the time. In 2011, he started playing horror games and amassed a small cult following. The same year, he dropped out of college and worked at a hot dog stand in order to pay rent. In 2012, Kjellberg quit the hot dog stand job to focus on YouTube full-time as his channel exploded in popularity. When 2012began, he had 80,000 subscribers. At the end of the year, his channel hadswollen to 3.6 million. In February of 2013, after hitting 5 million subscribers, he joined a multi-channel network called Maker Studios, owned by Disney. By the end of 2013, Kjellberg had 19 million subscribers and was the most popular channel on YouTube, a title he holds to this day.

He makes mostly gaming videos, and his trademark comedy style has always been raucous, raunchy, edgy, random, and surreal. It most definitely is not for everyone. I myself have personally never cared much for him. I’ve laughed at a few of his jokes, but he’s always been a little bit too juvenile for my tastes. The best way I can describe him is that if you like Adam Sandler movies, you’ll love PewDiePie.

Kjellberg is no stranger to controversy. Early on in his YouTube career, he made rape jokes very frequently. The problem wasn’t that they were offensive, it was that they were divorced from any context. Kjellberg is a gamer, and in online gaming, “rape” is a term used frequently to describe thoroughly owning and destroying an enemy. I saw it used like this a lot back when I played games online regularly. Edgy teenagers being edgy teenagers. It’s natural that Kjellberg would have made these kinds of jokes on his channel, because he filmed himself playing video games as he normally played them. If you’ve been online and you have voice chat, you’ll hear people say this kind of shit pretty frequently. It’s one of the reasons I don’t game online much anymore (and I don’t have voice chat enabled at all anymore), aside from some of the other issues I’ve had with certain elements of the gaming community. I’ll get to that later.

The main point here is that PewDiePie offended quite a few people with his context-free rape jokes in his early videos, and when his channel started blowing up in 2012, more and more people complained about it. When some people who were actually rape victims politely described how this was a big psychological trigger for them, PewDiePie made a decision I respect him for immensely. He stopped making rape jokes, and gave an explantion why on his Tumblr. It was a very mature, adult move. A lot of people online would have told naysayers to go fuck themselves, but Kjellberg listened.

As his career progressed, Kjellberg grew up as a person, and gradually told less and less offensive jokes. He made video called “Old PewDiePie vs New PewDiePie” last year where he apologized for using “gay” as a pejorative. He claimed to have grown as a person over the course of his career, and no longer says offensive things just because he thinks being offensive is funny automatically.

Evidently, he didn’t have this epiphany for very long, because late in 2016 and early this year, he doubled down hard on the edgy, offensive for the sake of being offensive shock humor, incorporating Nazi imagery into some of his videos. Or at least that’s what some news articles reporting on his recent firing from Disney would have you believe.  One of the videos being singled out is a rant about the short-lived “YouTube Heroes” catastrophe from September. Basically, YouTube Heroes gave anonymous YouTube users the power to mass flag any videos they found offensive or hateful. So, of course, PewDiePie would make a offensive video on purpose. The video in question has PewDiePie wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat talking with Adolf Hitler on a livestream. It doesn’t make much sense in context, either. You can watch it here, please do because the reporters citing it as “Nazi imagery” clearly haven’t.

This is probably the most forgivable of the videos that were cited. There are a few videos that are a little more problematic. Seven and half minutes into this video, PewDiePie starts some kind of Satanic summoning ritual with a clip of the Nazi Party Anthem playing in the background. It also involved a crudely drawn Star of David with a swastika in the middle of it. Yeah, that was pretty tasteless. It also comes right the fuck out of nowhere. Random and divorced from context is par for the course in a PewDiePie video. It’s obvious he’s not being serious, but it was still pointlessly forced and edgy, and it’s deserving of a little criticism.   

A third video has him doing the Nazi salute while Sieg Hiel plays in the background. It happens 19 seconds in, and it’s never mentioned again. I don’t get what the joke is supposed to be. It’s just being edgy and shocking for the sake of being edgy and shocking. It’s not offensive at all, it’s just tedious. I’ve seen some of your videos, Felix, you can do better than this.

The most problematic of his videos, the one that caused him the most controversy and is likely what resulted in Disney severing ties with him, was a video where he went onto a site called Fiverr and paid two guys to display a sign entitled, “Death to all Jews.” This is a site where you can pay anyone to say anything, and PewDiePie decided to be edgy, of course. The video has been deleted. PewDiePie himself did not think the two guys would actually follow through with his request, and apologized in the video itself. But the damage was done. Felix and the two guys were banned from fiverr. To Felix’s credit, he tried his hardest to get the two men their jobs back and tried to work with fiverr to do so. But he inadvertently got two people fired from their job for a stupid, edgy joke that wasn’t even that funny.

So what’s my stance on this. I don’t think that Disney should sever ties with PewDiePie and I think people are overreacting. But I do believe that Felix is deserving of some criticism. He’s not a neo-Nazi (God help anyone who thinks that he is), but we live in a world were showing Nazi imagery as an edgy joke is not as harmless as it once was.

If this had happened five years ago, a younger, edgier, 20-year-old me would have thought everyone were being a bunch of ridiculous pussies, that it was just the hypersensitive PC-police who couldn’t take a joke, that all forms of comedy should be defended regardless of content or context.

I don’t feel that way anymore. Because the times we live in today are much less innocent.

PewDiePie may not be a neo-Nazi, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Not only do they exist, but they’ve been gaining frightening amounts of popularity online. The new neo-Nazis have been calling themselves the alt-right, and over the last two years they’ve mutated from this obscure cult of online racists based mostly on 4chan and a few racist websites, to a movement that has a presence almost everywhere on social media—on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Steve Bannon, the fucking Chief Strategist to the President, is a member of the alt-right. These people spent all of last year’s election creating racist, misogynistic, and bigoted memes in support of Donald Trump. The very same man who ran a campaign which demonized Latinos and Muslims. Since he won the election, the alt-right have been celebrating online and have taken it as a mainstream validation of their ideals. 

4chan and Breitbart remain the main hubs for the alt-right, but now there are websites such as the Daily Stormer. This website frequently tries to appropriate pop culture imagery onto it’s front page to make itself look more legitimate, like it’s a big joke, but it’s 100% serious. Last summer, during the Pokemon Go craze, they put cute Pokemon onto the front page header. Last month, it billed itself as the “#1 PewDiePie fan site,” probably in response to the “Death to all Jews” controversy.

This is a problem. This is why I’m talking about this. Because actual neo-Nazis are crawling around the Internet right now, and are trying to recruit angry, alienated, young white men and slowly destroy their ability to empathize with their fellow human beings. They do it by disguising their hateful, toxic, bile as merely “trolling,” or “rebelling against PC culture.” Over time, it graduates to conspiracy theories about “cultural Marxism.” They tell you that feminists are destroying traditional masculinity, that blacks are murdering innocent whites in the streets and are being protected by the mainstream media. They tell you that Muslims are invading Europe, that the refugees will rape all the white women. They rant on and on about “white genocide.”

These guys love trolling people. They love brigading the comments section of websites, blogs, and YouTube videos made by their ideological enemies (which in this case is “everyone that isn’t alt-right.”) I suppose it’s fortuitous that they’re about as subtle as a bulldozer slamming into a brick wall, because it’s easy to spot them on social media. They typically have Pepe the Frog avatars, “deplorable” in their usernames, and often ramble on about “meme magic” in their bios. If they’re not blathering about saving the white race that is. Their debate tactics consist mostly of calling people, “cucks.” They also love to harass you on Twitter by spamming memes of Pepe the Frog photoshopped over Auschwitz. This has happened to one of my Twitter buddies (a vocal alt-right critic) on numerous occasions.

So, why am I so afraid of these guys if they’re such fucking idiots? Well, they’re not as stupid as they seem. In June of 2015, not long after Dylan Roof shot up a black church in South Carolina, Jacob Siegel did some fantastic research for this article in the Daily Beast, entitled, “Dylann Roof, 4chan, and the New Online Internet Racism.” It’s a very enlightening—and deeply disturbing—expose on how online racism works, and how young white supremacists are recruited online.

The article describes 4chan, a image-sharing message board that created a lot of the memes—and much of the internet culture we all know and love today—back in the mid-2000s. The forum is largely unmoderated, and everyone posts anonymously, so a trolling subculture inevitably took off. You can be as vile as you want when you cower behind a cloak of anonymity. 4chan has long been infamous for its users raiding other websites and concocting elaborate trolling campaigns as well as for its edgy, nothing-is-off-limits shock value humor. The sub-board /pol/ is known for its explicitly racist content.

These people love to argue that their racism is just ironic, and “for-the-lulz.” And for the most part, this used to be true. Ten years ago, when people called themselves neo-Nazis, it was largely tongue-in-cheek. Anyone on the Steam forums (or any other entertainment forum, for that matter) who called themselves neo-Nazis were dismissed as 4chan trolls trying to be edgy, and were not taken seriously. This is not the case anymore.

The article goes on to note the rise of the Daily Stormer, created by a young neo-Nazi named Andrew Anglin, and how it is modelled on 4chan. The use of memes, random humor, and offensive shock humor is pretty much the same. The Daily Stormer—and the alt-right in general—attached their neo-Nazi ideology to a much wider backlash against political correctness and social justice warriors. Social justice warriors, or SJWs, are advocates of social justice who are either extremists, hypocrites, or both (and they’re often both.) They’re the morons on Tumblr screaming shit like, “Check Your Privilege, White Cis Male Scum!” and posting pictures of themselves drinking cups labelled, “Male Tears.” It’s hardly a surprise that many people—even many young, progressive minded people—would support a backlash against people like this.

Being intentionally offensive for no reason, just to provoke people who are offended way too easily, is a stupid and juvenile thing to do, of course, but it’s understandable. Nobody likes being told what they can and can’t say. People online have long reveled in being able to say things they can’t say on television, on the radio, or in public. There is a sense of rebelliousness in breaking social taboos that can be quite exciting, especially if you’re younger.

Over the last couple of years, the backlash against political correctness and SJWs has transformed into a genuine reactionary movement against all progressive ideologies—feminism, LGBT rights, excetera—to the point where it’s largely impossible to be a social justice advocate without getting lumped in with SJWs by default. This backlash was particularly nasty with GamerGate, anti-feminist movement within the gaming community. I remember when GamerGate first rose in 2014, and watched as several Internet reviewers and comedians—whom I had watched for years and respected—were subjected to death threats, rape threats, and libelous articles from Breitbart. Several people were doxed and had to leave their homes for months—it didn't happen to any of the entertainers I watched, but it was still really scary. The trolling culture of 4chan had spread over the entire Internet—posting or saying anything even remotely pro-feminist or pro-social justice would get you bombarded with hate, especially on YouTube. Nowadays, YouTube has several thriving channels dedicated to harassing feminists—some of these channels have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, it’s fucked beyond belief.

The cauldron of hate unleashed by GamerGate and the anti-feminist community on YouTube was ripe for the alt-right. A whole bunch of angry, bitter, young white men—the alt-right had struck gold. GamerGate may have fizzled out in 2015, but the alt-right movement picked up a lot of the veterans. During this time, the Daily Stormer was experiencing explosive growth. The shock humor of 4chan became increasingly racist and bigoted as it mingled with the Stormer. It soon became almost impossible to distinguish the joking racism from the genuine racism amidst all the layers of irony, sarcasm, and memes.

This takes me back to a big point a made earlier about context, and how it important it is when doing offensive humor. Meme-based humor is completely devoid of context, regardless of whether or not it’s offensive. A racist idea communicated in meme form is a racist idea that won’t be scrutinized—no one will force you to justify or defend it.

That’s bad. The problem is especially bad on websites that share the same memes. Instagram is full of meme pages, all of whom share the same memes, regardless of the political affiliation or the intent of the page admins. In last years election, people LOVED to make memes out of Donald Trump—regardless of whether or not you supported him or opposed him, people were making memes out of him. And the same memes could be seen on the pages of people who opposed Trump and those who supported him. I couldn’t tell which memes referring to Trump as “God Emperor” were in jest and which ones weren’t.

The same problem applies to the shock humor meme pages. Who knows if the meme page admins are genuine racists? None of the fans give a shit, or the pages wouldn’t be so big. The alt-right knows this. They cause confusion by behaving in the same way as the run-of-the-mill edgelords. They can hide under this cloak of “edgy humor” so they can spread their ideologies without detection.

There’s another tactic of the alt-right, and that is to claim anyone who criticizes political correctness—or just makes an offensive, edgy joke—as one of their own. When PewDiePie made the controversial video with the “Death to all Jews” message, several alt-righters tried to claim him. As I’ve said previously, the Daily Stormer billed itself as a fan site. Neo-Nazis left comments like this:

Even Richard Spencer tweeted out wondering if PewDiePie was "one of us."

Obviously, PewDiePie is not. But this incident highlights how murky the waters have become when getting to doing offensive humor online. His humor is like meme humor—random, edgy, and devoid of context. It’s easy for unsavory people to exploit. You can’t make Nazi jokes anymore without attracting the attention and support of actual neo-Nazis. Unless there is a clear context that your offensive jokes aren’t meant to be taken seriously, they can and will be used by the wrong people as a recruitment tool for actual hate groups. When you have a young, impressionable audience, you need to be very careful with your edgy humor with all these sociopaths crawling around online.

Based on his apology on Tumblr, I don’t think PewDiePie fully understands the problem. I don’t blame him, it’s complicated. There’s quite a bit of criticism I have for him. One, he shouldn’t rely on edgy humor constantly anyway, it gets old kind of fast. Two, you have to put your more offensive jokes into context so that your younger viewers don’t mistake you for an actual anti-Semite. And three, a public disavowal of hate groups would be appreciated. Not just on Tumblr, I’d like to see a full video of you condemning actual hate groups that try to use your, your style of humor, and your fans, as recruitment tools.

To be honest, I feel bad for PewDiePie right now. I don’t think he deserves the spotlight and all the negative attention when many other YouTubers do A LOT worse. He just gets it because he’s number one. JonTron, for example, gave an actual interview with Breitbart in December, has retweeted alt-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson, and went on a live-stream with another alt-right YouTuber by the name of Sargon of Akkad. He praised the white-nationalist politicians in France (Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France) and said that Germany would be “uncucked” by its populist-right part Alternative for Germany. He hasn’t gotten any real media attention outside of YouTube for this, and he deserves a ton of shit for it because he’s hugely popular (over 3 million subscribers), and also has a lot of kids in his audience. And speaking of Sargon of Akkad, he tweeted out a photo of the analytics of the Daily Stormer and the analytics of feminist pop-culture website The Mary Sue, and mocked the Mary Sue for getting less views than a white supremacist website. And he straight-up admitted the Daily Stormer was a white supremacist site, he didn’t even try to sugar coat it.

This is fucked beyond all comprehension. How do you get away with this shit!?

I think we definitely need to hold popular YouTube standards up to a higher standard than we currently are. I will definitely speak out against any channel that pulls any genuine racist bullshit. PewDiePie isn’t one of these channels, but he does deserve some criticism in the way he does offensive comedy. You need to put your jokes into context. Also, with all the things people are going to be saying about you now due to these wildly exaggerated news articles, you need to do more than just post a tepid twitter apology. As I’ve said before, make a video condemning any hate groups who try to appropriate your image. That would mean a lot more than a simply apology right now.

Of course, PewDiePie can’t be expected to do this constantly. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents to monitor what their kids are watching online, and who they are talking to. If you don’t like what they’re watching, don’t let them watch it. If you think they can handle the kind of edgy humor that dominates the Internet, be sure to put it all into context. PewDiePie being let go from Disney made so many mainstream headlines—just imagine how much YouTube and the internet are going to freak out over this.

I wrote this article because the topic of free speech, edgy humor, how-far-is-too-far, and the hate groups that rely on these things to fly under the radar are all things that concern me greatly. I wrote this article because none of the news articles I saw accurately portraying the things PewDiePie was saying in his videos. If your kids are confused as to why their favorite YouTube celebrity is having Nazi accusations thrown at home, show them this article. Hopefully it will help. If they’re confused about why people would freak out over dumb edgy jokes, hopefully this article explains that, too.

Also, monitor how often your kids are online, what websites they’re using, and what kind of language they’re using. And have go outside and interact with each other every once in a while.

Ultimately, I care about accuracy and perspective. I don’t like how mainstream media outlines simplify complex issues into easily digestible soundbites. It’s a huge disservice to journalism. The articles I read about the PewDiePie controversy are all examples of contemporary junk journalism that I despise. They gave nothing even resembling an accurate portrayal of the situation. I did my best to be as accurate as possible, as thorough as possible, and as explanatory as possible.

We live in scary, frightening times. We all need to be more cautious and less reckless. We all need to be more empathetic, more concerned about the impact our words and our actions have on others. And we all need to be more open to a debate with each other, and less open to just throwing around insults and labels. Since I’m not seeing any media source do any of these things, I figured I’d do it myself.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Stop Appeasing Bullies Like Milo Yiannopoulos

My faith in the current leadership of this country and its institutions is pretty much zero. It's not hard to see why when you see shit like this happening.

I won't summarize that article. I'll just advise you to read it before you continue to read to the next paragraph.

My first criticism will be for the mainstream media and their consistent, infuriating failure to accurately call people like Milo what they are. Bullies. They are NOT "trolls." They're bullies. Milo and the rest of the alt-right filth like him. Milo isn't some mischievous gadfly or edgy rebel fighting off a tyrannical "politically correct" mainstream. He's a vile, cruel, petty sociopath driven purely by the desire to bring human suffering to very real people for no reason other than that he enjoys it.

He rose to prominence in late 2014 by spearheading GamerGate--a group of reactionaries and anti-feminists gamers--in an attempt to drive feminist voices out of gaming, whether they be players, critics, journalists, or developers. Considering how apathetic the gaming community is towards social issues in general, it's no surprise that they were unsuccessful. The majority of gaming celebrities on YouTube ignored GamerGate completely.

When GamerGate fizzled out, Milo decided to take to harassing people he didn't like on Twitter, mostly leftists. Technically, he didn't do the harassing himself, he allowed his fans to do that for him by quote tweeting his targets. Over the summer, he did this star of the Ghostbusters reboot, Leslie Jones, and the resulting barrage of racist and misogynistic harassment she received resulted in Milo being suspended from Twitter permanently. He still has his job at Breitbart, where he regularly writes poorly-written, unfunny, vacuous drivel that would embarrass a 7th Grader. And he goes on "tours" of college campuses regularly as well.

This is insane to me. Why are colleges inviting the man to speak? I hear answers like, "it challenges students by opening them up to new ideas and different perspectives." That's a load of bullshit! He's as bad a writer as he is a human being. Are college deans reading his shit and thinking, "This is an intelligent example of right-wing thought; let's invite him to speak?" If they are, why not invite every troll that's ever shitposted on 4chan? Why not invite the people raging about the evils of feminism on Reddit? The speeches Milo gives and the articles he writes are on the exact same level of intellectual merit as the rest of those guys. His articles have titles like, "Trannies Are Gay," and "Master Baiters: The Leftists keeping America's Race War Alive." Nothing he offers is going to sound like a new perspective to anyone who's ever been on the Internet ever.

When Milo was invited to the University of Milwaukee, he inevitably degraded a transgender student. This is what he does. He degrades and dehumanizes people from marginalized minority groups, and turns them into objects of ridicule. A near textbook example of bullying. Doing exactly what he's done here caused him to get banned from Twitter back in July. And given how publicized his banning was--it opened a brief debate online about how far is too far when it comes to free speech, and should it still be considered free speech if he's inciting harassment on people--there's no way the leaders of UWM couldn't have suspected something like this would happen if he invited him on campus to speak.

The chancellor of UWM, Mark Mone, did the typical damage control routine that people in power tend to do when they fuck up and it causes someone to get hurt. He released an e-mail to the campus where he said he was “disappointed” that Milo “chose to attack a transgender student.” Wow. A guy who campaigned to have the “T” dropped from “LGBT,” and who has a track record of calling trans people, “trannies,” “freaks,” and “mentally ill,” and spread libel against a trans person by the name of Sarah Nyberg, decided to attack a trans person? Who could possibly have guessed that?

 As for Milo stirring up shit on a college campus, it’s not like he hasn’t done this before. He did so several times earlier this year. His entire schtick is to provoke people into an emotional reaction by saying and writing horrible things. He created a charity called, “the Privilege Grant,” which was exclusively for white men, for God’s sake. A grant that, by the way, was discovered to be a scam back in August.

No, Milo has a clear pattern of singling out marginalized people and targeting them for abuse. He specializes in targeting activists for progressive ideas, slandering them, and trying to ruin their lives. He's what a bully looks like all grown-up. Why he still has an entire college campus tour planned out--why campuses are inviting him at all--is beyond me. He has nothing of intellectual merit to offer our students.

Those are just two examples of what to expect from Milo. Not worthy of speaking on any campus. 

I think I know why he keeps getting invited, though. Our establishment is full of cowards. They believe in the balance fallacy. Lest they be accused of "censorship" or "suppressing conservative speech," they feel the need to give a platform to people who would have never have been considered intelligent conservative voices in the past. Can you imagine a ridiculous internet troll being invited to speak on college campuses--places of Higher Fucking Education--even five years ago? I couldn't have. But over the last several years, the media have been inviting increasingly extreme and ridiculous people to speak publicly, whether or not these people had anything of merit to add to national discourse. In 2011, the media decided to give Donald Trump a platform to bullshit about Obama's Birth Certificate. In 2013, Bobby Jindal was giving the Duck Dynasty cast the opportunity to speak on behalf of "conservative principles." What political experience did the Robertsons have? What knowledge did they have on the country's issues? Apparently, these questions weren't important, because the media treated these people as worthy of helping shape national discourse. 

Milo being mainstreamed is a continuation in this decline of standards. With various political clickbait sites (Breitbart is one of the worst of these) spreading wildly inaccurate information over social media in the blink of an eye, mainstream media sources have lowered their standards of accuracy and research so that they can compete. This results in ridiculous buffoons like the Robertsons, like Trump, like Milo, being invited to speak on CNN, FOX News, ABC, you name it. This increases their media exposure, and effectively normalizes them. Because of this, university leaders are more willing to invite these idiots into the lecture halls, instead of more qualified and more experienced individuals. University leaders--especially those higher up--are older and have less knowledge of the internet and social media, and aren't as likely to be aware of who people like Milo actually are.

That being said, Mark Mone has no excuse. Because Milo stirred up enough mainstream attention when he was banned from Twitter for inciting racist harassment of Leslie Jones back in July. At the very least, he could have done some research. But no, he invites Milo to the campus, and wouldn't you know it, he uses this opportunity to incite people against another minority. Only this time, it was a lot worse. At least with Leslie Jones, she was a celebrity with a large fanbase and several friends in the industry who could come to her defense (she also didn't take the abuse lying down, she dished out quite a bit of it herself against her attackers). The trans student that Milo targeted? She had none of those advantages. If you read this student's response to Mone's e-mail, you'll discover that, like many trans people, her life has been hell. Having no friends while growing up is hard, and I can't even imagine how feeling trapped in the wrong body must feel like. Then she is publicly humiliated in the most degrading way imaginable. Milo showed a picture of her from when she was still transitioning in front of a crowded lecture hall. He joked about her "fuckability."

 The worst parts where when he describes her as a predator, "forcing" her way into the girls locker room. "He got into the women's locker room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way where they don't belong." This is dehumanizing rhetoric. Milo is making her out to be more of a thing than a human being. Ben Tillman did this to black people. Joseph Goebbels did this to the Jews. And now Milo Yiannopoulos does this to trans people. This type of rhetoric is called demonization. Its consequences? At best, de facto discrimination (an in cases such as North Caroline, de jure discrimination as well). At worst, violence and hate crimes. 24 trans people have been murdered in America in 2016 as of last month

Aside from expressing "disappointment," Mark Mone also said that he will "not stand silently by while a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked!" Mr. Mone, that's exactly what you fucking did! According to this student, you were informed several times about Milo's true nature before his speech, and heeded none of the warnings. Hell, according to her, you called the cops on a student group that organized a protest to cancel Milo's speech. Way to listen to their concerns! Way to show support to your students!

The only response Mark Mone had to this was damage control and to encourage a lame hashtag, #UWMstandstogether. They clearly DO NOT stand together! If they did, Milo would never have been invited in the first place. People will defend Mone, saying that "it's the leasts he could have done." They're right. It LITERALLY is the least he could have fucking done! I suspect Mone's motivations for inviting Milo to speak stem from the recent "Professor Watchlist," going around social media. Since the Bush years at least, a popular right-wing conspiracy theory is that college professors are "indoctrinating" students to become radical Leftists. I remembering seeing this bogeyman for the first time ten years ago, as a Freshman in High School. My thoughts at the time were, "wow, you guys are really fucking desperate to avoid any acknowledgement of the fact that the Iraq War is a fucking disaster and that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to be opposed to it." These were the same people that would push the "Obama is a radical Muslim Marxist who was born in Kenya" line of bullshit during the 2008 election. 

When the Right swept into power after the 2010 midterms, they gained control of all decisions regarding social and budgetary policy in many states, including Wisconsin, where UWM is located. Wisconsin politicians have proposed cuts in state funded grants to universities several times already. When the default response of Milo and his ilk is to cry censorship if they're not invited, UWM runs the risk of being perceived as politically biased--or the more scary sounding, "agenda driven," if you prefer. Since the Right has power in Wisconsin's government currently, UWM leadership is afraid of any bad PR that politicians could use to stir up popular support for funding cuts. As a result, UWM invites Milo to speak, heedless of the risks and consequences. 

There's an insidious element to all of this. The rise of Milo--and the mainstream media's treatment of him as a legitimate voice against "political correctness" rather than as the pathetic, loathsome bully that he is--is Orwellian in nature. Milo is as successful as he is because he casts himself as some sort of courageous voice against "PC Culture," against "feminism," against "social justice warriors." He rose to fame by hopping on the GamerGate bandwagon with a Breitbart article accusing "feminist bullies" of "tearing the gaming industry apart." Calling him out for inciting harassment would get you called a "professional victim," or a "crybully." For the months that GamerGate were relevant, they operated by using 4chan-style trolling raids. People who spoke out on social media were inundated with slurs and death threats. They justified this by claiming that their victims were "popular bullies appropriating gaming culture," or some shit. They cast themselves as the victims, and their targets as the bullies who were shoving diversity and SJW propaganda down their throats. Their aggression was justified--in their own minds--because they were being bullied by the people they targeted, and if their victims fought back it was "proof" that they were the bullies. Classic doublethink. 

GamerGate fizzled out in little over a year, but it's brief prominence and treatment as a legitimate group by the mainstream media enabled another group of Internet reactionaries--the alt-right--the rise in its place. Milo has been a major voice for the alt-right--I'd say he's one of their most recognizable "celebrities," for want of a better word. The alt-right was a dark corner of the internet only a few years ago...in the last year and a half, it's become a small but burgeoning cottage industry for young reactionaries. Breitbart, previously just a more belligerent and less factual online version of Fox News, has become the biggest site for the alt-right. 4chan is a big online voice for the alt-right as well, and tends to be much more overtly racist and bigoted than Breitbart. (It should be noted that Milo has used 4chan boards as "evidence" for his various libelous claims against his enemies). There are several YouTube channels dedicated to expressing alt-right ideology, such as Millennial Woes, Black Pigeon Speaks, Naked Ape, Davis Aurini, and Milo himself. Other YouTubers that aren't alt-right, but are sympathetic to the cause (i.e. "anti-feminist, anti-PC, and anti-SJW") include Sargon of Akkad, Chris Ray Gun, Undoomed, and Dave Rubin. All these people rant against "political correctness" and how regular everyday people are threatened by feminism/sjws/immigration/muslims/multiculturalism/insert-boogeyman-here. Does this sound familiar? 

A certain someone ran for President and fucking won by utilizing this kind of rhetoric. It's the kind of rhetoric that spreads fear and paranoia into the hearts and minds of the populace. And this kind of rhetoric has been mainstreamed by the media in frightening ways. Observe Mother Jones referring to alt-right founding father Richard Spencer as "dapper." This New York Magazine article details how the alt-right uses style as a propaganda tool. Milo Yiannopoulos is not an exception to this. Although he certainly does not dress in a manner than anyone would consider, "dapper," he dresses up in a way that makes him look a douchebag. Still, Milo doesn't look like your stereotypical neo-Nazi. He often looks completely ridiculous and impossible to take seriously. In other words, unthreatening. But I think I've proven him to be anything but that.

I think most of the people who don't believe in what Milo says haven't been taking him seriously. A lot of people thought the same about Donald Trump, and he's now President-Elect. I've seen a distressingly low amount of people speak out against these people, too. The people who did got shamed, trolled, and slandered on social media. Several people have had to delete their accounts. They were wrong to do that. Because by doing that, we are appeasing them. We're giving them what they want, which is power over us. Don't let the trolls and the bullies try and wreck your lives because you called them out on their bullshit. Continue to fight on. We need as many people speaking out against the likes of Milo as possible. 

Think back to when your were in Middle School or High School. The worst response you could have made is dropping out due to being bullied. You don't give into bullies, you stand up to them. Right now, a bully has been elected President. Milo and the rest of the alt-right? Those are the group of bullies that try to rule the school by terrorizing everyone else. Mark Mone and the mainstream media? They're the teachers and authority figures that do nothing no matter how many times you tell them you're getting bullied, and no matter how much proof you have of whose doing it to you. What's that make me? I guess that makes me the kid that's tired of seeing bullies get off easy--or worse, seeing authority figures side with them. 

I don't know the student that Milo targeted personally. I don't know any of his victims personally. But I sure as fuck know what bullying is--what predatory behavior is--and I'm tired of seeing nobody speak out against it. If society won't condemn them, I will! I'll do so in more than just this blog post--I'll make this into a YouTube video as well.

I'm not a celebrity. I'm not a leader. I'm just another nobody with an Internet connection and lot to say. If the trolls notice this, if they try to run me off of social media, I'll just use their comments as comedy for my next blog post or video. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just getting started.