People like to throw around the term “alt-right” very liberally nowadays because labeling someone with that description allows you to do anything you want to them. It’s a free pass to treat whoever you want however you want, and it will be seen as the right thing to do.
The funding website Patreon, which allows users to donate to artists monthly, seems to be going through its ranks and deleting users off its platform with that very word floating in the background. So far its kicked off Milo Yiannopolous, whose account was terminated 24 hours into its creation, as well as Lauren Southern, and her affiliated group “Defend Europe,” a group dedicated to exposing illegal immigration and human trafficking.
Its latest victim is YouTuber Carl Benjamin, or as he’s more popularly known, Sargon of Akkad. Benjamin is a popular cultural commentator and free speech advocate who oftentimes speaks out against the social justice left and government asininity. It goes without saying, but Benjamin does not have a lot of fans on the hard left.
Benjamin’s lack of political correctness has also gotten many confused about where he stands politically, and many have lazily labeled him as a member of the alt-right. Listen to Benjamin’s YouTube videos and you’ll soon discover the opposite. He holds no love for the alt-right and has recently suffered a harassment campaign lead by the alt-right that, according to one of Benjamin’s videos from early December, forced him to alert police.
However, the left is only too happy to stick with the label of “alt-right” for Benjamin. As I stated above, smacking someone with that kind of charge makes their image malleable. You can make it into whatever you want and people won’t really question it because who wants to defend a racist?
This label made it easy for Patreon, which Benjamin relied on for income, to ban him from the platform, citing out of context things he has said in the past in order to justify the move.
Meanwhile, as Benjamin pointed out in a video, other Patreon members who have actually said actually violent and bigoted things continue to flourish.
You can watch Benjamin address his banning from Patreon and his discussion about the circumstances below.
However, it would seem that Patreon might have gone too far with Benjamin being deplatformed. Aside from the massive social media response it received, it would appear that Patreon may be losing users.
According to Twitter user Matt Christiansen, Patreon sent him an unasked for letter pertaining to his comments about Sargon’s banning. The letter from Patreon was filled with reassurances that the company is there to support him and will answer any questions that he might have.
Evidence that @patreon/@patreonsupport/@jackconte are feeling some heat. Don’t pretend that you care about me, my channel, or my patrons. You’ll delete my account the second I say a bad word. pic.twitter.com/AovfNxRs0R
— Matt Christiansen (@MLChristiansen) December 11, 2018
As you can see by the tweet, Christiansen doesn’t believe for a second that Patreon is really there to support him, noting that the moment he sets a toe out of line, he’ll be gone too. Patterns would suggest he is correct. The moment the mob makes you a target and paints you with a label is the moment you’ll likely find yourself on the business end of a ban hammer.
Still, it’s interesting that Patreon is actively monitoring speech about it on the internet and addressing it where they find it. Christiensen’s boat-rocking is apparently worrying them, leading one to come to the conclusion that the reaction to Benjamin’s removal from the platform is more severe than not.
Currently, a trend is slowly developing where people are leaving major internet platforms and migrating to newer ones more focused on free speech. Some by choice, others by force. Benjamin has been shepherding his former Patreon donators to SubscribeStar.com, where others seem to be finding their home apart from Patreon.
Whether Patreon is hurting over this remains to be seen, but the interesting part about this is that it’s just one more drop in the bucket when it comes to major platforms pushing out users, forcing these users to go elsewhere. Facebook has had no shortage of bannings, and many have found themselves going to sites like Minds.com. Twitter has forced many to migrate to Gab.ai. YouTubers who are no longer welcome on the platform are heading to BitChute.com. Now we’re seeing former Patreon users head to SubscribeStar.com.
I’m waiting to see if we’re currently looking at the initial tumbling stones that will trigger the avalanche, or if those kicked off the platforms will live out their existence in the wilds of the internet.
My hope is the former. Free speech is worth more than just the ability to say what you want. It’s a way to allow fresh ideas to thrive or die based on their merit. To restrict speech is to restrict thought, and to restrict either is to stop growth.