Opinion/Commentary Uncategorized

Patreon defends Sargon of Akkad ban

Patreon home page

Patreon responded to backlash after banning YouTuber, Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin).

Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson posted screenshots of Patreon’s defence of Benjamin’s ban on Twitter.

Jordan Peterson shares Patreon’s statement amid backlash after Sargon of Akkad ban

The above explanation from Patreon begins by reinforcing its condemnation of hate speech. (which is stated in their Community Guidelines. They allege that Akkad used racial and homophobic slurs when addressing the group.

After reading the statement, here is my conclusion. While Akkad used slurs against white supremacists (and, quite possibly homophobes, too), in using the slurs, Akkad, possibly unintentionally reinforced the idea that people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community are inferior.

Was Sargon of Akkad really guilty of hate speech?

When I first heard about Akaad’s ban, the exact reason why wasn’t clear to me. Now that I know a little context, here is my take. If Akkad was expressong agreement with the white supremacists, then yes, that would be appalling. However, if the statements were ironic and Akkad was simply using their bigotry against the white supremacists, then Patreon jumped the gun.

Should Akkad have had his account pulled?

Should’ve Patreon shut down Sargon of Akkad? Here’s why it’s a concern. Free speech aside, Patreon has become a way in which independent vloggers, artists and writers, etc can potentially make a living from their work. So, the question becomes, does Patreon have the right to cut a revenue stream from one of their creators? Therefore, the question becomes, a person’s career be thrown under the bus ecause of one piece of content when the intention is questionable?

Wouldn’t it be better to let patrons protest by pulling their support? Honestly, I think it’d be a better way.

Aside from potential patrons, as I said in a previous post, one thing I’ve comw to admire about the U.S. is how their First Amendment has created a culture of debate, especially on YouTube. I have no doubt that Kyle Kulinski or The Young Turks or David Pakman would smack down any bigoted or otherwise outrageous claims.

Backlash against Patreon continues

A number of Patreon creators have revolted and voluntarily closed down their accounts in revolt. Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson have left Patreon and used other means of raising revenue, such as Bitcoin.

Will this controversy cause Patreon to backtrack, like they did after introducing fees? Only time will tell.

Psssst. Self promotion alert! If you like my blog, you can support me on Patreon. You will be acknowledged and thanked on a future post. 😀


Patreon joins social media giants on purging content creators

Screenshot of Patreon home page
Patreon follows other social media platforms and has closed the accounts of a number of content creators

Popular crowdfunding site, Patreon has caused alarm after a number of creators had their accounts removed. Accusations against creators have been hate speech and links to violent or illegal groups.

The first one I heard about was controversial film maker/ commentator, Lauren Southern. She had her Patreon account shut down after allegedly being found out for supporting Defend Europe and the charity HOPE, not Hate. According to Canada Landshow, Southern was informed that her actions with Defend Europe were likely ‘to cause loss of life’. HOPE Not Hate have recently cut ties with Defending Europe. 

Formers2 Breitbart Editor, Milo Yiannopoulos has also had his account shut down. The reason Patreon gave was Yiannopoulos’ involvement with Proud Boys, the extreme right – wing anti – immigration group.

YouTuber Sargon of Akkad (real name Carl Benjamin) has lost his Patreon account after using a racial slur in a video. However, according to Kyle Kulinski, the context was not considered, as Benjamin was apparently addressing a white supremacist group and NOT attacking people of colour. I’ve never personally watched any of Sargon videos, but it seems to me that Patreon jumped the gun on this one.

Social media scourge: who is really being targeted?

Progressive and conservative commentators have criticised social media, especially Twitter and Facebook for deleting accounts without satisfactory reason.

Both suspect a deliberate attack on people due to their views. Conservatives believe they’re the ones being purged, especially Twitter. However, progressives blame the mainstream media meddling, along with politicians and other institutions to silence dissenting voices. One issue of contention, for example, is the U.S’ involvement in the Middle East. Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski has accused Twitter of bending over to Saudi shareholders and censoring critics of Israel, supporters of Palestine and Iran.

Swcular Talk episode from late August: Kyle Kulinski confemns Raitter overr cwnsorship and Saudi interference

Patreon as an income source

In my opinion what Patreon has done is more concerning than other social media bans. Simple reason is that Patreon allows independent artists, commentators, etc to generate income. Southern, Sargon of Akkad and Yiannopoulos have suddenly had that source of income taken from them.

Whether you agree with the people mentioned above or not, if a crime hasn’t been committed or encouraged, as someone who wants to somehow make writing, including this blog as a part of my career, I find this move from Patreon concerning. Artists, independent writers, videographers, etc should be able to try making their passion into a sustainable career.

What’s a better way?

It’s best for people to be able to say what they want, allow people to support them, and, more importantly, allow opponents to debate them. While Secular Talk and similar YouTube channels exist, justice can prevail. People will be able to hear opposing views. Different communities can be assured that at least someone with a platform and influence has their back.

Also, I encourage others to speak up and defend themself and others if need be. If you are a person of colour, then use your words to attack racial prejudice. If you a writer or content maker and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, speak up against bigotry. When you feel you can’t, rest assured that there are allies that definitely will.


Free speech: one thing U.S. has right

Censored sign
Image: iStock

 Americans get a number of stereotypes: their ignorant about the world, they’re highly religious, etc. I find it hard to get my head around their attitudes towards guns (the leaders and opponents of change, anyway), especially when mass shootings seem to be frequently covered in the media. But one thing I am starting to admire the U.S. for is the First Amendment of their constitution. I can see why people, Australians included, may envy that, especially when we have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.1

18C and its impact on free speech

The RDA became a hot topic after two highly publicised court cases. One of them was Eatock vs. Bolt, where Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, was sued under the Racial Discrimination Act for articles about Aboriginal identity. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and the two articles were permanently banned. For the record, I didn’t read the articles, but from what I’ve read about the aftermath, frankly, I find the repercussions against Bolt, heartbreaking. It’s made him a pariah in some circles, with vile abuse written about him on social media, to death threats against his family  that were so severe that his children were removed by police from the family home.

Another case that hit the media involved Cindy Price and three students: Alex Wood, Callum Thwaite and Jackson Powell of Queensland University of Technology (QUT). A number of students made private settlements to avoid court. The court case ruled against Prior, ordering her to repay A$200,000. The students didn’t leave the case unscathed, with one student abandoning his plans of ironically, teaching Aboriginal children due to the stigma of the court case.

What are people concerned about

One of the arguments against changing the RDA is the fear of lack of protections for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander people and other racial minorities. Last year, Labor Government suggested that theLGBTQ+ should also be protected.

Some proponents of changing or scrapping Section 18C haven’t helped the cause. A classic example was George Brandis’ infamous claim that ‘people have a right to be bigots in 2014.

There needs to be more to free speech than that. The reason why the U.S. has it right is, yes, people have the right to be bigots, but… other people willingly bite back. 

Put aside Google’s ‘ad pocalypse’, YouTube has proven to be a space that sparks debate and accountability for politicians and media personalities alike.

An example of this I found recently was David Pakman (The Dave Pakman Show) when he attacked Dave Rubin (Rubin Report) for not challenging Lebanese – born Islam critic, Gabriel Brigitte for her false claims she about George Sorros.

Another channel that gives freedom of speech a great name is Secular Talk. Host Kyle Kulinski is a fierce defender of free speech. In August, Kulinski criticised Apple, Spotify and YouTube for removing some of his content and permanently banning him. 

Kyle Kulinski criticised the boycot against controversial podcaster, Alex Jones.

Does that mean that Kulinski agreed with everything Jones said or did? Hell no! Next time you’re on YouTube, go and check out the Secular Talk channel and look at some of his rebuttals against Jones (andcountless others). They’re pretty awesome.

 ‘But loosening 18C will only embolden haters.’ critics of the suggestion claim. While I’m sympathetic to the to the fear, I am starting to see that there is a better way.

Section 18C of the RDA should be replaced by a culture of robust debate and having various voices heard. I think we need a thriving media industry that goes beyond the ABC/ Newscorp duopoly. 

What do you think about free speech in Australia? Do you think we have enough or should acts like 18C of RDA be scrapped? Let me knpw your thoughts in the comments below. 

Retail and Marketing

It’s been six months since the ‘single – use’ plastic bag ban at Coles and Woolworths

Woolworths material ba
It’s been six months since Cooles and Woolworths introduced a ‘ban’ on traditional plastic shopping bags, instead introducing thicker plastic or material bags

Maybe Coles and Woolworths were on to something.

Despite the initial backlash against grocery store monopolies for their decision to ban ‘single use ‘ plastic shopping bags, women’s site Mamamia reported that around 1.5 billion less plastic bags have become waste.

Also, the National Retail Association also confirms that other major retailers have started to follow suit. I know that Big W have had both thicker plastic and material (nylon?) bags on sale for a while.

I haven’t been against the move by Coles and Woolworths in introducing the material/ thicker plastic bags. But I do think the way they went about it was bad PR. Due to public anger, both Coles and Woolworths have made concessions. Woolworths had their bags free for a limited time. Coles backtracked completely and reintroduced the plastic bags. Then they backflipped…again.

Even after that, to save their image, Woolworths claims that all proceeds made from the bags (A$1.00 for the material and A$0.15) are donated to environmental and education charities.

Reactions to the change

There have been mixed reactions about the changes from both members of the public and the media.

While many have praised Coles and Woolworths for trying to phase out thin plastic bags, there have been plenty of criticism as well. Some reactions  against it have been arguably exaggerated. Gay Alcorn from The Guardian Australia pointed out flaws in the San Francisco study that claimed that people died of food poisoning due to dirty material bags. The study was not peer reviewed and has been dismissed by PolitiFact.

Personally, I’ve never had any problem. Generally, I take one bag for shopping and nothing has been spilled or broken. In regard to meat, raw fish and chicken — food that can produce e – coli — I make sure that I have a cool bag with me. That seems to work well.

I’m not against the move, but I do find it ironic that mini plastic bags are still used to buy fruit and vegetables. I can’t see why they couldn’t have found another (possibly free), alternative for that. Plus, not having fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic would be good too.

Any other alternatives to plastic bags? Yes. Paper bags. They can be useful to use as bins too, so there’s less need for home bins that need liners.

I’m actually surprised about the impact that the changes in bag policies at Coles and Woolworths have made (or tried to implement). Now, let the  war on plastic straws begin. And plastic bin liners. And… fill in the blank.

What do you think abouut the move that Coles and Woolworths ban? Let me know what youu think in the comments below.