JULY 11, 2020 BY CAPTAIN CASSIDY
Hi and welcome back! Need a jolt of good — or at least funny — news for your weekend? This might just do ya. Recently, Patreon deplatformed an alt-right nutjob named Owen Benjamin. He decided to hit back at them in a novel way that has backfired in not only his own face but those of the fanboys who decided to act as his personal army. Today, let me show you what happens when someone’s personal army turns out to be the Persians, not the Spartans.
Lately, various social-media platforms have been cracking down on right-wing nutjobs (RWNJs) and alt-right loons and their wackadoo ideas. Every day, it seems, some new story emerges about someone in that crowd losing accounts on sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Instead of learning to play by the rules of the privately-owned companies granting them these accounts, the nutjobs in question just keep drilling down harder on their wackadoodlery.
Indeed, alt-right loons operate a great deal like toxic Christians. They’re so similar, in fact, that it’s all but impossible to tell if any given alt-right loon is a toxic Christian or an atheist (in my experience, they’re divided about 50/50; in today’s case, our subject considers himself a firm Christian). Both groups use the same tactics, attract the same kinds of recruits, suffer from the same mistakes in their thinking, want the same basic things, and hate the same outgroups.
More than that, even, they try their hardest to find some twist of Martian logic that’ll become the magic key to forcing these privately-owned companies to put up with them and their noxious presence.
And lately, some of them think they’ve found that magic key.
Zeroing In: Patreon.
Patreon is a social-media and crowdfunding service/platform that allows users to offer regular monthly donations to their favorite content creators. This site represents one of the main ways that content creators can earn a living these days. Indeed, I’ve got a Patreon myself and deeply appreciate my patrons.
Like all such privately-owned sites, Patreon maintains a list of terms and conditions for its creators and users. Since right-wing nutjobbery largely violates any meaningful ethical boundary one can imagine, they began cracking down on such nutjobs toward the end of 2018. At that time, they whacked such alt-right luminaries as Sargon of Akkad and Milo Yiannopoulos.
One of the alt-right’s current darlings du jour, Owen Benjamin, used to have a fairly thriving lil account there. He’s a sometime comedian, podcaster, and actor with some incredibly toxic and erroneous opinions. Last winter, Patreon’s site owners caught up with him. As the Daily Dot tells us, they banned him. They weren’t the only ones banning him, either. Instagram, YouTube, PayPal, and Facebook all joined that party, most citing repeated violations of their clearly-stated rules about hate speech.
But Owen Benjamin didn’t take that bannination sitting down. No way, no sir! He protested — and raised a personal army to try to fight the ban by forcing Patreon to take him back.
(Also, at some point he tried to ban-evade with alternate accounts — which he’s also lost now. I’ve just got no words. What a whiny little control-grabby child. I just want to tell people like that to grow a little goddamned dignity. Never in the world would I ever want to be part of any site or project that didn’t want me involved.)
Owen Benjamin and His Personal Army.
“Two of the most idiotic liars on the internet I have ever seen.”
— A Redditor regarding Vox Day and Owen Benjamin
(and he ain’t wrong either)
Over the years, Owen Benjamin (a Holocaust denier and anti-vaxxer) has built up a large army of creepy, fanatical fanboys. They call themselves “bears,” with Benjamin himself wearing the nickname “Big Bear.” And if drive-by Christians think R2D mods can be strict, well, all I can say there is that we’re the kiddie league compared to Owen Benjamin’s tightly-moderated spaces.
Shortly after Owen Benjamin’s bannination, his fellow toxic Christian and wackadoo Vox Day claimed to be filing “something against Patreon.” He’s since backtracked that claim — as apparently both of these conspiracy theorists do often. It’s possible Vox Day (real name: Theodore Beale) simply meant he was helping Benjamin with this ludicrous plan of his, but who even knows or cares.
Either way, at first Owen Benjamin filed suit for USD$2.2M. Then, he upped that figure to $3.5M. And then, apparently he asked some of his followers to file lawsuits alongside him. All in all, about 100 of his fanboys filed lawsuits. All of them appear to have used Benjamin’s own lawyers to do the filing, and all demanded that Patreon either deal with them or pay Benjamin the $3.5M he wanted.
It was sheer lunacy. I really don’t know what they thought was going to happen. Maybe Owen Benjamin thought this plan would get him the money he needs to build his the Northern Idaho fantasy ranch of his dreams, which he seriously named “BearTaria” (oh my sides).
(Stay tuned for my future fundraising drive for a Tuscan dream estate of my very own, which I’ve dubbed Villa Space Princess. /s)
How That Worked Out.
Whatever Owen Benjamin and his fans thought would happen, Patreon’s actual response was to sue 72 of those fanboys. According to that Daily Dot article (relink):
“This lawsuit is about keeping hate speech off of Patreon,” the company told the Daily Dot via email. “We won’t allow former users to extort Patreon, and are moving these frivolous claims to court where they belong.”
Hmm, they don’t sound in the slightest bit nervous about anything. Maybe that’s because they instituted two rules in January to “both [prohibit] users from filing claims based on the platform kicking off someone else and [require] any who do so to pay the company’s attorney’s fees and costs.”
And the fanboys’ claims were filed a solid month later, in February.
So it seems unlikely that the fanboys will come anywhere close to success here — and may be on the hook for a lot of money if/when they lose.
The New Magical Key.
These LOLsuite filers seem to be under the impression that Patreon is somehow obligated to deal with their horsesh*t however they wish to dish it to the site. A similarly-minded fundagelical explains the illogic here:
The reason they are in trouble is because they have been deplatforming some of their clients.
They have every right to do so, don’t they?
Well, no, in fact. They don’t.
They have the right to stop providing their own services, absolutely. Twitter can kick off anybody they want, because their service is free. [. . .]
Owen did business with his patrons, and Patreon, in their Terms of Service, explicitly repudiated any responsibility for these individual transactions.
This is huge.
When Patreon kicked off Owen Benjamin, they weren’t just removing somebody they didn’t like. They were interfering with Owen’s personal business relations with his patrons.
Intentional interfering with contractual relations has another legal name, and that is: tortious interference.
So there you have it. The alt-right is now trying to claim that by blocking Owen Benjamin from their site, Patreon is in effect blocking him from the people who have contracted with him through the site. After crowing about the alt-right’s magical new key to what they’re calling “re-platforming,” this guy gloats:
Deplatforming has been the recent norm, but that is all going to change.
Sure it is, Jan.
Six Months Later.
He might be the most selfish, shameful human being I’ve ever seen. He’s pissed that he couldn’t raise $2 million off of them in 3 days in the middle of the greatest depression this country has ever seen. � wow
— A YouTube commenter regarding Owen Benjamin
(and that one wasn’t wrong either)
That fundagelical’s gloat-rant was written back in January or so, and so far I haven’t seen any real success with the tactic. Apparently Vox Day found some success before that in using it to get back on IndieGogo after they banned him, but other sites seem to have learned from IndieGogo’s mistakes and have adapted as needed — as Patreon clearly did in January.
In fact, this latest news about Patreon suing Owen Benjamin’s fanboys (no, I will not call them “bears”) seems to indicate that the tactic will just become yet another failure in the alt-right World of Failtrains.
Gosh, I guess Owen Benjamin is gonna hafta find another way to gain his Idaho Fantasy Ranch.
NSFW for language. Seven minutes of an alt-right loon pouting and whining about how little money his fans are giving him for his dumb Idaho Fantasy Ranch dream. A critic of his uploaded this.
The rest of us might think alt-right loons’ new strategy makes them look like sovereign citizens or something, but they’re dead serious about it — for now, at least.
For now, it sure doesn’t look like Owen Benjamin is going to get to force anybody to put up with him any time soon. Poor baby.
NEXT UP: The new influx of women leaving Christianity. See you tomorrow!
Please Support What I Do!
Come join us on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and our forum at rolltodisbelieve.com! (Also Instagram, where I mostly post cat pictures. About 99% of my insta consists of Bother being adorable.)
Also please check out our Graceful Atheist podcast interview!
If you like what you see, I gratefully welcome your support. Please consider becoming one of my monthly patrons via Patreon with Roll to Disbelieve for as little as $1/month! My PayPal is email@example.com (that’s an underscore in there) for one-time tips. You can also support this blog through my Amazon Affiliate link–and, of course, by liking and sharing my posts on social media! This blog exists because of readers’ support, and I appreciate every single bit of it.
If you’ve noticed my posts are a wee bit shorter than usual, it’s because my shoulder’s been killing me lately. Typing is a severe strain on it, so I’ve been trying to keep that activity to a minimum. Please don’t worry — if I need a break, I know I can take one! <3 you all.
- TAGGED WITH:
- CURRENT EVENTS
- THE GAMES WE PLAY
- CHRISTIANS BEHAVING BADLY
- GOOD NEWS
- OWEN BENJAMIN (ALT-RIGHT LOON)
- RIGHT-WING NUTJOBS (RWNJ)
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- VILLA SPACE PRINCESS
ABOUT CAPTAIN CASSIDYCaptain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then–record scratch!–she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more–and where they all intersect with religion. She lives with an adored and adoring husband named Mr. Captain and a sweet, squawky orange tabby cat named Princess Bother Pretty Toes. At any given time, she’s running out of bookcase space. You can read more about the author here.