Actually, It’s about Ethics in Stockholm Syndrome

Typical #Gamergate celebrity reaction to any discussion of Baphomet.

Typical #Gamergate celebrity reaction to any discussion of Baphomet.

Often when I write about Gamergate and Baphomet, #Gamergaters demand I clarify how I am certain Gamergate and Baphomet are linked. They often point out to me that Gamergate top bananas get their share of harassment, with the implication that it is feminist extremists sending these threats. In most cases, Gamergate top brass blame specific instances of harassment on “aGG” individuals such as myself.

But in three cases I know of, top #Gamergate talking heads were actually targeted by Baphomet. I archived threads from Baphomet discussing the attack as it was in progress and documented these attacks in this space. In each case, I hoped that these Gamergate de facto leaders would actually look at the Baphomet threads, but none of them seem to want to see the sausage getting made, as it were. Still, it seems important enough for me that I want to review these attacks, to illustrate how Baphomet will hurt people within #Gamergate, the group that shelters Baphomet and profits off Baphomet’s work.

  1. Ralph Retort

Ralph Retort (aka Ethan Ralph) has a personal beef with Baphomet, which makes him the only GGer to explicitly disavow the group. In a February post reacting to Baphomet’s theft of Social Security Numbers, titled “Cancerous Baphomet Allegedly Gutted Over Credit Cards and SSN Postings”, Ralph wrote:

The fact is, they’re a cancer on 8chan. They should not only be gutted, but they should be deleted from the board altogether. Prominent GamerGate members have been tormented thanks to the baphomet board (if not the members themselves) time and time again (Liz, Remi, etc). Today they even started fucking with me, and I’ve been told to expect more attacks from those quarters. Instead of fear, I spent all day laughing at the bastards. One of the mods in particular actually tried to threaten your intrepid editor. It didn’t work, though, because baphomet is a paper tiger. They don’t scare me, and they shouldn’t scare anyone else. …

As I said on Twitter today, baphomet is a cancer, and their members are scum. Anyone in their clown crew who has broken the law, needs to be put in fucking jail. There is no middle ground for me. They’ve tarnished GamerGate with their bullshit long enough. Let me say publicly that I denounce their group, their members, and any operation that comes from their disgusting little board. I would encourage anyone else with good sense to do the same, but you are of course free to make your own judgments on the matter.

In response, Baphomet (and in particular, Vince, whom Ralph repeatedly called out by name) doxxed Ralph, his parents, his girlfriend, and allegedly compromised Ralph’s credit card information. Baphomet also attempted to frame Ralph for a SWAT attack they co-ordinated, and one Baphite sent Mercedes Carrera a picture of what they claimed was Ralph’s dick. Someone even set up a Twitter impersonator “@TheRaiphRetort”, which worked much the same as my own Baphomet impersonator “@idiediletante”.   Ralph may be tops on Baphomet’s list of #Gamergate people to harass, and Ralph definitely bears Baphomet no love.

But Ralph Retort is not above taking advantage of the fruit of Baphomet’s labors, either; for example, he wrote numerous articles about Sarah Nyberg in the wake of Baphomet claiming to have hacked her, all of which relied upon the leaked information. So although Ralph Retort is against Baphomet in principle (and especially when they attack him personally), Ralph does not generally excoriate Baphomet when they’re doxxing, harassing, or hacking his adversaries.

2. Milo Yiannopoulos / CH Sommers / Koretzky

Both Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers have had #Gamergate events spoiled this year by bomb threats. At one of them, a Baphomet user who calls himself “Eclipso” took responsibility for a bomb threat which cut short the afternoon panel of Airplay, a #Gamergate convention.

Gamergate should be out looking for this guy. But I don't think they will.

The Baphomet user who took responsibility for the Airplay threat.

At the time, I was unsure whether the threat was called in as a “fuck you” to the moderator Koretzky, who wasn’t being as co-operative as #Gamergate hoped, or as air support for Yiannopoulos, who was losing his cool during the afternoon panel. But this wasn’t the first time a joint appearance by Yiannopoulos and Based Mom has been spoiled by bomb threats, nor is it the first time they’ve blamed these threats on SJWs (despite a lack of evidence.) Both Yiannopoulos and Sommers hold Arthur Chu responsible for sending a bomb threat to their #GGinDC meetup, although there’s no evidence that Chu is actually responsible. (Chu had written the venue before the event, urging them to research Gamergate and consider cancelling; but there’s no evidence Chu sent a bomb threat once diplomacy failed.)

Although Yiannopoulos and Sommers both represent that these threats are really no big deal, they also have experienced firsthand how disruptive they can be. And to wit, Yiannopoulos has starting bringing escorts to his appearances, and Sommers seems not to want to appear at #Gamergate events without Yiannopoulos to act as her escort.

If I were to speculate, Yiannopoulos can’t call out Baphomet for spoiling his events with bomb threats because he’s dependent upon Baphomet for tips. Likewise, Sommers is reluctant to call out Baphomet on her own, since she knows she could be targeted hard, just like Ralph Retort was. In some ways, these people have no choice but to blame “SJWs” for the bad shit Baphomet does to them, because they’re indebted to Baphomet for doing their dirty work for them.

3. Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad (aka Carl Benjamin) was a career anti-SJW even before #Gamergate made that a viable way of supporting oneself. However, as Sargon became more popular, some fans complain that he has also become more moderate, more compromising for the sake of appealing to more than just #Gamergate. I don’t think this is the case – Sargon has become more mendacious, but not more moderate – but the impression that he might give quarter in the interest of keeping his Patreon open has made certain gamers pig-biting mad. And nobody’s madder about Sargon’s moderateness per se as the extremists on Baphomet: 

I just view it this way. He and his youtube buddies always think there is some conspiracy against him, even when fox new monetizes a vid he makes with fox news footage. If he is [doxxed], fucked with, or finds out about it, they will think its some SJW fem conspiracy against him. Then him and his youtube buddies will be triggered and make a bunch of retaliation vids and other things and him and KiA will go crazy.
As I said, I do not care about GG or SJWs. Im not either, although if I picked it would be GG. I just see the perfect oppertunity for lulz
To wit, Sargon was sent Google Street View images of his home the following day. But this isn’t even the first time Gamergate has trolled Sargon’s home address. He was also doxxed nearly a year prior to this, receiving a flatware set from Amazon which he opened on video. The flatware came with a note saying “please thrill yourself” from “EvilBobDALMYT and /gg/”. This was similar (if more polite, maybe) to the time Gamergate sent Chris Kluwe a dildo after his debate with Mike Cernovich.
Sargon always tries to put a laugh on it, but the fact is that he’s vulnerable to trolling from Baphomet whenever he says or does something they feel is not extreme enough. Sargon’s only response to this is to throw up blinders, opting for the “bury your head in the sand” strategy favored by ostriches and right-wing politicians. He will even choose to remain in ignorance if I send him archived Baphomet threads, so he can plausibly deny Baphomet’s involvement in one doxxing scandal or another. I assume this is because (like everyone else I discussed here) Sargon is simply too dependent on Baphomet for advantages over the SJWs to take a meaningful stand against them, even if that puts his own family at risk.

Gamergate’s Golden Handcuffs
In going through these cases, what strikes me is how Gamergate’s top brass seem to be vulnerable to harassment from their own fans. Ralph couldn’t speak out against Baphomet without getting targeted; and when other Gamergate figureheads saw Ralph getting harassed, they didn’t speak out about it either.
I can’t speak for why nobody defended Ralph’s hard stance on Baphomet identity theft (since #Gamergate would like to represent itself as against harassment), but I suspect the reason Mercedes Carrera laughed & played along with Baphomet’s trolling was because she knew she could be next. Likewise, I suspect that the reason Yiannopoulos and Sommers are intent on blaming bomb threats sent to their events on SJWs is because they know that speaking out about Baphomet will only make things worse for them. Similarly, Sargon of Akkad prefers to remain ignorant about what happens on Baphomet, because even though they know his address and have trolled him before, he’s better off with Baphomet as part-time allies than as full-time adversaries. And since Baphomet can be relied upon to stalk SJWs more often and more intensely than #Gamergate figures, perhaps #Gamergate’s superstars reason that so long as they ignore Baphomet, Baphomet will ignore them.
But the fact is, Gamergate allows Baphomet to hide in its ranks. Most Baphites are Gamergaters too, which is why Baphomet focuses its ire on “aGG” people with such intensity and regularity. Baphites are a subset of Gamergate’s fandom, and they demand to be catered to. If you stop short of 100% satisfaction, Gamergate (and by extension, Baphomet) typically pitches a tantrum. To quote Koretzky, “What happens when you give GamerGate panelists almost everything they want at AirPlay? They threaten to quit.”  Indeed, all the Gamergate celebrities I’ve mentioned here seem to regard getting doxxed and harassed as an inevitable cost of doing business on the Internet; like they’ve all developed Stockholm Syndrome from rubbing shoulders with Baphomet for too long.
This is why, I think, no #Gamergate figurehead (with the exception of Ralph Retort) is willing to stand up to Baphomet – they believe if they give Baph everything they want (which is mostly anyonymity and invisibility within the movement) that Baphomet will leave them be. But historically, this hasn’t been the case, so I don’t think it’ll happen going forward.

Sargon of Akkad: Actual Fraudster?

Hypocrisy, thy name is Carl.

In addition to stealing intellectual property to make hate porn, there’s evidence Sargon of Akkad actually defrauded his backers in 2014, raising funds for a video game which has yet to be made.

Way back in March 2014, when Sargon was still ranting on the Internet for free, he decided to make a video game called “Necromancer.” It’s a zombie apocalypse survival game coded in Unity with like, some necromancy elements straight outta Blizzard. Under his company name, Other Worlds Software, Sargon pitched a Kickstarter to raise funds. The fund drive was a success: 77 people donated £8,016 to make the game.

18 months later, Necromancer hasn’t yet been released. The steam page for it seems to be languishing away In Greenlight Hell. Last week Sargon released two long-ass “development streams”, which are basically radio shows of him pretending to be Brianna Wu.

But excuse making on YouTube isn’t the product Sargon said he would make. Older posts show what appears to be screengrabs of the levels, which may or may not be anything close to ready for play-testing.

What’s also strange is how Sargon routinely criticises Anita Sarkeesian for not releasing her videos on schedule, when Sargon himself is months behind on his own little Unity game. I thought this stuff was supposed to be easy, man. Is the podcast/radio show just too lucrative?

Sargon’s backers probably don’t want to hear it, but I’m not afraid of him sending haters on brigade. He’s a thief, stealing copyrighted videos and his backers money, just to personally enrich himself.

Sargon of Akkad: A Thief, a Liar, and a Bully

Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. (Source: YouTube/David Pakman Show)

Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. (Source: YouTube/David Pakman Show)

There’s no argument that Sargon of Akkad’s (real name: Carl Benjamin) antifeminist videos are in bad taste. Offending people’s sensibilities is part of the product, part of why the videos appeal to neoreactionary dillweeds. Sargon’s job is to be a bombastic asshole who “debates” recordings of people his fans hate, delivering the grade-school put-downs his witless viewers simply don’t have the mental capacity to compose. His job, essentially, is to spin the news into something his viewers will find palatable and entertaining, for which he gets paid around $870 per video.

Sadly, Sargon violates the rules of the platforms he uses to raise his money and to distribute his videos – and quite possibly the laws of his country as well. Specifically, Sargon’s unlicensed theft of other people’s videos as fodder for him to mock is a violation of the copyright holder, and what he says violates several UK civil statues – namely, harassment and defamation. And given that Sargon’s job is basically to pour gasoline on a raging trash fire, it would seem he is morally (if not legally) responsible for the additional harassment his videos generate.

It isn’t “fair use”, it’s theft

Stealing a video from YouTube so that you can record yourself abusing its maker for profit is not “fair use” by any rational definition of the word. Fair use generally requires a work to be transformative, i.e. not a reproduction of the original work. It doesn’t help that Sargon tends to sample videos in their entirety, and that he does so as a commercial enterprise.

Some might defend what Sargon does as “parody”, which is protected by fair use. But for Sargon’s work to qualify as a parody, it would have to provide a social benefit, and it would have to change the source work in a substantial way to create an entirely new and original work. (For reference, this is an actual parody of Anita Sarkeesian.) Simply insulting the person or thing you’re trying to parody doesn’t cut it – that’s just being a dick. Since Sargon’s “commentary” would be meaningless without the videos he steals, his work is not transformative or original in any substantial way.

Just because Sargon’s videos get past YouTube’s bootleg filter does not mean they’re not copyright infringement. The fact that Sargon would probably never get permission from creators to sample their videos isn’t a suitable justification for stealing them, either. In fact, some of Sargon’s videos have been taken down for copyright infringement, like his hot take on the first Republican primary debate. Let’s be honest – YouTube and Patreon have a greater incentive to heed copyright infringement claims made by Fox News than they do from private individuals, and that’s why Sargon’s videos stay online.

It isn’t “free speech”, it’s harassment and defamation

It always tickles me how Sargon and his followers pivot to a 1st Amendment defense of his work, given that UK citizens aren’t entitled to rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. The laws that govern Sargon and right to his free expression are actually much more restrictive than the ones that govern me & mine, as I write this in New York. Specifically, the UK has very stringent, and very plantiff-friendly laws against harassment and defamation.

In the Nanny State, harassment is defined as any action which amounts to harassment of another person, which the harasser knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of that person. Most notably, the person doing the harassing does not even have to have a motive or intention to harass, so long as the contact is unwanted by the recipient. So, for example, if Sargon made a video examining Ellen Pao’s sexual discrimination lawsuit, he wouldn’t need to mean for it to be harassing for it to potentially qualify as harassment.

UK defamation law is unkind to Sargon as well. In that case, Sargon is liable for anything he says about the people he targets which would be apt to make the average citizen to think worse of them.

Now, the truth is an absolute defense against defamation. But in the UK, the burden of proof rests on the defendant. For example, if Sargon repeatedly accused Matt Binder of being a “liar”, and Binder sued him for it, it would be up to Sargon to prove that Binder did, in fact, lie during his radio broadcasts. As far as I can tell, the only reason Sargon hasn’t already been sued because the people he pillories haven’t initiated litigation against him. But that doesn’t mean what he says is actually legal.

It isn’t “satire”, it’s incitement

It’s important to consider that Sargon’s fans are already pig-biting mad at the people he attacks online. In fact, being widely hated already is an important selection criterion when Sargon makes his videos, because his fans want him to roast someone they already know & love to hate.

To Sargon, the people whose hurt he profits from are an abstraction. To him, these videos are a business, and one his own family depends on. But actually being a subject on Sargon’s show is a positive feedback loop for harassment: people who already receive a lot of internet death threats are more likely to be featured, and if they are featured, the amount of harassment they receive is likely to increase. If Sargon’s video creates a lot of harassment for a person, he’s more likely to feature them in subsequent videos.

To keep his channel online, Sargon goes out of his way to label his work as “satire” or “commentary”, but really he’s just pushing the envelope; harassing his targets enough to get the viewers he needs without getting himself canned from Patreon and YouTube.

There’s nothing “satirical” about Sargon’s videos, because he honestly believes what he says. He honestly believes that feminists and feminism are a mental illness needing to be destroyed. Anita delenda est. 

Sargon may even be legally culpable of incitement, by encouraging others to commit acts of harassment. In the UK, you can be liable for incitement even if your remarks were addressed to the world at large, and one’s encouragement need not have any actual effect on the crime committed. By this rubric, Sargon’s videos would seem like a particularly reckless form of incitement: he broadcasts hate speech to a dedicated fandom of angry sexists.

I have always been a little surprised by the huge viewership Sargon commands, given that you could go to any pub in the Midlands and find blokes like him yelling at the lady on the local TV news for free. But unlike some chap running his mouth, Sargon has a fandom that takes his words to heart, and who have a proven history of harassment.

Sargon of Akkad is pouring gasoline on a fire. So far, the spectacle has made Patreon, YouTube, and Sargon himself a good bit of money. But if someone gets burned, it’ll be Sargon- and the platforms who hosted him- that will be to blame.

Edit: added a paragraph about UK incitement law.