- Crowdfunding website Patreon published a transcript from a YouTube conversation with banned member Carl Benjamin showing him using hate speech.
- The transcript allowed the company to defend itself from a brewing boycott of the platform from members who have accused it of booting Benjamin based on political bias.
- The evidence puts the boycotts from high-profile members of the “Intellectual Dark Web” in a different light.
Crowdfunding platform Patreon sought to defend itself Monday night amid a brewing controversy among some users and patrons of the website who were calling for a boycott following the ban of popular anti-feminist YouTuber Carl Benjamin AKA Sargon of Akkad.
Seeking to further justify the ban of Benjamin, which users boycotting the platform claimed was based in “political bias,” Patreon published the transcript of the video it said the company its decision on. Patreon said the segment fit its definition of hate speech, which the platform bans. Reading the transcript, it met Patreon’s definition of hate speech, which it says “includes serious attacks, or even negative generalizations, of people based on their race [and] sexual orientation.”
In a conversation published in February on the Dutch right-wing YouTube account Michelle Catlin, Benjamin said the following of the alt-right, who he opposes and claims have launched a targeted campaign against him:
I just can’t be bothered with people who chose to treat me like this. It’s really annoying. Like, I - . You’re acting like a bunch of n******, just so you know. You act like white n******. Exactly how you describe black people acting is the impression I get dealing with the Alt Right… Look, you carry on, but don’t expect me to then have a debate with one of your f******.…Like why would I bother?…Maybe you’re just acting like a n****r, mate? Have you considered that? Do you think white people act like this? White people are meant to be polite and respectful to one another, and you guys can’t even act like white people, it’s really amazing to me.”
Business Insider has verified the existence of the video, which was still up on YouTube at the time of this writing, and the quotes referenced.
Notably, the conversation was not on Patreon’s own platform. In its blog post, Patreon explained, “As a funding platform, we don’t host much content, but we help fund creations across the internet. As a result, we review creations posted on other platforms that are funded through Patreon. Sargon is well known for his collaborations with other creators and so we apply our community guidelines to those collaborations, including this interview.”
Some users still protesting the decision have taken issue with the fact that on Patreon’s website, the company specifically references hate speech in the context of its own platform, not on other platforms. Patreon’s website says: “there is no room on Patreon for hate speech such as calling for violence, exclusion, or segregation… If you come across what you believe to be hate speech on Patreon, please take the time to report it.”
In an interview with David Rubin, Patreon CEO Jack Conte seemed to echo the idea, listing hate speech as something that would be flagged specifically on Patreon, but not excluding the possibility explicitly that it would apply its hate speech standards on other platforms.
In a statement to journalist Tim Pool, Conte acknowledged the seeming inconsistency between the enforcement of their hate speech policy and what’s explicated on their website, saying: “we examine behaviours on and off Patreon, and you are correct to point out that there is language that makes it seem like only content on Patreon is reviewed, which is not a constraint that we apply for all categories of the guidelines… we need to make that clearer.”
Patreon’s revelation cast accusations from Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson in a new light
In the last 48 hours, two of Patreon’s largest creators, author and podcaster Sam Harris and Canadian college professor Jordan Peterson, made major movements against the platform in retaliation for its decision against Benjamin, which they said were based on politics.
On Sunday evening, Harris, who occupies the same constellation of controversial thinkers as Peterson – described as the “Intellectual Dark Web”- became one of the largest figures to rebel against the platform. Harris announced on Twitter that he was leaving Patreon as a result of the platforms “political bias.”
Both had lost significant portions of their followings in the last week as users left the platform following Benjamin’s ban, which they portrayed as undue censorship.
The transcript provides evidence that Benjamin had used what Patreon would define as hate-speech on another platform.
Neither Peterson nor Harris immediately responded when asked for their response on the transcript. Peterson and his partner Dave Rubin referenced their knowledge of the general context surrounding Benjamin’s ban in their video announcing their new platform, but did not address the aspect of hate speech directly. Harris simply said he did not “share the politics of the banned members,” but did not address the aspect of hate speech.
This piece has been updated to include language from Patreon’s hate speech policy that can be found on its website.
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