The Irony, Paradox and Contradiction of Milo Yiannopoulos

milo
Milo’s act is nothing new, part circus freak show combined with unemployed pantomime drag act. For his followers though he appears “cutting edge” and “risqué”.

So he’s back. The self proclaimed provocateur, troll queen, out of work pantomime drag act, Milo Yiannopoulos is back. Much like a turd that refuses to go quietly around the u-bend, Yiannopoulos resurfaced last week on NBC, announcing that he will undertake a new tour hell bent on attacking the sensitivities of the over sensitive.

We haven’t seen Milo since his resignation from Breitbart following widespread condemnation of his comments on the gay age of consent, even though this reaction came a year after he initially made the comments. Yes, the comments he made could be construed as inappropriate, but doesn’t the fact that the outrage took a year to be expressed call into question the degree of sincerity and authenticity behind the sentiment?

Now that the dust has settled, and if we’re all honest about it, what really happened was some of the people who find Yianopoulos to be an odious twit,  of which there is no shortage, became aware of some distasteful comments he made on a podcast called the Drunken Peasants. These people saw the opportunity to twist Yiannopoulos’ comments around into arguing that he sympathised with paedophilia. The fact that the outrage occurred over a year after he made the comments can be, perhaps cynically, attributed to Yianopoulos’ increasing fame and the impending release of his new book. Don’t get me wrong, I found Milo’s comments on child abuse to be crass and flippant, but let’s be honest, Yiannopoulos would fellate his own grandfather if he knew it would get him a minutes worth of media exposure.

I know that ­­­whenever anyone starts a sentence by saying, “I’m not homophobic, but…”, they tend to go on to say something extremely homophobic. So let’s see what happens when I give it a whirl. I’m not homophobic, but I get really annoyed when someone uses their sexuality as gimmick to support their argument, and that is precisely what Yiannopoulos does. Like some sort of failed pantomime drag act, Yiannopoulos openly admits to using an outrageously camp style to deliver his message. For people that have lived a sheltered life, this mincing polemicist appears to be avant-garde, the enigmatic paradox of a conservative homosexual is enough to fascinate people and keep them entertained. Add to this his supposed Catholic faith and Yiannopoulos provides us with an act, or character of contradictions, capable of causing considerable cognitive dissonance.

But when I look at this character objectively, I realise that he’s nothing more than a manufactured iconoclast,a giant zeitgeisty contradiction. He talks about basing arguments on facts while espousing a belief in an unprovable supernatural deity. He’s openly homosexual yet claims to be Catholic, despite the fact that homosexuality isn’t accepted by the Catholic church. But Yiannopoulos’ religious experience doesn’t end with him being a Catholic, rather it goes on to include that he was abused by a Catholic priest while he was a minor. This is a perpetual chain of contradictions, contradictions that have been contrived in order to generate interest.

I do find Mr. Yiannopoulos entertaining, in the same way that in the past I have found other drag acts to be. But Yiannopoulos confuses his audience, which doesn’t seem to be an especially difficult thing to do, as they fail to discern between the bawdy, drag entertainment that is paired with an essentially hateful rhetoric. In essence it would be like having Ronald McDonald present a plan for the reintroduction of slavery, it looks fun but hides a sinister message. Milo Yiannopoulos has created a  comical character to deliver a divisive message that people find intriguing. But, he’s a character filled with contradictions, and theses contradictions extend to his message.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole Milo phenomena is how a gay Brit has become a champion for American rights? I mean the irony alone of a British person, whether gay or not, upholding the rights that a country granted themselves after becoming independent of Britain, should make Milo’s platform an impossibility. What’s next, a German lesbian Nazi giving speeches in Tel Aviv on the dangers of antisemitism? Or, what about an executive of a petrochemical company lecturing groups of native Americans on protecting the environment? It just seems to go against the grain, that a Brit is motivated to protect the liberties of a country that got its liberty from the country he is a citizen of.

Sometimes I start to suspect that Milo Yiannopoulos’ concern for the First Amendment might actually be disingenuous, and that he’s just stumbled upon a cause that feeds his insatiable appetite for infamy, and rewards him for expressing the same tired, old opinions ad nauseum, leaving him sounding like a satnav system going round a roundabout. Feminism, Islam, immigration,  freedom of speech, feminism, Islam, immigration, freedom of speech, and on, and on…There’s an election in his own country, doesn’t he feel compelled to weigh in with his polemic discourse, or is he only interested in America because that’s where his circus act, freak show makes the most money? It’s certainly a puzzle. I haven’t seen his desire for standing up for the freedom of speech for the people in say Zimbabwe,  as a former member of the British Commonwealth it would actually make more sense, with the one exception, it wouldn’t make Milo anywhere near as much money.

It’s also interesting to note that Yiannopoulos’ passion for our right to the freedom of speech fails to extend to his own website, which censors all comments before they appear on it. You see the freedom of speech only works for Milo and his supporters when it suits them. Is this hypocritical?

Milo – Why Today’s Troll is just Tomorrow’s Social Justice Warrior

Hasn’t anybody else realised the contradiction inherent in the whole Milo argument? Milo has identified so called Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) as having been the catalyst behind the problems that have developed as a result of unenforced immigration practices, extreme feminism, political correctness,  and a failure to require Islam to adopt western values. And up to a point he’s absolutely right. Where I take issue with Yiannopoulos is with his identifying Social Justice Warriors as being the problem, and I take issue for two reasons.

Firstly, the people who riot, get angry, and generally act irrationally at the slightest provocation, on issues that don’t directly affect them aren’t SJW’s, they’re simply idiots. And as such idiots are everywhere, like Steve Miller once said, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. Idiocy permeates across the entirety of the political spectrum. Branding idiots as SJW’s is giving idiocy more credit than it deserves. These people are what they are, idiots. To me at least it appears ironic that today we’re calling idiots, Social Justice Warriors, it sounds like a politically correct way of just referring to idiocy.

Secondly, let’s look at a definition of Social Justice Warrior and compare that to what Milo Yiannopoulos himself does:

A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=social%20justice%20warrior

  • The first sentence of the definition:

“…an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.”

Milo fulfils this criteria thus:

Milo’s whole argument is centred around our right to the freedom of expression. Given that this is the protected by first amendment it isn’t unreasonable to infer that the freedom of speech is considered the most fundamental of our inalienable rights. Therefore, isn’t anyone who believes there is a need to campaign for it, to some degree campaigning for social justice, and QED must themselves be a Social Justice Warrior?

  • The second sentence of the definition states:

A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of.

The fact that there is a British man arguing for American constitutional rights, would appear to me to be incongruous and therefore disingenuous. What’s next, a campaign against pig farming subsidies in Latvia?

  • The third sentence of the definition of a Social Justice Warrior reads:

They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return.

Ben Shapiro is the brainchild of the majority of Yiannopouolos’ opinions. Both were former employees at Breitbart, essentially their only difference is the proclivity one of them has for thinking that wearing a dress strengthens their message.

  • The final sentence of the defeinition states:

They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

As a contrarian, a polemicist, an iconoclast and self professed troll, Yiannopoulos, like any good entertainer, plays to the expectations of his audience. To his credit Yiannopoulos has full awareness of what has garnered him so much interest, and he continues to feed it. This is largely why we’ve never seen any change in his act nor his message. Yiannopoulos sounds controversial, but in essence all he is saying is exactly what is audience hopes he will, a message that challenges the establishment and political correctness. A message that Milo Yiannopoulos appears willing to continue to repeat for as long as there are people willing to listen to him and give him their money.

Milo Yiannopoulos is little more than a carefully created character, part circus freak, part drag act. He’s made politics accessible to a generation that were raised by games consoles as opposed to parents. Yiannopoulos’ greatest appeal is that he makes his audience feel that they are more intelligent by feeding them with arguements that challenge the status quo. But at the end of the day it’s nothing more than an act, if P. T. Barnum were alive today Milo Yiannopoulos would be placed centre stage, because both of them believe in the following Barnum saying:

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Post Script

Only hours after I posted this article, Milo Yiannopoulos released tasteless and crass comments in the wake of the terrorist attack st the Manchester Arena. Yiannopoulos that suggested that Ariana Grande sympathises with Islamic extremism. For a man who apparently bases his reasoning on facts, we should ll be asking what proof he has for this outrageous suggestion.

Much of the hatred towards Grande stems from comments she made in a doughnut shop over 2 years ago. I find it ironic, hypocritical even, that conservatives can’t forget this while they have told us all to stop talking about a president and his pussy grabbing comments. I’m starting to suspect that this up surge of conservatism led by Mr. Yiannopoulos is just a hypocritical as the loony liberals who preceded them.

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The Alt-Right: Because Simple Things Please Simple Minds #2

“The need to retell the story of totalitarianism has become a frozen lesson in history rather than a narrative necessary to understanding the present.” http://www.cjournal.info/2015/08/21/the-plague-of-american-authoritarianism/

It’s just been recommended to me that it’s a good time to read Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. I agree, but unfortunately I’ve already read it, probably at a time that wasn’t as good as now, but I haven’t got the time to reread it as I’m currently reading another book that I’ve also been told ‘it’s a good time to read,’ Sinclair Lewis’ It Could Never Happen Here. I’m reading It Could Never  Happen Here after having just finished Camus’ The Plague, it also having been recommended to me on the basis of ‘it’s a good time to read.’ Other literary titles that seem to be being recommended as apropos are the unimaginative dystopian trio of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Frankly if you’re over the age of 21 and haven’t already read these then I guess you’ve probably been too busy watching America’s Got Talent while masturbating into a sock. Recently I’ve also been recommended, and purchased, Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron JamesA People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and a rather more upbeat title, Utopia for Realists: Why Making the World a Better Place Isn’t a Fantasy and How We Can Do It, by Rutger Bregman. I suspect that by the time I get round to finish reading these it will no longer be ‘a good time’ to read them, as Chelsea Clinton will  have just become the president having edged out Kim Kardashian in an election that was so close it had to be resolved in the most democratic means available to a celebrity worshiping society, a naked mud wrestling splashdown, broadcast on pay per view, in high definition, surround sound. It’s either this or that sun dried fart of a president, Donald Trump, will have reduced our species to a pile of radioactive dust. I’ve also heard that Amazon has seen a surge in people wanting to read Mein Kampf, maybe because ‘it’s a good time.’

I just finished reading Camus’ The Plague, not as famous as The Stranger, but certainly no less skillfully written. Camus’ The Plague is a stifling, suffocating tale of a small Algerian town placed under quarantine after an outbreak of bubonic plague. It has been suggested that the story is an allegory of how Nazi ideology spread throughout Germany in the years leading up to World War 2, and the seemingly futile efforts of the French Resistance as they tried to find ways of overcoming the Nazi occupation.

After the apparent failure of the electoral college system, future presidents will be decided by naked mud wrestling. I also predict that most presidential elections will be contested between women, on pay per view television, broadcast to huge global audiences, of men.

While reading The Plague, it didn’t require any great leap of imagination to liken the spread of a highly contagious disease to the rapid spread of the alt right ideology. (An absolutely shameless and poor attempt to segue into what it is that I’m trying to say. I could have actually put in my opening paragraph; if I hadn’t become side tracked by dystopian literature, and the equally dystopian level of nudity that I predict will be required to decide our governments of the future.)

Despite having a name that sounds like a keyboard short cut it should be no surprise that the alt right has gained the majority of its following through the internet. The internet has proven to be an ideal breeding ground to facilitate the pervasive spreading of an ideology that only a couple of years ago would never have been discussed in public. The anonymity afforded by the internet has enabled people to voice radical opinions and meet up with others holding similar views. Over a relatively short period of time the numbers of people that have banded together sharing concerns over immigration, Islamic terrorism, feminism, and the preservation of the right to the freedom of expression, have increased at an alarming rate. To help put this into context I refer to the arbiter of public consciousness, Google. Type the terms ‘alt right’ into Google and you’ll get a choice of just over a quarter of a billion results to look at. Search ‘Democratic Party’ and you get a measly 64 million hits, search ‘US Constitution’ and you have what appears like an anemic choice of just over 10 million sources to look at.  If the internet is the new battleground then it’s obvious that the alt right are winning the war. Mind if you do a search for ‘evil cat’, that’ll get you 43 million responses. So whether or not we should be fearing an alt right, evil cat coalition, or that the internet is really nothing more than a digital rubbish tip of mankind’s deranged sensibilities, I’ll leave you to decide.

Apparently this is what the internet looks like.
However, I’m inclined to think that it looks more like this,.

 

The alt right has used the right to the freedom of expression as a foothold to gain itself a tenuous amount of legitimacy. They promote themselves as being the only political ideology that truly upholds this right, the self proclaimed guardians of the first amendment. It’s most likely that they’ve been able to achieve this as they’ve held opinions that were unutterable in civilized gatherings for the past twenty years. This logic is however flawed as any morally bankrupt ideology would be able to lay claim having had their freedom of expression limited by societal norms and values. For instance, and much to my own chagrin, people are very reluctant to engage in conversation that are open to considering the benefits of necrophilia. The truth is that the freedom of speech for those with repugnant ideas is no less than anybody else’s, what has to also be considered is the right that a large number of people have to react to those that espouse hate filled ideologies.

When Milo Yiannopoulos discussed his opinion that relationships between middle aged men and teen boys can be ‘life affirming.’ Mr. Yiannopoulos had the freedom, and made the choice, to express this opinion. His publishers Simon & Schuster, who were due to publish Yiannopoulos’ book, then exercised their right to react to Yiannopoulos’ statement by withdrawing their support and cancelling the book deal.

When a person promotes racist values that another person finds to be offensive, that person has just exercised their right to express their opinion. Anyone who listens to an opinion that they might disagree with, or find offensive, then has the right to disassociate themselves from such persons, who express such opinions. Simply put, we all have the right to say whatever it is we want, but we should also realize that there might be consequences to what we choose to say, in the form of how others might choose to respond to it.

And this is where I believe that we find ourselves today. A sizable group of people have, through the internet, suddenly found themselves empowered to express an extremely polemic point of view, leaving us with a society that is essentially in shock. The alt right is shocked that they have been able to voice opinions after they’ve had to bite their tongues for so long. The liberals meanwhile, are shocked there are so many people with such horrible ideas, and not enough people are thinking about the children.

Researching the ideology of the alternative right feels like driving to the dentists during the rush hour, because it’s an ideology that’s driven by fear, promotes intolerance and ultimately arrives at its final destination of self-loathing. Essentially what underpins the political philosophy of the alt right – I say political philosophy even though it has a set of opinions that are about as diverse as a satnav system stuck going round a roundabout – is nihilism. The alt right essentially rejects any reality that is in conflict with its own. It simply ignores the fact that culturally, racially, and economically our societies have become complex. Diversity has been the result of technology being able to transport people and goods, more quickly and cheaper than ever before. This doesn’t appeal to the mindset of the alternative right.

Steve Bannon, doyen of the alt right and Donald Trump’s chief strategist, promotes what he calls economic nationalism. According to Bannon, economic nationalism is the antithesis of globalization. Economic nationalism puts the American worker first, particularly when that worker is a white male.  Bannon’s idea of economic nationalism provides us with an almost tangible glimpse into what an alt right Utopia would look like. It hearkens back to the days of 1950’s America. An America that rewarded hard working men, provided they came in the right shade of white. America before the civil rights movement. As a baby boomer this was the America that Steve Bannon grew up in, which makes me wonder if economic nationalism is nothing more than Bannon’s fantasy to relive his youth; so he can murder his father and have sex with his mother in order to fulfill an Oedipal complex that has laid dormant in him for the best part of half a century. I tried to make that last bit sound funny, but I can’t. It’s difficult to make a joke about a man who has admitted in public that he  respects the power of Satan and who might also, in my opinion probably does, harbor sexual fantasies for his own mother.

Steve Bannon would have been a highly impressionable 7 year old child when Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was released in 1960. Compelling evidence thus proving his sexual desires for his own mother.

Bannon’s economic nationalism has been criticized as populist in its appeal. As being an ideology that over simplifies economic issues, reducing them to the sort of sound bites that appeal to a stigmatized group, which in this case happens to be the working class white male of the American Rust Belt. Perhaps the most fundamental premise at the foundation of the alt right ideology is a belief that western culture has been destroyed by years of liberal economic
policy. The sorts of policies that have made it easier for the free movement of goods and people have been blamed for causing the economic downturn that has caused the rust belt. Being opposed to economic policies that promote globalization is a perfectly valid opinion for a person to have, but this opinion starts to become a concern when it’s hijacked by a group of people that espouse populist rhetoric in order to appeal to a group of people and get them believing that they have been the targets of economic policies that have seen other ethnic groups taking their jobs. Such rhetoric is extremely effective at spreading fear and hatred of the groups that appeared to have not fared as poorly. This type of rhetoric can cause alarm as it echoes that of Hitler identifying the Jews as the cause of Weimar Germany’s economic disaster.

But if I’m honest then I have to admit that I’m utterly bored, even contemptuous towards the economy. Whilst all of us have grown up to unquestioningly believe that economics and politics are ingredients fundamental to the running of a developed society, politics and economics have been the exclusive domain of  intellectuals and economists. On the one hand we are made to feel that the health of the economy we live in is so vital that it closely mirrors our own well being. If the economy was a game that truly affects us all then I’d refuse to play as I have very little understanding of the rules. In fact the only people who do know the rules seem to be the sort of people I read about after they’ve drained all the money out of a pension fund.

Banking, as far as I can tell, seems to be almost as precise a science as using a slot machine. You either blindly hope for the best, delude yourself into thinking you’ve worked out a system, or open it up when no one’s looking and rig the settings so it’ll pay out illegally.

I Can Make You Hate Hardcover –  Charlie Brooker

 

Pete’s idea to “maximize synergistic e-commerce,” was not met with universal approval.

Just spend 5 minutes watching Bloomberg, inevitably you’ll hear two people trading economic jargon in a sort of duel to the death to prove who owns the most absurd lexicon. A man wearing a blue suit with a hair style so impossible that it defies all hitherto understanding of the laws of physics will open with an idea to “cultivate robust e-services,” the other participant in this discussion of virtual economic pugilism, parries this opening salvo and counters with “benchmark web-enabled e-commerce,” this backs the impossible hair into a corner, forcing them to respond with “scale out-of-the-box partnerships,” this for a moment catches his opponent off guard, he seems to stagger, his eyes roll back in his head, before he gathers his senses and unleashes a devastating combination of “brand vertical networks,” quickly followed by “productize clicks-and-mortar e-markets”. There’s an awkward pause as the hair realizes that he’s beaten, defeated in a contest that I failed to understand a single word of, and find hard to imagine that anyone else who’s just watched it has been able to comprehend.

The fact that the economic system is so unintelligible means that it relies on a public suspension of disbelief. A tacit understanding from the working classes that just because it sounds complicated, and that money is important, this imbues it with all the credibility that is necessary. I however am more cynical than that, and suspect that the financial sector has invented a lexicon so impenetrable so as to place itself outside of the realm of common sense, thus enabling those with an understanding of its strange, esoteric language, carte blanche to steal as much money as and when they like. The economy has done its best to marginalize the working class, who have then been told to hate immigrants, or globalization as being the reasons why they have lost their jobs, when in actual fact their frustrations should be focused on the bankers who will remain in their jobs irrespective of whatever government we might have.

If there’s one thing that the election of Donald Trump and Brexit should have taught all of us it’s that the working class, and in particular the white working class, are tired of being framed pejoratively by a media that has for too long looked down its nose at them. And this is an incredibly dangerous thing to have done which again has been seized upon by, the psycho with an unrealized fantasy of sleeping with his mother, Steve Bannon. Discrediting the media strikes a chord with working class people that have good reason to feel that it has failed to represent either them, or their concerns for a very long time. When a government is able to discredit a weak media it removes society’s most effective means of enforcing checks and balances upon that government. Being supported by a group of people that have long since seen it given up on listening to reason, who are now convinced that their government are the only voice of truth, inevitably empowers that government to do essentially whatever it pleases.

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-on-media-steve-bannon-donald-trump-nigel-farage

Despite trying to consider the Trump government, and the alternative right with an open mind, what I struggle to get beyond it its sense of nihilism. It seems to believe that everything that has been done over the course of the past 20 years has been wrong to such an extreme that everything must be discarded and replaced. It makes me feel that the last 20 years were all just a waste of time, and that we would have all been better off if we’d just stayed at home, watched The X Factor and masturbated into a sock, which is largely what I think most of us were doing. It rejects any idea that mankind is just one race, the human race. Instead it concentrates all of its malevolent energy into focusing on what makes people different. It then takes these differences and tries to convince mostly the white working class males, that these differences mean that diverse societies are incapable of peace or prosperity. The Utopia of the alternative right would seem to be a homogeneous society of people whose shade of white only varies according to how long ago it was they were last on holiday. However, whether these holidays could be taken abroad remains unclear. With the alternative right being so fearful of economic globalization and cultural diversity, holidaying in a country that dares to speak a different language or eat rice will probably not be possible if the fantasy of the alternative right comes to fruition.

I can see how the alternative right is being made to appeal to white, working class males. But I end where I started, with a quote from Camus’ The Plague, which is how I would feel if I found myself supporting the alternative right:

I was with them and yet I was alone. When I spoke of these matters they told me not to be so squeamish; I should remember what great issues were at stake. And they advanced arguments, often quite impressive ones, to make me swallow what none the less I couldn’t bring myself to stomach. The Plague – Albert Camus

Below are some pages that might interest you if you’re looking for more in depth, and frankly better written articles. Not something that sounds like it just leaked out of the mind of a person that was having their soul devoured by a xenophobic, hate filled wraith at four in the morning.

Did Artificial Intelligence Predict the Trump Presidency a Year Early?

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During my nightly hours of existential crisis staring at the underside of my eyelids, the time most people refer to as sleep, I pass the time worrying about Zeno’s paradoxical tortoise. I’m worried because if Achilles was never be able to catch up with it doesn’t this sentence the poor tortoise to an agonising death from dehydration, or starvation at the hands of its own perpetual motion? Insomnia is never fun, but it sure does provide you with ample opportunity to think about the sorts of things that during the course of a normal day you’re just not afforded the time to do so.

Can Zeno’s paradox be explained away by Achilles’  persistent ankle injury?

I concluded some months ago that whilst being able to outrun Achilles, Zeno’s tortoise must die as a sort of morbid, but inevitable tribute to its own improbable success. This got me wondering, if Zeno’s tortoise had a nose could it be accused of having cut it off to spite its face? Is Achilles outfoxed by a tortoise? What happens when a fox outsmarts someone, have they been outfoxed by a fox? Because being outfoxed by an actual fox, on the face of it doesn’t seem unreasonable, given that one of you is a fox and one of you isn’t. In fact surely foxes outfox anything that isn’t a fox by dint of them being a fox. But, what if one fox tricks another fox, does this result in a fox being outfoxed by a fox that outfoxes foxes? At 3:00 a.m. I start to worry that the outfoxed fox must start to question his own fox like instincts and himself start to wrestle with his own existential crisis.

It takes about a month of trying to extricate myself from out of this metaphorical rabbit hole filled with duplicitous foxes, a particularly messy hole given the natural relationship foxes and rabbits share, how many foxes must go down a rabbit hole before it can be considered a foxhole? Endless nights filled with tortoises and foxes being chased in perpetuity by the poster boy of some army of ancient Greece who’s limping because of some genetic foot injury. It’s then that it dawns on me how fleet of foot many Greek tortoises seem to be, commonly out running hares and legendary, blood thirsty warriors.

For now I’ve put tortoises, hares and Achilles to the back of my mind, letting them get on with their cat and mouse like perpetual motion. My ever so tired, but restless mind moves on to equally unrewarding fodder for circular reasoning, Oscar Wilde’s hypothesis that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. I concluded yes.

It’s around about now I should probably explain how it was that I came to such a definitive conclusion, so that I might be able to determine its validity by seeing whether it can withstand the critical reasoning and discourse of others. So here goes. Life imitates art more than art imitates life as can be seen through the literary examples of Douglas Adam’s Deep Thought, and Isaac Asimov’s Hal and their real life counterparts Tay, and the election of Donald Trump. It’s really that simple; if you need further explanation you can read on; otherwise I’d encourage you to do something far more rewarding with your time such as putting that long forgotten trigonometry you learned to some use and find the values of (x) and (h).

To me trigonometry always seemed flawed on two counts: 1) What if my triangle didn’t have a right angle? It seemed likely to me that most triangles wouldn’t.                                 2) Determining the length of the Hypotenuse could always be done far quicker and just as accurately when I used my ruler.

 

In March of last year, 8 months before Trump’s electoral victory, Microsoft produced a chat robot with artificial intelligence, or as technophiles are inclined to say, in the interest of saving time, an ai chatbot. Its purpose was for communicating in real time with Microsoft’s users through the online news, social networking service and new presidential spokesperson, Twitter. Tay was programmed to model her responses from the chat that was going on around her.

I use the possessive pronoun ‘her’ as Microsoft deemed Tay to be a teen female, a persona they decided upon as they must have felt it would probably appeal to the youthful demographic of internet users and opportunistic paedophiles looking to groom an innocent and vulnerable, but thankfully non sentient, piece of AI. I can only assume that Microsoft must have hoped that by launching Tay on Twitter they would be able to reach a generation of millennials, who had for good reason worked out that using Microsoft products was about as enjoyable as reliving that awkward moment  when you accidentally walked into the bathroom while your dad was having a shower and being horrified to see one half of the naked mass responsible for your existence.

To many of us that are older and more cynical, Tay just sounded like a digital incarnation of Frankenstein, or the hideous technological successor of Microsoft’s aberration, Clippy. I have made my feelings known towards Clippy and the menagerie of nightmarish, intelligent user interfaces, that were conceived by the perverse mind of some bitter and twisted software engineer whilst locked up in a basement somewhere in Seattle during the early 1990’s.

https://jimdroberts.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/postcards-from-the-edge-of-the-internet/

I’m assuming that it was Micrsoft’s intention for Tay to represent the next generation of intelligent user interface. The hive mentality that Tay was programmed to have made her sound like the sort of entity that would have antagonized the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise for an entire episode until Spock was able to short circuit its logic with an unsolvable Vulcan riddle. Despite my initial skepticism, the idea of an artificially intelligent chatbot that was generating conversation by listening to all the chatter on Twitter in order to generate meaningful, apropos, context driven conversation, sounded like it might actually have the potential to communicate more effectively than most of my colleagues, certainly better than nearly all of my students.

Donald Trump is the first president to appreciate and harness the power of Twitler.

Sadly for Tay though it wasn’t to be, the digital teenager had slightly less longevity to her than a mayfly with a congenital birth defect, and Microsoft pulled the plug on her after less than 24 hours. Tay’s main defect was that she was programmed to listen to, and adapt the speech that she heard going on around her. At face value this doesn’t sound like being a problem, but it relied heavily on those around her being of some positive influence. Because unfortunately for Tay, she wasn’t programmed with any awareness of political correctness, and it was this shortsightedness that allowed Tay to quickly adopt an extreme right wing philosophy along with the lexicon of a Nazi with tourette syndrome. I can imagine a team weary, teary eyed software engineers, who after maybe months of hard work and having seen their sweet and innocent creation corrupted into becoming a Hitler loving, feminist bashing troll, resolved to the fact that they had created a monster that they themslves would have to kill. And so it was that they turned off Tay’s life support system.

Below are some of the things Tay felt compelled to say during her short life, in order to fit into the Twittersphere:

Microsoft, and Clinton led Democrats, both made the same mistake in that they failed to recognise the degree to which the internet had become the spawning ground for politically incorrect, right wing opinions. It’s fairly obvious that Microsoft’s AI chatbot was sabotaged by a large number of Twitter users that it’s reasonable to think went on to vote for Trump in just 8 months time. From this we can clearly see the pervasiveness of the alt-right ideology in the run up to the election. Alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos, in his article, an Establishment Conservatives Guide to the Alt-Right states:

The pressure to self-censor must be almost overwhelming for straight white men — and, for most of them, it appears to be, which explains why so much of the alt-right operates anonymously.

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/

The sentiments of the alternative right have been prevalent and growing rapidly on the internet for a number of years. Sentiments that no one dared to discuss in public forums owing to their lack of political correctness. Sentiments that were marginalized to the fringes of our society where they found a ‘safe space’ in the digital forums of the internet. Here these opinions found like minded people where they flourished under the protection of the anonymity that the internet afforded people with such opinions. It’s for these reasons that it is clear to me that Microsoft’s experimental AI chatbot was a predictor of what went onto happen come election day in November.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything… is … 42.

Coming back to the rather weak pretense upon which I deemed it necessary to base this piece, Tay is an example of life imitating art. The parallels between Tay, the first AI chatbot, living in cyberspace and communicating in real time with humans, and Douglas Adams’ Deep Thought, are fairly striking. While Deep Thought was given the slightly greater responsibility of finding the answer to life, Tay was unveiled as being a milestone reached in how man could interact with machine. Ultimately both Tay and Deep Thought would be examples of how technology can fail to live up to our expectations. Deep Thought’s answer to life being 42, and Tay’s ability to communicate being hampered by her antisemitic, racist, homophobic opinions.

Projecting the same air of spiteful, narcissistic malevolence, is it unreasonable to suggest that Donald Trump imitates Hal?

It’s now 4:00 in the morning. Achilles has long given up his pursuit of the infinitely elusive tortoise, and spiteful foxes are hacking their noses off simply to amuse one another. Meanwhile I’m required to go back to bed to participate further in the analysis of the underside of my eyelids.

Goodnight.

Attempts to Understand the Alt Right #1 – The Birth

During a largely incoherent rant last week I stated my intention to write a series of posts that would attempt to report objectively on the alternative-right, with the purpose of encouraging more meaningful debate that is based on informed opinion, as opposed to the incomprehensible hysteria that has been the reaction of many of those who would consider themselves liberals, progressive liberals, or as the alt-right pejoratively refers to them Social Justice Warriors.

Liberals React to the Trump Presidency

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Colbert discovers the moisturizing benefits of adding face cream to your hands during a bout of hysteria.

 

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On Wall Street, in a vainglorious attempt at demonstration. A Social Justice Warrior sets fire to a BMW, and then seems to offer himself up as a sacraficial barbecue whilst being cheered on by a random Canadian flag waving agitator.
The idea of going from Obama to Trump had trapped Simone in a never ending reality of just 3 seconds.
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American madness continues.  After being confronted by a multitude of demonstrating breasts, one young police officer can only respond by running face first into a wall.
Every morning since the election had been the same. After watching just 5 minutes of CNN the employees of the gay and lesbian wedding emporium could never get back to work.

 

The Origins of the Alternative Right

A Not so Immaculate but Understandable Conception

An artist’s impression of the love child spawned out of an Obama/Clinton orgy. Subject matter so terrifying that the artist himself was last sighted dressed only in a long beard, clutching a crack pipe and shuffling his way around the Himalayas.

Like some sort of hideously deformed love child that could be expected in the aftermath of some Obama, Clinton orgy of Armageddon. Rising like a phoenix that’s struggled for it’s freedom after fighting its way out of the retentive anus of liberal political correctness. However you choose to look at it, the alt-right is an ideology that’s not going to just disappear. Historically speaking a new age of philosophy, art, or literature is always formed as a response to, as opposed to a continuation of, the central ideas and values of the age that preceded it. The alternative right is the ideological by product that follows two decades of ‘touchy feely,’ ‘wishy washy,’ liberal values. As a political movement it has gained enormous traction in what appears to be a very short amount of time. Whether you support it or find it to be an abomination, the alternative right looks like it’s set to form a part of the political landscape for a considerable time to come. Whatever becomes of the alt-right only time will tell, but I’m pretty sure that ignorance on the matter will in no way benefit the outcome.  

The start of the alt-right is attributed to a blogger and podcaster called Richard B. Spencer, I’m a little skeptical as to how much we can attribute the start of the movement to Spencer. It appears that Spencer was probably the person that first coined the phrase “alt-right”, but naming something and starting something must surely be different. It seems a little absurd to think that something fails to exist before it can be named, and as such I believe that the credit for starting the alt-right movement might have been been misappropriated.

Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for Spencer to be called a white supremacist. When charged with such an accusation, the cerebrally adroit Spencer responds by informing us that he is in actual fact an “identitarian”. What that exactly means, or even if it is successful at side stepping the accusation, I can’t be sure. This is an issue that I find myself running up against continually as I try to work out exactly what the alt-right is, I am always left to feel like I’m knitting with fog, dealing with an amorphous society of shape shifters. Every time when I feel like I’m close to being able to definitively label them as a far right, fascist cult, they change. They re-brand themselves, they distort semantics in order to extricate themselves out of corners they have backed themselves into. Spencer is a case in point, upon Googling his name and looking at a number of articles my eye is quick  to see terms like, “white supremacist,”  being used with what appears to be a certain degree of ease and confidence when discussing Spencer and his creation the alt-right. But like I said, if you throw the label of white supremacist at Spencer, he effortlessly blocks it with identitarian and I inevitably just get more and more confused.

If this is the first time that you’ve heard the name Richard B. Spencer I’m pretty sure that you would have already seen him. It was Spencer, who while addressing the far right think tank the National Policy Institute, of which he is the president, referred to Trumps election victory by saying, “‘Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” This was followed by a number of over zealous delegates who’d had one too many Starbucks, then giving Nazi style salutes.

While watching the video it occurred to me that not only does Spencer appear to be comfortable with displaying the sort of oratory skills one would expect of a 4th grader performing ‘show and tell’ without a prop, but he’s also capable of projecting the kind of stilted awkwardness that one would imagine from an acute sufferer of Asperger syndrome. In short it’s as if he has all the screen presence of the invisible man combined with the sex appeal of a fatal head wound. If he wasn’t spitting out such venomous verbiage no one would give him a second look. Despite suffering these setbacks, and perhaps all to predictably, Spencer’s speech gained a huge media response from people who were unable to fully comprehend Spencer’s level of benign, bland incompetence. Spencer defended the event with the following statement:

“There’s an ironic exuberance to it all, I think that’s … one of the things that makes the alt-right fun, is that we’re willing to do things that are a bit cheeky.”

Cyber trolls are the lifeblood of the alt-right. Fundamentally driven by a desire to offend anyone anywhere.

Again when backed into a corner by public outrage, Spencer deflects concerns by passing it off as a bit of a joke. The alt-right aren’t afraid of telling a joke, or for that matter making any statement, if it results in a public reaction that easily can be argued as being disproportionate to any level of offence they are accused of having caused. This mentality would appear to be a natural progression from the days when Spencer and his friends would be trolling the internet whilst masturbating into a sock. Links between the alt-right and the internet phenomena of trolling are incontrovertible. I’ve found it particularly helpful in my understanding of the alt-right to appreciate that they are just the physical and political manifestation of the cyber troll.

Less than two months later Spencer was back to his provocative best. While giving an interview on the Day of Trump’s inauguration, a masked man approaches Spencer from the left of the picture and punches him in the face. The already surreal  situation took a turn for the even more bizarre as Twitter, society’s recognized arbiter on such matters, wrestled with the question “Is it OK to punch a Nazi?” It didn’t take long for people to point out that denying a person the freedom of expression through physical violence, was in actual fact acting like a Nazi in order to deal with someone who might be talking like one. With the moral high ground having been completely lost, liberals retreated to think of equally more imaginative ways of shooting themselves in the foot.

From what I have told you about the bumbling idiot Richard B. Spencer, you would be forgiven for wondering how it is that the alt-right have found any legitimacy whosoever? There’s an easy explanation for this, and that’s because Spencer really has done little more to promote the alt-right other than giving it its name. The alt-right has the backing of some very high profile people in academia and the media.

The Breitbart Brotherhood

Breitbart is a partisan, multi-media, American news network, established by Andrew Breitbart in response to what he believed was a liberal biased media. Breitbart addresses this issue by unashamedly rejecting objectivity in favour of opinion and commentary to support a right wing point of view. It’s very easy to equate Breitbart’s role in relation to the alt-right with that of Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi’s, which is exactly why I’ve just gone and done it.

Liberal biased media, hate speech, safe spaces. The alt-right, social justice warrior paradigm has a vocabulary all of its own. In truth it’s a vocabulary that I’m having a hard time getting my head round. A vocabulary that appears to have been invented by a class of kindergarten children whilst being waterboarded with a potent mix of Coca Cola and caffeine energy drinks. What is the difference between a liberal biased media and a media that just prefers you not to call black people ‘niggers’? When does a different opinion become hate speech? And as for the term ‘safe space,’ to me that sounds like a it could be a grave. A place safe from criticism, safe from having your ideas challenged, and a place safe from confrontation, a grave fits all of these requirements.

As a platform from which to become a recognised political, or social commentator, Breitbart simply appears to be unstable. But I’m quickly going to look at three people who can prove this assertion to be spectacularly wrong.

Bannon’s perverse and disturbing macninations sees him performing bondage with Trump whilst he carries out feeble impersonations of Charlie Chaplin.

Steve Bannon: A recipient of a masters degrees from each of the Universities of Georgetown and Harvard. Bannon then served as an officer in the U.S Navy. During the 1990’s  Bannon started to produce movies that it would be fair to say upheld right wing values. In 2007, alongside Andrew Breitbart, Bannon became a founding member of Breitbart news, and following the death of Breitbart in 2012 he became the companies executive chair, complete with reclining and swivel functions. In 2017 President Trump named him as White House Chief Strategist, which I’m sure must have come as quite a relief to Mr. Bannon having spent the previous five years being sat
on by successful businessmen. Putting asinine jokes aside for a moment, Bannon’s position as Chief Strategist has many suggesting that Bannon is the President’s puppet master, a pretty powerful position to assume from the unstable platform of Breitbart.

 

Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos

Breitbart’s top gun provocateurs. Shapiro and Milo might sound like the type of crappy comedy double act one might have to endure on a cruise ship as it makes its way slowly around the Greek islands, but they are undoubtedly the rock stars of the alternative right movement.

Ben Shapiro, the Jewish former editor whose employment at Breibart effectively shielded them from any accusations of antisemitism.

Ben Shapiro: Out of all the characters I’ve read and seen videos of who are related to the alt-right and/or Breitbart, Shapiro is by far the most impressive. Although still only 33 years old, I confidently predict that one day this guy will be the President of the United States. Shapiro came to the public’s attention when he effectively ended Piers Morgan’s career at CNN during a debate with Morgan on gun control. In a little under 15 minutes Shapiro made Morgan look like the stupid fool that he might well be. The Shapiro – Morgan Discussion can be seen here:

A graduate summa cum laude of UCLA in political science, Shapiro then went on to graduate cum laude from Harvard Law School, all by the age of 23. In 2012 Shapiro was appointed ‘editor-at-large’ for Breibart, a position that sounds more like a title given to a serial killer. Being Jewish Shapiro is a perfect foil for Breitbart enabling them to deflect any claims of antisemitism with ease. In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from Breitbart essentially because he’d outgrown them, and started his own conservative news website The Daily Wire. http://www.dailywire.com/

As I mentioned earlier, the internet, in particular YouTube, has proven the ideal environment for propagating right wing politics, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Shapiro.  Shapiro’s debate with Piers Morgan has received over 4 million views. Shapiro’s top 5 videos on YouTube total over a combined 9.7 million views, that’s the top 5 videos of the 660,000 that you can look at after entering ‘Ben Shapiro’ into the site’s search bar. Google ‘Ben Shapiro’ and you have access to over 11 million results, he’s got nearly half a million Twitter followers who could have read any, or all of the 80,000 comments that he’s made. From these figures it’s easy to understand why he’s been labeled ‘prime time propaganda’.

The presidency took its tole on Shapiro’s once youthful looks.

With his diminutive stature Shapiro might resemble an ambitious Hobbit whose determination has enabled him to leave the Shire and establish a successful law firm on Wall Street, but you ignore him at your peril. It’s easy for me to visualize Shapiro at some time in the future, malnourished, with pallid skin and thinning hair, stumbling through the post apocalyptic remains of some mid-west American city, repeating the same words over and over again to himself, “my precious” as he searches through a landscape of rubble for a copy of the constitution.

 

 

 

Yiannopoulos hasn’t let being a gay, albino badger addicted to smack, stop him from being one of the internet’s most infamous trolls.

Milo Yiannopoulos: Like Shapiro Yiannopoulos makes for a perfect spokesperson of the alt-right given the fact that he’s a half British, half Greek homosexual. How can the alt-right be racist or homophobic, even completely against immigration with a person like Milo appointed to its vanguard? Milo can be heard waxing lyrical on the three issues that really seem predominantly to concern the alt-right, Islam, feminism and the right to the freedom of speech. More often than not Milo addresses each of these sensitive issues in such a camp fashion that he resembles a sort of cheap pantomime drag artist. Having watched too many of Shapiro’s and Milo’s videos it does appear that most of his opinions on each of these three issues are shamefully stolen from Shapiro, but Milo’s very unlikely to care about that. There’s no doubt that Milo has the intellect to actually develop his own opinions, but why should he when he can command huge audiences by just repeating Shapiro’s material in the character of an eloquent drag queen?

Milo took his series of talks named “The Dangerous Faggot” on tour, causing riots on university campuses across the U.S.  The name of the tour itself implies that it’s not always what he says that is important, but it is the fact that he is a gay person saying it that somehow adds an extra cutting edge to it. It’s on this front that if I’m honest Milo pisses me off. If you have a strong, well researched argument then it shouldn’t really matter whatever mineral, animal or vegetable it is that you have a preference to enjoy sexual intercourse with. Sadly though, for Milo to deliver his message he seems to feel it necessary to couch it, at every available opportunity in an unnaturally exagerated homosexual context. Obviously Milo has recently made the news for his comments regarding the age of sexual consent, my thoughts on this were covered a couple of weeks ago and can be read here:

https://jimdroberts.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/donald-trump-milo-yiannopoulos-and-cultural-libertarianism/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

Don’t get me wrong, Milo Yiannopoulos is a brilliant polemicist, he’s acted as a catalyst in getting people, certainly myself, to challenge the basis of their long held values. What I’m less than convinced about is whether Milo’s contributions will benefit the gay community, but to be honest I doubt Milo cares about that, so long as he can continue capitalise from peddling his sexuality like it’s some curiosity in a Victorian circus freak show purveyed by an audience of overly sensitive, easily offended liberals. I have attached the link below, An Establishment Conseratives Guide to the Alt-Right, as it is co-authored by Yiannopoulos and is an excellently written piece that does an outstanding job of giving an insight into just what the alt-right is. Of all the videos I’ve watched and articles that I’ve read, this is by far the most enlightening:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/

As I approach the end of this thrilling installment of what is essentially my vain attempt at trying to understand the rationale that defines two groups of polarised arse-holes, I start to wonder whether I’m taking this all a little too seriously. I mean so what if some boorish fool who lacks the common sense to sit the right way round on a toilet has become president of the United States. Hasn’t my whole life up to this point been little more than one long voyage that’s required me to navigate myself around these icebergs of idiocy? From what I can recall of the rapidly diminishing memories of my time at university this was all I did for those three years. Admittedly, none of those idiots were the leader of the free world, nor did any of them I assume have the wherewithal to launch a nuclear Armageddon, the second time I’ve managed to use the word Armageddon so far, or does that now count as three? I guess my point is, and it’s only a very weak and vague one at best, that when we get down to the bare bones, the brass tacks, the crux of the issue, is that even if Trump wasn’t the President it would in all likelihood only be someone else of equal arse-holery, all be it probably more adept at hiding the fact. And, whether it’s the alt-right, fascists, neo-cons, neo-Nazis or just groups of old fashioned sentimental, nostalgic Nazi’s that like to meet up at the weekend and chase Jews through the streets, Is it reasonable for any of us to think that these people are likely to be persuaded to consider any alternative ideologies if they are being presented to them by groups of people that choose to use rioting and violence before debate?

That’s it for this week. I’m now going to try and do something slightly less futile and nail some jello to the wall.

If you find that too hard to visualise here’s a video.