How does a social justice ideologue respond to criticism?
With introspection? Intellectual development? Counterarguments?
Not if we’re talking about MTV Decoded’s Franchesca Ramsey’s response to Sargon of Akkad. Franchesca has apparently responded by targeting Sargon’s source of income.
Who is Franchesca Ramsey, and what does Sargon have to do with her?
She represents MTV’s attempt at political influence over the U.S.’s most recent crop of young adults. Her show, Decoded, is described on its Youtube channel as “a weekly series on MTV News where the fearless Franchesca Ramsey tackles race, pop culture, and other uncomfortable things, in funny and thought-provoking ways.” A few seconds’ viewing of any episode makes it obvious that it’s nothing but an identity politics infomercial masquerading as entertainment.
With the label “thought-provoking” included in the description, one would believe the show’s goals to include stimulating discussion on the issues it covers, but its dialogue is quick to disabuse viewers of any such misconceptions. Ms. Ramsey lectures her audience in an arrogant, authoritarian manner, leaving no room for debate or even freedom of speech, both of which are demonized as vehicles for bigotry and oppression.
The show’s preachy, demanding tone and cliche arguments have drawn the attention of several Youtubers and bloggers. From its amateurish format to its use of soundly discredited claims, false framing of statistics and other information, and emotional appeals, Decoded has been ripped apart all across the internet, including being the subject of a few Honey Badger Brigade cringezerkers.
Sargon of Akkad, whose channel dedicated to discussion of social and political issues, is probably the most widely viewed of Decoded’s critics.
Why is Franchesca Ramsey targeting Sargon?
Her chief complaint, according to tweets she has now protected from public scrutiny, is that he’s had the screaming audacity to talk about her show and worse, contradict her.
Included in that mix is a request to twitter user @idlediletante (Margaret Pless) for a link to her writing on Sargon. Upset as she is about being discussed in Sargon’s videos, she apparently has no problem going to Pless for information about Sargon.
Who is Margaret Pless, and how is she involved in this?
Margaret Pless is a blogger and sometimes contributor to online publications which publish feminist writing. She’s one of several female radical feminists orbiting around feminist provocateur David Futrelle, whose blog We Hunted the Mammoth gets cited whenever anyone wants to demonize men’s issues activists without exposing the fallacy of said demonization by going to accurate sources of information.
Pless’s style is similar to Futrelle’s methods as described in Judgy Bitch’s article, linked above. Sargon of Akkad is among her targets, which also include skeptic Youtuber Thunderf00t, Janet Bloomfield and other men’s issues activists, and Eron Gjoni.
The main theme of her work is to paint a carefully framed threat narrative around her target to influence the reader’s opinion through emotional appeal.
What’s a threat narrative?
Alison Tieman describes threat narratives and explains how they work in the following video.
This works a bit differently when the target of a woman’s threat narrative is a man instead of another woman.
Pless’s threat narrative seems to have been incorporated into Ramsey’s complaint. Ramsey has, according to her tweets, composed a message about him to Patreon, a site which facilitates donor funding of artist and writer projects by individual, independent patrons. She received an email address specifically for that purpose in a reply tweeted to her by one of Patreon’s employees. Both accounts in that discussion now have their tweets protected, but the exchange was archived.
Sargon’s videos do not violate Patreon’s current community guidelines, which specifically state that political expression does not disqualify work from eligibility for funding through the site. Neither is he in violation of TOS, as his work falls under the concept “Fair Dealing,” similar to that of “Fair Use.” To accommodate Ms. Ramsey’s complaint, Patreon’s administrators would have to place limitations on support for material which includes political commentary, or they would have to place limitations which would bar support for material with certain political perspectives. This would not only affect political commentators, but the grassroots of political movements, who would be robbed of an avenue for making their voices heard by supporting more well-known individuals with whose perspectives they identify.
This is an attack men’s issues activists, gamergate, sad puppies, metalgate, and libertarians have seen repeatedly; creative framing of criticism as copyright infringement and dissent as harassment in order to silence both. It is the first line of defense for the proponents of ideas which cannot survive scrutiny and appraisal.
The formula, a type of threat narrative, is being used in various forms (including accusations of sexism and racism where neither are behind an individual or group’s speech) to incrementally chip away at the ability to have open political discussion in places where it is most likely to occur. It has been effectively used to allow censorship to encroach upon various social media and affect university environments, but this has occurred one platform at a time, and as each one falls, discussion simply moves to newer forums. Inducting Patreon into the political censorship club would have a much bigger impact, affecting speech across all platforms by denying funding to the work they might host or display. It would also affect the patrons themselves, limiting their expression by denying them the ability to fund creators whose work may be politically controversial.
Latest posts by Hannah Wallen (see all)
- MRAs dondu nuffin! and other “robust feminist arguments” | HBR Talk 97 - August 8, 2019
- Title IX Reform: Oh, the humanity! | HBR Talk 96 - August 1, 2019
- Title IX reform: The change curveball | HBR Talk 95 - July 25, 2019