Inflation of Words
Newspapers have declined
Recently more and more persons have been deemed racist, sexist, rapist or fascist. Sometimes a combination of them, some times it was grounded on good reason, other times it was a baseless accusation. Examples that come to mind are obviously Trump and PewDiePie. But a bit less recently Jontron, a not that famous youtube figure to most, has been accused as well, similar to PewDiePie. If we go back even further, Jacob Appelbaum and Julian Asagne faced similar situations.
But what do these accusations mean? What conclusions can we draw from them or how do they affect the overall climate of discurs? That’s mainly what I’m interested in. But first off, let’s look at them independently.
Let’s start with a quick example, as the video this is about is 5 hours long and I don’t really want to watch it. At one point in a podcast Jontron voiced his positive attitude towards Le Pen’s right-wing party in Europe. Soon after, many on Twitter called him out on being a racist for his opinion in the podcast as well as prior interviews he’s given to the far-right news site Breitbart.
Of course that started a controversy. In this case it’s difficult to say if he really is, especially as someone from the outside. The Front National is the only french party outside of the two major coalations. In a sense, they kinda act under the same anti-establishment banner. Just like Trump and some other European parties like the AfD in Germany do. His support could stem from this alt-right attitude of having enough of the political correct years in recent history. The whole talk is about SJWs after all, so that’s not too unlikely.
It does however give us a first impression how quickly someone can be pushed in the far-right corner of the political spectrum.
I’ve talked about it in the other article already, but Trump faced many accusations during the election and still is. It basically comes down to him being called a racist, sexist and misogynist. Unlike Jontron, this has more basis. Not only that, it’s also been talked about in a lot of the established media. His choice of words was bad to say in the least and completely inappropriate for a presidential candidate. Despite of all that, his ratings didn’t go down that much. Well in fact, he’s now the president of the United States.
But that’s simple to explain. If call someone racist or sexist on the media, people will of course take that serious at first and have a negative impression. But that’s only the first impression. Trump could win many over with his speeches, his policies. So those who’ve been won over despite of these accusations won’t be affected by these same accusations. Especially not after a certain time. I would go as far as to say it was completely ineffective by summer last year.
Any more of these articles just damaged yourself. It makes you look like a child who only wants to discredit someone based on a certain point. And anyone who supports Trump, will just have a worse impression of you afterwards. The American election was basically a big inflation of the words racist, sexist and fascist so to speak. This naturally leads us to PewDiePie.
So PewDiePie released a video where he apparently displayed his opinion with a “Death to all just” banner. The Wall Street Journal quickly took up on that and attacked him with an article. But before we go through from different perspectives, let’s recap the exact content of both sides.
On January 12th PewDiePiew uploaded a video about a website we you can request all kinds of stuff. Among other requests he also paid two Indians to dance in the jungle with “Death to all jews” written on a banner. The end of this video shows these Indians fulfill this request while PewDiePie is in shock of what happened. Accoring to himself, he didn’t expect them to actually do that kind of thing. Yet they did and he uploaded the video with his reaction.
Afterwards the Wall Street Journal writes an article with the following title.
Disney Severs Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Posts
Other media outlets follow and write the same stuff. Later Youtube severed their ties with him as well and his upcoming show was cancelled.
Now, just three days ago on February 16th, Felix posted his own reply on Youtube. It’s worth checking out at this point, cause he makes some pretty good points. Saying how the WSJ put some scenes out of context, ruining his image. He also says that he will stand up to this.
Ethan Klein, one of Felix’s jewish close friends, made a video himself about this situation. It also includes the video version of WSJ’s article with a small analysis of it. Ironically enough, they again use video material of Felix out of context to show is supposedly anti-semitic views.
First things first, why does Felix get so much backslash for his video? It basically boils down to bad humour. In other words, he’s a bad comedian. The Polygon makes a good point in saying he isn’t a good writer. Then again, some of it might just be improvised, him acting rather naturally, just a bit exaggerated. His primary audience is rather young after all. Not young adults, more like curious underage teenagers. So that might work well there.
Rather than doing something anti-semetic, he rather did the most ridiculous thing he could come up with. That aligns with the request of the jesus guy to say “Hitler did nothing wrong”. He mainly did it for entertainment.
You can still say the phrase is anti-semetic, which is true, but with his reaction, it’s immediately clear that it’s a taboo. You can also say the joke is tasteless. That’s probably true too, but I don’t think it’s scandalous. It just makes him a jerk at most. Probably closer to someone with a bad sense of humour at times.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, then one last argument: No one in their right mind would actually publically post “Death to all jews” seriously. Especially not when his job is on the line. Felix isn’t that dumb to not understand the consequences of such a statement if he were to post it honestly.
So the Wall Street Journal kinda walked in a lion’s den here. At first the title sounds like Felix is an anti-semite. A lot newspapers followed with similar titles for their articles. Obviously they’re meant to be clickbait. But that’s not enough. The video response to Felix bad joke was the same. They didn’t even try to hide the fact that they’re trying to denounce him. Now it’s natural for many of PewDiePies followers to look at WSJ with sceptic eyes. It’s similar to the case with Trump, who also was called racist, but far more worse here. His followers know him much better, they’ve known him and they know he’s much more honest than Trump. That’s not all. If you look around on Youtube, others voiced their own opinion on the subject, mainly for Felix. Above Ethan Klein had a video defending him. But Armoured Skeptic (with 346k subscribers) along with June’s (134k followers) support also shared his opinion on the topic. Nigahiga (19m subs) answers with a sarcastic video on political correctness. These are only a few examples, but it represents the overall reaction on WSJ’s attack well. All of them have a certain userbase. These aren’t distinctive, neither do they have to agree with the opinion of these youtubers, but they’re still more likely to do so than not. They also know the style of Youtube videos and that certainly wasn’t the first case of these kind of accusation they’ve experienced either. This a first hint on why the established media suffers from losing readerships. It’s natural that they aren’t trusted.
The Independent further writes
When did fascism become so cool? PewDiePie’s antics are the thin end of the wedge
Wait what? Why fascism suddenly? Fascism is a anti-liberal, anti-democratic or did I miss something? Let’s look at the definition. According to Wikipedia
A significant number of scholars agree that a “fascist regime” is foremost an authoritarian form of government, although not all authoritarian regimes are fascist.
But also dictionary.com defines it similarily
(sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
So PewDiePie’s video can’t have anything to do with fascism. Yes, Nazi-Germany was a fascist country, but that’s a correlation. There’s no reason to assume anti-semitism needs fascism. You can say however, that a anti-semitic society whose goal is to cleanse themselves from jews needs an authorian structure, so it naturally evolves into a fascist society in the process, but that does’t not applicable here. PewDiePie alone can’t be fascist with just a single video clip.
Before I go on and draw some more conclusions, I want to bring up rape accusations, as they are very similar. So far we had JonTron, who was accused by social media, Trump who was accused from all directions and PewDiePie who experienced a personal attack by the established media. Although these cases all have different actors, they share one thing. All of them inflate the word racist in some way. In case of PewDiePew, it denounces the worth our media as we know it. That is why I use this topic about supposed rapists here as well, as it comes down to the same thing.
The problem of this topic is, that you never know who’s telling the truth. The one who suits the lawcase, a woman most of the times, might just be lying for some reason. Still, the medial attention these kind of cases get are immense. Oftentimes ruining the accused in the process, especially men. That’s what this is about mainly, as the cases which are proven right don’t influence the readers impression all that much. At least I think so.
I don’t know if he is a good example to start with. Although he is a German activist for free speech and anonymous browsing, he’s also one of the developers of the TOR network. So while I remember him and his case well, since it happened in Germany, I don’t know how the external coverage was. For anyone interested, here’s a good article by the Guardian, describing the case in good detail.
The main reason why I’ve chosen this case is, because Appelbaum quickly had to leave the Tor-project after he was sued. Tor pretended to hear his side of the, but actually didn’t do so.
Appelbaum told the Guardian that Tor did not speak to him to ask his version of events during its internal investigation, while Tor claims he declined to be interviewed over the encrypted channels its investigator proposed. Another witness to the rape allegation also claims not to have been interviewed by Tor.
So far these allegations aren’t proven yet. According to the Tor-project’s investigation, these accusations are probably right. On the other hand published the German newspaper the Zeit a long article proving he’s most likely innocent. His reputation however is severely ruined.
Unknown persons spray-painted “A rapist lives here” in both English and German on the walls of the apartment building where he lives, with an arrow pointing to what appeared to be the windows of his apartment.
This case is a rather short one. Lena Dunham falsely accused a person named “Barry” of rape in her biography. Thus starting an investigation, which ruined his reputation to some degree. While not even on a national level, it still put him to shame for no reason in the worst possible way.
People often say rape is the worst thing that can happen to a women, or one of the worst if you also take murder into consideration. But consequently that also means that the (false) accusation of rape is one of the worst things that can happen to a man.
Another German example would be the case of Gina-Lisa Lohfink. Again I want to keep it plain and simple, since it’s nothing new. Lohfink sued two men with drugging and rape. Eventually her claim was judged unsustainable and she had to pay a fee for slander.
Nevertheless, the story went through multiple media outlets in Germany. Not only that, some German politicians such as Manuela Schwesig uttered their sympathy for Lohfink long before the case even ended. It just shows how much this issue is skewed in one direction.
It’s a shame that I couldn’t come up with more examples, but I think I’m not the only one who has the impression, that rape cases are immensely emotionally charged. It wouldn’t even be that bad, if the supposed culprit wouldn’t receive such misbehaviour. Sure you can speak your condolecence for the women, but before the man isn’t convicted, he should be free from such attacks, even if it’s about rape.
The second thing I wanted to talk about here, besides the ongoing PewDiePie case, is the inflation of such accusations. They become more and more frequent, especially the left calling others nazi or alt-right as if it’s an insult. A lot of media isn’t without blame either. Obviously it reduces the quality of many discussions and sometimes you have to be very forthcoming to even get your point across if you don’t know the other one. More importantly though, it increases the tension between left and right, making everyone more extreme. I think that’s the main thing I’m observing in North America at the moment. It’s not that bad in Europe, because for some reasons, movements form a lot less often here than overseas. While there was the Tea Party Movement, Black Lives Matter and the LGBT+3rd feminism in NA, our only own movement is basically the right wing parties gaining traction. Yes, some of these spill over from America such as SJWs, but they don’t originate here. I could come up with reasons for that, but most of it would be speculation.
Lastly I think these constant reports of racists and rapists ruin the media for a lot of people. I’ve wrote a bit about it above, where I tried to express it with numbers, but I think these cases are one of the main reasons why many lose faith in the media. It’s not the only one though. The terrible coverage of Crimea and Russia in general, some of the immigrant articles and other blatant lies do their own thing. Yet these aren’t very apparent to a large part of the population, so I don’t think they acount to that much.
Oh and while researching I’ve stumbled across an interesting comment on one of the articles I’ve used.
Want to know why Donald Trump is able to launch attacks on the media for being ‘fake news’? Because you keep printing it, leaving people like me who sincerely believe in the notion of a free press increasingly incapable of adequately defending you. You clearly didn’t research it because you have absolutely no idea about the context, so we’re left to assume that you’d wanted to write an article about ‘the resurgence of fascism’ for a while and decided to use a YouTuber as a scapegoat to get it out of the door faster. I’m not wrong, am I? You dare to call yourself ‘The Independent.’ I remember when The Independent genuinely was just that - back in the 90s. Now it’s nothing more than a clickbait poison mill. Guess what? You succeeded this time. You got me to click on your hit piece, but I never will again and I’m starting to think you deserve some of the bile GENUINE fascists like Trump throw at you if you continue to peddle this tripe.
It doesn’t sound too unreasonable to me that the Independent was founded some 20 years ago to give high quality news with real journalism behind it. I don’t know honestly. It reminds me of Krautreporter in Germany. A couple of journalists crowdfunded a project to do real journalistic work again. They only publish a few per day, really not many, but they’re often a good read. The Intercept is kinda the same in that regard. Who knows, maybe all newspapers shift towards profit sooner or later and new ones need to arise for proper journalistic work to exist.