Edit 09/08/2016 I was contacted by Mr. Benjamin by e-mail on July 30 re. this post. I initially was rather suspicious and assumed that the e-mail might have originated from one of Mr. Benjamin’s somewhat more devout followers, rather than Mr. Benjamin himself. (Our research group at Nottingham has had to put up with some deeply dishonest academic sockpuppetry and identity theft, in relation to a debate about the interpretation of the results of a series of studies on the properties of nanoparticles, so I now tend not to take e-mails arriving “out of the blue” at face value).
I did, however, respond to Mr. Benjamin. This led to an exchange which I’ll not, and indeed can’t, reproduce here because Mr. Benjamin did not give me permission to make the exchange public, despite a number of requests. (Those requests were simply ignored — I did not receive a response from Mr. Benjamin.) As my e-mail below describes, however, Mr. Benjamin was given three distinct options to debate. He turned down all three.
From: Moriarty Philip
Sent: 05 August 2016 04:57
To: ‘Carl Benjamin’ <——->
Subject: RE: Your e-mail
Dear me, Carl, but you really are beyond disingenuous, aren’t you? I didn’t expect anything less from you but it’s good to have my expectations so comprehensively confirmed. Thanks for that.
So, to recap, you’ve been given three options thus far.
- A face-to-face meeting. You’re won’t do that, however, because you’re frightened that the big, bad…errmm…out-of-shape, middle-aged physics professor might do unspeakable things to your person. As I’ve said before, you’re happy to throw out bile, vitriol and abuse online but rather less keen to debate face to face with a critic sitting in the same room as you. And yet you rail against “delicate flowers” and “safe spaces”? You’re nothing more than a bully and a hypocrite, Carl. (It’s a great shame that you refuse to debate because we could have covered that hypocrisy aspect in a great deal more detail in the context of your laughable petition). Pathetic.
- An e-mail spat. But you also won’t do that. I wonder why?
- A moderated debate on The Skeptic Feminist channel. But you also refuse that. I was hugely amused by your “rein his neck in” tweet. How, might I ask, are you going to rein my neck in?
So, no, I am transparently not trying to avoid discussion. I am very happy to put this email trail in the public domain, if you like, so we can confirm that openly. Let me know if you’re happy for me to do this.
And, once again, I’d appreciate it if you could stop lying. You’ve now turned down three opportunities to defend your pitiful petition, your cowardice, and your hypocrisy. The unwillingness to discuss these matters is entirely yours.
Edit 31/07/2016 This hilarious demolition of Mr. Benjamin’s farcical “Suspend Social Justice Courses” petition (to “UNIVERSITIES”, no less) was uploaded today. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and laugh yourself silly…
Edit 26/07/2016 Thanks to RobWilfred1977 for bringing my attention to the video below. (Rob’s full comment is here). This is the wholly unedifying spectacle of Mr. Benjamin, a 37 year old man and father of two, calling his mother and acting like an especially immature 12 year old. The video is arse-clenchingly cringeworthy; a deep singularity of cringe that would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. The 37 year old Benjamin rings his — understandably perplexed — mummy (and the grandmother of his kids) ostensibly to tell her what he tweeted to Jess Phillips.
Except, of course, that Mr. Benjamin lacks the decency and honesty to tell mummy what he actually said. As Rob points out, who’d have thought it? Benjamin lying? Surely not. But, yes, it’s true. The reprehensible Mr. Benjamin removes the “even” from the statement: he changes it from “I wouldn’t *even* rape you” to “I wouldn’t rape you”.
Blatant dishonesty and gutlessness. Just when you think this little turd of a man can’t get any more odious, he somehow manages it…
Not even worthless.
Edit 22/07/2016 I was fully aware that those who jump to the defence of the odious Carl Benjamin – or “Sargon of Akkad”, if we must really refer to him by his tedious tweenage alias – are often not the most accomplished in terms of reading comprehension and their overall ability to grasp nuance, irony, and satire. But I didn’t appreciate just how far the original piece would fly over their collective heads. From a number of the comments and e-mails I’ve received, it would appear that it flew by somewhere in the stratosphere. I’ve therefore dumbed down the piece a little to make the satirical aspects obvious to the more obtuse of Mr. Benjamin’s fans.
I’ll make no bones about it, I find your willingness to defend Mr. Benjamin’s hateful behaviour both saddening and sickening. (That’s the TL;DR version, just in case you are one of those who has an aversion to reading even moderately detailed arguments, and who tends to dismiss more than a hundred words as a “wall of text”. If, however, you are comfortable with parsing articles and posts that are somewhat more nuanced and considered than a grammatically garbled 140 character slur, please read on).
Since uploading a blog post entitled “Preaching to the choir: The cult of online atheism” a couple of days ago, I’ve received quite a few comments and missives from those who, like you, are very keen to jump to the defence of Benjamin. Many of these were incoherent, rambling (and, of course, grammatically dubious) diatribes, but a small number of those who posted comments, or e-mailed me directly, were rather more focussed and controlled.
Foremost in this latter category was a comment posted yesterday by “Kargoneth”. I’m going to respond to “Kargoneth”‘s defence of Benjamin on a point-by-point basis, as (s)he has neatly distilled the content, if not the tone, of the many Benjamin-related missives I’ve received. Kargoneth’s comment is also very well-written, notwithstanding the utterly depressing lack of empathy and consideration for others it represents.
In the following, “Kargoneth”‘s comments are in bold italics.
Hello Dr. Moriarty (Professor Moriarty? I don’t know which you prefer),
Hi, Kargoneth. Good of you to comment. I appreciate it.
Thanks for asking about the title. I much prefer Philip but appreciate that not all are comfortable to be on a first name basis. So whatever salutation you want to use is absolutely fine by me.
Regarding Sargon of Akkad, I would ask that you watch some of his videos directly rather than rely on second-hand accounts of his views. Your hyperlink for his pseudonym links to a Kristi Winters video, rather than his channel.
First, I will refer to “Sargon of Akkad” as Carl Benjamin throughout my response, because that is his name. Use of a tweenage pseudonym provides an aura of entirely undeserved mystique and, of course, allowed Mr. Benjamin to cower behind cover of anonymity for quite some time. (As you’ll know, he did not voluntarily reveal his identity. You’ll also be aware of my stance on the intellectual cowardice and fundamental weakness of those who hide, or have hidden, behind pseudonyms so that they can slag off and abuse others. I’ll not expand on that issue here, however, as I’ve gone into it at repetitive length previously.).
Moreover, given that Mr. Benjamin is in his late thirties and a father of two, I’m of the opinion that it’s a little more appropriate, particularly in the context of his odious behaviour, to refer to him by his given name. I hope you understand.
I have watched a number of his videos (including this far-from-edifying performance from Mr. Benjamin ). My decision not to link to his channel was entirely deliberate. Kristi’s video provides a pithy overview of a Sunday Times article which, in a few short paragraphs, summarises Benjamin’s vacuous arguments. (I note that you repeat those empty arguments verbatim in your comment — see below.) Kristi also very helpfully provided links to photos of the Sunday Times article in the information under the video. In addition, I would much prefer not to be responsible for driving any amount, no matter how small, of internet traffic to Benjamin’s channel.
In passing, it’s worth noting that in that Sunday Times article, Benjamin himself refers to his behaviour as “childish”. I think that’s extremely unfair to the very many children who, despite their tender years compared to the middle-aged Benjamin, have a much higher degree of empathy and consideration for others, and whose moral compass is rather better developed.
This is the tweet to which Kristi Winters refers:
Sargon read an article by Jess Phillips wherein Jess states that she and other women are the targets of people tweeting that they will rape her (and the other women).
This is the portion of Sargon’s video where he read Jess’s article:
Sargon’s response to this was to tweet at her stating that he wouldn’t even rape her (a tweet for which other people created their own versions and sent them to Jess)
And you are justifying this? You are defending Mr. Benjamin’s decision to send a victim of rape a tweet which says “I wouldn’t even rape you?”.
You really think that’s appropriate and something that should be defended?
How about walking up to a woman who’d been raped and saying to her face, “I wouldn’t even rape you?” Would you do that? Is it defensible? Justifiable?
Or if a random person were to whisper in your ear on the Tube/subway/street (or send you a tweet out of the blue) stating “I wouldn’t even rape you”, would that be entirely acceptable behaviour? The type of behaviour we should encourage in a decent, caring society?
Or would you instead consider it to be rather threatening and disturbing?
And what if happening not just once, it happened 600 times? “I wouldn’t even rape you“. Over and over again.
Perfectly acceptable? Something we should encourage?
Back and forth it went until Sargon stating he wouldn’t rape her somehow became a source of outrage fuel.
“…somehow became a source of outrage fuel…”
This statement beggars belief. I cannot fathom how a functioning human being like yourself, who is clearly intelligent enough to construct a well-written response to my post, cannot understand why Benjamin’s vicious response to Jess Phillips generated massive outrage.
Benjamin didn’t “even” tweet “I wouldn’t rape you“. That would be bad enough. He tweeted “I wouldn’t even rape you”.
Your comment, as I said, is written well. I therefore cannot believe that you do not possess the minimal reading comprehension skills required to appreciate just how important the inclusion of the word “even” is in that sentence.
“I wouldn’t even rape you”.
Sent to a rape victim.
The irony being that a tweets advocating raping and tweets advocating not raping somehow both lead to outrage on the part of his detractors (specifically, feminists/progressives)
There is no “irony” here. That a tweet advocating rape is unacceptable really doesn’t need to be said. But Benjamin’s tweet clearly isn’t some grand statement that advocates not raping women. You’re not that stupid. (Many others who have posted comments and contacted me clearly are that stupid, but from the overall tenor of the comment you posted, you don’t lack the intelligence to appreciate this basic distinction).
His tweet was sent to mock, belittle and intimidate Phillips.
The 600-odd other tweets that were sent following Benjamin’s hateful tweet also had nothing to with advocating not raping women, but were all about mocking, belittling and intimidating Phillips.
If you really can’t see that distinction, how about considering this statement:
“You’re not even a worthless tosser without a semblance of a moral compass or basic human decency. I wouldn’t even want to lock you up.”
Is that advocating that we shouldn’t incarcerate those pitiful individuals whose lives are so empty that they gain a great deal of pleasure out of intimidating others online, or is that a statement with a rather darker and more threatening tone?
The entire twitter exchange reached sufficient absurdity
You find it absurd that so many were outraged by Benjamin’s pitiful attempts to threaten Phillips?
Try, for one second — just for one second — to get beyond parroting the groundless, vacuous idiocy of Mr. Benjamin and his ilk, and think for yourself. Have the integrity to put yourself in Jess Phillips’ shoes for a moment or two. Try to empathise. It’s a basic human characteristic for all but the sociopaths among us.
And if, after that, you still don’t see the problem with Benjamin’s hatred and bile, then you’re not even a useless, worthless, fucking disgrace; you’re not even a gutless waste of humanity who lacks any compassion or empathy for others. You’re not even the lowest of the low.
Just pixels on a screen, remember. I’m just exercising my freedom of speech.
Don’t be so sensitive.
I’m sure [Benjamin] would be happy to have a discussion with you if you laid out your position. You both seem to be reasonable people.
That you’d refer to someone who said “I wouldn’t even rape you” to a rape victim – or to any woman — as “reasonable” is, for all of the reasons above, saddening and sickening.
From my point of view, Sargon is an advocate of freedom of speech and a staunch critic of the silencing tactics and one-sided policies employed by universities, students unions, the media, and even governments. While many his videos often contain sarcasm, mockery, and jokes, these tend to be there to add some emotional texture to his videos (otherwise most of them would probably just be him speaking in a constantly-frustrated/exasperated tone, given the topics he discusses).
“…universities, student unions, the media, and even governments”. Let’s remove the tinfoil helmet for a second and look at this beyond the usual tediously naive and uninformed rants from Mr. Benjamin. (As I’ve said once or twice before, it’s really important to try to think for oneself, instead of mindlessly parroting the views of others).
I am, for example, a strong critic of the concept of safe spaces in universities. As I also state in the “Preaching to the choir” post, I do not block, moderate, censor or edit comments here or elsewhere. (The only comments I remove are those that are clearly spam: “You are writing great. Please keep going. See my site…”). Moreover, I am firmly of the opinion that we do not “lock out” other points of view. We meet them head on, debate them, and show up the paucity of their arguments. (This is particularly straight-forward when it comes to Benjamin and his ilk). I discuss this at more length in a comment over at Steve Shives’ YT channel .
I am also, of course, an advocate of freedom of speech. But consider if I said the following to you..
You’re not even a worthless prick. You don’t even have the modicum of empathy to understand the extent to which Benjamin is devoid of basic human decency and compassion.
Do I have the right to say that?
Should I say that?
Well, I’ll leave you to mull that over. (And while you’re mulling it over, you might find it helpful to consider the central point Stewart Lee is making in the video below).
Edit (20 July 2016) — I’ve just realised that, given the inability of so many posting comments under that video to grasp the point Lee is making (“whooosh” is a massive understatement), and that some of Benjamin’s subscribers/followers clearly are not, um, over-endowed in terms of their critical thinking faculties, it’s probably best if I also embed another Stewart Lee video which makes the point somewhat less obliquely:
The Parable of the Seething Sargonite
And once, in those times, there was a devout and righteous Sargonite who was known across the land as falcoshin. He was truly blessed by the faith and loved the Lord Sargon with all his heart and soul.
Upon that land there came a heathen, an abominable unbeliever who blasphemed against the Lord Sargon. This made falcoshin sorrowful and vexed, and he vowed to force the heathen to recant his blasphemy. “Thou shalt not sully the name of the one true Sargon who teaches that freedom of speech and freedom of opinion are sacrosanct. Thou must accept the teachings of Sargon or thoust will feel His wrath”.
But no matter how falcoshin defended the Lord he loved so well, the unbeliever would not accept Sargon into his heart. The heathen spoke of empathy and respect for others, the very vilest blasphemy. But falcoshin stood steadfast because he knew his faith did not rest on human wisdom, but on Sargon’s power.
Yet falcoshin became ever angered by the heathen’s heresy and he said unto the blasphemer: “No, I shalt not listen to thy blasphemous words. I shalt not read thy postings. Thou must accept the teachings of Sargon. THOU MUST.”
Now, while falcoshin was especially blessed with the faith, he was a few sheep short of the flock in matters of the mind. And so he called out to the Lord Sargon: “Sargon, thou must smite the unbeliever. Bring down your tribe upon him and teach him the error of his ways”.
But falcoshin, in his rage, had forgotten the first and most blessed commandment of Sargon: “the true path of enlightenment is one of rational hard logic with no feels”.
And so the Lord Sargon did not bring down his tribe.
And falcoshin was saddened. And on the fifth day, he called out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Thus endeth the lesson.
 I’ve been a judge for the national Debating Matters competition for A-level students for quite a few years. Let’s just say that Mr. Benjamin’s debating skills are substantially less developed than those that were on display in any of the school debating competitions I had the pleasure to judge.
 Here’s the comment in full:
First, it’s great to meet your acquaintance, if only virtually! Thanks for responding so quickly and for the kind words. I can understand entirely where you’re coming from — and we agree so very much more than we disagree on so many issues — but I guess that I’m such a pig-headed, stubborn, argumentative sod I’m not willing to cede that ground to those whose only argument is “Oh. He blocked me”. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction!
More seriously, I think it’s dangerous to attempt to shut down debate. I understand entirely your point that those who leave vacuous (and vicious) abuse at your site, or direct it to you via your Twitter feed, aren’t debating, but the problem is that by locking them out we give a credibility to their abuse that just isn’t deserved. Those of us with a modicum of intelligence will see the abuse for what it is. Better to have it in the open and to highlight the paucity of their arguments than to censor them. And I know that’s easy for me to say — I’ve had a tiny, tiny fraction (at most) of the abuse you’ve had to receive.
There are two examples from the UK that might help explain my position (one relatively recent, the other not so recent.)
1. An obnoxious, hateful (and hate-filled), publicity-hungry hack who goes by the name of Katie Hopkins — that she referred to refugees as “cockroaches” tells you all you need to know — was a member of a panel at Brunel University last year. The students there coordinated a protest whereby they waited until Hopkins was introduced, stood up en masse, turned round so that their backs were to Hopkins, and filed out of the lecture theatre. I think this was precisely the wrong thing to do, especially in a university setting. They should have debated Hopkins and demolished her bigoted, ignorant views.
2. Back in 2009, there was a great deal of controversy when Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, was invited onto a weekly BBC political debate show called “Question Time”. (There’s a Wiki article here:
Many argued that Griffin shouldn’t have been invited on. I was instead of the opinion that it was precisely the right thing to do. And in the end, Griffin’s performance on QT was embarrassing. He damaged his reputation and that of the BNP irreparably — see the section headed “Other reactions and analyses” in that Wiki article.
Much better to let them be hoist by their own petard then make them martyrs for “free speech”.
All the very best, Philip