“12 Rules for Life” author Jordan B. Peterson is fed up with the questionable practices of tech giants when it comes to honoring the idea of free speech.
The recent decision by crowdfunding platform Patreon to remove popular YouTuber Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, may have been a free-speech tipping point for the clinical psychologist. Mr. Peterson and fellow pundit Dave Rubin of YouTube “The Rubin Report” announced plans to build a “better alternative” for intellectuals and content creators.
“We’ve been engaged in lengthy series of email exchanges with all of the people in our network, and no one is happy at all with what’s been happening,” Mr. Peterson said a joint video released Sunday. “We’ve been determining what our options are. We looked at Subscribe Star, but it looks like PayPal decided to cut funding out from them.”
At issue is Patreon’s decision to kill the account of Mr. Benjamin in early December after its staff was made aware of a guest appearance on a small YouTube channel 10 months ago.
The social commentator took an epithet favored by his racist critics, used their definition for the sake of argument, and said they were acting like white versions of the word.
“I didn’t think that Patreon would go and say that their terms of service simply don’t matter, that they would just judge me on my brand, which has always been politically incorrect, and then now instead of some point instead of the last four years, decide to get rid of me,” Mr. Benjamin said Dec. 14. “There were so many different people affected by this over a vast swath of the political spectrum. It’s not just people who supported me who were bothered. It’s people who are generally interested in taking part in the political dialogue.”
Mr. Benjamin has said that Patreon, besides failing to put his words into proper context, is violating its own terms of service since his appearance was never posted on the platform.
“I think we should just make it very clear for everybody how significant what happened to Carl Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad, is,” Mr. Rubin said Sunday. “It doesn’t matter what you think of him or whether you agree or any of that stuff. The banning of him for doing something that was not on the Patreon platform, that wasn’t even done on his channel because of a word he said where he was using the word against the ‘alt-right’ or the neo-Nazis or whatever you want to call them, is a massive move of that line of what’s acceptable.”
Mr. Rubin also noted that Patreon’s decision is at odds with comments its CEO, Jack Conte, made while on his show.
The platform is supposed to only hold people accountable for “Manifest Observable Behavior,” on the platform.
“‘M.O.B.’ You can’t make that up. There’s a real beauty there,” Mr. Rubin deadpanned.
“I’ve been working on a system to allow authors and other people who engage publicly on intellectual issues to interact more effectively with their readers and viewers and listeners,” Mr. Peterson said. “It occurred to me this week that with a bit of modification that that can serve exactly the function that we’re hoping it could serve. What we’re going to try and do as fast as we possibly can is to set this system up on a subscriber model that’s analogous to Patreon. It will have a bunch of additional features, which I don’t want to talk about right now, and I don’t want to overpromise because the system is new.”
“We going to try and get that rolled out as fast as we possibly can,” he continued. “Dave and I are planning to do this as soon as we can do this in an intelligent way. … We have not been sleeping on this front, man. People are trying to figure out what to do so this stops happening.