Category Archives: Politics

Podcast: Count Dankula, Comedy and Free Speech

Last week, a YouTuber known as Count Dankula was found guilty, in a Scottish court, of being “grossly offensive”. He had published a video of his girlfriend’s pet pug doing Nazi salutes in response to anti-semitic remarks. I argue that attack on comedy are a sign that free speech is under grave threat, and that this trial has done nothing to make Jews, or other minorities, safer.

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You can also listen to this podcast on YouTube.

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Jerry in Porn Debate on BBC Ulster TV

On Wednesday 7th March, I appeared in a debate on Nolan Live, one of Northern Ireland’s most popular TV shows. My opponent, Mary Sharpe, comes from an anti-porn organisation that (falsely) claims expertise in neuroscience.

The debate starts at 46:50. Click here to view on the BBC website.

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Why Don’t Women Hunt? Sex Work: The New Civil Rights Struggle

I wrote this article 5 years ago, as I began to realise the extent of anti-science attitudes that were rising on the left, especially regarding gender behaviours. Men and women make different choices – not because of “Patriarchy”, but biology. This isn’t to say, of course, that social pressures don’t also change and exaggerate differences. But to claim that ALL differences in gender behaviours are “socially constructed” is, quite simply, a myth.

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Why Don’t Women Hunt? Sex Work: The New Civil Rights Struggle

Recent debates about sex and sexuality, in the context of moral panics and attempts at censorship, have revealed a lack of understanding among “experts” of the core subject itself: human sexuality. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, given how taboo sex has been – and still is, for many.

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Both left and right have found themselves equally drawn into the panic, each one imposing its own values on sexuality. Meanwhile, scientific understanding of the subject develops rapidly, and undermines the assumptions and dogma of both sides. The left rejoiced when it was discovered that homosexuality is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom. This demonstrated both that homosexuality is natural, evolved behaviour (rather than a modern-day “sin”) and that sex is about far more than procreation: it appears to have social and health purposes too.

But new research also undermines left-wing dogma. Many on the left are as keen to demonise prostitution as the right are to attack homosexuality. The existence of prostitution is blamed on “Capitalism” or the ethereal “Patriarchy”. And yet, we are discovering that the sex trade too has its origins deep back in nature. Conservatives on both sides of the political spectrum are keen to paint the animal kingdom as “innocent”, while we humans have somehow polluted and twisted our idea of sexuality in modern times. It is a deeply conservative view of the world – that somehow our ancestors were pure and unsullied, while modern society is dirty and tainted.

It becomes increasingly clear that all widespread sexual behaviours – including homosexuality, masturbation, prostitution and rape – are inheritances from our animal past. That we are still struggling to accept the first three, and eliminate the fourth, is a measure of how young our civilisation really is.

The evolution of gender created a massive imbalance in nature. Males (of any species) are designed to create vast numbers of offspring, while females can have relatively few. In humans, men have been known to father hundreds of children (and theoretically could father thousands), while a woman can manage – at great cost – a few dozen. The same imbalance exists across all sexual species, both plant and animal.

Economics take over. Such an imbalance of supply and demand will have consequences. A fertile human egg has huge value to a male, while sperm (as any young man or woman can tell you) are so common as to be almost worthless. Masturbation is one way in which the imbalance can be corrected, and this, too, is common in nature.

The anthropologist and author of some wonderful books, Jared Diamond, published a small book called Why Is Sex Fun, featuring a chapter titled Why Do Men Hunt? Here’s the spoiler: it’s not for nutrition. There are easier and safer ways to get good nutrition from plants and small animals. Men (in early societies) hunt because they can trade the meat for sex. Diamond shakes his head at the way in which successful hunters that he has studied, in tribal societies, use their catch to spread their seed around the village.

Diamond looked at the male perspective, but the corollary is: Why Don’t Women Hunt? I put a similar question to a “liberal” in a Twitter discussion, and they told me it was because The Patriarchy oppresses women, making them stay home and cook. And yet hunting is hard and dangerous. Cooking in the village is not. Similarly, in all modern societies, men take on the most dangerous jobs: soldier, fisherman, security, construction, late-night taxi driving, etc. Men have lower life expectancies than women, partly because they are far more likely to die from violence or accidents. Could The Patriarchy have its wires crossed? Why is it sending men off to do the nastiest, most dangerous jobs?

Just as the answer to Why Do Men Hunt? is: to increase their chances of having sex, so the answer to Why Don’t Women Hunt? is: because they don’t have to. Sex is the oldest commodity of them all, and female sex is far more valuable than male. The first commercial transaction between two humans was almost certainly a gift of food from a man to a woman in exchange for sex: people had nothing else to trade in pre-civilised times.

This isn’t human behaviour. It’s sexual behaviour. In an experiment in 2008, an economist introduced monkeys to the concept of currency, and they swiftly responded by inventing prostitution (to the great surprise of the researcher).

So how would men respond to this unfairness of nature? It’s obvious in hindsight: men would seize ownership of female sexuality and take it for themselves. The Bible is full of laws to enforce just this: laws which make a daughter the property of her father, to be sold in marriage to a man. Laws which punish rape as a property crime against a father, not a crime of violence against a girl. Female fertility, humankind’s most valuable possession, was stolen by men.

And now, beginning in the past couple of centuries, women are reclaiming their bodies. As women take back control of their own fertility – via their right to sleep with who they want, their right to contraception and abortion, and, still most contentiously, their right to sell sex – they have created a shock through a male-dominated economic order that is many centuries old.

Those who cling to the old order attack sluts, contraception, abortion and prostitution, not because they want to protect women, but because they want to restrain female economic power. They claim that these things weaken, rather than strengthen, women, and (in order to protect the poor, delicate things) they must be outlawed.

Progressives claimed the right to “sluttishness”, to contraception and abortion in the last great culture clashes of the 1960s. Today, front-line battles are being fought by sex workers against prejudice, hate and stigma. Conservatives are manning the barricades against them – and many of these conservatives have adopted liberal language, falsely linking prostitution to trafficking, and claiming to be saving, rather than attacking sex workers. This “saving fallen women” mantra is, of course, an old trick, often employed to keep women in their place.

This is the civil rights battle of the 21st century, and it demarcates the modern line between conservatism and progressivism.

London Event: Jerry Barnett Speaking at Jordan Peterson Discussion Group

Event alert: Tuesday 27th February, London.

I’ll be speaking about the Porn Panic (the new war on sexual freedom and free expression) to the “Jordan Peterson Gentlemen’s Philosophy Meetup”, tomorrow evening. The event appears to be popular, so please RSVP if you intend to come.

The event isn’t directly related to Jordan Peterson, but was set up by some of his admirers. For those who don’t know, he’s a professor of Psychology and author who has recently gained notoriety for his defence of free speech and evidence-based discussion. His recent, bewildering, interview with Cathy Newman for Channel 4 News is worth watching: Newman appeared to repeatedly attempt to twist Peterson’s words and cast him (inaccurately) as an opponent of gender equality. The discussion – on why men and women make different choices and have differing outcomes – illustrates the cutting edge of science versus dogma – the new Darwinism vs Creationism. The fact that science is now regarded with suspicion by the political and media mainstream has deeply worrying implications, and is one of the issues I touch on in my book.

I’ve also created a Patreon campaign to help support my campaigning work. If you support my campaign against censorship and sexual repression, a small monthly contribution will help me create more content and speak at more events. I think we live in dangerous times – if you agree, please help me spread the word.

Podcast: Stripper Activism

This podcast contains two interviews I did in 2012, with “Shelley” and “Edie”, two strippers-turned-activists. In hindsight, these interviews are important, because they mark the point when a small feminist morality movement began to grow. In Edie’s words, the strippers were “the canaries in the coalmine”. The attacks on strip clubs may have seemed irrelevant to most people, but they were followed by far bigger attacks on free expression in the subsequent years. You can also find this podcast on YouTube.

Porn Panic! Attacked on “Level Up” Facebook Group

Thanks to a supporter who contacted me via my Facebook page, I discovered that my book Porn Panic! has been briefly discussed on a Facebook feminist group called Level Up. Which is nice – except that the discussion is deeply inaccurate, and handily illustrates some of the deep  problems within the identity-obsessed left that my book identifies.

I should point out here (to anyone poised to suggest that my taking issue with feminism is “sexist”) that the book has been well reviewed by female reviewers and readers, including this lovely tweet received today:

So anyway, the Level Up thread (shown in this screenshot) begins by complaining that Porn Panic! conflates “objecting to the objectification of female bodies with censorship” (followed by a sad/angry face).

It then proceeds with a series of increasingly wrong claims. I applied to join the group in order to respond (politely, of course!) but it’s looking like my application is being overlooked. Hence this post.

Having been branded everything from a Nazi to a misogynist and (this week’s favourite insult) an alt-right sympathiser, I think it becomes ever more important to correct false claims.

Do I conflate objecting about objectification with censorship?

Yes, pretty much. Not directly, but by pointing out that claims of “objectification” invariably come along with “something must be done!” demands. The deeper point is that objectification itself is a dodgy concept, suggesting that one woman can demand another woman’s image be removed, simply on the basis they’re both women. So a model doesn’t have a right to work, because feminists demand a right for no woman, anywhere, to be “objectified”. It’s nonsense, of course – the only person who has a right to decide where her image is seen is the person who owns the body in the image, not random strangers. “Objectification” has become an excuse for bullies to attack the right of women to self-expression.

Do I claim feminism is a driving force for censorship?

Yes, very much so. The poster complains that  I equate censors with “feminists complaining about sexism”. That’s not very accurate, except in the sense that some feminists don’t know the difference between sexism and sexual expression. So when a feminist says “sexualised music videos are sexist and something should be done!” then really they’re saying “erotic images of women are harmful and must be censored”. Porn Panic! documents many real-life examples of this behaviour.

Am I connected with Spiked?

A commenter responds: “A quick google suggests that the author is connected with the vile brigade of Spiked”. Quick googling has replaced genuine research for many people online. I can only assume she found a review of my book in Spiked. But then, the book has also been reviewed (favourably) by feminist bloggers, and nobody’s suggested this connects me to feminism.

Are Spiked vile? “Vile” is one of those words that identitarians (including feminists) seem to throw around with abandon. Spiked is an interesting publication, with roots in the far-left Revolutionary Communist Party, but currently is a blend of liberal/libertarian and other viewpoints. I support the excellent Spiked defence of free speech, which is desperately needed in these censorious times. Spiked is refreshingly radical on other issues too, though we part company on issues like Brexit (I’m a staunch remoaner).

Have Zero Books gone all libertarian?

The commentor goes on to say: “…Zero Books which used to be a very interesting publisher has been literally taken over by the Spiked/Institute of Ideas crowd and they seem to publish little else than their questionable ‘libertarian’ stuff…”

I’m incredibly proud to have been published by Zero Books. They’re a left-wing imprint that (unlike much of the left) hasn’t been gripped by authoritarian or identitarian viewpoints. My publisher Douglas Lain seems to be one of the few Marxists left in the world who knows what Marxism is; and though I no longer call myself a Marxist, it’s important to differentiate between Marx’s ideas and the claptrap spouted by most “Marxists”. I’m also an ex-leftie left distraught at the atrociously reactionary state of the political left, so Zero Books is my ideal publisher. Unlike many on the left, ZB looks for intelligent viewpoints from many sides for their podcast and YouTube channel. They have not “literally” been taken over by Spiked, Institute of Ideas (which is linked to Spiked) or libertarians.

Freeze Peach is bad, m’kay?

The poster replies: “Eurgh yeah I’ve seen way too much of Spiked moaning about freeze peach on university campuses. They can’t even be bothered to find out what freedom of speech entails” – which is pretty hilarious, as she goes on to say “…no platforming is people demonstrating freedom of action!” (No Platform being one of the most blatant forms of censorship now prevalent on the left).

“Freeze Peach” is a way of sneering at free speech that has become fashionable among lefties (the fact they need to sneer at free speech  at all is revealing). Ironically, I even mention the term in my book:

Free speech, once the bedrock of liberalism, has – quite literally – become a dirty word on the political left. For a while in 2014, it even became fashionable for some online activists to mock the defence of free speech as FREEZEPEACH, using the argument that free speech cannot be allowed while some groups remain oppressed. The argument is a circular one, because in the swamp of identity politics, some groups are deemed to be permanently oppressed, by definition. So the argument goes: all women are oppressed; all men are privileged; therefore men cannot have free speech, because they use it to oppress women.”

I’d welcome the chance to discuss these points further via the Level Up group or elsewhere. You know where to find me!

Male Strippers Rescued from East London Venue

We welcome back stripper, activist and blogger Stacey Clare, who reports that Islington council has bravely “rescued” some male strippers from being objectified and exploited in a London venue.

The men of Adonis Cabaret have been saved from a lifetime of exploitation at Club Aquarium!

Last weekend, on Saturday 23rd of September, licensing officials from Islington Council attended a male strip show, which was found to be in breach of local by-laws. The Adonis Cabaret, a “male stripper troupe”, who were resident at a well-know nightclub on Old St. in London for several years, were found to have been exploiting men every weekend, forcing them to flash their genitals for the titillation of hundreds of women.

Men have been earning thousands of pounds from stripping, often using the money to support their steroid and cosmetic surgery addictions. Others have been spending their earnings on lavish lifestyles, posting photos from luxury holidays and expensive shopping trips on social media. One male stripper posed with his mum on a yacht, drinking champagne. It is estimated that male strippers earn on average £2k from gyrating their hips.

During their premises inspection, the licensing officials sat all the way through a two-hour long performance, right up to the very end, in order to catch the ensemble flouting a local licensing regime that forbids full nudity, as they waved their willies in the direction of the audience. Licensing laws were changed in 2009 to protect the public from the spread of an industry that is responsible for modern slavery and human trafficking.

Club Aquarium, famous for it’s indoor swimming pool and late license, may seem like any other conventional venue, but within it’s subterranean walls it hid a dark secret. Just as one would stare at underwater creatures on a trip to SeaWorld, customers at Club Aquarium are encouraged to view men’s bodies as a commodity. There is nothing to alert unsuspecting passers-by to the nature of this seedy underworld; any normal, healthy person on foot would be fooled into thinking it was a regular discotheque. But every Saturday night drunken hoards of women arrived in their hundreds, joining parties of gay men to queue up for their seats at the so-called cabaret.

The Adonis Cabaret website is a lurid display of oiled up flesh, men pose in degrading outfits to be sexually objectified by the female gaze and gays. “The UK’s Hottest Ladies night” is how the men, aged between 18 and 50, are touted online. Their “unbeatable fun party package” includes “free yummy buffet…the sexiest lads…interactive variety acts…Sing-a-long”. Commercial sexual exploitation of men has become as normal as a Karaoke bar or All-You-Can-Eat smorgasbord. On arrival to the venue young frightened looking men with rippling chests provide a meet-and-greet; a chance for the consumers of these so-called “services” to grope and fondle the “entertainers”, all under the guise of taking a selfie.

When the show starts the mood among the audience turns to a more predatory atmosphere. Where the men were earlier viewed as sex-objects, they now become veritable pieces of meat, to whom the women in the rows of seats feel entitled. Men are pushed onstage by a thuggish, so-called drag queen, and are made to perform sexualized dance routines, entirely for the pleasure of the onlookers. The finale of each show, a flash of engorged genitals, is the ultimate form of sexual objectification – a spectator sport for the mostly female viewers of this so-called entertainment.

For the attendees it’s all bit of light-hearted fun right? An excuse to ogle at fit blokes while they appease the audience with a tantalising striptease. But the human cost of this type of entertainment goes largely ignored. New evidence revealed recently found that more than a half a million men, mainly immigrants, are working in the sex industry and in brothels and have been trafficked or coerced in some way or other.

One Eastern European man using the name ‘Mike’ said, in broken English “I was working out in the gym one day, when a nice friendly guy approached me. He said I could get work as a dancer in the UK and earn thousands. He was really nice to me, and I trusted him. He paid for my flights and brought me to the country, it was really like a dream. Next thing I knew I was put in a room with all these massive guys in thongs. Their muscles were bulging. They gave me some fake tan and some porn, and told me to get myself hard; showed me how to use a rubber band as a cock-ring to keep myself erect. Suddenly I was on stage, about a thousand women were screaming and grabbing at me, tearing my clothes off. My life is ruined. Things will never be the same now.”

The normalisation of viewing men as sex objects has had a devastating affect on the locality as women leaving the show have sexually harassed normal, healthy men passing by the club. “I’m too afraid to walk down Old St. now” said one 26 year-old man, who preferred not to be named. “I feel intimidated and fearful at night, it’s like the streets are not safe for me anymore”.

The male strip clubs are a growth industry in the UK, worth an estimated £10bn. However, researchers say that the cost to our so-called economy is probably greater. For now, the men of Adonis Cabaret can breathe a sigh of relief; having been released from their gruelling routine of working one day per week, they now have the freedom to figure out how to pay next months rent by going back to normal lives, working a 60 hour week on minimum wage. 

Vote Civil Liberties!

Almost everyone in politics says they support civil liberties, but for most, this is mere lip service. There are tragically few civil libertarians in Parliament (most of those that were there previously were Liberal Democrats, who were largely wiped out in 2010). Neither of the large parties have strong records in this area. Labour’s last flirtation with civil liberty was under the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins in the 1960s, and he abandoned the party in the 1980s. The left and right wings of politics are almost indistinguishable on this measure. They’re distinguished by economic views, not by a belief in civil liberties.

Today we face new and fundamental attacks on our civil liberties. And yet, as the political spectrum has polarised to left and right, liberalism is at a low ebb. Just as a vigorous defence of civil liberties has become essential, so the political class – and political activists – have lost interest in civil liberties.

Theresa May, an authoritarian Home Secretary turned authoritarian Prime Minister, has overseen deep attacks on civil liberties. Of greatest concern are two new laws:

The Digital Economy Act (2017)

The Digital Economy Act, under the guise of “protecting children from online porn”, has introduced the most powerful system of censorship in the democratic world, which will kick into action in 2018. As often predicted on this blog, no sooner had the law been passed than Theresa May was licking her lips at the prospect of extending further and further. With almost no coverage in the press, we are about to lose access to the Internet as we knew it.

The Investigatory Powers Act (2016)

The IPA (aka the Snoopers’ Charter) effectively removes our right to online privacy. Theresa May’s early attempts to introduce this law were blocked by the Liberal Democrats while in coalition (we should thank the Lib Dems for this act, and many others, but the endless obsession with tuition fees eclipses their many successes in power). It is a draconian piece of legislation that has no place in a democracy. As the US whistle-blower and liberty campaigner Edward Snowden tweeted:

Brexit

The coming Brexit only compounds these problems, removing us from EU law that protects our online rights. It is likely that both of these laws could be challenged, if we Remained. But the British people, in their infinite wisdom, have opted to Leave. And the likely economic decline inherent in Brexit will only distract further from civil liberties: freedom is a luxury for the secure and the well-fed.

Where is the Opposition?

The good news is that there is a surge of political interest among the young. The bad news is that this enthusiasm has been thrown behind a conservative-left clique with no great interest in civil liberties. As a result, the election debate has been dominated by the usual economic arguments, and civil liberties have been swept aside. We end up in the strange situation where both main parties have swung leftward. Economically, the Tories have snatched the centre-ground abandoned by the Corbynites, while Labour, lacking a coherent analysis of economic problems or solutions, has become obsessed with nationalising stuff (an old fascination of the left which which is unlikely to resolve any problems).

But both party leaders are authoritarian by nature. Corbyn may (correctly) attack the British love-in with Saudi Arabia, but he has less to say about other regimes. Indeed, he has expressed strong support for the socialist regime in Venezuela (and has nothing to say about the suspension of democracy, the shootings of protesters, or the steep rise in poverty there). He is also muted in his criticism of Iran (and has pocketed money from a state-owned TV company). In short, we’ve returned to cold war politics, where both left and right are comfortable with state repression and murder. They agree that repression is OK – they just differ in who the bad guys are.

Corbyn, mistakenly viewed by many of his followers as a progressive, has put up no opposition whatsoever to May’s anti-liberty putsch. The Digital Economy Act was passed with Labour support. Shamefully, Corbyn’s Labour chose to abstain on the Snoopers Charter vote, rather than join the Liberal Democrats in voting against. They allowed it to be passed into law without challenge. Furthermore, Labour’s manifesto makes no mention to any changes to these laws. They will remain, whoever wins this election.

And as for Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn comes from the anti-EU wing of Labour politics, and has never hidden his euroscepticism (or at least, didn’t hide it until 2015, when it would have hampered his election as leader). Of all the party leaders, he is second only to UKIP’s Paul Nuttall in his enthusiasm for Brexit. And yet, many of his followers are pro-EU, and apparently unaware of his views on the matter, or of the role he played in quietly helping the Leave campaign to victory. Like the Tories, Labour has committed to ending free movement in the EU: Corbynites think this attitude is racist in Theresa May, but ignore it in their Chosen One.

There appear to be two Jeremy Corbyns: the europhobic 1970s throwback I’ve followed since he was elected in 1983 (I was a teenage leftie at the time), and the imaginary one his supporters believe in. Just as in the Monty Python classic, the Life of Brian, Jeremy Corbyn is their Messiah, and they won’t let the real person cloud their enthusiasm for the saviour they imagine him to be.

Vote Civil Liberties!

There is a clear choice in this election, but it’s not between Labour and the Tories. The line is between statist, pro-Brexit parties (Labour and the Conservatives) and internationalist, civil liberties parties (the Liberal Democrats and the Greens). The SNP appear to lie somewhere in the middle. The Liberal Democrats have followed up their opposition to the Snoopers Charter with a commitment to repeal it (you won’t find such a commitment in the Labour Manifesto). And only the Lib Dems tried to oppose the introduction of the “porn censor” within the Digital Economy Act.

On Europe, the Lib Dems have also committed to fight for free movement in the EU (LabCon have committed to end it), and have promised a second referendum on the Brexit deal, including an option to Remain.

There is, of course, no chance of them winning this election. But, whether the election is won by authoritarian bullies of left or right, we desperately need more civil libertarians in Parliament, and there are almost none in the main parties. The Lib Dems and the Greens deserve support for flying the civil liberties, pro-EU flag. Please consider lending them your support.

Jerry Barnett, Lianne Young, Vikki Dark and Gail Dines in Porn Debate on Tell Vanessa TV Show

So here’s me, squished in between two ex pornstars, Lianne Young and Vikki Dark (now an anti-porn campaigner), to debate the new Digital Economy Bill (now passed into law as the Digital Economy Act). This is one of the perks of my campaigning work. The venue was the west London TV studios of Tell Vanessa, a current affairs discussion programme. The debate is the first thing in the programme. It’s followed at about 9:30 (if you can stomach it) by a Skype interview with anti-porn zealot – or should that be impartial academic porn researcher? – Gail Dines.

Lianne and I both take an anti-censorship position. Vikki and Gail take a pro-censorship one. You can also listen to my podcast interview with Vikki Dark here.