Penn State’s Turning Point USA Chapter To Host Controversial YouTuber Who Jokes About Rape For Censorship Discussion
Penn State’s chapter of Turning Point USA will host controversial YouTubers Sargon of Akkad and Hunter Avallone for a discussion on internet censorship and “many more topics,” titled “The Censored” in 112 Kern Building Wednesday, October 23.
The event has sparked controversy surrounding previous comments from both speakers regarding rape and transgender rights, among other topics. Turning Point USA Penn State president and campus organizer Sean Semanko defended the pair of speakers and his organization’s goal of exposing students to “dissenting” viewpoints after the Penn State College Democrats released a statement condemning the chapter and event.
Carl Benjamin, who publishes his content under the name of Sargon of Akkad in reference to a Mesopotamian emperor, is a member of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party and a former European election candidate with just under one million subscribers on YouTube.
He is known for his anti-feminist views, use of racist language, and rape jokes in now-removed YouTube videos. He was also often doused with milkshakes on the campaign trail last spring. His videos feature man-on-the-street debates with protestors and discussions of topics ranging from anti-political correctness to recently, Jeffrey Epstein’s death.
Benjamin has been banned from Patreon and Twitter and has been stripped of his ability to earn money from his YouTube channel, though he can still post content.
Avallone, whose bio describes him as “the guy you love to hate,” is also a Twitter-banned YouTuber who has more than 657,000 subscribers. His 2016 video “The Truth About Transgenders” generated extensive backlash. He reportedly said in the now-removed video: “Stop commending transgenders…It’s a mental illness, not heroism.” His most-watched video, “Why I Hate ‘Fat Acceptance,'” currently has 3.7 million views.
The pair will “offer a content creator’s perspective on what social media suppression means for them and their audience” according to the organization’s event page.
The Penn State chapter hosted Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Donald Trump Jr., and journalist Kimberly Guilfoyle for a discussion on the Trump administration, the Mueller Report, and campus conservatism last April.
Semanko said that the topic was important because many “important” political voices have been removed for reasons such as using hate speech from tech platforms that allow their voices to be heard. The removal of content, he argues, eliminates important context and shapes opinions of audiences.
“This (censorship) is going to effect elections,” he said “There are big companies that have a lot of power and a lot of control over what we think, how we react, and how we vote, and we need to think about that.”
“The Censored” is an attempt to create a dialogue and conversation on campus surrounding new opinions.
“The intention is to have people hear different opinions they probably don’t hear a lot on this campus because conservative opinions, right-leaning opinions, dissenting opinions, are not popular here and they’re not heard as often as they should be,” said Semanko, who noted those who wish to shut these “conservative” opinions down “need to be more exposed” to them.
“If they really can’t handle an opinion, the real world’s gonna slap them real hard in the face when they see what the real world’s like,” he said.
Penn State College Democrats released a statement condemning the event and specifically Benjamin, who it described as a “far-right provocateur, infamous for targeted harassment of marginalized communities.”
“We have no intention to prevent Benjamin from speaking on campus, nor do we intend to prevent our peers, faculty and staff, or any member of the community from attending,” the statement reads. “Benjamin is unequivocally a threat to women, members of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and people of color.”
The statement also called for the university to revoke Turning Point’s charter.
Semanko called the demand “pathetic” and “anti-free speech.”
“[The Penn State College Democrats] obviously know nothing about him. They didn’t research him, because they would know that he’s not far-right,” Semanko said, calling Benjamin a non-radical moderate and citing videos in which Benjamin has reportedly taken “political compass tests.
“I don’t know why they’re scared of Sargon, like, he’s not even controversial. Ninety-nine percent of his videos, you listen to him, he’s just a calm guy giving his opinion on British politics and American politics.”
One specific Benjamin comment that the statement addressed was when he said that “with enough pressure, (he) might cave” and rape Labour Member of Parliament Jess Phillips, after she discussed threats of sexual assault on Twitter, in a video he uploaded to YouTube. He originally said that he “wouldn’t even rape” her in a tweet.
“Sargon was trying to make a point in that she would take even non-threats as threats,” Semanko said of the original tweet, claiming that Phillips had originally suggested the censorship of threats online. He defended Benjamin’s additional comments in the video as a joke.
“If you watch the full video, it’s on BitChute, you can tell [Benjamin is] clearly joking, it’s literally a blooper reel, and he literally puts in the description something along the lines of ‘this is a joke, Buzzfeed,’ because he knows the media will take him out of context,” he said. “Everything was a joke. Everything he said in it was a joke. If people are taking that seriously, they’re not understanding what he does, he jokes around a lot.”
Semanko interpreted the College Democrats’ statement as taking Benjamin’s comments as a literal threat.
“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone with hundreds of thousands of follwers to literally threaten to rape somebody,” he said.
Semanko said that College Democrats and several other political organizations that sponsored the statement have refused to debate his club.
When a Sky News reporter confronted him about his comments, Benjamin brought up an instance in which Phillips laughed at the prospect of debating men’s issues in parliament. When the reporter asked if it was acceptable to joke about raping a woman, Benjamin replied “100 percent, deal with.” He defended his comments in another television interview by saying that joking about the subject allowed victims of sexual violence to “take the power back” over their experience.
When asked via text if he agreed with Benjamin’s statement that it was acceptable to joke about a woman being raped, Samenko replied: “I think everything can be joked about. The only thing that matters is that the joke is actually funny. Comedy is sometimes the greatest relief from the serious world we live in, and we shouldn’t be afraid to laugh at ourselves.”
Doors open for the discussion at 6:30 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m. Students will have priority access, and a ticket does not guarantee access to the discussion.
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