This week I interviewed Toby Young, a British journalist who became the subject of a media feeding frenzy two years ago after being appointed to an education committee by Theresa May. Within a few weeks he’d lost all of his five board positions and jobs on various education committees and found himself depersoned by the mob.
Toby, who is Associate Editor of Quillette in London, has written very movingly about what that was like:
Being publicly shamed is a brutal, shocking experience that strips you of your dignity and I’ll always look back on it as one of the low points of my life.
“I know from my own experience that one of the hardest things about being mobbed is the feeling of isolation, of being a social pariah.”
He talks aout the “offence archaeologists” who trolled through his 30-year journalism career cherry-picking sentences and phrases they could take out of context to cast him in a bad light, turning even former friends against him:
“That’s one of the most disheartening things about being shunned and cast out by your colleagues—the people you hoped would stick up for you join the lynch mob along with everyone else.”
As Toby explains, what’s really devastating is people start to believe what the mob is saying about you:
“One of the reasons social media mobbings are so effective at destroying a person’s reputation is that they create the impression that the views of the targeted individual are completely abhorrent to the vast majority of people.
“That’s one of the worst aspects of seeing your name dragged through the mud—the fear that people you know and care about are going to believe some of the terrible things people are saying about you and the feeling that there’s nothing you can do about it”.
Here’s the video I made with Toby, a long talk where he first describes just what happened to him.
It would be great if you could help me circulate this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lOc6no8RsQ
Some of his stories are very funny indeed, as his long journalist career provided rich fodder for the outrage mobs, who managed to dig up some hilarious material which they claimed were offensive.
Introducing the Free Speech Union.
Now Toby is now fighting back. He’s started the Free Speech Union, an organisation to stand up for free speech rights.
Here’s what the organisation is promising its members:
If you think there’s a risk you’ll be penalised for exercising your legal right to free speech, whether it’s in the workplace or the ublic square, you need the protection of the Free Speech Union. How might we protect you?
- If you find yourself being targeted by a digital outrage mob on social media for having exercised your legal right to free speech, we will mobilise an army of supporters.
- If a petition is launched calling for you to be fired, when you’ve done nothing other than exercise your legal right to free speech, we’ll organise a counter-petition.
- If you’re no-platformed by a university—a feminist professor who challenges trans orthodoxy, for instance—we’ll encourage you to go to law and organise a crowdfunding campaign to pay your costs.
- If newspaper columnists and broadcasting pundits start attacking you for dissenting from orthodox views and opinions, we could get our allies in the media to come to your defence.
- If you’re punished by your employer because you’ve exercised your lawful right to free speech, we’ll do our best to provide you with legal assistance.
I hope many of you will think about joining up. It would be great if we had large numbers of people here, as well as overseas, to support people who are under attack.
Two extraordinary female lawyers
Finally, I have two videos to recommend to you. Firstly, this fascinating interview with Harvey Weinstein’s outspoken female lawyer as she explains the job of a defence lawyer to an incredulous feminist journalist: https://youtu.be/foT7VtupDBs
And here’s a Tedx Talk from a passionate female lawyer from Nevada talking about what she has learnt about fatherhood from representing men in Family Court battles. Don’t be put off by the nonsense about barbie dolls and Easter eggs at the start, nor her slick, tough cookie manner. She’s a woman who understands what’s happening to men. Hang in there until she starts to lay it on the line – you’ll see why she’s worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlSwsE22nX0
That’s it for now. Cheers, Tina
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