On Channel 4 News last night I discussed the denial of American “pick-up artist” Julien Blanc’s visa. He can’t enter the UK to give men seminars on how to attract women, thanks to an internet campaign and some horrendously poorly-informed people such as Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt, with whom I was debating the issue. Is it me, or is this an illiberal, sinister development in an already censorious climate?
We love banning things, don’t we? In order to advertise our upstanding moral virtue we allow toxic horrors such as the feminist outcry over scientist Matt Taylor’s harmless shirt to go unpunished. We ban talks at universities–universities!–in case we cause “offence”. Bogus “security” concerns are wheeled out everywhere you look to restrict the public’s right to free expression and shut down debate that the prevailing authoritarian consensus deems undesirable.
Is it too much to suggest that we’re experiencing one of the most acute, dysfunctional attacks on free speech in recent memory? I don’t think so. Burt likened Blanc to Islamic hate preachers whom we keep out of the country because their behaviour is “not conducive to the public good” in Britain. Now, look: Blanc seems like an unpleasant individual. I wouldn’t attend one of his seminars. But is there any basis for denying him a visa? I think not.
Even the comparison is ridiculous. It shows a lot about how little words like “security” have come to mean and how debased the language has become when we talk about who is a threat to our society. It also betrays some fundamentally broken priorities. We were battling for twelve years to get Abu Qatada deported to Jordan, but it took less than a week for the Twitter offence brigade to ban Julien Blanc.
Are we going to start kicking people out of the country as well, if we decide we don’t like their drunken pick-up lines, while we continue to tolerate people like Anjem Choudary? Blanc is a clown; Choudary incites terrorism in his cabal of supporters and went on Newsnight to defend Drummer Lee Rigby’s killers. I mean, the situation is absurd.
And what a poor opinion of men we now have, if we believe that attending a seminar about how to attract women is going to turn them all into rapists? Forgive me, but I don’t think sexual assaulters and rapists need tips on their craft from the likes of Julien Blanc. Nor do I think there’s any reason to suppose Dapper Laughs–another victim of this new, Mary Whitehouse-esque prudishness–is responsible for his viewers’ behaviour.
Is it any wonder men are looking for novel ways to approach women? The feminist establishment can’t handle men who suggest there might be another way for the sexes to communicate. I know young men who are terrified to even approach a girl in a bar for fear of being ridiculed, or branded “sexist” for some imaginary, perceived infraction of the Feminist Rule Book.
There’s also a giant elephant in the room when women are speaking in debates like this, I’m sorry to say, which is that the pick-up artists who make the news, such as Blanc, and another well-known author called Roosh V, are very attractive men who make no secret of the fact that they enjoy sex and have healthy, varied, enthusiastic sex lives.
So not only do some of these furious harpies get extra-annoyed because they secretly want to bang Blanc, but they’re at the same time having to fight puritanical conditioning from the sisterhood. There is also the ugly truth that men like Blanc are unashamed about what they want from women. “Diss fatties, bang hotties” reads a t-shirt in one of his infamous selfies. I don’t know when you last ran into a radical feminist, but with their hairy legs, red hair and odd facial piercings, they don’t exactly fall into the latter category.
The real outrage here is the assault on liberal values that Blanc’s visa refusal reveals, and how ignorant the people making these decisions always are. Lorely Burt is an assistant government whip. Yet, appearing on television to discuss the denial of a UK visa, she apparently hadn’t done the most basic homework about who’s been denied access to the country recently. When I asked whether she agreed with refusing Dutch MP Geert Wilders entry to UK for his supposed islamophobia, she admitted she didn’t even know who he was. I mean, I despair.