A controversial pick up artist has announced a visit to Scotland, prompting a national newspaper to demand a “new law that will criminalise hate speech against women” and an MP to table a motion in Westminster “condemning” the events and calling for “violent speech” to be illegal.
Daryush Valizadeh, commonly know a Roosh V, is a self-styled “neo-masculinist” who argues that modern feminism is making men “weak”. He runs a website called The Return of Kings, which is currently planning worldwide “tribal meetings” – nine of which will be in the UK, including one in Edinburgh and another in Glasgow.
Yesterday, Edinburgh MP Tommy Sheppard announced on Twitter that he would be tabling an Early Day Motion (EDM) condemning “the organisation of sexist and hate-mongering meetings across the United Kingdom by so-called pick-up artist Roosh V”, and arguing “Not enough is done to educate men who may become predators”.
North of the border, three member of the Scottish Parliament tabled a similar motion in Holyrood, also claiming that the planned events were “clear acts of incitement that must not be tolerated by the law”.
Just tabled the following EDM – 'Prevention of incitement to sexual crime and violence'. pic.twitter.com/lfl3swSWNt
— Tommy Sheppard MP (@TommySheppard) February 1, 2016
The MPs and MSPs are likely to have been influenced by an online petition which quickly gathered almost 45,000 signatures, calling for Mr. Valizadeh to be banned from Scotland.
“Roosh V, a militant pro-rape pick-up artist is holding gatherings for his followers in Glasgow and Edinburgh”, it reads, arguing “this makes our cities unsafe for at least half the population. Promoting rape is hate speech, and should be treated as such.”
More that 600 people on Facebook have indicated that they plan to attend a protest on the 6th of February. The organisers declaring that, “Pro-rape women-haters are not welcome in Glasgow, as they will find out … and have the pish ripped right out of them by decent Glaswegians”.
Mr. Valizaheh has written 22 books, mainly about seduction and anti-feminism. He was widely criticised for an article he wrote last year, calling for the legalisation of rape on private property as a way to “defeat rape culture”. He has since insisted the post was satirical.
Tomorrow's front page: Calls for new law that will criminalise hate speech against women pic.twitter.com/oexruGoT8J
— The National (@ScotNational) February 1, 2016
This morning The National, a newspaper allied to the Scottish National Party (SNP), ran the headline “Criminalise Hate Speech Against Women”, reporting that the paper had joined forces with two women’s charities “to call for the Scottish Government to introduce an offence of incitement of hatred against women” that could criminalise people like Mr. Valizadeh.
They claimed that the new offence “would deal with online misogynistic abuse and rape threats”, and that there was “consensus across the political parties and parliaments over Roosh V’s planned meetings”.
A comment article in the same edition argued that, “Roosh V’s doctrine is also a gateway into other forms of right-wing politics. Once you dehumanise one group – women – and accept strictly biological explanations of human behaviour, you’re basically on the road to the hard-right”, siting the fact that Mr. Valizadeh is a Donald Trump supporter.
Additionally, in a blinding display of lost irony, the same front page contained a banner declaring the publication’s allegiance to the principles of free speech. It advertises a column contained within arguing for reform of defamation laws, which can be used to “censor and silence”.
There are currently similar protests erupting Australia, with calls to ban Mr. Valizadeh from the country. Last year he was forced to travel in secret to Canada after a series of threats were made, and footage later surfaced showing him being attacked by a feminist in a bar when there.