Like most of you, the first I heard mention of the name Julian Blanc was when he was summarily booted out of Australia. The subject of relentless protest and social media petitioning and campaigning; the American ‘pick-up artist’ had his visa revoked and would soon face similar treatment from the UK government.
The bile that spews forth from Julian Blanc’s mouth is both repugnant and vile. He exhibits so little respect for women and reduces their place in the world to mere objects of fascination and pleasure for the men he preaches to. I find it strange that someone who presents himself as an expert on the ways of women seems to have such a thorough distaste for the gender as people. I have been shown YouTube clips where his actions seem to cross the threshold over to sexual harassment – and if he doesn’t cross the line, he is dangerously close to it. The idea that men worldwide are willing to pay upwards of £1,500 to attend his ‘classes’ makes me seriously question my faith in humanity. Well, the male half of it at least.
Julian Blanc isn’t the first professional pick-up artist and I’m sure he won’t be the last. Indeed, if Neil Strauss’s 2005 book The Game is to be believed, there is an entire community of pick-up artists working their ‘magic’ in the world’s seedy underbelly. Since Blanc became worldwide news, I’ve watched many of his videos where he teaches men his “systems” – ploys for how to pick up women. I was shocked by most, if not all of what I witnessed. It left a sour taste in my mouth to hear the laughter of the crowd as he regaled them with tales of his dubious conquests. However, what has shocked me even more is the campaign to stop this man from entering – or having him removed from – every country he tries to go to. What has scared me is the willingness of governments to yield to the calls from social media and restrict his free speech, his freedom of movement and the freedom of assembly for those who attend his meetings.
We have fought wars against regimes in the past in the name of protecting our basic freedoms but we are now giving them up to satisfy Twitter outcries.
Censorship is an incredibly dangerous weapon. Enshrined in the principles of our democratic society – both in Australia and in the UK – is that you can’t legislate against an individual’s thoughts and expression. I can openly criticise my government, the prime minister and even Rihanna because we have free speech. In certain other countries, I might be sent to jail or worse for merely uttering my opinion. It is one of our most fundamental rights. No matter how unpalatable others may find my opinions, I cannot be persecuted because of them. Now some might argue that anyone who is a racist or a homophobe should be stopped from voicing their views because of how unacceptable those views are. The problem is that once you begin to censor you are on an incredibly slippery slope. Once it becomes acceptable to persecute individuals for their opinions or beliefs, we no longer have freedom of speech. How long would it be until there is just one acceptable line of thought or opinion – when we are told how and what to think? We have fought wars against regimes in the past in the name of protecting our basic freedoms but we are now giving them up to satisfy Twitter outcries.
In some videos of Julian Blanc on YouTube he is not only shown “teaching” his methods to a room full of men, he is also shown out at a bar – practicing what he preaches. It’s in these clips where his words become action and that action involves forcefully pulling various women’s heads down towards his crotch. I do not put myself forward as any legal expert; however I would back any of these unwitting females to press charges against him for sexual harassment. This video is accessible to the world, if he has committed a crime, then charge him with the offense and prosecute him. Criminals are denied entry into places like Australia and the UK every day. Criminals have their visas revoked and are deported. If Julian Blanc had been charged with an offence by Australian Police and then consequently removed from the country, I would have no qualms with his treatment. Alas, this wasn’t why Julian Blanc was kicked out of Australia and denied entry to the UK.
Speaking about Julian Blanc, Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Sky News: “This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women … those are values abhorred in this country.” It is exactly this kind of statement that scares me the most. I agree that his values are abhorrent but in what kind of free country can possessing bad values get you persecuted and have you robbed of your freedom of speech and movement? It wasn’t so long ago when homosexuality and the freedom of choice were viewed by the majority as abhorrent and amoral. The arbiter of right and wrong in our society is the law and its courts, not the personal views and values of individuals with the loudest voices. I am deeply troubled that Julian Blanc was booted out of Australia just as I would be deeply troubled if a gay rights or pro-choice campaigner suffered the same treatment.
That we have to suffer those that have views and opinions that are hard to stomach is the price we pay for living in a free society.
I do not like Julian Blanc. I don’t like what he says, I don’t like what he does and I don’t like his ideas. I certainly don’t like the fact that some men think it is acceptable to treat women the way he suggests and that they are prepared to part with their hard earned money just to hear him suggest it. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many groups and individuals alike hold views that are unsavoury to the vast majority of us. There is racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, various fanaticisms and fundamentalisms, and many other radical and abhorrent views which are shared by some in our societies. In some countries, the individual does not have a voice, whatever his or her views. That we have to suffer those that have views and opinions that are hard to stomach is the price we pay for living in a free society. It’s a price worth paying.
Ari Goldberg is an Australian ‘Man About London‘; writing about living, laughing and loving his new life in the city. Tweet him @arigoldberg
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