King’s College London’s Libertarian Society has invited two controversial speakers for an event on philosophy that will be taking place on Monday 5 March on the Strand Campus.
The two speakers are Carl Benjamin, a noted libertarian Youtuber, and Yaron Brook, the director of the Ayn Rand Institute (ASI), an economic non-profit. The event is a debate between Benjamin and Brook on Ayn Rand’s philosophy, objectivism, followed by a question and answer period.
Carl Benjamin, better known as “Sargon of Akkad” has become popular amongst right-wing circles for his channel exploring issues of philosophy and history, often with an anti-feminist bent. He rose to fame during the “Gamergate” controversy in 2016, where a feminist games critic was sent rape threats, and makes videos criticising “SJWs”, or social justice warriors.
He has appeared in a Google hang-out with far-right troll Baked Alaska and Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi and founder of “The Daily Stormer”, a white nationalist website. He has also been endorsed by the English Defense League and Breitbart.
Benjamin alleged that Heather Heyer, the activist who was killed by a white nationalist’s car in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017, actually died of a heart attack and not as a result of the car’s impact.
Previously, when Jess Phillips MP tweeted last year that rape threats had become par for the course as a part of her job, Benjamin responded by saying that he wouldn’t “even rape you (Jess Phillips)” in a tweet.
While his channel has been reviewed by Youtube several times, he remains able to monetize content from the channel and has a Patreon where he makes about $8,100 per month.
Yaron Brook is a scholar and author who has spoken at other institutions, such as London School of Economics. He has written a book called “Equal is Unfair”. He has also repeatedly asserted the superiority of Western civilisation and made anti-Islam remarks, asserting that countries must be “brought to their knees” in order to accept the superiority of Western civilisation.
He has advocated for foreign policy that pushes American self-interest, arguing that even the bombing of civilian centers and the torturing of enemy prisoners of war is acceptable if it will “end a war against American citizens”. He has also said that he would like to see the United States turning “Fallujah (Iraq) into dust.”
He has also repeatedly asserted that climate change is a hoax, and that environmentalists are pushing it for their own benefits. He has given a talk at the Heartland Conference on Climate Change, a noted climate change denialist institute, in 2009. He has also debated other conservatives such as Ben Shapiro, on radio shows and Youtube.
When contacted for comment, KCL Libertarian Society said, “We are committed to inviting a diverse and thought-provoking range of speakers, in order that their views be considered and scrutinised in the public sphere.”
“Our invitation of particular speakers does not necessitate that our society provide a defence or apology for any opinion, or past comment by said speakers, whether or not we may personally disagree or agree with them.”
Breaking the Glass Ceiling, a blog led by King’s students that first raised the issue, said in a statement, “These men use the idea of ‘discourse’ in a thinly veiled attempt to hide bigoted opinions and wildly prejudiced actions.”
“We condemn the presence of these people on our campus without the context of who they are, and the abhorrent actions that they have taken. We do not live in a vacuum, people’s ideas are not separate from their actions.”
As Yaron Brooks and Carl Benjamin are external speakers, they will have been vetted by King’s College London before the event was allowed to take place. KCL has also indicated that this event would require Safe Space Marshals, which the KCL Libertarian Society has advocated against, forming a campaign called “Abolish KCLSU’s Safe Space Policy”.
KCL have been reached out to for comment.