By Ben Pensant
Unless you’ve been asleep for the last month you can’t fail to have noticed Stop Funding Hate breaking the internet after self-righteously hounding Paperchase and Pizza Hut for doing promotions with newspapers they don’t like. As a result they’ve been recruiting new supporters daily, some of whom have even read up on the campaign and its stated aim of political censorship-via-corporate blackmail.
Luckily, these brainiacs are in the minority and most of the liberals pledging solidarity with SFH know precisely fuck all about them. Which, judging by the warm words from progressive misogynist Owen Jones, Orange ad funnyman Steve Furst and Nick Heyward out of Heaven 17, is still twice as much as their celebrity backers. That a writer, a comedian and a singer are happy to laud a movement fundamentally opposed to free speech shows how thoroughly this moral crusade has enchanted the great and the gullible.
So I can’t have been the only giddily excited leftist who went to bed on Tuesday night like a marginalised Muslim on Ramadan Eve. Luckily, I woke the next day with a huge smile on my face, unlike the marginalised Muslim who no doubt woke with a bloody nose after a pack of rabid Leave voters broke into his house and had a shit on his Kerrang.
But what was I excited about? Well, Stop Funding Hate had tweeted that at 7am the next morning they’d be making an important announcement. As I clasped my chalky pink Momentum duvet, one possibility whirled around my head: Had SFH followed golf-loving author John Niven’s lead and arranged a mass newspaper burning? As beautiful as this sounded the truth was even better. For SFH had done what all liberal activists eventually do and started asking people for money. It was all I could do to stop myself rifling through my grandma’s purse in excitement.
Because there’s no irony more delicious than a group called Stop Funding Hate asking people to start funding their hate. And no better way to flatter censorious do-gooders than asking them to donate to a worthy cause. Luckily, few causes are more worthy than SFH, who announced that the money raised would cover the wages of a new ‘Community Organiser’. So not only are SFH expanding their campaign and creating a full-time job they’re also asking you to pay for it. I’d scream ‘take my bank details now!’ if I hadn’t been banned from opening an account.
By Thursday the total had passed £20,000, with all manner of bearded craft beer enthusiasts and non-binary performance artists telling the world how much they’d donated. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as proud of my fellow progressives. Because it takes brass balls to publicly chip in to a stranger’s 30-grand-a-year salary when you’ve spent the last 18 months telling Leave voters and tabloid readers how gullible they are.
And those who dug deep despite being skint deserve special credit, like my gallery owner friend who selflessly contributed even though she’d just given a nice Romany chap £800 in cash to tarmac her drive with a revolutionary new substance that smelled faintly of petrol and horse-shit. Fingers crossed the money raised goes further than those magic beans she bought on the way back from market.
So all in all a successful few weeks for SFH, who rose to prominence after Paperchase responded to being named and shamed by gifting modern leftists the thing they love most: a grovelling apology. And there are few better examples of ‘grovelling’ than promising ‘we won’t do it again’ to a handful of entitled cup-cakes on Twitter.
But this one was particularly gratifying. Because the Mail had invaded our turf: this wasn’t Clinton friggin’ Cards, it was Paperchase, where the aisles are stuffed with over-priced organic pencils, ethnically diverse colouring books and gender neutral wrapping paper fashioned from recycled elephant snot. This was personal.
A few weeks later Pizza Hut followed suit, withdrawing a two-for-one promotion in conjunction with The Sun after SFH and a handful of pitchfork-wielders objected to offering people free food. Their retreat wasn’t as adolescent as Paperchase’s but every bit as craven, apologising for any ‘offence caused’ by associating with a problematic tabloid read by problematic people.
Thankfully, this time the target of SFH’s polite harassment was an establishment their middle-class devotees would never be seen dead in. Indeed, it’s a credit to Pizza Hut’s PR nous that they chose to disregard millions of people who buy their product in order to please a small shower of cunts who don’t.
And who could forget the gentle, heartfelt and baldly opportunistic video SFH released in response to the John Lewis Christmas advert? The short clip featured a dog pleading with the megabucks chain store to think twice about advertising in hate sheets, presumably because its owners were too terrified to take it for a walk in case they were assaulted by a copy of The Daily Express. Needless to say, the video was a huge hit, because censorship and blackmail are so much more palatable when you add a cute boxer.
So on it went, as liberals who know nothing about SFH’s censorious intentions began loudly endorsing a group they’d never heard of a month ago. Meanwhile the campaign pushed on, publishing daily lists of companies advertising in the right-wing press and exposing the NSPCC for having the temerity to think asking Mail readers to help vulnerable children is more important than the fact that they once ran a cartoon comparing jihadists to rats. And it doesn’t matter that the majority of migrants in the drawing weren’t rats, a point the very people traumatised by the sketch repeat endlessly. What was equally heinous was the crude suggestion that men from the Middle-East often have beards and wear sandals. That a so-called children’s charity could endorse such dehumanisation is beyond the pale.
But before anyone suggests SFH may be undermining their own campaign by repeatedly pointing out that the Mail et al carry adverts from pretty much every fucker, SFH are one step ahead. Because they know fine well they’ll never achieve the widespread censorship they crave: like all the best virtue-signals, the joy of this campaign is its utter futility.
So while their commendably deluded supporters live in an upside-down world where Vodafone and Sony actually give a shit what people on the internet think, Richard Wilson and the rest of Team SFH are far more interested in broadcasting their integrity by badgering people for not being as tolerant, progressive and downright authoritarian as them. Hence The Lists, which conjure not only romantic images of brave Stalinists but also the Bottom Inspectors from Viz, a beacon of decency in an otherwise offensive northern hate-rag. You can see their influence all over Wilson and co, whose favoured method of shaming and spying is pretty much the SJW equivalent of bursting into proles’ homes and shining torches up their arseholes to check if they’ve wiped properly.
A job which SFH’s high-profile cheerleaders would carry out with gusto. Not least Owen Jones, a man who combines earning a living expressing opinions with praising a group whose entire raison d’être is to stop people expressing opinions. And he’s not the only pro-censorship Guardian scribe, with Dawn Foster appearing on Sky News last week to bang the drum for restricting press freedom despite her livelihood depending on unrestricted press freedom.
Because every good liberal knows that when we talk about press freedom we don’t mean the frightful Tory press with its habit of making social workers nervous in Waitrose. As a recent Guardian editorial put it while defending internet regulation: ‘…we are wedded to the idea of free speech’, despite the evidence suggesting The Guardian are about as wedded to free speech as ISIS are to free love. But what they actually mean is ‘the idea of free speech for people they agree with’. Which makes perfect sense. Thank god we have voices like Owen and Dawn to ram this simple point home while being paid to appear on news channels owned by Rupert Murdoch. Because this message needs platforms and Owen and Dawn have got more of those than Gene Simmons. Which explains why they’re happy to take them away from people they disagree with.
Luckily, thanks to SFH’s rise right-wing hate-sheets have been the main topic of conversation among Twitter progressives for weeks, which you just know absolutely burns them. Because there’s nothing tabloids hate more than being talked about. (Apart from immigrants, obvs.) Indeed, I’m sure they’re spitting feathers about all the free publicity and extra clicks they’ve been getting as outraged leftists access their sites to see what bile they going to spew next. And I’d wager they’re downright rattled to know that people who don’t usually read their newspaper have been buying copies on principle because they believe in free speech. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Dacre!
But even more important than Stop Funding Hate’s celebrity backers are the Twitter devotees, the boots on the ground doing the dirty work and pestering companies for having the nerve to want to sell stuff to as many people as possible. And you’ve gotta hand it to SFH – they’ve done a sterling job convincing gullible liberals that all they’re trying to do is politely suggest companies have a think about where they advertise. Fortunately most of these well-meaning dupes know nothing of SFH’s stated aims, define ‘hate’ as a Leo McKinstry column about crime figures and think Richard Wilson is that funny old ‘I don’t believe you!’ man off the telly. Not since the glorious days of Communist Russia have Western leftists wore the title of ‘useful idiots’ with such deranged pride.
And I salute every one of them. Indeed, the cheeky way SFH’s online patsies regularly deny that the campaign’s goal is censorship – sometimes even accusing Tory trolls who criticise SFH of being the censorious ones – is a joy to behold. And the mischievous cry of ‘it’s not about politics, it’s about hate!’ is particularly satisfying, especially when SFH are yet to pressure companies that advertise in The New European, a publication whose first front page featured a cartoon dog calling 17 million people ‘idiots’ and recently ran some hilarious artwork depicting Brexiteers being punched in the face. But the fact that no-one has ever accused The New European of hatred is both a testament to the way progressives are happy to ignore it when it comes from their own side and an indictment of the fact that most people couldn’t give two fucks about a rubbish drawing in a paper they’ve never heard of.
But give two fucks they should, because good papers influence the dumb and impressionable just as much as bad ones. One only has to look at The Guardian’s history of publishing pro-Islamist articles by the likes of Tariq Ramadan and Comrade Seumas to see how easy it is to fool people into believing religious fascists are actually marginalised good guys. But sadly, brainwashing doesn’t always yield results as joyous as victimhood being bestowed upon genocidal maniacs who want to destroy Western civilisation.
The insidious influence of the Mail is plain to see in every Brexit-voting shit-hole in northern Britain. And recently they’ve been getting sneaky. Only yesterday I had to stop myself glancing at the Mail in the paper-shop in case I was overcome with the urge to set fire to a mosque. And the paper-shop. Mercifully, 24 hours have passed and I still haven’t filled in any Polish builders but I fear it’s only a matter of time.
Still, as a liberal I’m always trying to Do Better, which is why in future I intend to avoid looking directly at The Sun just in case it incites me into committing an angry sex-crime because there are no longer tits in it. Also, in an effort to stop my brain turning into a racist I’ve decided to end my ten-year boycott of all things work-related and apply to become Stop Funding Hate’s Community Officer. I’ve heard the money’s great and the job involves nowt more than sending the odd outraged tweet to Marksies or Stannah, pretty much a busman’s holiday for me.
In the meantime, if Wilson is serious about going to the next level I’ve heard there’s an orange man in Washington with a mouth like a balloon knot who shares their love of silencing the media. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if SFH can get past the Muslim-bashing and bond with him over their shared love of talking rubbish on Twitter, President Pussy-Grab and his millions could be a perfect fit for the British left’s newest guardian angels.
Just don’t ask him to boycott KFC. It won’t end well.