News from Nowhere: The Infernal Triangle
Imagine a right-angled isosceles triangle laid flat upon its hypotenuse, with two of its angles sharply acute, and the third very nearly obtuse. We must remind ourselves that, in the end, it’s not so impossibly great a leap from the likes of Clarkson to Carrick, when one travels via Tate.
This time last month, most of us had never heard of Andrew Tate. Those were better days.
Mr. Tate is a British-American social media celebrity and online influencer who, a few weeks ago, hit the headlines when he was detained in Romania on suspicion of human trafficking and rape.
Tate is a former kickboxer who has attracted more than three million followers on Twitter, and whose TikTok posts have been viewed more than twelve billion times. He is also a self-proclaimed misogynist who promotes a belief that women are the property of men.
In 2016, he was thrown off a reality TV show when a video emerged apparently showing him physically attacking a woman. The following year, he was banned from Twitter for saying that women should bear responsibility for being assaulted. Last November, he was one of those reinstated to the platform by that would-be movie supervillain, the site’s billionaire owner Elon Musk, who has styled himself as a free speech absolutist – except in his somewhat despotic reactions to his critics in the press.
Earlier this month, the British Prime Minister was asked questions in parliament as to how his government should respond to Tate’s “radicalisation” and “brainwashing” of young boys in the UK.
Mr. Sunak referred to his administration’s online safety bill, whose proposed powers have recently been reinforced by a coalition of opposition MPs and Tory rebels seeking to go rather further than the government’s initial intentions, and see tech company bosses facing jail terms for failing to prevent children viewing harmful material on their websites.
It remains to be seen whether the insidious influence of the likes of Tate, his ‘Incel’ apostles, and other assorted online inadequates can be overcome by such legislation. The impacts of their relentless expressions of misogyny of course remain horribly real and utterly devastating.
This time last month, very few people had ever heard of David Carrick, a former London police officer who has in recent weeks admitted forty-nine violent offences against women, committed over the past two decades, including multiple counts of assault, rape, and false imprisonment.
This news came two years after the rape and murder of a young woman by another serving member of the Metropolitan Police – like Carrick, an armed officer in that organisation’s highly prestigious Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
That officer had been a member of a WhatsApp group in which police staff had exchanged racist and misogynistic messages. Last autumn, two other members of that group received prison sentences.
Rishi Sunak described David Carrick’s crimes as “truly sickening”.
A few days later, two former Metropolitan Police officers were charged with child abuse. A third officer, suspended from duty and under investigation for related offences, had been found dead earlier this month.
The capital’s Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has announced renewed checks on all 45,000 officers and civilian staff under his command, and has said that allegations of abuse involving more than a thousand members of London’s police service are currently being investigated.
The extraordinary extent and severity of this problem appear specific to this police force. Indeed, the blame for failures to resolve such issues had resulted in the controversial departure of Sir Mark’s predecessor last year. She had been the first woman ever appointed to the role.
Half a century ago, the reputation of the British police was at an all-time low. Since then, regional police services across the country have made major efforts to restore public trust and to return to the principles of community policing and policing by consent. But, as Mr. Rowley has been the first to admit, the ‘Met’ still has a long way to go.
Other regional forces are not being complacent about this. In the wake of this appalling news, the National Police Chiefs Council swiftly agreed to more rigorous processes for the vetting of new and existing staff.
But perhaps we, as a nation, also need to look deeper into the cultural causes, the pervasive roots, of these criminal symptoms of a pernicious misogynistic malaise.
This time last month, everyone in the UK had heard of Jeremy Clarkson. He’s a popular motoring journalist and one of the country’s best-known television presenters, notorious for the bluntness of his reactionary views and his xenophobic banter. He has made a career out of presenting hate-fuelled content in a light-hearted tone that has made it appear to his many admirers to be somehow appropriate for primetime family viewing.
Like Andrew Tate, he’s a fan of the high-octane supercar and is no friend to the environmentalist movement. In November 2021, Clarkson provoked outrage when he suggested that the young climate activist Greta Thunberg deserved a “smacked bottom”. Last December, Tate also targeted Ms. Thunberg when he went on Twitter to boast of the “enormous emissions” produced by his fleet of thirty-three luxury cars. She, quite understandably, responded by suggesting that his motoring machismo might be trying to compensate for something, and that he should instead consider getting himself a life.
In 2015, Mr. Clarkson was fired by the BBC following a verbal and physical assault upon a junior colleague. A fortnight ago, it was reported that his current employers at Amazon Prime have also decided to let him go after he had published a column in a tabloid newspaper suggesting that he wanted to see the Duchess of Sussex marched naked through the streets and pelted with excrement.
The independent press regulator received an unprecedented number of complaints, and Clarkson’s own daughter publicly denounced the misogyny of his comments and the hatred they had spawned.
The newspaper apologised. Clarkson apologised. Two weeks ago, he said that he has also sent a personal apology directly to Meghan and Harry.
He did however have one high-profile defender. That man was none than Andrew Tate, who, in December, told the broadcaster (and smug slug) Piers Morgan that such “visceral reactions” were the inevitable consequence of Ms. Markle’s criticisms of the British royal family.
That sentiment would doubtless have been applauded by those two London constables who were fired last July after sharing racist and sexist comments – including attacks on Meghan Markle – in another WhatsApp group established by serving members of the Metropolitan Police.
There are very real dangers in the promotion and normalization of the kind of toxic masculinity which Tate and Clarkson have famously purveyed. Patterns of abusive behaviour may threaten to become endemic in any society or culture when the attitudes which underpin them appear to be deemed acceptable by the mainstream media, and by those global digital platforms which profit so nicely from their propagation.
And so, dear readers of the gutter press, the next time the moral paragons of journalism who concoct the content of your favourite paper decry such conduct and such crimes, please take a moment to recall where these atrocities might actually originate.
Yes, share their outrage. And reflect it right back at them.
The UK’s hardly the worst offender in the world. But that’s no excuse. We may condemn the treatment of women by enemy regimes, but our own hands are hardly spotlessly clean.
It’s only a few years ago that we rewarded with a landslide election victory Britain’s blustering answer to Donald Trump: a promiscuous chauvinist and champion of what he calls “male liberty”, a man who describes women as “fillies”, “chicks” and “hot totty”, and who’d once – as a journalist writing regular motoring columns remarkably reminiscent of Jeremy Clarkson’s work – repeatedly pre-empted Andrew Tate in his innuendo-laden celebrations of “babe magnet” cars.
Indeed, it has been reported that the highlights of Boris Johnson’s premiership even included the awarding of the title of “Sexist of the Year” to a member of his staff in Downing Street.
We pride ourselves upon what we consider to be our progressive liberalism, our democratic freedoms, equalities, and rights. But we must also never forget, whoever and wherever we are, that along with those rights come responsibilities, responsibilities for all. Everything we say and do feeds into these cycles of virtue or vice.
Imagine then, if you will, a right-angled isosceles triangle laid flat upon its hypotenuse, with two of its angles sharply acute, and the third very nearly obtuse. It now seems we must once again remind ourselves, and our trusted friends in the media, that, in the end, it’s not so impossibly great a leap from the likes of Clarkson to Carrick, when one travels via Tate.
Next month, the notoriously woke Netflix is due to release the fourth season of its hit drama series You. The show’s romantic hero is a compellingly attractive man who stalks, imprisons, and murders the women with whom he becomes obsessed. His superficially charming misogyny represents the soft, subtle, sympathetic flip side to Andrew Tate’s bullish swagger.
This latest run of episodes sees him relocate from the United States to London. Yes, seriously.
This is the same streaming service which has often felt obliged to post trigger warnings before some of its more innocuous content, and whose Generation Z audiences are supposed to be a bunch of sensitive and censorious snowflakes.
You couldn’t make it up. And yet, with a disquieting degree of prescience and influence, that’s precisely what they’ve done.