Mythicist Milwaukee is back, and I can smell the stench all over the midwest

Last year at around this time, Mythicist Milwaukee was putting together a con called “Minds IRL”, to be held somewhere near Philadelphia. They were cagey about precisely where; everyone knows that the Mythicist crew is a gang of racists and frauds, so there were protests planned, and the Top Secret Location was only revealed by email at the last minute. It was finally held in a casino. If you wanted to revel in the presence of Sargon of Akkad, Count Dankula, Tim Pool, and Andy Ngo, this was the place to be. If you couldn’t make it, Talia Levin committed a photo journalism and took pictures of all the white people chortling over the N word. It looked to be exactly as bad as you would have predicted it to be.

Well, shucks, guess what? The same org is planning another right-wing confab this year in August. It has another name change to Better Discourse, ironically enough. It’ll be in Milwaukee, somewhere — once again, they’re playing peek-a-boo with the exact venue — and they’ve dug deeper into various rat holes to pull up some even bigger rats! Carl Benjamin AKA Sargon of Akkad will be there again, because he was such a beacon of hate the first time around, but now they’ve found an even shittier star…Milo Yiannopoulos! And you thought his 15 minutes of fame were over months ago.

Also on the roster: Peter Boghossian. He’s going to have Impossible Conversations with various racists which will probably be nothing but mutual circle jerks. Fun!

They got Jack Posobiec III! He’s the pizzagate loon, now a “serious” journalist for OAN, who will be on a panel to evaluate “President Trump first four years in review”. You can guess how that’s going to go.

David Silverman is showing up, in case you wondered what slum he’d fallen into lately. There are various other ne’er-do-wells scrounged up to populate the event and take up space and get media attention.

It’s weirdly organized. There are only five sessions, all panel conversations, in a one-day con: the aforementioned Trump fluff, the minority celebrities get a panel to talk about how to overcome racial inequalities (sounds good from the title, but featuring a rap artist fresh from appearances on Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, and Ben Shapiro, and a comedian whose schtick is funny middle-eastern accents, it’s less promising than you think), White People Explaining Why Immigration is Bad, Free Speech Warriors scheming to cancel “Cancel Culture”, and a spirited defense of racial slurs. That’s it. That’s all of it. All for the low, low, low price of $350, you can bask in the welcoming atmosphere of more conspiracy theorists and racists and pseudo-intellectuals than you can shake a stick at in a clandestine hide-away in Milwaukee, and party with them afterwards. When it’s all over, you get the big prize of going home with a nice viral load, since this is an in-person con, and you know most of the attendees believe face masks impinge on their civil liberties.

It’s being put on by an atheist organization. Remember the good old days when everyone was howling at Skepticon because it wasn’t a “true” skeptic/atheist conference, because it included all that crap about humanism and diversity and social justice? “Mission creep,” they whined, “you’re stretching the meaning of the words beyond all reasonable interpretation!” Keep in mind what they really meant, that reason can only bend in one direction, towards right-wing zealotry and conspiracy theories and racism.

And “Cancel Culture”? Really? If “Cancel Culture” were a real thing, Milo Yiannopoulos wouldn’t be your headliner.

Fuck. If I had a time machine, I’d go back 20 years to tell myself to avoid getting involved in this up-and-coming atheist movement. It’s just bad.


  1. says

    Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, and Ben Shapiro

    I’m still not convinced that’s three different people.

    David Silverman is showing up, in case you wondered what slum he’d fallen into lately.

    Lots of principles that man has…

  2. says

    What a collection of clowns. It’s like all the asshats who made 2017-2019 suck almost as much as DJT were all in the same room.. Hmmm. NO NO NO, RAY! Bad thoughts! Bad Thoughts!

  3. says

    I quit the “atheist movement” after Elevatorgate or whatever fucked up name they pushed on Rebecca’s response to creeping in an elevator. It’s too bad that it turned out to be such a toxic group of asshats.

  4. ORigel says

    And any women there can get fondled by David Silverman! That’s the bonus plan, baby!

  5. =8)-DX says

    Just a note, PZ: one lone nominal leftist who’s going to be sitting on the panel with Milo Y is Peter Coffin. Like, there are times to engage vigourously with these racists, asshats, trolls and Nazis, but this is pretty much one of the last nails in the coffin of Peter’s leftist credibility. They’ve made some cool videos (and you’ve shared some), but while I can understand why some leftists (such as Thomas Smith) decided not to cancel their MM attendance and instead tried to talk reason to a booing crowd of bigots, attending a rightwing shitfest conference as a useful tool is pretty shitty.

    Deplatforming Milo worked as in it stopped him from being able to grift on his regular hate-appearances and organise rightwing harassment and violence against marginalised people in universities. Anyone who touches the man now is contributing to the same shit that got him famous.

    Just sayin’

  6. jenorafeuer says

    The last thing Milo had anything to do with a convention I was at was that one in December where he announced he was showing up to troll people, and pretty promptly had his membership fee refunded to him and his membership revoked. The fact that he made this announcement literally the day after the deadline for hotel bookings had closed, so that everybody showing up was already invested and wouldn’t want to back out, can’t have been anything other than deliberate.

    It’s just like the bit with Jon Del Arroz at Worldcon… when you explicitly announce that you plan on attending a convention and violating their terms (which you signed as part of your membership request), you shouldn’t feel surprised when they decide to ban you. But then, a lot of these people actually are trying to get banned so they have something else to whine about.

    At which point all the organization can do is ignore what the troll wants (since they’ll ‘win’ either way) and go with what’s best for the rest of the membership. Which is banning the troll.

    Of course, none of that applies to Mythicist Milwaukee here, since in their case the entire convention is run by and for trolls, and their primary purpose is to serve as a bad example.

  7. unclefrogy says

    sounds like a wonderfully self-destructive idea to me “lets all us hate mongers and asshole trolls get together in a smallish venue close the doors take our confining face masks off and breath each others breath while we holler about the evil intolerant leftists , the immigrants and ignorant minorities”
    such a great idea do I hope for a “positive” outcome?
    uncle frogy

  8. says

    I’ve honestly hated Peter Coffin from the first video I saw, plugged by PZ years ago. And because I hated him, I avoided learning more about him. In the mean time, I’ve seen a lot of growing murmurs of criticism of Coffin, but don’t really know what it’s about. Anybody have a summary?

  9. says

    Since they’re clearly terrified of protesters & calls for their venues to ditch their little hatewank, I have to wonder why they don’t just head somewhere they’d feel safer, like Paul Elam’s basement. Or the White House bunker.

    And Milo. Fucking hell. They’re not even trying to attempt an appearance of the thinnest veneer of credibility. Just tee up the most toxic & depraved little shitwipe they can find and let the remnants of his fan club snap up the tickets.

    The Age of The Asshole rolls on unabated.

  10. =8)-DX says

    @Siggy #14
    Honestly, it’s a whole host of things, his intention seem to be good, but he has this idea that he’s cracked the code of how the world works, and has built up a whole lexicon of confused and unhelpful political rhetoric (To paraphrase: “attention is currency in marketplace of ideas!”, “social capital is likes and subscribers!”, “Marx is a stuffy old dead dude so I don’t have to do material analysis!”.) My position is that mostly he is annoying to me personally and not worth following, but people can’t ignore him since every month or so he comes out with a terrible take or two.

    To list actual issues:

    🌻 He got really angry at people when they wanted him to remove a mod from his streams due to being an accused rapist (he thougt people wanted him to “denounce” them and the story was complicated, but people just wanted him to unmod the person from stream chat). He eventually removed the mod, but it took ages.
    🌻 In a related note his fans tend to harass people who criticise him, but he kind of eggs them on on twitter.
    🌻 He’s supported some oddly transphobic views (“AMAB” people supposedly share a common experience).
    🌻 He’s 100% in agreement with Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle”, complaining about “cancel culture” and “purity police” and “weaponising victimhood”.
    🌻 He’s all for working with “skeptic” grifters who pretend to be leftists such as June sh0eonhead.
    🌻 He’s against deplatforming (i.e. the Milo Y thing).
    🌻 He complains about “identity politics” and blames it on “neoliberalism”. In fact everyone he and his friends don’t like are all evil neoliberals, described as things like “the elite managerial class”. Which is kinda ironic since as a middle-sized creator he mostly only interacts directly with other popular people himself.
    🌻 The major problem he sees on the left is all the “wokescolds”.
    🌻 He’s friends with and has supported a number of creators with similarly dubious takes and views.

    Other things which are either nonsense IMHO, or irrelevant, but people don’t like him for them:

    🌼 He used to work for Ian Miles Cheong’s gaming video channel (currently doesn’t though, that was two or more years ago when IMC was apparently a nominal leftist?)
    🌼 He used to have an online Asian girlfriend years ago who he claims catfished him and other people claim he just made her up and there were some racist chats which leaked?
    🌼 Some people calculated from his current wife’s birthday that apparently he must have started dating her as a minor and groomed her or something (which they have both vehemently denied as nonsense and just factually incorrect).
    🌼 My favourite one: something I don’t hold against him but as a young man he managed to get on TV as a “talent” for the Steve Harvey show, where his talent was he kicked himself in the testicles on live telivision, yes there is video, lol.

  11. says

    @=8)-DX #16
    I know it takes work to summarize this stuff, so much appreciated. When I looked around myself I mostly found out about his fake girlfriend from like a decade ago, which is weird but irrelevant.

    He’s against deplatforming (i.e. the Milo Y thing).

    Relevant since he was there to “debate” Milo about deplatforming.

    I just checked the conference website and was confused because I couldn’t find his name anywhere. Well apparently he pulled out.

  12. says

    Since Coffin became a “lefty” youtuber, they’ve been pretty consistent in talking about the convergence of “woke” culture and corporate culture.

    As far as I can tell, they’ve never claimed that they weren’t an absolutely shitty person during their “first” Youtube career, or that they weren’t a bigoted asshole during the whole “fake girlfriend” thing.

    Just that the degree of backlash they got, and being targeted by a corporation like Buzzfeed, was disproportionate, and that there are destructive elements of capitalism trying to profit off of efforts to make the world better. I think that’s uncontroversially true.

    I’m glad they pulled out of this shitshow, but that said I think they’re aware of the degree to which they used to BE one of these people, and the role that their “cancellation” played in them moving to the left, so I can see why they might want to at least be present as an alternative to the fascist analysis of the world.

    I doubt it would have worked on the sorts of people who would bother going to a conference like this, but I get why they’d want to try, and why they’d think it would be entertaining.

    Neither they nor anyone else is a hero, but I do think they generate a lot of useful material, and I think it’s helpful to have people working various perspectives on the world’s problems.

  13. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Abe: The problem is that you then need to go VERY FAR out of your way to then not aid right-wing framing. Like point out that an argument being coopted by capitalists does not invalidate it, or then we would have to dispense with charity, socialism (Che T-shirts?), music, democracy, Dr. King’s legacy, etc. Or point out that countless activists are combining discussing language and conduct with structural factors and proposals for reform. Or that to entirely avoid identity politics is not literally impossible, but also allows those who are doing identity politics to win. And on and on. These are things actual leftists can do instantly. It’s not hard. People like Peter don’t do that, so they are sock puppeting for right wingers.

  14. says

    Coffin has never suggested avoiding identity politics as far as I’m aware.

    As far as I can tell, they’re working on how to think about how identity politics are applied, how they are coopted, and where the boundaries of useful vs. counterproductive discourse and activity are.

    And I feel like they do discuss ways in which it’s done well vs. done badly.

    And while some of it IS stuff that can be “done instantly”, some of it’s trickier. A good example is that teenage girl who was parroting fascist talking points a while back. On the one hand, it deserves condemnation and the talking points deserve to be dismantled, but she’s also a literal child, who was singled out by a big media corporation as an evil fascist, rather than as someone who’s being used.

    I don’t know how to handle a situation like that, but I don’t think treating that child the same way we treat a 20 year old who’s doing the same thing is likely to be the right approach, and I think it’s worth discussing and thinking about the aspects of our culture that seek to capitalize on rising leftism in ways that are harmful to the cause. Actual leftists don’t get everything right either, and I see merit in examining that.

    From what I can tell, Coffin has always been explicit in their support for leftism, for social justice, and for dismantling white supremacy and capitalism. They’re just coming at it from the angle of someone who used to be a racist edgelord, and knows that those people can, under some circumstances, change their minds. Efforts at deprogramming are valuable, and it’s not at all clear to me what does and does not work – just that it’s possible to do in a variety of ways.

    Maybe I’m too optimistic and I’ll be proven wrong at some point, but from what I can tell, Coffin is on the right side, and pushing in the right direction. That doesn’t mean they get everything right or that I always agree with them, but I don’t NEED that to be the case for them to be more useful to the cause than not.

  15. says

    For the record, the reason I didn’t like Peter Coffin was something more petty. I saw him speak on a subject that I already knew about, and he was obviously talking out his ass, and not even in an entertaining or clarifying way. Just, condescending rambling that was ostensibly a “gotcha” to the other side, but would obviously persuade nobody, and misinform his own fans.

    I don’t feel it is necessary to pass judgment on a content creator in order to pass judgment on their content. I was just mildly curious about a part of the Youtube landscape that I do not have the tolerance to view for myself. I appreciate the second opinion, @Abe!