Swindon man Carl Benjamin, who is better known as YouTuber Sargon of Akkad, is standing in May’s European Parliament elections for the United Kingdom Independence Party.

A tweet, posted in 2016 and directed at Labour MP Jess Phillips, has drawn widespread attention. The post read: “I wouldn’t even rape you, @jessphillips. #AntiRapeThreats #FeminismIsCancer”. It was posted into a comment from Ms Phillips that “people talking about raping me isn’t fun, but has become somewhat par for the course”.

UKIP leader Gerard Batten dismissed the social media post this week as satire. He told the BBC he did not condone the remarks, but added of Mr Benjamin: “He is a proponent of free speech. The context that he said it was satire against the people he was saying it about. He wasn’t actually making a literal statement.”

Wiltshire Times:

The tweet, posted in 2016

 

Reaction

Swindon politicians reacted with fury to the comments.

Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon and Solicitor General, said: “To equate this deeply offensive and threatening tweet with satire is just wrong.

“This is another worrying example of the coarsening of political debate, resulting in threats against MPs and other elected representatives. It’s time that UKIP takes action to help end it rather than to defend it.

Sarah Church, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, added: “Freedom of speech is not an absolute right when it threatens the safety of other people. Rape is an extremely serious crime and the tweet to Jess Phillips cannot be explained away.

Wiltshire Times:

Robert Buckland condemned the comments

“Anyone who makes rape or death threats is unfit for public office and I expect all decent people agree with me on that.”

“This attempt to normalise sexual violence as a political tool is the thin end of the wedge of the growing rise in extremism in the UK.”

Dr Molly Scott-Cato, Green MEP for the south west, said: “We have a very nasty type of person around in our society now: financialised controversialist. Somebody who deliberately says very often offensive things about other people and then uses that to get others to follow them on social media.”

Candidate defends tweet

In a two hour YouTube video, Mr Benjamin, 39, addressed media reports concerning the 2016 tweet. Defending the comments, he said: “It seems like the opposite of a rape tweet, in the same way you’d say – I don’t know – anti-fa is a fascist organisation because they have fascist in the name.”

In another video, announcing his plans for a south west tour ahead of May’s elections, he told his social media followers it was “time to get out of our chairs and into the real world”. He added: “We are going over the top, ladies and gentlemen. This is it.”

A UKIP spokesman said last night: “Mr Benjamin is an ardent supporter of freedom of speech both on the internet and elsewhere. UKIP is the only political party in the UK truly dedicated to defending the right to free speech.

“While UKIP does not endorse the language used by Mr Benjamin in the past, we recognise that he is a classical liberal and an opponent of political correctness and censorship.”