YouTube removed my 2021 interview with Konstantin Kisin on account of 'medical misinformation'
YouTube has issued me a warning and taken down a 2021 interview I did with Konstantin Kisin, claiming I breached their 'Covid-19 medical misinformation policy'. I've published the full transcript.
Last week, I received an email from YouTube, explaining, “Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our medical misinformation policy.”
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Konstantin talked about the Covid response, both from governments and the public, fear, the irrationality of vaccine mandates, as well as all sorts of other things unrelated to Covid, from personal growth, to the harm of a victim mentality, to comedy, to Jordan Peterson.
I have no idea why YouTube is combing through my old videos now, and removing content/issuing “warnings” years after the fact, so naturally I am concerned.
Considering my experience with Twitter back in 2018, where they appear to have intentionally looked for excuses to “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” me, without ever actually explaining what specific “rule” I had broken,” I can’t help but feel paranoid YouTube is going after me similarly. Either my channel is being reported by bad actors (which would not surprise me, considering I have been harassed by an endless stream of anonymous 20-follower, he/him accounts ever since my “sex work debate” with Twitch streamer, “Destiny”), or YouTube is doubling down on Covid authoritarianism for some novel reason. Considering that much of what was labelled “anti-vax,” “Covid denialism,” or a conspiracy theory a year or two ago has proven to be true, I find it strange that the company would now be seeking out accounts saying things that mostly turned out to be true, despite having been labelled in various defamatory ways in the past.
Getting a “warning” like this is not nothing, as you only get a few chances, and once your channel has already been warned it is vulnerable to being taken down without notice. The email from YouTube explains, “If it happens again, your channel will get a strike and you won’t be able to do things like upload, post, or live stream for 1 week.” If you get three strikes in a 90-day period, your channel is removed.
As an independent writer and media producer, losing access to any social media platform is a big deal. My entire income relies on individual subscribers and donors who are able to follow and access my work online, via platforms like Instagram, Patreon, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Rumble, and of course Substack. While YouTube is clearly not the only video-hosting platform, it is the one with the most reach, and without reach, it is very difficult to grow your audience.
This is dull, I know. The real concern, beyond my own ability to work and make a living, though, is that this is insane.
The email YouTube sent me explains that, “YouTube doesn’t allow content that disputes local health authority or World Health Organization (WHO) information by explicitly denying the existence of COVID-19 or its severity.”
I actually think this policy in and of itself is ridiculous, as it should not be up to YouTube to determine how its users may speak about Covid. As a free speech absolutist, I believe individuals should have the right to believe whatever they like and that they have to right to do their own research and speculate as to the severity of Covid as they wish. People have the right to be wrong. People have the right to share information not promoted or supported by the mainstream media. People have the right to challenge health authorities and governments. People have the right to question the dominant narrative.
Covid was a mild virus for the majority of the population. Many people tested positive without even having any symptoms (myself included). Considering how much we were lied to about this virus, the vaccine, and the effectiveness of responses like lockdowns and mask mandates, it is perfectly reasonable that people would have stopped trusting the WHO and other health authorities. Why is it that health authorities and the media are allowed to lie with impunity, but YouTubers aren’t allowed to share their opinions about or information they find about Covid, the vaccine, and the pandemic response? Especially, again, considering much of what was labelled “misinformation” turned out to be right!?
Nonetheless, I wanted to see if anything in the interview could qualify as a breach of YouTube’s “Covid-19 medical misinformation policy,” so went through the entire transcript of the interview.
Neither Konstantin nor I denied the existance of Covid, and we acknowledge “Covid has killed a lot of people” and that the vulnerable need to be protected. We also discuss the fact that, for healthy, reletively young people, Covid is not much of a threat. Which is true. This is evidenced by data — “the science,” as it were. Konstantin says “it's a bad flu,” which is in my opinion, fair comment, considering what most experienced. But I can only assume this is where YouTube got us.
I appealed, explaining that the interview does not deny the existence of Covid and that we specify it can be quite serious for the elderly and otherwise vulnerable. I wrote that nothing my guest said was untrue, in as far as the severity of Covid goes, yet my appeal was denied.
An email explained:
“We reviewed your content carefully, and have confirmed that it violates our medical misinformation policy. We know this is probably disappointing news, but it's our job to make sure that YouTube is a safe place for all.”
Disappointing indeed! If I or my guests are not permitted to state things that which are, at this point, common knowledge and fair assessments of reality, I don’t feel particularly “safe” on YouTube. (I do, for the record, plan to start promoting my content on Rumble more now, seeing as YouTube is clearly not to be relied on.)
Ironically, I suspect that all the channels that posted information and opinion which has now been proven to be untrue, such as “vaccines stop the spread,” “mask up or we all die,” or “the lab leak hypothesis is a debunked conspiracy theory” have not been issued warnings against spreading “medical misinformation.”
Even if I or Konstantin had been wrong in anything we had said during this interview, which is fully possible — this was almost two years ago, after all, and we have new information now — it’s weird for YouTube to be punishing people for having what are clearly good faith conversations rooted in their own experiences and in information that was available to those inclined to look.
After my appeal was rejected, I went and looked at the more detailed “Covid-19 medical misinformation policy,” which rails against reccomending Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, which seems a little dated at this point, and continues to bar users from claiming “that achieving herd immunity through natural infection is safer than vaccinating the population” and “that COVID-19 vaccines do not reduce risk of serious illness or death.” The wording is specific here, but considering it is now widely acknowledged that “natural immunity” from having had the virus offers “strong, lasting protection against the most severe outcomes of the illness,” and that we all know plenty of elderly people have died from Covid despite having been vaccinated, YouTube seems to be clinging to a past we’ve all moved on from.
Needless to say, having read through all the weirdly specific rules about what one is not allowed to say on YouTube, with regard to Covid, I believe the warning is unfair. As such, I have published the transcript in its entirety (lightly edited for clarity and readability) below. Discussion of Covid and the mandates are in the first half, and I’ve tried to bold the areas which I believe might apply to YouTube’s “medical misinformation” policy, so you can see for yourselves. Please do feel free and encouraged to let me (and YouTube) know your thoughts.
Meghan Murphy: Thank you so much for joining me on the show. I'm really looking forward to talking to you today.
Konstantin Kisin: Thanks Megan. It's good to speak with you again. I really enjoyed the interview we did with you on Triggernometry. It continues to do well.
Actually. I thought it was one of our more open and honest conversations that we've had on the show, so I'm looking forward to this. Grill me as much as you want on what you want to talk about.
MM: I really appreciate you saying that. I try my best to be open and authentic.
I wasn't totally prepared to grill you. There's a lot of things that I wanted to talk to you about, but now I'll try to focus more on the grilling.
How are things going for you over in the UK right now? Let's start with that.
KK: Well, it depends when you say “you,” who you mean. For me personally, things are going pretty well. The show that you appeared on continues to grow. We've just had a whole raft of really interesting guests.
Jordan Peterson is one of the latest ones, etc. So we're talking to interesting people. The show's going well. It's now a small business that we run that employs five people, and we've made the most of lockdown. So from that perspective, everything is great. Before we started this interview, we were talking about some of the other stuff to do with Covid and the lockdown and, we didn't even get into vaccine passports and all that other wonderful stuff.
My life is great, but I also worry about the state of the country. In this country at the moment, we have a right of centre government — supposedly those are the people that supposedly care about our freedoms.
We've quickly found out that's not really the case. They're about to, it looks like, roll out a whole vaccination passport program. They've locked down the borders. It's interesting how things have changed over the last five, six years because I remember during the Brexit campaign (I was sort of on the remain side, which is the morally correct side at the time), the leader of [the “leave”] campaign was Nigel Farage, who is sort of like, Donald Trump. And he was saying in 2014, “Well, we've got to make sure we leave the EU so we can control our borders.” And one of the points he made was, “We don't want people coming in with infectious diseases,” which was seen at the time as this horrific thing to say — this intolerant, bigoted, prejudiced thing.
Now fast forward six years, all the same people who were outraged then are now absolutely obsessed with shutting everything down — close the borders, don't let anyone out of their house, etc. So the tables have turned. I've been talking to my friend Zuby, who I think you know, about the fact that basically, we found out the true colours of many of our fellow countrymen and women. And it's not that pleasant. It's been really unpleasant.
MM: I mean, it's funny because in Canada it's been primarily the left and our Liberal Party — some people would probably call them center left, I suppose — they have been really leading the charge on the Covid restrictions.
And it's also been framed that way by my fellow progressive friends. The leftists in Canada are the ones who are really demanding like a police state and wanting people to be fined and arrested for leaving the country. They're really angry about, you know, “snowbirds” going on vacation.
They don't see a problem with things like vaccine passports. They take these sort of knee-jerk fear-based positions, although I'm pretty sure they don't see it that way. So what I've noticed is that when I've spoken critically about Covid restrictions, or, you know, more recently I've expressed concern about vaccine passports, I've been framed (or those kinds of questions and critiques are framed) as very selfish.
So it's like, “Oh, well you are so selfish. All you care about is going on vacation and going to the bar, and who cares about grandma? Who cares about old people?” Which really, for me, was never the case. I was really miserable and depressed and stressed out in Canada, but at the same time, those restrictions didn't really affect me that much. I was still able to work. I could still do work online. I'm healthy. I had an apartment. I wasn't one of the ones losing my business, losing my livelihood, going into poverty and unemployment. I was relatively okay and I wonder, why you think there's that kind of response? Why do people find it so appalling that anyone would advance any kind of questions or critiques about the impacts of these lockdowns and these responses?
KK: It's fear. The governments around the world have done a lot to scare people into misunderstanding this virus. And obviously the virus is real. Obviously it's killed people, but we know the demographics that are affected by it. And a lot of, as you say, the left wing thinking on it is not consistent.
I mean, look at something like vaccines. Now I'm someone who thinks that if I was elderly, or if I was in a risk group because I had a certain condition or whatever, I would take the vaccine. Because I think the risk to reward ratio if you are in that sort of position makes more sense than for young, relatively healthy people like us.
And it should be an individual decision.
One of the cornerstones of leftist thinking that I to some extent agree with is the idea of bodily autonomy, right? When we talk about something like abortion — my body, my choice — well, that seems to have gone completely out of the window.
I made that analogy on social media the other day, and people just don't see it. You know, people will say stuff like, “Well, the thing with abortion is that it doesn't affect anyone. No one's hurt by that. No one dies.”
Really? You sure about that? Now, you can have a discussion about how society should deal with all of that. I'm not someone who thinks abortion should be illegal, but I think you have to be intellectually honest about what we're talking about, right? Uh, and what we're talking about is your ability to control your own body. So a government creating a structure that essentially makes it impossible to live your life unless you take a medical injection — which by virtue of how quickly it's been developed, hasn't been subject to long-term testing — that's an interference in your bodily autonomy. That should be unacceptable, but, if you scare people enough, we know what happens, right? If you scare people enough, they will accept whatever solution is being offered. And I think that's why, as much as I'm concerned about the government and some of the choices that they've made and some of the policies that they're implementing all around the world, I'm much more concerned about the reaction of the public.
I thought that we lived in countries that valued freedom, that valued civil liberties, that valued our individual right to make our own decisions for our own wellbeing, and to think about things through that prism... Well, turns out we don't. So it is been disappointing. But you know, we'll have to just see.
I'm sort of seriously at the point where I'm thinking this isn't going be the last pandemic. If you think about the last 20, 30 years, we've had SARS, we've had bird flu, we've had swine flu, MERS from the Middle East, and on and on we go. Every few years something like this happens.
But now the precedent has been set. You can't possibly imagine that if there's another pandemic three years from now or even another virus in China — someone eats, you know, some rare animal or whatever it is that happened, and we end up with, I don’t know, pangolin flu. I don't think the reaction will be to just go, “Oh, you know what, let's just see what happens.”
I think we're gonna be exactly where we are right now. Lockdown, preventatively borders shirt, etc. And that should worry us.
MM: Right. I mean, to me it's like, well, where does this end? And if, if this is how we're planning on responding to viruses and pandemics, then there is no end. Um, I, I suppose, I mean, I think that there's two things that are happening… Maybe there's more, but there are two things that I've noticed that are happening in terms of people's enthusiasm around continued lockdowns and further travel restrictions, keeping the borders closed, vaccine passports, the suggestion that you should prove that you've had the vaccine to enter pubs, for example.
One of those things is fear of the virus, which I tend to think is largely irrational. And I don't want downplay it because lots of people have died, and so it is callous to be like, “Oh, well, who cares?” I mean of course it matters, and of course I want there to be a way to protect the vulnerable and the elderly. But we do know that people our age — most people, you know, 99% of people are going to recover from Covid. So I've never personally felt any particular fear of this virus. My approach to the vaccine was — I mean, I don't get flu shots… I'm not anti-vax by any means, I've had plenty of vaccinations, but I know that I'll recover from the flu — I'm not super worried about Covid. I'm not super stressed about this and I want wait and see what happens with the data. I wanna make sure that [the vaccine is] safe. I'll determine after a certain amount of time whether or not I choose to do this. But I’m just saying that people should be able to choose, which has mainly been my approach.
I'm not anti-the vaccine. Go for it. I'm not opposed to people getting the vaccine. I'm not even necessarily opposed to getting it myself [at some point] if it means that I can travel, to be honest. But I don't think people should be forced. I think people should be able to make choices about their own health. And that, again, is [treated as] somehow selfish, alarmist, anti-science, irresponsible.
KK: Yeah, absolutely. And I've had Covid… It was quite a funny story. Francis — my co-host who you've met — and I, we had a meeting last February, so a couple of months ago, but February before Covid actually started, and we had a business meeting. We walk into this WeWork type place, and the guy goes, “Oh yeah, come this way.” He leads us into a glass cubicle the size of my bathroom, Llocked and sealed, and then goes, “Oh, guys, don't shake my hand. Sorry. I've just got a bit of a cold. I've come back from Hong Kong,” after which the two of us both [got Covid]. I still haven't really got my sense of smell, but for me anyway, it was barely noticeable. I had a bit of a fever and a dry cough. Francis had it quite bad in fairness, but it's a bad flu. I had a flu five years ago and I was horizontal. For three weeks lost my sense of taste and smell. And that was way worse than what I experienced with Covid.
So we've had these types of things happen in the past, and the reaction hasn't been anything like what we've got at the moment, because those are things that we've factored into our thinking. This is a new thing, and I think we overreacted massively.
By the way, you know, we've had three lockdowns in the UK. I supported the first one. I followed all the rules. I thought, look, we don't know what's going on. This could be like the deadliest thing ever. Let's make sure where we take precautions, whatever. But since then, I think what we've been doing has been illogical and irrational. And that's what worries me when you see large movements of people who don't think critically about what they're being told.
The way you described the approach to taking a vaccine action to me is the sensible approach — you wait and see you, you kind of go, well, people should be able to do what they want. If you are vulnerable, you should take a vaccine because that protects you. And if you want to take the vaccine, by all means take the vaccine. But equally, forcing people to take a vaccine, to me is a level of intrusion into your bodily autonomy, and actually into your freedoms in general, that I'm not comfortable with.
But as I say, it turns out the vast majority of our fellow countrymen and women are very comfortable with that. And that to me is a worry because it makes me wonder how, in other scenarios, the general public would react to the development of a really genuinely tyrannical government at some point. Because we know through history that tends to happen every now and again. Are these going be the people that stand by and watch? Well, I suspect they will be.
Based on that, I'm sort of seriously trying to work out if there is a better part of the world for me to be living in. You know, maybe once the Americans have had their civil war and we know who won, I'll know where to move.
MM: Yeah. I mean, as I told you before the show started, I decided to bail on Canada because I was actually really concerned. It wasn't just out of pure selfishness. Like, yes, I care about my health and my mental health, and it was not good for my mental health to be stuck in Vancouver where I was being told I can't socialize with anyone outside my household, and I'm the only person that lives in my household. And with all fitness is being shut down, my boxing was being shut down. And you're not supposed to hug other people, which is almost like torture. (Obviously I was hugging people cause I think that's insane.) But it was really depressing. I had like major anxiety for many months on end, but more than that I just felt like the direction this country is going is very scary to me and I don't want to be stuck in a place that is enthusiastically becoming some kind of police state wheremy friends and neighbours are interested in policing their friends and neighbors and are suggesting that people should be arrested and fined and punished and ostracized from society because they want to live their lives. Because they want to run businesses. Experience joy.
I feel like people really lost sight of what matters in life. It’s like, “Oh well you're alive.” But is that what life is? Just, “I'm alive, I'm in my apartment, I'm on the internet. That's enough for me.”
KK: Yeah. And look, there's been a lot of side effects of that and the people in Britain have a bit of an understandable excuse in that we are being bribed every day to stay at home and not to do this and not do that because everybody who's not been able to work is being paid by the government. Now, that is going to have long-term consequences that no one at the moment appreciates. There's all sorts of health consequences. There's social consequences… Depression, suicide is through the roof, missed cancer diagnoses. We can go on and on and on. But, but the real question for me is, as you say, what is the point of living our lives if we are just stuck indoors?
Now, look, there, there are people who are vulnerable and they absolutely should be protected. And I've argued from day one that actually if we didn't spend all our money paying healthy young people not to work and to stay at home and instead spend that money on getting extra support for people who are vulnerable, having food delivered, setting up some kind of way that they could be visited by friends and family — in a way that's Covid safe, whatever that would look… If we put a 10th of that money into that, we'd have a much healthier approach to this.
But I think maybe the thing that we should talk about, Meghan, is that a big part of this is the fact that we no longer know how to deal with death. And we no longer know how to deal with danger. And we no longer know how to deal with risk in society because we've got this safetyist culture and because we somehow think that we're going to live forever, we don't really understand how to deal with all of these things.
And so I think that's probably the reason that we are so fearful, as we are about all these things as a society, because we're suddenly confronted with our own mortality in a way that we've sort of been able to push to the background.
You know, where I come from in Russia, people look after their elderly relatives in their own family home. So, I witnessed my grandparents in the final stages of their life to some extent, and that's kind of the normal thing. But in the West, we sort of outsource that part to the hidden — the hospices and the hospitals, where no one really sees it, except you know, an hour with your grandma when she's dying or whatever.
And I think that's probably got something to do with it.
And also look at the series of street protests and violence and all that sort of thing that we've seen in America and in the UK. I mean, yes, there were other triggers for it, but I have no doubt that a big contributor to all of that is the fact that people are stuck indoors — the appeal of going out, the appeal of being with other people, the appeal of, frankly, smashing shit up, by the way. Like how many times during this lockdown would you, I, and other people watching this have felt like, “You know what? I'm pretty angry today, and if I could join with 50 of my friends and go out and just smash something up — it's a good day out compared to what I've been doing for the last three months.” Do you know what I'm saying?
MM: I mean, even just the ability to be close to other people. I'm just being honest — and I think that some people will watch this and be mad at me for saying this — but when I first got here, to Mexico, I was just so, like, overwhelmed with joy at the ability to be around strangers and to talk to strangers.
I'm a pretty social person and I really like meeting people and I like making new friends. I like having conversations with strangers. I think that's important for everyone to do, but some people don't like that. Like, whatever. Fair enough, I guess. But, you know, that need to be around people and to be, I don't know, in a crowded bar shouting in someone else's face and or sitting next to somebody at a restaurant, or talking to the store clerk or whoever and not feeling either paranoid or guilty that you're standing too close or that you're saying “Hi,” that you're smiling at somebody.
And I'm also very baffled at this idea that people aren't bothered by wearing masks. Partly because I just find it really uncomfortable to wear something over my face — I feel like I can't breathe properly. It's hot. My face sweats. I don't like it. But also, I can't communicate properly!
My automatic reaction, when I'm wearing a mask is that, when I start talking, to take it off because, you know, this is an important part of communication and people are acting like this is totally normal and no big deal. And I find it so strange because I do find it to be a big deal.
KK: It is a big deal. All of that is a big deal. And we're in one of these periods in history, which humanity goes through regularly, where we just all go a bit mental for a bit. And we start reporting our neighbours to the police, and we start ganging up on people, and we start ostracizing people. Humanity just goes through these periods. The witch hunts, the McCarthyism, the Inquisition — this has been going on since forever. And I just feel like we're in one of those periods.
I'm sort of from a Jewish background, and I've been saying sort of half jokingly, “Well, we're doing better than previous pandemics — by this point in the past we'd be blaming the Jews.”
And we are getting there, but we’re not quite there. Do you know what I mean? Like, I feel like we're not that far away, to be honest, because like we are always looking for somebody to blame. And it's incredible. In the UK, all the polls show that when people are asked, “Who's more responsible for some of the problems to do with the responses to the pandemic,” they are more likely to say that it's other people rather than the government.
So there's this narrative of the irresponsible neighbour who's going around infecting everyone. And I'm not aware of any data to support that at all. But that is the narrative and everybody buys into it.
You know, it's a British habit to blame the government for everything, and they won't even do that now. There's something about blaming other human beings who are your neighbour or whoever. And it is worrying. And this is what people go through every now and again. And let's just hope that the Jews get kept out of it this time.
MM: I mean, it's very convenient for the government that people are just volunteering to point the finger at their neighbours and friends: It's the kids’ fault! It's the parents’ fault! It's the Millennials’ fault!
And you know, admittedly, I kind of did that early on — I supported the lockdowns, very early on, because I thought it was short term. I believed what the government said — you know, it's going to be two, three weeks, we're just gonna get this under control, then we can go back to normal. So I was kind of like, “Guys stop complaining. It's just a couple weeks we'll all live. You don't need to party right now.”
KK: Yeah, that was me too. So do you regret that now or do you think it was the right decision at the time?
MM: I do regret it. I guess I think it was naive, but also, I don't know how else I could have reacted because I really didn't know what this was gonna turn into.
But I also know that there were people from the getgo who were concerned and were like, “No, this is wrong — this is dangerous.” And I just didn't understand, I didn't see what they were seeing. So next time I'll see it. I mean, I didn't know what was gonna happen and we didn't know very much about the virus. We didn't know how it was spreading.
KK: Yeah, no, I'm with you. I think I sort of probably don't regret it at the time, although it's clearly been shown to be the wrong decision, in my opinion.
It's a difficult one — how you react to it.
MM: So earlier on I said there was a couple things that I was noticing, particularly with regard to the vaccine and why people were so enthusiastic about the vaccine but also really angry at those who were saying, “Let people choose. It shouldn't be mandatory.” Or the people who are saying, you know, “I don't know that I want to take the vaccine.” And one of those things was actual fear of the virus. And the other one is that I think people wrongly believe that if everyone gets the vaccine, then everything can open up again and they can go back to normal.
And I just find that so naive. Maybe I'm wrong. If so, great. If everything totally goes back to normal and there's no long-term impacts of all of this — we don't have any more lockdowns ever again in the future, great. They're not tracking our data and limiting our civil liberties based on whether or not we've chosen to get a vaccine or followed the rules or whatever. But I don't know how you could have existed throughout this year of lockdown and believe what the government is telling you anymore. I mean, where I was living, it was like, “Oh, we're just locking down for three weeks. Oh, we're just locking down for two months. Oh, we're just locking down till November.” And at a certain point you're like, bullshit. Right? This is just gonna go on forever. I don't believe you at all. So why these people would think, “Oh, well if we just do this, if we just follow these rules, if we just keep staying in our apartments, if we just don't ever hug each other ever again, if everyone gets the vaccine, every single person, then it'll be okay. Everything will go back to normal.”
KK: In the UK, during the first lockdown, we actually had a tremendous amount of social solidarity. I felt people were looking after each other, you know, helping elderly neighbours with food delivery, all that sort of stuff. And there was really a genuinely very high level of compliance with all the rules and regulations. What broke it was, the Black Lives Matter protest, which happened in the late spring/early summer of last year, where we went from “Everybody stay at home, nobody move, nobody go anywhere” to suddenly this poor guy dies halfway across the world in America, George Floyd, and in a country which doesn't have the problem of police shooting unarmed black men at all, or killing unarmed anyone, really… We don't have guns. And therefore that issue is much less of an issue. But we just had thousands of people in the streets of London, right next to each other, in each other's faces, attacking police officers.
And you're going, well, sorry, but the same people who were extra keen on lockdown were the ones that were saying, “This is the right thing.” And I think the thing that I am increasingly seeing everywhere is this sort of woke hypocrisy. Where it's not do what I do, it's do what I say, and then we are going do something completely different.
And that bothers me. I find that very annoying and I find it troubling. And the fact that other people don't see it again, I find frustrating. So we'll have to see.
Look, there'll be some positives out of this as well. I mean, in terms of commuting — I don't think we'll be commuting in anything like the way that we used to before. That will hopefully reduce pollution, which is a big problem in the big cities, in Western countries. Noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution, all these things are really genuinely bad.
The issue of climate change is a separate thing, which you don't even need to get into to talk about this stuff. So hopefully pollution will be reduced. I think there will be an extent to which people appreciate — if those freedoms ever come back, which I hope they do — being able to be in a bar or make new friends. I think we will take those things and give them more significance, at least for a period of time. We'll appreciate each other more time spent together more. For me, for example, just the fact that I had to change the way I worked meant it probably made a very positive difference to my marriage.
My wife and I have been together for 20 years and I've just gone through a period of several years of working uber hard on Triggernometry and comedy and other stuff that I was working on. And I was spending less and less time at home, less time with my wife, and that was taking its toll. So there will be positives out of this.
And it's important in any situation, I think, to look at what you can personally take out of it as a positive. And I'm sort of stuck, as I said at the beginning, in between two very different places. I've been fortunate in that I've been able to make the very most of this. In fact, there's lots of things I am and should be grateful and thankful for that came out of everything that's happened. But the direction of travel that came along with some of that stuff politically and socially is very worrying. It’s my big hope that we can roll some of the stuff back.
And that's my concern. We saw after 9/11, for example, the Patriot Act in the United States never got rolled back. And there's no such thing as, I can't remember the Milton Friedman quote exactly, but it's something about how there's no such thing as a temporary government program. The government takes power and it never ever gives any of it back. So I guess we're all gonna have to work extra hard to hopefully make sure we can do some of that.
We at Triggernometry now have a big audience. I know that politicians watch our show. And I'm starting to throw my weight around a little bit and go, “This is what I think — if you're a politician, listen to this. I hope you take into account that there's x thousands of people who feel this way as well.” But whether that will make a big impact, I don't know. But again, we keep coming back to this point about my main concern being the reaction of my fellow citizens — that's the big concern.
MM: In regards specifically to this proposed idea of vaccine passports, what is your concern?
KK: Well, there's the data issue because, first of all, it's gonna be tied to some kind of database. No doubt. It has to be. And that means your health data is being tracked.
All of your other data's already being tracked. Now you add your health data to that. So you're giving corporations, governments, hackers, whoever it is, access to very personal information about your health.
And more than anything, it's the thing that we already talked about, which is your bodily autonomy. You have a right not to put things in your body that you choose not to, and to put things in your body that you choose to do. That's always been my opinion. That's why I, you know, I'm very liberal when it comes to drug policy. I think you should be allowed to do with your body what you choose to do with your body.
To me, the bodily autonomy thing is a founding principle of any advanced modern society — the idea that you get to choose what happens to your body. It’s not that complicated. The potential for misuse with a vaccine passport database is there and it's very big.
We had a track and trace system in this country that the government spent about 20 billion on. There turned out to be some kind of Excel spreadsheet that didn't even work. So the idea that, “Oh yes, trust the government to get all your data in one place and then to do all the right things with it,” sorry, I don't really buy that. So there's all sorts of concerns there. And then the vaccine itself, look, as I say, I think if you’re elderly or if you are vulnerable to this particular disease in some way, the risk to reward ratio for you probably makes sense. Probably. And if I was in my eighties, I'd be taking the vaccine.
But, the fact is, and again, this is not anti-vax. I've had lots of vaccines. Vaccination has been one of the huge breakthroughs in human history that has saved billions of people probably from dying and, and horrible disease and complications. But this particular vaccine, we haven't seen what it does to women's fertility. We just haven't seen that. Maybe it doesn’t have any impact on that. Maybe it makes you more fertile. Great. I don't know. But we don't know what it does. And we haven't had a generation of babies born to women who've had the vaccine.
Now, if I were a young woman, I'm sorry, to me, that's one of the key considerations of my life — the ability to have children and the hope that those children are healthy. So the idea that you force people to take what is an experimental treatment? And that's not to say it's unreliable. That's not to say that what the government is saying about it is untrue. I don't know any of that. But the fact is, it's not been subject to long-term testing and you're asking people to take something which has potentially negative consequences, which we don't know.
And yet we also know that for people like you and I and many, many other people, the disease itself is not really that much of a threat at all. In fact, for people like us, it's less dangerous than the flu, statistically speaking. As we know. So you are asking me to take something that I don't have any reason to believe doesn't have any long-term consequences because it's not been tested, in exchange for almost no gain whatsoever. And particularly for someone like me who's already had the bloody virus, it doesn't make any sense to me.
MM: Yeah. And when you make those arguments, people will say that if you take the vaccine, it will stop you from infecting others. Like if you get it, you won't be able to spread it to others.
I don't know if that's true or not. I don't know if they know if that's true or not. I don't know. How would you respond? You know, because they'll say, well, it's your responsibility to not be a vector of disease. It's your responsibility to not be out in the world spreading this around to people who might die from Covid.
KK: Yeah. Well, as I say, I am someone who's already had it, so I probably have immunity to it anyway. Number one. Number two, the vaccines do seem to reduce spread somewhat. But isn't the whole point of the vaccine is that it protects you? Therefore people who are vulnerable should have the vaccine and then they'll be protected. And then it doesn't matter if. I am, quote unquote, a vector of disease. So again, there's all sorts of inconsistencies in the arguments, isn't there? Either the vaccines work and they're brilliant and they protect you, uh, in which case you only need to take it if you're actually vulnerable to the virus, or they don't work, in which case everyone needs to take it, but they don't work. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think the most credible argument against what I'm saying is that, if the virus is allowed to spread between, let's say you and I, who are not going to be affected badly by it, that may lead to the emergence of some kind of new strain that then can infect people who've been vaccinated because the new virus isn't susceptible to the vaccine.
But the reality is that's still gonna happen — that's still gonna happen, number one. And also, we know that, statistically speaking, viruses tend to evolve all the time and mutate anyway. And what happens over time is they become less lethal. That's why the Spanish flu and stuff like that is not around.
There was no vaccine for the Spanish flu that got rolled out to every human being. You've not been vaccinated for the Spanish flu yet. It's not around. So I think someone's made the decision that we should all have the vaccine and we're all gonna be made to have the vaccine if they possibly can.
In the UK — I don't know about elsewhere — it's very much like the government's scared the public. The public are now scared and the government are now scared of the public who are scared of the virus. Therefore, the government will do whatever they can to reassure the public, who they've scared into being scared.
MM: Do you think that once a majority of the population gets the vaccine, things will go back to normal? Or do you sort of suspect that we’ll never really fully go back to normal.
KK: It's interesting you asked that. We had a poll or a study come out today in the UK saying that more than half of the public have antibodies for covid.
So over half of the public are already immune. We're still in lockdown. We're still in lockdown for the next two months. There's talk about us wearing masks for years. Some people are saying, they keep talking about, “Well, when everyone gets the vaccine, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
So it's not looking like we're going back to normal, which is my point. Exactly. Like to me, once we vaccinated all the people in the risk groups, which in the UK we have… Now some of them haven't had the second dose, so they're not as immune as they otherwise would be. Whatever. Let's say they all get the second dose. To me, after that, everything should return to normal.
And I mean normal. I'm not talking about some bullshit new normal, I'm talking about normal. That's not, you can sit around outside with your 10 friends. That's not normal. No. You know, I want every person in this country to get their freedom back, their freedom to work, their freedom to live, their freedom to socialize, their freedom to love, their freedom to travel.
All of those things should be coming back. I don't think they are, Meghan. I don't think they are. I don't think they're coming back here. I don't think they're coming back in Canada. I don't think they're coming back in the United States for the reason that we've already talked about. Once the government realizes how much power they have to coerce and cajole people into following stupid rules, well, why wouldn't you carry on down that path?
And this is the other thing: You know, we talked about risk. What people don't seem to understand is there are all sorts of other threats to our lives that could be eliminated with lockdown. You could eliminate quite a lot of murder if you lock everyone in the house. Don't you want to end murder and rape and child abduction? Don't we want to end all those things? But for some reason, it's never occurred to us to go, actually, let's lock everybody in their houses.
MM: I mean, there's an easy way to stop car accidents from happening.
KK: Exactly. And those kill tens of thousands of people.
So the whole consideration of risk, reward, freedom — all of that has gone completely out of the window. And I don't think it's coming back anytime soon, I'm afraid.
MM: Yeah. Well, and I think a major problem here is that we have decided that we're beyond nature. I think that we don't believe, or we don't want to believe, that we're human, that we're animals, that we live and die, that we actually don't have that much control over our lives. You could die tomorrow. There could be some accident. You could have some random brain aneurysm. You could get cancer. You can't live forever. And you mentioned this earlier — that we really are not contending with the reality of death, of life and death.I think we think that we can sort of overcome death and overcome nature.
I think that is tied not only to the way that we've responded to Covid, but to the fact that so many people seem to believe that we can replace real life with virtual life. Oh, you can just do cocktail hours online. You can do concerts online. You can do comedy online. You can do school online. Everyone can work online. It's totally the same.
KK: And it's really not. And you know, it's actually a very deep question. I don’t know where you are on the religious and spiritual side of things…
MM: Nowhere. On the pretty far atheist side, I suppose.
KK: And I think I certainly would have described myself that way five or 10 years ago. I'm probably agnostic when it comes to God. I'm probably quite spiritual, but I do wonder… You know, religion brings its own challenges. There's no question about that. And its own problems and its own abuses and its own difficulties. But I do wonder whether some of the stuff that we are talking constantly about in today's society would exist if we were still a society based on religion to some extent.
The loss of religion — yes, it opened up certain things, but it's also created these problems and it's interesting, you sparked a thought in my head about this because you talk about how we think all these things are the same as being together in person and stuff like that.
And death is something that's not gonna happen to us. We've transcended it, but also look at all the other stuff that we talk about constantly. And I do think it's important. Something like inequality, for example, right? Or hierarchy, and men and women and patriarchy and all this other sort of stuff.
Like we've bought into this idea that human beings in human society are infinitely perfectible. That we can eliminate any sort of differences and challenges and men and women really, at the end of the day, we're the same. Like eventually we'll get there. If we tell little boys to talk about their feelings, and if we tell little girls to be really confident and assertive, then you know, none of our biology, physiology, hormonal, none of that's gonna matter because we are in this great new age where we've transcended everything.
We just get to pick who we are. We're just like, okay, well, you know what? I feel like a girl today. Boom. I'm a girl. Like all of this sort of stuff, this breaking down of of reality. I think there was a point when it was useful because the dogma of religion, the dogma of rigid hierarchy, the dogma of a highly regimented society does create some of these artificial barriers, right? It tells women you must stay at home when actually they don't have to stay at home. But does that mean that men and women are exactly the same? No. And I think we are starting now to go too far in that direction, and I do wonder whether a loss of faith has been a contributing factor to that, where we really don't think, anymore, that there's anything above us.
And if there's nothing above us, if there's no power above us, there's no nature, so to speak. We've transcended all of it. Well, why wouldn't you think you can just change your sex, you know, to on Fridays, you know?
MM: Right. Yeah. I mean, and, and I think that there's also this factor that, you know, that we think that we can control all of our surroundings.
So we can control how we feel, we can control how other people perceive us, we can control how other people behave to us, so we can essentially control whether or not we're offended, right? This whole safety is a thing where it's like, well, you can't say anything in my vicinity that might make me feel uncomfortable — that might traumatize me, that might feel harmful, that might upset me. We can sort of control how people feel about one another, so we can stop prejudice entirely. We can stop people from treating each other differently, or discriminating or judging or, you know, or shaming, for example. It's this weird idea that we seem to think that we can just totally cultivate reality through superficial means essentially — more and more regulations and rules. You know, policing people's speech, policing people's thoughts, policing people's behaviors.
KK: Post-modernist is the word, and it means all things to all men at this point, but it, the, the, the main idea that I think is driving all of this is the idea that everything is socially constructed — you are only a woman because society has decided to tell you that you're a woman. Actually, you are whatever you want. You're like an orb, Megan. You just, you know, you be what you wanna be, right?
And there is some truth to the idea that some things are socially constructed and our ideas of masculinity and femininity are partly a product of how society has dictated it. Men used to dress much more like women do nowadays, you know, 3-400 years ago.
So all those things are definitely there, but at the same time, there are some underlying biological, physical, chemical, hormonal realities that we can't transcend by teaching people to be different.
And we will never overcome if we pretend that they aren't there. And I think we, as I say, I have gone far too far in the other direction, and it's time for the pendulum to start swinging back.
MM: Well, and I don't really think that's even desirable — the desire to not be offended or not to feel upset or not to feel uncomfortable. I think those are kind of important feelings. I'm not sure exactly why, but I do know that my bad times… I can speak to this:
So this past year I had a really bad year. And it wasn't just because of Covid depression. I went through a breakup. I was really sad. I felt very isolated. I went through a lot of anxiety prior to lockdown. I'd been through a lot of anxiety and difficult times because I was being protested by hundreds of people. It was stressful, and now I'm sort of living my best life, which I feel mildly guilty about. But at the same time, it's like you mentioned this earlier: there usually is something that is good that comes out of the bad.
For me personally, I did take an opportunity that was Covid and being forced to do everything online.All of my events stopped and all my in-person media stopped. So I finally had the freedom to actually go move somewhere else, which I had wanted to do before anyway, and wasn't able to.
I think we've all probably had that experience of going through real hardship and hard times, whether it's death or breakups or, you know, depression for whatever reason, loss of friends, jobs, so on and so forth, injuries... And you come out the other end and it's so great and you feel so joyful and so elated and you really learn to appreciate life and the good things. It's not bad to feel bad.
KK: Without the bitter, the sweet ain't as sweet.
MM: Yes, indeed. So I'm wondering — sorry, I'm gonna switch gears a little bit, if that's okay — are you still doing comedy at all?
KK: Uh, no. There's some people who've continued to do gigs over Zoom and stuff like that. But I was sort of already — that was one of the liberating things about lockdown ending the comedy circuit, which I was performing at — I was starting to get very frustrated with the comedy world. And so I'm not doing standup per se.
What Francis and I have done is we've written a few sketches called, “That was the woke that was,” where we make fun of whatever has been happening. And we are in talks with a few comedy producers about making that potentially go on tv. So, comedy in the sense of standup, no, but in the sense of other stuff, yeah, to some extent.
And also in addition to the interviews that we do, like the one we did with you, we also do four live streams a week, where it’s just Francis and I talking nonsense about the news of the week, making fun, ripping each other to pieces for the benefit of the audience, stuff like that.
So, performing, still writing comedy, but not so much in the standard sense. And I, I'm not sure that I necessarily even want to go back to standup. Because it's the lifestyle more than anything that doesn't work for me. It's a lot of driving around…
Playing to your own audience is a lot of fun. But when you're playing the comedy circuit, which is like, you know, you turn up at a bar on a Saturday night type of thing or a comedy club, you're playing to an audience that may not be interested in what you want to talk about. I was always very interested in the political and satirical side of things, and you're playing to a lot of people who, you know, they got a babysitter, they've had a few drinks with their friends, and they just want hear someone talk about airplane food, which is great. It's totally cool. But not for me.
MM: Was there other stuff that was going on in terms of comedy that made you not as interested in engaging? I know that in 2018, for example, you got a lot of media coverage. Maybe you can explain actually — you'll be able to explain better than I can. What happened with that 2018 gig for UNICEF — was that at the University of London?
KK: Yeah, it was a super woke college called SOAS — School of Oriental and Asian Studies I think, or African Studies… something like that. So the Cliff Notes version is: I was performing at a comedy club in London — one of the better comedy clubs in the country — and after the show, a student came up to me and said, “Oh, would you be interested in helping us raise money for charity by performing at our university gig?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” And then a couple of days later, I got an email, and they said, “Konstantin, thank you so much for agreeing to do this.Here is our contract for this gig.”
And the contract said that in addition to other things, they have a zero tolerance policy on racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-religion, anti -atheism. And it also said that all jokes must be respectful and kind.
MM: Haha. Doesn't sound very funny.
KK: No, no it doesn't. And when I turned it down, it got a lot of attention. You could argue it was a level of attention that was completely disproportionate to the story of like, “Unknown comedian turns down unpaid gig for charity.” Like not a big deal really.
And when I say a big deal, what I mean is that the day the story broke in the UK was the day when the then prime minister of this country was nearly removed from office by her own party to the equivalent of the Democrats in America. Like almost removing Joe Biden.
And that was the number one story. And the number two story was me. So it went pretty viral.
So yeah, I mean, look, you are right. That was a big part of my frustration as well as, you know, we were starting to get to a point with comedy where, you know, I used to have all sorts of jokes about my ethnicity, my race, people being racist to me… Talking about race and differences between different cultures was always interesting to me. And it was never from a point of view of making fun of the other, or, you know, oppressed minorities or whatever. And the thing that I really remember was I had a whole routine about how we need a special Olympics for white people. It was a series of jokes about white people not being great at like, sprinting and stuff. It was making fun of the fact that every time you turn on the hundred meter dash in the Olympics, it's always like seven black guys and a white guy who's just happy to be there. And he is always the last one.
So it was a series of jokes making fun, essentially, of white people. So making fun of myself, making fun of other white people that, by the sort of standard comedy rules is what you're supposed to do.
And yet what I started to notice was that routines like that increasingly were only well received by people from minority backgrounds. So you'd have a room of 100 people, or 200 people, or 300 people, and it would be, you know, black guys and Asian people and, and whateve who would laugh at that, and white people would sit and go, “Am I allowed to laugh at that?” And they'd look at the black person — the one black person in the room — for permission to laugh.
And I was starting to sort of go, “Well, this doesn't make any sense.” And that was a big frustration of mine — that comedy audiences became very policing of themselves and of each other. And I think it's a reflection of the sort of world that we live in. And comedy audiences tend to skew to the sort of woke left anyway, because, you know, for psychological reasons, that's who comedy tends to appeal to more.
The sort of people that go to a comedy club are people who are likely to be left-leaning in general just due to psychological factors. You know, the whole big five personality traits — openness etc. So basically what happened was the better I became as a comedian, the less well I started to do at all these woke clubs because I was interested in talking about more and more edgy stuff. And I genuinely was doing it better. But whenever I ended up playing to a crowd of woke people, it was a very frustrating experience. Cause I'd be like, I know these jokes work. I've done them in many other parts of the country. But the main places I perform in — the big cities, it just became very frustrating.
So those two things combined made me very frustrated. Number one, I'm driving four hours a day to get somewhere — you know, two hours there, two hours back — getting home at one in the morning, not seeing my family, etc. And then on top of that, increasingly I'm like, “Come on guys — these jokes are funny. I know they are.” And you are sitting there holding your hand over your mouth because you know it's funny. You just worry about laughing. So it was those two things that combined to make me quite frustrated with it.
MM: Do you think that “wokeness” has kind of ruined comedy? Have you seen a major impact broadly in terms of what's happening in comedy because of this woke trend?
KK: Yeah, I mean it really depends on what you — I'm wary of saying stuff like wokeness has killed comedy because it's very broad and there are people like Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr and Ricky Gervais and other people who've already had a career who've really established themselves, and who've got their own audience. And for them, if anyone tries to cancel them for being edgy, it's like a benefit. It helps them. But what has happened is when it comes to television and when it comes to the comedy circuit, if you're an up and coming comedian, the sorts of stuff you can joke about — the pool of things you can joke about — has shrunk massively.
And the comedy industry, particularly when it comes to television and stuff like that, has become explicitly anti-male and anti-white. And these people don't even pretend anymore. So you will have a meeting with a TV commissioner and they will say to you, “Well, look, the problem is, you've got this great idea and this works, and the jokes are great, and the writing's brilliant, and I think you've got a great team, but we just can't have a show that's that's written and hosted by two white men.” And they're not even embarrassed to say it anymore.
MM: I mean that's been happening in feminism for a very long time where it's like you have to do this kind of like optical diversity thing. Like you can't do a panel unless you're representing this person, this person, this person. And it doesn't matter what those people have to say. It doesn't matter if they have anything intelligent to say. It doesn't matter if they have something unique or interesting to say and, you know, I suppose, in the past I did just go along with it, and then at a certain point I just stopped caring.
I was like, no, I'm just inviting people to be on this panel who I find interesting, who would be a good fit for this panel. Or I'm just interviewing somebody because, you know, they can speak to this subject. Or because something of note happened to them that I want to talk to them about. And you know, if people are gonna pick on me for not representing diversity in this particular way… I mean, when we talk about diversity, obviously we're never talking about diversity of thought or even really diversity of experience. We're just talking about these optics that have to do with race and sex, I suppose.. But I mean, it's interesting that this has reached the mainstream…How do you think that happened?
KK: Oh, well, it's been going on in comedy for the last 10 years. And look, I'm always wary, whenever I bring this up, of being like the bitter guy who didn't, you know, make it or whatever. Like, I'm not complaining about it. I've written for some of the major comedy shows in this country. I had a great comedy career. I did my own show at the biggest arts festival in the world. It had great reviews. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying it how it is.
They drove comedy into the ground in terms of TV comedy 10 years ago. We had a number of shows on television in this country that were watched by everyone. Literally everybody. Like if you said, oh I'm on live at the Apollo, or I'm on, on a show called Mock the Week, or I am on the MASH report, or I'm on… a small number of TV shows in the UK that were huge… Everybody would know what that was. Now their audiences have plummeted and the reason they've plummeted is that, in comedy, if you go to the very bottom of the rung, that is an open mic where anybody can turn up and perform and it doesn't matter. You could be a gender fluid alien and all you have to do is just sign your name up. You get to perform right at those kind of gigs. You get 80% men to 20% women. Now we can get into why men are more attracted to comedy… If you understand psychology, it’s pretty obvious… But they just are.
But if you are in an industry that men are more attracted to, and you try to create a 50/50 balance, you drive quality down because you are going to be over promoting people who aren't ready. And there used to be a really sexist stereotype in comedy that women aren't funny, which is completely not true — there are lots of very good female comedians — but what has happened is that very promising female comedians have often been over promoted way beyond their skill level. And then they end up on TV after two years of doing comedy and they're not funny. And all the women on the panels are not funny. And then lots of people go, well, we told you women weren't funny. And that's really unfair to those young women who've been just put in a position for which they're not ready.
But as I say, from my perspective, look, I'm all for them ruining their brand and destroying their own comedy because it opens up the space for people who wanna do stuff online.
And you are seeing it now. As I say, we've just signed with a big comedy agent here in the UK for Triggernometry and our own comedy, and the stuff that we want to create. And all these people are woke, but they see the writing on the wall. They see the numbers, because at the end, capitalism always wins, and they look at the numbers and they see, “Oh, wow. You've got a quarter of a million subscribers, after you two as comedians with no contact, no background, no name, no money, started this show, and now you have a quarter of a million subscribers, you regularly speak to the biggest guests in the country. Your live streams get, you know, a hundred thousand views a week. And we are struggling with a budget that's 50 times your budget to create anything like that in terms of the response and the engagement.”
They know. And so eventually, having driven the comedy industry into the ground, they're gonna start looking around and going, who's doing this well?
And then you are in a powerful position because they're coming to you, you know? Right.
MM: And I mean, I sort of wonder if media is going in that direction also. I mean, we are, seeing the way that journalism and media is changing and these long-standing institutions are dying out and journalists are getting fired, which is a terrible thing, but, you know, all the, the liberal media and the mainstream media has so glommed on to wokeness to the point that their reporting changes the narrative based on what is politically correct or popular… I think the audience is getting bored of that and frustrated with that and losing trust in the media, which means that they're turning to independents, which means that I think that these institutions are, or eventually will be, punished for participating in this, and for manipulating narratives. I'm wondering if that's gonna backfire.
KK: Yeah. I think it is. I can't remember who it was — I always attributed it to George Carlin, one of my favorite comedians ever — but people then come and correct me and tell me whose quote actually is, and I always forget, so I'm gonna say it's George Carlin again. He said the most important thing in show business is authenticity. Once you can fake that, you can do anything. And I think the lack of authenticity in media — in comedy, because that's what comedy's supposed to be about as well, it's supposed to be hghlighting some kind of truth about the world. If you think of a piece of comedy or a standup routine or whatever that you really like, it's usually because it highlights something that's so true that maybe you haven't thought about before. That you haven't heard phrased in that way, where you go, “Oh yeah, I, I've always thought that, and I've never heard anyone say that.” And that's the same with the media as well. Their lack of authenticity is showing.
And so I am actually quite optimistic because I think in the end, we want to hear honest conversations. We want to read honest reporting.
Most people see the hypocrisy, they see the double standards, they see the dishonesty, and they're switching off and they're switching onto stuff like,Triggernometry and to your show, your channel, and the conversations that we have. And I think that will be the future. And as a result, the mainstream media will then change as well.
We still need the mainstream media, you know? You still have to have some people out there investigating and putting thousands of man hours and money and whatever into complex research and investigations that you and I just don't have the ability to do. That is necessary. But the pressures that we create will hopefully help to reshape that industry into something better.
So that side of things I'm somewhat more optimistic about, which is unusual for me.
MM: Yeah, I mean, you're right. The independents can't cover everything. We just don't have the capacity to.
In Canada, for example, our public broadcaster, the CBC is losing their audience. And I suspect that it's because of these forced narratives — because people have stopped trusting them. You can just predict what they're going to report on and how they're going to report it, and they're simply not doing their jobs. They won't interview people that they should be interviewing about the stories they're covering because those people are bad people, or it doesn't fit the narrative they want to put forward. I suspect at some point that's going to impact their funding and they'll either have to change or they'll fall apart and something new will have to be built up, which I think is a good thing. Although it's sad. I mean, I've been listening to the CBC since I was a kid. And I was quite fond of the CBC for a long time before they fell off the diversity deep end.
KK: Yeah, it's the same here with the BBC and there's now a big campaign to defund it. Those pressures are, are inevitable. But, I've always said this and this kind of connects the two of us in many ways.
I think I've always said that the trans issue will be what breaks this whole thing apart. Because the people will go along with, “Okay, I'll take your stupid unconscious bias training. I'll do this fine, just let me get on with my life.” But the moment you start telling parents their kid needs to transition at 12, because they said they were a boy once, that's where you're gonna start to lose a lot of ordinary people.
In many ways, I think the way that that issue has exploded, it's probably a good thing because it's forced a lot of people to wake up to the reality of all the other stuff that they're being forced to swallow as truth, which isn't truth. So in some ways I'm actually glad that that battle has been waged in the way that it has.
Certainly in the UK I know it's more difficult in America, but in the UK it's had a huge impact, I think. And that's why it's kind of odd… You know, Triggernometry, it’s hosted by two blokes. There's a blokey feeling to it. Let's say, uh, it's not a natural home for, for feminists, you might argue, to watch, but we have a very large community of people from even, you know, Mumsnet, who watch the show regularly. And the great thing about it is we probably have the full spectrum from radical gender critical feminists, and I'm sure on the other spectrum we have people who are like, sort of leading towards inceldom or whatever, and they come together and they watch the same stuff, and both of them I think take something away the otherwise they probably wouldn't have been exposed to. And I feel very reassured by that, actually — that we have a bunch of radical feminists who watch our show, and will watch our conversation with Jordan Peterson.
Where he says some stuff that's blatantly gonna piss a lot of them off, they still get to hear it. I think that's really valuable.
MM: Well, I mean, I’m personally not interested in just listening to things where I just agree the whole time. That's pretty boring. I'm interested in learning new things and hearing different perspectives. So I would assume that other people are as well. The idea that you would only listen to or engage with media that is completely in line with what you already think is rather strange to me, although, I suppose there's a large chunk of the population who likes that.
I'm just curious. I just listened to your interview with Jordan Peterson, and you just mentioned him, so I thought I would ask: “Why do you think people hate Jordan Peterson so much?” Now, obviously a lot of people love Jordan Peterson. You know, probably more people like him than they hate him. It depends on which social media feeds you're reading and which media you're reading. But it would appear as though a lot of people really hate Jordan Peterson.. And for at least a couple years now, I've defended him a little bit here and there. And people are very knee jerky about the name Jordan Peterson. They call him a misogynist.. people will call him dangerous all the time, so on and so forth.
KK: Well, I think he is dangerous. He's dangerous if you are of the worldview that his views threaten. He's very dangerous because he's, he's very good at explaining what's wrong with that worldview.
So if you are, an advocate and an acolyte of this social justice ideology and the post-modernist worldview and social constructivism, he's extremely dangerous. So I think that's a big part of the reason people don't like him. But I also think, and you know, this is why I really enjoyed our conversation, and I really respect you because I think even from coming from a very feminist lens, you're still open to… To put it very simply, Meghan, you're not a man hater, let's put it like that.
MM: Right. No, I don't hate men. It's true. I quite like them.
KK: Yeah, exactly. And I think the truth is that there's a small minority of men who create a lot of problems in society. And as a consequence of that, there's a very large majority of women in particular who've had bad experiences with men. It's just a fact of life. And, you know, if you are one of those people — if you are a woman who's had bad experiences with men, the last thing you want, if that trauma is unprocessed, because we all have trauma from childhood — trauma may be the wrong word, but you know what I mean? Like we've all got shit that we need to sort out. And if you haven't sorted your shit out, then the reality is if you are wary of men or fearful of men, or angry at men or upset with men because your dad wasn't the dad that he should have been, or someone misbehaved towards you or you've been assaulted or sexually assaulted, which are terrible things to happen… But if you haven't had the help you need for that, if you haven't processed all of that, then the last thing you want is a man who goes around telling men to be better because you confuse in your head “better” with “more powerful.” And the idea of these people who you think are bad being more powerful is terrifying.
And I can logically completely understand that. I just think, as someone who's done a ton of personal development and learned how my brain works and how other people's brains work, and processed my resentments and all of those sort of things, I just think that's a much healthier attitude than placing all of your fear and anger and whatever onto one person because he's trying to teach men how to empower themselves and be better.
And by the way, not just men — women too. I think his advice is kind of universal and I find it very odd for people to call him a misogynist. We've interviewed his daughter, Mikala, who is someone who's been through a lot of difficulty in her life — like, really, really bad health issues as a young kid… And you know, she is as put together a young woman as you could hope to see. And it's clear that Jordan's relationship with his wife is literally the most important thing to him.
You know, I grew up in a family, basically, of all women. My mom… I've got three younger sisters. My dad and me are like the only men in the whole bloody family. I've got about a gazillion aunties, one uncle, and all my grandads died early. My grandmothers were around. I've been married for 20 years. My relationship with my wife is the most important thing. So I've always thought this idea that men and women are supposed to be these antagonists in some kind of moronic gender war is the most stupid thing that anyone could come up with. But unfortunately, and you said it yourself in our interview, there are elements of feminism that are about hating men, and I think if you are coming at it from that angle, then Jordan Peterson is literally the devil incarnate because he destroys everything that you stand for.
So I think one of the reasons people hate him so much is their unprocessed trauma.
MM: Yeah, and I mean I went through that stage of feeling a lot of anger. When I was younger — in my late teens, in my early twenties — I think I felt a lot of anger and didn't really understand it. And some of that anger was at men and some of the anger was probably legitimate. And then you find feminism and you sort of think, “Oh, this is a solution. I can put all of my anger here.” And it does end up turning into, you know, all men are bad — like, the problem is men, the problem is male population.
You'll see these tweets like, “We either have to get rid of all guns or all men. We can't have both.” And I've seen that posted all over the internet. And that's a really stupid thing to say. It doesn't make any sense. But I engaged in that kind of stuff and at a certain point you kind of just mature. I've done a lot of personal work. I've done a lot of therapy. I'm very interested in psychology. And I'm just really not an angry person. I don't know if I would've called myself an angry person in my twenties necessarily, but I definitely went through a very angry period when I was younger.
And I guess it feels cathartic to have somewhere to direct that anger before you really understand it, or before you can really figure out how to cope with it on a personal level. And you do have to cope with it on a personal level. And I think one of the reasons that all these people are so pissed at Jordan Peterson is because he talks about personal responsibility, and in feminism and on the left, people don't like to talk about personal responsibility because they want everything to be a social problem.
KK: I think that's very true. But, and this is where I am neither on the left or on the right because I think a strict adherence to either makes you very blind and disempowered. It’s very disempowering. There's lots of things that people on the right get wrong and there's lots of things that people on the left get wrong. But without personal responsibility, your life is always going to be terrible.And it's not a political issue to me. I just know that as an experiential thing. And I've always sought to cultivate in myself and in the people around me attitudes that further your development and further my development — that further your growth, that make you feel better, that make you feel more powerful, that make you more powerful and more influential.
So I've always sought to understand how my brain works so I can be more powerful in the world, understand how other people's brains work so I can communicate more effectively with them. And actually one of the biggest things for me as a sort of fairly typical guy was actually looking at the women in my life and going, what can I learn from them, because I was someone who, in terms of like social skills and communication skills, was pretty ineffectual. As a young man, I didn't really know what I was doing. I had a lot of hangups and I didn't understand how to communicate with people very well. I'd find myself quite embarrassed — it was almost like a self-fulfilling cycle where I'd be worried about saying the wrong thing, so I'd say the wrong thing and then my view was, well, people don't get me or whatever. And it's very tempting. It's very tempting to blame others for your own flaws. But I think what I've always found is that if you look in the mirror, that is the best place to find solutions.
This is one of the things that I wish people understood more. Whatever your political views, they're the wrong views if they don't give you more power and influence over your own feelings. And out there in the world, if you believe that you are a victim of life, you're not gonna get very far, especially if you actually are a victim of life.
This is why this whole victimhood ideology really bothers me, because you're teaching the very people who need a can-do personal responsibility attitude not to think in the way that will help them. And that's why I fight so hard against it, because I think empowering people is about giving them power, not about giving them victimhood.
To me that's always been the priority.
MM: Right. And it really does make your life better to take personal responsibility, and to look at your role in your conflicts and your personal relationships — in your life, in your career or whatever. It's not helpful to blame your surroundings all the time.
[And for the sake of transparency, because] I don't want people to be like, but you used to say and you used to do this, and I’m like I know, and I don't say that anymore, because I've grown and changed as a person, but you know, I was also on that track of sort of wanting to blame society in my surroundings all the time for everything. And it doesn't really get you anywhere. You sort of get stuck. If you wanna grow as a person and you want to improve your life, you really do have to take responsibility for your role in conflicts and failures. And you really do kind of have to lift yourself up.
And people are given the opposite message. So often women are given the opposite message often. And going around and blaming everyone else because of your problems or your bad feelings and everything that happens to you is just not a good route towards success. Whether or not that fits the preferred leftist or feminist narrative, that's been my experience.
KK: Well, it sounds like you and I have both have been on a similar journey, in many ways. And what I wish people had told me — people who I would listen to, which was not many people at the time — what I wish people had told me at the time was: the negative attitude that you have is a self-fulfilling prophecy because no one likes a person who's like that. And therefore they won't help you. And there's not a single person in the world who's created anything of value completely on their own. You need other people. You need other people to be fulfilled in your personal life. You need other people to create something in your work life. You need other people for every aspect of your life to be fulfilled in every way.
All of that is gonna involve social interaction, working with other people, getting help from other people, getting advice from other people. And the only way you're gonna do that is if you are a good person to be around. If people like you, if people are inspired by you, if people want to help you. If people see that you are working hard, you know, it's very easy to be like, “Oh hey, let me ask you for advice.”
If a young person comes to me and says, what's your advice? And I see that they've done nothing to actually get anywhere themselves, and they just want me to do everything for them, I'm not going help them. But if I see that this is a person who's had a difficult life and they've struggled and they've overcome, and they haven't got to where they wanna be, but they've done everything they possibly could, how could I not want to help that person?
So I think I just wish more people were given that message as young people in particular, but at any age, really: that the more you seek to be powerful in the world, not in the tyrannical sense, but powerful as in creating stuff, making things, being positive, helping other people, the more other people and the universe will help you. Your life will be you. You'll see things coming together to further your goals and dreams and aspirations, if you are the sort of person that puts all the work in that you could.
And so now is that true in a factual way? I don't know. I've just found that to be true. And it's a useful way of thinking about these things, and it's particularly useful way of thinking about things if you are actually disadvantaged — if you're actually a victim, if you've actually had a difficult life, because you need to work extra hard and you need extra help, and you need extra guidance and extra support to overcome that. And the only way you're going do that is if you take personal responsibility for how you behave. So I've always had that approach.
Now, on a societal level, look, there are always going to be people in society who need social support, and that's also important. That's my big issue with the right, in many ways.
There are too many people on the right who don't want to recognize the fact that not every single person ever can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. If you are born in a gang-ridden neighbourhood in Chicago, and you never had a dad and your mom's a prostitute and you've been physically abused since the age of three, the idea that you're going to get from that to being like, the CEO of a company by pulling yourself up by own bootstraps… It's nonsense, right?
You need social systems in place to help people in that position. Also, not everybody's born with the same level of talent, the same IQ, the same physical gifts, the same attractiveness, the same height. All of these things play a part. And so there's blind spots, I think, on both sides, but it doesn't matter what your circumstances are.
If you don't take personal responsibility, you're going find life very, very difficult.
MM: Yeah. I agree. Thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. I really enjoyed talking to you so much.
KK: I really enjoyed it as well, Meghan. It's a pleasure to speak with you and I think it's always interesting and rare nowadays to speak with people who [can say], “I used to be this way and now I think differently.”
That's a rare thing and it's a real pleasure to see. And thank you very much for having me on the show.
MM: Thank you so much for coming and I hope we'll get to talk again.
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