Daryush "Roosh" Valizadeh is a homophobe and a misogynist. He runs a group called "Return of Kings" (ROK), which, if you've ever had the misfortune of clicking a link to the site, endorses a theory of "neomasculinity" that embraces the idea of legalized rape on private property. On "Roosh V's" list of favorite ROK posts, he highlights pieces like "'Rape Culture' Was Manufactured to Wage an Unjust War Against Men" and tips for "game," a series of pick-up strategies that regularly include belittling and dehumanizing the women he targets.
If you've seen "Roosh V" pop up in the news lately, it's probably because a post is circulating on Facebook calling on white, male allies to show up to Roosh V's international meetings. There are two that are supposedly going to be held in Seattle this weekend.
We will have 165 meetings in 43 countries for our international meetup day on February 6, 2016 at 8PM local time. Hosts have been instructed to wait at the meeting point from 8:00-8:20pm before moving on to the final location. If you arrive at the meeting point at 8:21pm, you will miss the meetup. Arriving on time within the window is absolutely paramount.
To identify your fellow tribesmen, ask the following question to a man you suspect is there for the meetup: “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” If you are asked this question, answer in the affirmative: “Yes, it’s right here.” You can then introduce yourself and get details about where to proceed at 8:20. If you ask someone for the pet shop and they appear confused or actually try to direct you to a real pet shop, they’re not there for the meetup.
The two meetings in Seattle are supposed to take place in front of the main entrance of the downtown Seattle Public Library and in Fremont, in front of the Lenin statue. The Seattle Police Department is aware of all this.
Got it? Okay. We're not going to link to the original source.
So here's the dilemma: It's one thing to see this information, write about it, and show up to counter-protest in force. But this all works to Roosh V's advantage. While the majority of people might be turned off by Roosh V's rhetoric, all he needs is for the conflict to hit a level of media saturation so that it reaches the men out there feeling most alienated and most rejected by women and general society. These are the people Roosh V recruits for his men's rights bullshit. He preys on people who have socialization issues, or issues with women, then exploits their fears and personal tragedies for the benefit of his personal brand.
This is a fairly common tactic. Donald Trump has employed something of the same strategy.
And we've fallen for it before. When a single post on a white supremacist website about a supposed neo-Nazi rally on Capitol Hill generated a storm of media coverage, we covered it, too. We covered the counter-protest, even, after no actual neo-Nazis showed up. We also covered the "Straight Pride Parade," which turned out to be a whole bunch of nothing. How many times are we going to be gamed in the same way? And what do we gain in the process?
We've also already seen Roosh V's strategy play out in Australia, which considered banning his application for a visa. The Sydney Morning Herald and media commentator Waleed Aly described how that worked:
'Once the mainstream media takes the bait, Roosh trolls the public through his various social media channels revelling in the free publicity and extending the life of the news story,' Aly said.
'Having manufactured this outrage, Roosh uses the spotlight on him to sell books, and no doubt plan his next speaking engagement, where he will entertain his audience with an arrangement of words that would not be out of place were they scrawled, misspelt, on the back of a piss-soaked broken public toilet door.'
Seems reasonable. And it makes one wonder: How much did the mainstream media's fascination with Donald Trump activate the country's neo-Nazi impulses? And how can we capitalize on the attention that this person has already received and direct it to other sources, like the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center?
So, Slog. What do you think?
Should we cover this thing? Is it better to call it out and meet it with full-throated dissent? Or do we ignore it and deny Roosh V the platform he needs to spread his message? (And yes, we know that this Slog post already bolsters some of the bullshit.)