Yesterday, a video surfaced of popular YouTuber Pogo (Australian remix musician Nick Bertke) talking about his thorough dislike of homosexuals and calling the Pulse Nightclub shooting “just fantastic.” Today, he has released a nine-minute video explanation in which he laughs and explains “the controversy I have sparked” by saying his homophobic video and past articles embracing misogyny were just meant to trigger “hypocrites.” However, under scrutiny Nick Bertke’s apology doesn’t really hold up.
In the text accompanying his YouTube video, he writes, “The 2016 video circulating was a satirical sh*tpost made in bad tastes and I never intended for it go public.” He then states that he has gay friends, says he took his being “edgy” too far, repeatedly blames his being under 30 for his “naivety” and later says that he’s bicurious with bipolar disorder and Aspberger’s, as if any of those explain or excuse his past behavior. Lastly, apologizes for anyone he hurt or confused.
Nick Bertke’s apology and explanation are mostly bullshit meant to save face and it doesn’t really hold up considering that he has published at least two articles and three videos espousing bigoted views and has also been a guest of a well-known homophobic, transphobic, racist, anti-feminist YouTuber named Tommy Sotomayor. He also basically issued the exact same explanation back in 2015 when his misogynist views first came to light.
Let’s examine Bertke’s new video and then break down his explanation.
Here’s Nick Bertke’s apology explaining his homophobia and misogyny:
Nick Bertke’s apology starts by claiming that his old YouTube handle, Fagottron, wasn’t chosen to express his hatred of gays (like he had claimed), but was just a dumb name he chose as a teenager to amuse his friends. “Where we grew up, a fag or a faggot was a variant of a dickhead or a twat or a prick,” Bertke says. “Sexuality doesn’t enter into that term, or at least it didn’t when and where I grew up.”
Keep in mind, this is like saying that you use the n-word because it was used non-racially where you grew up. Regardless, Bertke himself said he used Fagottron to express his hatred of gay people, so sexuality definitely entered into the term for him, no matter how “faggot” was used during his childhood.
He then claims that his homophobic video and past statements embracing misogyny were mean to “draw out” and “grind the gears” of people who “demand safe spaces … [and] trigger warnings at universities.” He says these people, prominent on Twitter and Tumblr, advocate for peace and love and then issue death threats the instant they were something they disagree with (presumably something like their favorite musician celebrating the slaughter of 50 people at an Orlando nightclub).
“That is a hypocrisy I can’t stand,” Bertke says. “You do not have a monopoly on morality, no matter which party of social movement you identify with… The way I draw these people out into the open, and have done for several years, is to write and say things that I know will grind their gears. I’ve written blog posts about women, I’ve made a video about gays.”
Bertke’s excuse of just wanting to “trigger” liberals is a common (and lazy) right-wing tactic
In web-speak, this sort of behavior is known as being an “edgelord.” That is, “Someone, especially posting on the internet, who uses shocking and nihilistic speech and opinions that they themselves may or may not actually believe to gain attention and come across as a more dangerous and unique person.”
But the thing is that homophobia and misogyny kill people by the hundreds (if not more) every year. They’re neither jokes nor “edgy” material any more than racism is “edgy.” They’re plain hateful empowers other non-ironic homophobes and misogynists to openly express their hatred, whether that was Bertke’s intention or not. (You can see people supporting his hateful views in the YouTube and Twitter comments reacting to his original homophobic rant).
The video’s accompanying text on YouTube says, “The internet has taken the video very far out of context and proportion, but I am very sorry to the people who I the video has hurt or confused.”
But, the video wasn’t taken out of context or proportion. Bertke literally pumped his fist in approval of the slaughter of 50 people and injury of 53 more at the Pulse Nightclub shooting. There’s no “context” that makes that okay and the right “proportion” is to utterly reject such language with anger and disgust.
Also, by stating that he can’t stand the intolerance of supposedly tolerant progressive, Bertke is merely parroting a right-wing talking point that goes, “So much for the tolerant left,” anytime progressives reject homophobia, misogyny, racism or bigotry as valid forms of free speech.
As philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, tolerant people mustn’t tolerate intolerance because when we extend tolerance to those who are openly intolerant, the tolerant ones end up being destroyed and tolerance with them.
This doesn’t give anyone the right to issue death threats — that’s never okay — and Bertke’s correct when he says there are a lot of annoying liberals on Tumblr and Twitter who view everything as oppression. But instead of discussing that particular issue, Bertke decided to celebrate the murder of gay Latinos and suggest that other people belittle women to get laid more often.
Despite Nick Bertke’s apology, he has aligned himself with right-wing views since 2015
Also, it’s not like Bertke made one “edgy” video or article as an experiment and then quit. He has published at least three misogynist articles and two videos espousing these right-wing ideas.
A January 2015 article of Bertke’s calls feminists “self victimizing gold diggers.” Another article from the same month calls misogynists and rapists “vital” to feminism and says that women have it easier than men because they’re prettier and allowed to be more emotional and abusive towards men. In yet another from the same month, he says women see men as both “the disease and the cure” of their troubles, gross mischaracterizing feminism when it actually views so-called “traditional gender roles” (not men) as corrosive to both men and women.
That same month, Bertke also published a video (above) entitled, ”Why I Don’t Take Feminism Seriously” in which he says, “I’ve always found that the more I treat a woman like a child, the stronger the relationship, the better the sex and the more often it happens.” He then says that women crave “discipline, reprimand, and complete indifference” from men, says that “women crave drama” and calls feminism nothing more “than a tantrum.” He later says that women don’t want to take accountability for any of their actions, which is why we seldom see them in positions of responsibility.
Bertke later removed these articles and claimed in the same month that they were an “experiment” to expose ” feminist “hyenas … as the self contradicting brats they are.”
In an explanation he issued at the time — one which sounds almost identical to the one he issued today — Bertke wrote, “I uploaded videos and blog posts to draw this mentality out and see just how much of it plagues my own circles. I mashed together the most radical views I could find about women and feminism on the internet, doing my best to present it as my humble opinion and honest observations.”
He later took this article down as well.
But the following month, Bertke participated in an hour and forty minute video with Tommy Sotomayor, an Atlanta radio host described by writer Andy Baio as a “Trump supporter, men’s rights activist and prolific YouTuber, with his accounts repeatedly banned from YouTube, GoFundMe, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon for hate speech. Black women are a frequent target of his videos, as are transgender women, gay men and feminists.”
Although video of their conversation is no longer online, Baio says their conversation touched on the “evils of feminism, women’s rights, Islam, transgender rights and Black Lives Matter. They talk about the greatness of Trump and Milo, and argue that hate speech, hate crimes and the wage gap don’t exist.” During the conversation, Bertke says, “I think the left is bringing about the destruction of Western civilization, personally.”
You can still be a bigot even if you have gay friends and are bicurious, like Bertke
In Nick Bertke’s apology, he says the “fantastic irony” is that the person who notified him of the video trending yesterday is “one of my many supporters and friends who are gay.” Later on, in the text accompanying Nick Bertke’s apology, he writes, “I don’t hate gays. I am in fact bicurious myself,” and adds, “I have Asperger’s and Bipolar disorder so my sense of humour and empathy for people is often very muddled.”
As we’ve said before, saying “I can’t be queerphobic, I have queer friends,” is kind of like saying that you can’t be a carnivore because you were once nice to a cow. Having queer friends doesn’t make you queer-friendly. In fact, a 2016 study showed that claims of “gay friends” mostly just shield conservatives from criticisms of bigotry without ever addressing their bigoted actions underneath.
Put another way, your actions, not your social circle or your sexual orientation, define your character most. And using mental conditions to explain away your repeated misogyny is no better than blaming Ambien for racism.
To his very meagre credit, Bertke says he deserves the negative reactions people had to his homophobic video. He calls his attempt to draw out hypocrites “very naive behavior on my part,” adding, “I went too far.” He then says, “These things I’ve made for the sake of being edgy have not contributed to any productive conversation.”
But he then says he likes the things that toxic alt-right douchebag Milo Yiannopolous says, but doesn’t like the way he says them.
For those unfamiliar with Yiannopolous’s brand of alt-right hatred, he considers homosexuality an “aberrant … lifestyle choice guaranteed to bring [gay people] pain and unhappiness.” He’s also the author of such misogynist tripe as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “The Solution To Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”
We wonder which of Yiannopolous statements Bertke agrees with most.
Nick Bertke’s apology ends by stating, “You’re within your rights not to believe anything here because god knows I’ve pretty much said that all my words up till now … have been bullshit. So all I can say to you is that if you ask my family members, and closest friends … they’ll all tell you the same thing: ‘Nick’s just being an asshole.’”
We agree wholeheartedly with that characterization of him.