Recently, I was featured in an episode of the Netflix documentary Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies, and the Internet, a clip from a 2015-2016-era YouTube video from when I was affiliated with the alt-right. I disassociated from the alt-right many years ago and no longer hold the political views I did when that video was recorded, which I’ve written about numerous times in various mediums. However, at the suggestion of a friend, I’m writing this statement to clarify things for individuals who may have seen the documentary but are unaware of the shift in my worldview. I had intended to talk about this anyway when my book Sex Pest was released, since my writing process has involved reflecting on my past.
I should make it clear that not only did I not give my consent to appear in Web of Make Believe (since the clip is from my YouTube video, I own the copyright on it), I was never contacted by the filmmakers at all. Given that I ended my involvement with the alt-right five years ago and my primary activity online since then has been related to Terror House, why I was included in the documentary is a mystery.
My Political Views
Prior to starting Terror House in 2018, I was primarily known for being a writer/blogger/journalist associated with the alt-right. I’ve never hidden or denied this; my bio on both Terror House websites references my past work and links to my website (the most complete collection of my writing), and I’ve discussed my past on Twitter and in various podcasts and livestreams. During this period, I was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump’s presidency and wrote inflammatory comments on racial minorities, women, gays, Jews, and other groups, and I was good enough at it that I was able to make my living as a self-published writer from mid-2014 to early 2017. In fact, I had worked out a formula for writing articles that would go viral, based on my observations on how narcissists get under peoples’ skin. A Google search of my name will turn up all kinds of awful things I’ve said in the past.
I’ve always had an oppositional element to my personality, where I enjoy doing or saying things that will annoy or irritate what I think is the majority. I suspect this goes back to when I was a kid; my Catholic high school had a decidedly left-wing atmosphere (it had a chapter of Amnesty International), so I wrote neocon-ish editorials for the school paper. A decade ago, when the Tea Party was a big deal, I was a big supporter of Occupy Wall Street because I was sick of hearing about how bad “socialism” was when big banks were robbing everyone blind. In that context, GamerGate and the alt-right were a natural fit for my personality.
I won’t deny that it was fun to piss people off. My inbox is still full of thousands of hate mail messages from articles I wrote circa 2013-2014. One memorable moment from that period was when a friend of mine was at a college campus and came across a group of students angrily discussing my article “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem” (an article that got so many views it caused my site to be pulled offline multiple times); he told them that he was friends with me, which shocked them. Sending a nasty comment to an anti-Trump “cuckservative” during the 2016 presidential campaign and then watching him erupt in paroxysms about how “disgusting” it was made my day.
I began distancing myself from the alt-right in 2017. My initial motivation was being publicly backstabbed by Richard Spencer, the media-appointed “leader” of the alt-right, as well as having to find a real job after my ability to make a living online dried up due to a collapse in my site’s search traffic. I was also disgusted by the Unite the Right rally, specifically the death of Heather Heyer and the psychopathic lack of regard Spencer and the rally’s other leaders had for the attendees, many of whom ended up being doxed and having their lives ruined due to poor planning and OpSec. The aftermath of Unite the Right saw many of the alt-right’s major figures show their lack of character, turning on each other, getting each other fired from their jobs, and even reporting each other to the police and FBI over petty disputes. I had no desire to be associated with a group of people who would betray each other over something as minor as being made fun of on a podcast, and I spent a good deal of time over the next few years warning others away from the alt-right in part because of this.
More importantly, over time, I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with and/or repulsed by many alt-right political beliefs. Some of this came from the nonstop drama, infighting, and backstabbing that the “movement” devolved into; it was difficult to reconcile the alt-right’s supposed principles with the loathsome behavior of many of the people involved in it. I also realized that a lot of alt-right beliefs, such as the “white ethnostate” or Holocaust revisionism, didn’t hold up to scrutiny when I actually thought about them in depth. I’ve spent much of the past five years living in Europe, largely in countries such as Bosnia and Ukraine recently ravaged by war and/or genocide; it’s laughable for alt-righters to claim a pan-racial white identity when “white brothers” are busy killing each other over tribal grievances.
Additionally, as I mentioned above, much of the writing I put out in my twenties was motivated by a desire to shock and troll people and not out of deeply-held belief. One particularly cruel and depraved example of this was a 2017 article titled “The Orlando Nightclub Shooting and the Moral Sickness of Whites” where I stated that the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting deserved to die. Many people attacked me for this article during the early days of Terror House’s operation, and while I made fun of them at the time, in retrospect, they were right to do so. While I’m not a fan of wokeness or cancel culture, I don’t have a problem with LGBT people and don’t wish any harm on them. Trolling people and taking unpopular stances was fun in my twenties, but the fact that that’s what I did for a large portion of my writing career increasingly bothered me as I got older. When I expressed regret recently for the sick things I’d written about LGBT people in the past, I was dogpiled by many right-wingers who didn’t understand the context of what I was talking about.
Finally, I gradually stopped caring about politics in general over time. Some of this might be because I’ve been an expat for so long; I left the U.S. in January 2017 and I’ve only been back three times since then, so many of the problems that my friends and family back home are concerned with are several steps removed from me personally. But I’ve stopped following most news because it’s either white noise or it annoys me. I’ve also minimized my use of social media because my temptation to troll people is too strong. As I’ve joked to a few friends of mine, I’m fighting for the freedom to not care.
At the end of 2020, I deleted most of my blog posts, YouTube videos (including the video that was featured in Web of Make Believe), and podcasts in part because I expressed views in them that I no longer believed or didn’t believe in the first place but just said to troll people. I also unpublished all of my self-published books. While I mentioned this in a blog post in early 2021, I didn’t otherwise make a big deal out of it since I prefer to let my actions speak for me, and because making a huge deal out of it would have come off as self-serving and narcissistic.
I do not want to be a political pundit or figure of any kind. I want to be a writer and publisher and that’s it. I’ve said and done many things that I now regret, but they’re in the past and I’ve moved on. If some individuals would prefer to judge me based on what I was doing in 2015 as opposed to what I’m doing now, I can’t stop them, but I intend to continue writing and publishing regardless of what the media or people on social media say about me, and I genuinely appreciate everyone who’s had my back in the face of all of this.
The Purpose and Future of Terror House Press
Terror House Press is and will always remain an apolitical publisher. I have no desire to “disavow” anyone or police their political views or personal life. I am a free speech absolutist and founded Terror House with the intent of creating a book publisher and magazine that promoted the best work regardless of writers’ political beliefs or personal identity. In the four years since we’ve launched, we’ve published 38 books and thousands of submissions from writers and artists from all walks of life.
While I cut ties with the alt-right a long time ago, I will always remain loyal to my friends, writers, and colleagues. The “dissident right” has produced some of the finest artists, writers, and musicians of my generation and I’m proud to have published many of them on Terror House, even if I don’t see eye to eye with them on some issues. We also don’t do “content warnings” and publish material that some may find “triggering.” My own work is decidedly un-PC and some of it draws on my experience with the alt-right. For example, my poem “Ingmar,” published in the first issue of The Peach earlier this year, is a riff on a popular right-wing meme.
Some individuals may find this uncomfortable. That’s fine. Terror House isn’t for everyone, but our sales numbers, website traffic, and longevity suggest that a lot of people like what we’re doing. I’m extremely grateful for that, and I’m also grateful that so many writers have chosen to entrust Terror House with their work. I hope that we’re able to continue publishing great writers for many years to come.
Cross-posted at Terror House Press.