Kilroy is dead: inside the YouTube skeptic community’s largest controversy yet

What a shitshow.

The Kilroy Free Speech conference organized by the YouTube skeptic and commentary community is dead in the water. Weeks of controversy between invited speakers, planners, and its co-founders culminated in the departure of its project staff on Sunday.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based event was initially devised by two YouTubers—Dave Cullen, and the lesser-known Based Mama, the latter of whom led the project—in April 2018.

Promoted as an event ostensibly about free speech, its organizers raised upwards of $85,000 in funds and advertised the participation of high-profile skeptic and political commentary YouTubers from across the political spectrum, including video journalist Tim Pool; comedian Markus “Count Dankula” Meechan; right-wing commentators Lauren Southern, Brittany Pettibone, Faith Goldy, Peter Sweden, and Roaming Millennial; skeptic YouTuber Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin; Magic the Gathering social commentator Jeremy Hambly; GAB founder Andrew Torba; commentator Andy Warski; and many more.

Based Mama, Kilroy Free Speech Conference founder

The first signs of trouble arose when “alt-lite” satirist and entertainer Tim “Baked Alaska” Treadstone was officially disinvited to the event in late November, despite receiving a personal invitation from Dave Cullen beforehand. We understand that Treadstone was given a variety of different reasons for the disinvitation, being told that there were “security concerns” over his presence, and that the slate of speakers was overbooked.

Treadstone had advertised his attendance to Kilroy before he was unceremoniously disinvited.

Despite these excuses, other invitations were provided to new speakers in December, including Jeremy Hambly, better known as The Quartering. Hambly quit the event late Saturday.

Further controversy erupted in early December, when the volunteer project manager brought on to manage the event set up contracts to confirm the speakers. We understand that the event did not have an organized timetable prior to the project manager’s arrival.

However, disputes over the contract between the co-founders and some of its speakers, including James Allsup, Carl Benjamin, Tim Pool, and Lauren Southern, led them to withdraw. Two of the stipulations of the contract was a non-compete that prevented them from attending other events for 16 months, and a 3-year non-disclosure agreement, which was cited for “safety reasons.”

Pool explained his decision to leave in a video.

In response, Based Mama condemned Pool on Twitter, stating that “I was clear that I am not willing to risk the anonymity of dissidents whose lives are at risk for attending and speaking at Kilroy. Calling me out in public isn’t going to compel me to bend on this.”

Content creators raised further concerns with Based Mama, who banned them from discussing certain topics on their panels, including identitarianism and free association, despite advertising Kilroy as a “free speech” event.

We understand that YouTubers and commentators who expressed their concerns to Based Mama via email were met with silence.

In the meantime, its founders Dave Cullen and Based Mama decided to broaden the scope of the event from being a YouTube-focused community-managed conference into a political one by inviting high-profile speakers Peter Boghossian and Christina Hoff Sommers. We have learned that invitations were given to two Arizona state representatives, one of whom tentatively agreed to attend, and a lawyer, who champion free speech.

Even as the controversy was underway, another separate controversy was heating up on a private Discord server run by skeptic YouTuber Kraut and Tea called the “Task Force.”

The server was supposedly created to devise scientific arguments to oppose alt-right, identitarian and “race realist” commentators on YouTube, and included the participation of scientists across a variety of fields, YouTubers from the skeptic community, and even Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Harmon of the New York Times. Kilroy co-founder Based Mama and several Kilroy speakers were also on the server, participating in various capacities.

Despite the server’s stated goal of “debunking racists,” server leaders participated in information gathering and doxing. The list of targets included relative unknowns who butted heads against server leaders, to high-profile right-wing personalities like James Allsup and Baked Alaska, both of whom were originally slated to attend Kilroy.

Some of these individuals, including a Duke University neuroscientist named Jean-Francois Gariepy, were contacted privately with their personal information. One YouTuber, Aydin Paladin, was provided images of her home and school, ostensibly to run her off the platform.

The server also discussed creating false flag “Poe” content to tar their opponents.

We have been informed that New York Times journalist Amy Harmon’s participation on the server was minimal, and that she was invited to report on a possible story on skeptic YouTubers taking on the alt-right.

YouTubers close to the situation informs us that the server’s creator, Kraut and Tea, previously doxed and ran a 19-year-old right-wing personality named RageAfterStorm, whom he referred to as a “little Nazi bitch queen,” off the platform earlier in 2017. He contacted her employer and got her fired after she produced a video titled “race is real.”

We parsed through hours of leaked chat logs and voice conversations recorded on the Discord server, provided by whistleblowers primarily led by a pseudonymous individual known as The Guardian, and Johnny Fox, both of whom independently verified details of the doxing and plans to dox further individuals.

Leaks and controversy arising from the revelation of the doxing server led to the collapse of Kraut and Tea’s reputation, losing him tens of thousands of subscribers, and disavowal from his peers within the skeptic community. He deleted all his YouTube content on December 19.

Other YouTubers entrenched within the operation, including Jeff Holliday, were forced to apologize for their roles, and publicly shamed by their peers when they made excuses.

Fallout spilled into the Kilroy event, prompting speakers and prospective attendees alike to question the presence of one of its co-founders, Based Mama, on the server, leading them to withdraw from the event.

The conflict, and a personal life situation, prompted Kilroy co-founder Dave Cullen to withdraw entirely. A further lack of transparency between Based Mama and the event’s volunteers, including the project manager, caused further problems.

Speakers who have yet to pull out from the event have informed us privately that they are unable to do so due to the contract they signed that prevents them from withdrawing, fearing possible litigation.

As it stands, the Kilroy event is dead.