The league of harassers

BuzzFeed reports:

A secret group of mainly male French journalists have been accused of coordinating a sprawling, yearslong campaign of harassment abusing women writers, feminist activists, people of color, and LGBT people.

The group, Ligue du LOL, or LOL League, has been operating for about a decade. So far, three journalists have been suspended, one has resigned, and one has been fired since the accusations were made public online. People working at four of France’s biggest news outlets have been implicated.

Journalists – you know, people who help shape our opinions and worldviews.

The LOL League started as a Facebook group in 2009 by journalist Vincent Glad, who now works at one of France’s largest newspapers, Libération. The group operated as a shitposting space for people in French journalism and advertising who were popular on Twitter.

The current controversy started when Slate France journalist Thomas Messias tweeted cryptically last week about a “model reporter” who “used to have fun in a pack of feminist stalkers.”

That is, not feminist stalkers but feminist-stalkers, i.e. stalkers of feminists.

Messias’s tweet was quoted by Libération journalist and LOL League member Alexandre Hervaud, who sarcastically called it a “brave subtweet” and said he wasn’t sure whom Messias was talking about. Then another Twitter user, @IrisKV, asked Hervaud directly about harassing her. Her tweets were the first recent mention of LOL League. Everything seems to have kicked off from here.

By Friday, the #ligueduLOL hashtag was trending throughout France.

Hundreds of testimonies from victims who say they were targeted by the group flooded Twitter all weekend. Slate France contributor Lucile Bellan accused them of years of systemic harassment that undermined her confidence as a journalist. A French marketing manager named Benjamin LeReilly wrote a Medium piece accusing them of anti-gay and anti-feminist harassment that started eight years ago and has gone on for years.

I wonder how many American groups of the kind there are – specifically of journalists, I mean; I know there are plenty of generic ones.

Journalist Melanie Wanga tweeted that she was chased off Twitter by the LOL League in 2013. She described an inner circle of LOL League members surrounded by “cool girls” in French media who protected them and helped them pretend to be liberal and progressive in public.

It’s all so very familiar.

Currently, the main outlets implicated are all liberal and left-leaning: Libération, Les Inrocks, Slate France, and Télérama. Glad, the founder of the LOL League, wrote in a statement on Twitter that the group was “a monster that he had lost control of” and apologized for his involvement. He was suspended this week from the magazine he’s currently writing for. Doucet was also suspended from Les Inrocks as a precautionary measure.

As the scandal has grown over the weekend, private sexist groups similar to the LOL League have been outed. Similar groups were revealed to have been operating at Vice France and HuffPost France.

The more powerful setting up little online enclaves for the purpose of harassing the less powerful. So that’s what humans are like.

Bellan, the Slate France contributor who has since come forward about her years of abuse by the LOL League, published a piece this week about her experience watching LOL League member Christophe Carron become the editor of Slate France in 2017.

Bellan in her piece writes that Carron becoming editor made her fear for the column she was working on at the time.

“Over the years, the LOL League has become a terrifying kind of hydra,” she wrote. “If we decided to never collaborate with people who had been connected to all of this, it would have been easier to just change jobs.”

Sound familiar? Sounds like the debacle of New Atheism, to me.

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