Kyle Kulinski

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Kyle Kulinski is the host of Secular Talk, an atheist and progressive talk show that appears on The Young Turks network. As of April 2018, his channel has 646,000 subscribers. [1] Kulinski has almost complete autonomy on his show and has admitted to have differing beliefs with other hosts in the network even having a debate with Young Turks leader Cenk Uygur. [2]

Opinions[edit]

Religion[edit]

Despite the channel name, he's more focused on US Politics than Religion or Atheism. [3] When he does talk about Religion he's highly critical of fundamentalism, and an outspoken New Atheist. Kulinski considers himself somewhere between New Atheism and more traditional progressive camps on the subject of religion: he argues that geopolitics and foreign policy will force populations to radicalize, but adds that the dogma is responsible for violence and chaos as well; he goes on a case by case basis.[4] He dislikes some of the tactics used by New Atheists if only for strategic reasons, believing they could turn people against atheism. He most often finds himself disagreeing with Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Sam Harris, particularly on foreign policy, but most especially on American and Israeli foreign policy or military actions. He often notes that Harris is either incredibly naive on foreign policy, or an outright apologist for the Israeli and American states, and has consistently called him out on it.[5][6][7] True to form, he is critical of Islam while also being highly critical of anti-Muslim bigotry and those who dismiss it. He pushes back against the "Regressive" label used by certain liberals and atheists towards the progressive left, arguing that the progressives focus more about the effects and consequences of foreign policy and are not "Islamic apologists." However, at the same time he has acknowledged that whilst the term is often misused, genuine regressive leftists do exist.[8]

Politics[edit]

On foreign policy, he is non-interventionist, and is highly critical of Israeli foreign policy whilst also denouncing Hamas.

Considering himself a social democrat and left libertarian,[9] Kulinski spends most of his time debunking right-wing bullshit (usually from Fox News and Alex Jones) and covering the recent radicalization of the US Republican Party, with whom he disagrees on virtually everything; Kulinski is also a card-carrying Democrat. However, he strongly dislikes establishment Democrats, and supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.

He is a civil libertarian on social issues, especially regarding drug laws: he thinks all drugs should be decriminalized and marijuana and others should be legalized, taxed, and regulated. He also opposes the NSA's domestic surveillance and police having too much power. However, he supports the death penalty in theory, saying it should be used for the most heinous of crimes where no help is possible, but opposes it in practice due to the high false positive rate.[10]

He voted for Jill Stein in the 2016 presidential election. He lives in New York, which is a solid Democratic state, and he despises Hillary. Even though he considers Jill Stein and the Green Party in general as being to the left of him, he supported them as a protest vote. However, he encouraged viewers living in swing states to vote Hillary in order to keep Trump out of the White House. He was one of the co-founders of Justice Democrats as well, up until he stepped down. [11] [12] Justice Democrats being anti-establishment Democrats who are left leaning and agree with a lot of Kulinski's opinions.

Free speech and feminism[edit]

He positions himself as a free speech absolutist and exhibits a deep dislike for political correctness, especially trigger warnings, safe spaces, and the concept of microagressions, all of which he considers authoritarian or uncool.[13] Which displays his misunderstandings of some topics, because safe spaces aren't echo chambers as he claims. Both trigger warnings and safe spaces are a way for a person to avoid trauma and discuss bad experiences safely.

However, he's more irate about right-wing political correctness because no one talks about it (despite countless examples.[13]) and the fact right wingers vocally denounce left-wing political correctness only to further vocally push their own political correctness.[14] In particular, he despises the notion that Donald Trump is politically incorrect, especially since he uses "politically incorrect" as a cover for his bigotry, along with the fact he likes to file libel suits against people who badmouth him and wants to diminish the First Amendment once in power.[15] As a result, he refers to Trump as a "Politically Correct Bitch" and a "Right Wing Social Justice Warrior".[16] He has also described the alt-right as a "loathsome group of ignorant assholes".[17]

Unlike a lot of New Atheist vloggers, Kulinski considers himself to generally be a feminist and has called the men's rights movement "stupid" and "whiny", and maintains this stance despite it pissing off a good chunk of his audience.[18] However, he is sharply critical of some aspects of third-wave feminists, though some of the terms he uses to describe them are incorrect and arguably overly general.[note 1][19] In addition, he deeply dislikes social justice warriors. He does prove that one can question more radical versions of feminism without being a reactionary asshole.

Drugs[edit]

Kulinski has admitted to using pharmaceutical drugs such as Adderall, Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax, and Klonopin, to what extent is unclear. He has expressed that he is wary of hallucinogens such as LSD, magic mushrooms, and DMT, and as such has never tried them. He also dislikes cannabis because it gives him paranoia and anxiety most of the time.[20] He uses the plant drug Kratom to help him focus for his job, so he was understandably outraged when the DEA wanted to ban it.[21] Kratom mainly exerts its effects via the mu-opioid and to a lesser extent k-opioid receptors, producing dose-dependent effects that range from analgesia and mild stimulation to deep relaxation and euphoria[22]. He loves Kratom, so much so he started stockpiling it when the ban was announced. As with most drugs, the vast majority of recreational users do not exhibit patterns of problematic use as a result of the legal availability of Kratom. However, the small minority of individuals who use the drug on a daily basis, such as those self-medicating for chronic pain, are physically dependent (but not necessarily addicted) on the plant and will experience the characteristically awful withdrawal syndrome associated with opioids upon abrupt discontinuation. Further, many daily users of Kratom may be successfully preventing themselves from relapsing into a prior, more severe opioid addiction, since Kratom can act as a self-limiting pharmacologically satiating alternative to illicit opioids[23]. Compare this to the two primary pharmaceutical agents used in Opioid Replacement Therapy, buprenorphine and methadone, which continue to be the most effective medical intervention for cases of chronic, relapsing cases of opioid addiction and dependence[24]. However, it is very important to note that clinical trials for the effective use of Kratom as a formal treatment for Opioid Use Disorder have not been conducted, and existing data is limited to anecdote and self-reporting. The FDA currently states that there is no scientific evidence that Kratom has any potential medical uses, and as such many argue that it should be classified as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside other very dangerous and useless drugs like heroin and cannabis[25]. Surely this will prove effective in curbing addiction, as evidenced by the prohibitive policies that have served the US so well thus far (as opposed to Harm-Reduction measures which in no way have proven far more effective in preventing overdose deaths and cutting the social costs of problematic drug use and are really just saying its okay for dirty druggies to continue their sinful lifestyles)[26]. Kulinski also believes drug dealing should be legalized and that that non-violent drug offenders should be pardoned, receive an apology and paid restitution.[27]

Trump and the Russian question[edit]

Michael Flynn, a known RT guest who often peddles propaganda, was the National Security Advisor under Donald Trump, who got in trouble for his ties to Russia and resigned. Kulinski, on Twitter, argued Flynn was actually a preferable choice to his replacement because "A lot of people in the admin want to escalate w/ Russia. His hesitance (admittedly for corrupt reasons) was preferable to a pure hawk."[28] He acknowledges that Trump stacked his administration with too many people with financial ties with the Russians, and he opposes that just as how he opposed the Clintons' financial ties with the Saudis via Clinton Foundation. Therefore, he doesn't really see Trump as a Siberian Candidate or a Russian stooge, and just another Wall Street style corruption scandal; he sees the Democrats as far too hawkish on Russia who peddle too much anti-Putin hysteria. He thinks the anti-Russia hysteria only makes the Democratic Party look worse.

GMOs[edit]

Kulinski is in favour of GMOs. He's supportive of GMO labelling, he does agree with the scientific consensus that genetically modified food is safe.[29][30] However, he's definitely anti-Monsanto. He's described Monsanto as a "very evil" company and according to Kulinski, Monsanto curries favour with the EPA and "buy[s] the science that fits [their] economic agenda".[31] More recently, he cited the World Health Organization to support the claim that glyphosate causes cancer. This study has been proven to be extremely flawed as they don't reference their claims and uses the correlation equals causation fallacy. This suggests Kyle reads the headlines of news, instead of the papers which they reference. [32] [33] [34]

Prisons and the Death Penalty[edit]

I think there are fair critiques of the Norwegian system, like...who was the guy; Anders Breivik who killed all these kids? And then he was complaining because he's like "I only have a PS2 and you guys need to get me, like, a newer video game system". So you could look at that and go: "Listen man, you guys are being too fuckin' liberal. Fuck that guy. He had like two rooms that were his cell, and he could walk in a fuckin' courtyard and shit". So I think there are genuine criticisms of that. But at the same time what's fascinating is they have a significantly lower recidivism rate than we do. So here if you go to prison, it's very likely that you will end up back in prison. In those places if you go to prison, especially if it's a lower level crime, they rehabilitate you and you're a functioning member of society.
—Kyle Kulinski on Joe Rogan's podcast.[citation needed]

Kyle Kulinski supports most aspects of the Norwegian style of prisons over the American system.[35] In a discussion with Joe Rogan he agreed that it's wrong to coddle remorseless criminals such as Anders Behring Breivik, Ed Gein, and Ted Bundy. However he points out that executing criminals sometimes leads to innocents being executed. Joe Rogan asks if it's really better to imprison such people for life instead of just killing them, to which Kyle answers that it would be no different except without the death penalty, there is a lower likelihood that the government will execute an innocent person before the case is concluded or if it's later revealed that there was a wrong conviction. However, he admitted that if convicted domestic terrorist Dylann Roof was executed, he wouldn't care because Roof has admitted he has no remorse.[36]

War and Foreign Policy[edit]

Kyle often comes off as non-interventionist but mostly that's just as a reaction to the constant warmongering in DC. In a recent video, [37] Kyle claims he supports military offense but only with international support and cooperation and that he despises the typical unilateral military interventions supported by established politicians in Washington.

Kyle also has a very literal interpretation of the War Powers Clause of the US Constitution. If a military intervention does not include a declaration of war by Congress, then that war, as far as Kyle is concerned, is illegal, such as in the case of the Iraq War and the various military interventions done by the Obama Administration.

Direct Democracy[edit]

On many videos Kyle often praises state ballot initiatives and has come recently in favor of a more direct democratic system.[38] Kyle believes that every federal election, there should be a federal referendum on five important issues (to be decided by a non-partisan group) and voted on by universal suffrage.

Kyle has come to this conclusion because often times, left-wing policies win in the ballot in the exact same state that Democrats lose elections to Republicans, and losses are always the result of lots of corporate money being spent to be defeat the ballot initiative. He also acknowledges that the right can also benefit from this federal referendum, but that it would be a price that's worth it to pay to push for progressive policies.

Occasional Sloppiness[edit]

In May 27th, 2017, Kyle released a 10 minute video denouncing the New York Times for a headline[39] that said "Is it wrong to body slam a reporter? These days, opinions vary."[40] Kyle, having not read the article, went on an extended rant, denouncing the NYT for a supposed "neutrality bias" that can't bring itself to point out that assaulting a reporter is wrong.

Except here's a catch. If you actually read the article, under its new title "A Journalist was Body Slammed, but some Conservatives want the media to apologize," the article was condemning that exact neutrality bias. It pointed out that America as a country stooped so low that Americans can't even come together on the fact that body slamming a reporter is wrong. A cursory look at Kulinski's comment section shows that even his fans are calling him out on his sloppiness.[41]

The Conservapedia affair[edit]

Conservapedia editor Conservative wrote an article in which he accused Kulinski of being an immigrant and another nasty liberal.[42] Kulinski immediately debunked this which resulted in User:Conservative issuing a challenge to Kulinski to debunk their article on atheists.[43] He mocked the site and then tore apart their atheist article.[44] To the surprise of no one, User:Conservative claimed victory nonetheless.[45]

Fallacious, Controversial or Just Plain Wrong Beliefs[edit]

He has claimed that former President George W. Bush and former Vice-President Dick Cheney had arrest warrants against them due to their actions while in power.[46] This is, sadly, an untrue claim; nobody has even put them on trial in absentia yet.[47] Reality does not always line up with our expectations, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

He has also claimed that al-Qaeda only has 100 members left in Afghanistan. This is based on outdated information. In October 2015, the U.S. destroyed two al-Qaeda training camps, killing 160 al-Qaeda members.[48][49]

A common refrain of his is that the US is "bombing eight different countries". The eight he is referring to are Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, and most recently Niger. Niger is the latest country he added to his list, denouncing the action in multiple segments.[50] The problem is, Niger's government only authorized armed US drone flights, and no US strikes have yet taken place. The move was intended to allow the US the ability to kill ISIS and al-Qaeda should the need ever arise in the future.[51]

Recently he has also turned towards protectionism and claims that it's a "left-wing policy" when historically, both in the US[note 2] and the UK[note 3], protectionism was a right-wing policy pushed by free market hyper-capitalist political parties. In fact Donald Trump, rather than an aberration, is a restoration of the alliance between free market capitalism and protectionism as many of his policies are an extreme form of neoliberalism with nationalistic flavor.

This also reflects a general problem of basing politics overly on individual policies and ideas rather than social context (as Kyle often does and TYT-influenced liberals often do), as individual policies referred to as “left-wing” or “right-wing” could achieve different results if the governments that implement them have different political goals. For example, free trade between nations with strong labor unions and low unemployment (e.g. as exists in Nordic social democracies) could be thought of as a somewhat left-wing project, as any economic benefits will likely be funneled to workers due to union density, while free trade between the US and a developing nation is very much based on the neoliberal model.

Another falacious belief of his that's been appearing recently is his belief that the business cycleWikipedia's W.svg only happens if there's large scale deregulation of the economy, when in fact the business cycle is a natural consequence of a market economy, regardless of the levels of regulation present. What economic regulations does is minimize the negative impact of recesssions has on workers, by increasing labor rights[note 4] and minimizing the capacity of corporations to engage in risky investiments.

He also believes that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad doesn't have chemical weapons and that he didn't launch the gas attacks against civilians that have taken place since 2017.[52]

In Jokes[edit]

Big Seltzer[edit]

Kyle has jokingly described himself as a sellout to the "big seltzer corporation". Their political motivations for buying Kyle would as of yet be unknown but it would be widely accepted that Kyle's Ted Cruz impersonation would be at the behest of Big Seltzer.[53]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Justice Democrats — As co-founded by Kulinski, although he has since left the group after Cenk Uygur resigned. Both still openly and loudly support the organization and its candidates.

Notes[edit]

  1. For instance, he calls it neo-feminism despite that being the exact opposite of what he opposes (NeofeminismWikipedia's W.svg is a movement emerging from third-wave feminism that believes women can be empowered if they want to embrace more traditional gender roles.)
  2. From the end of the Civil War until the Great Depression, when Herbert Hoover's free market fundamentalism lead to the rise of the New Deal Consensus
  3. The first Labour Party government was formed after the 1923 election in coalition with the Liberals who ran on free trade while the Tories ran on protectionism
  4. Such as the right to join a union, collective bargaining and industrial action

References[edit]

  1. SocialBlade Stats Via SocialBlade, Accessed 5th of April 2019.
  2. Kyle v Cenk Debate Via YouTube,7th of February 2018.
  3. Secular Talk Videos Via YouTube, Accessed 5th of April 2019.
  4. Should Atheists Criticize All Religions Equally? Via YouTube, 31st of December 2014.
  5. Sam Harris On The Israel/ Palestine Conflict Via YouTube,11th of September 2015.
  6. Sam Harris: It's 'Delusional' To Say U.S. Policy Created ISIS Via YouTube, 11th of September 2015.
  7. Sam Harris: I'd Vote For 'Imbecile' Ben Carson Over Noam Chomsky Via YouTube, 24th of November 2015.
  8. Leftist UK Politician Wants To Bring Back Blasphemy Laws Via YouTube, 17th of November 2015.
  9. China Shuts Down Media For 'Independent Reporting' Via Youtube, 6th of August 2016.
  10. Jury Sentences Dylann Roof To Death Via YouTube, 12th of January 2017.
  11. JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Taking Back The Broken & Corrupt Democratic Party Via YouTube,23 January 2017.
  12. I'm Stepping Down Via Secular Talk on Twitter, 23rd of December 2017.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Jon Stewart On Political Correctness Via YouTube, 10th of May 2016.
  14. Colin Kaepernick On Why He Sat During The National AnthemVia YouTube, 29th of August 2016,
  15. Trump: 'I'm All For Free Speech, But...' Via YouTube, 1st of August 2016.
  16. Donald Trump Isn't Politically Incorrect, He's the OppositeVia YouTube, 8th of June 2016.
  17. Twitter Is Suspending Alt-Right Accounts Via YouTube, 17th of November 2016.
  18. Kyle's A Bad, Bad Sexist Via YouTube, 3rd of January 2015.
  19. When Walmart Banned Feminist Shirts For 'Offending Family Values' in 1995Via YouTube,28th of July 2016.
  20. Researchers: Psychedelics Hold Medical PromiseVia YouTube,28th of August 2014.
  21. DEA Bans Lifesaving, Benign Substance Kratom Via YouTube,1st of September 2016.
  22. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitragyna_speciosa
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/ Boyer,E.W,et al.,2008,Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth).Addiction,103(6): 1048–1050.
  24. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673698053562 Ward,J,et al.,1999,Role of maintenance treatment in opioid dependence.The Lancet,369 (9578), 16–22
  25. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the agency’s scientific evidence on the presence of opioid compounds in kratom, underscoring its potential for abuse Via fda.gov, 6th of February 2018.
  26. [https://www.hri.global/files/2010/05/31/HIVTop50Documents11.pdf A review of the evidence-base for harm reduction approaches to drug use By Neil Hunt.
  27. Kyle Breaking Down His Fox News AppearanceVia YouTube, 2nd of April 2019.
  28. https://twitter.com/KyleKulinski/status/831366460576526337
  29. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Are GMOs Safe? Via YouTube,31st of July 2014.
  30. Taking The 'I Side With' Political Quiz For The 2016 Election Via YouTube,4th og November 2014.
  31. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Are GMOs Safe? Via YouTube,31st of July 2014.
  32. Kyle Kulinski: Another Lazy YouTuberVia YouTube,23rd of August 2017.
  33. Is Glyphosate "Probably Carcinogenic to Humans" ?Via YouTube,3rd of December 2015.
  34. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)70134-8/fulltext Guyton,K.Z.,et al.,2015. Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate. The Lancet, Oncology
  35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq1rX54u69U
  36. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wXn1RiQCtY
  37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6x78SfZ7pY&t=550s
  38. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gqUBiP11FQ
  39. The video in question
  40. Here is an archived reddit post showing the original headline before the title changed
  41. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/us/journalist-body-slammed-republicans-apology-media.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
  42. Fact Checking Conservapedia's 'Secular Talk' Entry
  43. No really
  44. Conservapedia, Stop Embarrassing Yourself
  45. He doesn't seem to understand what the word "defeated" means
  46. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBc_HFxyBsU
  47. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/jul/17/facebook-posts/are-george-w-bush-dick-cheney-unable-visit-europe-/
  48. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/10/30/probably-the-largest-al-qaeda-training-camp-ever-destroyed-in-afghanistan/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.86f879a12ea1
  49. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/10/us-military-strikes-large-al-qaeda-training-camps-in-southern-afghanistan.php
  50. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKyTXlwXfeQ
  51. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/us/politics/pentagon-niger-drones.html
  52. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtFND9GlL3I
  53. "Secular Talk Sells Out To Big Seltzer]" 16 November 2016.