On 4th August 2020 I was booked to give a live presentation at one of the regular meet-ups of the Truth Juice group at the E57 Social Club in Birmingham. The event had been promoted for a few weeks on the group’s website. The group’s organisers had texted myself and other attendees beforehand to advise that the club, a general-purpose events venue which rents out one of its rooms for Truth Juice’s use each fortnight, had, like most other public venues, introduced changes in line with government “guidelines.” This, we were told, included the use of a larger room than usual so that tables could be spaced two metres apart.
On arrival at the venue, I discovered that staff were insisting on conducting temperature checks on visitors on arrival. This was being done primarily by aiming a temperature gun at the forehead, but the option for being tested on the wrist was also available. I was not happy with the impositions, and would not have complied had I just been going to the venue for a casual social link-up, but realising that the only way I would be able to fulfil my obligations to the organisers and to the attendees who had travelled and paid to hear me talk, I reluctantly allowed myself to be ‘tested’ on the wrist. It had not been made clear prior to the event that the temperature checks would be a condition of entry. Inside the venue were over 100 people who were already seated awaiting the start of the event.
Upon exiting the venue again to retrieve a box of T-shirts from my car, I encountered a large crowd of 20-30 people in the car park, all angry at having been asked to succumb to a temperature check, and having refused. A couple of those in the crowd asked me to stand in solidarity with them, with one suggesting that I give my presentation in the car park rather than inside the venue. Given that I was not the organiser of the event and merely the guest speaker, and that the checks were being administered by the venue’s staff, I offered to go and fetch the event organiser to address the issue, and he subsequently went outside to speak to the crowd. Upon returning he advised me that the crowd had opted to abandon the event and regroup at a nearby pub.
The event went ahead with a full room of between 100 and 150 people. Many in the crowd offered words of support and appreciation and I had many constructive conversations afterwards. The following morning, I commented in a Facebook post on what a positive experience the evening had been, thanking those who attended, and expressing commiserations for those who, alarmed at the temperature checks, opted not to come in.
As the day wore on, a number of comments appeared on the Facebook thread criticising me for not having stayed out in the car park with the group, and berating me for going ahead to fulfil my obligation to speak to the audience. I then discovered a video which had been filmed in the bar where a phone camera had been passed around the group, inviting everyone to send me a personal message of scorn. The general theme was that I was a sell-out and a hypocrite for succumbing to the venue’s entry requirements. I was disappointed to see and hear many who I had considered good friends and allies joining in the universal condemnation and succumbing to the pack mentality. According to this group, my correct course of action would have been to renege on my commitment to speak at the event, thus letting down both the organisers with whom I have had a strong working relationship for the past seven years, and those attendees who had travelled, paid an entry fee and, in most cases, were settled at tables having bought drinks from the bar.
If I had done as this group wanted, I would instead be facing criticism of a different kind, and instead of being called a sell-out, I would have gained a reputation for being unreliable, for going back on arrangements, and for letting down this much larger group instead. Either way, I couldn’t have won. To have given my presentation outside, as was suggested, would have been entirely impractical as I was reliant on showing slides and video with audio, none of which would have been possible without a power supply. I had to make a choice, and I made the only reasonable one that I could faced with the circumstances.
To my knowledge, none of the group in the pub who condemned me have presented any information publicly on the platforms that I have. None have written books; none produce and present their own podcast series; none appear regularly as guests on other people’s shows; none produce weekly YouTube videos; none give live presentations and talks at conferences and meet-up groups. As such, none have any idea of the time, effort, energy and personal sacrifice that is required to produce the volume of work that I do, nor the many obstacles and forms of opposition that are encountered by anyone who does. All of what I do requires great time and input and comes at a high personal cost. Criticising others requires none. I wonder how easy any of these people would find doing what I do on a consistent basis, and I wonder whether they’d be able to keep everyone they encounter happy in the process?
Truth Juice as a group has been running events in Birmingham for several years. In that time, the amount of empowering and inspiring information that has been shared, and friendships and alliances that have been struck up, has been immeasurable. There is great value in these events being able to continue, but with things being as they currently are all over the UK, almost any venue they might choose to hold their meetings at would be seek to apply similar conditions to its visitors. These measures are of course deplorable and have no basis in common sense, but – like it or not – that is the state of the world in which we’re all being forced to live in 2020.
The group could, as a result, choose not to hold any more meetings until such measures are lifted. In doing so, however, they would be denying people access to information, unity and camaraderie at a time when all of these things are needed the most. At a time when our rights and freedoms are being challenged more than any other in living memory – as I addressed in the talk – unity among like-minded people is needed more than ever. When all of us are being oppressed by tyrannical governments, any dissatisfaction or anger would be better directed at those doing the oppressing, rather than towards others under the same state of duress who are already doing all they can to inform and inspire others towards action. All this incident has done is foment yet more division, disagreement and in-fighting at a time when we all, collectively, face much larger problems more deserving of our attention and energy.
This is my full and only statement on this matter. People can make of it what they will and can say what they want. Be advised that I will not be entering into any further correspondence on the subject in any circumstances.
5th August 2020