Andrew Tate is a British American influencer, media personality and former kickboxer who has recently sparked anger with his self-described misogynist beliefs not only in feminist and progressive circles, but across the ideological spectrum. To explain it in a nutshell: Andrew Tate promotes the idea that women ‘belong’ to men, while also encouraging young men to lead a luxurious, ‘ultra-masculine’ lifestyle. He questions women’s ability to drive while he also believes that men’s attraction towards younger women can be explained by the fact that young women have been with a more limited number of sexual partners compared to older women. While his undoubtedly embarrassing and radical believes have resulted in his being suspended several times on most major social media sites (ranging from Twitter to TikTok), deplatforming did not stop him from becoming an internet success. His online videos are watched by millions, especially by young men. Andrew Tate has around 4.8 million followers on Twitter. Before becoming internet-famous, Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer, participated in a Big Brother show from which he was also excluded after a video surfaced online where he appeared to hit a woman with a belt. While Andrew stated that the video was fake, he was kicked out of the television programme.
Andrew Tate moved to Romania a couple of years ago. In late 2022, Tate and three other suspects (including his brother) were arrested by the Romanian authorities; he is accused of having engaged in human trafficking and organised crime group. He has also been charged with rape. Tate is also accused of luring women into relationships, then coercing them into making pornographic videos and profiting online from these videos. Most recently, young Romanian girls have levelled charges against Tate of writing them messages about how pretty they are and inviting them out while they were still minors. The Romanian authorities have since seized luxury cars and properties from Andrew and his brother. The influencer’s arrest was justified with Tate’s ability to evade investigation by fleeing to another country that does not extradite suspects to Romania. A few days ago, his detention was extended by 30 days, until the end of February.
As far as the legal prosecution of Andrew Tate is concerned, the only comment that is warranted is that, like anyone else, he also deserves a fair trial, and given the legal norms in the Western world, he should be presumed innocent of all charges until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It is crucially important that the Romanian authorities investigate his case honestly and thoroughly without being influenced by the noise of the international media that is now turning its attention towards the Romanian judiciary. Needless to say, the Romanian judges should also make sure they are not influenced by any other actors either. What is more interesting than the actual criminal charges he is facing is how the media has reacted to Tate’s views.
While the vast majority of Andrew Tate’s views are truly repulsive, they are also debatable. In other words, disagreement with his positions should not lead to his systematic censoring but rather to public discussion. There are a whole host of annoying and ridiculous views that are being shared online by people ranging from anti-vaxxers to flat earthers. While the outright censorship of these views can only lead to compassion and secret sympathy with these views, an open debate that reasons and refutes these views may limit their appeal. The same applies to Andrew Tate’s views. His main idea is that there is a ‘matrix’, a system that keeps people down, that indoctrinates them and limits their self-realisation. Tate, unsurprisingly, not only offers a way out of this system into the ‘real world’ but he also promises his followers he would teach them how to make real money and get rich to an extent that the ‘matrix’ would never allow them. Blaming a secret and omnipresent, but undefinable ‘matrix’ for all the bad things that happen to people is is a characteristic feature of conspiracy theorists. In that regard, Andrew Tate is no different from flat earthers or anti-vaxxers. Since all of these views greatly rely on blaming a system that intentionally represses their ‘truth’, censoring them only adds fuel to the fire. The systematic banning, deplatforming and disavowing of Andrew Tate by the mainstream media and by social media only reinforces the perception of his followers that he really speaks the ‘truth’ that is silenced by the ‘matrix’—therefore it is counterproductive. Unless the establishment media wants to prove people like Andrew Tate right, instead of censoring him, it should encourage and facilitate a meaningful debate about his views, allowing those views to be refuted.