Crowdjustice and The Good Law Project
Using crowdfunders to settle ideological scores.
Between October 4th and 7th, I sent a series of emails to CrowdJustice, complaining that the Good Law Project’s page for its action to remove LGB Alliance’s charitable status contains several dozen abusive or defamatory comments that have remained on the site for months.
I do not think as a general rule that a project owner is responsible for every random comment made by an unknown third party, as long as reasonable steps are taken to remove abuse. Nor does a project owner have much control over why individuals may choose to donate, or how a project is promoted by unaffiliated third parties.
What is concerning in this case is:
The clear connection between some donor comments and inflammatory language in public statements by the project owners, which goes far beyond the language that they would put either in the filing with the Charity Commission, or even the project description itself.
The length of time the donor comments have remained on the site.
The piecemeal and inadequate response to my complaints.
I also believe the project is raising money not simply on the merits of the action itself, but by the project owners widely denigrating the LGB Alliance on social media. That is, support and funding have been garnered by spreading myths and smears against the group, and the attempt to strip it of charitable status is a continuation of a two-year campaign of harassment. False accusations of “excluding trans people”, “transphobia” or being a “hate group” started hours after LGB Alliance came into being, before they had made any formal statement. These accusations arose principally because of ideological opposition to the existence of an organisation which centres sex in sexual orientation rather than gender, and have continued to be propagated to this day by parties to the action and their vocal supporters. Pernicious myths - some of which are repeated below - sprang up after the fact, to justify conclusions that had already been reached. Seen in that light, the action itself appears to be just the latest attempt by the charity’s ideological detractors to damage the organisation and bully them out of existence.
I have little expectation that any further action will be taken by CrowdJustice, but I think that the abuse and the context in which it has emerged should be highlighted.
Note that I did not include all of the abusive comments in the emails below, just an illustrative sample.
October 4th 2021
I write with reference to the Good Law Project’s case to appeal the LGB Alliance’s charitable status:
The grounds of this appeal are that LGB Alliance’s purposes are too narrow to provide a public benefit, or that they do not fulfil a public good. However, the basis upon which money is being raised is by widely denigrating the charity as a “hate group”, “transphobic”, funded by “dark money” and other such damaging or unfounded statements.
This crowdfunder’s public page contains many abusive comments, which have remained on the site for months. There is a clear connection between the tenor of the abusive comments, and the public statements of Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project on social media, and other parties to the action.
As such, I believe that this crowdfunder is allowing the parties to raise money on the basis of spreading harmful misinformation and further directing hate at protected categories.
I will set out some examples of the abuse below, along with their connection to public statements of parties to the action:
1. Several donor comments are abusive, threatening or otherwise direct hate at protected categories.
2. Jolyon Maugham has claimed that LGB Alliance is financed by "dark money", and donor comments repeat this.
3. Jolyon Maugham has repeatedly referred to LGB Alliance as a "hate group", and donor comments repeat this.
4. Jolyon Maugham and other parties to the action have referred to LGB Alliance as "transphobic", and donor comments repeat this.
5. Jolyon Maugham has falsely insinuated a link to the US-based Heritage Foundation, and donor comments repeat this.
This crowdfunder is encouraging hatred against a group of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have formed a charity to argue for their own rights and representation in society on the basis of their sexual orientation. Harmful and defamatory statements far beyond those in the action itself are being repeated as fact on social media, and used to garner support and raise money.
This crowdfunder is also encouraging hatred against those who believe that sex is immutable, binary and important, and who are often denigrated using the slur "TERF". Given that this belief is accepted as a protected one, these comments demonstrate hatred towards another protected category.
It is impossible to know how much has been raised by repeating inflammatory allegations against the LGB Alliance on social media that are outside the scope of the action, but an examination of the comments indicates at least £1600 has been donated just by donors repeating the term “hate group”. If this is widened to include variations such as “hate cult”, allegations of “transphobia”, and general abuse including “TERF”, the amount is easily over £8000.
On the basis that this crowdfunder continues to be used to direct abuse against protected categories (belief and sexual orientation), I would ask that you remove this crowdfunder and issue a public statement of condemnation.
October 6th 2021
Since my email of October 4th, I am grateful to see that some of the comments I raised have been removed from the project site, notably the abusive ones I highlighted.
However, the ones I sent were merely illustrative, and many abusive comments I did not raise still remain, for example:
I would like to know what you are doing to ensure that comments such as these are properly moderated.
October 7th 2021
I write again with reference to the Good Law Project's case against the LGB Alliance's charitable status here:
I note that one of the comments I drew attention to in my last email has since been removed, but interestingly not the other:
Meanwhile comments like these remain:
It is obvious that some action is now being taken in response to my prompting. However, that action seems not to be proactive, but only specifically in response to the comments I complain about, and even then only a subset. From this, I infer that CrowdJustice and the project owners stand by the remaining comments, and there is no concern about this project's fundraising being connected to far stronger unsubstantiated allegations being made on social media.
While I am glad that some have been removed finally, taking action against months-old comments now does make it clear that since this project opened there has been no serious monitoring to identify and remove such abuse, and the reactive nature of the handling of my complaints over the course of this week does not inspire confidence that moderation will be any better going forward.
With that inadequacy in mind, I should draw your attention to the following comments, which can be found on another of the Good Law Project's pages:
LGB Alliance’s defence crowdfunder is here: