Media Mentions & Interviews

The Times’ Jonathan Ames interviewed Helen about Counterweight. In the interview, Helen responds to a common query about the cases Counterweight does and does not accept:

‘We are very clear that we are only here for people who want to oppose racism and other bigotries from a liberal standpoint and those are the letters we help them write and meetings we help them practise for.’

Source: I help thousands of Britons fight for social justice, says anti-woke campaigner Helen Pluckrose.’ Jonathan Ames, The Times, 15 October 2021

In a piece for The Atlantic, Olga Khazan interviewed some of Counterweight’s community members about their experience with critical social justice and Counterweight’s services:

‘One client, a research analyst who requested anonymity, declined to share his pronouns with his colleagues, so he was banned from team meetings, he told me. Pluckrose “gave me some sample scripts to adhere to when communicating with my employer to make sure I remain diplomatic while also being heard,” he said via email.’

Source: A Support Group for the Unwoke.’ Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, 27 September 2021

The Daily Mail’s Michelle Thompson spoke with Helen about Counterweight, with an emphasis on the impact that critical social justice is having on ethnic minorities:

‘She says her clients have included a black man who ‘didn’t want to be told what black people think and feel constantly,’ and a Muslim woman who failed a course on Islamic attitudes toward woman because she doesn’t ‘think they’re that great.’’

Source: The woman canceling cancel culture: How a British academic’s ‘support group for the unwoke’ is helping people fight back against social justice office culture – including a black man who was sick of being told he was oppressed.’ Michelle Thompson, The Daily Mail, 28 September 2021

Founder Helen Pluckrose spoke to the The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast about the dangers of woke ideology:

‘The atomising of minority groups into tribes defined by particular grievances will only create “classes in conflict”, Ms Pluckrose told Planet Normal, with real issues taken less and less seriously due to aggressive campaigning.’

Source: ‘“Woke” culture sets back progress by assuming all minorities are victims, academic warns.’ Craig Simpson, The Telegraph, 8 October 2020.

The Telegraph’s Celia Warden interviewed Helen about Counterweight, with an emphasis on the diversity of cases Counterweight deals with:

‘It’s not always about helping employees confront companies or older generations seeking assistance with a language they no longer recognise, however, but assisting younger individuals, some of them teens, who have been worked up into desperate states.’

Source: ‘Why I started an anti-woke helpline.’ Interview of Helen Pluckrose by Celia Warden, The Telegraph, 17 February 2021.

A Telegraph article by Tony Diver reported on the formal launch of Counterweight this year, in which Helen is quoted as saying:

‘Think of Counterweight as Citizens Advice for the culture wars. We want to empower a groundswell of knowledgeable, compassionate, evidence-based opposition to woke extremism, by supporting people brave enough to defend liberal values in their day-to-day life.’

Source: ‘“Citizens advice service” launches to help employees in woke workplaces.’ Tony Diver, The Telegraph, 25 January 2021.

In a comment piece for The Telegraph, Calvin Robinson argued that the left desperately needs to reconnect with its tradition of free speech advocacy as against wokeness, saying that Helen and Counterweight provide grounds for hope in the culture wars:

‘What is perhaps most interesting is that, as a Left-leaning liberal, she comes at this debate from an entirely different angle from many of the most vocal media supporters of free speech who tend to be on the political Right. This is heartening because it is extremely important that the Left reconnects with the importance of defending freedom of speech.’

Source: ‘Faced with the woke onslaught, the Left needs to wake up to the importance of free speech.’ Calvin Robinson, The Telegraph, 26 January 2021.

Reporting on news of charities making their staff undertake unconscious bias training, The Telegraph quoted Helen as the founder of Counterweight on the issue:

‘This comes after Helen Pluckrose, founder of anti-woke helpline Counterweight, revealed that they have been contacted by charity workers concerned “about funds that are being diverted away from essential care like food and clean water to be ploughed into the ‘diversity training’ of staff”.’

Source: ‘More than 120 charities give staff unconscious bias training amid accusations of “virtue signalling”.’ Hayley Dixon, The Telegraph, 19 February 2021.

Helen was again quoted in The Telegraph’s report on Citizens Advice’s controversial diversity training, which took aim at Israel for “pinkwashing”, among other things:

‘Helen Pluckrose, the founder of Counterweight, an advisory service for employees silenced in workplaces, said the guidance was “alarming but not surprising”.

“We hear frequently from people within the public sector and charitable and humanitarian aid fields. It’s astonishing how often ‘diversity training’ looks like ‘uniformity training’,” she said.’

Source: ‘Citizens Advice’s diversity training links to guide accusing Israel of ‘pinkwashing’ over Gaza conflict.’ Ewan Somerville, The Telegraph, 13 June 2021.

The Times’s report on Counterweight’s formal launch this year included a humorous tale about our very own troll (happily, the issue is now resolved):

‘Ms Pluckrose said: “We have had one rather persistent troll who keeps inundating our contact us form. We will need to increase the website security.”’

Source: ‘“Anti-woke helpline Counterweight flooded with calls”.The Times, Ben Ellery, 30 January 2021.

In The Time’s piece on Universities adoption of software that encourages students to anonymously report microaggressions, Helen comments on the industry of woke capitalism:

‘The firms are “normally run by white middle-class people who earn thousands telling other white people they are racist and need them to advise them how to think and behave”, according to Counterweight, an advice service established to resist “woke” culture.’

Source: The Times, Mark McLaughlin, 14 June 2021.

The New York Times’s David Brooks wrote about the continuing radicalization of the American Republican Party, in the course of which he mentioned Counterweight in a list of new organisations representing good examples of a renewed dedication to championing liberal values:

‘There are new and transformed magazines and movements like American PurposePersuasionCounterweightArc DigitalTablet and Liberties that point out the excesses of the social justice movement and distinguish between those who think speech is a mutual exploration to seek truth and those who think speech is a structure of domination to perpetuate systems of privilege.’

Source: ‘The G.O.P. Is Getting Even Worse.’ David Brooks, The New York Times, 22 April 2021.

Helen spoke to Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about wokeness and Counterweight’s pushback:

‘Woke culture is creating a broken culture says British author and culture writer Helen Pluckrose. She argues that too much focus on perceived injustice sometimes serves to hide real injustice. Helen Pluckrose shares her sometimes controversial crusade against what she calls “woke warriors”.’

Source: ‘Helen Pluckrose – woke culture is the cause of broken culture.’ Interview of Helen Pluckrose by Jesse Mulligan, Radio New Zealand, 9 December 2020.

Alex Morton of the Centre for Policy Studies conversed with Helen in September 2020 about her and co-author James Lindsay’s book on woke ideology Cynical Theories and the problems of institutional capture by Critical Social Justice Ideology, in which she answered viewer questions on a range of subjects, including how to push back against CSJ authoritarianism. Among other things, Helen advocated a new conception of secularism, wherein ideologies, religious or non-religious, should not be enforced by the state, employers, and other societal institutions.

Source: ‘Alex Morton in conversation with Helen Pluckrose.’ Centre for Policy Studies, 30 September 2020.

On Talk Radio in January 2021, Helen spoke with Mike Graham about the formal launch of Counterweight. The setting up of an organization like Counterweight, said Graham, was ‘long overdue.’

Source: ‘New organization launched to fight cancel culture.Talk Radio, 25 January 2021.

On the Intelligence Squared podcast in October 2020, Helen spoke with Helen Joyce about Cynical Theories and the ideological roots of wokeness, in which they also discussed the aspects of Critical Social Justice theory that are of some value.

Source: ‘The Ideological Roots of Wokeness.Intelligence Squared podcast, 13 October 2020.

In May 2021, Helen spoke to Claire Lehmann, founder of Quillette, on the Quillette podcast, in which, among other things, she spoke about Counterweight’s early successes:

‘And we’ve had quite a lot of success, I would say. If we get people to push back at Critical Social Justice ideas in a principled and knowledgeable way, you want people to be more confident to say “I don’t believe what you believe. I am absolutely with you in opposing racism, but I don’t believe in invisible systems of whiteness.”’

Source: ‘Podcast #150: Helen Pluckrose on the Role of Postmodernism in the Construction of Modern Social-Justice Dogmas.Quillette podcast, 25 May 2021.

In the Daily Mail, Sue Reid looked at some recent cases in Britain of Critical Social Justice authoritarianism, including one of a man sacked from Asda for posting a clip of Billy Connolly whose humorous look at religion was deemed offensive by a fellow employee, and mentioned Helen and Counterweight as being signs of the sad times we live in:

‘Such is the effect of the new culture war sweeping Britain — in which vigilantes like Andrew? [sic] scour people’s every comment to deem whether or not they are offensive — a new service, Counterweight, has been launched to support people caught out by it. Led by British author and self-confessed Left-leaning liberal Helen Pluckrose, [pictured in the article] above, Counterweight has been described as a citizens’ advice bureau and anti-woke helpline.’

Source: ‘Why NO ONE is safe from the woke warriors trying to stamp out free speech: SUE REID reveals the pensioner publicly shamed by a drinks giant and an Asda worker who lost his job sharing a Billy Connolly skit. So are you next?’ Sue Reid, the Daily Mail, 12 February 2021.

Helen was quoted in a recent Daily Mail Online story on universities’ provision of software for the reporting of ‘microaggressions’ and the like:

‘Founder of advice service Counterweight, Helen Pluckrose, told The Times: “We’re seeing a huge rise in woke capitalism.

The people who run these services are normally white middle-class people who are earning thousands of pounds telling other white people that they are racist and need them to advise them how to think and behave.”’

Source: ‘Leading universities are accused of stifling free speech by using computer software that allows students to make anonymous “microaggression” reports against tutors – such as telling someone to “cheer up”.’ Jemma Carr, Daily Mail Online, 5 June 2021.

Helen spoke to the great broadcaster Jeremy Paxman on his podcast The Lock In in January this year about Cynical Theories and the lunacies of wokeness, in which she was asked about when she became such ‘an unreconstructed bigot’ by the bulldog of British media! (‘Probably since birth,’ was her wry reply.)

Source: ‘Helen Pluckrose.The Lock In With Jeremy Paxman podcast, 20 January 2021.

Claire Lehmann interviewed Helen for a Think Inc. livestream last December, in which they discussed lockdowns, life, Cynical Theories, and the nascent Counterweight, which was then just a Discord server on the way to becoming the organisation it is today.

Source: ‘Cynical Theories: Helen Pluckrose on the Origins of Wokeness.’ Think Inc. livestream, 18 December 2020.

In a Spectator diary piece, the great scientist Richard Dawkins discussed his involvement with Counterweight, as ever pulling no punches about the authoritarian intellectual baloney it was set up to oppose, while recommending Cynical Theories in characteristically pungent fashion:

‘I’ve just joined a new initiative set up to oppose postmodern metabaloney and bossy woke bullying. Look up ‘Counterweight’ + ‘Helen Pluckrose’, its founder. She’s also co-author of Cynical Theories, an excellent history and analysis of Francophoney postmodernism and the pernicious influence of ‘theory’, drivelling out of the universities into the culture at large. The book’s only fault is that, bending over backwards to be scrupulously fair to its subject matter — queer theory, social justice theory etc, chapter by thorough chapter — it can’t help inheriting some of the subject matter’s obscurantist style. The result is not as stupefyingly boring as the original. Nevertheless, busy readers might prefer to skip to the concluding pages of each chapter, where the pretentious original is decisively skewered.’

Source: ‘Science is not an instrument of patriarchal oppression.’ Richard Dawkins, The Spectator, 13 March 2021

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