David Heinemeier Hansson

September 7, 2022

The faith of Andrew Tate

Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks
Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks
Lick on these nuts and suck the dick
Get's the fuck out after you're done
— "Bitches Ain't Shit", Dr. Dre, 1992 [Lyrics | Video]

Dr Dre has 7M followers on Instagram. This 2011 derivative of the song by Tyga has 31M views on YouTube.

I don't love 'em, I fuck 'em
I don't chase 'em, I duck 'em
I replace 'em with another one
You had to see she keep calling me B.I.G
And my name is Jay-Z
She be all on my dick
Gradually I'm taking over your bitch
— "Is That Yo Bitch?", Jay-Z, 1999 [Lyrics | Video]

Jay-Z has sold over 140 million records, won 24 Grammy Awards, and is honored in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

You can't run from me, Kim! It's just us, nobody else
You're only making this harder on yourself!
Ha-ha, gotcha! Go ahead, yell!
Here, I'll scream with you, "Ah! Somebody help!"
Don't you get it, bitch? No one can hear you!
Now shut the fuck up, and get what's comin' to you!
You were supposed to love me!
Now bleed, bitch, bleed! Bleed, bitch, bleed! Bleed!
— "Kim", Eminem, 1997 [Lyrics | Video]

All the characters are still hip hop royalty. Walking red carpets, featuring in elite advertisement, and hosting the Super Bowl.

Good! I can look at these lyrics and go "yeah, no, not for me", STILL enjoy other parts of their music, and keep my pearls in the pocket.

But are you telling me that even the worst clips by Andrew Tate exist in a universe entirely different from the lyrics above? Or are we in this particular instance OK claiming "but that was a different time"?

How about that slippery slope. This unique, terrible, unaccountable power to unperson someone from the entire realm of social media was supposed to be reserved only for unique, terrible dangers. Yet we've gone from Alex Jones in 2019 to Andrew Tate in 2022. Why on earth would you think the ride would stop with Tate? It took just a few years to lower the bar from "batshit conspiracy theorist harassing Sandyhook parents" to "dude whose views on women we find abhorrent".

Can you see why the formerly honorable ACLU sued the government in 1977 to allow literal nazis to march in Skokie? David Goldberger and his team knew that unless you take a stand for free speech in the cases most people would find repugnant, you'll gradually lose the right altogether. The ACLU unfortunately no longer takes this principled stance, but that doesn't mean we can't be inspired by the giants from the organization's past.

But as usual, the principled discussion is simply getting boiled away, and we're left with the dichotomous bones of "are you for or against Andrew Tate"? That's been the depressing commentary even in Danish media. A breathless, doe-eyed coverage that centers entirely on whether this influencer is corrupting the moral fiber of the youth. With his crass rants, his expensive cars, his big cigars. Oh Lordy.

Here's Eminem again, from Cleanin' Out My Closet, 2002:

Have you ever been hated or discriminated against? 
I have 
I've been protested and demonstrated against 
Picket signs for my wicked rhymes 
Look at the times 
Sick as the mind of the motherfucking kid that's behind 
All this commotion, emotions run deep as oceans explodin' 
Tempers flarin' from parents, just blow 'em off and keep goin' 
Not takin' nothin' from no one, give 'em hell long as I'm breathin' 
Keep kickin' ass in the mornin' and takin' names in the evenin' 
Leavin' with a taste as sour as vinegar in their mouth 
See they can trigger me 
But they never figure me out 
Look at me now 
I betcha probably sick of me now

You don't have to like any of Andrew Tate's takes on men, women, wealth, or the world to see that this modern, coordinated unperson campaign against his "wicked words" is crazy. It's also likely to be counterproductive. I'd literally never heard of Andrew Tate until he got banned. Now he's everywhere, and has a credible martyr role to drape his spiel in. 

Did progressives learn nothing from conservatives trying to ban rap music in the 90s?

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Creator of Ruby on Rails, co-owner & CTO of 37signals (Basecamp & HEY), best-selling author (REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, REMOTE), Le Mans class-winning racing driver, antitrust advocate, investor in Danish startups, frequent podcast guest, and family man.