Gavin McInnes (/məˈkɪnɪs/; born 1970) is a British-Canadian writer and far-right political commentator noted for his promotion of violence against political opponents. Born in Hitchin, England, McInnes immigrated to Canada at a young age, before moving to America to pursue his political career. He holds both Canadian and British citizenship. He is the co-founder of Vice Media and Vice magazine, and host of Get Off My Lawn, formerly on Conservative Review Television. He is a contributor to Taki's Magazine and a former contributor to The Rebel Media, and was a frequent guest on television programs on Fox News and TheBlaze.
McInnes was a leading figure in the hipster subculture while at Vice, being labelled as the "godfather" of hipsterdom. After leaving the company in 2008, he became increasingly known for his far-right political views. He is the founder of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist men's group classified as a "general hate" organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. McInnes has rejected this classification, claiming that the group is "not an extremist group and [does] not have ties with white nationalists".
McInnes was born in 1970 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, the son of James McInnes, who later became the Vice-President of Operations at Gallium Visual Systems Inc. – a Canadian defence company now known as Kongsberg Geospatial Ltd. – and Loraine McInnes, a retired business teacher. His family migrated to Canada when McInnes was four, settling in Ottawa, Ontario. He attended Ottawa's Earl of March Secondary School. As a teen, McInnes played in an Ottawa punk band called Anal Chinook. He graduated from Carleton University.
McInnes co-founded Vice in 1994 with Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. During his tenure there he was described as the "godfather" of hipsterdom by WNBC and as "one of hipsterdom's primary architects" by AdBusters. He occasionally contributed articles to Vice, including "The VICE Guide to Happiness" and "The VICE Guide to Picking Up Chicks", and co-authored two Vice books: The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, and Vice Dos and Don'ts: 10 Years of VICE Magazine's Street Fashion Critiques.
In an interview in the New York Press in 2002, McInnes said that he was pleased that most Williamsburg hipsters were white. McInnes later wrote in a letter to Gawker that the interview was done as a prank intended to ridicule "baby boomer media like The Times". After he became the focus of a letter-writing campaign by a black reader, Vice apologized for McInnes's comments. McInnes was featured in a 2003 New York Times article about Vice magazine expressing his political views.
In 2006, he was featured in The Vice Guide to Travel with actor and comedian David Cross in China. He left Vice in 2008 due to what he described as "creative differences". In a 2013 interview with The New Yorker, McInnes said his split with Vice was about the increasing influence of corporate advertising on Vice's content, stating that "Marketing and editorial being enemies had been the business plan".
In 2008, McInnes created the website StreetCarnage.com. He also co-founded an advertising agency called Rooster where he served as creative director. In 2009, McInnes convinced a journalist at The Village Voice that he had been knocked out after losing a challenge to an MMA fighter. The footage was actually an outtake from a failed TV pilot. In 2010, McInnes convinced a journalist at Gawker that he had eaten a bowl of urine-soaked corn flakes after not winning their "Hipster of the Decade" competition. The footage was an outtake from a collection of comedy sketches called Gavin McInnes Is a Fucking Asshole.
McInnes was featured in Season 3 of the Canadian reality TV show Kenny vs. Spenny, as a judge in the "Who is Cooler?" episode. In 2010, McInnes was approached by Adult Swim and asked to play the part of Mick, an anthropomorphic Scottish soccer ball, in the short-lived Aqua Teen Hunger Force spin-off Soul Quest Overdrive. After losing a 2010 pilot contest to Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge, six episodes of Soul Quest Overdrive were ordered, with four airing in Adult Swim's 4 AM DVR Theater block on 25 May 2011 before quickly being cancelled. McInnes jokingly blamed the show's cancellation on the other cast members (Kristen Schaal, David Cross, and H. Jon Benjamin) not being "as funny" as him.
In 2012, McInnes wrote a book called How to Piss in Public. In 2013 he directed The Brotherhood of the Traveling Rants, a documentary on his tour as an occasional standup comedian. For the film, he faked a serious car accident. Also that year, McInnes starred in the independent film How to Be a Man, which premiered at Sundance Next Weekend. He has also played supporting roles in other films including Soul Quest Overdrive (2010), Creative Control (2015) and One More Time (2015).
In August 2014, McInnes was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence as chief creative officer of Rooster, following online publication at Thought Catalog of an essay about transphobia titled "Transphobia is Perfectly Natural" that sparked a call to boycott the company. In response, Rooster issued a statement, saying in part: "We are extremely disappointed with his actions and have asked that he take a leave of absence while we determine the most appropriate course of action." McInnes defended the article by saying, "All I was saying was transsexuals have a huge suicide rate", and called the reaction "fake hysteria".
In June 2015, broadcaster Anthony Cumia announced that McInnes would be hosting a show on his network, therefore retiring the Free Speech podcast that he had started in March. The Gavin McInnes Show premiered on Compound Media on 15 June. McInnes is a former contributor to Canadian far-right portal The Rebel Media and a regular on conspiracy theorist media platform Infowars' The Alex Jones Show, and Fox News' Red Eye, The Greg Gutfeld Show, and The Sean Hannity Show. He writes for Taki's Magazine and previously wrote for TruthRevolt, Death and Taxes, The Federalist, American Renaissance, and VDARE. In 2016, McInnes referred to Jada Pinkett Smith as a "monkey actress" on his radio show.
Events in 2018
On 10 August 2018, McInnes's Twitter account, as well as the account for the Proud Boys, was permanently suspended by Twitter due to their rules against violent extremist groups. The suspension was ahead of the first anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, and the scheduled 2018 Unite the Right rally.
On 12 October 2018, McInnes participated in a reenactment of the 1960 assassination of socialist politician Inejiro Asanuma by Otoya Yamaguchi at the Metropolitan Republican Club. After the event, a contingent of Proud Boys were caught on tape beating a protester outside the venue, after members of Antifa threw a plastic bottle at them.
On 21 November 2018, shortly after news broke that the FBI had reportedly classified the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalists, McInnes said that his lawyers had advised him that quitting might help the nine members being prosecuted for the incidents in October and he said "this is 100% a legal gesture, and it is 100% about alleviating sentencing", and said it was a "'stepping down gesture', in quotation marks". Two weeks later the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Oregon office said that it had not been their intent to label the entire group as "extremist", only to characterize the possible threat from certain members of the group that way.
Later that month, McInnes was planning on travelling to Australia for a speaking tour with Milo Yiannopoulos and Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's pseudonym), but was informed by Australian immigration authorities that "he was judged to be of bad character" and would be denied a visa to enter the country. Issuing a visa to McInnes was opposed by an online campaign called "#BanGavin", which collected 81,000 signatures.
On 3 December 2018, Conservative Review Television (CRTV), on which McInnes had hosted the Get Off My Lawn program, merged with BlazeTV, the television arm of Glenn Beck's TheBlaze, to become Blaze Media. McInnes was expected to host his program for the new company, whose co-president called McInnes "a comedian and provocateur, one of the many varied voices and viewpoints on Blaze Media platforms." Less than a week later, on 8 December, it was announced that McInnes was no longer associated with Blaze Media, with no details given as to why.
Two days later, on 10 December, McInnes, who had previously been banned by Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, and Facebook, was banned from YouTube for "multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement." Asked to comment about his firing and bannings, McInnes said that he had been victimized by "lies and propaganda", and that "there has been a concerted effort to de-platform me." In his e-mail to Huffington Post, McInnes stated that "Someone very powerful decided long ago that I shouldn't have a voice ... I'm finally out of platforms and unable to defend myself. ... We are no longer living in a free country." McInnes also indicated some personal responsibility for the situation in an interview on the ABC News program Nightline, saying. "I'm not guilt free in this. There’s culpability there. I shouldn't have said, you know, violence solves everything or something like that without making the context clear and I regret saying things like that." McInnes stopped short of apologizing or actually retracting his past statements, saying, "That ship has sailed."
Lawn sign controversy
In reaction to the Proud Boys-instigated fight in October 2018, residents of the suburban Westchester community of Larchmont, where McInnes lives, began a "Hate Has No Home Here" campaign, which involved displaying that slogan on lawn signs around the community. One resident said "We stand together as a community, and violence and hate are not tolerated here." Several days after the signs began appearing, McInnes' wife sent emails to their neighbours saying that the media had misrepresented McInnes.
Amy Siskind, an activist and writer who lives in nearby Mamaroneck, posted on Facebook that she was planning an anti-hate vigil. After a local newspaper ran a story about the planned vigil, McInnes and his family appeared at the Siskind's door without invitation or forewarning; she became upset and called the police.
At the end of December, with the lawn sign campaign still ongoing, McInnes wrote a letter which was dropped off at the homes of his neighbours. The letter asked them to take down their signs, and described himself as "a pro-gay, pro-Israel, virulently anti-racist libertarian," saying that there was nothing "hateful, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or intolerant" in "any of my expressions of my worldview," contrary to his past remarks, such as saying he was "becoming anti-Semitic" after a trip to Israel, or referring to transgender people as "gender niggers". McInnes said that the Proud Boys was a "drinking club [he] started several years ago as a joke". Despite the formality of the letter, in a podcast on 4 January 2019, McInnes called the neighbours "assholes", described their behaviour as "cunty" and said "If you have that sign on your lawn, you’re a fucking retard."
One Larchmont resident said about McInnes: "I don't care what Gavin says, I've done my research ... He incites violence. He spouts divisive, racist language. And while he may try to say he disowns his followers, he's a part of the problem. So when I read his letter, I was like, yeah, right, this is ridiculous."
Several days after the letter was sent out, HuffPost reported that they had viewed evidence provided by some neighbours that McInnes' wife, Emily – who portrays herself as a liberal Democrat – had harassed and intimidated them, including with the threat of legal action. Her threats were such that several neighbours notified the police about them.
Lawsuit against the SPLC
Although McInnes cut ties with the Proud Boys publicly in November 2018, stepping down as chairman, in February 2019 he filed suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center over their designation of the Proud Boys as a "general hate" group. The defamation suit was filed in federal court in Alabama. In the papers filed, McInnes claimed that the hate group designation is false and motivated by fund-raising concerns, and that his career has been damaged by it. He claimed that SPLC contributed to his or the Proud Boys' being "deplatformed" by Twitter, PayPal, Mailchimp, and iTunes.
The SPLC says on its website that "McInnes plays a duplicitous rhetorical game: rejecting white nationalism and, in particular, the term 'alt-right' while espousing some of its central tenets," and that the group's "rank-and-file [members] and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville." In response to the suit, Richard Cohen, the president of SPLC, wrote "Gavin McInnes has a history of making inflammatory statements about Muslims, women, and the transgender community. The fact that he's upset with SPLC tells us that we're doing our job exposing hate and extremism."
New York trial of Proud Boys
Although McInnes was not a defendant in the August 2019 trial of members of the Proud Boys for their part in the violence that occurred after a meeting of the Metropolitan Republican Club in October 2018, prosecutors repeatedly invoked his name, his words and his views in their questioning of the defendants, after testimony by the defendants and other Proud Boys opened the door to that line of questioning. During closing arguments, a prosecutor said that "Gavin McInnes is not a harmless satirist. He is a hatemonger," while the defense said that McInnes was being "demonized."
McInnes describes himself as libertarian and part of the New Right, a term that he prefers to use rather than alt-right. The New York Times has described McInnes as a "far-right provocateur." McInnes has referred to himself as a "western chauvinist" and started a men's organization called Proud Boys who swear their allegiance to this cause.
In November 2018 it was widely reported on the basis of an internal memo of the Clark County, Washington Sheriff's Office – based on an FBI briefing – that the Bureau classified the Proud Boys "an extremist group with ties to white nationalism". Two weeks later, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Oregon office denied that the FBI had made that designation about the entire group, ascribing it to a misunderstanding on the part of the Sheriff's Office. The SAIC, Renn Cannon, said that their intent was simply to characterize the possible threat from certain members of the group, not to classify the entire group. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a "general hate group". McInnes has said his group is not a white nationalist group.
In 2003, McInnes said, "I love being white and I think it's something to be very proud of. I don't want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life."
In a speech given at New York University in February 2017, after a clash between his Proud Boys and Antifa anti-fascist protestors, McInnes said: "Violence doesn't feel good, justified violence feels great, and fighting solves everything. ... I want violence. I want punching in the face." McInnes denies that he is inciting violence, although he did say that "[T]he Proud Boys do enjoy a good brawl."
Race and ethnicity
McInnes has been accused of racism and of promoting white supremacist rhetoric. He has made alleged racial slurs against Susan Rice and Jada Pinkett Smith personally, and more widely against Palestinians and Asians. In 2004, he told a reporter for the Chicago Reader at a party that he wanted to "'wanted to fuck the shit out of [a young Asian lady] until she started talking'" and supposed that "since Asians' eyes don't work so good in terms of facial expressions they have no choice but to emote with their mouths."
McInnes has said that there is a "mass conformity that black people push on each other", and in 2018, he said there was significant "black violence" in the United States, with 8,000 cases a year of black-on-black murder. He has been quoted as saying that New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who is black, is "kind of like Sambo."
Judaism and anti-Semitism
In March 2017, during a trip to Israel with The Rebel Media, McInnes made controversial comments defending Holocaust deniers, accused the Jews of being responsible for the Holodomor and the Treaty of Versailles, and said he was "becoming anti-Semitic". He later said his comments were taken out of context. McInnes also produced a comedic video for Rebel called "Ten Things I Hate about Jews", later retitled "Ten Things I Hate About Israel". In response to the controversy, McInnes said: "I landed, and I’ve got tons of Nazi friends. David Duke and all the Nazis totally think I rock... No offence, Nazis, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't like you. I like Jews."
McInnes is anti-Islam. He has said that "Muslims are stupid ... the only thing they really respect is violence and being tough." He also has equated Islam with fascism, stating "Nazis are not a thing. Islam is a thing." In April 2018, Mcinnes labelled a significant section of Muslims as both mentally ill and incestuous, claiming that "Muslims have a problem with inbreeding. They tend to marry their first cousins... and that is a major problem [in the U.S.] because when you have mentally damaged inbreds – which not all Muslims are, but a disproportionate number are – and you have a hate book called the Koran... you end up with a perfect recipe for mass murder."
McInnes has described himself as "an Archie Bunker sexist", and has said that "95 percent of women would be happier at home". On the topic of female police officers, he said, "I understand [women] are good for domestics, but I don't understand why there are so many female police officers. They're not strong, they're like super fat police officers. It doesn't make any sense to me."
In 2003, Vanessa Grigoriadis in The New York Times quoted McInnes saying, "'No means no' is puritanism. I think Steinem-era feminism did women a lot of injustices, but one of the worst ones was convincing all these indie norts that women don't want to be dominated." McInnes has been accused of sexism by various media outlets including Chicago Sun-Times, Independent Journal Review, Salon, Jezebel, The Hollywood Reporter, and Slate. In October 2013, McInnes said during a panel interview that "people would be happier if women would stop pretending to be men", and that feminism "has made women less happy". He said, "We've trivialized childbirth and being domestic so much that women are forced to pretend to be men. They're feigning this toughness, they're miserable." A heated argument ensued with University of Miami School of Law professor Mary Anne Franks.
White nationalism and white supremacy
McInnes has written that "This whole idea of white nationalists and white supremacy is a crock. Such people don't exist." In regards to Richard B. Spencer, a nationally prominent white nationalist, and the coiner of the expression "alt-right", he said "even he, the head of the snake, comes across as perfectly reasonable in conversation. He doesn't think non-whites can be included in a harmonious America, but everything else on his plate is relatively civil."
McInnes has espoused the white genocide conspiracy theory saying that white women having abortions and immigration is "leading to white genocide in the West". In 2018, regarding South African farm attacks and land reform proposals, he said that black South Africans were not "trying to get their land back – they never had that land", instead stating there were "ethnic cleansing" efforts against white South Africans.
McInnes resides in the U.S. on a green card. In 2005, he married Manhattan-based publicist and consultant Emily Jendrisak, the daughter of Native American activist Christine Whiterabbit Jendrisak. She describes herself as a liberal Democrat. About his wife's ethnicity and their children together, McInnes said, "I've made my views on Indians very clear. I like them. I actually like them so much, I made three." They live in Larchmont, New York.
Kenny vs Spenny: "Who is Cooler" episode (2006) – as himself (guest judge)
Vice Guide to Travel (2006) – as himself
Soul Quest Overdrive (2010) – as Mick
How to Be a Man (2013) – as Mark McCarthy
Creative Control (2015) – as Scott
One More Time (2015) – as Record Producer
Long Nights Short Mornings (2016) – as Comedian