Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 18 - The Internet - full transcript

Online harassment is a major problem, but it is rarely prosecuted. If only we'd been warned about this in the early days of the internet.

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Welcome, welcome, welcome
to "Last Week Tonight" !

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

Just time for a quick
recap of the week,

and unfortunately,
we have to begin in South Carolina,

where, on Wednesday,
nine people were tragically killed

at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church
in Charleston.

It was yet another senseless,
horrific act of violence,

and even the president seemed tired
of this depressingly familiar routine.

Now is the time for mourning
and for healing.

But let's be clear.

At some point, we as a country

will have to reckon with the fact
that this type of mass violence

does not happen
in other advanced countries,

and it is in our power
to do something about it.

I say that, recognizing
the politics in this town...

a lot of those avenues right now.

And at some point,
it's gonna be important

for the American people
to come to grips with it.

He sounds completely defeated,
which is understandable.

He's made more than a dozen statements

about mass shootings
in his presidency so far,

and nothing has been done.

But it's still hard
not to feel disillusioned

watching the most
powerful man in the world

sound so hopeless.

It's like seeing your father cry
for the first time,

or catching a department store Santa
getting into his Toyota Tercel.

Or seeing your high school English
teacher at the grocery store

with a shopping cart full
of 14 Lean Cuisine lasagnas.

Oh, Mr. Greenblatt,
are those all for you ?

You taught us to be courageous,
but you won't even try eHarmony.

This is devastating.

I'm devastated, Mr. G.

Look, it is pretty clear
nothing is going to be done

about how this tragedy was committed,

which might explain
why some are focused

on a symbol associated
with why it happened.

Because in the wake of this
racially motivated shooting,

some people found
one thing especially galling.

The American, the state flag
those are at half-staff.

The Confederate flag
that has not been lowered at all.

That's right,
the Confederate battle flag

was flying at full staff
in front of the state capitol,

although perhaps the bigger question is
why it was flying at any staff at all.

The Confederate flag is one of those
symbols that should really only be seen

on T-shirts, belt buckles,
and bumper stickers

to help the rest of us identify
the worst people in the world.

Oh, I'm sorry. Is that a...

Is that a Confederate flag
on your belt, LeAnn ?

Thanks for coming in. The nanny
position has already been filled.

Which is not to say
the flag does not have

passionate defenders in South Carolina,

and that may be why politicians there
go through comical contortions

to avoid criticizing it.

Is it time to stop flying
the Confederate flag ?

Well, at the end of the day,
it's time for people in South Carolina

to revisit that decision
would be fine with me,

but this is part of who we are.

The flag represents, to some people,

a civil war, and that was
the symbol of one side.

To others, it's a racist symbol,

and it's been used by people
it's been used in a racist way.

Yeah. Yeah, it has.
In fact, I believe the first time

the Confederate flag was
"used" in a racist way

was the exact second they finished
sewing the very first one.

It was around that time.

Now, to be somewhat fair here lowering
the flag outside the state capitol

is a little more difficult
than it sounds.

The flag cannot
be lowered for any reason,

because it is affixed to that pole.
It can't be raised or lowered.

And if that flag is to be removed
or lowered or anything done to it,

you have to get I think
it's two-thirds majority vote

in each chamber of
the state assembly to do it.

Yeah. It needs a two-thirds vote.

They were originally going
to make it three-fifths,

but even they thought that might be
just a bit on the nose.

Now, look. Look, South Carolina,

and, indeed,
any state that flies this flag

even as part of their actual
state flag, Mississippi !

Holy shit !

Now might be a great time

out of respect not just
for the events of this week,

but for the events
of the past several centuries

to take that vote
and lower that flag down to half-staff.

And then, when it's at half-staff,

why not keep lowering it
all the way down,

and once you're
holding it in your hands,

take it off the flagpole completely,
fold it

or don't bother
put it in a box, label it "bad flag,"

and put it somewhere no one can see it.

Just a thought.
It's just, just a simple, good thought.

Let's... move on now to Russia,

a country that will continue
to be funny until it suddenly isn't.

With summer here,

you may be wondering where to take
your family on vacation ?

Well, on Tuesday,
Russia unveiled a brand-new option.

It's called Patriot Park.

and when it's finished,
it's set to become

a kind of Russian military Disneyland,

where children can clamber
over heavy weaponry,

even play with grenade launchers

instead of riding on the normal kind
of fairground attractions.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

As an adult, I'm horrified,

but as a former child,
I'm incredibly jealous

that theme parks now exist

where you can play
with grenade launchers.

British children just got taken to
P.G. Wodehouse's Faux Pas Mansion.

It didn't have rides so much
as a selection of chairs.

Russia's Patriot Park
is actually due to open in 2017,

but they've released an
early promotional video for it,

showing that every part of it
is designed

to celebrate the Russian military,

from the contents of the park
to how you get there.

It can be reached by bus
from the metro stop Park Pobedy,

by train from Belorussky
Railway Station,

or by car by taking
the 55th exit off the Minsk Highway.

The exit is made out of two large
demountable transport bridges

as used by the Russian military.

That's right.

Even the highway exit
to the park is "on theme."

That may be taking things
a bit too far.

Even SeaWorld doesn't make you enter
by driving over a tortured orca,

and SeaWorld loves torturing orcas.

They love it so much !

Russia is spending
an estimated $370 million on this park,

which might sound like a lot
for a country currently suffering

under international sanctions
and low oil prices.

But going by their video,

they're almost alarmingly
unconcerned about that.

More than 500 examples
of military equipment

will be on display in a special
100,000 square-meter open space area.

Do you see that ?

There is going to be
an area literally called

the "Military Industrial Complex."

And sure, sure, you can argue that
Eisenhower saw this coming,

but I don't recall him
mentioning in his speech

anything about it,
one day, getting so big,

that Russian kids could
physically walk through it,

eating a fucking churro.

Finally this week money.

It turns out if you offer
Robert De Niro enough of it,

he'll appear in "The Adventures
of Rocky & Bullwinkle."

This week brought a very exciting
development in US currency.

The $10 bill is being redesigned

and it will feature the first woman
on the nations' paper currency

in more than a century.

Great. That feels... Why not ?

That feels like progress...

of the embarrassingly late kind.

It's kind of like when
a company announces

their first female vice president.
It makes you think, "Really ? Okay.

"Well, congratulations on finally doing
the second-least you could do."

And even in this instance, it turns out
campaigners had been hoping,

for something a little more.

The pick of the $10 bill
is a bit of a surprise.

Over the last several months,

a campaign to put a woman
on the $20 bill went viral.

Yeah, of course they wanted the 20.

The 20 is a much better bill to be on.

The only person in America who
regularly uses the 10 is Richard Gere,

and that's only to show his hair
stylist the look that he's going for.

A look that he has nailed.
He has nailed it.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
was actually asked

why women had only been offered the 10,

and he responded
in magnificently awkward fashion.

What would you say to people who say

"The 10, it's not as
prestigious as the $20 bill."

"You can't get that at every ATM."

I think the $10 bill
is a pretty big deal.

But it's not the 20.

You know, I think the $10 bill is
one of our most widely used bills,

and... it is, I think,

as important as the 20.

Bullshit, it's as important as the 20 !
Bullshit !

That's the equivalent
of claiming Liam Hemsworth

is as important as Chris Hemsworth.

You're fooling yourself !

Liam's useful, sure.
He'll do you in a pinch,

but he's exactly half as good as Chris.

End of discussion.

End of discussion.

And the crazy thing is,

it actually makes much more sense
to kick Andrew Jackson off the 20

than Alexander Hamilton off the 10.

Hamilton was America's
first Treasury Secretary.

He proposed setting up both a
national bank and a national mint.

Andrew Jackson
didn't even trust paper money.

Jackson took a kind of fundamentalist
view of money and credit.

Gold and silver dollars
were real money.

Paper was, in some sense, fake.

That's true.
Andrew Jackson hated paper money,

and yet we've stamped
his face all over it.

It would be like having
Guy Fieri branded quinoa,

or putting Tom Cruise's face
on an antidepressant ad.

That would make him furious,
and you don't want that.

He's OT level 16.
He can move objects with his mind.

He could do it.

But, the thing is, in an amazing twist,
it turns out Hamilton

won't be completely shut out
of the $10 bill after all.

If you're a big fan of Alexander
Hamilton, don't despair.

The Treasury Department says
that his image will remain in some way

on at least some of the $10 bills.

Oh, so a woman's not
getting her own bill at all !

She'll be splitting it
with Alexander Hamilton.

This is the perfect embodiment
of the Women's Rights Movement.

Women ask for something they've earned,

a bunch of men get together
and talk about it,

and then they give the women half
and ask her to share it.

And now, this.

And now, C-Span callers suggest women
for the $10 bill.

We want to know what you think.
Who should be on the $10 bill ?

It should be the Blessed Virgin Mary,

which everybody on the Earth
knows her picture.

Yeah, Ayn Rand.

If this country ever does make it, we
owe a great debt of gratitude to her.

The best of the lot, I'm gonna tell ya,
Amelia Earhart.

A lot of people think
she was executed by the Japanese

in the South Pacific. Nobody knows.

Sally Ride, Sacajawea,

Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubs.

I'd rather see a wolf,
a bear, a cougar, an eagle.

I think it should be Princess Diana.

Princess Diana ?

So, someone who is not American ?

Well, I still think
she ought to be on there.

Moving on.

Our main story tonight
concerns the Internet.

It's a place where you can see
incredible things,

like glamor shots of cats,

Angora show bunnies,

or even this rare,
heartbreaking footage

of an injured World War I soldier
returning home to his pregnant wife.

You idiots ! I got you so good !
I got you so good !

The Internet has been blowing our minds

with its power and convenience
for decades,

as you can see in this actual AOL
ad from the '90s.

Hey, Dan, ready for the game ?

I'm just finishing up here
with my new kayaking friends.

- Kayaking friends on your computer ?
- Yeah, I just got America Online.

Sounds great.
Listen, I can't go to the game today.

What ?

I've got to send something for
my mom's birthday. It's tomorrow.

Then book plane tickets
for our trip next week,

and my kid's gotta go to the library
to look up dinosaurs.

Hey, we can take care
of all of that before we go.

- Yeah, right.
- With America Online.

Wait. Let me get this right.

Your mum's birthday is tomorrow,
your trip is next week,

and you're only planning
both of those things now ?

Forget the AOL tutorial.

Let's talk about basic responsibility
here, Dan. You're a father !

But as the ad goes on to point out,

the Internet was
going to fix everything.

Call now for 10 free hours
of America Online,

and get instant access
to the worlds of sports, finance,

computing, and entertainment.

Here come the dinosaurs.
I saved you a trip to the library.

- That's great !
- Yeah, downloading's easy too.

You know, I can even
send email on the Internet.

Of course, there's
my personal favorite: live chat.

That's how I met
my new kayaking buddies.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

I'm now pretty sure that
"kayaking buddies" is a euphemism.

I'm not saying that he's
not going to meet his new buddies

in a shed by a lake.

I'm just saying there's not going
to be a kayak involved. That's...

Amazingly, that ad was 20 years ago,

and the Internet has become integral
to modern life.

But, unfortunately, it's also
become a haven for harassment,

and I'm not talking about
everyday Internet abuse,

of which I am more than aware.

Look at our YouTube page
and you'll see comments like...

"This guy is a fucking dumbass !"

"I don't know why, but I always picture
John Oliver as a puffin."

And... "Watch his hands. His fingers
are like creepy spider legs."

Which is ridiculous, because

Oh God ! Oh ! Get off me !

No, I'm not talking about that.

I'm talking about
the kind of direct threats

that can make people
fear for their safety.

And if you're thinking, "Well, come on,

"that doesn't seem
like that big a problem."

Well, congratulations
on your white penis.

Because, if you have one of those,

you probably have a very different
experience of the Internet.

Women, in particular, can receive

a veritable cornucopia
of horrifying messages online.

Just listen to one female
video gamer discussing

one of the more colorful
threats that she's seen.

I think the one that always
sticks out in my mind is

"I'm going to stick an egg in
your vaginal canal and punch it."

I don't know why,
but that one is just... it's poignant.

You know what ? It is kind of poignant.
Fun fact for you.

"I'm going to stick an egg
in your vaginal canal and punch it"

was actually the original
title of "Eat Pray Love."

So, there's a little fact for ya.

And that threat was comparatively mild.

Others can be chillingly
specific and potentially dangerous.

Listen to how these women were treated

when they spoke out against
what they saw as sexism

in the video game industry.

I am constantly aware of the fact that

there is an enormous amount of hate
directed towards me.

Hate in the form
of bomb threats, rape threats,

even death threats.

They told me
they were coming to kill me.

When someone posts your address online,

and they tell you they're gonna murder
your whole family,

you don't really feel safe
staying at that location.

Yeah, no shit.

I wouldn't blame her for not
feeling safe staying on Earth.

For the record,
if someone did that to me,

I'd hitch a ride to the International
Space Station straight away.

Except who am I kidding ?
They'd never let me in.

I've got spiders for hands !
The Internet is mean !

And look, this does not just
affect women in gaming.

It can potentially affect any woman

who makes the mistake of having
a thought in her mind,

and then vocalizing it online.

For many female writers
and public figures,

this day-to-day harassment
is their life.

Earlier this year, writer Amanda Hess
detailed her experience.

The threats were obviously distressing

It was an anonymous person on Twitter
threatening to come to my house,

to rape me, to cut off my head.

And in case you think
she's exaggerating,

here are some of the
tweets she's referring to.

"Happy to say we live in
the same state. I'm looking you up,"

"and when I fiind you, I'm going to
rape you and remove your head."

And "I am 36 years old,
I did 12 years for 'manslaughter',"

"I killed a woman, like you,
who decided to make fun of guys cocks.

...which is horrifying
for so many reasons.

First, he put "manslaughter" in quotes,

like he still doesn't
think it's a crime.

And also, he put his age,

like he's writing the world's
worst OkCupid profile.

I'm 36 years old, I've killed before,

and I've got a pretty
weird-shaped penis.

The thing is, when Amanda Hess
went to the police,

she quickly discovered
how ill-equipped they can be

to deal with this sort of thing.

In my home state of California,
it's a crime

to threaten bodily harm
against another person.

When I received my most,
sort of, recent bout of threats

so the police officer
who came to my door,

didn't even understand
what Twitter was,

had no idea how
to investigate such a crime,

and I'm not even sure knew
that it was criminal.

So, it's hard to know what to do
when you're put in that situation.

That's a problem, because the police
cannot investigate the crime

if they genuinely don't understand
the medium in which it happened.

If someone tried to drown you,
you don't want the police saying

"I get the murder attempt, but what's
this water thing you keep bringing up ?

"Is it like air, but a bit more chokey
? Is that what it is ?"

And women aren't just
threatened and harassed online.

The Internet has thrown up
a whole new way to wreck their lives.

It's called revenge porn.
You may have heard of it.

It's when naked photos
of people are posted online

without their consent,
and it can be devastating.

This is Annmarie Chiarini,
an English professor

who let her then-boyfriend
take some private photos of her.

Now, after they broke up,
he sent them to her employer

and her son's kindergarten teacher,
and then this happened.

I received an anonymous email at work

that a profile had been created of me
someone was pretending to be me

and there were nude pictures
on this profile.

So, I googled my name,
and the porn website xhamster came up,

and there was my first and last name,
the name of the college where I teach,

the town where I live,
and a solicitation for sex.

Now, that obviously
sounds like a nightmare.

And sadly, the horror of that situation
led her to some pretty dark places.

My actual thoughts were,
"This is my life."

"This is never gonna end,
so I need to end my life,"

'cause I could not live like that.

So, after... I found the profile,
I attempted suicide.

Now, you would assume that
it's illegal to do that to someone.

The problem is, there is no federal law
specifically against revenge porn.

In Maryland, where she lived, revenge
porn was not illegal at the time.

In fact, only 23 states
have passed laws

specifically against revenge porn.

In the other 27,
it's one of those things

that should be explicitly illegal,
but isn't,

like using a golf umbrella in Manhattan

or returning from a
semester abroad in Spain

and insisting on calling it

You are the worst.

The worst.

The point is...

if you are a victim of revenge porn
in one of those 27 states,

your options are limited.

You can try to pursue stalking
or harassment charges,

but those laws may not always apply.

Or you can file a civil suit
against the person who did it,

but as Annmarie Chiarini found out,
you face an uphill battle.

I did go to lawyers in 2010
to handle this civilly,

and the first one said,

"Well, you really should
get better boyfriends.

"I won't take this case."

The second one I approached said,

"Well, it's gonna be
a $5,000 upfront retainer,"

"and this could run anywhere"

"from 10,000 to 15,000
when all is said and done."

I'm a single mom of two.
I work two jobs.

I don't have $5,000, never mind 15.

Yeah, of course you don't,

because most people don't keep
a shoe box full of money

marked "Just in case a total piece
of shit tries to ruin my life."

Now, you could ask the website to take
the photos down

if you own the copyright.

But if they refuse,
then winning your lawsuit,

might entail doing something
absolutely mind-blowing.

You could sue, but to do that,
you've got to register the copyright.

which brings us
to the cold, hard truth.

In the most extreme case, you've got to
send pictures of your naked body

to the Copyright Office.
That's in Washington.

Yes. To stop strangers from seeing
pictures of their naked body,

some women have had
to send more strangers

more pictures of their naked body.

We are one step away from trying
to protect our children in the future

by having the copyright symbol tattooed
onto their genitals at birth.

Look, just to be safe,
let's take her to Viper's Ink Shack.

We don't know what kind of asshole
she could end up meeting.

This situation is insane,
and as one expert found,

the official response to victims
ranges from offensive to ridiculous.

I've interviewed 60 victims
of online harassment

What they're often told is,

"Look, either if it's revenge porn,
you shared pictures with your ex."

"He owns it now.
Sorry that you trusted the person,"

"but it's kinda your fault, right ?"

Or they're told, "Look,
if it's just harassment generally,

"turn off your computer.
Ignore it. It'll go away."

But "Turn off your computer"
is simply not practical.

Almost every job requires
the Internet now.

Somewhere right now, in the world,
there is a yak herder going,

"Why is the Wi-Fi so slow ?

"Fuck it. I'll herd
these yaks after lunch."

And that whole distinctly
victim-blamey sentiment

of "If you didn't want this to happen,
"you shouldn't have taken photos,"

is hardwired into mainstream culture.

Just watch how the news talks about
this whenever it comes up.

How best to avoid this problem ?

Experts say, "Don't take
pictures and then share them."

I think that the teachable moment
and the takeaway is,

you just can't take these pictures.

You know what ? Don't take
naked photos of yourself.

One of the solutions to the problem is
don't take pictures of yourself naked.

- Okay, we've said that.
- Good point.

Kids, don't take pictures
of yourself naked

and put it on the Internets.
It's gonna come up, some point.

And what if it doesn't come up until
you're a parent

and then you've got to explain that ?

What the fuck are you talking about ?

For a start, not taking pictures
doesn't always work.

Sometimes these photos
come from hacked webcams.

Regardless of that,
it doesn't matter how it happens,

because here's a fun game

insert any other crime
into those same sentences.

"Listen, guys,
if you don't want to get burgled,"

"don't live in a house."

"If you're a parent, how are you gonna
explain that break-in to your kids ?"

And look, I'm well aware
that asking law enforcement

to police speech
is a dicey proposition.

No one wants them trolling through
message boards

looking for violent language.

But if a woman turns up
to a police station,

saying someone threatened
her life on Twitter,

the answer, "What's Twitter ?"
is woefully inadequate.

And as for revenge porn,
we're gonna need some new laws.

Fortunately, there are plans
to introduce a bill in Congress

called the
"Intimate Privacy Protection Act"

that aims to address
nonconsensual pornography.

And we've obtained an exclusive video

of one representative's
genuinely moving speech

about balancing First Amendment rights
and protecting victims.

I got you again !

You're a bunch of idiots,
and I'm the king of pranks !

Now, if passed, this law, as drafted,

would make it a crime to post
revenge porn. And don't worry.

It would still leave us with plenty
of Internet porn to keep us going.

And also, the law would
carve out exceptions

for the bona fide public interest.

Meaning that if, say,
a public figure like Anthony Weiner

texted his penis around,
we could all still enjoy that story.

Not being able to enjoy it
would not be a danger.

Danger ! Danger !

Although the truth is

the law can only do so much.

Companies need to be much more diligent

about clamping down on this,
and they are slowly coming around.

In recent months, Twitter and Reddit
banned revenge porn on their sites.

And just this Friday, Google finally
announced, after much prodding,

it would remove photos of revenge porn
from search results upon request.

And for Google to do that
is not nothing,

because we all know, not even
vindictive perverts will use Bing.

They won't do it.
Not even they will go near that thing.

They're not monsters.

And for the rest of us,
it comes down to... to us

and to fundamentally changing the
way that we think about the Internet.

'Cause too often,
you hear people play down

the dangers of the Internet by saying,
"Well, relax. It's not real life."

But it is, and it always has been.

The whole point
of those AOL ads 20 years ago

was that what you did online
would affect your life immediately.

Nowadays, you can click
a button and buy a book

meet your spouse,
or ruin someone's life.

Sometimes those last two
are the same click.

But we all know the Internet
is an incredible tool,

but like most tools,
it can be used as a weapon.

And we've allowed things
to get to a place

where women can fear for their lives
for something they said online

and find themselves mailing
their genitals to Washington

in order to maintain their privacy.

And perhaps we would've dealt
with this earlier

if only those AOL ads
had looked something like this.

Every day, the Internet
is making it easier

for people to live, work, and play.

Hey, Dan, ready for the game ?

I'm just finishing up here
with my new kayaking friends.

Wow. That's a really
specific thing to say.

Listen, I'm not gonna be able
to make the game tonight.

Oh. Why ?

Well, I have to go out into the streets

and scream obscenities
at women that I don't even know,

and then after that,
I've got to handwrite letters

to all the "Golden Girls" telling them
that I'm gonna shit down their throats.

After that I've got to bring

these naked photos
of my ex-wife to her office

and show 'em to everyone
that she works with,

because she's such a bitch.
It's gonna take hours.

Hey, we can do all
of that before we go.

- Yeah, right.
- No, with the Internet.

Look, it's easy.

See ? Here's a random woman
from Minneapolis

who just said how
she felt about something.

You want me to make her
fear for her life ?

Why not ? But how ?

Done !

Incredible. What else
can this thing do to women ?

With the Internet,

the only limit to how miserable
you can make another human being

is how angry you are
and how fast you can type.

Hey, but what about
those photos of my ex-wife ?

Oh, that's my favorite part.

All you have to do
is scan them into this site,

and then people can see it instantly

her boss, her friends,
her parents, everyone.

- Everyone ?
- Everyone.

- Everyone ?
- Everyone.

And this is legal ?

There's no federal law
explicitly against it.

That seems insane.

- Doesn't it ?
- Yeah, it really does.

Anyway, come on.
We're gonna be late for the game.

I can't wait.

Afterwards, I'm gonna fuck
some of my new kayaking buddies.

What ?

The Internet: A Dark Carnival
of Humanity's Most Wretched Impulses.

Also sports, weather,
and pictures of cats.

That's our show.

Thank you so much for watching.
See you again next week. Good night !

You ready to go to the game ?

I'm just finishing up here
with my new kayaking friends.

Listen, I'm not gonna be able
to make the game tonight.

Oh no.

- Why ?
- I gotta go to my wife's office...

If you're gonna type
like a fucking idiot...

Season 2 Episode 18