Say site perpetuates college ‘rape culture’
Bill Brett for The Boston Globe
A controversial sports website based in the Boston area brought its national party tour to the House of Blues last night near Fenway Park, but not without vocal opposition from about 200 protesters who blasted the site for posting content that critics say is demeaning to women and makes light of rape.
“We’re down here because we want to let people know that the perpetuation of rape culture is not cool,’’ said Northeastern University junior Anna Siembor, 21, one of the creators of the blog Knockout Barstool, which organized last night’s protest at the nightclub on Lansdowne Street.
The demonstrators were picketing the Barstool Blackout Tour, which is billed on Facebook as “touring the nation, leaving nothing but a path of destruction in its wake.’’
It is the brainchild of the popular but polarizing website, Barstool Sports, and its founder, David Portnoy, 34, a Swampscott native.
While the protesters assailed the website, people waiting to get into the club - a line of about 2,000 paying customers stretched down Lansdowne by 8:30 p.m. - said the site’s content is meant to be taken in jest.
“If you read Barstool Sports, you realize it’s a joke,’’ said Northeastern senior Jocelyn Zewski, 22. “Barstool admits that it’s a joke.’’
A spokesman for the House of Blues could not be reached for comment last night.
Knockout Barstool was created after a posting appeared on Barstool Sports last month signed by El Presidente, Portnoy’s online moniker.
Referring to a recent controversy at the University of Vermont, where a fraternity was sanctioned for circulating a survey asking members who they would like to rape, El Presidente wrote that the matter was being blown out of proportion.
“Just to make friends with the feminists I’d like to reiterate that we don’t condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties in mid-January,’’ the posting said. “However if [a] chick passes out, that’s a grey area though.’’
Portnoy could not be reached for comment last night. When the Globe profiled him in the spring, he said that when he posts as El Presidente, he is playing a character in a fantasy world who can have sex with whoever he wants. “But I also have logic,’’ Portnoy said at the time. “I understand that’s not the world we live in.’’
In a posting yesterday afternoon, El Presidente unloaded on the Knockout Barstool group, which had received support from Occupy Boston.
“Do you think the fatzos at KO Boston know that enlisting the wackos at Occupy Boston make them look crazier than they already do?’’ El Presidente wrote. “The people who hate us are just people who hate life, hate fun, hate men, and hate America.’’
Reporters were not allowed inside the club last night, but video clips of prior Blackout events posted online show what appear to be typical club scenes: college-aged men and women dancing to loud music and drinking alcohol.
A Boston police spokeswoman said there were no reports of arrests by about 11 p.m.
The Blackout Tour has sold out 15 upcoming shows in Providence, New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, according to the Barstool website.
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