The United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) issues this statement to address the recent activities of an individual who has alternately gone by the pseudonyms Johannon Ben Zion, Jochannon Ben-Zion, Johannon BenZion, J. Ben Zion, and Ben Zion. This individual (hereafter, “Ben Zion”) has not been affiliated with the USTP in any manner since June 8, 2020.
Recently it has come to the USTP’s attention that on June 14, 2020, Ben Zion publicly announced his intention to pursue a project for generating lab-grown human meat from his own cells (the “Ben Burger” or “BenZion Burger”). Furthermore, Ben Zion filmed himself carrying out this intention. Defying explicit warnings from USTP leadership against doing so, Ben Zion cultivated his own cells in a laboratory for three months and replicated them, eating the resultant mass of human meat on video. The screenshot below is an excerpt from a post recently made by Ben Zion to some of his social-media pages.
The USTP points to this bewildering scheme as a prime example of the many ill-advised and repugnant behaviors which led the USTP to expel Ben Zion from its ranks and to disavow him and his activities. Cannibalism of any sort and by any means, including auto-cannibalism, is not tolerated by the USTP and is contrary not only to the forward-thinking vision of transhumanism, but even to the elementary norms which every civilized society has arrived at through empirical observation since ancient times. Cannibalism is morally wrong even when it does not destroy sentient life, since it results in prion diseases and other maladies whose obvious incidence led even pre-scientific peoples to renounce it. USTP Officers had previously warned Ben Zion that he would be disavowed if he pursued this reckless project, and it appears that Ben Zion has lapsed into this severe breach of ethics now that the prudent guardrails previously established for his conduct by the USTP are no longer effective in restraining his worst tendencies.
The USTP is aware that Ben Zion has been making various public mischaracterizations of our organization and its activities and outlooks. Ben Zion has been posting inaccurate and inflammatory allegations on a Facebook group dominated by authoritarian and intolerant trolls, which impersonates the USTP and calls itself “Transhumanist Party (US)” but is in fact an assemblage of known detractors who do not know how to behave civilly or gracefully and who ban all dissent. They are also in violation of the Transhumanist Party trademark. One such detractor, Eray Ozkural, was condemned by the USTP on August 11, 2019, as he had “in both public posts on Facebook and in private messages, […] harassed and severely insulted members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and respected transhumanists within our community.” We continue to take exception to this unacceptable behavior.
Therefore, the USTP considers it necessary to issue this definitive public statement in the interests of truth and transparency. Subsequent to the release of this statement, it will be the policy of the USTP not to officially involve itself with any activities of Ben Zion, nor to comment thereon, other than by reference to this statement.
Ben Zion has starkly violated the commitment that he agreed to when he registered as a candidate in the USTP Primary in 2019. He answered “Yes” to the following question, yet his behavior, both recently as documented below and unfolding over a course of many months, has been in sharp contrast to that commitment.
“Do you agree to work collaboratively with the USTP during the campaign season and not to disparage the USTP as well as not to work contrary to the interests and goals of the USTP during that time?”
Ben Zion’s behavior during the past year illustrated his extreme unwillingness to abide by this commitment.
- He has repeatedly insulted and belittled members of the USTP and called for purges of those who disagree with him – violating our long-standing policy of openness and tolerance to a variety of political perspectives. He has sought to rid the USTP of libertarian, conservative, moderate, center-left, and apolitical members, who in totality comprise the vast majority of the USTP’s membership. He has expressly attacked and sought to undermine the USTP’s historic inclusive “big tent” approach of collaborating with individuals of a multitude of political and philosophical views.
- He has actively sought to splinter the USTP and form a competing organization and also to seek the nomination of other parties to the detriment and de-emphasis of his USTP endorsement.
- He has repeatedly engaged in hate-filled tirades in social-media comment threads – often “comment-storming” respected members of the USTP and allies, including some of our Transhumanist Party counterparts abroad, in a manner that alienated them.
- He has actively advocated for violent protests, contrary to the USTP Platform’s categorical opposition to violence. He has denounced and ridiculed, and attempted to malign and discredit with epithets and lies, those who express support for peaceful and civil action only.
- He has expressed glee at the prospect of a violent death for the President of the United States.
- He has continued to post inflammatory, tasteless, divisive, and esthetically atrocious content incessantly on social media despite being told for months that it is in poor taste and does not represent the values and character of the USTP.
- Finally, and most grievously, he has schemed clandestinely to spread malicious lies about the leadership of the USTP and essentially attempted to engineer a coup. In any organization, this kind of insubordination and attempted power grab cannot be tolerated. This matter requires some elaboration to illustrate the sequence of events.
On or about June 4-5, 2020, Ben Zion sent a series of private messages to numerous individuals, containing egregious and utterly false allegations regarding USTP leadership, filled with outright falsehoods and fabrications intended to exploit the George Floyd riots and eliminate any obstacles to a Ben Zion takeover of the USTP. Many recipients of those messages, however, promptly shared them with USTP leadership, and Ben Zion’s actions were clearly recognized to fit the definition of an opportunistic power play.
At that time a vote of the USTP Officers was called to expel Ben Zion from his Vice-Chairman position and from the USTP. Before the vote was finalized, however, USTP Officers tried various measures at containing the damage of these false allegations – for instance, requiring Ben Zion to issue apologies to everyone he contacted (although we are aware that he did not actually apologize to everyone). Ben Zion’s presence was even tolerated at a subsequent USTP Virtual Enlightenment Salon after this misconduct had occurred. USTP Officers then asked Ben Zion to voluntarily step down from the Vice-Chairman role, but the USTP remained willing to keep him as its endorsed candidate if he simply agreed not to spread false accusations or attempt a takeover again. He refused, and doubled down on his contrived and ludicrous allegations. At that point USTP Officers had no choice but to expel him from the Vice-Chairman role – whereupon Ben Zion made his choice to leave the USTP and to denounce it based on conspiratorial delusions.
To summarize, Ben Zion is disavowed by the USTP for a long history of misconduct, including making egregiously false allegations, attempting a coup, engaging in toxic behavior on social media, advocating for positions contrary to the USTP Platform, disparaging respected USTP members and Officers, seeking to institute a purge of members who disagreed with him, and refusing any of the multiple accommodations offered by the USTP for an amicable resolution to these issues. The USTP is no longer associated with him in any way and takes exception to his ongoing false representations. In retrospect, it is apparent to the USTP that Ben Zion is and was a firebrand, infiltrator, and provocateur, not a genuine advocate of transpartisan, forward-thinking transhumanist principles.
Recent revelations regarding the “BenZion Burger” project underscore the prudence of this disavowal by the USTP. The USTP is pleased that the same video in which Ben Zion announced his “BenZion Burger” project was the video which he prefaced with a statement of his departure from the USTP. Our organization and the transhumanist community generally are better off by not affiliating with an individual who is willing to obstinately pursue such misguided and repulsive publicity stunts.
It is tragically unfortunate that Ben Zion has alienated many erstwhile friends and supporters through his divisive and reprehensible behavior. However, the USTP as an organization must move forward and heal from these unfortunate events. We are highly encouraged by the Charlie Kam 2020 Presidential campaign and will be promoting it widely in the coming weeks. We are also highly encouraged by the boost in new membership applications that the Charlie Kam campaign has already motivated. Ours is a big-tent organization, characterized by inclusivity and tolerance of a wide variety of perspectives and of individuals from all backgrounds and all parts of the world. We hope to continue our growth and expand our influence on broader public opinion by means of respectful, constructive, and techno-positive communications and projects.