What started off as an honest and fun way to take racist individuals down a peg has grown into nothing short of a way of life. Yelling At Racist Dogs – or YARD, if you will – has outgrown the confines of a Facebook page and become a movement, one that might be rough around the edges in a self-stylised kind of way, but one that reflects an integrity – and humour – that most Australians resonate with.
The movement that started in the streets of Melbourne has now been invited to partake in Fringe festival, testament to the growing intrigue as more and more people spot the stickers strewn throughout town and think…’WTF is YARDing?’
Before YARD masterminds and Melbourne’s favourite sons Sean Bedlam and Tom Tanuki take to the stages of Fringe, we spoke with Tom to work out, for ourselves…
…WTF is YARDing?
Tell me about the climate that Yelling At Racist Dogs was created in. What was happening around you, and why was it needed?
There were proto-YARD moments, but the real fires from which our beautiful Aussie YARD phoenix arose were the protests outside Milo Yiannopoulos’ show in December of 2017. It marked an important turning point in organised racism here in Australia.
People might remember that the event hosts chose to situate his show right opposite the Kensington council flats, which meant that a bunch of high-profile racist grifters found themselves able to stand outside the show bellowing a bunch of racist abuse to Muslim and African residents across the road.
The whole night that followed led to these professional race-baiters fighting with flat residents, and then the coppers ran through the flats pepper-spraying those residents and it was, overall, fucken disgusting.
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But what annoyed Sean and myself, who first discussed what came to be YARD with each other, was the way that the punters who handed over money came to a show that created all this tension, to listen to a paid grifter ‘celebrity’ slag off Indigenous cultures and women and a whole host of other targets…and yet they thought they weren’t part of the alt-right? Oh, no. We could see that this shit was completely the same as a Reclaim Australia rally from 2015.
They just dressed marginally better. So, we came to yell at them, and film our yells. And it was incredible. YARDing as a practice was born that evening.
How does the Average YARD take place? Are you involved in organising each one, or are there splinter / sleeper cells of YARDers out there?
YARDing was born at these rallies, where it makes for a fun alternative to cringe-y chants for shit-talkers like me, but it’s also happened out in other public spheres where the person concerned is a high-profile racist. Pauline Hanson’s copped it, Fraser Anning’s copped it, Tommy Robinson’s copped it, Lauren Southern’s copped it. Pauline and Fraser have both cancelled shows because of the threat of it.
Once we know, and particularly once you take that message to the public realm, you’re in the yell zone. And that’s from average people. Anyone can YARD. Everyone.
There are YARDie sleeper cells across the entire nation. It’s not even confined to Australia. International YARD bubbles beneath the surface, one day ready to erupt. You mark my words.
Not unlike asking you to pick a favourite child, what has been your favourite YARD moment to date?
This was in July 2018, when Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were on tour here. Lauren came outside to Trigger Snowflakes while on her Adelaide leg of the tour, because the counter-protesting effort looked small and harmless outside so her local neo-Nazi security detail said it was safe. Anyway.
An Adelaide YARDie called me and said, “Uh, Lauren Southern’s in front of me.” So we agreed it’d be best for her to go up and start by faux-politely saying to Lauren, “Why are you such a racist dog?” We know these grifters and their debate-school tricks like the back of our hands, so we knew Lauren would go straight to the “Where’s your evidence?” retort, which she did.
The plan was that she’d grow exasperated with Lauren’s bad-faith question dodging, and eventually just start yelling at her that she’s a racist dog. Because it’s weird to just immediately approach someone and start yelling, right? It’s odd. You have to wind up to it.
That’s exactly what the Adelaide YARDie did, and Lauren did as anticipated: shared it around the world as a ‘TRIGGERED SJW SNOWFLAKE SCREECHES AT LAUREN SOUTHERN!’ video. All the big alt-right names shared it as that kind of content. It was great, because it put YARD in the name of all the global alt-right.
One far-right Australian publication said that I was acting as though the video was all part of the ‘Yelling At Racist Dogs’ game plan. Uh, dudes. Yes. It was. Yelling at racist dogs that they are racist dogs is very, very much part of the Yelling At Racist Dogs game plan.
If you have the time, opportunity and motivation, you can totally use these grifters’ own patterns and strategies against them.
You’ve caused considerable problems for many far-right identities and known racists. Indeed, you’ve been more effective at disrupting their plans than any online petition ever has. Why is YARDing so effective?
It’s most effective against this higher socio-economic tier of VIP ticket-purchasing alt-right grift. If you’re inside a function hall eating a VIP lamb chop with Bobby Racism the Canadian YouTube ‘personality’, in a shit cream suit, the pleasure of which you paid $1000 for, and I’m outside in the cold bellowing filthy abuse at you, there ain’t no way in the world you can do this anti-intellectualism game anymore. You’re the elite. I’m the common bloke. It’s the wrong way around for them.
The alt-right fuck themselves up with this cash grab of theirs, but only if we who don’t like racist dogs capitalise on it. Go on, tell everyone I’m ‘funded by Soros’, out there in the cold calling you a fucken dog. You’re the rich ones! You’re clearly the institutional elite, with the power of the media and money and networking on your side. These grifters are left so exposed by YARDing, and they know it.
How was a YARD Fringe festival show look like? What can we expect from an evening in your audience, without revealing too much of course.
The show is very much one of comedy or theatre or whatever you want to call it, make no mistake. We’ve got a story to tell. When I started telling people we’d be doing a YARD show, they’d often go, “Uh… Great!… But what… What’s gonna happen?” Well, never you mind, mate. You’ll have to come and see.
But it distils a lot of the aesthetic and practical inspiration for YARD from over the years into a frankly fucken ludicrous evening. One thing I’ll reveal: many people may have noticed that the shifting face of the alt-right and white supremacy has morphed again. Currently they’re hiding in their computers, until they decide to go out and kill people. That seems to be their current flavour. So, there’s little street-level action. How does that affect YARDing? What happens to the minds behind YARD – clearly people who enjoy a yell – when they can’t yell at racist dogs for a while? So that’s on the table. Anything’s on the table. Be ready.
I am but a humble entertainment writer. Can I also YARD? Can anyone? And how?
Oh, mate. It’s all ABOUT you yelling! This isn’t meant to be some shitty vehicle for me and Sean to show off how insane and/or hilarious we can be, although we have certainly done that, because we are yelling geniuses.
But ultimately, your YARDing contribution is as vital – no, more – than mine. It’s the easiest of participatory forms of anti-racism. As a white bloke myself, I think YARDing’s a great way to use my position to tackle organised racism in a fun and confrontational way – against its most obnoxious and intimidating figureheads.
After all, I’m a small target – I do not cop that racist, sexist or bigoted abuse, and that makes it easier for me to wheel in and fuck up the presentation of white supremacists.
People with a language set other than my own might call it ‘weaponising whiteness’. I call it yelling. But remember, I said before that my favourite YARDing moment came from an almost solo act by a staunch YARDie who ain’t me, a big white bloke – she’s none of those things!
Mate, I’ve shared (or at least seen) heroic YARDing efforts from women, men, Indigenous peoples, Muslims, teenagers, trans folk, you name it mate. It’s as broad a church as the contributions we receive make it. And all are welcome! Anyone with a camera (LANDSCAPE NOT PORTRAIT) and some initiative can go and yell at deadshits.
No, it’s not always safe. Not at all. No one’s promised that in this arena. Organised racism isn’t about anyone’s safety! But it’s necessary work, done in a fun way. And the more of us who do it, the safer it gets.
Plus, yelling is fun.
Yelling At Racist Dogs
The Australian tradition that has always existed
Thursday, 12th September – Friday, 20th September
Cafe Gummo, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets available via Fringe Fest