Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.
If you’re anything like me, you saw the words “Demon Sperm” trending on social media and assumed that a terrible heavy metal band had held an anti-lockdown concert at which there were multiple fatalities.
Alas, the truth was far worse.
You’ll likely now be familiar with the, er, work of Dr. Stella Immanuel, who stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court and proclaimed that “nobody needs to get sick. This virus has a cure — it is called hydroxychloroquine; I have treated over 350 patients and not had one death.”
Yes, hydroxychloroquine — as championed by Marseille-based doctor and prog rock enthusiast Didier Raoult — is back, even though the World Health Organization stopped its trial of the drug because there was “no apparent beneficial effect” in treating COVID-19. Raoult developed such a cult-like following that he earned himself a meeting with Emmanuel Macron, while Immanuel, who’s also a pastor, was praised by Donald Trump as being “very impressive.”
That’s despite — or perhaps because of — her holding some rather unconventional views. If you have a spare month, it’s well worth looking at Immanuel’s website, which is as far away from conventional medicine and religious teaching as it is from pleasant graphic design. She claims that medical issues such as cysts, infertility and impotence are caused by people having sex with “spirit husbands” or “spirit wives”— basically, that’s shagging witches and demons in a dream world. Or, as the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer put it: “Real-life ailments … stem from the demonic sperm after demon dream sex.”
But surely these are the ramblings of an extremist and would never find their way into a serious debate about allegations of antitrust abuses by the world’s biggest tech companies? Wrong!
Wednesday’s hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives featuring Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook — effectively a Zoom call organized by a group of supervillains from their underground lairs — wasn’t immune from demon sperm.
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner asked Zuckerberg why presidential son Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter account was taken down for a short time after he posted a video featuring Dr. Immanuel’s ramblings — and the Facebook robot-in-chief was polite enough not to point out that he doesn’t own Twitter.
Making much better use of social media was Irish political party Fine Gael, which posted a video promoting summer staycation starring veteran lawmaker Richard Bruton. What caught people’s attention wasn’t so much the fresh produce available at Dorans fish shop in Howth, just outside Dublin, but 67-year-old Bruton’s well-toned body on display when he went for a swim in the sea.
Twitter went crazy at the sight of Bruton’s abs, with former Prime Minister Leo Varadkar telling people not to let his colleague’s “beach bod” put them off taking advantage of a tax break for those who holiday at home this year.
“It’s so nice to see each other in person again. How is the accounts department?”
Last week we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).
“Listen, if you think I’m going to let you elbow your way into this meeting, you’ve got another think coming,” by David Spence.
Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.