And the inaugural Montgolfier Award for Sustained Stratospheric Virtue Signalling goes to…

MercatorNet is proud to launch our inaugural Montgolfier Award for Sustained Hot Air, presented to the year’s outstanding virtue signaller.

The award is named after 18th century French hot air balloonists Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, better known as the Montgolfier brothers, who achieved made their first demonstration of flight on June 4, 1783. Several months later, they repeated their experiment for King Louis XVI, using a sheep, rooster and duck as the balloon’s passengers.

Like those brave barnyard animals, in 2023 wokeness reached new and impressive heights, leaving us with a dizzying display of deserving contenders. Below we present, in ascending order, our Top Ten , culminating in the winner of this year’s prestigious title.


10. Ambulance Victoria (Australia)


In a report appropriately entitled, Go woke, go… to an early grave?, last September we peered inside the crisis at Ambulance Victoria. Tragically, 33 Victorians died waiting for ambulances that never showed up, a fact that came to light around the same time the organisation announced its plan to spend A$760,000 employing “inclusivity monitors” and other woke diversity hires.


9. Silicon Valley Bank (United States)


Another contender this year was Silicon Valley Bank, whose collapse sent shudders through the US economy in March and sparked fears of a GFC-style global recession. Had the damage been greater, America’s 16th largest bank — the second largest ever to fail — might have taken home this year’s trophy.

Why Silicon Valley Bank? The Bay Area lender was a world leader in the woke art-form known as ESG -- environmental, social, and corporate governance. It made Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index for five years running, donated millions to Black Lives Matter, and hired a rainbow activist to fill in for an AWOL Chief Risk Operator, even as the bank was over-investing in long-term Treasury bonds whose value was tanking as inflation rose.


8. Davos (Switzerland)


It’s our award to give so we’ll consider a whole city full of virtue-signallers if we feel like it — in this case, the ski resort town in the Swiss Alps that plays host the annual World Economic Forum’s annual shindig, Davos.

The WEF claims on its website that one of its principal aims is to “limit global temperature rise and stave off disaster”. Even so, at their 2022 Davos summit, WEF delegates shunned Switzerland’s railway network and instead flew in on 1,040 private jets, belching out the same amount of CO2 as 350,000 petrol-powered cars would have over the same week-long period.




7. Oxford City Council (United Kingdom)


In April of this year, news surfaced that Oxford City Council, in the UK, was planning to flog off some of the historic paintings on display in its iconic Town Hall to fund more “diverse” and “progressive” artworks.

“Inappropriate for a progressive public body,” the art on the woke chopping block guilty of displaying “animal cruelty and gender-based violence” included Salome with the Head of John the Baptist by Italian artist Guido Reni (1575–1642), a Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669) piece depicting the legendary Rape of the Sabines, and a sculpture of a fox hunt currently in storage.

After all, there’s no better way to desecrate Western history by erasing its least palatable features, right?


6. Essendon FC (Australia)


Who could forget the day Essendon Football Club sacked its CEO Andrew Thorburn? Not for calling abortion murder and gay sex a sin. Not even for his association with a church preaching those ideas today. Essendon sacked Thorburn for sitting on the board of a church whose online teaching archive contained decades-old sermons that contained tidbits to that effect.

Nothing proclaims woke virtue signalling like throwing a Christian to the proverbial lions.


5. Collingwood FC (Australia)


Not to be outdone, Collingwood Football Club this month splashed IDAHOBIT propaganda all over its social media. For the uninitiated, this tortured acronym has nothing to do with hobbits but stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Meanwhile, the same football club boasts as one of its principal partners Emirates, the state-owned airline of the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is a crime.




4. Ethical Capital Partners (Canada)


Unethical pornography is so yesterday. For those with more refined tastes, there is Ethical Capital Partners, a new Canadian firm that acquired MindGeek, the parent company of PornHub and a sewer full of other “adult entertainment” websites.

Never mind that PornHub has long been known to publish user-uploaded footage of sex with violence, sex with minors, and sex without consent. Ethical Capital Partners is here to assure you they are a “dynamic tech brand that is built upon a foundation of trust, safety and compliance”.


3. France (France)


The Montgolfier brothers would be rolling in their graves over France’s decision this week to ban short-haul domestic flights in the name of climate hysteria.

The new decree prohibits flights where a rail journey of less than 2½ hours is available to travellers. Private jet flights are, of course, still allowed.


2. Sam Bankman-Fried (Bahamas)


FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried courted the friendship and funding of the world’s elite as he preached the woke message of “effective altruism”.

Then his multi-billion dollar crypto-currency exchange collapsed, losing his investors tens of billions of dollars — a scandal that exposed fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, misconduct and mismanagement at the company.

Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison and he won’t even get his hands on the Montgolfier Award since this year’s top spot goes to…


1. Bud Light (United States)


Bud Light has managed to sustain two full months of hot air, with its brand still making headlines and parent company Anheuser Busch sustaining a US$16 billion loss in market value since partnering with Dylan Mulvaney, the world’s most infamous teenage-girl-identifying grown man.

Sales volumes of the beer continue to fall by double digits week-on-week, with reports of 24-packs on sale for a paltry $3.49 and rumours that the company was even buying back unsold stock from distributors.

Anheuser Busch’s decision to court a trans activist was so disastrous that it woke middle America up to the power of boycott. Now Target has become the latest company to feel the wrath of common sense.

But being the first domino to fall — the first entity to take wokeness so far that it energised an entire movement — we are delighted to dub Bud Light the winner of the 2023 Inaugural MercatorNet Montgolfier Award. Cheers! 


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