Alex Jones is a nutcase — and that comparison is an insult to every other nutcase in the world.
I have no idea whether Jones believes the insane things he says or if he’s just playing to an audience of gullible misfits in order to make money. I halfway suspect he believes much of what he says, but that he plays up certain stories because they attract attention.
So if I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s equal parts madman and showman.
Jones is a slimy opportunist with more than a few screws loose, but I have a serious problem with any social media platform that bans his rants because of “hate content.” (What exactly is hate these days?) Over the last week or so, we have seen Apple, Spotify, Facebook and YouTube kick Jones off of their services.
These companies have no problem with nasty, hateful and vulgar content in their music catalogs or other posts. What makes the rantings of a madman so different that these media companies have decided to ban him? This is “virtue signaling,” not something which is going to “stop hate” or any such nonsense.
I’m saddened by the moves of these companies, not because I support Jones or want anyone to listen to him, but because banning people we disagree with just plays into the paranoid conspiracy fantasies of their followers. It allows Jones to say, “See? They’re so afraid of what I have to say that they’re trying to shut me up.”
The progressive left used to loudly advocate for open and unfettered speech, but many on the left have been begging for people such as Jones to be banned. In a tweet last Monday, for instance, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said, “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”
Really? The survival of democracy depends on shutting up someone you (and I) disagree with? Is his beloved system of government so weak that it can’t resist the rantings of an madman who’s basically a nobody? Do you realize the implications of what he’s saying?
Even if you couldn’t care less about the free flow of ideas you disagree with and even if you couldn’t care less about being fair to your enemies, there’s a pragmatic reason to be disturbed by what’s going on. The day is coming — and it might be soon — when the sane and reasonable ideas that you believe in are branded as hate speech and you will not be allowed to make the case for your ideas.
If that doesn’t frighten you — if you’re too busy gloating that Alex Jones is getting his comeuppance — you’re not thinking clearly or reasonably. The same principles being applied to someone who I agree is loathsome and insane will one day be used against you.
Can you even tell me who Jones and Co. hate? Or have you just accepted someone else’s word that what he says is “hate speech”? Do you have any idea?
Banning “hate” is always a very subjective thing, anyway.
Many who talk loudly today about “saying no to hate” are among the most hateful people I know when others disagree with them. It’s as though they’ve redefined what hate means. Hate means disagreeing with them, but when they hate people who disagree with them, well, that’s different.
The real threat to individual freedom actually comes from the people who are eager to shut down those who disagree with them, not from people whose own words make them look like fools. I’m far more concerned about Sen. Murphy and his fellow politicians than I am of Alex Jones. Although they both rant plenty of nonsense, at least Jones doesn’t claim the power to force me to obey him.
The biggest danger to the freedom of individuals has always been from those who want to impose their will on others by force. Those power-hungry people once called themselves kings and emperors and nobles. We don’t have kings today, but we still have rulers who steal our money and force us to obey. Some people still impose their will on others — by force and threat of force — but we teach everyone to accept this subservience by calling it “democracy.”
When a man is ruled by a dictator, it matters little to him whether it’s a dictatorship of the minority or a dictatorship of a majority. If you cannot decline to obey, you are not free, no matter what your ruler is called.
The companies which kicked Alex Jones off their platforms have every legal and moral right to do what they’ve done. They’re private companies and I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to tell them how they must run their businesses, as politicians are constantly doing.
But if they care about the open exchange of ideas, they’ve made a mistake. If they care about individuals making up their own minds about what to believe, they’ve made a mistake. Even if they hate Alex Jones, they’ve made a mistake — because they’re simply proving that he’s been right when he’s claimed that people were out to shut him up.
I wish nobody would ever listen to Alex Jones. I wish he would have to get honest work as a door greeter at Walmart or something similar which he might be qualified to do. But I’d like for individuals to make up their own minds about whether to listen to him or whether to take him seriously — not have that decision made by governments or social media companies.
If Alex Jones can be shut up, anybody can be shut up when political and social forces decide to put pressure on companies to silence them. Next time, it could be you or it could be me. I find that terrifying.