Is Jones really any worse than his critics?
The curtain is coming down for Alex Jones of Infowars on most of the major social media outlets. As of this writing, pages have been removed from Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube.
In addition to the routine claims of "hate speech," one of the criticisms often cited about Jones is that his speculation about the Sandy Hook massacre being a staged, false-flag event, caused anguish to the families of the victims. One family in particular claims to have had their lives turned upside down due to harassment and threats by Jones' followers.
"Get this charlatan off the internet!" his detractors cry. "Facebook and YouTube have a responsibility to protect the public from being misled by harmful fake news!"
It's a farce. Even if all the bad things people say about Alex Jones are true, and I believe some of them are, HE IS STILL NO WORSE THAN THE REST OF THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA.
Look at the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. "Real" news stations repeated incessantly the uncorroborated claim of a felon who witnessed the shooting that Michael Brown had his hands up and was begging "Don't shoot!" as Officer Darren Wilson gunned him down. The phrase "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" became a rallying cry for black people across the nation who felt that they were potential targets of murderous police officers.
The "Hands up, don't shoot" claim was never proven true, and Wilson was not found guilty of wrongdoing. But it didn't matter - the public reaction to the reported claim was devastating. Riots in Ferguson after the shooting lasted for more than two weeks, and another week of riots occurred when Wilson was declared to be innocent. All in all, over a dozen citizens and 6 police officers were injured, and hundreds of people were arrested. An estimated twenty-six million dollars in damage occurred during the riots.
That is the quantifiable damage. After the riots, there was also a nationwide spike in the murder rate in Democratic-run cities, which crime expert Heather McDonald has attributed the "Ferguson effect." She believes that the constant demonization of cops both emboldened criminals and made police reluctant to aggressively police black neighborhoods. And God only knows what the long-term ripple effects the "real" media's unbridled race-baiting had on the rest of the nation.
Officer Darren Wilson described himself as "unemployable" after being villianized in the media, and withdrew to a life of seclusion.
The people whose irresponsible (or dishonest) reporting created this devastation are the ones demanding that Alex Jones be silenced because of things like his Sandy Hook speculation.
"But Jones is a crazy conspiracy theorist!" It is indeed true that Jones entertains some far-fetched ideas and interviews some guests with beliefs that the average person finds outlandish.
But so what? Is his reporting really more far-fetched that many other things we routinely see in the left-wing media? Think about it.
Who is crazier? Someone who thinks Obama is a secret Muslim, or someone who thinks Trump is a secret Russian puppet?
Who is crazier? Someone who thinks the government wants to enslave the public for the enrichment of the global elite, or someone who thinks that the government wants to enslave women to make the Handmaid's Tale a reality?
Who is crazier? The survivalist who perceives oppressive plots in everything done by the government, or the Oberlin professor who sees oppressive microagressions in everything done by cis-het white males?
Who is crazier? Someone who thinks alien visitations are real, or someone who thinks identifying as an alien is a valid lifestyle choice?
The answer to all of these question will vary widely depending on who you ask. "Crazy" is subjective, and honest observers will admit that there are crazy people all along the political spectrum.
So, Jones isn't unique in positing theories that may cause harm to the innocent. He isn't unique in hosting people with, shall we say, unconventional ideas. What, then, is the issue?
An article for Wired about the free speech implications of Jones' case discusses a precedent from a somewhat similar case in 1964, but then states that today's case is different because the law was written before the advent of social media. They explain that the "context of the internet starts to matter" because the law does not assume "a world where a YouTube channel's following can rival a media company's..."
Well, now we may be onto something. Why might it be a problem for a YouTube channel to rival a media company? If millions of people find an information source valuable, what difference does the format make?
Jones does indeed interview some unconventional guests and posit some eccentric theories. But that is only a portion of what he does. He also provides the opportunity to speak to a very large audience to many people the Old Guard media would rather ignore. He shares his platform of new right reporter Paul Joseph Watson, who reports extensively about the problems with mass Muslim immigration in the UK. He gave airtime to the Bernie Sanders supporters who filed the lawsuit claiming the DNC rigged the election against him, in which they stated they feared for their lives because of the lawsuit. Jones has given long-form interviews to many former associates of the Clintons who have unflattering things to say about them. How often have you seen a "respectable" media company do that?
The internet has provided a way for alternatives to the Old Guard Media to speak directly to the public. Some view the rise of non-corporate-approved news as a danger that must be stopped. Others view it as way to get to truths that the self-appointed gatekeepers find inconvenient. But for the fear-mongering spin-meisters of corporate news to point fingers at anyone else for being dangerously deceitful and irresponsible is laughable. These disingenuous claims about "fake news" are to meant to obscure this fact: The problem isn't that Jones provides a lesser form of journalism than they do, it's that HE DOES THE EXACT SAME THING, BUT FOR PEOPLE THEY DON'T LIKE.
So who is more fake, Alex Jones or the MSM? Let us have complete free speech, and let us decide for ourselves.