I never thought the day would come when I would have to defend Alex Jones but such is the world we live in. For those who are unaware, Alex Jones is the proprietor of the website InfoWars and peddler of conspiracy theories such as 9/11 being an inside job, the Sandy Hook school shooting being staged by crisis actors, and my personal favorite, the government putting chemicals into the water to make frogs become homosexual, among many others.
In the past week Jones has been the target of bans by Facebook, Apple, Spotify, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even YouPorn. All of whom apparently banned Jones for some variation of “hate speech” or “spreading hate”. I find the ban by YouPorn particularly amusing. Per Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed, YouPorn apparently sent this statement out to their subscribers:
“Following news that YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook have banned Alex Jones, from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service. As an inclusive platform, hate has no place on YouPorn.”
Oh, the irony! I mean seriously guys? You do realize you are a porn site, right? Your very existence is sinful and you have the nerve to ban somebody for being hateful? Now that you’ve magically grown a conscience why don’t you really remove some harmful content and take down your whole site?
Getting back to Jones, to be frank I’ve never paid much attention to him with the exception of the hilarious memes he is featured in. Seriously, the Indiana Jones parody with Alex Jones is one of the greatest things you’ll ever see.
I have about the same level of respect for his opinions as I do a bird that craps on my car.
Nonetheless, the man is a kook that no one in their right mind would take seriously, and he appears to possess less than an abundance of redeeming qualities as a human being to put it nicely. Alex Jones is a parody of a conservative and I have about the same level of respect for his opinions as I do a bird that craps on my car. That said I take issue with these platforms banning him and his content. To be clear, this is not a first amendment issue. Facebook and the other platforms have the right to do business or not do business with anyone. That includes choosing to host or not host their content. The problem is that their given reason is that he violated their terms of service by engaging in so-called “hate speech”. Which might be tolerable if they could provide a clear and consistent definition of the term but they can’t. What’s particularly odd about this is that at least in the case of Facebook and Youtube, considering that he quasi-threatened Ben Shapiro on his show and apparently has done the same to various other people there is arguably grounds to reprimand him for harassment. Yet so far as I can tell only LinkedIn has cited harassment in their explanation, and even then did not provide a specific example. This lack of transparency and consistency in the enforcement of these terms of service is arguably the biggest problem with this ban. Since none of these companies have provided specific examples of Jones’s behavior that led to their decision it is difficult to evaluate whether their decision is valid. If these platforms are going to ban people because of so-called “hate speech” why have the likes of Richard Spencer and Louis Farrakhan not been banned? Both of them have Youtube channels that are either operated by them directly or heavily feature their content. This selective enforcement of hate speech prohibitions makes it difficult to ascertain any sort of consistent criteria that is being used to determine what is or is not hate speech.
The sad truth is we need to stand up for Alex Jones
As many other commentators have observed, this sets a dangerous precedent to go after other right-wing figures. Jones was an easy target as most people on the right, myself included, do not really want to defend the guy. This is likely why he was targeted in the first place. As Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire observed on his show last week, the social media giants are looking to establish a precedent with this. If Jones is banned for hate speech, and conservatives on the platform do not object to it, this makes it easier to ban them for hate speech in the future. The reason being that if conservatives do not object to this ban, that is a tacit admission that the general principle of banning people from social media on account of hate speech is legitimate. The sad truth is we need to stand up for Alex Jones, not because he deserves it or because his character or viewpoints are respectable, as I believe most of the time they are not, but because the efforts to ban him are laying the foundation for social media platforms to ban other content that they disagree with on the basis of so-called “hate speech”. Today it’s just Alex Jones, but tomorrow it might be Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, or even your friendly neighborhood Liberty Cadre.