To borrow from Reason‘s Robby Soave, Alex Jones is a “thoroughly unsympathetic victim.”
In 2008, live on air, Jones spat out a stream of falsifications, inaccuracies, and flat-out lies about the Bosnian war. His incoherent, rambling rant – still available on YouTube – probably reached hundreds of thousands of Americans, at least some of whom, I assume, tend to take his claims at face value. During his Bosnian war rant, Jones spread baseless, offensive lies. To a Bosniak, denying the facts of war is what to a Jew denying the realities of the Holocaust is: dangerous, offensive, hurtful, irresponsible, disgusting, vile, and fascistic.
Jones vomited these falsifications with the confidence of a prophet. As if he was there. He wasn’t, but I was. Members of my family were. After that video, in my mind, Jones went from a raspy-voiced, over-the-top entertainer to a Goebbelsian sensationalist.
Yet, I do not want him deplatformed.
To paraphrase Evelyn Beatrice Hall, I disapprove of what Jones says, but I will defend his right to say it.
Or, better yet, to quote Martin Niemöller’s poem, published online by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
You may cheer Jones’ deplatforming, laugh at him, ridicule him. But, one day, they will come for you.
The deplatforming of Alex Jones has set a precedent. A precedent that could be the final nail in the coffin of online free speech as we know it.
Without getting into the pro et contra of government regulation – while it should be noted that many non-interventionist conservatives are now, ironically, shaking in their boots and calling for regulation – it is important to point out that neither Google, nor Apple, nor Twitter, nor Facebook would be what they are today without government intervention.
It is, in fact, government regulation and cronyism that has allowed these monopolies to grow, effectively swallowing the entirety of the online marketplace. This is, therefore, not an issue of corporate censorship. This is, rather, an issue of government censorship by proxy. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple are government-sponsored monopolies. They provide platforms for mass communication that other companies cannot provide, because other companies, unlike these tech giants, are not sponsored by the government. Tech monopolies may have been born in the marketplace, but their growth was, and is, mostly inorganic.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are among the biggest spenders in D.C. Facebook spent over $11 million on lobbying in 2017. Amazon spent $13 million, and Google 18.
Through tax incentives, lucrative contracts, selective regulation, world governments are smothering free enterprise, destroying the marketplace, and allowing tech monopolies to grow into monstrosities. What tech firms don’t give back to the government through (legal) bribery in the form of lobbying, they give back through projects like Project Maven.
It is the deadly combination of government resources (read: taxpayer money) and tech companies’ know-how that births collaborative projects such as Maven (Google and Pentagon’s joint effort to create cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology for drone warfare). Internal company emails obtained by the Intercept, however, demonstrate that other tech firms – Amazon, for instance – were in the running to win the Maven contract. Which, in turn, demonstrates that these collaborations are part of a broader pattern.
But, Maven is a drop in the ocean.
Tech-government collaborations are nothing new, and one can only assume how many of them remain hidden from the public.
Clearly, government intervention is not the answer, and it is wrong to call for it. But, until we find an effective way to push the government as far away from the marketplace as possible, calls for the deplatforming of clowns like Alex Jones are incredibly dangerous. To call for Jones’ deplatforming is to accelerate the merging of governments and corporations, the creation of monopolies, and the destruction of free markets. To call for his deplatforming is to call for your own.
It is beyond ironic that Alex has spent the better part of the past two years rooting for the same authoritarian government that is now censoring him, but his deplatforming is more than poetic justice: it is a demonstration of Orwellian power.
Over the years, Jones has managed to build a strong brand. The deplatforming will likely put a large dent in his business, but he’ll get by. Thousands of independent journalists, and small and mid-sized media outlets will not. Their purgings will be silent, and there will be no one left to care.