Alex Jones is outrageous. He’s been classified as a conservative, a conspiracy theorist, and a racist. I see him more as a loony shock jock, an entertainer who has found an untapped niche and taken full advantage of it to promote himself and his operations. I’ll explain why he’s not what people think he is, but first let’s address the elephant in the room: his removal from prominent social media sites.
I’m the first person to say any site has the right to remove or promote any user of their site for any reason they choose. People like to claim “free speech” when they see censorship of their favorite personalities on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, but it has nothing to do with free speech. The 1st Amendment protects us from an oppressive government. How private businesses operate is up to them as long as they stay within our laws.
My concern is the road upon which these social media sites are taking modern society. This road of “community etiquette” is one that draws us towards a not-so-distant destination where many would not willingly go if they saw it coming. Perhaps 1984 exemplified it best with the government’s control of information. One could ironically note it was in information war and the truth lost out in 1984. We’re heading towards a similar fate.
The dystopian society George Orwell envisioned relied on a willing populace. It’s hard to imagine Americans giving up so many of their freedoms directly through government decree, but it’s easier to imagine one driven by cultural phenomena. Our always-connected society of mobile devices combined with our group approval desires through social media are the types of phenomena required to coax us to give up our freedoms willingly. It’s a conspiracy theory that I’ll share shortly.
An unexpected good guy in the whole Alex Jones mess is Twitter. They have not banned him and even explained why they haven’t. He hasn’t broken any of their rules.
“We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules,” Dorsey tweeted. “We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
He added that the company is holding Jones to the same standard as every other user rather than “taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”
It’s a rare case of consistency superseding the common leftist desire to inflict social justice on all who oppose them. Unfortunately, Dorsey’s last comment about adding fuel to conspiracy theories tarnishes his actions a bit.
What Alex Jones is
On the surface, Jones is a patriotic Libertarian-minded blowhard who has some crazy ideas intermingled with some slightly less crazy ones. His fans say he exposes what he exposes to make America better and to protect us from the evil overlords in the Illuminati or lizard people or New World Order or whoever. There may be a little bit of truth in this, but only a little.
The more prominent reality of Alex Jones is that he’s an eyeball hound like so many other entertainers. What he says and how it’s received is less important to him than how many people hear him. We know this because he heavily promotes an image of barely-restrained insanity. He publicizes outbursts that do not help him in a quest to save America but that do get people interested in seeing his next batch of silliness.
He takes it too far because it’s the best way to get lovers and haters to continue loving and hating him. More controversy equates to more eyeballs.
He’s an entertainer. Think Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern combined with a willingness to explore the most outrageous topics.
It’s important to understand this aspect of his nature because he taints everyone he allegedly represents. His unwavering support of Donald Trump is conspicuously unaligned with his allegedly conservative values. His promotion of crazy conspiracy theories buries the rational conspiracy theories in a heap of insanity. There really are conspiracies afoot, but people like Jones make it harder to find the truth.
As for being a racist, I’ve seen enough of him to believe that it’s false but I haven’t seen everything so it’s possible.
Whatever it takes to get eyeballs, line his pockets, and secure his place in his “New Atlantis” is all that Jones is about.
Now for the conspiracy theory
All of this bodes ill for Americans. The government has exerted more and more control over our lives and most on the left welcome it. But what about those on the right? How do you get them to put aside freedoms? By letting companies like Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and YouTube take away the things we crave.
We’re seeing attacks on conservatism, Libertarianism, and federalism on nearly every platform on the internet. This has been well publicized and scorned by right-leaning users of these sites. What can we do? Can we boycott? Many have, but that doesn’t help. If anything, removing anti-socialist opinions from these sites helps them achieve their goals.
Eventually, we will see an outcry for someone to step in and prevent the censorship. Who will be called upon? Yes, Washington DC. It won’t be the left but the right that prompts actions against Silicon Valley’s inherent liberalism. Many will believe this is a good thing because it provides equal footing for all opinions… at least that’s how it will be described. That’s not what will end up happening in the long-run.
The natural progression of anything that DC sticks its fingers into is state control. Mandates become regulations. Regulations become laws. Laws become oversight. Oversight becomes control.
If we continue down this road, social media and mobile communication will both be so heavily embedded with government meddling that they will be state-run industries. They will “protect” us from Russia, Alex Jones, hate speech, anonymous trolls, offensive images, and anything else they deem inappropriate.
In the end, it will not be the government that takes control of social media and mobile networks. It will be the people who will give them control.