Well isn’t this funny. Not too soon after I write a post where I mention Alex Jones and now I find myself talking about him again. I have received news that yesterday Facebook, iTunes, YouTube and Spotify have all removed Alex Jones’ show and channel from their respective platforms, effectively banning him from being able to broadcast on their platforms. The main reasons being given for this decision seem be that InfoWars violated the websites’ guidelines concerning hate speech, but I’m not entirely sure what specific action triggered this decision. I have heard from one source that it was over a podcast in which he seemingly threatened Robert Mueller and fantasized about killing him on his show, or how he seemingly threatened homosexuals, transgender individuals and drag queens and called for them to be burned alive, but I’m not quite sure what did it for Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Google. It’s possible, however, that his recent efforts to put his podcast on Spotify might have sealed the deal, with Spotify users apparently threatening to cancel paid subscriptions to the platform if they continue to host Infowars.
Now, why am I talking about this? Well for one thing, I think we in the Satanist and Luciferians circles are all too familiar with his shtick: him peddling conspiracy theories wherein politicians and media personalities he doesn’t like are basically demons from the pit of hell who want to kill Christians, enslave mankind and take over the world. You know, fundamentalist Christianity jacked up on ketamine, and with a bunch of other weird conspiracy theories on top of it (like gay frogs, chemtrails, and NASA allegedly running a pedophile ring on Mars). So he’s been on our radar for some time now, and imagine many of us aren’t really shedding a tear for him at this moment. And for another thing, I think there are points to make about freedom of speech and incitement.
I, honestly, am quite neutral on this issue. I know that might seem strange for someone as pro-free speech as I am, but do hear me out.
In principle, I don’t support the idea of Alex Jones getting deplatformed in the way that has been. However, it would be easy for me to take his side on the issue were it not for the fact that Alex Jones has come suspiciously close to incitement numerous occasions. For instance, in January he went on a bizarre, unhinged rant about CNN’s Brian Stelter, where he accuses him of being a devil worshipper who wants to control every aspect of your life somehow, and implies that he is going to “resist” him (whatever that entails) with everything he has and that God is going to destroy him. In 2016, Jones outright called for supporters of Bernie Sanders to have their jaws broken. More recently, he seemingly called for drag queens to be burned alive, which Pink News also claims is the reason for Alex Jones getting banned from Facebook. There was also a rant last year where Jones threatened to beat up Rep. Adam Schiff, apparently over something to do with accusations of him being an agent of Russia. And that recent story about Robert Mueller? I’m not making that one up. In fact, let me just leave a video compilation below which shows multiple examples of Jones’ threats, including some I already mentioned.
In summary, Alex Jones frequently skirts the line, sometimes even outright crosses the line, into incitement to violence for individuals he doesn’t like, usually while layering a sense of plausible deniability on top of his grandiose and vulgar threats. With Robert Mueller for instance, he insists that he’s going to get him “politically” in his rant. Because you know, he doesn’t really want to shoot him, even though he says he’s a pedophile who should be shot. Classy. But then there is a peculiar question we must ask, and I think some journalists have asked the same question: why hasn’t Alex Jones been deplatformed sooner given his particular history?
To be honest, I think the answer to that is probably to do with the ways in which Jones can give a sense of plausible deniability to himself. Besides the kind of thing I already mentioned, when Alex Jones was sued for custody of his kids by his ex-wife Kelly, his lawyer defended him by claiming that Alex Jones is a performance artist playing a fictional character. This is a very effective way of granting plausible deniability to his threats – after all, if it’s all just an act, then those threats aren’t really threats, they’re just part of the act; just a meme bro. It’s also a convenient falsehood, given that Alex Jones tends to double down on his conspiracy theories when pressed on the subject, and he will insist that what he believes is the truth outside of his show.
There is another issue with the subject of his deplatforming however, one that cannot be overlooked. I have heard the argument that after Alex Jones’ deplatforming, it is only a matter of time before the media begins to deplatform others who are accused of promoting conspiracy theories – not just right-wing nutjobs like Alex Jones who actually promote conspiracy theories, but left-leaning guys like Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore who are both critical of the Russiagate canard and are considered to be conspiracy theorists and fake news promoters by their centrist opponents. On the one hand it’s easy to the logic: America is already at a point where it looks like Silicon Valley capitalists can generate a monopoly on what is considered true and false because of their entrenchment within mainstream political circles. This may partly explain why they have wanted Alex Jones gone for some time now, because they believe he is spreading fake news (which, to be fair, he is and that’s his business model). On the other hand, I do have to stress again that Jones has a record of incitement, and I believe this sets him apart from people like Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore, who never come close to inciting anything.
Another argument you could make, one that I think might have more weight, is that deplatforming Alex Jones will only give people more reason to believe his ideas or give them credence, as The Guardian’s Sam Levin has argued. It makes sense because the removal can seen by devotees or sympathizers of the conspiracy theorists as proof that they are trying to shut that person down for his ideas, even in cases where that’s not actually true and you can point to cases of incitement to violence as a reason for their deplatforming.
Regardless, I will say this to any self-proclaimed free speech warriors thinking of unequivocally defending him. Why is it that someone like Alex Jones, who skirts the line between free speech and incitement to violence, worthy of defence in the name of free speech, and someone like Jake Flores, a comedian who made a joke on Twitter about ICE agents getting killed, gets his door knocked down by the US government is treated to radio silence? Keep in mind, when Count Dankula made jokingly taught his dog to give Nazi salutes, you guys rightly defended him. But when the US government bust down someone’s door over a joke, I don’t see you guys saying anything, and not only that but some of you guys defend the very state organization that violates your free speech principles. The Spanish government also arrests people for joking about public officials being assassinated and insulting the monarchy, and I have never, ever seen anyone outside the left talk about that. And aren’t you usually the people who, when you’re not talking about people you like getting deplatformed by private companies, you defend the very architecture of capital and private property that allows social media companies to have flagrant disregard for your freedom of speech? Well, even within that premise, why does Alex Jones getting deplatformed elicit moral outrage, but not when Facebook targets pro-Palestine groups at the behest of Israel and the US government? Is it because Alex Jones is somehow anti-establishment? Never mind of course that Alex Jones defends the people now in power in America on a regular basis, says nothing about the detention camps that ICE has implemented since the Obama administration even though he was the same guy who claimed Barack Obama was going to implement FEMA camps on his way out of office, and no matter how many times Trumps bombs Syria and goes against his supposedly non-interventionist America First program, he will always go back to supporting him out of Republican partisanship. Or is it simply because of some sort of partisanship wherein if it happens anyone who isn’t to your left you don’t care? Gee, it really gets my almonds going when even fundamentalist right-wing Christians like Rick Wiles decide that Alex Jones is going too far their liking, but the average online “free speech warrior” takes Alex Jones’ side.
Overall, this for me is not about hate speech. I oppose the concept of hate speech, but I also oppose incitement to violence. I can’t take Alex Jones’ side on this one. I’m not gonna cheer for his apparent censorship, but I’m not going to shed a tear either because I think Alex Jones might have ultimately brought this on himself.
9 thoughts on “On Alex Jones being deplatformed”
Social media companies only care about profit, the only reason they, not Twitter, removed Alex Jones is that he is a scapegoat to show the politicians they are doing something about the toxic accounts and content hosted on their platforms. The loss of Alex Jones does not hit them financially, and they removed him to try to persuade politicians not to regulate them. Twitter failed to do anything about Alex Jones because their platform is built on so much toxic material and accounts that it could destroy their business removing it. Twitter is loved by Trump over other platforms because he knows they will do nothing regardless of even if he starts World War 3 based on a falsehood.
If Alex Jones built his reputation on authenticity, then he would get my support, but he is a source of fictions and hate, good riddance.
Lots of people will probably try to say that it’s all the product of some left-wing ideology (never mind that these Silicon Valley guys aren’t even social democrats, just neoliberals who usually support deregulation), based on this pervasive belief that “politics is downstream from culture”. But they forget that it all goes back to the profit motive. They haven’t figured it out, so they defend the system that creates the thing they claim to be fighting.
It’s weird though. I always thought Trump didn’t like Twitter as a company that much even though he uses it non-stop because of the whole shadowbanning thing.
Silicon Valley has only one ideology: money. If an issue hits their profits, they react.
If anything, politics should be taken as downstream from capital, or from material conditions, not culture.
don’t know if you’ve seen this, but in case you’re interested https://thealternativeleft.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-war-against-infowars.html?spref=fb
I’m disappointed that the article never bothered to address the whole incitement issue, they never talk about how Jones legitimately threatened public figures, or the issue of Sandy Hook wherein the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting have had to flee their home and unable to return to their home because his followers have engaged in doxxing them. They just address this the same way I expect from the people I mentioned: talk a big game about hate speech and bigotry and SJWs and all that. Not one mention of his repeated incitement, or the fact that his Sandy Hook conspiracies might well have ruined lives of some of the victims’ families, to the point that one of the families can’t even visit their own son’s grave, or his correspondence with powerful people like Donald Trump, or the FBI arresting a guy for exercising his own freedom of speech after watching one of his videos. It addresses the issue the same way as anyone else treated in this way, a phenomenon detached from its surrounding context as though that context never existed.
Don’t get me wrong, I get the corporate power angle. It’s the reason for a lot of changes on my part. I don’t doubt for a minute that the Silicon Valley capitalists would target left-wingers who oppose them eventually. But even then, I don’t think the Alex Jones situation is that simple, and his conduct introduces grey areas that I don’t think a lot of the self-styled “free speech warriors” are dealing with , especially when we know none of the left guys being mentioned threaten people openly. I don’t think a lot of the classical liberals do it either. It’s only Alex Jones as far as I know who does this as part of his “act”.
And let me just be frank here: I WISH I could defend Alex Jones here. If he didn’t frequently threaten people on his show there’d be no problem besides the lawsuits he’s in over Sandy Hook. Of course, the fact that he wants the families $100,000 in legal fees really doesn’t put him in a good position.
the trouble is that Alex Jones himself is not that relevant. The social media companies haven’t acted in close concert to deal with the things you mention, they are moving on “hate speech”. Jones being such an appalling subject of course makes him a *good* subject for them, as who is going to sympathise with him? Who really wants to look at this, when you really don’t want to see him anyway? Protecting people is simply not the interest of this action. I have no intention of defending Alex Jones, but I’m not going to let that obscure what has happened here. The wider use of social media platforms as alternative media (particularly with YouTube) is far more important than Alex Jones in my view.
I must dispute the claim that Alex Jones is irrelevant. For starters his YouTube channel, before it was shut down, had 2 million subscribers, which is a substantially large following. Then there’s the fact that he has had direct correspondence with the President of the United States, as well as Roger Stone, on his show. In fact, his outlet Infowars last year received a temporary press pass, allowing him direct access to the White House and connection with powerful people. Then there’s the fact that lawsuits he’s in with his ex-wife and the families of the Sandy Hook victims are still ongoing and keep him in the news, and the families are still having to deal with he pain his followers caused him. And it looks as thought the FBI might be watching his videos given that they’ve arrested a black activist whom they believed to be inciting violence against police officers, an idea they were reported to have picked up from one of Alex Jones’ podcasts. So far from being irrelevant, he’s potentially influencing some powerful people and the apparatus of the US government, possibly influenced by them too considering how much he shills for the Republican Party, a point to bear in mind whenever Jones or anyone else tries to claim that he is some kind of anti-establishment figure.
All that said, I’d concede that it’s hardly impossible for Jones to picked out as a good target for what could be further censorship by private entities. In fact, I’d say many journalists have waited for a long time for Alex Jones to be banned from social media platforms, and have frequently complained about how Facebook seemingly lets Infowars off the hook. But as satanicviews pointed out, this probably also something to do with social media companies facing regulation from the state or backlash from the media: after all, ever since Trump won the US election, social media companies have faced heavy criticism from mainstream journalists on the grounds that them hosting fake news and bots is somehow the main reason why Trump won instead of Clinton. This of course includes Infowars, who supported Trump wholeheartedly. This could be social media companies trying to meet the media halfway in order to avoid backlash, but even now I’m seeing articles from various outlets who say Alex Jones is still being allowed to some extent on these outlets, and I suspect they’ll go after Twitter next considering Alex Jones hasn’t been banned there yet.
I may have missed some of the stated reasons for the bans (sorry if I have), but these things are irrelevant for me in this case (I’m not concerned with how awful Jones is or is not here, and believe me, I don’t consider him a friend to Satanists) because as far as I am aware the platforms have not banned him for having a large following, being connected to the President, for his lawsuits, or even for fake news. They haven’t banned him for being potentially influential or politically partisan. It sounds like they could have tried using “incitement to violence” (which is encouraging the breaking of the law in many countries, and clearly against any of their guidelines), but they did not. This is not what they are doing here. So *on the surface* they have not moved on that basis, and it is the explicit surface that sets the precedent. What Jones “deserves”, beyond the reach of the law, is not my concern in this case, and if the social media platforms have not pursued legal prosecution, but instead the route of company policy relating to things like hate speech and offensiveness (and not proven physical consequences), then I maintain that Jones is irrelevant in himself. It’s unfortunate that it’s him that gets to look more meaningful than he is, but they chose him, probably on the basis that it would be easier to move on someone that so many people consider mad, bad or both. It will almost certainly end up boosting Alex Jones, while also potentially setting a precedent for co-ordinated deplatforming of alternative media. That’s how I view it anyway. Good talking with you 🙂