OPINION: Attacks on speech won’t end with Jones
This defense of free speech isn’t going to begin with the obligatory preamble denouncing Alex Jones.
Over the past week, Jones and his Infowars site were simultaneously sent to timeouts of various lengths ranging from 30 days to three months from Facebook and YouTube while Spotify and Apple took down multiple podcasts from Jones’ show.
Twitter — perhaps shamed by the daily exposure of the hate it tolerates from the left highlighted by recent New York Times editorial board hire and open racist Sarah Jeong — has refused to follow suit despite pressure to deplatform Jones.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who himself succumbed to the left-wing online outrage mob earlier this year after he made the mistake of posting about eating at Chik-fil-A, did manage to nail the obvious problem with banishing Jones.
Dorsey posted that Twitter will not take “one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”
There’s an old joke that goes, “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get me.”
In a fell swoop of virtue-signaling, Facebook, YouTube (Google), Spotify and Apple made a “feel good” decision to silence Jones that is likely the biggest gift he could have ever asked for.
What’s unlikely is that the disciples of net neutrality realize they are cheering on the tech titans for actions that are the polar opposite of their claimed desire for a free and open internet where content is treated equally.
But then again, self-awareness isn’t a quality generally possessed by progressives now tolerating, encouraging or outright embracing the violence of the “antifa” movement that’s made its mission to shut down any speech falling to the right side of Mao on the ideological spectrum.
Because make no mistake: this isn’t going to stop with Jones. The term “alt-right” has been used for more than two years now to degrade and delegitimize the supporters of President Donald Trump as a basket of deplorable racists.
These tech corporations are carrying out the censorship that the left cannot achieve at the ballot box or the Supreme Court and have crossed the Rubicon into the territory of policing speech that goes far beyond the unprotected category of incitement to violence.
They have every right to boot Jones from their platforms, temporarily or permanently, if they choose. But they’re going to need to hire a whole lot more cheap foreign H1-B interns if they are going to equally police content that falls in the category of “offensive” or “hateful.”
I’ll pause so you can stop laughing.
The Facebook page “Occupy Democrats” has 7.4 million followers and has a typically hyperbolic photo up featuring Uncle Sam that states “If you still support Donald Trump and plan to vote for him again, you are a traitor!”
Quick quiz: what’s the federal penalty for treason?
Answer: the death penalty.
Follow up: what are the odds Occupy Democrats ever gets its account suspended for “bullying” or “hate speech”?
And the press, the supposed protectors of free speech, formed their own outrage mob last week when they pressured the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to stop selling T-shirts that said “You are very fake news” in its gift shop.
This tweet from Boston Globe Deputy DC Editor Matt Viser perfectly illustrates the recent twisting of the First Amendment protection of the press into some sort of blasphemy law: “This T-shirt doesn’t belong anywhere. It particularly doesn’t belong at the @Newseum, a place that celebrates journalism and has the First Amendment etched in stone outside its building.”
Viser clearly wasn’t the one respondent out of 1,000 in a recent survey that could name all five protections spelled out in the First Amendment.
The press coined the term “fake news” in the aftermath of the 2016 election as a way to explain the loss of the inevitable Hillary Clinton and are now outraged that it has been co-opted and turned against them.
What’s obvious is that their issue is not with the term itself, but with their inability to control whom it is aimed against.
This is an industry that spent the past 20 years attacking and attempting to marginalize Fox News. They are members of a progressive movement that dubbed the network “Faux News” long ago, with Urban Dictionary entries on the term dating to 2003.
They were the dutiful stenographers for President Barack Obama, who routinely called out his perceived enemies in the press by name from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Beck to Sean Hannity.
None rushed to the defense of conservatives, and there was certainly no collective outrage about a president attacking the press as there is today about Trump.
While there is plenty of hand-wringing over the supposed misleading information and conspiracies from the likes of Jones being pushed on the fringes of the internet, the mainstream press so offended at being dubbed an “enemy of the people” has been pushing the Mother of All Conspiracy Theories for the past 18 months accusing Trump of colluding with Vladimir Putin to steal a presidential election.
This is the same press whose talking heads routinely compare Trump to Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao, who ironically were all leaders of the murderous left.
Of course, if that were true, Jim Acosta would be against a wall with a blindfold and a cigarette, but realizing that would take a well of historical knowledge deeper than a thimble and a better memory than a fruit fly.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.
Andrew Jensen can be reached at [email protected].