World Affairs Brief August 10th
THE PUBLIC/PRIVATE WAR AGAINST FREE SPEECH
Alex Jones is the most prominent conservative fighting a battle against censorship and financial revenue as the major internet media platforms ban his content and refuse to pay him for his popular content. The Powers That Be (PTB) are working every angle to bankrupt Alex. It started months ago when YouTube denied him his advertizing revenue from the millions of viewers who watched his video commentaries. Then an establishment legal firm conjured up a lawsuit against Jones on behalf of several Sandy Hook families complaining they have been threatened and harassed by Jones supporters. This week it mushroomed to an outright censorship ban on Facebook, Youtube, the Apple Store, Spotify and others after CNN orchestrated a pressure campaign against him and targeted all the major social media tech giants. Supposedly, Alex is guilty of “hate speech,” one of those nebulous and political correct epithets that can be skewed to cover almost any criticism of anyone else. The claim of hate speech itself, if left to stand, is a major attack on the principle of free speech. This week I’ll discuss the backlash in support of Jones, and the issue of whether these are strictly private companies are, in fact, really public/private partnerships akin to public utilities that should not be able to suppress free speech.
As his online income is hit, Alex relies more and more on selling high quality health oriented products. Thus, Amazon joined in the fray this week by denying his products the “choice” label, hoping to hurt sales, even though his reviews are very high. Fox News covers the justification big Tech is using to ban Jones, and rehashes many of the false charges against him:
"Controversial Infowars star Alex Jones' removal from Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify over the past 24 hours, [is] prompting even some of the bomb thrower's staunch critics to voice censorship concerns.
Jones is a notorious conspiracy theorist who has been widely criticized for a variety of outlandish and polarizing content including discredited claims about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting."
This is the big issue the establishment is using to bludgeon Jones—his coverage of initial reports that Sandy Hook was a hoax and done by “crisis actors” and that “nobody really died” there. Jones didn’t start this bad conspiracy issue; others did, mimicking what they started in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s always been bogus. These evil shootings were orchestrated by Deep State mercenaries using patsies under the influence of mood altering drugs and hypnosis.
Jones did pick it up the bogus claims of crisis actors briefly but then reversed himself and apologized numerous times for the mistake. But as Jones points out in this video defense of this current onslaught against him, the media never prints or airs his reversals and apologies. They always post his most obnoxious rants, rather than his more reasonable sessions. The most egregious and false claims against Jones were made by Facebook:
"for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies."
These are simply not true. Yes, he’s been critical of transgenders, Muslims and illegals, but never told people to go out and violate their rights. And, he has apologized for buying into some of the phony conspiracy theories floating around, like the Pizzagate claims.
I recommend everyone take a few minutes to hear his side of the story. Yes, Alex is hyped up and frustrated and sometimes hard to listen to, but he’s right about this vendetta. His enemies aren’t through yet, by a long shot. They have even been telling his contract server providers that Jones has been uploading porn and other illegal things to his servers, trying to get them to shut him down. Fox continues:
"Apple removed Jones’ podcasts on Sunday and then YouTube and Facebook both declared on Monday that he was violating their terms and policies with his rhetoric. Spotify also removed all episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” from its service. Jones quickly became one of the top trends across social media with critics celebrating that he was pulled from the tech giants and others coming to his defense -- sort of."
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell echoed many pundits, stating that, while Jones is not to be taken seriously, censoring him could result in further actions against people that aren’t accepted by the mainstream media.
Like Fox News, Bozell claims to be a conservative, but both outfits are conspiracy deniers. Every “conservative” outlet in the mainstream cable or TV media knows that if they ever admit to believing in any of the major conspiracies (JFK assassination by government, OKC Bombing by government, or 9/11 as a false flag operation to justify the war on terror) they would be run out of town, just like Jones.
Bozell: “I don’t support Alex Jones and what InfoWars produces. He’s not a conservative. However, banning him and his outlet is wrong. It’s not just a slippery slope, it’s a dangerous cliff that these social media companies are jumping off to satisfy CNN and other liberal outlets,” Bozell said, presumably referring to recent push by CNN to have Info Wars removed from various platforms.
Bozell said that tech giants caving to CNN’s push “is part of a disturbing trend” that includes influential conservatives being muted on Twitter.
However, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter has refused so far to bend to CNN’s demand to ban Jones. He issued this Tweet, and is now the subject of a lot of hate and backlash from the Left. But may now be giving into the pressure as Jones’ tweets are now “under review.”
“Social media sites are supposedly neutral platforms, but they are increasingly becoming opportunities for the left and major media to censor any content that they don’t like,” Bozell said. “Conservatives are increasingly concerned that InfoWars is not the end point for those who want to ban speech. It’s just the beginning. We are rapidly approaching a point where censorship of opposing voices is the norm. That’s dangerous.”
The tech giants have said they won’t tolerate hate speech, and Jones was given the boot as a result. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote that much “of what Jones and his employees say is absolutely rotten pig excrement,” but added that the term hate speech is too ambiguous.
Actually, it’s impossible to define “hate speech” as a crime without completely destroying the freedom to criticize others.
“Trust in social media is declining nearly as fast as trust in media overall. There’s a reason for that. And it’s not because social media tolerates voices like Jones,” Shapiro wrote. “It’s because they don’t tolerate voices like Jones while tolerating voices who are just as bad on the political Left – and they show no signs of limiting their censorship to Alex Jones.”
Yes, there is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy here. And Bozell is right that it extends much further than Jones.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron said that social media platforms are not trying to stop "hate speech" or clean up the toxic culture of social media. “If they were, they would be hammering toxic folks on both sides. This is about silencing conservative voices. Period,” Barron told Fox News. Many observers warned that “Big Tech” plans on additional censorship.
As Chuck Baldwin wrote yesterday, the censors are even targeting libertarians like Ron Paul: “By removing Alex Jones, Ron Paul’s Institute For Peace And Prosperity executive director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar.com editorial director Scott Horton from their outlets, Silicon Valley—complete with its poster establishments Facebook, Youtube, Spotify, etc.—have proven themselves to be nothing but Naziesque censors hell-bent on destroying public dissent. As Ron Paul rightly noted, ‘In an empire of lies, the truth is treason.’” Continuing the Fox News quote:
Media analyst Mark Dice tweeted, “Regardless what you think of him and Infowars, this is the equivalent of digital book burning and sets a horrifying precedent for mass censorship by Big Tech.”
Daily Wire reporter Michael Knowles wrote, “Conservatives should vigorously oppose Big Tech's censorship of Alex Jones. He may be a conspiratorial, frequently incoherent, shirtless vitamin salesman, but the Left sees no difference between him and William F. Buckley Jr. They're just establishing the principle to silence us.”
Yet another critic supported forums independently booting Jones, but decried what he called a "coordinated" effort... “this COORDINATED banishment of Jones by big social outlets creates dangerous slippery slope,” journalist Jordan Chariton tweeted.
Yes, and as John Nolte of Breitbart points out,
"The CNN story noted here is nothing less than extortion. CNN sent out a reporter to ask various companies why their ads are appearing on YouTube videos produced by Alex Jones and InfoWars. In other words, CNN is not only publicly shaming and outing these businesses, CNN is also threatening that this exposure will lead to astro-turfed harassment campaigns and boycotts."
Incredibly, as Nolte points out here, some Democrats are pushing for Big Tech to go further and ban all sites that are “dividing the nation.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is calling on social media monopolies to “do more than take down one website,” meaning take down more websites on top of InfoWars, which was de-platformed by YouTube, Facebook, and others on Monday.
“Infowars [sic] is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart,” Murphy tweeted Monday afternoon. “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”
Obviously, what Murphy sees here is an opportunity to go around the First Amendment, to kill free and open speech he disagrees with, and to accomplish that using social media giants as his hit squad.
Is It Illegal to Censor Jones? This is bound to become more of an issue as this attack on free speech continues and expands against other conservative, conspiratorial voices. The first question is “Are these companies truly private?” If yes, then they can do whatever they want on their social media platform. Or can they?
According to the reigning legal argument in civil rights and anti-discrimination circles, once you (as a private person or private company) open your business to the public, you are no longer private as to your ability to discriminate. I oppose this expansive view against the privacy of property, but as long as it is accepted by the Left, it can and should be used against them.
These social media companies are clearly inviting all the public to participate and thus are not free to discriminate. That is perhaps why they are justifying this in the name of “hate speech,” as if that gives them a legitimate test of criminality that allows for discrimination. As I and others have pointed out, you can’t make hatred illegal any more than you can any form of negative opinion against another is illegal. In fact, if there was ever was an outpouring of hatred here, it is against Alex Jones and his points of view.
You can outlaw incitement to violence, and it appears they are trying to equate hate speech to violence, as if they are always synonymous, but they are not. Only when someone is yelling hateful speech and directly inciting violence is this true, but the Left is trying to expand the view of hate speech backward to any negative criticism of someone. Point of fact: there is no way to draw the line except at the most violent prone end of the incitement spectrum. Everything less than that has to be protected speech or Free Speech is gone.
The second question is, “Is the internet a public utility?” In many respects, it is. Even though virtually all portions of the internet are owned by private companies, including the backbone, to operate without conflict, there must be some regulation of IP address and domain names in order to maintain key intellectual property rights on the internet. That used to be managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the United States Department of Commerce, but that ended in 2016. It is now managed by a non-profit international consortium of stakeholders called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Legally, there are more arguments for declaring the internet as a public utility than there are against, though being international in scope, it’s fairly complex. In essence, each country is free to regulate their portion of the internet traffic as their laws allow. China, for example, chooses to censor anything critical of its communist government, or promoting religion or personal freedom.
The US has attempted to regulate the internet before, but the latest attempt was set back by the repeal of the “net neutrality” rules—which was really an attempt to regulate the internet. Ironically, this censorship controversy could actually drive legislation to do just that. Sadly, there are as many Trump supporters that want to shut down the Leftist media as there are on the Left that want to suppress the right, as Chuck Baldwin noted:
And lest conservatives whine about being the big, bad victims in this discussion, the Trumpites are as bad as the Clintonites. Neither group cares a flip about the Constitution, Bill of Rights or Natural Law. All either side wants is the POWER to have things done their way—freedom and liberty be damned.
A recent survey has discovered that nearly half of Republicans want to give President Trump the power to shut down whatever media outlets he chooses. According to The Daily Beast:
Freedom of the press may be guaranteed in the Constitution. But a plurality of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos and provided exclusively to The Daily Beast.
The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members. They also illustrate the extent to which Trump's anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.
All told, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed "the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior." Only 36 percent disagreed with that statement.
Yes, that’s a sad commentary on conservatives’ ability to think and be guided by the proper principles of law. I’m not in favor of the government picking winners and losers, just like Big Tech is doing. Rather, there is an appropriate place for government to strengthen the right of free speech on the internet, and preclude the use of dangerous terms like “hate speech”
Stupidly, Howard Kurtz of Fox News wants to draw a line between commentary and conspiracy, as if all conspiracy claims are wrong.
After years of deflection and foot-dragging, the major tech companies are finally having to take steps toward policing their own content. They have reached this point kicking and screaming, under great public pressure, after clinging for years to the fiction that they are just public utilities and that people can use their pipes for pretty much anything. [Actually, this is the proper position.]
But now they have united, for a brief moment at least, against a major conspiracy theorist. Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify have all taken action against Alex Jones.
Then Kurtz claims ignorance by saying, “I confess I'd like to know how the four tech companies happened to take action on the same day. Perhaps they concluded there was safety in numbers.” Answer: It’s a conspiracy, dummy! But Kurtz can’t even hint that one might exist. He claims conspiracy “is not conservative—it’s at odds with reality.” Really? Conspiracies have been going on since the beginning of humanity.
They seemed to have an ally in Drudge, whose banner headline was "APPLE REGULATES HATE." But this is just a skirmish. Just recently, Mark Zuckerberg got himself into trouble by saying he saw no reason to ban pages by Holocaust deniers. [As they do in Germany.]
There is a fine line between banning hate and bullying on one hand and censoring controversial political opinions on the other. These battles will play out in a hyperpartisan political atmosphere. But for now, Apple, Facebook, Google and Spotify have all agreed there is one person who falls on the wrong side of that line.
And what line is that? He did not even offer a clue of how to draw that ethereal line on hate and negative comments or physical versus verbal bullying. And he certainly didn’t make a case against conspiracy as political commentary except in outright denial.
The Backlash Against Censoring Jones: The PTB may have started a war they will regret. Sometime bashing a person can bring more notoriety and interest and defeat the purpose of the attack (which is to silence him). Already Jones is claiming that 5.6 million new people have signed up for his internet newsletter and podcast since the blacklisting attack began. It’s free so that is certainly possible. But there is another backlash trend that prove Jones is gaining a lot of interest from the general public. As Breitbart reported,
InfoWars has become the number one trending app on the Google Play Store, following the mass purge of Infowars and Alex Jones from Big Tech platforms including Google’s YouTube, Facebook, and many others. The app is currently at the top of Google Play Store’s trending list, beating all mainstream media outlets.
The Apple version of its App is also currently at number three on Apple’s App Store most popular news app chart, behind Twitter and News Break. In the U.K., Infowars is at number four on the App Store’s free news chart, beating Sky News, Mail Online, the Sun, the Guardian, BuzzFeed, and the Telegraph. In Canada, Infowars is at number three under the same chart, just behind Twitter and Reddit.
On Tuesday, Infowars was the fourth most popular free app on the App Store, overtaking CNN, which prompted CNN to lobby for the app’s removal.
Whether you like Alex or not, he is the loudest and most prolific voice for conspiracy out there and has millions of followers. He’s been responsible for bringing millions of people to an understanding of various aspects of conspiracy. Sometimes he gets it wrong, making himself an easy target, but believe me, the PTB wouldn’t be after him with a vengeance if they didn’t know he was effective at exposing a lot of conservatives to conspiratorial issues.
So I have to give Alex credit for casting a wide net, even if it turns some people off. Once exposed to conspiracy talk, those sensitive to tough truths are then free to seek out other opinions. But at least he gets people thinking. My many appearances on his show have helped me get exposure to millions that I would not otherwise have, and many viewers have crossed over to the World Affairs Brief in order to gain access to what many consider more carefully drawn conclusions about conspiracy.
- Joel Skousen