By Scott Tibbs, August 8, 2018
Alex Jones is not crazy. Alex Jones is a liar, which is much worse. He peddles conspiracy theory nonsense, ruining the lives of innocent people and putting lives at risk, not because he is crazy or stupid enough to believe what he says but because he has built a financial empire by feeding lies to gullible people.
So in case I have not made myself 100% perfectly clear, I think Alex Jones is a truly evil man. He ruined the life and business of an innocent pizza shop owner in Washington DC with his evil "pizzagate" lies, inspiring an armed member of his cult to show up and terrorize the business. He ruined the lives of the victims' families at Sandy Hook, spewing false conspiracies that the massacre never happened and inspiring members of his cult to harass and stalk the parents of children murdered by another evil man.
The world would be a better place if Alex Jones had never been born.
With all of that said, I vehemently disagree with tech giants de-platforming Jones and his evil show. The problem here is that wide swaths of Big Tech see all conservatives as Jones. There is no difference in their minds between Jones, Richard Spencer, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and Ted Cruz. That is the worrisome thing about it, and what it means for free speech on the Internet, especially since so much of the Internet is controlled by a few Big Tech companies. Denying a platform to Alex Jones is the first step to banning conservative voices generally.
Note that free speech is a larger concept than just First Amendment rights. We do not have a First Amendment right to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Gab, and they have the legal right to ban anyone they want, but if we are censored our free speech is nonetheless silenced. The goal is to shrink the "Overton Window" so that only Leftist or Center-Left opinions and commentary are acceptable, and even the most civil conservatives are smeared as "fascist" operatives of the "alt-right."
Big Tech, in their stupidity, also drastically increased the reach of Alex Jones' despicable and evil lies. Had they let him be, taking the position that they are a neutral platform, Jones would still be spewing his lies but it would happen on a platform where many people can expose and counter those lies. With Jones confined to the InfoWars ghetto, his cult can still follow him where he would not be challenged. Banning Jones does not in any way prevent his cult from sharing his lies on their own social media profiles.
Finally, "hate speech" is a nebulous and undefined concept which can encompass virtually anything, especially in an age where innocent "microaggressions" are a thing that is condemned as "hateful." It is no accident that Big Tech cited "hate speech" in banning the liar Jones, because that sets the precedent to ban others. Make no mistake about it: Alex Jones is only the first step. He was targeted first because he is (rightly) despised by many on the Right. Big Tech will be coming for other conservative commenters and sites next.