By Nathan Barton
Alex Jones, the gravel-voiced publisher, owner, editor, and voice of InfoWars and other websites and podcasts, is in the news and the commentaries this week.
And he is actually in trouble. As I understand it, Apple, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, and Google (including YouTube), and even Pinterest(!) have attacked InfoWars and Jones’ own website, suspended his accounts, and in essence are denying him their services as an outlet for his news and views. Or, if you prefer, his rants.
A lot of people are calling it censorship. An attack on free speech.
The reasons for the attack are very clear and familiar. He is producing “hate speech.” He is violating “community standards.” He is “disrespectful” of others’ views. He attacks people verbally. We’ve heard and seen this before. What seems different is that this seems to be a coordinated attack by this group of companies. (Twitter, at least, has announced it is NOT shutting down Jones’ access or account, according to a UPI story. Although it has banned people for similar reasons, its CEO says that Jones hasn’t violated any of their rules.)
Several organizations, including other media, that are “left” (Tranzi or progressive) are applauding the action. Jones, they say, is a despicable person who should not be heard.
Some, including Paul Craig Roberts have accused these organizations of a coordinated attack on Jones. And gone even further: accusing them of conspiring to subvert “the US Constitution, Free Speech, and American Liberty.”
Apple’s, Facebook’s, Google/YouTube’s, and Spotify’s coordinated attack on widely watched Info Wars host Alex Jones is all the proof we need, the total failure to enforce America’s anti-trust laws has produced unaccountably powerful firms that are able to exercise far more censorship, not only in America, but also abroad among Washington’s vassal states, than the Nazi Gestapo or Stalin’s NKVD could achieve. – Roberts
Breitbart’s Joel Pollock chimes in:
Internet provocateur and InfoWars proprietor Alex Jones is being systematically excluded from social media platforms. This is, plainly, an attack on free speech.
The big conservative talk shows (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck) have all spoken up in support of Jones (while carefully distancing themselves from his views).
All of them make good points. It is clearly a coordinated attack and much like efforts by universities, Tranzi political organizations, mainstream media and government agencies, as well as a wide variety of “grassroots organizations.”
Government is not the only entity which can attack and deny free speech. Libertarians point out that any person, any private organization, has the God-given right to both refuse to listen to speech that they don’t want to hear, and the right to deny the use of their property (services) to allow the dissemination of speech that they disagree with. And that government has often (and still does) limit those rights. (Consider “commercial speech” as defined by Congress – when did you last see an ad on TV or hear one on radio for a tobacco product?) Lovers of liberty condemn government for imposing those limits, and we brand them as immoral. But most of us (well, all true lovers of liberty) recognize that all of us can (and generally do) limit what is said and done on our own property, even if that is a “public venue.”
Both Roberts and Pollock point out that what is being done is NOT a “violation of the First Amendment” but is an attack on the right of free speech. Pollock offers no clear solution except a general effort to defend free speech. Roberts, however, claims that the problem is that these organizations are powerful monopolies. They dominate the market. His solution? Make anti-trust laws tougher and make government enforce them more effectively. So he argues for MORE government power.
That is not just ALWAYS a bad idea, but misses a critical point. WHY do we have problems with monopolies and near-monopolies? While there are, sometimes, so-called “natural monopolies” (in-the-ground water and sewer systems, for example), the major cause that we see in history for the development of monopolies and trust is government. Not government inaction (failing to prohibit and control such things), but government action. Establishing barriers to entry into the market. Giving benefits and showing preference to certain companies and people over others. Creating complex tax and regulatory schemes that result in “big is better” because large organizations can deal with them. (A recent example is allowing internet taxation.) All too often, after creating the conditions that allow companies to dominate and control the market, government then moves to be the “hero” and control or limit those companies.
Giving government more power – whether to prevent concentration of economic power or not – is NOT going to stop attacks on free speech. It will simply make such attacks easier. As indeed has been done in the case of Alex Jones. If we want free speech, and other liberties, we need to REDUCE, not increase government power.