A top official with the leftist American Civil Liberties Union says the drive to push Alex Jones and Infowars.com off the Internet is an imprudent idea that might come back to haunt the “progressives” who want to do it.
Speaking to the equally leftist Huffington Post, Ben Wizner, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Projects, warned that censoring ideas with which we disagree is always a bad idea.
“If [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, for example, were deciding what’s hate speech, he would be less likely to think KKK and more likely to think [Black Lives Matter],” Wizner told HuffPo. “It turns out to be an extremely subjective term.” He added,
I have some of the same concerns about platforms making those decisions. Governments at least purport to be acting solely in the public interest, but platforms are making these decisions based on what’s in their financial interest. So their interest might be in avoiding controversy, but do we want the most important speech platforms in the world to avoid controversy?
The radical Left, led by CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy, has been trying to deep-six Jones for some time, claiming he is a racist nut who does not deserve a platform on social media.
Jones peddles myriad conspiracy theories along with a mixture of politically incorrect but factual observations about the world around us. He is thus an enemy of the people, to hear the “progressives” tell it. Of course, “the people” in this case are the leftists who want Jones banned.
Eventually, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple iTunes lowered the boom on Jones, banning him and his Infowars website. Twitter banned him for seven days, a move that Jones’ enemies, who thought CEO Jack Dorsey would cave like the rest of the social media giants, didn’t much appreciate. For them, Jones must be declared anathema, and cast in the outer darkness.
But ACLU’s Wizner says not so fast, and even if a site can ban Jones, it should try to find another way to clip his wings.
“From a free expression standpoint, you would say if these platforms want to minimize the impact of the offending speech, it’s preferable to do so in a way that falls short of complete censorship,” Wizner told HuffPo.
As Dorsey admitted, while Twitter is “left-leaning,” which is something of an understatement, neither it nor the rest of the leftist social media should be “arbiters of truth.”
Wizner agreed, HuffPo reported:
“Who should decide what’s fake?... It’s not so easy to do in a way that is objective,” he said. “If these platforms get in the business of trying to be the arbiters of truth or falsity, pretty soon everyone is going to have something to complain about.”
“Do we really want corporations that are answerable to their shareholders and their bottom lines being the ones who decide which political speech Americans should see or not see?” he added. “Because that’s what we’re asking for here.”...
“We’ve always been suspicious of vesting power in authorities to decide what speech is good for us,” Wizner said. “We’ve always had confidence that in the messy raucous marketplace of speech that the best ideas will ultimately prevail.”
“If you look at one year after Charlottesville, the alt-right is diminished and marginalized because of so much successful and courageous counter-speech against them,” he added. “Whether the censor is [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Sessions, progressives are being short-sighted if they think more censorship authority won’t come back to bite them.”
No Free Speech for Jones
Another HuffPo writer, Anoa Changa, says Jones has to go. “I can’t say this strong enough,” she wrote for the website, “Jones is not the hill any free speech advocate should want to die on.”
Jones is not the subject for mere “academic conversations, [in which] protecting free speech regardless of content seems to make sense,” she wrote.
Rather, she said, “free speech absolutism ignores the fact that, in reality, speech is not supported equally across all topics and platforms for everyone. This lens fails to consider the actual power dynamics at play and how society works in favor and support of those who uphold white supremacy and white fragility.”
According to Changa, Jones’ views aren’t merely wrong or “odious or unpopular but are also directly tied to the dehumanization and subjugation of others.”
Changa did not identify those whom Jones has supposedly dehumanized and subjugated.