Free speech is back on the menu, apparently, this time with our favorite Texan, Alex Jones, thrust into the role of protagonist. Again.
This time it was YouTube, Apple, and Spotify, at first. Twitter’s founder came under attack by lefties because he hadn’t banned Jones yet, and he even had to issue short statement on his platform defending his decision to keep someone who had not violated the Code of Conduct from being ousted. Until he gave Jones the boot, too. And then InfoWars went down for a day or so.
The first of these happened within hours of each other. The rest of it took about a week to unfold. The main InfoWars site is back up and running, of course, but his podcasts and YouTube channels are still down for the count. His documentary channel remains unaffected.
Alex Jones has always had an amusing and flirtatious relationship with the media. It’s been a common occurrence to find second-tier media outlets removing the context of InfoWars headlines, or snipping segments of Jones’ notorious rants into amusingly incomprehensible soundbites in order to depict the man as a raving lunatic. The ironic part is that this sort of exposure, intended as ridicule, has only seemed to help him—although, that may be in part due to the awareness that grew over the 2015-2016 regarding how corrupt and devious the MSM has always been. Once the established outlets were revealed to be staffed by liars and frauds, it made the rest of us pause to consider the personalities they’d spent so many years demonizing.
Jones and his InfoWars platform of are the posterchildren of the Streisand Effect. His famous comments about the estrogen being dumped into the water supply resulted in an internet meme that lasted for years: “they’re turning the friggin’ frogs gay!” And he was right, or right enough: the effect that disposed pharmaceuticals and other products being dumped into sewers and down toilets had on the ecosystem turned out to be a lot worse than anyone had anticipated. The frogs were becoming hermaphrodites and they were trying to mate with members of the same sex.
Predictably, all the normal voices in favor of free speech raised their volume for a week. Those daring, intellectual vanguards of outdated liberal theory—that intellectual dark web of liberals cast in the role of moderate right-wingers—rose to his defense. While they are vocal and fervent in their disagreements with Alex Jones’ opinions and platform, they nonetheless made overtures to the First Amendment and his right to speak his mind. Hate speech, a nebulous term that has wedeled its venom into the user agreements of just about every Silicon Valley tech company, remains a hot topic of debate among the mainstream crowd.
This is of course somewhat ironic, given that some in that crowd maintain inconsistent views on the extent to which the First Amendment protects non-violent speech. Ben Shapiro
Disney shouldn’t have fired James Gunn for the dearth of obscene and unfunny tweets joking about pedophilia from a few years ago, for instance, yet ABC had every right to sack Roseanne Barr for an unfunny comment or two that came across as racist. But viciously anti-white NYT editor Sarah Jeong shouldn’t be fired—or even “mobbed” on social media for her racism. It’s important not to misconstrue Shapiro’s words here: he doesn’t come right out and say that racism is okay when it’s against whites. What he defends is the classic liberal perspective that businesses reserve the right to fire employees for conduct that the business decides is no good. Generally this means anything that’s bad for the business’ brand, like say, an acclaimed and popular director working for a studio known for its children’s movies making joke after joke after tired joke about finding children sexually attractive. That should really make you think!
Shapiro’s motives seem transparent enough, though. He’s willing to defend the same leftists who ostensibly would put him in their crosshairs if given the chance, while people like Roseanne Barr—a washed up comedienne who has barely had a career in decades—are fair game to point at and declare, you deserve it. There’s a word for that kind of behavior… what is it… I feel like it’s the title of one of his books.
But let’s presume for a moment that Shapiro is sincere and that he has no particular ethnically-motivated interest in defending those who claim to be his enemies in the culture war. Let’s just take his words at face value.
It should be clear by now that this particular cornerstone of libertarian free market ethics is untenable. The idea is that an open playing field of business efficiently responds to the demands of the market, and this is guaranteed through the presence of competitive businesses that service the same general pool of consumers. In such a hypothetical market, as in the real world, branding remains one of the chief concerns of any competitive business; your market has to find your service or product, after all, so it has to be distinguished from the rest. When it comes to the conduct of your employees and spokespeople, it makes a certain amount of sense to make connections between their language or behavior and how it reflects the brand. In other words, you, as Marketing Director for Nike, wouldn’t want your company’s CEO wearing A.D.I.D.A.S. shoes.
However, this whole idea starts to break down as the ‘open play field’ ends up dominated by a single company or by a single culture. You’d expect the typical liberal to pick up on this: a market like the movie industry or showbiz only exists as an open playing field of competitive businesses on paper. When it comes to their codes of conduct and branding, the entire apparatus exists as a monolith. Sure, producers compete against each other for investors and movies come out against one another, but it’s been an established fact for decades now—almost since Hollywood’s inception, even—that you’re not going to find work in Tinsel Town if you hold any particular set of opinions that don’t match up with their status quo.
So for someone to say, “yes, this company, whose ambiguous code of conduct prohibits this ridiculously-termed notion of ‘hate speech’, and it reserves the right to fire anyone it deems to have violated this code,” doesn’t hold the same meaning anymore. What they’re saying is, “you don’t deserve to have a job,” not “the company reserves to right to fire anyone it wants.” After all, when the entire employment structure looks exactly the same across the handful of corporations that still run the racket, especially when these corporations pal around with each other enough to make coordinated decisions on products and services, you’re not going to find another job in that sector ever again. Not without some serious capitulation, vocal apologies, and playing ball behind the scenes. Just ask Mel Gibson.
But that’s Hollywood, right? Let’s get back to the point here: Silicon Valley. You want a look at what a completely compromised sector of an industry looks like? Compare the user service agreements across every major tech giant associated with social media. And if that’s not enough, start investigating ISPs. The government was granted authority to lean on them at the end of Obama’s last term. So say what you will about the need for alternative media platforms, and the relative ease (so long as you’ve got a few hundred grand lying around for a business investment) with which you can create a new social media platform, the reality is that the ISPs can yank your server or throttle access to it at their discretion. And if you think the ISPs aren’t ideological, then you’re in for a reality check.
What the liberal position refuses to admit is that there is no such thing as an actual open market of ideas. There will always be preferences toward an in-group identity; the modern left has decided its in-group identity is founded on sexual deviancy, with an anti-white and specifically anti-Christian ethos thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, the liberal identity rests on the foundations of anti-nationalist, anti-ethnic, anti-“free market” ethos. If you’re willing to take seriously any sort of platform that denies the validity of an ideological society, or that denies the notion that “America is founded on principles,” or that there is only one truth that can be true and all other religions, philosophies, or ideologies that run counter to it deserve to be written out of existence, then the liberal platform has no room for you. Because of the nature of their ideology, they have to at least pay lip service to your opinions. “I may not agree with you, but you deserve the right to speak your mind,” they’ll insist. And yet, the reality is that they don’t really believe that.
The liberal position is one that declares that there is no such thing as a most optimal society; therefore, all options should be given the opportunity to coexist. But this declaration is untenable, and any who claim to hold that belief contradict themselves by holding onto the liberal position as the most optimal option. It’s relativism at its most autistic.
So what actually is the liberal’s take on free speech? Are they truly willing to defend a person’s right to espouse viewpoints that run against the liberal world order? Of course not. They can’t even defend the nature of that right in the first place, since liberalism’s conception of rights removes the concepts of obligations and duties that come along with them. A man’s right to speak his mind, according to the liberal, does not include an obligation on anyone’s accord to listen to him. The fact that speech exists purely to communicate ideas, and that speech is only meaningful when it is heard, is lost on the liberal ego. Liberals, modern as they have to be, divorce cause from effect as easily as they divorce meaning from language.
This is why defenses of ‘free speech’ inevitably fall into incomprehensibility. “Who am I to decide what is true?” the liberal asks, as he defends the so-called right of a man to insist that falsehood is legitimate. We’ve seen this drama before, two thousand years ago just prior to the erection of the Cross on Calvary. Confronted with the living Logos, the Word incarnate Himself, the wantonly oblivious and appropriately bureaucratic Pilate asked, “What is truth?” And he got his answer. Truth is not liberalism. Truth is not relative. Truth is not a free market of ideas, where everything is permitted. Truth is exclusionary and elitist. It’s demanding. It’s undemocratic and difficult. But it’s also the only thing that has any meaning.
Liberalism at least acknowledges the form of the truth if not its substance. Those stubborn enough to defend liberalism recognize the need to maintain their group identity—one founded ostensibly on the truthfulness of their ideals, even as they struggle to define how that truthfulness is decided. Exclusion of ideologies that run counter to their position is necessary for liberalism to survive. This is why “classical” liberalism earned its moniker so long ago. This is why libertarianism’s fundamental premises have been outdated from the start.
Liberalism entails this ridiculous notion of “hate speech,” and it entails every contradiction pointed out by the moderate-right. Liberalism entails censorship. It entails blacklists and de-platforming. It entails hypocrisy. The honest liberal, pressured on his beliefs, never reveals himself as a liberal. Liberalism is simply a mode of politeness engaged for political display.
So when the liberal declares that you have the right to say whatever you want, what they’re telling you is that nobody should ever listen to whatever you have to say. They’re destroying the purpose of that speech they claim so ardently to defend. He’ll tell you that someone as moderate as Alex Jones doesn’t deserve to be deplatformed, but he’ll also insist, in the same breath, that no one should take him seriously. No one should listen to him. If no one should listen to Alex Jones, then why shouldn’t he be deplatformed? If what the liberal says is true, then good old AJ is just wasting his time, or worse, leading his listeners astray.
Ultimately, the liberal has to ask himself what sort of moral character it takes to believe that the advocacy of falsehood is worthy of a sincere defense, because that’s all liberalism is.