Why the INFOWARS Purge is Nothing to Celebrate

I am a free speech absolutist by nature. Short of purposefully screaming fire in a crowded theater with the intent of causing mayhem … I just like having it all out there … from the wackiest religious tripe to the most virulent racist poison. For me, it’s better to see it exposed in the sunlight than to have it driven underground where it collects bacteria and followers … followers who can secretly live double lives until it is too late.

I say turn over the rocks and let them scurry around. Or goad them into the light to willingly reveal who and what they are … let them mark themselves with their own words so we can keep an eye on them while they do whatever it is they do to prop up their fantasies. Doing otherwise is a tacit admission that you don’t trust the facts or the veracity of your ideas. Don’t concede the debate by being unwilling to take it up.

Obviously, I am enthusiastic about the competition of ideas. And yes, I do know that we might end up with a bad product because a lot of people haven’t the foggy idea how to shop for a thought or fact or sound analysis. But open competition also makes it likelier that there will be a backlash and shame and other organic, dialectical responses that could create new ideas and even produce some change.

I know it is a dangerous game. It could all go wrong in a hurry. But so could your trip to the supermarket. Which is why I find myself decidedly phlegmatic about the purge of INFOWARS by some of the leading tech platforms. I do get it … I get why many are celebrating and why Jones may even be a little dangerous by potentially stoking violence.

Then again, the only thing this has really accomplished is to make him into a martyr who can use the purge to “prove” he is telling the truth AT THE VERY TIME his presence on various media platforms is making him look more and more like a bullshitting huckster who is yelling about the DEEP STATE because he really just wants to sell you special boner pills so you can still get it up after the apocalypse*. (*that is if you take his super-pure iodine pills before the pedophilia-obsessed lizard people drop the bomb on Trump Tower)

In fact, I think guys like Vic Berger Presents and other satirists are using free speech to help this growing group of profiteering whack-a-doos hoist themselves on their own petards. And that’s really the best way to counter carnival barkers … with laughter and ridicule and joyful contempt. Not by pretending you are actually blocking them from the people who desperately need their fanciful salves to square themselves with a world they no longer understand. Actually, this is a twofer for Jones because this will no doubt drive more traffic to his website.

The counter is that this is also good business for Apple and Facebook and YouTube and Spotify. The Jones customer base is not so big that it financially justifies alienating a much larger, much more profitable audience of people who could walk away with their dollars if Jones remains on their websites. Essentially, it is a business decision and, as ALL corporate decisions that “reflect our values” ultimately do, it reflects their the bottom line.

And therein lies the rub … because I can see the point that this is an example of “The Marketplace of Ideas” at work and, according to the tech companies involved, the market can no longer bear the cost of keeping a lunatic on a PRIVATELY OWNED platform. Maybe this is how is it supposed to work now that the idea of the “public airwaves” is a quaint notion of a bygone era.

The real bottom line is that in today’s America money isn’t just speech, but speech also is money … and I wonder if Jones would’ve been purged if he commanded the same audience as Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern or Sean Hannity.

And let’s be honest, we are all being monetized by these same platforms. We’ve willingly plugged into a matrix of largely unregulated pseudo-media businesses that are free to make any decision they want about what you can see, what you can say and who you can say it to. Perhaps we just need to admit that in today’s privatized world there is no such thing as “free” speech.

This article originally appeared on NewsVandal.

More articles by:

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
Marilyn Garson
If the Gaza Blockade is Bad, Does That Make Hamas Good?
Sean Posey
Declinism Rising: An Interview with Morris Berman  
Jack Dresser
America’s Secret War on Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Use and Misuse of Charity: the Luck of the Draw in a Predatory System
Louis Proyect
In the Spirit of the Departed Munsees
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Alex Jones and Infowars
Mundher Al Adhami
On the Iraqi Protests, Now in Their Second Month 
Jeff Mackler
Nicaragua: Dynamics of an Interrupted Revolution
Robert Hunziker
Peter Wadhams, Professor Emeritus, Ocean Physics
David Macaray
Missouri Stands Tall on the Labor Front
Thomas Knapp
I Didn’t Join Facebook to “Feel Safe”
John Carroll Md
Are Haitian Doctors Burned Out?