On Sept. 6, 2018, Twitter joined YouTube, Apple, Facebook and Spotify in permanently eradicating controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars outlet from its platform, acknowledging “new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.” Although Jones’s mainstream exposure took an inordinate amount of time to dwindle, such a late development remains a welcome one for a supposedly intelligent society.
Before I delve into deeper discussion, I’d like to address the elephant in the room; technically, I’m contradicting my stance from my first article of this semester, in which I stated that I wouldn’t inadvertently promote conspiracy theorists. But, considering Jones’s significantly diminished prominence, along with this topic’s high appeal compared to other suggestions, I feel justified and safe in my decision. Because conducting research for this subject is about as futile an undertaking as finding a sign of life on Antarctica (in that there’s simply no chance of encountering credible evidence), I’m drawing almost exclusively from my imagination for this article (ironically taking a page from Jones!).
Of course, Jones would’ve never gained such notoriety if he didn’t provide some sort of appeal, regardless of its minimal nature. After all, he’s delivered such insightful proclamations regarding satanists and gay frogs over the years! Like any improvisational artist who performs the same schtick every night no matter the accompanying storyline, Jones’s meme-worthy standpoints and exaggerated emotional output, along with his tendency to take himself too seriously, prove comedic in stressful times (his trademark angry face is particularly relatable, resembling mine when Greg Zuerlein was knocked out of Sunday’s game, thus ensuring my second fantasy football loss in as many weeks). Regardless of your sentiments surrounding conspiracy theories’ veracity, you can’t deny that breaking out those tin foil hats spices up the conversation around a given topic, akin to how food wrapped in tin foil heats up more quickly in an oven (I’d like to congratulate my stepdad for unknowingly inspiring conspiracy theorists nationwide, for he sure loves his baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil!).
Although it’s tempting to dismiss Jones’s radical behavior as mere folly, his shenanigans have done more harm than good. Resembling a balding mule who carries the overwhelming burden of answering the question, “What provocative gobbledegook should I spew today?,” he crosses a fine line between freedom of speech and proliferation of dangerous falsehoods. Through a series of scripted stunts, Jones also encourages contrived emotional reactions, an oddly underreported phenomenon in the wake of a recent uprising in outspokenness among Americans. Politicization of an indisputable infringement upon our constitutional rights, along with pressure placed upon influential corporations to remain “impartial,” delayed the morally correct decision to confiscate Jones’s national platforms; and his ridiculous response to such bans, fearmongering his miniscule yet dedicated base against “communists” who reside in “the deep state” (i.e. his warped classification of average Americans and/or his critics), only further justifies such disassociation from him and his brand. Despite every critique I’ve levied against Jones, his most despicable act is clearly his defamation of the already grief-stricken families of Sandy Hook Elementary shooting casualties, merely to propagate a pro-gun agenda; so, it’s nice to see said families earn some sort of moral victory by filing lawsuits against the wretched man and thus delivering his comeuppance.
Ultimately, we can learn plenty from the debacle that is Alex Jones. He teaches us to conduct proper research in order to become better-informed and to stay silent if we’re ignorant about a given subject (in fact, anyone in my geoscience lab this semester knows how strongly I take this second lesson to heart). Whether he’s mentally deranged or a pathological liar, Jones truly shouldn’t be treated as an entertaining, benign spectacle any longer. If calm, rational discussion fails to override one’s stubborn foolhardiness then we should leave them be; akin to imprisoning the clinically insane or abusing circus animals for our amusement, we shouldn’t treat others inhumanely and consequently increase our respective superiority complexes. By ignoring Jones and others of his ilk, we can prohibit the least credible and most toxic zealots from amassing a vocal sector.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.