Why is anyone surprised about Alex Jones?

alex jones

Recently Alex Jones, the host of The Alex Jones Show and founder of InfoWars.com, has gotten embroiled in a custody battle with his ex-wife, claiming that some of his on-air rants indicate that he is “not a stable father”. In Jones’ defence, his attorney, Randall Wilhite, has argued that Jones is playing a character in his show, and that he is a “performance artist”. If he is to be believed, one must now logically come to the conclusion that everything he says really is a lie. Naturally, leftist sites like Salon and Alternet quickly latched onto the story as an excuse to say “haha, we were right all along”. Yeah, we already knew Alex Jones was a con man.

I hope some of those leftists didn’t think most of us took him seriously. This is the same man who claimed, among other things, that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged by the government, and that nobody actually died. The same man also peddles various sundries on the InfoWars store at frankly bizarre prices, and I’m not even sure if they actually work. Alex Jones’ popularity on the Internet doesn’t really come from his arguments, because they are completely ludicrous. The reason people watch him is precisely because of his loony personality.

Of course, I’m not interested in defending Alex Jones. In fact, I’m baffled as to any anyone is acting surprised at the notion that he is a fraud. We all knew that for ages. Who other than the most ardent devotee of the humble vitamin water merchant clings on to his every word as if it were gospel? Nobody. We just lived with him because he’s a good laugh every now and then.

At this point, Alex Jones is a living meme. We weren’t supposed to take him seriously anyway, and only a moron would, but apparently we’re supposed to take conspiracy quacks like Lawrence O’Donnell and Keith Olbermann seriously? O’Donnell is a man who claims that Vladimir Putin planned the chemical attack in Syria to help Donald Trump, and Olbermann claimed that Trump wants to overthrow the government, and is so unhinged in his anti-Trump stance that he literally calls his show “The Resistance” (the irony of an establishment puppet calling himself the resistance is probably lost on him).

While we’re at it, I’ve heard leftists harping on about how Alex Jones’ brand of entertainment is “dangerous”. I guess anyone who’s actually funny is somehow dangerous now. They’d probably rather we watch John Oliver, an unfunny hack “comedian” who lies about Donald Trump all the time on his show, all while grandstanding in front of an audience trained to laugh at every inside joke. In fact, I argue that people like John Oliver would be more dangerous because he is given a more powerful platform to spread his lies, along with approval from critics. It doesn’t help that the media is full of late-night propagandists like Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel among others doing the same thing – masquerading as entertainers in order to push the establishment agenda.

Honestly, it seems as if leftists think we’re children who are incapable of discerning fantasy from reality, and need mommy and daddy to decide what we can and can’t watch. We know Alex Jones is a quack conspiracy theorist, and we’ve known for some time that he’s a fraud. What? Do I honestly think Alex Jones went on the Trump train because he honestly believed in his policies? No. He saw an anti-establishment candidate who was getting popular enough to piss off the legacy media, and decided he wanted to cash in. It was obviously an effective strategy, because now even he looks more credible than outlets like MSNBC or The Young Turks, who have gone so far-left that they sometimes act like bland, unfunny versions of Jones himself.

If you ask me, the recent custody case won’t do much to deflate Jones’ career, not as long as he still has a loyal fanbase to keep him afloat (his YouTube channel alone still has around 2 million subscribers). Besides, if I’m right, then none of it will be very shocking to anyone remotely familiar with his on-air antics.


Twitter’s death warrant


I’ve already covered the ban placed on Milo Yiannopoulos on Twitter in a previous post, but I think I should talk about the decline of Twitter, and the ramifications that I think will come with Twitter’s half-brained decision. Think of this as “part two” of the discussion if you will.

Firstly, like I’d like to clarify my position on Milo and the abuse towards Leslie Jones in case anyone’s in doubt. From what I could gather, Milo didn’t start the riot. In fact, his tweet aimed at Leslie was posted after Leslie became the target of trolls, not before. Contrary to what the media will tell you, Milo didn’t incite anything. All he did was provoke Leslie, like the provocateur we all know him to be. The only reason Milo got blamed for this is because (a) he wrote a scathing review of her movie, (b) he’s an easy target for people like Leslie, and (c) Twitter has already suspended him a few times, and has been aching for the chance to get rid of Milo’s account for good.

Of course, two key things bothered me. First, after Milo got banned, the mainstream media celebrated, like some savage barbarian tribe revelling in the blood of a slaughtered enemy. Without even hesitating, they took Leslie’s side because it’s painfully obvious that they despise Milo. The Guardian despises him, The Verge despises him, Esquire and Polygon despise him, and I’m very sure none of them did any of the research. Secondly, Twitter executives, when asked by Breitbart journalists, refused to say whether or not they believe in the traditional value of free speech. I’m not entirely surprised, but it should be very alarming because it essentially confirms that they have contempt for the idea that their critics should be allowed their right to free speech.

To be honest, I think they didn’t know what to say. If they were honest and they said they didn’t believe in free speech, all but the worst kinds of SJW’s and other assorted extremists would leave Twitter. If they said they believed in free speech, they would still be utter hypocrites. They’re willing to allow the most rabid Black Lives Matter supporters to call for the murder of police officers and go literally unpunished, but Milo Yiannopoulos gets struck down over a spat with a celebrity? What about the number of ISIS supporters who took to Twitter to celebrate the Nice attacks? Is Jack Dorsey going to be on the case with them? I highly doubt it. What about the hashtag that translated into “we demand the killing of atheists” that was trending on Arabic Twitter? What about the number of social justice warriors who bully people who disagree with them? It’s clear that Twitter is favour of allowing anyone other than conservatives and libertarians to speak freely on their platform.

For me, this is a sign of what some suspect has been happening for quite a while – Twitter is dying. Over the past year, Twitter’s stock market value has been going into sharp decline. Exactly a year ago, Twitter shares would have worth around $36 a share, and by now the shares only worth about half as much. In February, after Twitter saw a sharp decrease in users, the company’s share prices plummeted. Granted, they have been recovering, but I doubt that it will get much higher than $20 per share. This is just the economic side of things, but it essentially indicates the decreasing value of Twitter as a brand.

More importantly, the amount of new users coming to Twitter is stagnating. Currently the site has roughly 310 million active users, but it is apparently having trouble attracting new users, since the arrival of new users has slowed down. Twitter’s management isn’t quite the same as it used to be. In the months after Jack Dorsey became CEO last year, a number of Twitter’s staff and top executives left the company, and in February, Twitter announced a new “Trust and Safety Council”, with the neofeminist propaganda network Feminist Frequency as one of its inaugural members. Coupled with shadowbanning and Dorsey’s obvious progressive biases, it’s no wonder why a lot of people have left Twitter, and are worried about whether or not they’ll get banned too.

Banning Milo perhaps wasn’t an immediate problem, I think Twitter may as well have used it to distract Twitter users from the sites many problems. I like many other people are worried about Twitter going in an increasingly authoritarian direction. All banning Milo did was force that authoritarian streak into the spotlight, sparking a new revolt from Twitter users who are interested in free speech. By banning Milo and thereby pandering to the easily offended, Twitter may very well have signed its death warrant.

When I say this, I mean that Twitter may have exposed its true disdain for free speech, and thus a disdain for its users. If Twitter is that willing to censor those critical of Jack Dorsey’s progressive ideology, then we may yet see more users exiting Twitter in fear that their powers of censorship may be used on them. At any rate, I will continue keeping abreast of Twitter’s situation, because it seems like every time people say that Twitter is dying, everything turns to be fine in the end, but I have no doubt that Twitter will only get worse from this point on. How long will it be before ordinary people find themselves censored when Twitter’s authoritarian attitude reaches its logical conclusion? Only time will tell.

What censoring conservative news says about Facebook


Word has spread of testimony from former Facebook employees that they were routinely told to censor or suppress stories of interest to conservative readers, while promoting stories of interest to left-wing readers. Facebook has since been attempting to deny such allegations, but that hasn’t stopped more testimony from coming forward. According to the claim, the news curators of Facebook’s “Trending” section were asked to inject news stories into the trending feed despite a lack of popular interest among users, and they were also asked to block news that came from conservative outlets (such as Breitbart.com or Newsmax,com).

Even though Facebook insists that the allegations are false, it’s not as though we can trust Facebook management. If this is true, then it shows something very ugly about the people who run Facebook. It’s clear to me that Facebook is attempting to decide what its users see, and given the kind of man its CEO is, that should be very disturbing. Over a billion people use Facebook, and apparently the people who control it only want them to hear a single political narrative. It’s moments like these that honestly make me ashamed to have once identified as left-wing, especially now that it’s painfully obvious that the left now dominates the narrative of society.

Don’t get me wrong, I despise right-wing politics, and I don’t trust a lot of conservative news outlets, but that’s mainly because the majority of them use populist language and distort the truth, but now I find that the left are no better than the right. The other thing to remember is that Facebook is one of the biggest websites on the Internet, with one of the world’s most powerful and ubiquitous brands of our time. It is now so big that can practically act as a news publisher, and that on its own is startling. With that in mind, the fact that they have actively engaged in any form of censorship is chilling, especially if remember that this isn’t the first time Facebook has been accused of censorship.

A few months ago, Facebook censored a political cartoon critical of Israel, after being suspected of allowing anti-Israel posts. When the German chancellor Angela Merkel asked Mark Zuckerberg if Facebook would suppress posts that were deemed “anti-immigration”, Zuckerberg entertained the idea that he was already working on it. In fact, Facebook has a history of censoring content at the request of governments, sometimes under various censorship laws.

Facebook’s conspicuous history of nefarious and often hypocritical censorship is an insult to what the Internet is supposed to be about. I believe that the World Wide Web is a place where users can explore and add to it as they wished, and if that is to continue being the case, censorship should not be tolerated by anyone. That Facebook tolerates censorship at all says something very disturbing. It tells me that Facebook is abusing its popularity and taking advantage of the fact that most of its users share the site’s obviously liberal values, thinking that nobody will mind the erasure of views that most people find objectionable, and it’s really disturbing that I find myself showing a glint of concern for the likes of Breitbart, the same website that was accused by its own staff of accepting a bribe from Donald Trump.

For me, this belies an even bigger concern – that the left have gotten so powerful and so popular within the mainstream that some of its most influential followers wish to tip the balance in favour of the left. They have become today’s equivalent of the conservatives of the 1950’s, and what we’re seeing is a sad reflection on this ideological shift in the balance of power. Facebook can try to deny these allegations of censorship all they like, but it won’t do them any good because allegations of censorship don’t go away very easily, and the act of censorship also tends to leave a black eye on the reputation of those who engage in it.

The importance of free expression on the internet

free expression

I’m aware that this is a subject that I’ve addressed several times in the past, but recent events in my life have made it a far more important subject for me to address than ever. It is generally accepted in British society that there are some things that you say and don’t say on the web. That logic is what most people use to convince themselves that they don’t have to take responsibility for themselves.

The Internet gives us the power to express ourselves in ways that would be inconceivable in the real world. More importantly, it provides a necessary escape from the tepid tribulations of the real world. Take it away, and we will be trapped in a narrow world that, for most of us, will feel increasingly more like a tiny cubicle. For me, this is the true importance of free expression, especially on the Internet. Feeling free is like feeling that there’s a whole patch of land around you, because you can do anything without restrictions, at least that’s how it should be.

That’s why I personally hate having to be careful of what I write. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and sometimes it’s down to common sense, but all other times, when I feel like I have to be careful about what I write, then it means that what I’d end up writing wouldn’t come from the heart. What makes being able to express oneself so great is that when you are, you’re releasing something from the heart. Suppressing free expression, therefore, becomes one of the greatest of all crimes.

Even sadder is the fact that we take it all for granted. Many of us have no idea how important free expression is, and the result is that the Internet is populated by those with no idea of what they’re saying or even thinking, and this leads to all sorts of trouble, for which everyone else ends up suffering. That is why I oppose censoring freedom of expression, online and offline. Censorship of any kind not only beggars logic, but it also denies our responsibility for what we say. In a sense, we’d be no different from toddlers, and frankly, I don’t relish the thought of living like that for the rest of my life.

Song of the shallow

selfie culture

If there’s one serious problem I have with the current generation, it’s the open embrace of mind-numbing Internet culture. Ever since Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube became popular, our culture has become significantly dumber, but most of all, it has become incredibly narcissistic and shallow-minded. We’re still living in the age of the selfie, and what an apt analogy, since our culture is now a culture of self-importance where intelligent conversation is not as important as memes, vines and pop music videos.

On the Internet, especially on social networking sites, we are constantly on display, primarily because we choose to be. In this regard, we have created, in Internet culture, a bloated sense of narcissism, in that it seems we can’t get enough of showing ourselves off to the world. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but on Facebook, we tend to only show the positives of our life, giving the rest of the world a one-dimensional avatar of our own lives. Of course, this is because on social media sites, we are always being watched. Our followers can watch our every post, our every thought, and every location, all with our consent. But just because we show ourselves off to the world, doesn’t mean we have nothing to hide. In fact, we are now hiding our true selves more than ever. I worry that Internet culture has also created a climate of insecurity as we constantly risk being watched by practically anyone, even those who could use any detail of yourself against you.

Internet culture itself is devoid of originality. It’s basically nothing more than decontextualized pop culture references, regurgitations of celebrity culture, veneration of pornography, and a near endless arsenal of memes that are repeated ad nauseum. Is this the new way of the world? I certainly hope not. I personally find Internet culture to be both infantile and infantilizing, in the sense that it is painfully immature and makes it harder to see things that are deeper than what the wellspring of Internet culture will provide. That being said, it’s no wonder that we see adults acting like teenagers, teenagers acting like children, and children acting like infants.

Sexuality has suffered badly because of the Internet, because our view of sex has become devoid of spiritual connectedness. On the Internet, there is a plethora of easily accessible pornography (images or videos), and while the benefits are obvious, the side effects are also obvious. Sex and relationships have become viewed almost universally as a primarily physical encounter, and many seek out their ideal mate based on “how hot she is”, rather than their ideal lover based on traits deeper than looks. The Internet has also become the place where we vent our baser desires, be it lust, pride, envy, or even vitriolic hate. Of course, not everyone falls into this pattern, but the pattern is startling.

I think the worst part of today’s Internet culture is the assumption that we are all a connected society, an assumption I feel is false. We are not connected. In fact, this web of superficiality makes it harder for us to truly be in touch, and the harder it is to truly be in touch with each other, the more apart from each other we truly are. We as humans are capable of being in touch and open with each other, but I have yet to see how this can be done while we are wallowing in the moors of the shallowest of all cultures we have ever known. Yes, the Internet has paved the way for easier lives, but we must not put it on a pedestal. We must not forget that everything has a price, and the culture the Internet is a mess that has polluted our cultural landscape for years to come.

Welcome to the echo chambers

political echo chambers

We love to praise the digital age because of the unparalleled freedom of speech it has heralded over the past decade, but amidst those songs of praise, we might be forgetting the dark side of this, especially when it comes to political engagement. The internet is a breeding ground for many things ranging from pictures of cats to freely distributable pornography, but this nothing quite as worrying as the number of political echo chambers.

To clarify my point, an echo chamber is the term for an online community filled with like-minded individuals who constantly echo their opinions back at each other, reinforcing each individual’s beliefs to the point that it becomes closed-minded to other points of view.  These environments are typically home to individuals who, as part of an undifferentiated ego mass, will aggressively reject anyone with a different opinion. Political echo chambers (once referred to by Ivan Krastev as “political ghettos”) are forums where people can just doggedly cling on to your political alignment, but they never have to get used to anyone disagreeing with them.

This is dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, these political echo chambers are bad for intelligent political discourse because the people in them create an environment of intimidation designed to bring down anyone who might disagree. At this rate, internet has become the worst place for political discourse ever known, worse even than American television.

The second reason is because they give political discussion a bad name, since in these echo chambers (which most people call message boards), the most popular opinions are always the loudest, as opposed to the most articulate and intelligent opinions. For a lot of people, it seems that this is all politics is, but the internet is the only thing we have to blame. In recent times, politicians have grasped the idea that you need only to manipulate people’s emotions in order to gain their support. If you can manipulate the hearts and minds of the people, you can easily garner votes.

The worst part about these echo chambers is that we can’t really do anything about them. Because the internet is a haven of free speech, doing anything to disrupt that would be immoral, which is unfortunate because there are more problems out there than just the echo chambers. It’s also important to consider people will invariably search for these place because they tell them what they want to hear. Sadly, this is how these political echo chambers operate and survive. If you can ignore them, then that’s probably the best thing you can do.

Free speech on the web

The internet is a place where people can say things that they don’t have the courage to say in real life. While it’s very easy for us to take online anonymity and free speech on the internet for granted, it’s also easy for us to forget that the freedom we have online is also fragile. It’s also important to remember that the level of freedom on the internet can easily be abused by people who use online anonymity as a cloak, so that they can spout random hatred at people who don’t deserve it (whether it by real, identifiable human beings, or other anonymous users), and go almost undetected. Of course, we call them internet trolls.

internet trolls

Internet trolls are a plague that has swept various websites, spreading mindless hatred and stupidity wherever they go. Deep down, we all wish we could get rid of them, but can we get rid of them all? Sure, we may be able to stop one, or even a few of them simply by reporting them, but to put an end to all forms of online trolling is not as simple as it sounds, because the only truly effective way to get rid of them would involve either censoring the internet, or increased online surveillance powers, and neither suggestion can ever be morally justifiable.

Freedom of speech is a two-way right. If we’re all allowed to say whatever we want online, then even the worst of us must be allowed this right. If we selectively take the right to free speech away from certain individuals for any reason, then we can’t honestly stand for the right to free speech. Of course, the only thing you can do about trolls is to somehow try and track them down in real life, which the police have often done.

What many people may not know is that the police can see what goes on in the Internet, but they only take action if they can see that you’re doing something illegal. In the UK, they’re able to track down and arrest any internet troll who posts grossly offensive, and or menacing messages online, as is defined under section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003. Don’t be too alarmed, because this only involves tracking down internet trolls who go far enough that they break the law, and in all fairness, this is at least a more reasonable approach to dealing with trolls than censoring the Internet as a whole.

Aside from all that, the Internet is essentially the only truly free place on Earth, and that freedom is very fragile, and constantly needs to be defended, because there are individuals out there who want tighter control over the internet, and there’s nothing they won’t do to make sure that happens. Whoever they are, they can’t stand the fact that there is a place where you can say or do virtually anything, and would stoop to any low in order to wipe out whatever freedom there is left. There are people out there who say horrible things online, but they get dealt with somehow. In my opinion, the best way to deal with a troll is to either ignore it, or report it to whichever authority is appropriate (usually the moderators). If we want to make the internet a better place, we simply need to accept that freedom comes with responsibilities, whether online or offline. If we choose to shirk these responsibilities, however, we may lose the very freedom we take for granted.