Monday, November 19, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Knocking Alex Jones off social media is not censorship

There’s an old saying. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t plotting against you.

And that brings us to Alex Jones. He has been reigning over Infowars for nearly 20 years, spewing one conspiracy theory after another across a wide array of media platforms. This delusional fellow makes Marlon Brando’s Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now sound like William F. Buckley.

Here is a brief list of Jones’ deranged natterings:

• The 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives, were really an "inside job" by the U.S. government.

• Many mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook murders, where 20 first-graders and six school employees were murdered, are faked with "crisis actors" portraying the victims.

• Former President Barack Obama is really the head of al-Qaida, when he isn’t windsurfing..

• The federal government "creates" homosexuality, which ought to come as a surprise to Elton John.

• Hillary Clinton is the mastermind behind a huge Washington pedophile ring run out of a pizza parlor. Maybe, but the cheese and pepperoni pie is to die for.

Of course, howling-at-the-moon folks like Jones have been around for a long time. In a sense, conspiracy theories help explain a complex world to some reality-challenged people. But Facebook. Apple, Google, YouTube and Spotify have moved to greatly diminish Jones’ slimy reach across the internet, removing vast swaths of his fear-mongering posts and podcasts.

The companies argue they are not attempting to quash Jones’ speech but that the P.T. Barnum of perfidy had repeatedly violated prohibitions against bullying, hate speech, the glorification of violence and offensive language directed at Muslims, immigrants and transgender people.

Jones claimed his cyber shunning is clear evidence all his conspiracy blithering was in fact true, arguing he is a victim of a mass plot by corporate America to silence him. But it seems Jones has a bigger problem than royally ticking off Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He finds himself embroiled in two lawsuits because of his delusions.

Veronique De La Rosa and Leonard Pozner are the parents of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner. Since the 6-year-old was murdered, Jones has singled them out for being part of a massive school shooting hoax staged by gun control advocates.

Since 2012, De La Rosa and Pozner have been forced to move at least seven times after Jones posted the couple’s personal information, including maps and addresses of their residences. The couple has endured stalkers and threats on their lives by Infowars devotees.

A Massachusetts man, Michael Fontaine, is also suing Jones after he was falsely accused of being the shooter in the Parkland school massacre in February, even though Fontaine has never set foot in Florida.

Some have suggested the moves on the part of the social media companies to diminish Jones on their platforms amounts to censorship. It is not. These are private corporations that have every right to govern content by way of their brand name. And Jones still has access to his own website, his radio network and his Twitter accounts.

It might be more accurate to regard Jones as the uncle who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill, who keeps calling 911 to complain his precious bodily fluids are being contaminated by a commie plot to put fluoride in the water supply.

Alas, Jones has his followers. President Donald Trump, who loves to decry the "fake news" media, practically regards Jones as the Walter Cronkite of cyberspace.

Fabulist birds of a feather?

Comments
Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Local referendums cannot make up for Tallahassee’s cuts.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Tampa's Riverwalk continues to grow into its own.This month, the American Planning Association named the linear park along the Hillsborough River through downtown Tampa as the winner of its "People's Choice" award. Part of the association's...
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

St. Petersburg’s proposed 5-cent fee on shopping bags could encourage better consumer habits.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Domestic violence carries a huge price tag in addition to the human toll.
Published: 11/15/18
Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

The Conviction Review Unit follows through on a campaign pledge to review past conviction cases.
Published: 11/14/18
Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott should stop making unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Published: 11/13/18
Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Hillsborough County scored a historic win this month when voters approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The $9 billion or more it will generate over the next 30 years should transform mobility across the region and impr...
Published: 11/12/18
Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

The state is taking action to minimize wrong-way crashes
Published: 11/11/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Three veterans depart, clearing the way for new faces
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18

Editorial: Count every vote

Elections have two parts: You vote, then count the vote. Floridians did their part by turning out in record numbers in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Now it falls to local election supervisors to ensure that every vote is accurately counted.
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18