The village idiot was long considered an acceptable social role, a unique individual who contributed to the social fabric of his community.
At forty-two years old I’ve read, and heard many sayings, aphorisms, proverbs, dicta, axioms, and truisms. But one has always stood out above all others:
“I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it”
Voltaire’s overused saying, if you’re interested the original uses the verb, to write, instead of the verb, to say, is sadly applicable to the removal of Alex Jones from platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Apple and Twitter.
The people bowed and prayed, to the neon gods they’ve made.
YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter, as private companies, are entitled to remove Alex Jones from their own platforms if they feel that he uses them to peddle his twisted ideas. But, their banning him sets a precedent, it establishes a slippery slope, whereby strange ideas and lunatics in the future can be silenced. But where’s the line, just how strange can your ideas be before they’re deemed unsavoury? When is someone too much of a lunatic to express an opinion?
Alex Jones is a sensational theatrical performer. In days of yore stories were passed down through oral tradition, these became folk tales, myths and legends. Today we have the urban myths, titillating tales, distributed through the internet, that are amusing to listen to but most of us recognise as being little more than a childish ghost story. Alex Jones is several things: a modern day cyberspace story teller, an old fashioned digital court jester, performing his morally bankrupt molestation of commonsense on the internet. Nobody can deny his compelling performances, all carried out sat in a chair, behind a desk. Info Wars was theatre, often strange, always incoherent, but theatre art. To many, not good theatre, but it was entertaining.
But to understand the situation more holistically it’s crucial to understand that Alex Jones isn’t the problem. Yes, he’s a maniac, and probably suffers from some form of mental illness, but he’s not the problem. The problem is that a large number of people believe what he says. Silencing Alex Jones will only elevate him, make a hero of him, while his gullible adherents will only have to surf the internet for five minutes to find somebody who’s probably even crazier.
Echoes in the wells of silence
The real injustice of all this goes well beyond the silencing of Alex Jones, it’s the beast that his silencing creates. Serving up Alex Jones as a martyr for free speech elevates him to a status of which he is simply not worthy. Banning Alex Jones falls right in place with the rhetoric he ‘s been randomly spouting over the past decade like an asthmatic blow whale. The village idiot is what he is, he’s a bit of fun that nobody in their right mind would ever take seriously, but now he’s being made into a champion for our most fundamental civil liberty, expression. In the years to come I’m terrified that people will talk of Ghandi, Martin Luther King jr, and Alex Jones as people who fought the good fight that ensured their freedoms. That’s a reality I refuse to be a part of.
Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate. ~ Noam Chomsky
Jones is crazy; if he isn’t on some kind of psychotropic medication then he probably should be. It’s probably fairly safe to assume Chomsky isn’t crazy, at least not as crazy as Jones, and as such we should pay closer attention to what he says. A sentiment that Google only just about agrees with. Search “Alex Jones Infowars and you get 9.6 million hits, search for Noam Chomsky and Google finds only half a million hits more, thus proving idiocy is far more palatable than intellect. Chomsky identifies that the problem is not the fool that entertains the masses, but the masses who confuse the fool with the authority of knowledge.
Every society, at every age has had its Alex Jones, the difference being that the people could recognise him for what he was.
Control produces the illusion of freedom. ~ Judy Bloom