Quick Hits – Am I the last real liberal left?

My accelerating disappointment with my progressive brethren and sisteren would most certainly indicate that’s the case. To add insult to injury, the icing on that hypocritical cake is, the only person who seems to see eye-to-eye with me on the most basic truths these days, is my rather conservative friend, Bill Wright.

“Geez Jeff! Not another bleepin’ anti-liberal rant. Aren’t you getting tired of bitching about why progressives suddenly suck? I thought you were one of ‘em!”

Actually, I am on both counts, but having called out so many conservatives and Christians for applying the standards they love only to everyone else, it would be beyond disingenuous for me to let liberals slide, especially when the hypocrisy is this egregious.

But before we continue, let me make it clear that I do not support, condone, or follow Infowars or Alex Jones in any way, shape, or form. That bleep makes me long for the days of the Fox News Glenn Beck.

Alex Jones

For the uninitiated, Jones and his Infowars website spew some of the stupidest bullshit I’ve ever seen, including, but nearly not limited to, a conspiracy theory claiming the Sandy Hook school shooting never happened. In the end, he’s just another garden variety fearmonger who preys on old white people who believe black folks are coming to steal their garden gnomes.

As a result of some erudite individuals calling Facebook out for removing seemingly innocuous posts while giving Jones and his ilk free rein, a majority of social media sites just banned Infowars and similar way-out-on-the-bell-curve political groups.

Though I want to be clear that Facebook and all the other sites have every right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, I think it’s a huge mistake for four really good reasons.

1. Prohibition never works

Anytime we ban anything, alcohol, drugs, books, or music, it only serves to make the item more alluring. When Tipper Gore led the fight to put warning labels on music, it backfired to the point where kids sent sales of suspect CDs through the roof. And that wasn’t even an outright embargo!

To wit, Jones still has his website which will inevitably become more popular than ever.

2. Banning Jones gives him credence

I don’t care what anyone says, the best course of action in these cases is to let stupid people talk and remove all doubt. Believe it or not, I have (just) enough faith in my fellowman to believe that most of them will eventually see bullshit for what it is.

But when you censor Jones, those fence-sitting folks start thinking, “What could possibly be so dangerous that liberals don’t want me to hear what he has to say?” And they go to his webpage to find out.

When Shaquille O’Neal says the world is flat, I don’t argue with him or push the censorship button, I laugh and walk away.

3. The basket of deplorables isn’t going anywhere

This one completely kills me. Liberals seem to think that banning Jones is going to make the people most susceptible to that stupid shit magically disappear. I hate to tell you  folks, but they’re not going anywhere.

Hillary Clinton correctly called them out in her 2016 campaign, but then she ignored their vast economic dissatisfaction and contempt for government as usual to the point where a buffoon like Donald Trump kicked her ass.

It’s just like the Geneva Police Department’s refusal to attend area gang summits. To do so would mean admitting Geneva gangs actually exist. The joke among local law enforcement agencies is that gang members dematerialize upon entering the city and rematerialize on their way out.

4. The standard is impossible to apply

This is the real problem. How can any company possibly apply a social media standard to billions of users across this vast globe? It can’t be done.

I still can’t figure out why Facebook removed a What’s Happening in Batavia post that explained why Batavia has such absurd electric rates. (The moderators did not remove it.) My guess is taking Mayor Jeff Schielke to task for that failure did the trick, but no one is sure. (And I’m convinced Schielke was the one who went to Facebook, too).

If a post that mild was removed for “violating social standards,” asking why Infowars was allowed to roam free is a very good question. But Facebook’s response should’ve been to relax the standard, not to tighten it and make it worse.

A simpler and more reasonable set of rules would be far easier to objectively enforce.

Take hate speech. It’s such a situational morality that it’s virtually impossible to define. Generally, if a white person uses the N-word that’s unacceptable. But what if they’re talking about the word itself or repeating rap lyrics? What if two black folks are using the word as a term of endearment? So, how do you effectively apply the standard?

And if one word can cause that many problems…

 

Look! If there is a Christian God, I can’t wait until Jones comes face-to-face with Her. And I fervently hope she’s a black woman along the lines of Leslie Jones. But the fact that I fail to agree with anything that falls out of his fetid mouth doesn’t mean I won’t defend Jones’ right to spew stupid shit to my death. Because if you start shutting folks down for spewing stupid shit, Bill and I will be the last two Facebook users left.

And I’m not sure how far conversations on grilled pork chops and craft beer can go.

What really frost my flakes is, liberals are supposed to be the guardians of truth, justice, and the American way, especially when it comes to freedom of speech. For them to stomp their feet with glee at this ominous turn of social media events makes them every bit as hypocritical as the Trump supporters they love to loathe.

If you’re offended by someone or some thing, then don’t read their stuff. But don’t abrogate my right to read it – and dismiss it for the BS it clearly is.

If you could legislate, ban or beat stupidity and bullshit into submission, I’d be the first on board. But you can’t. And any attempt to do so always makes it worse. I’ll say it one more time, let stupid people talk because they always hang themselves.

18 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Am I the last real liberal left?

  1. If you cannot take a few slights and even gross bigotry, not saying accept it but see it for what it is, how can you ever be function as citizen.
    There is no way anyone can censor themselves into an informed citizenry.
    I would think we are dealing with adults, and as an adult you probably would not shrink off crying over perceived or even legitimate slurs.
    Brandeis said it well: In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.”

  2. Alex Jones hasn’t been tossed for saying crazy stuff — he’s been tossed because he is trying to incite violence and using others’ platforms to do it. What else can they, should they, do, but kick him out their doors? He’s long since jumped the rails from being a free speech issue to being a public safety issue.

    It’s not that he whirled up the insane notion that Sandy Hook didn’t happen and got his mentally ill and/or schtoopit minions believing it — it’s that some among those minions started threatening the lives of the parents of the little kids who died in pools of blood on a classroom floor.

    It’s not that he spewed the ridiculous story that Hillary was running a child sex ring out of the back of a pizzeria, it’s that one of his minions actually went there with a firearm and started shooting the place up.

    And more recently, he has not-so-veiled’ly threatened Robert Mueller’s life, knowing as he does that he may get “lucky” enough to convince one of his loon listeners to go do his bidding.

    Alex Jones seeks to commit murder (dare to dream, start some great revolution!) by nutjob proxy, thinking himself legally untouchable because hey, he can’t help if some sicko took him so seriously, s/he went and killed innocent people. Like Trump himself, Jones is virtually a cult leader whirling up delusional believers to see mortal enemies where there are none, and cares not who dies because of it. If you can’t yank somebody’s frickin’ Facebook page for that, what can you yank it for???

    • Sharry,

      Remember, there are a number of subtle and complex ideas at hand in this piece. The first is, I made it clear that Facebook – and all the other sites – had an unabridgeable right to do exactly what they did.

      My biggest argument was the glee with liberals accepted that decision.

      I’m also saying that Facebook should get out of the standard applying game. Let people post what they want to post and let the chips fall where they may.

      And the real nuts that can be swayed by Jones will not be dissuaded by the fact they now have to go to his web page to read his shit. Sadly, inciting other people to violent acts is a tried and true American tradition.

      The bottom lines are, liberals currently suck and censoring Jones will not even begin to make the problem go away.

      Jeff

    • Then why does Maxine Waters still have a Facebook page?

  3. There is a reason why we need Freedom of Speech. It is to allow us the ability to know where that person is in his or her ideas.

    The catch here is without consequence.

    Once known, we can draw our own conclusions to accept it or not. The biggest consequence is when we can just shut those people out and not listen to him or her, not restrict his or her rights of speech.

  4. “Freedom of speech” does not mean freedom to have anything you say disseminated in any way you choose. If I were to send the Elgin Courier-News an op-ed about how Social Security could save money if senior citizens were slaughtered and processed into pet food, the CN would not be abridging my freedom of speech by refusing to publish it. I would be free to send it to any newspaper or other medium stupid enough to do so; to start up a website and post it there; or to Xerox it and try to hand it out on a street corner.

    By the same token, Alex Jones is free to insult grieving parents of slaughtered children on his own website or in any other medium, like Twitter, that will allow him to do so. Facebook and YouTube, which are private companies, have no obligation to accommodate him.

    • Pan,

      To you first paragraph, newspapers have much more well-defined and enforceable standards that social media sites do. Though I regularly pressed them, the Sun-Times boundaries were eminently clear.

      As to your second point, I want to say, did you read the piece? I made it very clear that social media sites have the right to ban anyone for any reason. I just happen to believe it was a mistake on two levels.

      The first is it’s only gonna make Jones more popular and the second is I still can’t figure out social media standards.

      Jeff

      • I really think Jones has about maxed out the number of nutjobs inclined to follow a madman. He’ll just be a bad memory in a few years. As to the second point, we can skip right over lofty freedom of speech principles to internet survival — what social media outlet wants to find itself boycotted/sued for knowingly providing a platform for someone pushing crazy people toward violence, when exactly that happens?

      • Sharry,

        You could be right, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me that liberals are being so un-liberal these days.

        Jeff

  5. Maybe ratings and warnings could be used as an alternative to completely banning someone. We have ratings for movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Although a better metaphor for Jones might be the warning label they put on poison. Danger, if you read these ravings of a madman and find yourself even mildly inclined to believe any of it, seek immediate medical attention.

    Imagine if you had to wait and click on the Next button to go through successive pages of warnings and anecdotal stories about the questionable mental stability of the author whose tweets or posts you were about to read. How long would you stick around? I would suggest that we might even apply similar logic to social media from any Kardashian, warning people that far from being inspired, they were about to engage in the intellectual and entertainment equivalent of the Gong Show.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s