David Colborne: Alex Jones, freedom of association and freedom of speech

David Colborne at the Nevada Independent:

Let’s make something clear out of the gate: I don’t like Alex Jones.

I haven’t liked him for a long, long time. I don’t have any use for his conspiracy theories. I don’t have any use for his diet supplements. I hope he loses his lawsuit against the families of Sandy Hook. (I don’t know whether he legally deserves to lose, but he karmically deserves to.) His continued insistence on calling himself a “paleoconservative libertarian” (a contradiction in terms) and his active support for Ron Paul’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012 motivated me to become more active in the Libertarian Party, because I was not about to let the cause of social and economic freedom be represented by his delusional, angry, hate-filled ilk without a fight.

Speaking of, in the unlikely event an Alex Jones fan is reading this op-ed, it is my knowledgeable political opinion, based on more than a decade of public activism and two runs for public office, that your political home is in the Republican Party as the heart of President Trump’s base — but you already knew that. I strongly recommend that you continue your efforts to, um, improve the Republican Party from the inside and continue to support candidates who best capture the gestalt of the current administration. Your efforts to strengthen the Republican Party are truly a service to a country, possibly even this one. Thank you. Really.

Now, as I was saying, I really have no use for Jones, his schtick, or his audience. Naturally, when I learned he was banned from Facebook, YouTube, and even Twitter (if only temporarily), I inwardly smiled and thanked the Germans for having the best words, because schadenfreude is absolutely how I feel about his current predicament. It also amused me to no end to see one of the Infowars reporters claim, and I quote:

That, of course, is not how the Constitution is applied to publicly traded companies, and for a very good reason: The Constitution’s role is to define and limit the powers of government, not the role of the public or publicly traded corporations. The government is most certainly not equivalent to the public, constitutionally or legally, and bad things with guillotines can happen when people start conflating the two.

Millie’s post, however, illustrative of the tension between freedom of speech and freedom of association, as well as our collective understanding of both of them. When it comes to freedom of speech, according to a recent Ipsos study, 85 percent of Americans agree that the “Freedom of the press is essential for American democracy” — and yet 26 percent of Americans, nearly double the 15 percent that don’t agree freedom of the press is essential, believe “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” (Forty-three percent of the Republicans surveyed, by the way, belonged to that 26 percent, which even caught Fox News’ attention, though it really shouldn’t have. As much as conservatives love to talk about the Constitution and the protections it provides, to quote criminal defense attorney and free speech advocate Ken White in a recent Reason interview, “Saying that the First Amendment is conservative is historically completely illiterate. It’s [protected] mostly progressives from being suppressed through most of the twentieth century.”)

Put more succinctly, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a Republican.

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David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During that time, he has blogged intermittently on his personal blog, as well as the Libertarian Party of Nevada blog, and ran for office twice as a Libertarian candidate. He serves on the Executive Committee for both his state and county Libertarian Party chapters.

6 thoughts on “David Colborne: Alex Jones, freedom of association and freedom of speech

  1. DJ

    Paul: William, the term you’re looking for is “a chilling effect.”

    WS article: When the corporate media and big tech declares who can and who cannot exercise freedom of the press, it sets a dangerous precedent that significantly *chills free speech* and free press for everyone. In order to maintain a free society, such a view must be rejected. Thankfully, it appears President Trump understands.

  2. Paul

    When the guy who rules the cops threatens to silence people, it’s very different than if a private company doesn’t want to host garbage. Leave it to fringe-right conservatives to misunderstand both free speech and property rights.

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