Enough with the batshit insanity of Mr. Jones June 3, 2013 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I think it's time that we all collectively consider no longer linking to Alex Jones or Infowars.

I don't want to point to any specific comment or thread because I don't want to call out any particular individuals on the site -- it's more of an overall objection. I think we've moved on from "Hey, funny because he's nuts, hehe" into full-on this guy is dangerous, ill-intentioned, and has no place on MetaFilter.

Absent a site policy along the lines of stormfront, which I wouldn't mind seeing as well, I think it's time we stopped linking to the guy's site as a community because the lulz are wearing thin & the batshit is spreading. Let's stop helping this dangerous individual spread his toxic messages any further.

Thanks for your consideration.
posted by Devils Rancher to Etiquette/Policy at 7:50 AM (163 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I wish we had a no-linking Stormfront guideline for Alex Jones and Infowars, as well. Stormfront sure is racist as all fuck and a cesspit of gross. For Alex Jones / Infowars, the racism is there too, just as one small part of a massive shit pie. MetaFilter doesn't need to drive any traffic over there.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2013


I hate these requests to not link or to not use words because I trust people to know how and when to do such things. This said, I am in full agreement here. This is like freeper links.

FYI: Stormfront links do often get axed.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:01 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I don't want to point to any specific comment or thread because I don't want to call out any particular individuals on the site"

The number of users who do this however is ...awfully small.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:03 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


FYI: Stormfront links do often get axed.

Yes, by my understanding, and a mod may clarify, stormfront links are an official no-go, site policy-wise. What I was trying to say is maybe the site mgmt. consider an official no infowars policy as well.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:05 AM on June 3, 2013


It's more that they're an almost-never-go unless there's a darn good reason, but in practice the effect's pretty similar and in general people don't really link to it much in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2013


Alex Jones will not stand for this.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:21 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alex Jones is sort of a bozo filter for me. If someone links to him as a serious thing, I know not to take that person seriously. And if someone is linking him for the lulz, that's probably questionable site behavior, the way it is if someone is generally pointing and laughing or ginning up cross-site controversy, I'd think.
posted by immlass at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


alex jones is an ambulance chasing jackass, making money off of misery and fear, but he's also, sadly a big part of the stories he inserts himself along side of. you can't discuss the conspiracy theories that spring forth from him and his followers without discussing him and linking to primary sources almost always outweighs not linking to something directly. stormfront is very rarely ever the story and so there's rarely a strong reason to let content that links to them stand.
posted by nadawi at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The links to Alex Jones/infowars occur mostly in the comments, right? They might be almost-never-go for posts, but it's certainly not the case in the comments.
posted by mokin at 8:28 AM on June 3, 2013


i know you said you didn't want to link to it, but i think today's post actually proves my point - you can't make this post without talking about alex jones and that talking about is going to take the form of primary sources sometimes.
posted by nadawi at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2013


The links to Alex Jones/infowars occur mostly in the comments, right?

Mostly, and the direct links are unnecessary, is what I'm saying here. Talk about him if you must, but I just wish we could stop driving traffic to his site. I'm repeating myself, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, do people really try linking to Stormfront? That's hilarious.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2013


I think an exception to the "no racists on MeFi" policy should be made for Baby Racists. Baby Racists is a new TV series by quidnunc kid productions Inc., currently seeking crowd-sourced funding or a mentally-ill Billionaire. The stars of Baby Racists are L'il Hitler, L'il David Duke, L'il Oswald Mosley and other L'il racists from throughout history. Drawn together at a day-care centre in New York City, the Baby Racists are a rag-tag bunch of infant cuties, whose cheeky adventures and k-k-krazy antics will keep you and your family endlessly amused. You'll be in stitches at their hilarious tomfoolery, you'll cheer them on in their quixotic quests, but - full disclosure! - you may also be nauseated by their disgusting racism. I mean, their hateful prejudice is beyond foul. I would go so far as to say "evil". Still - two outta three ain't bad, right? So please vote #1 Baby Racists, the hit new show made by, and for, people who are apparently "banned" from Kickstarter for some reason I don't even understand.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


Wait, do people really try linking to Stormfront? That's hilarious.

Usually by accident because they've done a hastygoogle of something and the site turned up and they didn't click around to see what was up. We usually drop people a quick note "Um, you may want to find another source for that link" and usually we'll swap it out. People who do it just to be aggro jerks will find those comments deleted pretty quickly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2013


stormfront links that i've seen generally take the form of "look at what this conservative asshole said about [current news event]!" the infowars links are usually more "and here's the primary source for that information." they aren't really apples to apples. if we stop linking to infowars, it'll become linking to what huffpo said infowars said, which isn't a great solution to me.
posted by nadawi at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one I saw this AM linking to Infowars was just to the home page, & was pretty much a "look at these assholes" comment. There have been quite a few of those over the last few months. In the unlikely event that it's necessary to actually quote Jones as part of a conversation, I have no real suggestion other than act with restraint, absent an official ban on direct links.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2013


this guy is dangerous, ill-intentioned, and has no place on MetaFilter.

These are characterizations, not facts. What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?
posted by cribcage at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


the infowars links are usually more "and here's the primary source for that information."

It's my cross to bear, I know, but in my ideal world, the phrases "infowars" and "primary source" would never appear in the same sentence.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


These are characterizations, not facts. What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?

I'm going to be very disappointed if we can't get a good afternoon's worth of hair-splitting out of this question.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


stormfront links that i've seen generally take the form of "look at what this conservative asshole said about [current news event]!" the infowars links are usually more "and here's the primary source for that information." they aren't really apples to apples. if we stop linking to infowars, it'll become linking to what huffpo said infowars said, which isn't a great solution to me.

I mean at some point what's the purpose of saying 'Surprise! A racist asshole conspiracy nut said a racist asshole conspiracy nut thing about this very topic!'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:00 AM on June 3, 2013


it seems more useful to just flag comments that are "look at these assholes" no matter where they link.

and, octobersurprise - me too! but as long as his site continues to be the font of conspiracies, they'll continue to be one of the best sources for that info. i would hope that infowars links are accompanied by "and here's a less batshit shitty way to look at that."


what's the purpose of saying 'Surprise! A racist asshole conspiracy nut said a racist asshole conspiracy nut thing about this very topic!'

when the very topic started there - like, how do you do a post on the sandy hook conspiracy without discussing alex jones? how do you do a post about the bilderberg protests without discussing alex jones? just because he's a racist asshole are we supposed to pretend like a growing segment of the population aren't following him (and some of those are elected officials who are suggesting bills based upon alex jones's ramblings)? i would give my left nut for him to just be a lone conspiracy nut, but sadly, he's visage is a bit bigger than that.

i mean, where do we draw the line? do we not link to fox news because they're obviously trolls, stroking the fires for their own pocket books? do we ban links to the mormon church because of their homophobic and transphobic policies and teachings? i still maintain that the difference is that stormfront rarely makes the news, they react to it - alex jones/infowars can create stories and get the 5 o'clock new to report on them.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


cribcage: " These are characterizations, not facts. What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?"

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a page on him as does the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. Here is Rolling Stone's profile.
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


In my opinion, he's profiteering, and direct links to his website drive profits his way. I m seriously opposed to that, and to any incidental spreading of the batshit insane to anyone who may follow a link from here & be gullible enough to fall into his web.

I'll just flag from here on out, as I've stated my case, I think.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:18 AM on June 3, 2013


These are characterizations, not facts. What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?

Because the man has the ear of people of power in Congress (at both the state and federal levels) and/or potential candidates for President, and they're listening very intently and parroting back what he says.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are characterizations, not facts.

I'm fine with calling them characterizations, not facts, as long as your not asserting they are mischaracterizations. Guy's an ignorant exploitive asshole. (That's a fact.)
posted by cjorgensen at 9:27 AM on June 3, 2013


Because the man has the ear of people of power in Congress (at both the state and federal levels) and/or potential candidates for President, and they're listening very intently and parroting back what he says.

Yeah, that illustrates the problem with never discussing him here. The things that make him dangerous also make him noteworthy.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:30 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Drinky Die: " Yeah, that illustrates the problem with never discussing him here. The things that make him dangerous also make him noteworthy."

I agree, but that's not what the OP is saying.

Devils Rancher: "Talk about him if you must, but I just wish we could stop driving traffic to his site. "
posted by zarq at 9:41 AM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


are there any other sites besides stormfront that get a near blanket ban here?
posted by nadawi at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


goatse.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:53 AM on June 3, 2013


even though it is a very useful resource for breaking news and trenchant analysis of current events.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The number of users who do this however is ...awfully small.

I think that's sort of the point. The users are not being called out, just this particular behavior.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2013


What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?

Google "alex jones vaccinations autism".
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:16 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a classic slippery slope. On this side of Alex Jones is Rush Limbaugh and Fox. I would bet people on Rush's staff and people on O'Reilly's staff monitor what Jones does at least on a weekly basis if not daily. He is pretty whacked out but so is CNN if you look at it with a critical eye.
posted by bukvich at 10:18 AM on June 3, 2013


so, no links to any vaccs deniers? no links to any racists? what makes him more like stormfront and not fox news?
posted by nadawi at 10:20 AM on June 3, 2013


What makes Alex Jones/Infowars dangerous?

He's not just a nut with wacky ideas. He's a huckster that sows these ideas in the minds of his followers and uses that to make money. I don't think anyone would go to Rush Limbaugh or Hannity's websites for anything besides opinion-based screeds, and that's fine. Jones couches his agenda in pseudo-facts to make it seem like *he* isn't the one making these claims, he's just the messenger. It's the same formula as Glenn Beck, but with zero basis in reality.
posted by gjc at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2013


what makes him more like stormfront and not fox news?

If this is a hypothetical question then I'm not going to engage. If sincere...I suggest popping over to his website and doing your own homework and forming your own opinion. Nothing anyone says here will be as effective.

The problem I have with these fringe nuts like Jones is that he spouts his insanity, Drudge runs it, Limbaugh picks it up, HuffPo comments, CNN runs a story, and your elected officials quote someone along the way. Jones almost makes me wish Breitbart were still alive.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


it is sincere and i am familiar with his site. i'm not arguing that he's a great dude with great ideas. he's obviously a racist shithead who sows discontent for profit. but - as far as i know we only have one near blanket ban on a site and that's stormfront - so to ask for another near blanket ban it seems like the poster is saying that infowars is like stormfront. i don't think that's very true. stormfront isn't reported about on the news, it isn't quoted by policy makers, it isn't the starting point for conspiracies. arguing why alex jones is a shithead isn't necessarily related to why he should or shouldn't be posted here. there's a lots of profiteering shitheads we give page views to.
posted by nadawi at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok, sorry about the stormfront analogy. To me, Jones is every bit as toxic in his own special way, but the point of that statement was that if an official mod-instituted blanket ban is not an on-the-table option, then I request the membership to take it upon themselves to not link to infowars directly.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:45 AM on June 3, 2013


i hear your request, but for my part, i hope that users keep linking to the best source of the information they're presenting and i accept that sometimes that information will come from sources i dislike. i figure it's up to me whether i click on it or not. i would always rather "this is the primary source" to "this is huffpo or mediamatters or gawker condensing that point for maximum page views."
posted by nadawi at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just to be clear, because my only exposure to Jones was his splenetic performance on Piers Morgan's show: is the balance of opinion that he is a lunatic who believes what he is saying and has found a profitable niche or, is he just another manipulative arsehole who wants to persuade others to don the tin foil hat because it is profitable but doesn't believe his own crap?
posted by MuffinMan at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2013


I disagree with any ban on links to Alex Jones. I agree that he is popularizing conspiracy theories and nutty ideas that have no basis in reality.

But, weirdly, I think there is some truth to his overall worldview despite the fact that it is built on ludicrous falsehoods.

Even if his assertions are factually wrong, he's worth listening to because his paranoia about the encroachment of a police/surveillance state places him on the right side of history.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:57 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a classic slippery slope.

There is nothing you can do in this world that is not a slippery slope. Going out for coffee will eventually lead you to seek stronger stimulants ending in a drug overdose. Giving your baby a bath will cause you to enjoy putting bodies in water making you a serial killer who drowns people. Don't even get me started on blowing bubbles.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


i think he believes his own hype, but that what he says in public doesn't necessarily match 1:1 with what he believes, if that makes sense. i think he absolutely buys into lizard people/new world order/etc and uses things that he thinks are related or not to draw more people in - i think he's probably totally fine with initial lies/mistruths/etc as long as they're exposing people to the "real truth" eventually. but even so - it's easy to wonder if he's just a snake oil salesman with all the promotional acumen he's shown from the beginning.
posted by nadawi at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if his assertions are factually wrong, he's worth listening to because his paranoia about the encroachment of a police/surveillance state places him on the right side of history.

You do know that there are dozens if not hundreds of prominent bloggers and media types that hold this position without being batshit crazy/racist/etc, right?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


You do know that there are dozens if not hundreds of prominent bloggers and media types that hold this position without being batshit crazy/racist/etc, right?

I'm not saying he should be anyone's personal hero, just that links to his stuff shouldn't be banned. Is that hard to understand?
posted by Unified Theory at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2013


to be very clear - i think he's dangerous and in a just world wouldn't have a stage, but he does have that stage and us banning the links won't take any part of it away. i do not think he's on the right side of anything even if there are tiny slivers of his overall world view i agree with in different contexts.
posted by nadawi at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Could someone link to examples of Alex Jones's racism? I don't know all that much about his work, but Googling "Alex Jones racist" is only pulling up unsupported assertions that he is a racist, no examples. I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Unified Theory at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could someone link to examples of Alex Jones's racism?

For what it's worth, Alex Jones is not accepted by racists as one of them. Some racists approve of Jones' mistrust of authority but feel he doesn't take a stand on race.

I cannot think of any overt instances of racism on the part of Jones, and I follow him pretty closely. That doesn't mean he hasn't made dubious statements about race, but his views are more in the generic conspiracy camp. Even compared to Icke, Alex Jones has a less problematic relationship with race. Icke's views are widely considered to be antisemitic.

I don't see what a blanket ban accomplishes. Alex Jones and his writers make a lot of news. I don't even agree with the Stormfront ban, but it can be worked around. The SPLC does an excellent job of summarizing newsworthy developments related to Stormfront and the other major racist sites.
posted by vincele at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The SPLC does an excellent job of summarizing newsworthy developments related to Stormfront and the other major racist sites.

It is fortunate that we have the SPLC to keep an eye on the radical right because the radical left could never be up to no good.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:31 AM on June 3, 2013


Could someone link to examples of Alex Jones's racism? I don't know all that much about his work, but Googling "Alex Jones racist" is only pulling up unsupported assertions that he is a racist, no examples. I'm genuinely curious.

From zarq's links above:

SPLC:
In August 2011, he featured on Infowars an article that called the Department of Homeland Security’s year-old “If you see something, say something” terrorism-awareness campaign a racist conspiracy to “characterize predominantly white, middle class, politically engaged Americans as domestic extremists.”

The program, which actually encourages people to consider “behavior, rather than appearance” when considering whether to report suspicious activity, entails a series of public service announcements designed to drive home that point. What piqued Jones was a 10-minute PSA in which most of the “terrorists” are white, while the citizens who report their suspicious activities are all minorities. He milked the issue for at least a month. “What do you think of [DHS’] rebranding that the terrorists aren’t Al Qaeda anymore?” he said on his Aug. 18 radio show. “It’s that veteran, it’s that gun owner, it’s that farmer … it’s that white person. Whites are the new Al Qaeda.”
IRHER:
Jones' website InfoWars.com even reprinted material from the white nationalist tabloid, the American Free Press (the paper formerly known as The Spotlight, run by anti-Semite Willis Carto) by anti-Semitic minister Rev. Ted Pike, which included "As Jewish-dominated media increasingly persuades the public and government to agree with this stereotype, it will become easier to pass Christian-restricting hate crime laws. All who adhere to the Bible on homosexuality or Jewish complicity in Christ's death could be subject to state-sponsored prosecution."

In addition to the voluminous written material on the websites, Jones' radio program has featured frequent anti-Semitic guests, including Texe Marrs, Eustace Mullins, David Icke, and Jeff Rense.

His show has also featured Jim Tucker and Christopher Bollyn of the aforementioned American Free Press, and militiaman Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America.

Jones has also repeatedly employed the racist "Reconquista" conspiracy theory developed by white supremacists in the 1970s and still popular in nativist circles, which argues that there is a secret Latino plot to reclaim portions of the United States for Mexico. Jones sites and his programs are replete with this Reconquista conspiracy.

Jones has asserted that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are driven by the goal of killing all white people, "You'd better go read their literature. You'd better go find out what they're saying. They're saying as soon as they can they're gonna kill every white person in this country." On his radio program he declared, "Mexicans want to destroy America. I'm talking about the illegal alien Mexicans, they hate this country with an absolute passion, and I'm supposed to buy into the media lie that 'they're these sweet little people love us and they wanna help us.' Pure bull!"

When writing about a Department of Homeland Security report, Jones expressed an apparent sympathy for the white nationalist movement on his InfoWars website: "Far from representing some superficial nod to political correctness, this is in fact a deliberate effort by the feds to characterize predominantly white, middle class, politically engaged Americans as domestic extremists. It's all part of the agenda to frame dissent against big government as dangerous radicalism." On his radio program, he followed up, "Did I not tell you they were gonna switch it from Al Qaeda to the Tea Party? And now you're seeing it, I told you. ... They're gonna rebrand the war on terror on the constitutionalists. I'm asking listeners out there.... What do you think of the rebranding that the terrorists aren't Al Qaeda anymore? It's that veteran, it's that gun owner, it's that farmer ... it's that white person. Whites are the new Al Qaeda."

The Jones websites also promote the racist "birther" conspiracies, claiming that president Obama is illegitimate, foreign born, and has a fraudulent birth certificate. Jones has himself dabbled in racist "birther" conspiracies, on-air denigrating president Obama as being of "questionable birth" and saying that Obama's "lineage in this country" is "about a centimeter deep."
[...]
The Jones-branded websites have also expressed racism towards other African-American leaders. For instance, an August 31, 2011 Infowars.com article entitled "Black Caucus Incites Race War Against Tea Party Americans," refers to a group of African-American legislators as "Congress critters." The article goes on to accuse the Congressional Black Caucus of "pimping racism" and that "Hustlers of color are working overtime to rile up constituents who view the government as a magical ATM. They are inciting violence when they say Tea Party racists want to hang black people from trees and then instruct them to confront members at their homes. If they can't keep their racket going, they will incite a riot."
posted by zombieflanders at 11:31 AM on June 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


jones has also said that christians will be the jews in the next holocaust. not directly racist, but does seem to be a dog whistle - same sort of rhetoric is used in the full quiver movement about why (generally white) christian armies need to be created from huge families.

his racism does often seem incidental rather than driving the ideology, which is either important or splitting hairs depending on the discussion. like - he's opposed to liberal immigration policies, affirmative action, supports the birthers, says some ignorant or hateful things about muslims, etc - for some he's under the category of "walks like a duck, talks like a duck..." but, it does seem different than the white power separatists where race is the driving force.
posted by nadawi at 11:40 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could someone link to examples of Alex Jones's racism?

Although Jones has never been overtly antisemitic, his New World Order conspiracy theory is lifted directly from the John Birch Society, and the "cabal of greedy international bankers" part is classic antisemitism. He doesn't have to say Jews when he says "bankers" in this construction; he has re-purposed an antisemitic argument, and whether he mentions Jews or not, the argument has not lost its origins.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:41 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


his racism does often seem incidental rather than driving the ideology, which is either important or splitting hairs depending on the discussion. like - he's opposed to liberal immigration policies, affirmative action, supports the birthers, says some ignorant or hateful things about muslims, etc - for some he's under the category of "walks like a duck, talks like a duck..." but, it does seem different than the white power separatists where race is the driving force.

The first comment in this thread literally says that racism is but one of the many problems with the man. I don't think anyone's characterized it as a driving force.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:42 AM on June 3, 2013


Tanizaki: " It is fortunate that we have the SPLC to keep an eye on the radical right because the radical left could never be up to no good."

A quick site search for "animal liberation front" shows they do keep track of both.
posted by zarq at 11:44 AM on June 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


I linked to Infowars. The FPP though rather thin mentions the person in question.
Not every one knows what an arse he is and this guy is the sideshow at a questionably shady event which has some some definitively (YVMV) shady though public personas attending.
If the mods don't like it they can strip the link.
I object to Alex Jones and I also object to Bilderberg.
I am now drinking tea and eating cake. Please carry on.
posted by adamvasco at 11:53 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A quick site search for "animal liberation front" shows they do keep track of both.

They've also covered Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, the Revolutionary People’s Party, the "Raise The Fist!" web site, and many others.

Could I ask, Tanizaki, that you do your own research before lobbing accusations.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 AM on June 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why start now?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


It is fortunate that we have the SPLC to keep an eye on the radical right because the radical left could never be up to no good.

They keep an eye on what many people would consider left wing groups as well. You're a lawyer. You know this or you could look it up. We have asked you in the past to please look like you are making a good faith effort to engage with people here which means making an effort to look like you are not trolling. That comment did not, in my opinion, fit that. If you have questions, you can follow up with us over the contact form; we're not going to be engaging with you about this in this thread.

If the mods don't like it they can strip the link.

That's generally not how it works. We don't edit posts, period.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:57 AM on June 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I remember that the SPLC told the National Review that they really weren't set up to cover the extreme left when asked if they were going to cover Occupy Wall Street after that shooting in DC.

The SPLC does an excellent job covering the far right, but they don't cover the far left in the same way because the far left does not pose the same kind of threat.
posted by vincele at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2013


Here is the link: SPLC on radical left
posted by vincele at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of down with an Alex Jones link-ban and kind of not. For it because I think he's a poisonous, misleading, ill-intentioned person and I think he 'news' he churns out is not worthwhile. Not for it because I have faith in other MeFites tearing his bullshit apart when someone links to him resulting, hopefully, in people gradually recognizing that he is a bad person engaged in disingenuous acts.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2013


The SPLC subtitles the "hate watch" blog which I linked, "Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right". The turn of phrase is theirs, not mine. I only knew to use the phrase because I "did the research" of looking at the blog I linked.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders - sorry if i wasn't clear - i wasn't saying anyone had said it was a driving force - i was just discussing my opinion on his racism, that it's more incidental than overt - that he uses a lot of arguments that racists use, but that he hasn't directly aligned himself with the kkk or whatever.

for me, the fact that his rhetoric supports policies that are bad for minorities and that it all has a patina of racist arguments is enough for me to consider him a racist (or too closely aligned with racists to discern). for other people they look at all that and say "well, there is a good point to this small issue and i'm not a racist so therefor support of the issue isn't racist and therefor others who support it also aren't racist, so show me the racism." it's two different conversations that happen along side each other.
posted by nadawi at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2013


I only knew to use the phrase because I "did the research" of looking at the blog I linked.

And then stopped altogether, and added in a comment that was almost entirely orthogonal to the discussion at hand.

Perhaps you can understand why people might see that as not making a good faith effort at having a conversation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Occupy is a populist group. They're not terrorists. They're not a hate group. They called for peaceful protests. The only people who were afraid of that were nutball Republicans afraid of a Marxist uprising, and perhaps those people whose lives were disrupted by the protests.

With all the complaints on FoxNews and by Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and every other right-wing pundit, with all the surveillance conducted by the FBI who investigated them as if they were terorrists, no one with any brain cells is afraid that the Occupy movement is working to bring down the government, or assassinate people or blow up people with bombs.

In fact, with regard to a handful of plots that have been foiled by the FBI recently, like this one, the Occupy movement has consistently said they don't condone, sanction or support violence, and the plots had nothing to do with them.
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Deeeeerail
posted by shakespeherian at 12:18 PM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's only a derail if you engage. Stay on your track, people, there's clear space ahead!
posted by donnagirl at 12:21 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


there's clear space ahead!

You only think that because of the cloaking devices on all the black helicopters!
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:24 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, he was responding directly to my comment, so I felt an obligation to say something.
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


No blame, just encouragement.
posted by donnagirl at 12:29 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if his assertions are factually wrong, he's worth listening to because his paranoia about the encroachment of a police/surveillance state places him on the right side of history.

Do you frequently listen to people whom you believe to be factually wrong because they are raving paranoids?

Me, I figure that a habit of being wrong is grounds enough to disregard someone's opinion, being a paranoid with rage issues just makes them easier to identify. Thin veneers of anti-authoritarianism don't put someone on "the right side of history"—whatever that even means. I can get that from anyone.

There's no reason to ban links to the Alex Jones universe, but they should be avoided. Like any crazy shouty possibly drug-addled person you might encounter on the street.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:41 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


*nod*
posted by zarq at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2013


I'm glad Zarq posted some articles. Those were worth reading. Although from the OP's follow-up comment, it seems like the conversation is moot, so I won't delve further.

In general, if you want to post a constructive MetaTalk request, I think it's helpful to lay out facts. "I think we should do something. Here's why..." This one seemed like preaching to the choir. If somebody is already convinced Alex Jones is nuts, dangerous, ill-informed, batshit, etc, or if somebody is already convinced he isn't, they might come into this thread with a strong opinion. Other people won't yet have a strong opinion. If you're not interested in laying out an argument for them, maybe reconsider whether it's worth a MeTa.
posted by cribcage at 12:59 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone expect the Southern Poverty Law Center to keep tabs on radical leftist groups? Are they some sort of public service?

It seems weird to make the assumption. SPLC doesn't keep track of NHL scores either, but people seem okay with that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:03 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The SPLC fantasy football league is probably pretty kick-ass though, even if no one picks The Washington Team.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:17 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I felt an obligation to say something.

That may not actually be the best tactical move, though I can understand the impulse.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:44 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jeez. According to Rolling Stone, this guy's audience is bigger than Limbaugh and Beck combined? I really need to yell more crazy shit at Americans, surely the cash will follow.
posted by Hoopo at 1:48 PM on June 3, 2013


jessamyn: " That may not actually be the best tactical move, though I can understand the impulse."

Definitely. I need to work harder on not engaging under certain circumstances.
posted by zarq at 1:52 PM on June 3, 2013


According to Rolling Stone, this guy's audience is bigger than Limbaugh and Beck combined?

The advantage of being insane in a non-partisan way.
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of Alex Jones. Fortune smiles upon me this time I take it? Until today that is...
posted by juiceCake at 2:03 PM on June 3, 2013


Even if his assertions are factually wrong, he's worth listening to because his paranoia about the encroachment of a police/surveillance state places him on the right side of history.

Then surely we should be able to find someone who has a fact-based paranoia about the police state that we can link to.
posted by empath at 2:03 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


We don't edit posts, period.

I've had posts edited (not by request).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Rolling Stone article also backs up what nadawi was saying upthread, that Jones' racism seems incidental to his belief in (and message about) the evil of lizard people/the New Word Order.
Jones claims he can document every aspect of the New World Order — the eugenics master plan, the inside-job terror, the FEMA camps. "It's basic criminal psychol­ogy to brag," he says. "Because the globalists talk about it, 95 percent of what I say is based on official documents and the mainstream press. I don't speculate."

But those documents and press clippings don't always say what Jones claims they say. Jones points to an old Henry Kissinger memo as proof of a New World Order plan to forcibly depopulate the Third World, but a close reading of the document reveals little more than government officials beginning to grapple with the strategic implications of runaway population growth. Nor does Operation Northwoods, a declassified 1962 government proposal for staging terror in the United States and blaming agents of Fidel Castro, serve as proof, as Jones frequently implies, that every act of terror originates with the U.S. government. The fact that Wall Street and big business exert an alarming control over the political system does not mean that every financial crash is part of a long-term scheme to bankrupt the world and leave everyone prostrate before the planned release of a cancer-causing monkey virus.

This is not to say that Jones is a conscious fabulist. By all impressions, he is shockingly sincere in everything he says. But for a man of otherwise high analytical ability, his logic and reading-comprehension skills are often victims of his Ahab-like obsession with the New World Order. Extreme extrapolation and prosecution by circumstantial evidence can be useful intellectual exercises. Almost never are they reliable guides to a complex world.

posted by zarq at 2:05 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had posts edited (not by request).

Was it for one of the reasons in the FAQ? If not, and if you had a problem with it, feel free to let us know what was up. We do not edit for content and that would include removing a link because it went to a "bad" place which was the suggestion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:06 PM on June 3, 2013


empath: " Then surely we should be able to find someone who has a fact-based paranoia about the police state that we can link to."

There's no such thing as "fact-based paranoia," though.
posted by zarq at 2:10 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was it for one of the reasons in the FAQ? If not, and if you had a problem with it, feel free to let us know what was up.

No, it wasn't for one of the reasons in the FAQ. Just indicating that this does happen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on June 3, 2013


If you want to cease being cryptic and talk about it, you know where to find us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:14 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The FAQ covers the vast majority of cases that occur, and the very constrained context in which they occur; the exceptions are oddities and very context-specific.

If there is one of those you want to talk about, please clarify and we'll be happy to talk about it, but you've made hundreds of posts with this account and we aren't going to sift through them all to try and figure out what you're talking about.

Jessamyn's comment as a statement of policy is right on the money: we don't unilaterally edit posts for content as a matter of practice, to the point where the proposal she was responding to is a total no-go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2013


From the Rolling Stone article:

Jones draws a bigger audience online than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined

This is an extremely misleading statement. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are primarily broadcasters and they are smack in the middle of the radio dial spewing at millions Americans daily. According to a quick google search there are no stations in my listening area that carry Alex Jones. He is big online precisely because he is tiny over the airwaves. He would trade his audience for a small fraction of the other guys' audiences in a heartbeat.
posted by bukvich at 3:06 PM on June 3, 2013


Devils Rancher: “I don't want to point to any specific comment or thread because I don't want to call out any particular individuals on the site...”

Probably a good idea in general, but I'll cop to it – unless I miss my guess, I imagine this callout was probably prompted by my comment here. And I have to say that I really do regret it. Not only did I mention Alex Jones, I did so in a kind of inflammatory and confrontational way. I apologized in thread, but again – sorry about that. I wish I hadn't done that.
posted by koeselitz at 3:37 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where Alex Jones is concerned, I don't think there's a mutual confusion between "this man is a terrible human being" and "linking to him/InfoWars directly should not be banned". Its his very level of audience and influence; as someone who makes news, is to our shame a part of the national dialogue, and whose words and actions have a real effect. I think it should be encouraged to link rather to secondary sources if we're talking about using the same text either way, sure.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:11 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I imagine this callout was probably prompted by my comment here.

Ha, no I missed that one entirely. Thanks for outing yourself though -- welcome to "The List," knucklehead.

It wasn't rally wasn't any single comment. More of a thing I'd been mulling for a few weeks, at least. I just think we as a community don't need to have his shit on our shoes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:26 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think links to people with distasteful political opinions should be prohibited or even discouraged. We are all adults here. We can make up our own minds about that which is presented to us.

That being said, it is courteous to add warnings to links that lead to outright offensive material. Nobody wants to explain to their boss why they were looking at stormfront or fucktube.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:28 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with this. We can all pretend MeFi is too smart for this, but I've got friends with the same general MeFite political views who've ended up going on the conspiracy path to Alex Jones, InfoWars, NaturalNews, etc.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:31 PM on June 3, 2013


I will not only feed this pony, I will fund its entry into the Grand National.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2013


I'll repeat what I wrote in the Bilderberger thread:

My joking theory - that Alex Jones is actually under the employ of the People Who Really DO Control The World in order to provide a distraction - is starting to look less and less like a joke. In fact, the Bilderbergers could be directly financing the "Fringe Festival", hiring Icke and Jones specifically to help discredit any legitimate opposition.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:38 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]



I'll repeat what I wrote in the Bilderberger thread:

My joking theory - that Alex Jones is actually under the employ of the People Who Really DO Control The World in order to provide a distraction - is starting to look less and less like a joke. In fact, the Bilderbergers could be directly financing the "Fringe Festival", hiring Icke and Jones specifically to help discredit any legitimate opposition.


Do you have ANY evidence for that?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:39 PM on June 3, 2013


Please do not turn this into an Alex Jones thread by proxy, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:40 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I get Alex Jones confused with Alan Jones. My comments apply to him, too.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:44 PM on June 3, 2013


We can all pretend MeFi is too smart for this, but I've got friends with the same general MeFite political views who've ended up going on the conspiracy path to Alex Jones, InfoWars, NaturalNews, etc.

I don't really see what your friends have to do with MeFi posting policy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:55 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


thread title: Enough with the batshit insanity of Mr. Jones

98 comments later, jessamyn(staff) comments: "Please do not turn this into an Alex Jones thread by proxy, thanks."

oneswellfoop's head explodes.
the crowd goes wild!
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:02 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


MetaTalk is for discussing site policy. The overlap of "Alex Jones" and "site policy" is fine. Just starting to talk in detail about Alex Jones absent a site policy discussion is less good and I would encourage people who want to do that to hop on chat or MeMail each other.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2013


But if Jones is secretly a guerrilla marketing campaign to discredit opposition, that makes posting about him Pepsi Blue. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 6:23 PM on June 3, 2013


What annoys me about calls to ban linking to Alex Jones, and by extension to other sites thought to be unworthy, is the rather presumptuous idea that what is a worthy item to link to can be prospectively determined.

Just as a group of friends might very well enjoy discussing Alex Jones even while finding him batshitinsane, some of us here might enjoy discussing him. And it's annoying that a few hall monitor types want to proscribe linking to his site. If you don't like Alex Jones, don't participate in the damn thread.

"But he's monetizing our eyeballs! By sending eyeballs his way we're lining his pockets!" Okay? So? A group of friends sitting around chatting about him is adding to his buzz; after the discussion, one of those friends may go off and read his site, should he not be discussed?

All you goofies wanting to enshrine No Alex Jones Links as a matter of site policy ... you baffle me. Relax your sphincters a little bit, live and let live, and stop trying to police discussions. If someone wants to link to Alex Jones, let them; you can take a page from On Liberty and fight bad speech with more speech. But you are just one among tens of thousands of equals here in our membership; don't try to enshrine your distaste as policy by asking to ban links to people you disagree with.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:36 PM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think its problematic to set site wide guidelines on specific people or organizations.

If you don't like a post, flag it and move on. Let the mods decide the final disposition of the post.

It's not like reading a post/comments is a mandatory thing, for christ's sake. It takes but a moment to decide your course of action when looking at the front page, and for the most part, if you don't like something, just ignore it.
posted by disclaimer at 6:59 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


you can take a page from On Liberty and fight bad speech with more speech.

Not really a site policy, here.
posted by empath at 7:05 PM on June 3, 2013


don't try to enshrine your distaste as policy by asking to ban links to people you disagree with.

Given that the consensus so far seems to be that links to Alex Jones shouldn't be banned, with whom are you having this argument?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Linking to something is drawing someone's attention to it because it is interesting, or entering it into evidence, not endorsing it. It is possible, and probably common, to find insane conspiracy theory stuff -- more precisely, the fact that people believe it, and why -- interesting without subscribing to it.

From the point of view of site policy (specifically, the proposal that we all agree to not link to infowars): yes, Alex Jones is totally crayons and seems to espouse some toxic ideology (for whatever reason). I don't see that some ideology espoused by some sources that are uncontroversial here is any less toxic, necessarily, and I think, if we agreed not to link to infowars, we'd have to admit that we're introducing new community norms on the basis of average comfort levels, not on the basis of objective toxicity of content.

There are all sorts of objections to what Alex Jones does, some of which might warrant agreeing not to link to infowars here. However, were we to do this, we'd either be applying some standard inconsistently, or we'd be not linking to infowars because it is Lunatic Fringey, not because of its (real) toxic content. There are plenty of racist, nativist, and otherwise "-ist"ly propaganistic ideas, couched in (perhaps) more appealing, moderate, (slightly) less overtly delusional -- and thus much more insidious and toxic -- terms in numerous undeleted MeFi comments and links to more mainstream news media (whose agenda seems to be nearly isomorphic to Alex Jones's -- the "millionaire patriot"'s -- agenda).

Moreover, infowars is in one way the Best of the Web. It is not, taken at face value, edifying, but in context, one can learn important things from it. In particular, it exposes us to the existence of a large number of people who are feeling sufficiently uncertain and disaffected and afraid and detached from existing -- and seriously struggling -- social institutions, to the extent that they're susceptible to being taken in by the seductive simplicity and surface explanatory power and empowering blame-gamery of conspiracy theories. Not to Godwin, here, but history would indicate that this is a really useful thing to know about one's culture. Moreover, for my own part, it's one of many things of which I would not have been aware, or would have been less aware, absent the intertubes. infowars is therefore something on the web that teaches us something useful (and scary) about our culture, which knowledge would have been much less widespread without the web. "Best of the Web" doesn't have to mean, to my mind, that the content is itself something that we all like. It just means "on the web and valuable". (Otherwise, like, just disable posting on days that aren't Caturday.)

Finally, arguments of the form "we've already seen too much of $FOO" are bad. You may have already seen too much of $FOO, but September has been eternal for a while. "We" are not monolithic, and whether "we" have "moved on" is impossible to determine from the single data point provided by one user's feeling that xe has "moved on".

(The above-linked IREHR profile is interesting. Why are "fusion centers" in scare-quotes?)
posted by kengraham at 7:27 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In general I think linking to authoritative primary sources is good, for pretty much the same reason that linking to op-eds is not so good. Infowars is one of those places that neither needs nor deserves link juice, so I'm ambivalent on the megaphone effect from linking to them here, in cases where it is a primary source for something worth talking about (as opposed to simply mocking.) I am having trouble imagining a scenario where that'd actually happen, but I suppose it's theoretically possible; I don't really follow the front page enough to know if it has happened, actually.

All the other possible "linked to Alex Jones" scenarios deal with situations where, quite frankly, either the person knows what a good conversation looks like (and therefore won't do a great many things, including link to Mr. Jones) or they don't. In which case they're basically going to do whatever, and also they probably don't read MetaTalk or the FAQ, which is BTW in teeeeeeeeeny tiny letters down there at the bottom right hand corner, and also it doesn't mention any other place-not-to-link-to by name, so.

Sadly, people who are inclined to believe these things are in no way deprived of opportunities to find the man by virtue of MetaFilter not linking to him. Crap like his, plus bizarre fanfiction, seems at times to make up about 45% of all internet content. I'm however privileged to have only finally come across a link to the man just this last month. It was from my "conspiracies-are-delightful" stepdad, and even he admits that Jones is 99.9% way past reasonable.

I make up for my lack of exposure to Mr. Jones with my disturbing level of familiarity with all manner of bizarre fanfiction.

posted by SMPA at 7:29 PM on June 3, 2013


Given that the consensus so far seems to be that links to Alex Jones shouldn't be banned, with whom are you having this argument?

I don't think we've been reading the same thread.

Isn't the TOPIC OF THIS THREAD whether links to Alex Jones should be banned?
posted by Unified Theory at 7:52 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unified Theory: “What annoys me about calls to ban linking to Alex Jones, and by extension to other sites thought to be unworthy, is the rather presumptuous idea that what is a worthy item to link to can be prospectively determined.”

Well, what annoys me about unicorns with dragon wings is that they won't stop eating my begonias. But why are we talking about things that don't exist?
posted by koeselitz at 7:54 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unified Theory: “Isn't the TOPIC OF THIS THREAD whether links to Alex Jones should be banned?”

No, absolutely not. It's a call for a concerted effort to remember not to link to him – not a request that links be banned. The poster mentions in passing the possibility ("Absent a site policy along the lines of stormfront, which I wouldn't mind seeing as well...") but accepts that that possibility is fleeting at best and settles with just asking that we remember not to post those links.

Similarly, when I adjure people to please not track purple paint on my clean linoleum, I am not necessarily asking that a law be passed. I'm just making a request.
posted by koeselitz at 7:56 PM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


To me reading Alex Jones falls into the same category as watching the X-Files and listening to Coast To Coast while driving country highways at night. It's good creepy fun and the fact that some people out there believe the whole thing isn't a reason to get upset that it exists. Enjoy it! That said, MetaFilter is terrible at enjoying things so best not to try.
posted by michaelh at 8:17 PM on June 3, 2013


These people have lots of guns. It's worth being a tiny fraction of their CPM to stay aware of the shenanigans.
posted by FeralHat at 8:24 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sleep at night by convincing myself that those who have a lot of guns and conspiracy theories will need rational people not unlike myself to survive whatever apocalypse they're imagining.
posted by localhuman at 8:39 PM on June 3, 2013


I sleep at night by convincing myself that those who have a lot of guns and conspiracy theories will need rational people not unlike myself to survive whatever apocalypse they're imagining.

Whereas I hope that my crazed, semi-rational rantings will be able to get them on my side using made up bullshit and a loud voice.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:50 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The phrase "totally crayons" is rather wonderful. Thank you.
posted by motty at 9:36 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whereas I hope that my crazed, semi-rational rantings will be able to get them on my side using made up bullshit and a loud voice.

Who run Bartertown?

THE BILDERBERGERS!
posted by Drinky Die at 9:43 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The phrase "totally crayons" is rather wonderful. Thank you.
You are welcome!

posted by kengraham at 10:24 PM on June 3, 2013


Alex Jones is to political argument as Time Cube is to physics theories.

Or in other words, there is never a reason to link to them in support of one's opinion.

I dislike the use of this community to send revenue-generating traffic and mindshare to his sites. I don't expect a ban and I would not squawk loudly against it. Jones has less than no value here.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:34 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was listening to The F Plus read from TimeCube today and some of it works as poetry, and it's so removed from everyday life it can't cause the political damage Alex Jones can.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:38 AM on June 4, 2013


I think, if we agreed not to link to infowars, we'd have to admit that we're introducing new community norms on the basis of average comfort levels, not on the basis of objective toxicity of content.

I think this is the part that really bothers me about this idea: I do not support a site ban or a community ban.

I don't particularly like Alex Jones; I don't get my news from him, I find my friends who do to be a bit frothy. But he is objectively no worse than many links that get posted here. What makes him bad? Apparently, to some, the fact that he's viewed as a conservative conspiracy theorist and thus he gets flagged as "dangerous and ill-intentioned", while others get flagged as harmless. But dangerous and ill-intentioned is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by corb at 4:56 AM on June 4, 2013


Apparently, to some, the fact that he's viewed as a conservative conspiracy theorist

I really don't think the fact that he's conservative is one of the top five reasons that people dislike him or think that we shouldn't link to InfoWars. MeFi has a tendency to not really be in favor of left- or right-wing conspiracy nuts. There just don't seem to be many examples of really really popular conspiracy theorists, this one happens to be conservative, and there are sound reasons why people who didn't know much about him (like koeslitz above) might not want to give the guy more traffic. The Stormfront folks may be considered "conservative" but that is not what is wrong with Stormfront.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:23 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But he is objectively no worse than many links that get posted here. What makes him bad? ... dangerous and ill-intentioned is in the eye of the beholder.

Well, hell, if you look at things this way, all kinds of nastiness should get the nod here, in addition to Alex Jones. Funny, you didn't seem to feel this way last week when you were complaining about tasteless jokes at the expense of the moneyed.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think there's a significant difference between links that go outside the site and which do not automatically appear in someone's scroll, and users have a choice to read or not, and in-line nasty commentary. Your mileage, apparently, varies.
posted by corb at 6:41 AM on June 4, 2013


Any serious conservative should be mortified both that Jones is considered (by anyone) to be one of y'all and that they have friends who take him seriously at all. He's not "conservative," he's a radical (or poses as one, who knows if he is sincerely crazy or just a bad person) and a dangerous demagogue who exploits the brainlessness and ignorance and fearfulness of his acolytes, who are often mentally unhinged.

People like Jones give all conservatives an even worse name than y'all already have for racism, intolerance, and hate. And that takes some doing given the deplorable state of the American right even in its nominally more rational and civil forms.
posted by spitbull at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Only on Metafilter am I considered in any way to be a "Serious conservative" ;)

That said, demagoguery is alive and well in just about every political movement, if we're dismissing people based on that now we're going to see a serious hit to posts all around.
posted by corb at 6:59 AM on June 4, 2013


I honestly don't think it's any perceived conservativeness of Jones that adds anything to peoples' distaste for him here. So much as it is his dangerous psychosis.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:08 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


My biggest complaint is that he's a predator -- he profits off the fear and paranoia of his fan-base, & those people that feed off of his weird demagoguery are going to become a danger to ordinary citizens if this crap keeps up. Obviously, asking for a site-wide ban was out of line, but I think I shall remain firm in my feelings that we ought to exercise restraint in linking directly to his site as individual posters & commenters, because it benefits him and harms us as a society to do so.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:43 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The guy is a loon, a kook, and a net harm to society by way of instigation.

One might as well link to Andrew Wakefield for his thoughts about vaccines; Glenn Beck for sage advice on investing; Joseph Ratzinger for advice on dealing with pedophiles; Charles Manson or Adolf fucking Hitler for his opinion on the Jewish diaspora — although notably, none of those assholes is going to make revenue from mal-directed Mefi users.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


What little of him I knew until this thread was that he's a truther and a conspiracy theorist and I'd just assumed that his politics couldn't be characterized as liberal or conservative. And I was fine with questioning linking to his conspiracy website.

Learning a bit more about him and seeing that there's an intersection with the libertarian/conservative viewpoint (which is why corb is defending him, I'm sure), my thinking about him hasn't changed that much. He's a true nutcase (or pandering to nutcases) that does a lot of damage and his left/right allegiance is of little consequence relative to the dangerous insanity he peddles.

I'm more than happy to equivalently criticize anyone similarly insane who is regarded as being ideologically aligned with the left. I'm more than happy to have this same discussion, and with the same inclinations, as we're having in this thread concerning such a hypothetical leftist nutcase.

And I'm mightily annoyed that the regular fucking suspects have spoken up yet again with hypothetical arguments accusing hypocrisy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's a nut case full of crazy inconsistencies like founding father worship (but Freemasons!). But has anyone recently reminded you about operation AJAX (Why Iran Rightfully Hates Us)? I wish he'd focus on that stuff. Let's just agree to post what we think in good faith is worth mentioning and leave the black lists to the Authoritarians.
posted by lordaych at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb: "Apparently, to some, the fact that he's viewed as a conservative conspiracy theorist and thus he gets flagged as "dangerous and ill-intentioned", while others get flagged as harmless."

Are you quite sure "guy who spouts some pretty noxious and hateful stuff is being singled out only because he's considered conservative" is the path you want to take here?
posted by zarq at 8:36 AM on June 4, 2013


corb: “Only on Metafilter am I considered in any way to be a ‘Serious conservative’ ;)”

I find that hard to believe, but anyway I guess I should say that it's nice to have a number of intelligent conservatives on Metafilter to have good conversations with, and you're one of them. So thanks for that. I know sometimes it kind of sucks.

“That said, demagoguery is alive and well in just about every political movement, if we're dismissing people based on that now we're going to see a serious hit to posts all around.”

True. Personally, the thing with Alex Jones is that he has this tendency to say things that really offend me, and from what my conservative friends say those don't seem to be partisan things. For example: his outright statements that the Boston Marathon bombings (and 9/11) were perpetrated by agents of the US government. I am not a fan of the US government, like lots of liberals, and frankly I don't think the CIA should even exist – but, even if I weren't deeply troubled by this eagerness to point fingers willy-nilly, I feel like it's really essentially important that we try to establish the truth about these things, and tossing out insane theories really makes it difficult for people in general to understand what happened. And we need to understand what happened.

I don't know – that's just why I feel the way I feel about him and other conspiracy theorists. And I'll say that there are plenty of conspiracy theorists on the left, too; I was talking the other day, for instance, about how I don't get the paranoia about GMOs. I think it's a general thing.
posted by koeselitz at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to Forbes The Alex Jones Show has 2 million listeners a week (2010 figures). Now I don't know too much about US demographics but that seems a not inconsiderable number and he is no longer limited to online followers.
It seems he is coming out from the edges and going mainstream. (At least according to Salon and Drudge).
So there it is; he is now becoming as much of the bizarre political landscape in the US as Limbaugh and Beck and the Christian nutters in that strange land called talk radio.
He should not be ignored; as Sun Tzu said ''know your enemy''.
posted by adamvasco at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2013


My biggest complaint is that he's a predator -- he profits off the fear and paranoia of his fan-base

A pretty good reason, this stuff seems funny until you actually have a gullible relative who buys into this stuff and you remember they have kids.

I'm not sure if a ban would do anything other than feed into his martyr complex anyway - although he's basically a false flag himself, so i doubt he really has one.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2013


In addition to the voluminous written material on the websites, Jones' radio program has featured frequent anti-Semitic guests, including Texe Marrs, Eustace Mullins, David Icke, and Jeff Rense.

I was listening to Alice Walker on Desert Island Discs last week, and when they asked her what single book she'd take, along with the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible, she answered 'David Icke's, Human Race, Get Off Your Knees'.

You could have knocked me down with a feather.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 PM on June 4, 2013


Learning a bit more about him and seeing that there's an intersection with the libertarian/conservative viewpoint (which is why corb is defending him, I'm sure), my thinking about him hasn't changed that much. He's a true nutcase (or pandering to nutcases) that does a lot of damage and his left/right allegiance is of little consequence relative to the dangerous insanity he peddles.

Ivan, I think that's a low blow. Yes, I do think that the reason many people find him viscerally offensive rather than just harmless crazy is because of his ideological viewpoint, but the reason I defend linking him (even though I do think he's batshit in a lot of ways) is because I believe firmly in the marketplace of ideas.

Or as Milton wrote,
Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?
posted by corb at 5:10 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, then you should have defended him on the basis of the virtue of the marketplace of ideas and not via a claim that we're only objecting to him because he's conservative.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:17 PM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The "marketplace of ideas" includes Himmler's ideas of concentration camps.

Not all ideas have value. Some have negative value.

There are ideas we do not need on MetaFilter. The ideas of Stormfront. The ideas of anti-vaxxers. And the ideas of Alex Jones.

Fuck the idea of the "marketplace of ideas". Let us have some standards.

I believe MeFi is perfectly capable of negotiating the line between ideas worth sharing, and ideas that aren't worth even mentioning. If Jones ever accidentally has an idea that bears some legitimacy, you will be able to find resources of a lot higher quality than his hysterical mania.

I wholeheartedly support the meerkatplace of ideas.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Milton's "marketplace of ideas" uses words like "truth" and "falsehood." Corb's marketplace is one where every idea is equally reasonable. Equally reasonable, that is, until corb is offended, after which said idea should be deprecated by all right-thinking people.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:16 PM on June 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Alex jones is not conservative.
posted by empath at 6:21 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you link to, espouse, or talk up anything coming from any of the contributors over at prison planet I will immediately judge you as a slightly ignorant ass who needs to check the bullshit they are allowing to run rampant in their heads.

As far as banning, I say ban the fuck out of Alex jones and anything coming from his media group. There's nothing there that remotely needs to be here except finger pointing and derision pointed at them.

Alex jones attracts mentally unstable people, fills their heads with magical paranoid thinking and then sells them water filters and bomb shelters. The whole business is shady and in my opinion, needs to be shunned at every possible step of the way.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:44 PM on June 4, 2013


I kind of think the "banning" talk is a bit over the top; banning isn't an accurate description of what's being proposed here. The thing is that even not linking to someone on the Internet is more of a symbolic act than anything else - it generally has no real effect on the availability if information. Taking my mention of Alex Jones as an example - if I'd completely removed the link and left my comment as it was, just mentioning "Alex Jones" in the context of "Epicyte," then everyone on here who can google could have still pulled up the article within the space of a few seconds anyway. None of this stuff is hidden. So if there's a Stormfront article about ponies, all I have to say is "the Stormfront article about ponies" and as long as there aren't two dozen everyone can pull up the article I mean without me linking to it.

The reason we don't do links to Stormfront here generally (I think?) is because linking to them on Metafilter tends to give them a bunch of hits, and that boost in page views and probably revenue is not something we want to give them. (I guess there are also technical reasons too, like not wanting Google searches to end up related, but those are probably related anyway.) With Alex Jones, it's probably good that it's not a mod-level thing like Stormfront links are, but even as a community-driven thing it amounts to the same gesture: I want to avoid linking to Alex Jones to keep the random clicks out if his hands, so if I need to refer to something on his site I'll do it in a way that allows interested parties to find what I'm talking about.

So really no information is lost, I don't think. It doesn't seem to me that the community is even really self-censoring in any meaningful way. It's really just a technical thing: don't click the link button, describe how to find it or just quote it instead. But there is no suggestion here that we stop talking about Alex Jones (or even Stormfront) altogether.
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hold a really low opinion of Alex Jones, that's all, and banning him from mention is my totally ridiculous opinion, I'll own that. That being said, any mention of him in my presence will be met with utter disdain, IRL and Online.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:50 AM on June 5, 2013


That being said, any mention of him in my presence will be met with utter disdain, IRL and Online.

On the subject of magical thinking.

posted by kengraham at 5:46 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we at least derisively mock fools that pitch Alex Jones conspiracies as legitimate arguments? Peer pressure can be a useful tool.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 AM on June 5, 2013


The derisive mocking thing is more or less a non-starter. There's limited tolerance for it in MeTa and almost no tolerance for it anywhere else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:54 AM on June 5, 2013


I'd like to thank Koeselitz for more intelligently and thoroughly stating my own case.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:07 AM on June 5, 2013


The derisive mocking thing is more or less a non-starter.

Passive-aggressive expressions of disgust? No? Right, then. Next time someone brings up Alex Jones, I'll just raise a sign.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:14 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to really get into the "marketplace of ideas" defense for tolerating hate speech and the instigation of violence, a community of mostly intelligent and reasonable private citizens who gather to discuss ideas on a private website agreeing by broad and nuanced and discussed and dissent-tolerant consensus to ignore hateful, predatory, deceptive, cruel wack jobs is about as close as you're going to come to the Platonic ideal.

If we lived in the society Jones describes, how come the government hasn't silenced him?

By he way, Ivan, I too appreciate intelligent libertarian and conservative views, honestly and robustly articulated, on metafilter. I have issues with intelligent but disingenuous styles of argument, where the facts that count as relevant context can be asserted and stipulated (as feelings, or Colbert's "truthiness") rather than subject to proof. Jones precisely plays these games. But so do less obviously insane or rabid and much more polite conservatives.

If the best defense you can mount is "he's not evil, he's just crazy," pardon me for thinking the marketplace of ideas metaphor doesn't really apply. Either way, there is a point beyond which no one has to pay attention to your free speech, and that doesn't mean you aren't free, just offensive.
posted by spitbull at 6:42 AM on June 5, 2013


By the way, anyone following the economic travails of Rush Limbaugh and right wing hate-talk radio? This marketplace you mention, she (gender intentional) speaks!
posted by spitbull at 6:44 AM on June 5, 2013


Yeah, she said Rush should have hundreds of millions of dollars.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:06 AM on June 5, 2013


I cannot talk rationally about Alex jones. I'm glad you all can, but it's a fools errand at best.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2013


Drinky, rush is bleeding advertisers, stations, and revenue.
posted by spitbull at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nonsense. They've sold out their last four concerts they've played here in Albuquerque.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on June 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


His show remains the highest rated radio program in the country. Hannity is second. The market of ideas has given Limbaugh a money vault that would make Scrooge McDuck beg for redistribution of wealth. If he has to go to a subscription model because advertisers don't want to work with him anymore he will still keep filling up the vault.

But yes, his audience is dying and conservative talk radio is going to eventually die out with them.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:16 PM on June 7, 2013


Yes he is still rich, I concede the point. You win. No advertisers are deserting him. Nothing has changed.
posted by spitbull at 3:20 PM on June 7, 2013


I just mentioned the advertisers?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:03 PM on June 7, 2013


Mr Jones has just appeared on a BBC TV political show, one of the casual Sunday ones they do. It is online but you may need to do some IP jiggery-pokery if you live outside the UK, to view it. If you want to use up that irreplaceable five minutes of your life, that is.

While I am for freedom of speech, I'm kind of annoyed at the BBC for doing this. They will have known perfectly well what he is like from their research, and how - predictably - downhill this political chat will go. This is pure extreme circus material, adds zero to any political debate, and just generates traffic to his websites and businesses. Worse, as exposure to US politics is pretty limited here in the UK, even through the BBC, many viewers will probably assume that this is the standard, normal, for US political commentators, perhaps US people in general.

What a waste of television air space, time and political debate, to just have a man increasingly shouting over anyone.

Pointless.
posted by Wordshore at 6:41 AM on June 9, 2013


Manufacturing Consent for a Looming Disaster
After my piece about Alex Jones and weather weapons ran at the Spectator, I was interviewed by Ian Masters at Pacifica Radio. What is it about Alex Jones, he asked, that fools so many young leftists into thinking that he speaks for them?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2013


Something is happening and you don't know what it is
Do you, Mr Jones?

oh wait, you do

its a false flag operation

carry on
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:32 PM on June 11, 2013


Alex Jones is a false flag operation.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:21 PM on June 11, 2013


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