It is Dangerous to Ban Individuals on the Basis of “Hate Speech”
Photo: Jenta Wong/Dreamstime
On Monday, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and other platforms announced that they are removing content from Alex Jones, the voice behind the podcast and company ‘Infowars’.
Apple stated that it “does not tolerate hate speech” and that they have clear “guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure [Apple] provides a safe environment for all of our users”. Facebook states that Jones was “glorifying violence”, and “using dehumanizing language”.
Jones is notorious for being a conspiracy theorist and often spreads ideas many deem to be vile. He believes the government is using “chemical bombs” in various water sources to “turn frogs gay”. He also believes the Sandy Hook school shooting was a massive hoax, and that the grieving parents were actors. Of course, these assertions, alongside a laundry list of others, are complete hogwash.
Alex Jones is by no means a moral or good person. He is a radical far right commentator whose views are not representative of conservatives or what they stand for.
The problem is the reasoning and logic the various companies used in order to kick him off of their platforms. There is no such thing as “hate speech”. It is a made up term that has no legal footing. Hate speech is simply what any individual deems offensive to them. Companies like Apple are being deeply dishonest when they state they have “guidelines” for “hate speech”.
The idea of “hate speech” is one big grey area, as anyone who feels offended can claim the other party is using “hate speech”, even if what they are muttering is not indicative of the “clear and present danger” and “imminent lawless action” limits to free speech.
Once we enter an age where speech is shut down on the basis of one’s individual feelings, totalitarianism has room to enter, as the state or body that holds the most amount of power dictates what kind of speech is acceptable. People will be afraid to speak, as they will inevitably be condemned, shut down, and attacked simply on the basis of a rule that has no definitive boundaries.
Many radical left college students already say conservative viewpoints are “hate speech”, therefore they riot and prevent anyone on the right from speaking. Once society mainstreams the idea of hate speech, there will be no limit for who or what we ban, as feelings now rule what is right and wrong.
It would be acceptable for these companies to ban Jones if rules were in place that ban “conspiratorial speech” — but doing that would make these companies into news platforms which manage what they personally want on their websites. Companies like Facebook and YouTube advertise as open platforms for anyone to say or post what they desire, as long as it does not endanger others. They are already known for shutting down and shadow banning conservatives. Adding “hate speech” to the list means they can start openly banning people whom the company disagrees with politically.
Sure, Jones’s speech is not desirable, but tech elites setting a standard and precedent of shutting down individuals because they don’t personally like what they have to say is much, much worse.
Keyden Smith-Herold is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Analytical, (dailyanalytical.com) a brand new publication.