Infowars Banned

Facebook, YouTube, and Apple have decided to remove content from Alex Jones and Infowars. Here is the report from CNN.

YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its Alex Jones.

Each social media platform said Monday that it had removed content from Jones or InfoWars because it had violated their policies. The companies’ moves shut down key distribution channels that had given the controversial media figure easy access to millions of internet users.

The most dramatic action came last, from YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL). It removed many top channels associated with InfoWars, including The Alex Jones Channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers and videos that were viewed over 1.5 billion times.

“When users violate … policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,” said a spokesperson for YouTube.


But in a message posted Monday on Twitter, Jones encouraged users to access live streams directly from the InfoWars website. He described it as “the one platform that they CAN’T ban.”

Earlier on Monday, Facebook removed four pages associated with InfoWars and Jones for repeated violations of its policies.

The social media platform said in a statement that it had “unpublished” the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.


BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday that Apple (AAPL) had removed five podcasts associated with InfoWars from iTunes and its podcast app.

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” it said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Apple confirmed the accuracy of its statement to CNN.

This is not a First Amendment issue and technically it is not censorship at all. Apple, Facebook and YouTube have every right to decide who can and cannot use their services and if they decide that Alex Jones is not someone their want using their platforms, they do not have to host him. Having said all that, however, I really wish they had not made this decision.

To begin with, there is already a growing perception that the tech industry is heavily biased towards the political left. Many conservatives are starting to fear that such social media giants as Facebook and YouTube are beginning to use their near-monopolies to systematically marginalize and deplatform conservative voices. For Facebook, YouTube, and Apple to almost simultaneously shut down a right-wing crackpot conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones does nothing to allay such fears, particularly when there are any number of left-wing crackpot conspiracy theorists spewing just as much hatred that the tech industry apparently has no problem with hosting on their platforms. It doesn’t seem as if there is really any objective standard that has been applied. Perhaps no standard can be applied. The whole problem with banning hate speech is that there isn’t really any kind of speech that can be objectively defined as hate speech, beyond speech one happens to dislike. One person’s hate speech is another person’s speaking truth to power.

This leads to another reason I really wish they hadn’t done this. For three separate companies to decide on the same day that Alex Jones is unacceptable looks like collusion. I have no idea whether executives from Facebook, Apple and Google were working together on this, but there is no way this doesn’t look like some sort of conspiracy to shut Alex Jones up for speaking out. If it was their desire to silence Alex Jones, they have miscalculated badly. They have managed to validate all of his paranoid rantings in the minds of his audience and have made him a free speech martyr. A quick visit to Infowars shows that Alex Jones is making the most of this perception of persecution, referring to his radio show and website as banned. I wouldn’t be surprised if the traffic to Infowars hasn’t tripled in the last twenty-four hours.

The truth is that this kind of censorship, okay, not really censorship but you know what I mean, doesn’t work all that well, unless you have a totalitarian government enforcing it by not allowing any dissent at all. The sort of half-way “its technically banned but somehow still available” kind of censorship only makes the censored material more attractive because it is forbidden and the people seeking it out feel brave and rebellious. There was is a reason Banned in Boston used to be considered an endorsement by makers of risqué films and why the Streisand effect is a thing.

Although this attempt by leading tech giants to silence Alex Jones is not technically censorship because they are not government agencies, in a way it really is a kind of censorship. If the owners of the printing presses, broadcast stations or internet social media platforms collude to exclude certain political or social viewpoints, then they are practicing censorship. This is a more insidious kind of censorship than throwing a dissenter in prison where he can become a sort of martyr but of simply quietly denying the dissenter any means of disseminating his views. He may have freedom of speech, in theory, but without the means to make his speech heard, he does not have freedom of speech in practice.

This seems to be the goal of the left. They cannot pass laws against speech they dislike, at least not yet, because the First Amendment forbids it. They can mobilize private institutions, such as businesses, to censor dislike speech. They will not succeed with this rather crude attempt to silence Alex Jones. They are likely to succeed in creating a climate of intolerance throughout our society. Their goal is to fundamentally transform this country into the sort of place where you are always looking around to make sure you are not overheard, to keep your mouth shut except to say accepted platitudes, to be on the lookout for the Thought Police. We ought not to let them get away with it, even if it means standing up for the rights of people we would rather not be associated with, like Alex Jones. After all, as the saying goes, first they came for Alex Jones and Infowars…

iPhone from Work

For most of the time that I have worked as a merchandiser for Pepsi, they have relied on the honesty of us merchandisers to report on the hours we have worked and that we have actually been in the stores we are supposed to have worked in. Obviously, this system lends itself to abuse, although I do not think we have had much of a problem in the Seymour area. Still, Pepsi has wanted to implement a more reliable system for some years now, the general idea being some sort of method in which we punch or scan ourselves in, at the various stores, etc. It wasn’t until last month that they finally got around to using such a system. They put up barcodes in each of the stores the merchandisers work in and we scan the codes when we enter or exit the store. The software they decided to use works on an Apple iPhone, and so they gave each of us an iPhone, with an unlimited data plan in order for the software to function correctly. Although these iPhones belong to Pepsi, we have been encouraged to treat them as our own, the only limit being that the plan they adopted only allows 300 minutes for phone calls, so we have been warned against making too many phone calls, and to text message whenever convenient. I suppose this generosity is to encourage us to actually use the phones to scan in and out, etc.


Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I would have to say that the iPhone is a really cool cell phone. It’s actually more like an electronic Swiss army knife than anything else I can think of. By that, I mean, that with the various applications, or app, you can actually use the iPhone for just about anything that involves information. There must be many thousands, perhaps millions, of app, a good many of them free. Among the apps that I have downloaded are an Amazon Kindle app that allows me to read all of the materials I have bought from Amazon, Olive Tree’s Bible Reader, WebMD, the Drudge Report app, WordPress (I can blog from the iPhone), some educational apps, and some fun apps.There are several apps that come with the iPhone, including YouTube,

I think that Pepsi has made a major mistake here. I now have the equivalent of a library and a home entertainment center in my pocket. I am not sure that such distractions are likely to improve my efficiency at work.

RIP Steve Jobs

Thanks, Steve.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple died yesterday. There was no cause of death specified, but he had been battling pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is probably the worst form of cancer to have as it spreads quickly and generally displays no symptoms until it has metastasized. Jobs was only 56 and I would consider that a great tragedy if he had not accomplished more in those 56 years than most of us would if we had lived two lifetimes. Now he has gone on to his eternal reward.

Speaking of which, it seems that the Westburo Baptist Church is planning to picket Steve Jobs’s funeral. I am not sure why.

It may seem like all of America is sad to hear the news of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ death at age 56, but Westboro Baptist Church can find a reason to hate anyone, and Jobs is no exception.

Margie Phelps, daughter of rogue church’s pastor Fred Phelps, tweeted their plans to picket Job’s funeral FROM HER IPHONE.

She wrote that Jobs went in hell. He served himself and not God, and he taught people to sin, Phelps said.

Phelps defended her use of Jobs’ technology, saying “Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell. God created iPhone for that purpose!

Baptists usually have a congregationalist organization, meaning that each congregation is independent and not subject to any hierarchy or authority. They do organize in voluntary associations, such as the Southern Baptists, etc but many, including the Westburo Baptist Church, are completely independent. This is unfortunate because this means that no one has the authority to tell the Reverend Phelps and his church to shut up and leave people alone.

Of course, I don’t have any such authority either, but I wouldn’t consider them Christians because some of the doctrines they teach are unbiblical. God does not hate anyone. He hates our sins, but that is because He loves us and does not wish us to be harmed by our sins.

 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  11 Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  15 If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. 17 By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he loved us first.
20 If anyone says “I love God” and yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar, because the one who does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And the commandment we have from him is this: that the one who loves God should love his fellow Christian too. (1 John 4:7-20).

If they are not acting in a spirit of love, than they are not doing the will of God.

Last Typewriter Factory in the World Closes

From the Daily Mail, I read that  the last typewriter factory has closed. Godrej and Boyce still had one factory left in Mumbai (Bombay) India but even in India the typewriter has become obsolete. It’s the end of an era.

I think that is must have been at least fifteen years since I have used a typewriter. It was just after I graduated from Indiana University and I needed to make up a resume. I think it was a Brother electric typewriter. I used it in college. They had computers, even way back then, but this was before Windows, so I was yet proficient at using them. I could never write a first draft on a typewriter, though. The clicking of the keys distracted me and I made too many typos. I had to write out papers in long hand and then type them out, hoping I didn’t make too many mistakes, when I was ready to turn them in. This was not a very good system since my hand got cramped after writing a few paragraphs.

It was a relief when I finally did begin to use a computer to write. I learned to use one of the Apples on the campus, remember this was before Windows. It was so easy. The words just appeared as I thought them, and I could correct my typos.

Progress is good, but I do miss the old ways sometimes.

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