YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its founder Alex Jones. CNN Opinion asked a group of contributors to weigh in on the implications for both free and commercial speech and what it means in the political moment. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors. View more opinion articles on CNN.
LZ Granderson: I don’t like what Alex Jones says, but I like that I can call him an idiot
One of the most fascinating groups of people to me are those who declare themselves to be unequivocally pro-life and yet support the death penalty. I’ve often wondered what kind of intellectual gymnastics one has to perform in order to house these seemingly dueling beliefs in one mind. I feel the same about racist gay people and Constitutionalists who dislike protestors.
And then there are the liberals celebrating the censorship of Alex Jones, a disgusting conspiracy theorist who, the last time I checked, has the same inalienable rights as those who oppose his brand of hate speech. in
As you can probably tell, I do not like the content Alex Jones produces. I believe he is a racist who has found a way to monetize the fear some white Americans have about the country’s evolving demographic. I am also uncomfortable with his reported influence on the White House.
But that doesn’t mean I view systematically scrubbing him from the internet, as Apple, Facebook, and YouTube have tried to do, as a victory. Why? Because I enjoy hip-hop, Elvis Presley, and “The Catcher in the Rye” – and at some point in our country’s history, all three were in the sights of people who didn’t approve of its content (or in Elvis’ case, hips).
Restricting offensive or harmful language for the greater good is all fine and dandy until you become beholden to a definition of “greater good” you don’t agree with. Or when you oppose a politician’s view of “offensive.”
Today the mob is for you, but tomorrow you could be Larry Flynt, who endured decades of court cases and was shot because people thought the content in Hustler Magazine was not worthy of First Amendment protection. Times are obviously different today – paging Kim Kardashian – but the tendency to cherry pick the Constitution remains. Again, I don’t like what Alex Jones has to say. But I do like the fact I can call him an idiot. That’s America, baby.
LZ Granderson is a journalist and political analyst. He is a co-host of ESPN’s SportsNation and ESPN LA 710’s Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @lzgranderson.