Why YouTube’s Conflict With Infowars Should Concern Us All

A threat to one person's free speech is a threat to us all.

Alex Jones

By Michael Brown Published on March 6, 2018

I have never been a fan of Alex Jones and Infowars. I strongly reject some of the conspiracy theories Jones has put forth. But if it is true that his channel could be removed from YouTube, we should not ignore this. It doesn’t matter if we are on the left or right or in between. Especially since The Daily Caller reported that “YouTube is getting help from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center in its effort to identify extremist content.”

The SPLC? I would honestly have a hard time coming up with a major organization that I trust less than the SPLC to help YouTube. The SPLC has rightly been branded an anti-Christian hate group.

Writing for Polygon.com, Julia Alexander noted, “Whenever YouTube institutes a tougher moderation stance, a common debate emerges over censorship — especially from notable conservative voices.”

Specifically, she explained,

Questions over YouTube’s moderators and the power they hold were raised this week after notable conservative pundits, gun advocates, conspiracy channels and other right-wing voices received community strikes or were locked out of their channels. Creators who are affected by lockouts, strikes and suspensions are referring to it as the “YouTube Purge,” claiming that YouTube is purging all right-wing or pro-gun content. The move follows the company’s attempt to clamp down on dangerous content following the Parkland shooting.

To be sure, YouTube must do a careful balancing act. They must remove certain content without infringing on lawful free speech. And some content should be removed. For example, does anyone think someone should have the “right” to post a map to your house with pictures of your family? Replete with false accusations against you and a call to burn your house down? Obviously not.

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But the so-called “YouTube Purge” raises many concerns. Even if Jones has not accurately represented his own situation in every detail.

When The Left and the Right Came Together for Rev. Moon

In the 1980s, a broad coalition from the left and right came together in support of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. This was after Moon was found guilty on three counts of willfully filing false federal income tax returns and one count of conspiracy.

Among those filing briefs in defense of Moon were the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, the ACLU, and the National Bar Association. Leaders who vocally stood with Moon after he was imprisoned included conservatives like Jerry Falwell, liberals like Joseph Lowery, Harvard professor Harvey Cox, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and many others.

It was quite an unlikely coalition. It was surprising to see evangelicals and liberals rally around Rev. Moon. Both sides had ample reasons to reject him and his cult, but there were larger issues at stake. These leaders recognized that the threat to Moon was a threat to others as well.

Wikipedia notes that

A United States Senate subcommittee, chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch, conducted its own investigation into Reverend Moon’s tax case and published its findings in a report which concluded:

“We accused a newcomer to our shores of criminal and intentional wrongdoing for conduct commonly engaged in by a large percentage of our own religious leaders, namely, the holding of church funds in bank accounts in their own names. Catholic priests do it. Baptist ministers do it, and so did Sun Myung Moon.”

Sen. Hatch noted,

I do feel strongly, after my subcommittee has carefully and objectively reviewed this case from both sides, that injustice rather than justice has been served. The Moon case sends a strong signal that if one’s views are unpopular enough, this country will find a way not to tolerate, but to convict. I don’t believe that you or I or anyone else, no matter how innocent, could realistically prevail against the combined forces of our Justice Department and judicial branch in a case such as Reverend Moon’s.

The case was of such concern that Regnery, a leading conservative publisher, released a book by Carlton Sherwood entitled, Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

Hatch’s cautionary words can be repeated with regard to Infowars and others today. “If one’s views are unpopular enough, this country will find a way not to tolerate” — or even “to convict.”

The Right is Being Censored

Prager U is currently in a legal battle with YouTube. Their web page announcing the lawsuit begins with a quote from former California Governor Pete Wilson:

This is speech discrimination plain and simple, censorship based entirely on unspecified ideological objection to the message or on the perceived identity and political viewpoint of the speaker.

Many others have voiced complaint with YouTube’s uneven, censorious policies. On a weekly (or daily) basis, my organization has to request reviews of videos on the AskDrBrown YouTube page after they are flagged as “Not Suitable for Most Advertisers.”

I’m not sure if we have trolls complaining about our videos or if it’s just part of YouTube’s very flawed system. But something is obviously wrong when YouTube flags and demonetizes videos like “What Made Billy Graham Special,” “A Common-Sense Discussion About Guns and Gun Control,” and “Overcoming Hatred with Love; and How Christians Can Regain Credibility in America.”

It was surprising to see evangelicals and liberals rally around Rev. Moon in the 1908s. Both sides had ample reasons to reject him and his cult, but there were larger issues at stake. These leaders recognized that the threat to Moon was a threat to others as well.

But YouTube allows vile, hate-filled, incendiary videos from the left to proliferate. Some would even argue that they promote such leftist videos. Meanwhile they while demote (or demonetize, block or remove) videos which express a conservative point of view.

Indeed, Jim Hoft on Gateway Pundit is now reporting that “Google-YouTube is shutting down prominent conservative and right-leaning channels” and that “Google-YouTube is also blocking conservative channels — Like the Official Gateway Pundit channel — from posting.”

Not only so, Hoft claims that “Google is also altering search results to portray far left websites and organizations as conservative. Today [March 4] if [you] search Google for a list of pro-life organizations you get this … Google lists Planned Parenthood as the top Pro-Life website.”

Will You Speak Out?

As ridiculous as this sounds, this is no joke. It is similar to what recently happened to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and others who warn against radical Islamic jihad.

And so, whether you’re an Infowars fan or you find their work distasteful, their potential removal from YouTube should concern you. Otherwise, soon enough, we’ll have our own version of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, which will now sound something like this:

First they came for Infowars, and I did not speak out — because I found them offensive.

Then they came for Geller and Spencer, and I did not speak out­ — because I found them obnoxious.

Then they came for Prager U, and I did not speak out — because I found them opinionated.

Then they came for a host of others, and I did not speak out — because I have my own life to live.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

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  • Paul

    “First they came for Infowars, and I did not speak out — because I found them offensive.”

    First? Where were you 5 months ago when youtube banned gun modification videos? newsweek(DOT)com/bump-stock-modification-videos-banned-youtube-680609

    Didn’t hear a peep from you about this, why? As I’ve told you on more than one occasion, if you paid attention to the firearms community you would see your online censorship threats (be it ad blocking or content bans) far in advance of when you do now.

    So now that you know about this content ban, will you speak out in support of gun modification videos? Or do you find them offensive and expendable?

  • m-nj

    Inaccurate:
    “To be sure, YouTube must do a careful balancing act. They must remove certain content without infringing on lawful free speech.”

    The First Amendment ONLY applies to governmental infringement on protect free speech rights.

    YouTube is under NO obligation to allow anything to be posted. They are a private entity. They can “censor” anything they don’t want posted on their platform. Furthermore, most/all the posters are using the platform for free, which even removes any contractual obligations for YouTube not to censor.

    That being said, I think YouTube and other platforms are making bad business decisions, and exposing their lib/prog bias (and those of their supposed “partners”) in policing content.

    Let the free market decide this issue… just like it has in the MSM, with CNN and the network news outlets falling in viewership, while FOX and other conservative online sources rising up.

    • Paul

      Yes, it begs the question why conservative Christians allow a liberal company to have ultimate control over their content delivery. In many cases I think it is greed, seeking the ad revenue if they can garner enough viewers. Michael Brown showed his cards on this when his first protest here about youtube was about losing his income.

  • Tim Pan

    wwwwwww

  • Tim Pan

    Alex Jones is a crack pot. Nevertheless he has the right to free speech

    • Paul

      No one has a right to free speech on privately owned youtube.

      • Tim Pan

        He is being discriminated against. They do not like his video content, well I do not like 80% of the content they allow. I think we need to rethink a monopoly like you tube,face book etc. The internet has become a utility and therefore should be treated like public sector . Which means no discrimination.

        • Paul

          Yes, many content creators are discriminated against by youtube, google, etc. But that is no different than saying Macy’s discriminates against every brand they decline to sell on their shelves. The classic discrimination argument against private companies is regarding which customers they allow in the door and sell to rather than which products for sale they put on the shelf.

          • Tim Pan

            I hear you. But I believe we have to tag this monopolies with utility status to protect all speech. Other wise conservative thought will be censored

          • Paul

            Protecting ALL speech on youtube would result in filling it with porn. Is there some place you draw a line and if so why?

          • Tim Pan

            Remember the Hays codes ? We need to revisit the general idea.

          • Paul

            How does that work on a global level? The internet reaches beyond national borders.

            Also those codes were essentially censorship, that isn’t going to be a solution to limit censorship.

          • Tim Pan

            Paul this is as big as the universe. The chinese are creating a web with in a web that they control. We will have to do the same thing.

          • Paul

            Personally I find that example of govt control frightful and nothing to aspire for. Consider the latest from those commies thehackernews(DOT)com/2018/02/icloud-data-china.html?m=1

          • Tim Pan

            I am an old man. I have seen many things and what I see coming I do not wish to see.

          • Paul

            Yea, I hear you.

          • m-nj

            Then take your “business” somewhere else. See the example of the MSM dying and alternative news outlets flourishing all because of market forces (e.g., viewership).

            If the government somehow compels YT to host content they don’t agree with (e.g., conservative, christian), then the gov’t can/will compel conservative platforms to host content they don’t agree with (e.g., Planned Parenthood, pro-LGBTwhatever, etc.).

            The First Amendment only applies to governmental infringement on protect free speech, not to private entities.

          • Tim Pan

            The left is going to employ the same censoring system that China has in place to regulate all thought and imagery on the web. So you figure how you are going to stop them.

          • m-nj

            Excellent illustration with Macy’s “discrimination” against brands they don’t like/desire to sell.

          • Patmos

            “But that is no different than saying Macy’s discriminates against every brand they decline to sell on their shelves.”

            Actually it’s entirely different. Macy’s doesn’t discriminate based on ideology, at least as far as I know.

          • Paul

            Well here are two ideological moves related to their product selections

            fortune(DOT)com/2016/11/10/macys-ceo-says-dumping-donald-trumps-line-was-still-the-right-move/

            macys(DOT)com/ce/pride/wedding

      • GLT

        But privately owned bakeries must serve gay weddings, right?

      • Jim Walker

        Can you answer the question posted by GLT ?

        • Paul

          Regarding bakeries? That seemed to me more a comment than a question but I don’t think any bakeries, florists, photographers, venue owners etc should be forced to service a homosexual or any other event that conflicts with their religious beliefs. SCOTUS is yet to weigh in on the matter.

    • So, one of VERY FEW outlets to correctly peg the 2016 Presidential Election, from the moment Trump threw his hat in, is a crackpot outlet? I don’t think so.

      • Tim Pan

        I visit the site often. For the most part the stories are complete crap

        • Why, because nobody on the establishment left posts in agreement with them? You need to inspect your koolaid, dude.

          • Tim Pan

            Unlike you my EYES are wide open.

          • Apparently not, since you’re sucking down all the leftist koolaid you possibly can.

          • Tim Pan

            A blind man has no ability to judge another soul.

          • Sounds kind of odd, coming from someone who refuses to see.

  • YouTube is a private company and has every right to vet the content on their platform as they see fit. If conspiracy theorists want Alex Jones to have a platform to spread his ideas, they can launch ConspiracyTube. That’s what the free market is all about.

    If evangelical Christians want another platform host, they can go to GodTube.

    • Paul

      Godtube is privately owned as well with their own Terms that they too can change.

    • Patmos

      Wow, so you’re saying you once read an article on The Huffington Post. I guess you’re “woke” now.

      • Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re referring to. Perhaps you were attempting an inchoate insult? Be that as it may, my point stands: GodTube is not obliged to host the American Atheists video channel. And YouTube is not obliged to host Alex Jones.

        • Sven

          You sound like the kind of boy who dreaded phys ed.

          Left-wing males have deep deep masculinity issues.

          • You committed the ad hominem informal fallacy. (Judging by your comment, however, you probably don’t care.)

          • GLT

            I would be willing to bet he knows and that he doesn’t care.

          • I’m not so sure. Vikings tend not to excel in identifying informal logical fallacies.

          • Paul

            Why are you making this racist now?

          • michael

            Not true. sounds like something who has those issues. I loved playing baseball and dodge ball.

        • Patmos

          “Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re referring to.”

          Yeah, you’re pretty oblivious, that’s well established. No need to tell us.

          • Are you a Christian? If so, why do you insult people behind the veil of anonymity?

        • GLT

          But Christian bakers have to bake cakes for gay weddings, right?

  • Patmos

    Alex Jones is a genius, he fully understands one of the most important aspects of existence: The control of information and it’s relationship to power. It’s a great shame people so easily write him off, letting themselves be ruled over by hierarchies that have plagued humanity for thousands of years. To those slaves I ask, why is it that you think there are people out there who want him shut down? Quit being such a useless coward.

  • Reason0verhate

    Between Google and Youtube and Facebook and Amazon, things are in place for a full-scale marginalizaton of Christians, and with government being able to do anything about it.

  • And this is why Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak run The No Agenda Show (which has similar topics of discussion) as a podcast hosted on their own servers and rely only on listener support, rather than use a third-party platform and advertising. The only businesses that should be forced to serve people who want to be their customers should be cake artists 😉

    • Paul

      Yes, I don’t contribute content to FB et al, and certainly wouldn’t build a business reliant on their Terms.

  • Stephen D

    If a Christian baker can be forced to bake for gay wedding, then YouTube can be forced to accommodate content it disagrees with. More so in the case of YouTube because it is more like a monopoly, more like a public utility, than a little company that bakes a few cakes.
    There should be some kind of legislation that codifies the rights of the public to have access to essential information services like YouTube, Facebook and Google once they become like monopolies.
    Similarly there should be some legal process to govern censorship by the owners of these services. This is not a partisan issue as such, but a matter of public interest, in defence of free speech.

  • Jim Walker

    Dear Techy Conservatives,
    Please start to create alternative platforms. Here are the names.
    I will download all when its available.
    Cwitter
    CaseBook
    Coogle
    CouTube
    And Yes, we will not do what the Romans do.

  • Paul

    Michael, here is some more youtube censorship for you to protest, if you care.

    money.cnn(DOT)com/2018/03/22/technology/youtube-gun-videos/index.html

  • Paul

    Michael, here is some more youtube censorship for you to protest, if you care.

    money(DOT)cnn(DOT)com/2018/03/22/technology/youtube-gun-videos/index.html

    support(DOT)google(DOT)com/youtube/answer/7667605

    “Specifically, we don’t allow content that: … Provides instructions on manufacturing….. ammunition…. Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories..”

    Per this Youtube policy, they now ban ammo reloading videos and videos demonstrating installing ammo in a firearm. Do you care? Maybe you will surprise me but I won’t hold my breath.

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