This week we have three examples of the dangers of the abuse of free speech: Alex Jones of Infowars, English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, and former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Let’s start with Alex who is currently in a Texas court defending the indefensible. On December 14, 2012, mentally disturbed 20-year-old Adam Lanza broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and shot dead 20 six and seven-year-olds and six of the school’s staff.
This is a fact. The police verified it. Inquests have been held. The bodies have been seen, grieved over and buried.
Wrong, according to Alex Jones. The children never died. The grieving parents are actors hired by the anti-gun lobby to deny Americans their gun-toting Second Amendment rights.
It seems incredible, but a proportion of Jones’s audience actually believe him. Enough that grieving parents have been forced to move house because of harassment and even death threats from Infowars viewers. Those parents are now suing Jones for defamation and slander.
Sandy Hook is not the only wild conspiracy theory peddled by Jones. According to him: The UN is about to flood America with 600 million immigrants, Michelle Obama is a man, Hillary Clinton is a demon-possessed extra-terrestrial, Robert Mueller is at the centre of a child sex ring, 9/11 was staged by the federal government, The US government controls the weather and uses it as a weapon against alt-right political opponents, Supreme Court Justice Antonin, Scala was murdered and many more.
It is easy to dismiss Jones as an irrelevant crackpot conspiracy theorist. The problem is that he is a crackpot conspiracy theorist followed by six million people who has been publicly endorsed by the president of the United States.
Alex Jones must know that he is lying. Why does he do it? The answer is simple: To make money. The more outrageous the lies the more people who watch his show which he uses to sell dubious pseudo-medical products which, according to Celebrity Net Worth, have helped him accumulate assets in excess of $10 million and a drawerful of Rolex watches.
Jones justifies his false and vitriolic broadcasts with America’s First Amendment. I am certain that the founding fathers did not intend their groundbreaking free speech law to be used for the propagation of lies.
Britain also has free speech laws, although the international alt-right is claiming that the treatment of Tommy Robinson demonstrates that the UK is pressure from the political correction lobby is forcing the country to jettison that traditional English liberty. But let’s be clear. Tommy Robinson was not locked up for racist comments or hate speech. He was sent to prison for contempt of court. His Facebook reports of a gang rape and sexual grooming involving Pakistani men were threatening a mistrial and breached laws protecting the identity of minors.
Furthermore, he has not been found innocent of contempt. He has been released on bail pending a retrial because the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said that his sentence was “rushed and flawed”. He did not rule Robinson not guilty.
The case of Boris Johnson is different. His is not so much a case of what he said as who said it. It is an open secret that the Brexiteering former British foreign secretary wants to be prime minister and is busily plotting to achieve that goal as soon as possible.
Last week Denmark followed France, Belgium, and Austria in banning the Burqa—the head to toe shapeless black cloth worn by some Muslim women. Johnson actually defended the right of Muslim women to wear it, but then went on to insult them by saying they looked like bank robbers and letterboxes.
I think he is right. But he is wrong to have said it. Elected officials are elected to serve the entire community—not just those who voted for them. Boris Johnson’s comments—under the guise of free speech—have exposed him as divisive and thus unfit for high office.
Tom Arm is editor of LookAheadnews.com