Unethical Quote Of The Month: Apple, Or “Stop Making Me Defend Alex Jones!”

“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. 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.”

—-A spokesperson for Apple last week, following confirmation that it had removed five out of six podcasts by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones,  including “The Alex Jones Show” and some of his InfoWars audio streams. 

This is a terrifying statement…almost as terrifying as the fact that so many Americans won’t understand why it’s terrifying. Unless one does not understand the First Amendment and why its principles are the beating heart of American democracy, or unless you are an increasingly typical 21st Century progressive, who feels that the Left should have the power to decide what kind of speech is tolerable, Apple is telling us that it is going to use its immense power and influence over the distribution of ideas to suit its preferences regarding what people should see, hear, and think.

The routine default defense of this kind of calculated ideological bias by the big tech and internet companies is that they are not government entities and thus not bound by the Bill of Rights, which is absolutely true. It is also true, however, that they currently have the power to substantially impede access to the public marketplace of ideas by those their owners, leaders and employees disagree with, and lack the ethical orientation, integrity, trustworthiness and intellect to fairly and responsibly exercise this power. The statement proves this emphatically:

  • “Hate speech” is self-defining, meaning that it is anything a censor says it is. It is just speech, that’s all, but speech that someone doesn’t like sufficiently to call “hate speech” and then embrace the false assertion that such speech has less status than any other speech.
  • Speech does not make anyone “unsafe.” No one needs to be made “safe” from speech. If someone doesn’t like what Alex Jones is saying, they have the remedy at their fingertips: stop listening. If someone knows what a disgusting liar he is, then don’t access his podcasts. Is this really so hard that Apple has to protect its users?
  • “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions” is pure hypocrisy. Apple isn’t respectful of differing opinions; if it were, then it wouldn’t censor Alex Jones. Being respectful of differing opinions means being respectful of really stupid and offensive opinions, or at least the right to have and express them.

Facebook and Spotify have also banned Jones.  If they will do it to him, using Apple’s dishonest and unethical criteria, they might do it to you. As the news media becomes increasingly bold it its determination to manipulate public opinion rather than provide the unfiltered information needed for the public to understand the world around them, the big tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google can be counted upon to be bolder still—after all, they don’t even have the pretense of a professional ethics code to defy, and censorship of expression is just one more tool for them to achieve power and profit.

Last week, for example, it was revealed that Google, which at least had the integrity to ditch its cynical “Don’t Be Evil” motto a few months ago, is working on a search engine for China, code named “Dragonfly,” that will allow the government to censor searches. There’s a lot of money in China, after all. Besides, the censorship will keep Chinese Google users “safe” from all sorts of speech that the government doesn’t “tolerate.”

22 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Facebook, Government & Politics, Rights, Social Media, The Internet, U.S. Society

22 responses to “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Apple, Or “Stop Making Me Defend Alex Jones!”

  1. Other Bill

    “Being respectful of differing opinions means being respectful of really stupid and offensive opinions, or at least the right to have and express them.”

    I’m not sure we have to go that far these days. Being respectful of differing opinions means being respectful of even mildly differing opinions, which in the current atmosphere of TRUMP!!! is hardly in evidence, as near as I can tell.

  2. Fubar

    Re: Google, Google employees stopped Google from taking on Pentagon AI work. Have any Google employees complained about Google working on Dragonfly?

  3. 77Zoomie

    At some point, we are going to see legislation regulating these providers as if they are utilities. Specifically, some type of equal access or fair content law, something akin to the FCC fairness doctrine, is going to rear its head in response to this type of aggressive and one-sided restriction by social media entities. That won’t be a good thing.

  4. Glenn Logan

    So, Alex Jones’ nonsense is “hate,” but “White men are bullshit” and #CancelWhitePeople is sarcasm.

    I do not think that word means what they think it means.

  5. Greg

    It’s not just that Apple, Facebook, YouTube (i.e., Google) and Spotify all banned Alex Jones. It’s that they all did it on the same day. They are a monolith, openly acting in concert.

  6. WAHJR

    I occasionally watch Alex Jones for pretty much the same reason I watched PTL back in the 80’s – pure comedic entertainment. I have never looked at Mr. Jones as a source of reliable or credible information. I think most intelligent people get the guy’s schtick and realize it for what it is. Frankly, Apple, Facebook, and Spotify’s decisions are an insult to the American people’s intelligence and are quite condescending. I think most people are capable of choosing the content they want to watch and interpreting how they wish. I don’t need some tool or hand puppet of the left to make these decisions for me. Though they may not technically be bound by the First Amendment at this time, I am pretty sure if it is a good enough guide for government, it is a good enough guide for the free market. Whether these companies realize it or not, they are just begging the government to get involved and step in. Then they’ll be sorry.

    • Junkmailfolder

      Who knows–this could easily be some 3-d chess going on, where companies like Facebook and Google are purposefully starting themselves down the path where the government will eventually have to start regulating them and treating them like utilities.

      When you’re an established presence in a market and after you reach a certain size/age as a company, your ability to respond to (generally) young, lean, small disruptors in your market is significantly reduced. Generally you respond by buying them.

      However, absent that, your best course of action is to get the government involved to increase regulations and therefore the cost of entry into the market. It might eat at your profitability, but it’s significantly better than letting your leaner, smarter competition dismantle you over time. Facebook’s best bet for long-term viability is to get the government to regulate it and its competitors.

    • WAHJR wrote: I think most intelligent people get the guy’s schtick and realize it for what it is.

      You have made a statement that is also a complex problem. What does ‘intelligence’ mean? Who defines it? When you say ‘intelligence’ you actually mean capacity to interpret, don’t you? And you also are stating that you can interpret correctly. But with that statement you are positing that others, perhaps many others? — the non-intelligent — do not think and see like you.

      Obviously, for the MSM and the governing and managing elites — the important intellects whose opinions have determined the direction the country has taken for many decades — they have determined that Alex Jones and what he represents is enough of a threat to attempt to ban him. But this even requires interpretation as well. Because some say that this is not just the choice of some tech executives, but a concerned effort on the part of a general establishment which includes tech execs, government officials, intelligence agencies and operatives.

      You have just revealed to me that you are especially intelligent and that you have the capacity to see clearly what is going on and to reveal it to others. That is, essentially, what you are saying. But my fair and upfront question to you is Can I really rely on you? Should I trust you? Can you explain to me why? Can you convince me?

      The point here is larger — far larger — than you seem to be aware. I do not mean in any sense to imply that I doubt *you* (WAHJR) but my point is that there is a large directing class of persons who assumes they *see clearly* and can *interpret* events and that they should be relied on. But it is this class when looked at critically that have gotten us into this mess. A generation (or two) who through their ‘intelligence’ have really messed things up. And now we live in the consequences of these choices.

      The banning of Alex Jones has infinitely more ramification than whether what he rails about and reveals is on the mark or off it. He represents a confrontation of the MSM and the structure of power that they serve. Indeed, ‘they’ were created by those ‘structures of power’. They are tightly interwoven with them. Alex Jones has set in motion ‘independent media’ but even more than that: independent seeing, independent interpretation.

      The MSM, it must be noted (because it is true) has more often than not served *power* and has contributed to the spreading of misinformation far more serious, and far more harmful, than anything that Alex Jones has ever put out. But who can *see* the MSM? Who has the will and the fortitude to *see* how these structured interests serve power? Who will even talk in terms of *power*?

      So again, you tell me that you are an intelligent person. And you tell me that you can see and you can interpret *the present* truthfully. But can you really?

      Power must determine opinion in our present to the degree that power represents ownership interest. Ownership interest has many reasons to be fearful and apprehensive about the *flow of information* that it cannot control. Therefor, it must assert itself and, as in this case, eliminate the information flow that weakens its own ‘grip’ as it were.

      Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice on the Alex Jones banning:

      [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odLn3J_jtao ]

    • I’ve never watched Alex Jones, but back when I was delivering newspapers, I would sometimes listen to Coast to Coast AM — a national radio show that was on in the early morning hours. They would have Jones on as a guest on occasion.

      I found him entertaining. Looney tunes, but still entertaining. However, there are obviously a lot of people out there who totally agree with him.

      Of course, there are a lot of people out there who totally agree with Harry Reid, just to pick a name out of the air…..

    • Here is an interesting video presentation touching on what are described as the coming efforts to control what people say and what they communicate.

      [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4RkiiW-gtc ]

      Again, when average people look at their world, when they try to determine what is what, they can only use the tools at their disposal because, by nature, the activities of those who control them (society’s manager class) do what they do clandestinely. There is a ‘cloud of uncertainty’ which leads, in the worst case, to paranoid fantasy.

      Yet the paranoid fantasy, though an exaggeration in which the imagination participates, is not in all cases, perhaps in many cases, fundamentally off-the-mark.

      The *paranoid fantasy* is used as a tool to excite people to some response. It bolsters them. Similarly, the State propaganda outfits also use *paranoid fantasy*, as for example when they invented a story about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But it is those people, those interests, and those policies that are fundamentally deceptive, morally evil, and unreally destructive to lives, communities, regions and states.

      Seeing the world fairly and accurately — how difficult this is!

  7. Ian McElroy

    HOW IS IT ?? …..Tell me, how is it that Apple (iPhone) was so extraordinarily concerned about “Privacy Rights” that it would CHALLENGE the Federal Government back when the FBI wanted Apple to “unlock” the cell phone of the two terrorists (Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik) who shot and killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 other attendees at a company conference in the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino attack at the Inland Regional Center …yet Apple today (and others) are so quickly willing to “kill the switch” on the Alex Jones show …a white male public figure who [likely] has never killed or severely injured any American (white, black, Muslim, Jew, Democrat, Republican, CEO Billionaire), whose only “crime” is his disgusting, foul speech, which happens to be protected by the same First Amendment that allows disgusting, foul speech of all American whites, blacks, Muslims, Jews, Democrats, Republicans and CEO Billionaires?

    • Phlinn

      Simple. A reputation for allowing the government to read phones at will would have a severe impact on their revenue. Hardly anyone cares about Alex Jones, at least in their minds.

      Alternately, it could just be that they have friends and family that care about privacy, but don’t know a single person in their bubble that listens to Alex Jones, so who cares?

      • Maybe not in their bubble. However, Coast to coast AM is a nationally syndicated radio show that broadcasts in the early morning (Eastern) hours, live seven days a week. It is one of the biggest radio shows in the country and they really like Alex Jones.

        Maybe Coast to Coast listeners are not in their bubble, but they are out there in huge numbers. If someone comes up with feasible alternatives to these services and can get programs such as Coast to Coast and some of the other nationwide programs to endorse and push them……who knows what might happen. Once upon a time, Google was a small up-and-coming company. They could be replaced.

        • Coast to Coast is… batshit crazy. On long drives (those happen more often in Texas) where this was the only radio program available (also happens in Texas) before satellite radio was popular and we had phones with music, I would listen. Just to stay awake, mind you. (okay, I was reading it for the articles…)

          I learned that aliens were visiting major metro areas, and erasing everyone’s memories. I learned that we can access past lives (they had guests who had done so! One was Napoleon, no joke) and that the cure for cancer (all types) was being withheld for the rich elites.

          It was entertaining, I’ll give it that. In the times since, I have dropped in as opportunity arose, and they are the same brand of nutz as they were back then.

          Just saying, their listeners might not make a difference. The tin foil gets in the way of the cell phone.

  8. PennAgain

    And (which salutes all previous commenters and thanks them for providing arguments I wouldn’t have thought of) this kind of censorship reminds me of why smart parents never tell their children what NOT to think – never mind what she said; here! have a cookie – because they know what she said went straight to the forever-neon-lit section of their own limbic systems and will probably sit there flashing til the day they die.

    So, Mister Jones, how many new listeners did you pick up today and, out of those who, like WHJR, find his over-the-top rhetoric amusing or sociologically stimulating or just-checking-out-the competition, plus how many of his inevitably new followers … if only to go against the programming of the progressives or the censorship itself … will find themselves agreeing with him? The only thing worse would be if he gets fired.

    This is spitting into an ill wind for sure.

  9. I remember reading a story about the first American Indian man to see a steam locomotive. That person had no means available to him to organize the perception. It produced a sort of perceptual crisis and, though I am uncertain of the mechanisms, the imagination had to step in and provide help in turning the perception into something somewhat coherent.

    What about the Indians who first saw Cortez on his horse? They could only *see* a strange two-headed being and were, naturally, terrified. The fantastic and the impossible had appeared before them. To organize the perception though, the imagination had to go to work on it.

    It should not be hard to see, and understand, that the world is composed of people who have very different ‘lenses’ through which they view *the world*. Everyone knows this. But they do not seem to take into account that any perceptual system, and their own perceptual system (our own system), is an interpretation-system. We do not merely *see* the world and things, we interpret them and organize them into a coherent system. And then, it seems, we instruct others — our children — in how to see what we see, and how to make the same interpretations.

    From a review of The Culture of Conspiracy by Michael Barkun:

    [Ray Pratt writes]: This brings us to Michael Barkun’s study, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. A professional political scientist with a professional interest in religiously-based movements, Barkun draws upon theoretical perspectives in religious studies to inform this study in ways unique in the published works on conspiracy. He is concerned with far more extreme varieties of conspiratorial thinking and paranoia, mostly religiously based, than those many liberals and leftists (such as Michael Moore) might attribute to the mainstream version of conservatism now ascendent in the U.S. and the Republican Party, though some might see connections.

    Barkun focuses on millennial Christianity–whose adherents seem to be growing in recent decades–a fundamentalist tendency in Protestantism speculating about end-times, when history allegedly will reach a climax and termination, when the anti-Christ, a diabolical figure, would fasten his grip on the world. Precisely why such fundamentalist and conspiratorial beliefs have taken hold in this era is a fascinating question, and Barkun’s work contributes to the academic efforts to understand such phenomena. A Culture of Conspiracy, despite intelligent efforts to frame the topic conceptually and theoretically, still leaves me seeking answers to some bigger questions about why the phenomenon of conspiracy culture persists and even seems to be growing. These will be considered later in this review.

    […]

    One implication of Barkun’s research is that what was once considered the lunatic fringe is moving nearer to the political-cultural center and possibly affecting certain receptive individuals, who in turn can affect the larger society. Non-threatening, “wacky” beliefs, he argues, might eventuate in behavior that can only be described as profoundly dangerous. A number (though he does not provide precise measures) of quite bizarre, fantastic, apparently delusional, beliefs have emerged and have become increasingly popular among individuals and movements.

    […]

    The threat posed by the “improvisational millennial” impulse, as Barkun characterizes it, is that “a growing number of people believe that a superconspiracy, commonly referred to as the New World Order, is on the verge of consolidating world domination, possibly in collaboration with malevolent [extra-terrestrial] aliens” . Belief in superconspiracies is an example of what he calls “stigmatized knowledge.” Stigmatized knowledge is true to those who believe it despite its marginalization “by the institutions that conventionally distinguish between knowledge and error–universities, communities of scientific researchers, and the like” . Here, apparently following Foucault and others, he presents an intelligently conceived typology of several types of knowledge and knowledge claims, from the widely validated through the more controversial: Forgotten Knowledge; Superseded Knowledge; Ignored Knowledge; Rejected Knowledge; and so on.

    Despite the fact that Alex Jones is, more or less, at the very center of a tornado of conspiricist perception, and that there is clearly and obviously a danger in believing what might be merely a projected hallucination, the larger issue is more interesting, and it is that we now live in a *world* in which it is imperative to *control perception* and that there are mechanisms that are available for that process of control to be effected.

    For those who have a *rulership position*, which is to say for those who are *cultural and industrial managers*, it is necessary in this business to devise means through which people’s perceptions can be controlled and molded. There is no *simple means* to view reality, except perhaps if one forces a perceptual system onto people through control of the cultural educational mechanisms.

    But this is, in fact, what has been going on for quite some time. We live within those systems and we are the products of them. If we were inclined (and as Sue Dunin likes to suggest, if we are rational and honest) we can easily locate a dozen examples of such social engineering through the propagandistic manipulation of perception in our own culture’s history.

    What I find interesting about the ban of Alex Jones is not that it would become *necessary* to eliminate the flow of conspiracy productions, but rather that the entities that are eliminating his products are themselves very very interested in providing similar products, and that they are deeply affiliated and intertwined with immense systems of communication through which specific *visions of reality* are communicated to the masses. In this sense ‘the kettle is calling the pot black’.

    I believe that I made a sincere effort to look into the events of Oklahoma City and also 9/11, and that my investigation was rational and, to the degree possible, scientific. And I *saw* that both these events, rather definitely, are not what they appear. And that looking at them, and into them, there is more going on which is deliberately concealed. But ‘deliberately concealed’ needs to be better defined. That is, there is ‘deliberate concealment’ at the higher levels (this becomes apparent), but at the lower levels people simply do not have the tools to unravel (decode if you will) the perceptions that are organized for them and presented to them for *consumption* as it were.

    And then, like the Indians who first saw the Train or the Horse, they have no choice but to dis-believe the one telling the story while they simultaneously weave together a line-of-perception that offers them a more ‘believable’ and understandable image.

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