Bill Maher schooled his audience on the idea of free speech as he came to the defense of Alex Jones amid his ban from some social media platforms.
Maher clarified that the conspiracy theorist isn’t his friend and has told “crazy lies” about him during a panel discussion Friday with former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan and political analyst Charlie Sykes.
Maher mentioned that the “Infowars” radio host was “thrown off” social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube which prompted applause form his audience, who apparently didn’t know what direction he was taking.
“If you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech,” Maher responded.
“That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means,” he explained. “We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country. If you care about the real American sh*t or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side.”
The usually left-leaning Maher concluded, “I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak.”
Jones, who has had his content dropped by Facebook, Apple and Spotify while Twitter gave a limited, seven-day suspension, has not actually lost his right to free speech, just his ability to use his speech on certain social media platforms which, however unfortunate, reserve the right to censor what they choose – even if the decisions are clearly biased against conservatives.
However, Maher was attempting to defend the idea of free speech which liberals should have been behind.
Sykes argued that social media giants were not “obligated” to give Jones a platform.
“Sure, but he doesn’t necessarily get to speak on Facebook or Twitter,” The Weekly Standard editor said, adding that “Facebook, Twitter, none of them have an obligation to provide him a platform. They’re private companies.”
Maher conceded that “private enterprise doesn’t have any obligation” to give Jones a platform but that the best way to “get rid” of objectionable content is to let the public see it and react.
The CEO’s of the tech giants are “being afraid of their own shadow,”Axios reporter Jonathan Swan argued, noting that they are stuck between conservatives who accuse them of bias while liberals clamor to shut down anything they find offensive.
The panel also mocked Twitter’s one-week suspension of Jones.
“The timeout? The Twitter thing is just ridiculous,” Sykes said. “W’re going to have Alex Jones off Twitter for a week so he thinks about what he’s done. I mean, what, he’s some sort of 9-year-old?”
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