July 17, 2015

The world on July 17, 2015:

  • Coming Soon

What Alex covered on July 15th:

This episode is so insane, that I cannot cover it in bullet points. It is perhaps the weirdest thing that I have ever experienced watching months and months of The Alex Jones Show, and even now as I type this out, I find it mystifying. July 17th...The Day Alex Jones Intentionally Jumped The Shark

I know exactly what Alex was trying to do in this episode. It's pretty clear that what he wants to do is cast himself as Jonathan Swift as he makes his very own Modest Proposal, but Alex does not realize that he is not making a logical point at all. He thinks he's making a shocking statement that's backed up by logic, but in reality, he's just exposing his own poor grasp on reality and his extreme hatred of Muslims.

In his essay, Swift used the suggestion of the poor selling their babies to be eaten by the rich as a way to highlight and mock how horribly the rich treated the poor already. It is an exaggeration made by heightening an already existing problem.

Conversely, Alex Jones' "modest shark jump" is him calling for the deportation of every Muslim, the banning of all mosques, and all Muslim symbols, ostensibly using the logic that "some people want to ban the Confederate flag, so why not ban all Muslim things?"

Here, he falls into a number of logical traps. I will list them out for you:

  1. In order for this to be satire (he claims that he is not being satirical, he is just using logic, but I disagree), he would need to be satirically advocating a position that he does not already tacitly support. He has many times in the past expressed deeply held feelings of distrust toward the Muslim community, and has often conflated radical terrorists with the general Muslim population. This is not an instance of him making a headline-grabbing statement to point out a social problem, it's him reaching the logical conclusion of his beliefs. He wants to outlaw Islam, and is using this weak argument as a shield to give him cover to express that.
  2. If he wants to use this "Shark Jump" to start a conversation, it's a flawed premise. He acts like people want to ban the Confederate flag, therefore it makes sense for him to call for other iconography to be banned. But, the reality is that people were calling for Confederate flags to be taken down from government buildings, so the only real outcome that can come from this conversation is the conclusion that Islamic flags should also not be flown at government buildings, which I think most people already agree on.
  3. Even if people were calling for the banning of the Confederate flag, which they were not, it still doesn't logically track for that to be analogous to banning Islamic iconography. In order for them to be equivalent, Alex would need to first make the argument that the Confederate flag was a religious symbol, and the Confederacy a religion, thereby making them logically relatable. I grant, flying a Confederate flag on your property is protected as free speech, but the argument of "they want to ban A, so I suggest we ban B too" doesn't work under these conditions. Also, people weren't trying to ban the Confederate flag.
  4. But, Alex is not just calling for the banning of Islamic iconography. In his thought experiment, he is proposing essentially outlawing a religion, which he sees as being analogous to banning a Confederate flag. Just taken in terms of scale, this is pretty unfair as far as comparisons go.
  5. He tries to use logic to make his argument, but he clearly has no experience in using actual logic. If you don't look at what he's saying, and you're already a bigot, his words may make sense to you. The problem is, the argument he's making is substantially more complicated than he thinks it is, as I attempt to lay out below:
  • Premise A: Terrorism being carried out by Muslims hurts people ("A Muslim has hurt someone")
  • Premise B: The Charleston shooting carried out by a white person hurt people ("A white person has hurt someone")
  • Premise C: All white people are blamed for the actions of one white person in the Charleston Shooting ("If one white person has hurt someone, all white people are to blame")
  • Premise D: If all white people are blamed for the Charleston Shooting, then all Muslims should be blamed for things that any individual Muslim does. 
  • Premise E: If a group is blamed for the actions of an individual member of their group, that group has hurt people.
  • Premise F: If a group has hurt people, then their symbols should be blamed and banned.
  • Conclusion: All mosques should be closed, all Muslim symbols should be banned, and all Muslims should be deported.

This argument just doesn't work, for any number of reasons. First, the conclusion in no way follows from the premises. If all he wanted to do was ban Muslim symbols, then at least the conclusion makes sense from that standpoint, but he in no way introduces the idea of deportations and closing of mosques into the premises.

More importantly, the premises also just aren't true. In order to have a sound argument, you need to have true premises that logically lead to a true conclusion, which is a bar Alex has failed to reach.

All white people weren't blamed for Charleston, what happened was that many took it as an opportunity to examine the devastating effect the history of white supremacy has had in this country, and how that mentality has not disappeared at all. It was an opportunity to reflect on how differently people of different races experience day to day life, and wrestle with the fact that, as white people, we possess a lot of advantages that we have not earned, and those advantages have roots in our country's white supremacist history. This is not the same as blaming all white people for the actions of Dylann Roof, so Premise C is out. It's also what's known as a composition fallacy.

Premise D is stupid, since it's just really extending the composition fallacy.

Just for fun, I'd like to point out that using his argument, it would follow that since listeners of his program have hurt people in the past, the InfoWars logo should be banned, and he (along with all his listeners) should be deported. You see, when you use a composition fallacy, you open up the door for it to be used against you. It's a filthy business, this logic.

I choose not to even engage with Premise F, and how reductive and offensive it is that Alex would imply that the Confederate flag is somehow important iconography for all white people.

It's all a mess, and yes, I did break down that argument just to prove to myself that studying logic in college wasn't a complete waste.

All that said, what makes the "Shark Jump" a complete embarrassment is that, as he prepares to reveal his bizarre, logically flawed proposal, he paves the way with a bunch of stories that he thinks are building up his argument, but in reality, he's just lying about all of them.

Now, let us walk through this "Shark Jump" piece by piece, taking a break to debunk his stories as they come up.

While Alex has a bit of a fair point that terror threats are used to peel back our civil liberties, that is the last thing I can agree with him about here. In the first leg of this trip, Alex builds up how important what he's about to say is, then insists that he's not using satire, which again I insist he is, just poorly.

He ends by claiming that "brown bags are being banned in Seattle" because they hurt some people's feelings. This is not true. Here is the story he is basing that on.

The term "brown bag" does have a racially loaded past, in that in the past, people's skin was compared to brown bags to see if they were light enough to be admitted into bars, social events, etc. The story that Alex is referring to is an in-office memo that someone wrote suggesting that people be conscious of this, and asking that people use comparable words that mean the same thing when discussing lunch meetings (sack lunch, for example), that wouldn't possibly make a coworker have to remember that term's history. It was not even a ban on the words, it was just a suggestion that people be considerate.

In this next chunk, Alex lies about another story about someone suggesting that people be considerate.

He claims that "nationwide" children are being banned from using the words boy and girl, and that, in order to make sure no trans students feel hurt, everyone must be called "purple penguins." This is an incredibly misleading version of the truth, which can be found here.

Because Alex uses the term "purple penguins," it is very easy to track this back to the original story. It is not something that is "happening nationwide," and once again, no one is banning anything. What is actually happening is that a group called Gender Spectrum offered guidance to a school district in Nebraska about ways to make sure that all students are made to feel included in their classrooms.

The guidance included suggestions that mainly had to do with not gendering things that did not really need to include genders. For instance, if you are having children line up, don't separate them as boys and girls, but instead have them split up based on whether they like dogs or cats, or prefer reading or drawing. It is not a way of erasing gender, just a way of trying to not use gender as a dividing binary when it doesn't need to be.

The advice goes on to suggest that when a teacher is trying to get a group of children's attention, saying "listen boys and girls" is just injecting gender binaries where they don't need to be as well, and could make children outside the gender binary feel excluded. It is just as effective to give your classroom a team name, such as "purple penguins" (the throwaway example they used), and use that to get the kids' attention.

Again, this is not an instance of outlawing or banning language, it's just an advocacy group suggesting ways to slightly tweak ways things are expressed to make sure that all children are cared for and made to feel welcome. No one is erasing or banning gender. Just because Alex Jones thinks empathy is a Globalist plot, that does not mean it is.

In this clip, Alex makes his actual argument, that if people want to ban the Confederate flag, then Islam should be banned. This, even as an intentional exaggeration, is absurd. We went over that already, so no need to dwell on it further here.

He punctuates his argument by claiming that police are showing up to flea markets to arrest people who are selling "rebel flags." This is a complete lie. Here is the story that he is basing this on. I know this is the story Alex is talking about because it happened two days before this episode.

A Connecticut man went to a flea market and saw a vendor selling Nazi and Confederate items, and was offended, so he called the police. The police showed up, and did nothing because no law was being broken. The vendor was not punished in any way.

The thing that Alex leaves out of the story, conveniently, is that the man who called the police did so because of the Nazi stuff, not the Confederate flag. You see, this man's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor who had numbers tattooed on her from the camps. His response of being overwhelmed is completely understandable. Perhaps he went a little far in calling the police because of it, but that's irrelevant, because the cops didn't oppress or arrest the vendor. They affirmed his right to sell whatever he wants.

Every piece of evidence Alex sites in order to prop up his rhetorical comparison is a complete misinterpretation of the truth. He is building up a case of lies about "politically correct oppression" that he then uses to justify his argument that, essentially, Islam should be banned.

This is unbelievably idiotic, only made worse by the fact that he clearly planned out this speech pre-show and really thought he was on to something. In the end, it is all just an embarrassing exercise in a man trying to justify his own bigotry, using pretend intellectual language and hiding behind false equivalences. Matters are only made worse that he decided to do so with this as his backdrop:

A shark was jumped today Alex, just not the one you think.