‘He’s Not My Friend, But…’: Bill Maher Defends Alex Jones Amid Social Media Ban

HBO talk-show host Bill Maher is coming to the defense of controversial radio host Alex Jones after Jones was banned from several social media outlets. The outlets accused Jones, who often introduces or comments on conspiracy theories and “deep state” affairs within the government, was denied access to the social media platforms due to alleged hate speech and inciting violence.

As Maher is a left-wing political commentator, the defense comes with some surprise.

But, people who have followed Maher for several years know he often defends a person’s right to express themselves, no matter how foolish the content.

Per the Hill:

Maher, noting that Jones has “told crazy lies” about him, said on his HBO show Friday that “if you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.”

“That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country,” he continued.

“If you care about the real American s**t or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak,” Maher said.

As Mediaite reports, Maher’s panel was split on the issue of social media censorship. Some argued bans were ok for material which perpetuates violence and unrest while others said the line between allowing speech and censorship was tough to pin down:

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan accused tech giant CEOs of “being afraid of their own shadow” since conservatives on Capitol Hill hammer them on political bias while liberals hammer them over shutting down things that are offensive.

Former Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), who was supportive of banning Alex Jones, said that it’s the responsibility of these sites to crack down on harassment.

Sykes also mocked Twitter’s so-called punishment for the InfoWars host.

“The Twitter thing is so ridiculous,” Sykes said. “I mean what? Like he’s some sort of a nine-year-old?”

Here’s Maher:

President Trump took to social media to criticize platforms for alleged discrimination against conservatives. While not mentioning Jones specifically, Trump said all people should have an opportunity to speak or report and viewers can sort it out.

“Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen,” he added.

Trump said he has never called for the censorship of news outlets like CNN and MSNBC (which he calls fake news). He, instead, said he watches the networks with “a grain of salt” or not at all.

“They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others. Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all.”

“Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made.”

Here’s even more on Jones, also per the Hill:

Republicans in recent months have more frequently made the claim that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are biased against them, and GOP lawmakers have held multiple congressional hearings on the subject.

Both platforms were recently scrutinized over the decision to suspend Alex Jones, a controversial right-wing host, over “hate speech.”

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey defended the decision to The Hill this week, saying that Jones was posting content that broke the platform’s terms of service and needed a “pause” to reconsider his behavior.

Dorsey went on to say Jones’ incitement of violence led to the ban.

The social media CEO said he received several calls to have Jones banned from the platform, but decided to go with the suspension instead, Daily Mail reports:

‘We can’t build a service that is subjective just to the whims of what we personally believe,’ Dorsey told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an exclusive interview.

‘I feel any suspension, whether it be a permanent or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and their behaviors,’ Dorsey said.

When asked by Holt if he believes Jones will change his behavior, Dorsey said he did not know.

‘Whether it works within this case to change some of those behaviors and change some of those actions, I don’t know,’ Dorsey said.

‘But this is consistent with how we enforce.’

The ban was imposed after InfoWars creator Jones tweeted a link to an online video calling for supporters to get their ‘battle rifles’ ready against media and others.

Here’s Dorsey:

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