"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson, US Founding Father.
Alex Jones is trending on twitter thanks to his confrontation with Piers Morgan on the issue of gun control, which Morgan has a history of calling for in very un-English, rude and insulting terms. Piers' timid demeanor is in this interview either an act or the genuine fear of a bully being confronted. He fails to control the interview and makes few substantial responses to Jones's points. In the media of the old world, where Morgan learned his trade, that would have been ok but in the era of the internet there is an additional dynamic to proceedings. People have clearly gone online and googled 'the crazy American'. Long term this means the ideas they advocate will sink or swim based on their validity, not the apparent sanity of their two supporters.
At the bottom of this blog entry I have posted three pieces, the two halves of the complete interview with Jones vs Morgan and a repost of my interview from a few years back with Jones, widely seen as a classic in alternative circles (forums etc) and initially broadcast, in an edited form, on Kerrang Radio.
A bit of background to these pieces is useful along with a few key points you can look into for yourself. Do not misunderstand this entry, or my interview with Jones. I am not advocating his point of view, much of it I'm fairly ambivalent on, but I do believe an informed debate about the actual issues is always more interesting than the narrow point of view provided by just the Morgan piece alone.
Firstly Alex Jones is religious. This is a very important aspect of the subculture he represents. Conspiracy theorists are often driven by the belief that there is 'something more' to people than just the input-response model of a human animal wihch modern rationalism presents us with. At first I didn't really understand how crucial this aspect of the belief system was but over time it has started to make sense. It's one of the reasons people like him have fundemental faith in people: because God made them. It's also why they reject apparently rational ideas such as ID cards, CCTV cameras, the database state and so on.
Secondly the gun debate, just like the UK's recent free speech debate, is about faith. In a nutshell the dynamic is this:
The US trusts its people to own guns and be responsible, the UK's does not.
Furthermore I think it was Jones who once explained it to me in the following terms; "having a gun is a sign that the Government trusts the people to behave as citizens rather than slaves. A nobleman carried a sword. A peasant was not allowed one. The peasants might revolt, a nobleman will only do so if his cause is just. In short, an armed populace provides a final defence against tyranny."
Now, that's a slightly more complex framing of the issue than I'd previously been provided with. Prior to that little logical bombshell I'd bought into the prevailing UK orthodoxy that Americans love guns simply because they're thickos.
Once you gather that, for Jones this issue is one of trust, you can start to understand parody videos of the "demand a plan" YouTube campaign featuring celebritites who all plead for President Obama to alter the US's gun laws. In the parody video which recently featured on Disinfo.com called "Demand Celebrities Go F*ck Themselves" the spotlight is turned upon why these celebrities are seen as being trustworthy, often because they've been promoted with gun violence. Further to that advocates of gun ownership often ask why Governments should be trusted with guns? Particualrly given the fact that Government armies tend to kill far more people than civilians ever do.
In fact, the initial idea of gun laws in the US was to cut out the need for a standing army and give the population the right to defend themselves from British tyranny. This is the context for Jones's 1776 tirade. This again cuts right to the heart of the issue as the idea was that citizens of the US were all in favour of the constitution and the freedoms it awarded them, so much so they'd defend it to the death. They opposed hereditary monarchy and that's why the needed guns.
It's incredibly easy to mock Jones from the perspective of a subject of Her Majesty living in the UK but if you listen to the key points he raises there's a chance you might feel less smug:
He mentions free speech laws in the UK. You do not have a right to speak freely in UK broadcast media. That's a fact of life in our country, not so in theirs. One of our politicians, and now media 'professional' herself, Jackie Smith, actually banned a US talkshow host from setting foot in this country because she was so upset by how rude he was with his words! Michael Savage was put on a list of other undesirables, the majority of which were there for violent crimes. His only crime was speaking freely.
He mentions the right to defend your property. It's widely known that people in the UK have faced jail time for daring to fight back against an intruder.
He mentions Pier Morgan's body guards. The highest levels of society have the protection of men with guns. They have these armed guards because they in practice agree with the NRA's assesment that the only solution to the problem presented by a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun. So would you if you lived in Cumbria in Whitehaven, UK. They wanted an armed response. So would I if some idiot was marauding the streets with a shooter.
In a nutshell Alex Jones has chosen to trust people and not Governments. Some say he doesn't have that right, I respect his decision and in a sense we agree to disagree. It's nice though that we live in a society where people like him can exist, I'd worry if they didn't.
A final note of caution, Alex Jones was the first person I heard talking about the now acknowledged Bilderberg group. In other words, he's been relelvant to me as a journalist. On the other hand Piers Morgan has deliberately duped me, and the rest of the UK, with a fake story about our military urinating on Iraqis. I took that story as legitimate and opinionated on it, on the air, during my time on Hallam FM. Jones is often accused of exaggeration but there's no record of him simply inventing a story to fit his agenda, as Piers did here in the UK during war-time! Morgan's background is one of celebrity, Jones's is one of conspiracy. I'm not sure who I agree with but I know who I prefer.
Here is my original interview:
Here are the two parts of the Piers Morgan interview:
 It's obvious which bits we had to cut due to UK law. The Diana stuff needed a cut, other bits as well. We were always on thin ice on Kerrang.