I know a very intelligent person who told me that when he was assigned to read the Diary of Anne Frank in school he did. But next, he read Mein Kamph. Why? He wanted to see if he could figure out the mind of the person who could command a country to do that kind of thing. He is not a neo-Nazi. He is a student of history. How did he read Hitler’s musings? It was available at the library. So was the library antisemitic for housing such a book? No. It was doing the very thing that Nazis and other totalitarian mentalities are against. Allowing for free thought and the free transfer of information. Whether you agree with it or not.
Streaming is becoming mainstream. With an audience of millions, Amazon Prime is a major player in this field. Its library of content recently came under fire from Rachel Krause in a Mashable story about Amazon Prime’s documentary category. I’m sure that RACHEL KRAUS means well. But concern over Amazon’s video selection including movies from Alex Jones came off a bit overblown. At the center of Krous’s concern is that Amazon has films by provocateur Alex Jones listed as documentaries. Jones is known for instance for sharing the idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed “gun grabbers.”
Kraus said For “the question of whether a platform should even make these films available is up for debate.”
And here is an answer. No. Amazon’s right to distribute films by Alex Jones or as Kraus referred to him, “noted crazy-person David Icke” is protected. It’s time for people on both sides of all of the debates roaring through the country to realize that it’s time we all back up and take a breath. Should Amazon be able to put something on their video service that many people think is an outright lie? Yes they should. This goes for films promoting the views of Alex Jones, Graham Hancock, or Zecharia Sitchin and any other supposed expert who wants to make a deal with Amazon.
The ideas expressed in some of the films on Amazon might be very offensive to some people. But this is what happens is a free society. There are books at your library that might offend people too.
When I was in college I learned from lots of people besides my professors. I learned from religious leaders of multiple faith groups, I learned things about the world from classmates from places I will never visit and even random old ladies at McDonald’s. One thing I learned about from such an encounter was the idea of the secretive Bohemian Grove in California. She believed fervently that the most important people in the world meet in this secret place to plan upcoming elections, business trends and the shape of the world in general. I mention this because she approached me years before any streaming services existed and “warned me to look out for the followers of Moloch by finding owl statues and so on.
What did I learn from the encounter at McDonald’s? I learned the conspiracy theory of the Illuminati. I’d gone my whole life never hearing about it. I can’t say I’m better off for hearing about it at that time but I did make me do some research out of curiosity as to where the concept even comes from. Similar ideas have been expressed in a number of films like The Da Vinci Code. I was not harmed by my exposure to the idea. I don’t think that people will be harmed by seeing strange films about “the reptilian agenda” or the idea that the earth is flat, or that the earth is actually hollow and houses a whole other far more advanced society in it. Yeah, there is stuff like that out there. I’ve seen lots and lots of it. It’s what I do to cool down sometimes after a busy day. Do I think it is true? No. Other times I watch Nova. a Ken Burns film or Southpark. It just depends on the night and the mood. When it comes to alternative history and political conspiracy entries I think it is interesting to watch and pick out fallacies in arguments. And often you can learn about something worth researching further. Why are there statues that look like Africans in South America? Did Vikings land in the new world and Asia before the age of exploration? What happened to cause ancient to be engulfed by the sea? What are the markings that filmmakers say are planets on ancient wall carvings really showing?
Could some people watch a movie that espouses an idea not properly backed up by facts and think that it is true? Yes. But that has been and always will be the case. And the discussion that Amazon
should pull video content because of the people behind them and ideas expressed takes away the chance to learn from them later. Want to end a debate about Nostradamus real quick? Find a Nostradamus “documentary” from the late 1970s or early 80s that says he not only predicted Hitler but lays out exactly how Ted Kennedy will be elected president. Or about how WW3 will happen in 1999. Watch the Mayan 2012 prophesy docs on youtube or Amazon. Watching crazy theory docs is a way to learn to spot crazy ideas in the future. Maybe you can site them when your kids come home concerned that we are about to be hit by Neberu.
Those kinds of stories have been told around campfires for years and will always be a part of any society. But when we begin to talk about preventing the free examination of ideas that we don’t agree with we go in a direction that could have dire consequences that the do-gooders of the world never intended or expected. What we do need is more education as to how to view sources of information and digital literacy. People need to learn more about following up on the claims of others independently and educate themselves and those around them. Heck it might be a great chance to put down your phone and look someone in the eye again.