Alex Jones Is Not Austin
In 2003, Richard Florida sang the praises of Central Texas in his new book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” His observations proved to be incredibly accurate, as the city’s thriving music and arts scene spawned numerous other innovative businesses and launched the growth spurt which transitioned Austin from a sleepy college town to a booming metropolis.
So how can a city that prizes creativity and fosters so much ahead-of-the-curve thinking also launch someone so objectionable as Alex Jones, the man behind the Infowars anti-media empire? Although he recently apologized for his role in the completely fictional PizzaGate conspiracy theory, this is the central figure behind the still-current concept that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a government fabrication.
According to his lawyers, Jones isn’t the outlier of Keep-Austin-Weird culture — instead he is the embodiment of everything we celebrate. In divorce court this week, his attorneys have positioned that the person who screams such hate-filled rants on TV, on radio and on the Internet is nothing more than a fictional persona. Essentially, they argue that Jones’ on-air character has been crafted with as much thought, skill and attention to detail as the city’s most loved artists and most successful entrepreneurs.
This justification is as silly as it is ridiculously condescending. Sure quirky (in all its forms) can be a way of life here — but what really makes this community special is its care and its compassion. If nothing else, Alex Jones’ presence in this city serves as a strong reminder that there’s still so much work to be done in making Austin the city we truly want it to be.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.