I Could Have Killed Alex Jones
Zine, Mark Cunning, 32 pg,etsy.com/shop/markzines, $4
We know by now how so much of our divisive political, cultural, and ideological discourse is facilitated by the anonymity of online platforms. It can be near impossible to envision people who hold beliefs on the opposite side of the spectrum from you, much less empathize. But the story of Mark Cunning’s encounters with Infowars and its toxic ideology a remediated instead by two real-life people plus his first-person narrative. In doing so, Cunning gives a rare human face to the “other side,” revealing those on the farthest reaches of the other side of the spectrum to be neither sympathetic nor reviling. Difference can be discomfort, can be routine, can be surreal.
Cunning is first introduced to the conspiracy theory website Infowars by Adolpho Humble, a fellow cab driver in Hawaii. Humble is presented as a solitary figure who “only had two modes of thought: small talk and Infowars.” His private life remains shrouded in mystery, but he is not shy to shower his clients and colleagues with the theories espoused by the website’s hateful and psychotic frontman, Alex Jones. Humble is such an unquestioning disciple of Jones’s rhetoric that Cunning decides to read up on the site more, even though he clearly doesn’t buy into the pedagogy presented there. Cunning reflects not only on the various theories generated, but also hypothesizes about how so many people, it seems, can be so taken in by such bizarre and unproven claims.
Later in the story, Cunning actually picks up Infowars owner and operator Alex Jones in his taxi… maybe. Probably. The identity of the passenger is never 100% confirmed. In any case, the scenario leads to a moral dilemma: as the driver, is he obliged to remove Jones’s toxic ideologies by one particularly direct method involving cliffs? Ultimately, he decides that “we can fight this man and his infectious beliefs in a different way.” Let’s hope so.