Aaron Freedman

Aaron Freedman is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @freedaaron.

Recent Articles

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Is a Rumination on Fake News

“People, they need to believe. And nowadays, they’ll believe anything.”

(This article contains spoilers.) Early on the morning of June 13, explosions rocked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. By daybreak, officials in Washington were pointing figures at Iran, which had been accused of recent attacks in the Gulf amid rising tensions with the international community. With many observers skeptical, the American military later that day released a grainy, black-and-white video depicting what they alleged was an Iranian patrol boat pulling an unexploded mine off the side of one of the tankers. Case closed? Not so much. In the era of fake news and deepfakes (hyper-realistic video fabrications enabled by artificial intelligence), it wasn’t just conspiracy theorists doubting whether the video was genuine. Even Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, self-described members of the national security “blob,” confessed to speculating that the video was a false flag, intended to provoke war. While the duo eventually convinced themselves that Iran was...

Why Should We Care About Faux Free-Speech Warriors? Because the Koch Brothers Are Paying Their Bills.

Money from the Koch network is finding its way into the hands of the loudest online promoters of free speech—or at least, free speech for conservative viewpoints.

There is a war on free speech, and the front lines are YouTube ads. You’d be forgiven for thinking that, following the outcry of politicians and commentators over YouTube’s temporary decision to demonetize the videos of conservative pundit Steven Crowder, who makes money from the ads provided by YouTube’s platform. Crowder had been called out by Vox journalist Carlos Maza for a long history of homophobic abuse , including calling Maza “a lispy queer” and selling T-shirts that say “Socialism Is for Fags.” The incident set a certain set of free-speech warriors ablaze. Ben Shapiro , Joe Rogan , and other pundits who have made their name online for defending free speech—particularly those organized under the umbrella of the so-called “ Intellectual Dark Web ,” or IDW—have made Crowder a martyr of a pernicious war on civil discourse. You’ve probably heard their arguments before: They claim to be opposed to censorship...