Anyone who has spent time in a major American city has met homeless people. Homeless veterans, entire families, men and women who have lost everything, teenagers thrown out of their homes for being gay or just runaways. And in the midst of the homeless population are the mentally ill.
I’ve met quite a few homeless people. When I lived in Chicago, I would buy breakfast for a few guys who spent their day on Rush Street, empty paper cups in front of a sign that read something like “Fought for you in Vietnam, please help us.”
They would chat with me, telling me how they wound up on the street and give me advice about approaching certain members of the homeless community. One of the men shared with me his belief that there were a lot of schizophrenics out there, and I needed to be careful.
When I finally found a schizophrenic homeless person, it was an eyeopening experience. He was in his late 30’s, wearing an old Army jacket and shoes held together with tape. I’ll explain why this memory is so clear in a bit. I tried to buy him food, and he responded by telling me he couldn’t eat food because the government was putting mind control drugs in all of it. Understand, I didn’t really know what schizophrenia was, and this comment stopped me in my tracks. He wasn’t finished.
As I stood listening to him, I learned that black helicopters followed him during the day, “The Matrix” was real, people who didn’t support the government were being shipped off to secret death camps and aliens used inter-dimensional travel to affect our history. I didn’t know what do, how to respond.
This was my first experience with delusional paranoia, and I was hyper aware that if I said the wrong thing, this man might become violent. I put money in his hand and walked away, incredibly sad. I wondered where his family was, where were people who could care for him and get him the help he so desperately needed. And I wished there was something I could do.
What I didn’t do was get duped into believing that everything he was saying made perfect sense, that he was the only person telling the truth about these dark, nefarious plans going on behind the scenes of our everyday lives. He was not my new hero.
Which is why I do not understand the cult of Alex Jones.
The first time I ever watched an Alex Jones video, he was sitting behind a desk wearing a yellow Tea Party tee shirt, talking about juice boxes. Much like the homeless man who believed he couldn’t eat because the government was putting mind control drugs in our food, Alex Jones was loudly addressing the chemicals contained within the lining of juice boxes that were affecting our children.
Jones tore apart a juice box while ranting about MSG, young girls getting pregnant and being rendered sterile, wearing lipstick and short skirts and something about rose gardens. While watching this video, the homeless man from Chicago popped into my head.
Like Alex Jones, the homeless man’s rant was, for lack of a better term, all over the place. Watch the video where Jones talks about juice boxes. First he claims he has documents proving the government is using chemicals in food to encourage homosexuality so people don’t have children. Then he says after drinking one of these juice boxes, “you’re ready to go out and have a baby.”
After the tornadoes hit Oklahoma a few weeks ago, leveling a school and killing so many children, Alex Jones took a call on his radio show from a woman. The woman told Jones she lived in Oklahoma, was a grandmother and had serious questions about the tornadoes that had devastated her state.
She and Jones mused about a “weather weapon” that could be used by the government to create all sorts of things, including tornadoes. Jones told his audience if they saw planes “seeding” clouds right before the storms, that was proof of this “weather weapon.”
Alex Jones is a very rich man. Millions of people all over the globe subscribe to his websites and video channel, buy his merchandise and swear by everything that comes out of his mouth. The homeless guy in Chicago was not a rich man, he did not have subscribers or merchandise and no one swore by everything that came out of his mouth. Why?
Understand, I am in no way demeaning or belittling schizophrenia or any mental illness. People familiar with my writing and my own story will know that. I am also not implying that Alex Jones is mentally ill. My point here is that we have homeless people in the country who say the same things as Jones every single day, but they’re not rich. They don’t have millions of people hanging on their every word. Why?
Perhaps it’s as simple as this: If you give a homeless schizophrenic man a dollar and he yells about mind control drugs in our food, nothing happens. If you give a man a website and he yells about chemicals in juice boxes that are making our kids gay or have babies at an early age… You have Alex Jones.