Regardless what you think of Jones, this is a clear violation of free speech.
A jury has awarded $965 million to the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and one first responder, resolving a lawsuit that began in 2018 over Jones’s claims the event never occurred, according to Reuters.
In December 2012, 20 students and six adults died in a mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut school. Jones claimed that the victims’ families and the first responders to the 2012 tragedy were “crisis actors” on multiple occasions and asserted the massacre was staged to push gun control. Jones generated hundreds of millions of impressions on social media with his false claims about the event. The plaintiffs sought a sum of $550 million to match the total views his claims received, per CNN Business. Ultimately, the jury awarded the plaintiffs nearly double the already enormous sum.
The right-wing personality lost a separate suit earlier this year in Texas with a jury awarding the parents of a separate child who died in the massacre $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages, though Texas law caps punitive damages in cases with no economic losses and Jones will likely pay only a fraction of that sum.
Jones’s claims have prompted most of the major social media companies to remove him and his associated accounts from their platforms. In part due to the loss of revenue and reach, far-right news and commentary site Infowars, one of Jones’s brands, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in April of this year.
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Amidst all of the fanfare and controversy, it is easy to overlook just how weak the defamation case against Jones really was. The Sandy Hook parents mentioned above based their defamation claim on a 2017 NBC interview where Heslin said he held his son’s body after he was murdered. In a contemporaneous Infowars segment, reporter Owen Shroyer said that, “according to a timeline of events and a coroner’s testimony, that is not possible,” and Jones responded by calling Heslin to “clarify” his statements. Otherwise, all of Jones’s “defamatory” behavior is premised on him making wild but vague allegations of a Sandy Hook false flag by unknown forces. Virtually all of the damages, meanwhile, are based on blaming Jones for the actions of people he doesn’t even know.
Based on the alleged trauma caused by Jones’s claims, and harassment from various people who are neither Jones himself nor acting on his orders, the plaintiffs sought a staggering $150 million in damages. The $4.1 million judgment is mercifully less than that, but after punitive damages come in Jones will still be paying a massive amount. Last week, Alex Jones put Free Speech Systems LLC, the parent company for his popular InfoWars show and website, into Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time.
To be clear, we cannot defend the wisdom and judiciousness of Jones’ coverage of Sandy Hook. Jones himself expressed regret regarding his coverage and acknowledged he should have treated the subject differently. There is no issue more sensitive than a parent grieving a child, and journalists must always strive to cover such topics with empathy, discernment, and caution.
At the same time, it is a very dangerous precedent to set when the feelings of grieving families can be used to silence reporting — even “conspiratorial and crazy” reporting — on tragedies of national significance. The Sandy Hook tragedy was a very public and very politicized event from the beginning…..
…….Given the political stakes involved, it seems consistent with the spirit of the First Amendment and the spirit of a free society to allow maximum discussion and deliberation about a major tragedy serving as the catalyst for legislation, even if some of that discussion turns out to be silly, crude, cruel, irresponsible, or even harmful to the emotional state of the families affected by that tragedy.
From very early on, Connecticut took a dubious approach to balancing the sensitivities of the Sandy Hook families against the public interest in transparency. The most egregious of such responses was a Connecticut law, drafted behind closed doors and in secret, that took unprecedented steps to withhold forensic evidence related to homicides from the public…..
……..It’s all about the bullhorn—that is, all about making sure that the Regime is in exclusive possession of the megaphone, and any non-approved person who dares speak non-approved narratives to the public gets crushed.
The aggressive use of defamation law is just the latest tool in the Regime’s arsenal to silence dissent. The fact that the Regime is using the defamation tool against Alex Jones ought to concern everyone who cares about free speech and the truth; remember, Alex Jones is something of a testing ground for new suppression tools, and was one of the very first to get massively deplatformed before the Big Tech censors came after everyone else.
He didn’t slander or libel anyone. He stated an opinion, which is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Anyone with an iota of common sense realizes that Sandy Hook was a crime perpetrated by an unhinged moonbat with mommy issues.
Jones is a blathering moron who cannot change the facts of the crime at Sandy Hook no matter how hard he tries. It doesn’t take much to tell someone like Jones to fuck off and stop listening to him.
There are conspiracy tinfoil hats who broadcast 9/11 ‘truther’ idiocy, insisting it was an “inside job”, there’s a contingent of holocaust deniers, and those who claim that all the trips to the moon were performed in a TV studio. Should all of them be subject to litigation?
There’s enough real corruption, conspiracy and crime going on without adding a big pile of stupid to the mix.
There are lots of valid reasons to award punitive damages. For instance, for the victims of government corruption: Biden’s autocratic regime conducting raids, arrests, and harassment against American citizens who oppose his tyranny. And the FBI/DOJ war against President Trump.
Just because you get your feelz hurt by a bloviating idiot, doesn’t mean you should be indulged with $965 million to soothe your damaged ego.