As noted here Thursday, a Texas jury has ordered InfoWars founder Alex Jones to pay more than $4M in compensatory damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 mass murder committed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones had claimed Sandy Hook was a hoax designed to further gun control efforts. The jury has yet to decide on punitive damages; Heslin and Lewis have asked for at least $150M.
Jones is not having a good week, as fellow RedStater Joe Cunningham noted this past Wednesday, August 3rd:
Jones was on the stand as an attorney for the Sandy Hook legal team was grilling him over his past statements. Jones was attempting (poorly) to defend himself when the lawyer revealed a very horrifying truth: That Jones’ own lawyer had sent a digital copy of Jones’ phone to the Sandy Hook lawyer by mistake and never attempted to claim it was privileged.
If nothing else, Amber Heard’s legal representation can breathe easy that they’re quite possibly not the worst lawyers in the Western Hemisphere.
I have no interest in assailing or defending Jones. One is free to believe or disbelieve what he says. I know fine, intelligent people who trust Jones without hesitation. His words rise or fall on their own merit. What concerns me is the notion that a public figure saying the “wrong” thing about a public event is liable for damages to those offended by his words.
I cannot imagine the horror of losing a child. I’m hardly untouched by grief; I’ve buried both of my parents and two of my three brothers. But to bury your child must be the greatest agony one can endure in this life.
One can easily understand that parents who have lost a child to a madman’s murderous rampage must thirst for justice. Lanza killed himself, so there can be no trial. Lanza murdered his mother, whose guns he used at the school, so there can be no recompense regarding family. And to be brutally honest, no amount of financial compensation is going to bring back your child. What purpose, then, does suing Jones serve?
Heslin has claimed Jones’ words have endangered his life.
“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” said Heslin, whose son was one of 20 students and six staffers killed in the attack on the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school.
“As time went on, I truly realized how dangerous it was,” the choked-up dad said in Austin, Texas, court. “My life has been threatened. I fear for my life, I fear for my safety.”
An apology from Jones wouldn’t be good enough now, Heslin said.
“Alex started this fight and I’ll finish this fight,” he said.
Heslin may not understand the Streisand effect his lawsuit is having. The problem with trying to curtail free speech, even when considered beyond reprehensible, is that it is impossible without bringing more attention to what is being said. Jones is gaining even more attention now than he did when he made his claim regarding Sandy Hook. There is no such thing as bad publicity.
The other problem is: Where does this stop? It is easy to say, “It’s only Alex Jones,” and go on with one’s business. But it isn’t just Alex Jones. Did Facebook and Twitter stop when they banned InfoWars? No. Did the media stop lying about the Steele dossier once it was proven to be a lie? No. It is not conspiracy theory blather to state that most conservatives fail to grasp how much the aggressive elements of modern liberalism hate them and seek their personal as well as professional destruction.
Alex Jones has made a profession of sowing the wind and occasionally reaping the whirlwind. Nevertheless, he deserves a measure of defense. Not for him personally or professionally; he alone is responsible for that. Rather, he deserves a measure of defense out of knowing that once the Saul Alinsky edition of Pandora’s Box opens, good luck getting everything put back in there.