Bender: The First Amendment doesn't give you carte blanche
"A Texas jury ordered Alex Jones to pay $49.3 million for pain, suffering, and punitive damages for relentlessly smearing grieving Sandy Hook families as hoaxers. ... What kind of soulless cretin instigates that kind of trauma on already traumatized people?"
I wonder what kind of drooling, knuckle-dragging, meth-snorting, butt-sniffing, antler-wearing, three-tooth Troglodyte listens to, let alone acts, on anything Alex Jones says. Then, I remember Jan. 6. And Charlottesville.
For those of you who'll predictably whine that you've somehow just been defamed, please consider your tacit admission. Then, go brush your tooth.
Many of Jones' followers did listen and act, tormenting the parents of Sandy Hook students. Some of them are very dead students. So, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million for pain, suffering, and punitive damages for relentlessly smearing grieving families as hoaxers.
Wait, Texas?! What, were jurors sequestered on Willie Nelson's tour bus?
And what's next? Are they gonna go full-on Jayhawker, guarantee reproductive choice, give free ponies to kids, and constitutionally enshrine the Dallas Cowboys' right to win a playoff game?
Stranger things have happened, and will again tomorrow on Jones' Infowars propaganda network which, until last week, had waged unfettered war on actual information. It ended with Jones' simpering admission that indeed the massacre was real.
Don't get confused. This case isn't an attack on free speech. The next guy who insists Queen Elizabeth is one of the lizard people, the moon landing was faked, and that birds are Deep State spies, won't be jailed. Institutionalization or a place on the 2024 GOP ticket, however, remain distinct possibilities.
This wasn't about One Lie. It was about monetizing and orchestrating Big Lies. The First Amendment doesn't offer carte blanche to intentionally and relentlessly defame grieving parents or mislead into violence mouth-breathers who believe a billionaire flimflam man cares about them and their pet chicken, Bruce.
Storm the henhouse, Bruce.
Media sometimes makes mistakes. Reputable media corrects them. When it comes to defamation law, though, it's about malice. Jones maliciously inflicted harm. Now, he's been corrected.
For Jones, it was an lucrative lark. He egged on oozing primordial dullards — very presidential. Hey, if parents aren't willing to abort first-graders on the Altar of Ammunition, they must be liberal intellectuals, and the last thing we need in 'Murica is compassion and cognitive thinking. Not if patriotic authoritarians are to rule. Jackboot stock is on fire, baby, burning hotter than the Reichstag.
In 2012, Sandy Hook families buried 20 children. They'd be choosing colleges today. Then came the onslaught from Jones' minions — gunshots fired at a home, internet and phone threats, and public harassment by Infowars cultists.
What kind of soulless cretin instigates that kind of trauma on already traumatized people? Well, Charles Manson didn't personally harm anyone, but he unleashed terror. That's what Jones (and Trump) did. You can't yell “Fire” in a crowded theater — even if it's simply an order to your trench coat-wearing buddy with his legally purchased Bushmaster to commence shooting.
Hey, freedom isn't free, so I don't resent the constitutionally guaranteed threat of being gunned down during "Top Gun" or a Leni Riefenstahl double feature, but I do resent the loan officers stationed at the concession counter.
Fret not. Jones can still afford Milk Duds. He sells an estimated $300 million in vitamin supplements annually that'll cure toenail fungus, liberalism, and make your teeth grow back. Cash registers are ringing out as people tune in to hear Jones bull-shirt the facts away. There's a sucker born every minute. Necessary reinforcements, cuz they're still dropping like flies in American classrooms.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.