The latest in a series of lawsuits against popular broadcaster Alex Jones was filed last week by six families of victims of the December, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot and killed 20 children between six and seven years old, and six staff members.
Mr. Jones, whose radio program airs nationally on the Genesis Communications Network and online, is also known for his website, Infowars.
The newest lawsuit was filed in Bridgeport Superior Court in Connecticut, and was preceded by several others in Texas, where Mr. Jones’ media company is based. In the most recent suit, the families of the massacre victims claim that Mr. Jones defamed them by claiming that the shooting was a hoax, and that the victims’ relatives were paid actors. The families say that Mr. Jones’ comments tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers.
A lawyer for the families contended that the radio host “knew his claims were false but he made them anyway to further a simple but pathetic goal: to make money by tearing away at the families’ pain.”
Mr. Jones has a long history of making wild claims. He has accused the U.S. government of being involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 were killed; and the September 11, 2001 attacks. He has also maintained that NASA faked moon landings and developed secret technology to control the citizenry.
The broadcaster is also well-known for his opposition to vaccines, which he considers a government plot.
In 2017, he claimed that Democrats and communists were plotting imminent “white genocide” attacks — plans to flood the U.S. with non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants to make white people a minority. His views have received support and coverage from white nationalist publications and groups.
And Mr. Jones suggested that “leftist Jews” may have impersonated Nazis to discredit white supremacist protesters during last summer’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He recalled attending Ku Klux Klan rallies, to protest them, and seeing “a lot of the KKK guys with their hats off look[ing] like they’re [Jews]… Literally they’re just Jewish actors… They almost got like little curly hair… and they’re just up there heiling Hitler. You can tell they are totally uncomfortable, they are totally scared, and it’s all just meant to create the clash.”
Mr. Jones was also one of the leading propagators of the “Pizzagate” hoax, wherein a Washington, D.C. pizzeria was asserted to hide tunnels used by a Hillary Clinton-sanctioned child trafficking and murder syndicate.
“When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up…” he explained, “I have zero fear standing up against her. Yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children. I just can’t hold back the truth anymore.”
Mr. Jones later said his comments were a reference to U.S. policy in Syria, but his followers took his words at face value, and one of them appeared at the pizzeria with a rifle, to “rescue” the children he was convinced were being held in the basement. The gunman fired several shots; thankfully, no one was hurt.
Last week’s lawsuit makes reference to that action, and to another case where a follower of Mr. Jones, a Florida woman, who, accepting the broadcaster’s claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax engineered by then-President Obama, the gun control movement and “New World Order global elitists,” threatened the father of one of the slain children.
American society is famously litigious, and frivolous lawsuits are filed daily in attempts to force settlements by defendants who see payoffs as easier and often less expensive than retaining legal representation and making their cases in court.
But the litigation of responsible lawsuits is an important part of the American justice system. Not only to provide redress to citizens who have been physically, financially hurt or slandered, but also to send a message to society that there is behavior — including speech — that cannot be tolerated.
The legal actions against Alex Jones comprise an example of that important function of civil suits.
It is hard to imagine the pain felt by the parents of a murdered child. Harder still the pain of their being accused in a national broadcast that their child was “fake” and that they are hired actors. And even harder to imagine what feelings are engendered when “fans” of the broadcast threaten the parents’ lives.
But, aside from those unimaginables, what should also be unimaginable is a society where an individual, motivated by greed and empowered by the gullibility of others, can conjure lies from nothingness and convince others that they are truths.