The Alex Jones Verdict Shows the Danger of Defamation Laws

Source: Mises Institute.

The Alex Jones verdict is fundamentally wrong.

In a free society, a private citizen saying things that other people are free to ignore is not punishable by law. In a society which does not respect free speech, however, merely saying words is apparently grounds of levying fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.

One might even say the verdict is morally wrong, but perhaps it is enough to question the legitimacy of defamation as a legal theory.

21 thoughts on “The Alex Jones Verdict Shows the Danger of Defamation Laws

    1. RE: “you do make a good point legally”

      Credit where credit is due: The Mises writer is the one who makes the point.

      What I would add is that free speech depends on culture more than law.

      Like

  1. “Repugnant speech . . .”

    I think there is a distinction to be made – as the law does – between repugnant opinions and repugnant defamation knowingly based on outrageous lies. Jones made millions of dollars by leveling false accusations at specific individual innocent people. Since they are not allowed by law to punish such people themselves, redress in court should remain an option.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We allow enormous latitude when it comes to speech critical of celebrities and other famous people.

    What is different here?

    The folks that Jones call liars and said they were actors and staged the whole massacre are not celebrities or famous. In addition, because of the nature of internet communications at all levels, the messaging reach millions of people and created an unlivable situation for the victim’s families.

    Decades back, before internet, scandal sheets regularly wrote lies, innuendoes and outright falsehoods about famous people. Suits went nowhere, and it many cases, the subjects and their agents welcomed the scandal stories because it was publicity. Average Americans were more or less immune by both tradition and law from the National Enquirer so their lives were not upended.

    The closest we could have come would be to erect billboards in city centers with defamatory statements and addresses of crime victims and their families with phone numbers. Those who planted those billboards would certainly be liable.

    That is what Jones did. Except that the internet is so much more efficient reaching millions with a few postings. Plus he profited directly from the defamations. If I took a photo of John and posted saying he was a child molester so I could sell pepper spray, that would create a major liability for me since I used his likeness for both profit and defamation without his permission.

    This is not a free speech issue. It is defamation pure and simple. Or, in many ways, goading a lynch mob and then after the lynching, selling them box lunches from your restaurant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “That is what Jones did.”

      No, it isn’t. No evidence was given in court (in Connecticut) that Jones defamed any specific person. He was convicted because defamation law is too loose to prevent improper conviction. As the Mises writer put it, “Essentially, Jones was found guilty of saying things that supposedly inspired other people to say cruel and disrespectful things to the parents of the Sandy Hook victims. The harassment allegedly also includes the desecration of the graves of victims.”

      But, you are right that free speech was not the issue at trial. It should have been, but the judge didn’t enforce applicable anti-SLAPP laws that would have allowed a First Amendment defense.

      The prosecution of Jones was an egregious insult to the rule of law, enabled by malformed defamation statutes themselves.

      Like

      1. “The prosecution of Jones was an egregious insult to the rule of law”

        You are beyond confused.

        There was no criminal case against Jones. He was not prosecuted. He was sued by the people he injured. Freedom of speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of what you choose to say. Duh!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “Freedom of speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of what you choose to say.”

          Again, freedom of speech was not the issue at trial. Also, it is correct to describe torts as “prosecuted.”

          Like

          1. “. . .it is correct to describe torts as “prosecuted.”

            It is a stretch. Civil and criminal cases are not the same.

            To be honest, I did not really expect you to man up and acknowledge how confused you were when you said . . .”The prosecution of Jones was an egregious insult to the rule of law.” So your fall back pretense is that you were referring to the parents with that accusation and that their suing for damages in court was “an egregious insult to the rule of law.” Sure you were. LOL!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Pay attention to the title of the post: “The Alex Jones Verdict Shows the Danger of Defamation Laws.”

            Like

          3. “Pay attention to the title of the post. . .”

            Why? What do you think I missed.

            Just admit you were confused. Or do you really believe that victims of this multi-million dollar, years-long defamation going to court was an “an egregious insult to the rule of law?”
            If so, how so?

            Liked by 1 person

      2. “… Jones defamed any specific person.”

        Of course he did. How hard is it to look up the names of the victims’ families? He didn’t defame you, you were not listed anywhere regarding the slaughter.

        Do you consider incitement to violence protected?
        Remember the reasoning behind the “false flag” accusation by Jones was that it was staged to support gun control, even confiscation. As passionate as many are ( here included) about guns, “them’s fightin’ words”.

        Freedom comes with great responsibility if it is to last.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “Of course he did. How hard is it to look up the names of the victims’ families?”

          Do you not notice the logical fallacy in your statement?

          RE: “Do you consider incitement to violence protected?”

          Jones didn’t incite anyone.

          Like

          1. There is no logical fallacy.

            People WERE incited to violence and there WAS violence including gunfire aimed at homes and cars. The continuous flow of death threats and harassment became a real burden on the families of the slaughtered children. None of that would have happened except for Alex Jones milking their misery for money.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Outstanding read and points made Mr. Roberts. As a bonus to providing excellent food for thought you made it inviting for the usual fools to chime in …….

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s