How Far Can a Conspiracy Theory Go?
My one regret about the pasting that Alex Jones took in a Connecticut courtroom yesterday is that it required the murder of twenty young children and eight adults to bring it about. Jones has done his best over the years to pollute the public dialog with his particular brand of conspiracy theories, up to and including being embraced by a certain American President who made common cause with Jones during the 2016 Presidential campaign.
I would have had no problem with Jones promoting conspiracies if he behaved like an entertainer for whom conspiracies were a shtick in the same way that one-liners gave Henny Youngman a particular kind of entertainment style which always got a laugh.
‘Doctor tells the patient he’s got six months to live. Patient replies that he can’t afford to pay the bill. Doctor gives him another six months.’ That’s Henny Youngman.
‘The Sandy Hook shooting was planned and managed by the government to make it easier to take away everyone’s guns.” That’s Alex jones.
If Jones had run the Sandy Hook story up the flagpole for a week or so, nobody would have cared how he explained the event, no matter how crazy his explanation happened to be. But the media frenzy which accompanied the Newtown massacre was so great that Jones couldn't resist the temptation to use this particular conspiracy narrative to peddle more health supplements and other crap on his website.
To give the devil his due, the mainstream media made it easy for Jones to create and promote a Sandy Hook conspiracy, because reporters from all the major TV and print outlets committed an avalanche of mistakes in their initial reports from the scene. They mis-identified the shooter, they had multiple shooters leaving the scene, they had the number of victims more, then less, then more again. You didn’t have to be someone smelling around for a conspiracy to think that there were just too many admissions, retractions, revisions, and false leads.
Meanwhile, when Jones then claimed that nobody was killed at Sandy Hook, a statement he said was based on comments made by the FBI, his website chalked up $230,000 in online sales in one day. The FBI never said that the mass shooting didn’t occur.
One of the prime constituencies that Alex Jones has always focused his conspiracy theories on are fervent gun owners who believe that the gun-control movement is organized and managed by Michael Bloomberg fronting for the globalist cabal that wants to disarm American patriots and impose an anti-Christian, pro-Muslim autocracy on the USA.
Think I’m joking? I’m not. And not only am I not joking, but you’ll hear snatches of this same narrative in the rantings from Donald Trump. Why do you think the very first thing Trump tried to do after taking office in 2017 was to impose a Muslim travel ban?
Despite hysterical outpourings from some of the media noisemakers on the Left, the good news is that most Americans don’t buy into this nonsense at all. But some Americans buy products like Survival Shield, Super Male Vitality, and my favorite, Brain Force Plus, hawked by Alex Jones. How could you be concerned about brain functions if you spend any time at all on the Infowars website?
Earlier this year, the gun maker whose assault rifle was used to kill all those kids and adults at Sandy Hook agreed to settle a liability lawsuit for $73 million, rather than trying to convince another Connecticut jury that their rifle was nothing more than a cutesy, little sporting gun.
I just took a break from writing this story to watch the judge in the Parkland mass murder read out the jury’s finding in the trial of the shooter, Nicolas Cruz. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be the parent of a child who was killed in that episode and hear the judge describe the shooting a ‘vicious’ and ‘calculated’ event.
How do you live with the memory of those words, never mind the memory of your child before they were cut down in a ‘malicious’ and ‘calculated’ way?
This is what the parents of the Parkland victims have been experiencing for the last four years. The plaintiffs in the Sandy Hook trial have been living with the same sort of memories for the past ten years! And not only have they been living with these memories for the past decade, but they have also had to deal with a digital media superstar who attracts an audience of millions and coins in the dough by accusing these people of lying about the deaths of their parents, or their daughters, or their sons.
My only hope is that these two verdicts will make it easier to have a rational discussion about gun violence without having also having to listen to the 45th President of the United States chip in his two stupid cents.