When a jury recently told Alex Jones he would be required to pay more than $40 million to the Sandy Hook (Newtown, Connecticut) family that sued him for incendiary remarks he made on his “TV” show, it sent a message that was loud, clear and beyond overdue.
On his show, “InfoWars,” Jones said, among many other obscene things, the kids and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School were actors and that there really wasn’t a shooting that took the lives 26 people, including 20 who were aged 6 and 7. It was enough to drive one family to take him to civil court, where the punishment isn’t prison, it’s insead monetary. And in this case, Jones will pay dearly. Thanks be to God.
Why? Because for the first time in recent memory, a person will pay the price because a jury realized having an opinion is one thing — and that is, indeed, protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
However, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts,” as the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of New York, once so aptly said.
It is perectly fine for someone to say they don’t like what Moynihan said. It is not acceptable, nor shielded by the First Amendment, to say, “Sen. Moynihan is a woman.”
And so finally, after years of disseminating incorrect information, Jones pays the price. But it shouldn’t end here.
This sort of thing continues, on a daily basis, without much consequence, on social media. Locally, in recent weeks, crimes, fires and other incidents were incorrectly tossed about on Facebook in a most irresponsible way.
One recent car crash started out on Facebook as an alleged armed robbery and carjacking. No carjacking or robbery ever happened.
A stolen vehicle recently started out as an armed robbery at Walmart, though no such robbery had occurred.
This continues to happen because it’s tolerated by the big social media companies — and because there are no consequences for so doing.
But now that Jones, who thinks he’s a journalist but isn’t, is being required by a jury of his peers to pay the price, perhaps it will finally start to spread to other realms were people irresponsibly post lies and get away with it, unscathed.
Enough is enough — let’s hope this doesn’t end here.
Instead, let’s hope it’s just the beginning. — CANESSA
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.