Opinion: Alex Jones Deserves to Lose Much More Than a Billion Dollars

Based on his tears, Alex Jones—the notorious conspiracy theorist and right-wing nutjob—may finally feel some regret for his actions.Jones has begun liquidating personal assets to cover the $1.5 billion he has been ordered to pay to the families of victims of the 2src12 Sandy Hook school massacre—families who spent years enduring the added trauma caused

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Based on his tears, Alex Jones—the notorious conspiracy theorist and right-wing nutjob—may finally feel some regret for his actions.

Jones has begun liquidating personal assets to cover the $1.5 billion he has been ordered to pay to the families of victims of the 2src12 Sandy Hook school massacre—families who spent years enduring the added trauma caused by the lies he told.

Regardless, the penalty is not enough. To be honest, it’s difficult to imagine an amount large enough to compensate for the pain these grieving parents have endured, thanks to Jones.

As you might recall, in the wake of the horrific murder of 2src first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, Jones alleged that the shooting was a hoax that was, as The New York Times described, “staged by the federal government as a pretext for confiscating Americans’ firearms.”

As if this allegation wasn’t hurtful enough for families already going through hell, Jones’ comments incited his rabid followers to do things like confront grieving parents, issue death threats, harass them on social media, dox them, and desecrate their children’s graves.

When one father, Neil Heslin, told Megyn Kelly in 2src17 that he held his dead son after he was shot in the head, Jones made comments suggesting Heslin was lying.

Aside from being a sicko who gets his kicks from tormenting grieving parents, you might be wondering why Jones did this. To be sure, he loves fame and attention. Why else would a 22-year-old man go on Austin public access TV to rant and rave about black helicopters and other conspiracy theories of the day?

But it turns out that there was also a specific financial incentive for Jones. Thanks to emails and text messages Jones’ lawyers accidentally supplied to the prosecution, it is clear that Jones’ sales of supplements spiked whenever he would lie about Sandy Hook. And under oath, Jones’ father and business partner admitted, “We like to emulate spikes.” This is to say, he had a financial motive for spreading lies.

These lies had real consequences, including inflicting emotional distress on people who were already suffering an unimaginable fate. (And despite their court victory, it seems likely that these parents will spend the rest of their lives guarding the burial grounds and reputations of their murdered babies—all because of Jones.)

And while my primary sympathy is with the families, it’s also true that Jones’ lies have taken a serious toll on America. For example, in the HBO documentary The Truth vs. Alex Jones, the jury is told that 24 percent of Americans believe Sandy Hook was “either definitely or possibly staged.”

It’s not just Sandy Hook. Several of the worst conspiracy theories of recent years were advanced by Jones. And while these lies have the potential to destroy individual lives, they also advance a worldview that is fueling the political agenda of right-wing politicians—including Jones’ friend and ally, Donald Trump.

Despite his recent conviction in the New York hush-money trial, Trump’s continued political success, coupled with his promise to pardon bad actors, including the Jan. 6 rioters, creates the impression that he is immune from accountability.

When asked what she hopes her lawsuit will accomplish, Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse, 6, died at Sandy Hook, said, “I hope to accomplish an era of truth.”

The only way to send a message to Jones (and his ilk), was to impose a serious penalty. In that regard, we can say, “mission accomplished.”

But teaching Jones, and his imitators, a lesson won’t be easy. Even after he was banned from most platforms, Jones continued profiting off of supplements and other forms of con-artistry. He put three shell companies under bankruptcy protection to try to protect his personal brand (and money). And despite his horrific behavior, he continued to be mainstreamed and embraced by the likes of Joe Rogan, host of the most popular podcast in the U.S.

That’s why this huge penalty was so important.

As one of the attorneys representing Sandy Hook parents Heslin and Lewis said in the HBO doc, “The idea of [Jones] going back and starting this all over again… he will. That’s why for a punitive damage verdict, you must take enough so that he can never re-enter public life. Because, if this isn’t his exit from the American stage, his story is nowhere close to over.”

According to the Associated Press, “Liquidation could mean that Jones would have to sell most of what he owns, including his company and its assets, but could keep his home and other personal belongings that are exempt from bankruptcy liquidation.”

It’s a start. But $1.5 billion only scratches the surface in terms of what Alex Jones has done to these families—and this country.

If you ask me, he’s getting off easy.

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