Attorney Norm Pattis represents Alex Jones in three different lawsuits for defaming Sandy Hook families. His defense is the First Amendment. His lawyer says Jones is extreme and as much as he dislikes him, he does not want him silenced or deplatformed.
Pattis said he is the “town crier warning the end is neigh,” whom he always ignored in the past.
Plaintiffs in their deposition in the Sandy Hook cases say Jones is suffering from some form of psychosis, but Pattis says Jones is not psychotic.
Let’s set the record straight: Alex Jones believes that there was a massacre at Sandy Hook. He entertained the possibility that it was all a hoax when events were fresh. He hosted people who wondered aloud why the FBI would claim there were no homicides in Sandy Hook the very year 26 people were murdered. Just today I received an email from a lost soul claiming it’s all a hoax.
Jones never encouraged people to visit the homes of the surviving family members. He did not himself state that the deaths of children were faked by families seeking financial gain or elevated status as spokesmen for gun control. These assertions about Jones have become urban legend — repeated so often they are taken as true. We are eager to test these assertions in open court and to let a fair-minded jury evaluate the actual evidence — if the cases ever actually get to the point of a jury trial.
Despite his dislike for the extremist, he believes the case should be dismissed, and he explains why:
The cases should be dismissed. Alex Jones hasn’t defamed anyone; he has engaged in extreme speech, a form of speech we’ve cherished since the days of the penny press.
The truth of the matter is Jones has a right to his opinions, no matter how outlandish. That he discomfited the suffering is truly unfortunate. But our newfound instinct to make symbols of survivors in our roiling political debates about such things as gun control transforms them into public figures in the contested terrain of political speech. Declaring these folks to be off-limits is a misuse of pathos. Victims used to mourn in private.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Pattis is correct. Jones is entitled to say whatever conspiratorial and insulting things he wants to say. When it comes to demanding mourners are “off-limits,” he points out that they should instead wonder why people like Jones has followers. Trump haters should ask the same question. He says the folks who flock to those who offer differing opinions “have little to gain from tuning into CNN, MSNBC or reading the pages of The New York Times.”
Demanding others silence those with him they disagree, making ideas “off-limits” is chipping away at our constitution. As Pattis says, defend your viewpoints “in the marketplace of ideas,” not through censorship.
He defines the problem as fear. Jones is afraid of what this country is becoming and his opponents fear his “outlandish conspiracy theories.” Pattis then points out, “You’re more alike than you think.”
“Now I defend him from you — you, who want him silenced — because you scare me more than he does.”
“There is no mob quite so terrifying as a self-righteous mob. Suppressing speech because it offends a majority of folks gives the power to censor speech. We’re close to banning speech simply because it is hateful.”
We all can remember the self-righteous mob who vilified Megyn Kelly for simply interviewing Jones about his Sandy Hook comments. That is an abominable attack on the First Amendment.
Jones’ despicable comments only make him look bad when an interviewer grills him. Let him speak. That is what Pattis is calling for:
“As much as I dislike Alex Jones, I don’t want him silenced. I don’t want him de-platformed. I think he’s a lunatic, but he’s allowed his say, just like anyone else,” he says.
IT’S ABOUT CENSORSHIP AND THE RISE OF TOTALITARIANISM
Jones’ attorney is absolutely correct. Free speech is free and that means for all of us. Who gets to be the judge without it? If we don’t abide by the First Amendment, even for so-called hate speech, whoever is in ruling class at the moment will get to determine what we can say or not say.
There was a great deal of criticism of the Parkland ‘survivor’ David Hogg because of his demand for attention and his extreme views, but he has the right to do it. And people have the right to criticize him as he uses, some say, false survivorhood, to press his agenda.
This is how totalitarian regimes begin. They start with censorship of words and ideas and they ban the debate. The self-righteous mob that Mr. Pattis talks about often begins with some moral imperative. The totalitarian will take that and define what is moral and how people must react. It’s very dangerous.
The U.K. government will soon establish the toughest and most totalitarian internet laws in Western society. They plan to appoint an official “regulator” whose job it is to ensure that social media outlets are focused on dealing with the problems of hateful content, the spread of disinformation and fake news, cyberbullying, and so on.
One man, who will hire more like him, who will hire more like them, will decide what the citizens of the U.K. can and cannot say. See the danger here? It becomes an excuse to censor people for personal, religious, political, and other unsavory reasons. It’s the road to totalitarianism.