Norm Pattis, Alex Jones’ lawyer, on censorship: ‘If you want the Infowars host silenced, you’re scarier than he is’

Alex Jones at a protest in Dallas in 2014. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

[Whatever anyone may think of Alex Jones (and certainly we are not fans nor followers of any such outlandish pundits, whatever their political alignment), the hysterically ridiculous and unprofessional behavior of the plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Bankston, in the deposition videos, most especially his constant and annoyingly childish snickering, reveals the true ‘fair game’ intent of the lawsuit against him: to utterly humiliate and destroy anyone who attempts to question the official narrative of any event the authorities and mass media consider to be sacrosanct. By continually invoking the terror attacks of 9/11 and labeling anyone who questions the official US government narrative as conspiracy theorists who pose a clear and present danger to society, the law firm of Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP are pushing a dangerously Orwellian agenda. Furthermore, they should seriously consider having their depositions conducted by more mature attorneys, rather than someone like Bankston, who comes across as a snarky hipster Ivy League frat boy. Considering the subject matter at hand and the weight of the tragedy involved, it is absolutely sickening that Bankston treats the proceedings as a joke and opportunity to snicker and ridicule Jones at every opportunity. If this law firm actually gave a damn about the Sandy Hook tragedy and the families of the victims, they would not have used someone snarky, disrespectful, and utterly unprofessional like Mark Bankston. Clearly, they are not interested in justice for the victims’ families, but in tabloid sensationalism for the purposes of sick entertainment as well as bullying freelance and independent media outlets into absolute silence by making an example out of someone like Alex Jones. These are the same type of people who have been persecuting Tulsi Gabbard, Christine Assange (Julian Assange’s mother), and others who dare to speak out against the authoritarian status quo and challenge the mass media narratives. — Lexander Magazine Editors]

You’ve probably heard by now that Alex Jones of Infowars plans to defend himself against charges that he defamed the families of folks killed in the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in 2012 by claiming some form of psychosis.

You heard wrong. You swallowed a meme, becoming the very thing you say you scorn — a dupe to a hateful, half-baked piece of misinformation.

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I know this because I represent Alex Jones in three suits pending against him in Connecticut. He faces a related suit defended by separate counsel in Texas.

Alex Jones is not psychotic. He plans to defend himself on the same grounds that protect those who take such joy in ridiculing him: the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

In a video deposition posted online by plaintiffs’ lawyers, he says he was influenced by “something like psychosis” when he opined that Sandy Hook was a hoax. Jones haters seized on this hazy metaphor like starving children diving at crumbs.

The Sandy Hook lawsuits allege that Jones defamed the families by denying the mass shootings took place. For those of us who live in Connecticut, it’s hard to take seriously the denial of a reality you lived through. We lost family and friends at Sandy Hook. We saw colleagues grieve.

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.

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.

Folks should spend a lot less time taking shots at Alex Jones and more time wondering what makes Jones possible. It’s the same sort of question Trump haters ought to ask. Millions of voters and listeners flock to these men not because they are crazy but because they offer alternatives to mainstream narratives that fail to resonate with folks who have little to gain from tuning into CNN, MSNBC or reading the pages of The New York Times.

Before I chose to represent Alex Jones, I ignored him. His views were too extreme for me. He wasn’t a figure I hated; he just didn’t matter. He was the town crier warning the end is neigh.

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. Even Mark Zuckerberg now wants new legislation to limit speech. We’ve gone from wanting information to be free to fearing the heterodox.

What motivates hate is fear. Alex Jones and his listeners are afraid of what this country is becoming. You are afraid of Alex Jones and his outlandish conspiracy theories. You’re more alike than you think.

Fight your differences out in the marketplace of ideas. But let’s not fall down the bottomless pit of censorship. Alex Jones is not psychotic, and neither, I suspect, are you, although some days I’m not so sure about either of you.

Norm Pattis is an attorney based in New Haven.

[Source: Hartford Courant]

 

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