Alex Jones’s Desperate Psychosis Defense

You may have heard that radio/tv shock-jock and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is being sued for causing emotional distress to parents of the children who were massacred at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school in 2012 by claiming repeatedly on the air that the event never happened. As part of that suit, Jones submitted to a deposition back in March, the details of which were revealed last Friday.

Jones, who repeatedly claimed on his internet and radio show InfoWars that the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax, told lawyers he “almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged.”

Jones blamed his mental state on “the trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much, then everything begins — you don’t trust anything anymore, kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again, well, pretty soon they don’t know what reality is.”

The admission came toward the end of the three-hour deposition recorded in a downtown Austin law office March 14 in one of several lawsuits brought in Austin, Connecticut and Virginia against Jones by parents of children killed in the shooting. The suits contend that Jones’ repeated claims that the shootings were staged showed a reckless disregard for the truth and for the distress and real harm he was causing the parents, piling torment on their tragedies.

Here’s my main problem with this legal defense. Alex Jones carved out a very lucrative career for himself by promoting conspiracy theories, starting with the 9/11 tragedy. He understood that there was money to be made on people’s paranoia and he exploited that to the hilt. The odds that he was able to do this while simultaneously being a victim of his own fraud strike me as virtually nil. Charlatans and conmen don’t get rich by falling prey to their own con.

The guy doesn’t strike me as stable, so it’s not that I have trouble believing he’s a little crazy. I doubt he has the firmest grasp on reality that can be found in nature. I could even believe that fame, fortune, and prolonged exposure to people who live in a constant conspiratorial state of mind might have taken a toll on him over time. But I think he started his career with a basic insight into a weakness in human nature, and I do not believe that he’s ever lost his grasp on the method of his “madness.”

He knew that the Sandy Hook massacre was a real tragedy with real grieving parents. He also knew that he could make a ton of money by suggesting that it was staged by people who wanted to confiscate guns.

Legally, I don’t know what his exposure is because it’s tricky to prove that someone wasn’t sincere in what they were saying. But, as a moral matter, I think he’s guilty of one of the single most despicable acts I have ever witnessed.

Just last week, this happened:

A father dedicated to helping prevent mass shootings after his daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre has died of an apparent suicide.

The body of Jeremy Richman, 49, was found in his Connecticut office building Monday morning, Newtown police said.

The neuroscientist was the father of 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was among 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

I absolutely place some of the blame for Mr. Richman’s death on the actions of Alex Jones. It’s not only what he said, it’s also that by saying it he made it harder to do anything to prevent the next couple of dozen mass shootings. When your child dies senselessly and the government does nothing to protect other children from a similar fate, that’s recipe for despair and hopelessness. Alex Jones would have this on his conscience if he had a conscience.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com