Controversial media figure and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has just been ordered by a Connecticut jury to pay a staggering $965 million in damages to the families associated with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Since the 2012 massacre, Jones has become infamous for his claims that the shooting was a staged, government-sponsored “psyop.”
According to Bloomberg, Jones finds himself on the hook for additional punitive damages under a Connecticut statute that forbids the use of false statements to sell products. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis has found Jones in violation of this statute and has scheduled a hearing to determine additional fines.
While Jones and many of his statements are outlandish, one has to wonder whether the punishment fits the crime in this instance.
Jones’ comments and angry rants about the massacre may have hurt many feelings, but they certainly did not, say, topple the housing market.
According to Reuters, mortgage lender Countrywide was heavily involved in practices like steering loan applicants into high-risk subprime loans, which were largely responsible for the infamous 2008 housing crash that followed.
Founder Angelo Mozilo was eventually accused of hiding the various risks in Countrywide’s portfolio while selling off company stock before investors and borrowers became aware of the financial repercussions.
Just to give the reader an idea of how devastating this crash was, CNN Money reported that foreclosure filings in the U.S. increased by over 80 percent in 2008 alone.
Over 3.1 million foreclosures were listed that year. According to CNN, that meant that one out of every 54 households in the country received a notice of foreclosure.
Mozilo eventually agreed to a settlement of $67.5 million, two-thirds of which was covered by Bank of America Corp.
At the time of his conviction, Mozilo was the recipient of the “highest fine ever dished out to an executive of a public corporation,” according to Reuters.
Jones — who isn’t responsible for a single American family losing their home — is faced with paying a fine more than ten times as much as Mozilo’s with no banking corporations lining up to ease his burden.
This ruling against Jones is an obvious attempt to make an example of someone who speaks out against an establishment narrative.
It is also a disturbing assault on the First Amendment.
If someone like Jones can be bankrupted for embracing controversial beliefs or saying things others deem offensive or harmful, how long before the rest of us are muzzled by the fear of financial ruin?
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton said, “Power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.”
Love him or hate him, this ruling against Jones should be concerning to all who value freedom of speech and who fear very clear attempts to take away ours.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.