On the morning of December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, armed with a Bushmaster rifle and a Glock handgun. He murdered twenty children ranging in ages from six to seven, and six adults. Earlier that morning before heading to the school, he murdered his mother.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists claimed that the shooting was a hoax, a false flag operation perpetrated by the Obama administration to implement gun control as a means to destroy the second amendment and persecute law-abiding gun owners.
Carlee Soto Parisi is one of the witnesses who testified that she had received death threats over accusations of being a crisis actor as part of a government plot to seize guns. She was among one of the first witnesses to testify in a hearing to determine the amount of funds Alex Jones should have to pay in damages for his part in promoting the theory that the shooting was a hoax.
Parisi, who is the sister of Victoria Soto, who had been murdered in the shooting, recounted for a jury how she had been threatened while living in Connecticut and, after she had moved to North Carolina.
“I frequently got threatening emails,” she said, crying at times, “and messages on social media. It got to the point where they would use the gun emoji. I spoke with cops in Connecticut and my husband ended up having to speak with cops in North Carolina, because we were scared for our lives.”
“It’s hurtful,” she continued. “It’s devastating. It’s crippling. You can’t breath properly because you’re constantly defending yourself and your family and your loved ones.”
FBI agent William Aldenberg was another of the initial witnesses. He described being one of the first law enforcement officers to see the bodies of the twenty children scattered throughout two classrooms. He also became emotional at times.
“Was what you saw in that school fake?” attorney for the plaintiff’s, Christopher Mattei asked him.
“No,” said Aldenberg. “It was awful. It was awful.”
He recounted that he and other law enforcement were the target of threats and conspiracies, that they were also crisis actors involved in the conspiracy.
“It was one of the worst things that ever happened, if not the worst thing that happened,” Aldenberg said. “And people want to say this didn’t happen? And then they want to get rich off of it? That’s the worst part.”
Last month, Jones was found liable for damages by a Texas court and ordered to pay 50 million in damages to one of the Sandy Hook families.
“You can say whatever you want about me,” Aldenberg said during his testimony. “I don’t care. Say what you want. I’m a big boy. I can take it. But then they want to make profits, they want to make millions and millions of dollars? They want to destroy people’s lives? Their children got slaughtered. I saw it myself, and now they have to sit here and listen to me say this.”
Plaintiff attorney Christopher Mattei shared data with the jury that Jones’ audience increased dramatically as he promoted his conspiracies about the shooting.
“What your parents taught you,” he said. “What your grandparents taught you to know the difference between right and wrong, to know the difference between the truth and a lie, to know the importance of standing up to bullies when they prey on people who are helpless and profit from them, and unless you stop a bully, a bully will never stop. And when it comes to stopping Alex Jones, that will be the most important work that you do.”
The attorney for Jones argued that Jones has the Constitutional right to be a conspiracy theorist. “At what point do we regard him as a crank on the village green, a person we can walk away from if we choose?”
“The point where his followers begin making threats based on those lies and conspiracies”, any decent person would answer. And if Alex Jones had any decency, he would walk away at that point. But Jones has no decency.
Throughout the first trial , Jones portrayed himself as a victim of government tyranny and media abuse. During the deposition in the first case, Jones had asserted that he was not responsible for any suffering the Sandy Hook parents went through due to anything he may have said.
“If questioning public events and free speech is banned because it might hurt somebody’s feelings, we are not in America anymore,” he said. “They can change the channel. They can come out and say I’m wrong. They have free speech.”
Again, any decent person might counter this lame argument with: “But are they free to not have death threats directed at them as a result of your ‘free speech’?” What would Jone’s answer to this be, I wonder? Most likely, nothing logical.
Telling them to change the channel is pointless. Telling them they have the freedom to disagree with you is pointless. They would still be subject to the consequences of your free speech: Many of these families were forced to move multiple times and still it did not stop the threats of violence directed at them.
Sources: NPR, PBS.org., NBC Connecticut.com.