It’s unclear how much of the payout Jones can afford to fork over, but the plaintiffs’ attorneys intend to pursue their clients’ awards until every last dollar is received.
Tears Spill in the Courtroom
A Connecticut jury ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $965 million to eight families of Sandy Hook victims and one first responder Wednesday.
It was the climax to the second of three defamation trials determining how much Jones should pay in damages for falsely claiming that the Sandy Hook shooting, which killed 26 people including 20 children, was staged by crisis actors.
The first trial concluded a month ago, deciding that he should pay two families nearly $50 million, and the third trial will commence later this year. So far, the total damages owed by Jones now surpass $1 billion.
A wave of relief swept over one side of the courtroom as the verdict was read, with plaintiffs crying and hugging their attorneys.
Robbie Parker, a plaintiff and father of six-year-old victim Emily Parker, told reporters he credits his lawyers with giving him “the strength to finally find my voice and to fight and to stand up to what had been happening to me for so long.”
During the trial, he had provided emotional testimony about the threats and harassment he received after Jones called him a crisis actor in front of millions of viewers. He said hateful messages flooded Emily’s Facebook memorial page the day after she was murdered, leading him to take it down weeks later.
Parker got $120 million from the jury.
Wednesday’s payout was in compensatory damages; Judge Barbara Bellis will next decide whether to award punitive damages as well, and if so, what amount. Connecticut law caps punitive damages at attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, according to CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.
Norm Pattis, Jones’s attorney, vowed to appeal the verdict.
Could This Sink Jones’s Media Empire?
Jones was not present in the courtroom Wednesday, but he livestreamed himself reacting to the verdict and laughing.
He said there “ain’t no money” with which he can pay the damages, adding, “Do these people actually think they’re getting any money?”
During both defamation trials, he claimed to be in financial distress because of his deplatforming from mainstream social media platforms in 2018.
He testified in August that damages of just $2 million would destroy him financially. Although Jones’s real net worth is not publically known, economist Bernard Pettingill, Jr. estimated in court that it’s between $135 million and $270 million.
In his livestream Wednesday, Jones called the plaintiffs “ambulance chasers” and mocked the verdict.
Pattis gave a more measured reaction in a statement outside court.
“My heart goes out to the families, we live in divided times,” he said. “They’ve been weaponized and used for political purposes in this country, in my view, and today is a very, very, very dark day for freedom of speech.”
“The plaintiffs’ attorneys told reporters they will seek to get every last dollar Jones owes them, however long it takes.
Since facing legal trouble for his false remarks, Jones has gone back and forth, sometimes admitting that the shooting was real and other times saying he was right to ask questions and still isn’t certain what happened.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (The New York Times)
Kathy Griffin, Ethan Klein, More Suspended From Twitter Over Elon Musk Impersonations
Many have pretended to be Musk in an attempt to highlight the potential issues paid-for verifications could cause on the platform.
Musk Takes on Impersonations
Comedian Kathy Griffin and internet personality Ethan Klein are among the many Twitter users that have been permanently suspended for impersonating the platform’s new CEO, Elon Musk.
Impersonation has long been against Twitter’s rules, but on Sunday, the billionaire took the policy a step further by announcing that “any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” Musk explained. “This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”
Musk also said that any user who changes their name will temporarily lose their verification check mark.
The announcement came as many verified users began mocking Musk by changing their name and photo to match his, then tweeting jokes that were either absurd or out of character for the business mogul. Many did this to protest Musk’s plan to charge an $8 monthly subscription fee that would allow any Twitter user to become verified.
Klein was one of many who changed his name to “Elon Musk” and made a photo of the CEO his profile image. The podcast host sent out several jokes, including one referencing the increased use of the N-word on the platform since Musk’s takeover, and another referencing Jeffrey Epstein.
“Even though Jeffrey Epstein committed horrible crimes, I do still miss him on nights like this for his warmth and camaraderie. Rest In Peace old Friend,” he wrote.
His account was quickly banned, but Klein defended himself on TikTok, arguing that both his cover photo and bio labeled his account as “parody” and therefore should be acceptable under Musk’s guidelines.
“What more do you want from me?” he asked. “Comedy is dead. And Elon Musk dug the grave.”
Protests of Musk’s Twitter Control
For her part, Griffin likewise tweeted while masquerading as Musk, writing that after “spirited discussion with the females in my life, I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right.”
Musk joked that she was actually “suspended for impersonating a comedian” and added that she can have her account back if she pays for the $8 subscription. Griffin, however, found another way around the ban.
The comedian logged into her late mother’s Twitter account and began using the hashtag #FreeKathy while calling out Musk.
“Mad Men” actor Rich Sommer and podcaster Griffin Newman have also had their accounts suspended for tweeting as Musk. Other celebrities, including TV producer Shonda Rhimes, musician Sara Bareilles, and model Gigi Hadid have protested Musk’s Twitter reign by leaving the platform altogether.
“For a long time, but especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate & bigotry, and it’s not a place I want to be a part of,” Hadid wrote on Instagram over the weekend.
AOC Says Twitter Notifications “Conveniently” Disabled After Criticizing Musk
“What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me,” she tweeted at the new CEO.
AOC Vs. Elon Musk
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said several of her Twitter features are “conveniently not working” after feuding with the platform’s new owner, billionaire Elon Musk.
Ocasio-Cortez has never been shy about her views on Musk. After he officially took charge of Twitter last week, the congresswoman began criticizing his new proposals for the social networking site, specifically his plan to charge an $8 subscription fee for verification.
“Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she wrote on Tuesday.
“Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8,” Musk replied the following day.
Around an hour later, the business mogul sent another tweet appearing to call Ocasio-Cortez out for selling $58 sweatshirts.
“Proud of this and always will be,” she shot back. “My workers are union, make a living wage, have full healthcare, and aren’t subject to racist treatment in their workplaces. Items are made in USA. Team AOC honors and respects working people. You should try it sometime instead of union-busting.”
In a follow-up tweet, she noted that proceeds go to community organizing programs, including one that tutors students who are falling behind because of COVID-19.
AOC’s Mentions Not Working
On Wednesday evening, just hours after her back-and-forth with Musk, Ocasio-Cortez told her followers that her “Twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren’t working tonight.”
“I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin,” she added. “Just a reminder that money will never [buy] your way out of insecurity, folks.”
The issue seemingly continued into Thursday morning when the Democrat tweeted a screenshot of her notifications page, which loaded no results.
“Why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like?” she tweeted at Musk. “This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”
Musk has repeatedly claimed that one of his primary motives to buy Twitter was to protect free speech. Once taking the reigns as CEO, though, he did say he would start a content moderation council and make decisions jointly with them.
South Carolina County Votes Against Moving LGBTQ+ Friendly Books Away from Children’s Section
Efforts to limit LGBTQ+ content in libraries first began over the summer.
Attempts to Restrict LGBTQ+ Displays
The county council in Greenville County, South Carolina this week voted against discussing a resolution that would move all books “promoting sexuality” to the adult section.
This resolution is the culmination of months of turmoil in Greenville County. In June, libraries in the county removed Pride displays at the direction of library officials. Then in September, the county’s Republican Party executive board passed a resolution to call on the County Council to restrict access to books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters.
The resolution was proposed by Joe Dill, an outgoing council member, as well as a member of the county’s Republican Party executive board. It proposed the council “officially order that no books or content, including digital copies or online accessible materials, promoting sexuality be allowed in the Children’s Sections of our public libraries.”
However, the resolution required the council to suspend its regular rules in order to discuss it as it was not submitted to the council via committee. The final vote was 9 to 3 against the suspension of the rules and effectively killed the resolution.
Those that voted against it viewed the resolution as an overreach.
“We just do not believe that’s our job to get involved in the library’s business,” Council member Ennis Fett said to a local news outlet. “We appoint a board. We can not set a precedent of micromanaging the library board, because if we do that, then, we will be micromanaging all boards and commissions that we appoint.”
Although the council decided not to get involved, the library still has the final decision to make regarding these books. Their meeting to discuss the matter is scheduled for December 5.