No, you don’t have a First Amendment right to slander or libel people. Suggesting that the parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook made up their story is about as defamatory as it gets. Jones’ attorneys stonewalled at every stage of the trial. The alternative media scribes suggesting that the verdict somehow silences Jones don’t know what they’re talking about. He can say whatever he wants, he will just have to be more careful in the future not to utter or print defamatory statements. The almost $1 billion in damages in the Connecticut trial is excessive, and it may get reduced on appeal. If not, Jones is bankrupt and the debt may not be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for him. How much sympathy did he have for the parents he libeled? Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org gets it right.
Whatever one might think about Alex Jones, it’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can question the rightfulness of the multimillion damage awards that juries in Connecticut and Texas recently assessed against him. In my opinion, Jones got exactly what he deserved.
For limited-government libertarians, a proper role of government is to provide a judicial forum in which people can resolve their legal disputes. If someone commits a wrong — a “tort” in legal language — against another person, the latter has the right to file suit against the former for damages.
We see this all the time, for example, in automobile crashes, where one person’s negligence has caused the accident. The victim has the right to sue the driver whose negligence caused the crash and recover damages.
If a tort is intentional — such as murder or rape — the victim has the right to sue for both compensatory damages and punitive damages. The compensatory damages represent actual damages suffered by the victim, such as medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. The punitive damages represent an intent to punish the malefactor by inflicting additional damages on him.