Seiler: Alex Jones Spanked

In Carlo Collodi’s classic but rather terrifying 1883 novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio”, the puppet who stumbles on the path to becoming a real boy picks up the habit of lying – “the worst habit a boy can acquire”, according to the opinion of the fairy who gave him life and applied the magic that makes his nose grow every time he lies.

At one point, Pinocchio’s buildup of whoppers turns his schnozz into something like the mast of a ship – so tall he can’t even climb out the door. He is so panicked (“pale with fear and eyes half-popped out of his head in terror”) that even the fairy “began to feel sorry for him and clapped his hands. A thousand woodpeckers entered through the window and settled on Pinocchio’s nose, they pecked and pecked at that huge nose so hard that within moments it was the same size as before.

This vivid image – like a benevolent reversal of the final showdown in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – was unearthed last week as I watched Alex Jones, king of the conspiratorial magic kingdom known as Infowars, sweat and cough through a withering cross-examination in an Austin, Texas courtroom. He was served by Mark Bankston, attorney for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was among 20 first graders and six adult educators shot dead in the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. , Conn.

Jones, of course, responded to the murders by providing a platform on his show for a parade of far-right or simply deranged hustlers, who offered a constant torrent of lies and cracked theories to assert that the murders had been staged by actors at the request of the federal government to promote gun control. Because there are suckers born every minute and a small percentage of them are dangerous, many of Sandy Hook’s parents have been and continue to be victims of harassment, threats and abuse. online enough to force some of them into hiding.

Jones’ business model is built around him as a braggart, so he doesn’t do contrition very well. He also doesn’t do court-ordered discovery very well, which is why the Lewis-Heslin lawsuit is one of four Jones lost by default due to his failure to properly respond to orders to produce documents. and appear for depositions. The only thing left to determine is how much he and Infowars should pay for the damage they caused. On Friday, the Austin jury pegged that figure at around $50 million.

Because Jones’ defeat was due in part to his failure to turn over relevant documents, there’s a more than delightful irony in the fact that his last defense attorney, Andino Reynal, apparently sent all of the contents of the cellphone. from the fabulist to Bankston. Reynal does not appear to have offered a public explanation for what happened, although one imagines the conspiratorial watcher could say his client has one hell of a call based on the argument that he had no d competent lawyer.

Bankston, meanwhile, said he intended to turn over the material to the congressional committee investigating the Capitol storming. Jones was reportedly in regular communication ahead of this episode with Roger Stone and other stop-the-steal peddlers. And if the material mistakenly shared reveals that Jones perjured himself on the stand, his troubles could be criminal as well as civil.

Even before Bankston got to work on Jones, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble had responded to Reynal’s initial questioning of her client by reminding Jones that he could not, for example, tell the jury that he was was consistent with the discovery – because he hadn’t. “You must tell the truth while you testify”, she says. “This is not your show.”

For those who view Jones’ career as one of many cancers currently metastasizing across the body politic, the thrill of seeing Jones get spanked like that was – well, I’m not even sure we have a word for it. this in English.

Elsewhere in Collodi’s “Pinocchio,” the puppet and his ill-mannered companion Lampwick are taken by a sinister coachman to Toyland (the Island of Pleasure in the Disney film), a place with no rules or responsibilities. The graffiti on the walls says “Down with arithmetic! No more schools!”, which could serve as stickers for some of today’s seedier political candidates. It’s a ton of fun for several months, when it becomes clear that the boys who stay too long in Toyland begin to turn into donkeys who are then rounded up and sold into forced labor by the coachman.

I started this column by comparing Jones to Pinocchio, but it’s hard to imagine a fairy tender enough to summon a thousand woodpeckers to ease her distress. It would be easy to see him as a mere buffoon, but the cost of his brand of toxic misinformation is too high.

Instead, think of the coachman – an evil entrepreneur who profits by providing amoral distractions as people turn into donkeys – and beware.

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