Editorial: We need to talk about Alex Jones

A video showing Alex Jones is shown as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.

A video showing Alex Jones is shown as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Alex Jones doesn’t want white supremacy to be talked about during his trial.

But in America’s courtroom, we need to talk about it.

There’s toxic irony in Jones’ request that the families of Sandy Hook victims killed in the 2012 massacre be silenced about anything. He couldn’t stop trying to spread his claim that loss of these 20 children and six educators was a hoax. He called it “staged.” He said it was “manufactured.” He dubbed it “completely fake with actors.”

Eight Sandy Hook families won a defamation lawsuit against Jones, who spread his beliefs on his “Info Wars” website. It’s now up to a jury to determine how much Jones would pay in damages.

But Jones wants to be treated fairly, so he’d prefer jurors not hear evidence related to “white supremacy and right-wing extremism.”

“(E)vidence on the topics of white supremacy and right-wing extremism ... is not relevant to the issues that will be before the jury and would also be unfairly prejudicial and inflammatory to (Jones),” claims Norm Pattis, the New Haven attorney who represents Jones. “(E)vidence relating to those topics is irrelevant, would be an attack on (Jones’) character and play to the emotions of the jury and distract from the main issues.”

It’s a bold gambit from a lawyer who only recently asked to be relieved from representing Jones. And it happens to dovetail with tweets from Jones’ former wife that she has “insider info” that might be of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Jones has been trying to distort the dignity of the First Amendment throughout his time in the public arena. That he has lured so many followers is reason enough to talk about the issues he represents. He’s not merely synonymous with “hoax,” but with the issues he is trying to censor from his own record.

Regardless of what the judge decides about discussions in Jones’ case, we can’t ignore the evidence that keeps surfacing in Connecticut communities, let alone the rest of our nation.

Messages of hate have shown up on flyers in 15 Connecticut towns of late. Some are from a group that seems to be modeling itself on Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party.

History has shown us that this is not something to ignore, which is all the more reason to include such topics in appropriate curriculum.

To the credit of state officials, Connecticut has a new hate crimes unit to address the issue. The agency launched in April and has already tracked at least 27 incidents. State police spokesperson Sgt. Christine Jeltema deemed flyers dumped in neighborhoods to be “propaganda.”

It’s tempting for any reasonable person to resist responding to such nonsense. But we need to talk about issues such as white supremacy. We can’t blindly tune out hate speech from people such as Alex Jones. Ignoring such matters won’t stop them from growing. Weeds thrive without being watered.