Fear-mongering is a funny thing

To the editor:

Fear-mongering is a funny thing until it isn’t. It generates all sorts of absurd scenarios which I used to find amusing; like “birds are government drones spying on us” or “contrails in the sky are streaks of psychological mind-altering chemicals used by the government to control us.”

Unfortunately, crazy messaging has been around a long time and will continue as long as opportunists can find people who’ll believe anything. Enter Alex Jones. Granted, the GOP has used fear campaigns for decades about the big bad government spying on us, deceiving us and impinging on our liberties. But this whole concept of evil forces embedded in our government (the so-called Deep State) has taken fringe thinking to the mainstream.

I hope the Alex Jones conviction opens the floodgates for holding network billionaires and extremist broadcasting accountable for fear-mongering. They’ve gotten away with cowering behind “free speech” while they profit from harm done to others. The grieving parents of Sandy Hook school shooting victims have endured a decade of abusive trolling and death threats by conspiracy followers who believed Alex Jones’ lies that it was a staged government hoax utilizing actors to stir outrage against guns.

The $45 million settlement won’t bring back those Sandy Hook children. But it’s a warning to networks who allow commentators to blithely lie or make up absurd scenarios designed to ignite fear in those already paranoid and conditioned to anti-government sentiments.

This court case demonstrates that citizens with integrity and determination won’t tolerate lying, even if Republican politicians and media do. Because fear-mongering, which appeals to this grievance-against-government culture, isn’t exactly a funny thing anymore when people with radicalized delusions based in lies are driven to harassment, recent mass shootings and an attack on our Capitol.

Martha Hodges



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