Think About It: The business of making pain pay

Putting aside the damage done to the lives of individuals and the soul of the country, we can admire the skill and effort that result in enormous profits for the purveyors of pain. Profits can come from words alone but typically come from books, T-shirts, hats, or donations.

These purveyors of pain for money are to be recognized for having fine-tuned organizational strategies and techniques for the business of making money off the pain of others all the while avoiding time in jail.

Here’s how the model works: Select an actual or fictional event that features enough drama and trauma to receive days into weeks of national attention. Wait a respectful time for reports of emotional responses to be replaced by analysis of causes and remedies. Watch for those that create discomfort, carefully pick your audience and the timing of your introduction.

Then, strike with a bold outrageous allegation put out on social media and other broadcast venues that will report the allegation.

As the audience begins to tune into your reports, you give them more reasons to be angry and fearful. You and the audience form a bond of allegiance to the outrageous allegation which by now has become a “fact.”

You sell T-shirts, banners and hats, anything to commemorate the bond or other products you have because you are trusted to have the “truth.” If threatened with facts, ask for donations.

Sandy Hook massacre and 2020 general election

On Dec. 14, 2012, 26 people — of which 20 were children of ages 6-7 — were killed by a lone shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

In April 2013, Alex Jones, a known purveyor of conspiracy theories on his own broadcast “Infowars,” called the massacre a “hoax” spun by the government and began selling Sandy Hook conspiracy paraphernalia to his audience along with dietary supplements he promotes.

Current President Biden was elected President Nov. 3, 2020. The election was certified by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Then President Trump claimed the election was fraudulent and he, not Biden won.

He had his attorneys and various colleagues mount lawsuits in states in which a relatively small number of votes would have given him victory. Among the explanations put out by his supporters for voter tally discrepancies were flaws, by design or not, in Dominion Voting Systems, voting machines used in some of these states.

The claims included converting Trump votes to Biden votes. None of the suits prevailed and other explanations were never proven except an occasional vote by a dead person, some of which were for Trump.

Despite no evidence, Trump insisted and many, perhaps millions of his supporters, believed him.

FOX News supported his claims to the extent well-known anchors continued to interview those who claimed Dominion machines produced fraudulent vote counts as well as making statements on live broadcasts that supported the claims.

The cost of doing business

Parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary sued Alex Jones for defamation. Not only did they suffer the terrible deaths of their children, but they also suffered the denial of their enormous sorrow and were subjected to threats and taunts from those who believed Alex Jones.

The only recourse for those defamed are civil suits — apparently, there is no ability to get a restraining order or applicable criminal law related to psychological terrorism.

Jones is losing the suits and as of now is ordered to pay more than $1 billion. He declared bankruptcy and immediately called upon his followers to send money to help him fight. Either that or buy his supplements, he offered.

Dominion Voting Systems sued FOX for defamation. Dominion released tapes and texts supporting their case that showed anchors supporting claims of voting fraud by Dominion during broadcasts and anchors saying it was nonsense in private.

Dominion and Fox settled before opening arguments were delivered. Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to settle the suit. FOX’s statement was benign enough but did say they agreed with the claim.

I learned through following these cases that defamation is hard to prove. Freedom of speech allows lies. The one who makes a claim of defamation must prove the statement exists and is false, had a negative impact on their reputation and made with intent and malice (public figures).

Sandy Hook parents waited 10 years for justice for their children whose very existence was denied. I hear more than one commentator write or say they may never see a cent from Alex Jones.

Meanwhile, he will go on selling conspiracy theories that hurt innocent people and dietary supplements to his supporters along with what they are willing to buy — lies.

Neither will FOX Corporation be harmed or dissuaded from their business model. They do not like what happened; it is a lot of money, but then they have and make a lot of money. The only defense they had was a business one — they needed to give their audience what the audience wanted: lies.

For Jones and FOX, it is the cost of doing business and making a profit. For the audience of at best, the gullible, at worst the psychopaths, it is the terrible reward for paying to support the infliction of pain on the parents of dead children and the soul of the country.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at